Martha Syndé (born Martha Nilsdatter Hilme) is my 5th great grandmother (on my McMurry/Bailey side). She was born in September, 1784, in Aurdal, Valdres district, Oppland county, Norway. She was one of at least two children born to Nils Jørgensen Ringsåker (1753–1830) and his wife Ingebord Olsdatter Ulnes (1751–?), the other known child being her older brother Jørgen (“Jørn”) Nilson, born in August, 1778.
Martha eventually lived to be 85 years old, she had 40 grandchildren, she sailed to the United States when she was 65, and she was the matriarch of large Norwegian-American family whose descendants did, and still do, appreciate this remarkable woman, born almost 230 years ago.
Given her stature in her family, and the fact that she lived well into the age of photography, dying on September 13, 1869, I would expect that there were several photos taken of her. Despite that, I know of no surviving photographs of Martha Syndé. To those cousins who may be reading this, please let me know if you know of, or have, a photograph of Martha.
I’d like to introduce the tragic story of a Norwegian immigrant, Sever Severson, dying far from home in the service of his adopted country. Despite his death while serving his country, his service to his adopted country was apparently all but unnoticed by the very government he was fighting for. If not for his death, burial, later disinterment and subsequent reburial in a military cemetery, his country and his descendants may not have even known he died, far from home, fighting for the survival of the country that we call home.
I do not know this story first-hand, of course, because Sever is my great-great-great-grandfather, and he died a century and a half ago. Even his daughter, my great-great-grandmother Carrie Severson Bailey, was only 4 years old when he went to war, and whatever memories she may have had of her father did not make it down through the family to me.
In Part 1 of this series, I’ll present what I currently [think I] know about Sever Severson—his life, his family, his military service, and his death. In subsequent posts in this series , I’ll chart a research strategy, undertake the necessary research, present the results of this research, and will hopefully be able to draw some conclusions about the life and death of Sever Severson.