Monday, June 23, 2014

Hans Larson Opsahl - mystery solved!

Hans Larson Opsahl > Emma Larson > Daniel Erickson

A couple weeks ago, I was connected with Peggy Hanson, a (distant) cousin via information on Find A Grave. We share common ancestors in Hans and Mary Larson. My great-grandmother Emma Larson and her grandfather Fred Hanson were siblings and children of Hans and Mary.

Hans has been a bit a mystery for a while, as I wrote about in an earlier post. In all the records I had about Hans, he was Hans Larson, but his obituary and burial plot connect him with the last name of Opsahl. I asked my newly found cousin if she had ever heard “Opsahl” in connection with Hans. She hadn’t and began digging into her information and asking other relatives. We finally have our answer!
The church and cemetery in Eidsvoll,
 Norway where members of Hans'
 family are buried

Opsahl comes from Opsalengen which means “the Opsal Meadow.” Opsal was the name of the farm where Hans and his family lived. Peggy wrote, “It is clear that our Hans Larson properly referred to himself in Norway as Hans Larson Opsalegen; as there was a close connection between a family’s name and the name of the place they lived. Once in America Hans Larson Opsalengen and his family embraced the American manner and became Hans and Mary Larson; but all the while remaining in their Norwegian minds as Hans and Mary Opsahl.”

Peggy also sent me information from the 1865 census in Norway and from that I can add not only Hans’ father and mother, but also his grandparents! I now know that Hans was born in Ejdsvold (now called Eidsvoll, Norway), and he is the son of Lars Anderson and Anna Hansdotter (both who also came to live in French Lake, Minnesota). Lars is the son of Anders Larson and Marie Andersdotter. With all the Hans, Lars, Anders, etc, it’s no wonder they also used place names to identify themselves! Another way to think of Hans Larson Opsahl is “Hans, son of Lars, from Opsahl.”

A huge thanks to Peggy and everyone who helped us finally figure out where “Opsahl” came from! And it’s always fun to welcome another cousin J

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