May 25: Visit to a Brekken ancestor in Lesjaskog

We are taking a weekend roadtrip to Trollstigen and Geiranger, two of the natural wonders of Norway. The road there passes through Lesjaskog, the town where the Brekkens came from in the late 1860s.

We visited the cemetery in Lesjaskog where Ted’s great-great-great-grandfather, Rolf Kristoffer Brekken, is buried. As far as we know, he is the last of the family to die in Norway–all of his children and wife moved to America just after his death in 1860. We might be the only people to visit Rolf in all of these years–13 years ago with Cliff when we first found his grave and the farm they came from, and today. We were sorry that we didn’t think to bring flowers to plant there, but we did pick some dandelions to lay at the headstone.

The etching on the stone is very weathered. It reads:
Haugianeren (read more at the link, thanks to Norwegian friends!)
Rolf K Brekken

 His son, Christoffer (Americanized spelling), came to America with his wife, Marit, also from Lesjaskog. They were born and raised within a 5-minute walk of each other; both of their family homes are now part of the same farm. They married in 1863, so I assume that they came to America shortly after their marriage, probably around 1866 (his brother Torger came in 1866 and his wife in 1867). They had 9 children.

Their son Carl was born in 1875, who begat Kermit Orville (born 1912), who begat Clifford, who begat Ted, who begat Anders and Nora. 

The Lesjaskog church is set in a beautiful setting and the church yard and cemetery is very well cared for. Sprinklers were running when we arrived, gardening tools are hanging where they can be used, many graves have fresh flowers planted.

They also have a large memorial to those who emigrated to America alongside war memorials.

“In memory of those who emigrated to America.”

Seeing the location of the Brekken farm up on a hill, compared to the flat farms down in the valley, it’s likely that the Brekkens had a difficult farming situation. We would like to learn more about why all of the children moved to America. We did learn a little last time we visited; we met the people who are now living on that farm, who also had relatives move to America during the same period and settle in the same county in North Dakota. Communities stuck together.

The emmigrant memorial is beside memorials for veterans from 1814 to 1914, and another for those who died during WWII.

Anders found a few other “Anders Brekken” graves. One other was in his late 20s and died in 1945, likely war-related (spelled Brækken though).

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.
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