The Great Family Search 2012

Posted: 07/23/2012 by erichblayde in Family, The Great Family Search 2012
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Hello again dear readers! I do hope you are keeping well and I thank you for popping by my little opinionated corner of cyberspace today. I thought perhaps I would blither a little about a project I have been working at for a few years now, a project which has seen some new developments over the last week.

Those of you who are returning readers (or real world friends) have probably heard me mention the disgusting lack of (biological) family in my life. My biological family turned tail and ran the day I popped out of the transsexual closet, and despite my best efforts at contact they still haven’t come round. Now while this is a perturbing thing to have happen I have managed fairly well (even if I do say so myself) without a bio family. Most of that managing has been made possible because I have simply the greatest adoptive parents ever (EVER!) But even with my incredible chosen family beside me there are always times that a guy kind of wishes he had some blood relatives around (and yes, I know that what a lot of you are thinking right now is “here take mine!”) But there is something about knowing your roots that really anchors a person in ways that can not be duplicated. So even though I have managed well all these years I decided a few years ago I should start investigating all the oral history told to me as a child and see what I could find out about my roots.

I started back in 2008 with a list of names and no bloody clue what to do with them all. A peek at the online forums told me to get a family tree program and start researching. So I did. And slowly I began to uncover pieces of my history. My maternal grandmothers family came slowly forward through the dusks of time and I soon had a tree of nearly 1000 names, all carefully researched and entered with all appropriate citations.

Enter the great computer splat.

All of it, gone. In a heartbeat, all my months and years of work that I STUPIDLY had not made adequate backup of, just poofed. I was heartbroken, but in keeping with my self-deception of not giving a damn about the people who turned their back on me I shrugged my shoulders and made brave faces to the world while secretly melting inside.

It took a long while for me to even look at the genealogy project again but I picked it back up a year or so ago and started trying to pin the pieces into place again (with as much backing up as I possibly could manage) Even so it felt like my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I kept thinking of all those lost pictures and records and just couldn’t see going through all of that again.

But true to my terrier-with-a-bone mentality I kept poking away every once in a while, slowly chipping back the dust and revealing another name, another lead, another piece of an inherent birthright I have been shut off from for far too long.

Most of what I had worked out was my maternal grandmothers side of the family as my maternal grandfathers clan (the Eide family) is stubborn, private, foolish and prone to stop talking to each other over things like who bought what farm. My grandmothers family (The Hvaal clan) is massive beyond belief, well connected and rather storied so I found information on them rather more readily than the Eide side

That being said, after two years I managed to locate a woman who it seems was my mothers cousin from her fathers brother Kolbjorn (what is that my…second cousin? Once removed? Or first cousin twice removed I don’t bloody know how this damn terminology works yet…anyway you get the picture) This lady was tremendously pleasant, helpful and genuinely happy to have found me. But here’s the sticky bit (remember how I said my grandfathers family was all stand apartish?)

No one in my immediate family knew my grandfather had a brother Kolbjorn! (or if they did no one talked about it)

I resolved to learn all about this as-of-yet unknown side of the family and finally discover the secrets lying hidden in my past. I had so many questions for the Eide side. Why did grandpa never talk about them? (nor did anyone else in the family for that matter) Who were my great grandparents, where did they come from? Did they really have only two children? (Hey! Don’t laugh…back then only having two kids was only acceptable if you or your spouse died in a tractor accident within six months of the birth of the second child. And as far as I knew neither great grandparent had done such a thing)

So I chipped off some more of the dust and my newly found cousin (or whatever she is) helped mightily by providing me with her Dad’s location (Turns out he has lived in the same twin as half my branch of the family for the last 50 years)

Soon enough I found myself shouting hello to my great-uncle Kolbjorn at full volume into a telephone while a cracked old voice with a nearly unintelligible Norwegian accent shouted back “Eye cannt uunarstund vot yew arr saaying!” I tried shouting hello again and got a rather grumpy “spoked uup vould yew! Yew arr tuu qviat!” Once I managed to decipher this latest pronouncement I shouted as loud as I could into the phone again (much to the cats utter dismay) and finally managed to get a “hi” in response. (Thank god his wife had answered the phone and told him who I was and why I was calling him or I’d have been there all night yelling) After a few more shouting matches that got us safely through the preliminary pleasantries, my great uncle and I got down to the discussion I had been hoping for.

Me: “Can you tell me about the family?”

Kolbjorn: “eyea haave tew ch-hill-dehr-hin”

Me: **deciphers that** “How many grand kids do you have”

Kolbjorn: “tew kids!”

Me: “Two each? Or two total”

Kolbjorn: “eyea haave tew ch-hill-dehr-hin”

Me: **deciphers that and grins** “HOW MANY GRAND KIDS!”

Kolbjorn: “Eye tilde you Eye have tew kids!”

Me: **let’s that topic go** “Ok! Can you tell me about your parents!”

Kolbjorn: “Ja” **goes dead silent**

Me: **tries again** “How many children did your parents have?” (this being shouted at full volume while the cats cower in a corner and hiss in fury)

Kolbjorn: “eye tolde yew! Eye hav-eh tew ch-hild-her-rren!”

Me: **puzzles that over for a minute and howls into the phone** “No! Not you! Your Mum and Dad!”

Cat: “MEOW!”

Kolbjorn: “VHAT!”

Me: “That was the cat!”

Kolbjorn: “Spoked UP! Yew talceh tew qviet!”

Me: **snorts in frustration and amusement**

Kolbjorn: “VHAT?”

Me: “How many brothers and sisters do you have!”

Kolbjorn: “Nine”

Me: **yelps in shock** “WHAT!?!”

Kolbjorn: “NINE!”

Me: “Are you serious?!”

Kolbjorn: “VHAT?”

Me: “What can you tell me about them!?”

Kolbjorn: “NO! Eye sayed NINE!”

After a period of wrangling with language where I discovered that I apparently can’t shout properly in Norwegian no matter how hard I try, and realized that although I can lead 500 person marches without needing a megaphone I apparently cant yell loud enough to satisfy one deaf Norseman, and that even though he couldn’t hear me he still managed to hear every peep the cats made and get confused by it, we eventually managed to troop through all ten kids and all their kids. The old guy rattled it all off from memory without a hitch, which is pretty astonishing at the age of 86. The only sticky part was the bit about getting him to actually talk when he was answering a question.

Me: “Who was the oldest?”

Kolbjorn: “Hal-vyor”

Me: **mentally translates that and realizes it’s my grandfather** “And who came next?”

Kolbjorn: “Karl”

Me: “Did Karl have kids”

Kolbjorn: “Aye half nutting tew dew wizth hym”

Me: **winces** “Ok. Who came next”

Kolbjorn: “June-ar”

Me: **translates that to Gunnar** “Did he have kids?”

Kolbjorn: “Ja”

Me: **Waits**

Kolbjorn: **dead silence**

Me: “Do you know the names of the kids?”

Kolbjorn: “Ja”

Me: **Waits**

Kolbjorn: **says nothing**

Me: “Can you tell me their names?”

Kolbjorn: “Swine, behr-eet, ohley june-arh, oh-laugh, rang hill”

Me: **chews that over and writes down Svein, Berit, Ole Gunnar, Olav and Ragnhild** “Who came next?”

Kolbjorn: “Mag-news”

Me: “Did he have kids?”

Kolbjorn: “Ja”

Me: **waits**

Kolbjorn: **dead silence**

After a rather loud three quarters of an hour I thanked him, hung up and sat staring at the pages of notes I had taken. What a shock to discover such a massive portion of undiscovered family that had knowingly lived in the same communities for years without ever speaking to one another or telling each other about the other family members in the town. Turning to my email I discovered a new letter from my cousin telling me her Mum had emailed her to tell her I called. She filled in some more details and then dropped a second bombshell on me. Like her first stunning revelation about her father this one was also one I had never expected.

Apparently a good deal of my ancestors were of Prussian origin. Here I was, told my whole adolescence I am full blooded Norwegian and how I should be so proud of that and in actuality I am a good part Prussian. (Maybe it explains the funny hair color?)

While I can’t wait to see what new details I can dig up in wherever the hell they keep Prussian birth records, I am slightly worried about one thing.

I still haven’t the foggiest clue what exactly a bloody Prussian is!

VHAT VAS THET!??! SPOKED UUP! (sorry – just practicing for when I get old :P)

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