Sunday, 4 February 2018

Unique family photos 1: Four Generations

I've had the privilege of knowing all my grandparents and several of my great-grandparents. This picture, taken when I was a baby, is very special because it shows four generations of my family in one photograph. In fact, it shows my direct maternal ancestral line.

From left to right: My grandmother Kari (1946-2003); my great-grandmother Gerd (1924-2005); myself (born 1990); my mother (born 1965).

Everyone in this photograph belongs to mtDNA haplogroup H5a1g1a.

Both my grandmother and great-grandmother came from the working class of Oslo's east end; both of them were born in the area called Grünerløkka, which today has fallen victim to gentrification. I was born in the east end myself, and actually spent my first months of life in the borough of Grünerløkka, so I feel a very personal connection to this area, a tangible connection that goes beyond family ties.

My great-grandmother Gerd was the daughter of Sofus Adolf Hansen, a stoker at Christiania Sailcloth Factory, and his wife (and first cousin) Dagny Gunvor Andreasdatter Hellerud. As a very young woman, during World War 2 when Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany, Gerd became what I would call a resistance hero. She was part of the illegal press distribution network in Oslo, but was caught by the Nazis and sentenced to hard labour, picking turnips in the village of Blaker, which, incidentally, is where most of her family originally came from.

Gerd's mother Dagny (photo below) was born a farmer's daughter in Blaker in 1901 and passed away in 1983, just seven years before I was born, and just five years before my oldest first cousin was born. In other words, we almost could have had five generations in one photograph!

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