Tracing My Roots

While you read this, I’ll be in Lillisand, Norway, visiting the home of my mother’s ancestors (her grandfather, Severin Gustav Simonsen) was born in Lillesand (I think) in 1859 and immigrated to Chicago in 1881.

This has been a longtime dream that’s suddenly coming true. I’ll be traveling with my sister and cousin, both of whom are genealogy buffs. My mother’s aunt Alma (Severin’s daughter, a first-generation American) journeyed back to Norway in 1920. She kept a diary of the four months that she was there (crossing the Atlantic in a steamer could not have been fun so she probably stayed as long as possible). My cousin and sister have been keep to retrace some of her steps and I get to tag along. Thank goodness we get to fly!

We have that diary (which my cousin has faithfully copied, along with photos) and we’re going to visit some of the sights that she saw.

Alma's journal cover


Well, I thought you’d be able to read the first page, but it looks pretty blurry to me. The most interesting passage on this page reads, “To make my going away more exiting about fourteen of the Amici girls, who had gathered at the station, showered me with loads of rice making everybody think I was a bride. Of course in a few seconds about 50 to 75 spectators had gathered to see the bride (?) and wondered which one was the groom.”  My Aunt Alma traveled to Norway alone (she must have been fiesty)  and never married.

We’ll visit Oslo and Bergen, as well as Lillesand. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some real Norwegian wool.