Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Old things! Material legacies on my father's side

I've always loved to rummage through attics, basements and cupboards and look at old things, especially when they have a story behind them.

In our family - as in most families, I guess - we have a lot of old things with stories behind them. Many objects from our ancestors have been passed down and are still in existence, owned by various members of the family. I find comfort in the fact that these objects are kept and maintained by people who value their history. They provide real, tangible connections to our ancestors and their daily lives. They are, in a sense, "genealogy in solid form".

Here are some of the things that have been passed down on my father's side of the family.

This is my grandfather's workbench. It originally belonged to his grandfather, my great-great-grandfather Gunerius Olsen (1864-1949).

This furniture set - the chairs, the table and the sofa - belonged to my great-great-grandparents Gunerius Olsen (1864-1949) and Oline Margrethe Forseth (1864-1913), also pictured above. They got married in 1891, so the furniture is probably from around that time or maybe a few years later.

This rocking chair belonged to my great-great-grandmother Alfhild Knoff (1881-1969), also pictured above. When the original cover began to wear out, Alfhild's son Ivar (1902-1982) embroidered a new one, as identical to the original one as possible. I have many nice childhood memories from this chair!

This serviette holder belonged to my great-great-great-grandfather Sven Hansson Cederholm (1824-1912). It is decorated with Sven's monogram (SHC) circled by a stylized representation of the Midgard Serpent biting its own tail. This is interesting, because it shows that Sven was acquainted with, and interested in, Norse mythology. The serviette holder now belongs to my father, and is in frequent use.

Lastly, these wooden boxes - a food container and a postage stamp organizer - were actually carved by one of our ancestors, "Mammatina", who is almost certainly identical with my 4th great-grandmother Marie Katrine Knoff (1820-1894). Marie Katrine is pictured above. It turns out that the boxes were actually made by another 4th great-grandmother of mine, namely Petrine Christensen "Trine" Berg, née Pedersen (born 1837)! The boxes were probably made sometime in the mid-to-late 1800s, and we know that the stamp organizer must have been made after 1855, since that was the year when the first postage stamp was issued in Norway. The decorations on the boxes are in a traditional Norwegian style that almost has a national romantic feel to it.

The food container is currently in my safekeeping, and I am very proud to have been entrusted with it by my grandparents. Hopefully it will be passed down another six generations!

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