Norway Churches: Gina’s Family

Gina Estenson’s family finds us looking at different churches in Norway from those we visited with Emil’s side. We begin near Tronheim in Nord-Trondelag.

Hegra kirke

In 1809 Esten Steffenson, father to Bertinus and grandfather to Gina, was baptized in the Church of Hegra (30-50 north of Trondheim according to Clara, Homestead, 3). The wood-construction Hegra church dates from 1783, has a cruciform shape, and seats 400.

Vaernes kirke

Fifteen years later in 1824, this same Esten was confirmed in Vaernes church, also in Stjordal, where his future wife Gurine Pedersdatter had been baptized in 1812. Esten and Gurine continued to live in Stjordal until they immigrated to America in 1875. The specific Stjordal church seems to vary: they were married in Stjordal, for example, but Elias was baptized at Stjordal/Nedre Stjordal (lower Stjordal). I have been locating many of the actual records online. 

Vaernes is a stone church built in stages, the oldest part dating to 1140. The sacristy dates to about 1400, and the distinctive steeple to the 1770s. Apparently the church is known for its medieval stone decorations and a 1639 altarpiece of “amazing woodwork.”

Biri kirke

For Gina’s maternal side, we go south to Biri in Oppland where we have been before. Her mother Maria Thorson, her siblings, and Gina’s grand-parents lived on many farms in the Biri area, but this one church appears to have been a constant in their lives. Thor Tostensen and Oline Olsdatter were married there May 22, 1831, In the same parish we find records for their 13 children, only three of whom reached adulthood. Maria was born April 1, 1850, and immigrated to America in 1876. My post of May 12 has information on the Biri church.

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One Response to Norway Churches: Gina’s Family

  1. Daniel Borreson says:

    The Vaernes Church also has a raised place on the left side of the main sanctuary with a separate outside entry to it. When we toured this Church we were told this was contructed for the King or other high ranking dignitaries. This was the most decorated old Church we toured while in Norway. We also went to the Hegra Church which is not to far from the Vaernes Church. We visited with the Hegra Pastor who directed us to the farm where our ancestors had worked. We had a good visit with the current farmer who was a descendant of the family that was there when our ancestors were there. I don’t recall the name. My book is back in Wisconsin. I will bring my book with printed pictures of these Churches to the next family reunion.

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