A Bertha Puzzle Solved

In Homestead, Aunt Clara admits to having “no additional information” about Berthe Borresen, born December 25, 1842 in Norway to Borre Andersen and Maria Andersdatter. Bertha would have been an aunt our grandfather Emil, and Clara indicates she came to America in time to be a baptismal sponsor for Emil on October 6, 1872.

This has been my problem: I have located information about all five of Berthe’s siblings in Loten, Norway, but little on Berthe – just birth and baptism records in the same church as the others. Records for all the others are amazingly complete, but not for Berthe.

After searching years of baptism, confirmation, and even marriage and death records in Loten (all online), I began considering another alternative: maybe this Berthe died young and her sister Berthe Marie was named for her. Such practices were not unusual in Norway or in this country.

Since Bertha Marie was born in 1852, I began scouring the Loten parish death records for Berthe’s name sometime between 1842 and 1852. Would you believe that, yes, I did in fact find that record! The name and record is difficult to read in the church register, but clearly, it’s Bertha who is the daughter of Borre from Rustadeie, the family farm. Bertha’s age was listed as 7 – she was actually 5, almost 6 – but such might be an understandable mistake. I am almost 100% positive about this being Berthe’s death record. This older sister to Berthe Marie never lived to come to America.

That also means she could not have been Emil’s baptismal sponsor in Oct 1872, but almost certainly then, his godmother was his other aunt Bertha Marie, who may have simply gone by the name Bertha (without the Marie). As Clara wrote, Bertha Marie did immigrate to America and she married Alexander Matson. They became the parents of five children, one of whom was Eddie who served as best man at Emil and Gina’s wedding in 1899.

Perhaps Bertha Marie came to America with her brother Bernt in 1872 since both were Emil’s godparents that fall. Some day I hope to find that immigration record. In the meantime, another small puzzle has been solved.

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