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A tour of Norways Stavkirker


Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Finding ancestral links to stave churchesBy Deb Nelson GourleyApril 29, 2002Truly unique to Norway, the Stavkirke (Stave Church) is a 900-year-old wooden temple filled with history of the Viking Era and Christianity. Approximately 1000 of these churches, built between 1100s and 1300s, were once scattered throughout Norway's routes of trade. Today, only 29 Stavkirker remain in Norway to deliver their "messages in wood."

Last summer, my mother, Char Nelson; sister, Teresa O'Connor; son, Alex Huntrods; and I toured numerous Stavkirker in Norway. We not only learned of ancestral heathen temple sites, but also found benches in the Uvdal Stavkirke labeled with our Imingen family name.

We found the messages of the Stavkirker were still alive when we located a 300-year-old memorial painting of my 8th Great Grandfather Bjrn Frysok and his family. The 1699 epitaph is the first portrait and the only known church painting of a Norwegian farm family. The painting hung in the Gol Stavkirke and is now displayed at the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Folk Museum) in Bygdy, Oslo.

Christianity was introduced into Norway over a lengthy period of about two hundred years. Through trading connections and Viking raids, Norwegians came in contact with Christian Europe, which contributed to a weakening of the traditional belief in the Nordic Gods. Three missionary Viking Kings, Hkon I the Good, Olaf I Tryggvasson, and Olaf II Haraldsson (Saint Olaf) gave the church their final victory.

The Stavkirke, with the dark tarred timbers, pointed gables, narrow archways and the same dragon-heads that decorated the bows of the Viking longboats, became a place of Christian worship. The Stavkirke "messages in wood" helped to drive the Norse Gods from the Norwegian valleys, mountain, and fjords.

Norse Mythology
In the heathen religion, the Gods and Goddesses each had power over their own domain. Odin, old and wise, was the chieftain and ruled over all the Gods. Odin's son Thor, the second mightiest God, was the strong and quick-tempered God of the warriors and was always ready to do battle with the giants and trolls. The forests and mountains of Norway were believed to be populated by many types of supernatural beings. Thor's chariot rolling across the sky made the sound of thunder.

The heathen Gods are best known from descriptions written down in early Christian times. Some of the Norwegian farms such as Torshov, .....
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Astri, my Astri where art thou?

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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A primer for searching Fillmore County genealogy records for pioneer ancestorsBy Deb Nelson GourleyMarch 18, 2002

Imagine a class called Genealogy 101: Fillmore County Pioneers. You are only given the following information ..... 
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Garns wheel still spinning after 200 years

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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February 4, 2002

Inheriting a 200-year-old Garns family spinning wheel from my Grandmother, Stella (Brdsgrd) Nelson, was exhilarating. Having myself been an avid handspinner for years, I could visualize what the assembled spinning wheel would ..... 
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Garness Church roots go back to farm in Norway

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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December 31, 2001

The familiar sounds I grew up with, the unloading of the horses, the snorting and pawing, and the cinching of the saddles were all heard that cold blustery day, January 14, 1996. However, someone very important to me was missin ..... 
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"You are a Hjrnevik, but who are you?"

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Delivering tragic immigrant news about the 1862 Sioux Uprising 114 years laterBy Deb Nelson GourleyNovember 12, 2001

When I found the Hjrnevik farm near Evanger i Voss, in the Bergan area of Norway in 1976, I felt like I w ..... 
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Astri Herbransdatter 1812

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Tracing the history of a Norwegian trunk"By Deb Nelson GourleyOctober 22, 2001

The wagon was fully loaded for the burn pile out in the woods, when I spotted the old painted trunk on the flatbed. I was a second grader at the ..... 
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Norwegian Ancestry Series

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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The following articles are part of a Norwegian Ancestry series by Deb Nelson Gourley. Deb was raised SE of Preston, MN, at Amherst, and is writing a book about her Norwegian heritage. Deb is a layout editor at the Journal

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Rushford-Peterson Wrestling Team

Fri, May 3rd, 2002
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Rushford-Peterson Wrestling. Front row from left: Ben Kruze, Travis Johnsgaard, Abe Wilkemeyer. Middle row: Ben Johnson, J.J. Pettit, Christian Dahl, Nick Langseth, Dustin Johnson. Back row: Matt Rislov, Darrin Dessner, Joe Rye, Lee Johnson, Ryan Agr ..... 
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