Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Norwegian Family in Brooklyn...

I got an email from Norway from Inger last month....I meant to write her right back but I got busy and side tracked and did not get to it until this week.  When she wrote me, she was telling me about some local research she was doing. She was working on a local Jorgensen family from Tjome.  They are related to Bjarne and the Ingwardo family through their mother, Anna.  Inger tells me about Anna's Aunts and an Uncle.  The Uncle immigrated to America. I found the story interesting.  She talked about the family who stayed in Tjome and James who left for America like my Grandfather did.

After receiving her email,  I decide to see if I could find James and his family and see what happened to them after their arrival in the US.  Today I will share with you  the letter that I sent to Inger.  My letter starts with the usual greeting... 

                                                                                                           August 13-14, 2012

Dear Inger,

And an apology for not writing sooner... and a couple of pleasantries....etc..

I enjoyed reading about Anna's family... I did look at the American records for James M. Jorgensen and his family. There was quite a lot to find.  I was able to find them in Brooklyn, New York in Census records, found a couple of  draft records for WWI and WWII and a social security death record.  You had indicated that in 1910, James was listed in the Norwegian Census and it stated that he was in when I found the WW1 draft record, I thought that was a good confirmation that he was still in America in 1918.  After finding all the census records  for the 1920, 1930 and 1940, I decided to look to see if I could figure out if James and Amanda ever became naturalized citizen in America.

 I found Amanda's records first.  In her naturalization papers, it states that they arrived on Jun 5, 1923.  It also states that  She and James were married on July 2, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. .So the record seemed to imply that they were not here before 1923 and then it said they were! .. I got a bit confused...It seemed to me that the couple I found in the 1920 Census were James and Amanda. Then I did find find arrival documents which verify that they came on Jun 5, 1923 but no  passenger records which showed them arriving before 1923...yet I was certain that they were here earlier... In the passenger record from 1923 .... It appeared that they may have had a son, John Arthur who came over with them.  He would have been born in 1921 and the passenger record stated he was born in Brooklyn.  Does that sound familiar to you?  I do NOT see a son named John Arthur listed in the census for 1930... 

  An interesting little mystery seems to be emerging....  I am fairly certain that the WWI  Record is for the correct James Jorgensen . Now I guess I'll go look for James' naturalization papers to see what they say. I was able to find his record too...It states that they arrived on Jun 5, 1923 but on that record he and Oline Amanda Jorgensen were married on July 2,1919 in Brooklyn, New York. (same as on Amanda's naturalization papers....

In the 1920 Census, James lists his occupation as a sailor and Amanda is a clerk.  He arrived in America in 1911. He is 36 years old and Amanda is 25.  She arrived in America in 1915 according to the census record.   He is listed as head of household for what looks like a large boarding house which many people live in .

What I found so interesting is that all of the people in the boarding house were from Norway or Sweden.  There are 8 people listed in the home with Amanda and James.  The first one is Rudolf Olsen and he is listed as Brother-in-law so he must be Amanda's brother.  He is 22 years old and arrived in America in 1916 and his occupation is listed as a sailor. The remaining people are :

Axel Gladistach – male- 35 years old – single – arrived 1915 - Carpenter on Deck - Norway
Elias Hansen – male – 23 years old – single – arrived 1914- none - Norway
August Hansen – male – 24 years old – married – arrived 1916- sailor - Norway
Tobina Hansen- female – 28 years old – married – arrived 1916- rigger - Norway
Harold Holter – male – 37 years old – single – arrived 1905 – officer – Norway
Arthur Anderson – male – 33 years old – single – arrived 1913- no occupation - Norway
Magnus Jacobsen – males – 17 – single – arrived 1900 – no occupation - Norway
Arthur Petersen – male – 31 – single   - arrived 1910 – citizen 1915 - Came from Sweden. Sailor

It is likely that all these men work for the same shipping company maybe...or on the same dock??

By the 1925 New York State Census, Hilda Jorgensen has been born.  She is one year old and James and Amanda now have six lodgers living with them and they are all from Norway or Sweden.  The names are not the same as the 1920 census.   The lodgers may be employed by James or the company which James works for since they all seem to be in a related profession.  James lists his occupation as a painter now and Amanda is a house wife with a 1 year old daughter.

Carl Swensen  - Male - 30 years old – Sweden - Roofer
Holga Hansen –Male-  29 years old – Sweden - Painter
Peter Gabrielsen – Male – 50 years old – Norway – Arrive 8 days ago- no job yet
Daniel Kayvik – Male- 35 years old – Norway - carpenter
Charles Andersen – Male -30 years old – Norway - Carpenter
Henry Martinsen – Male- 33 years old – Norway - Fireman

By the 1930 Census, James and Amanda now have three children.  They still live in Brooklyn, New York. James occupation is listed as house painter and Amanda is listed as a housewife.  Hilda is now 6 years old. Thelma is 2 years old and Arthur is 11 months old. They have two lodgers who are from Norway. 

Arnold Nelsen – male – 28 years old – Norway- Deck hand (I assume this means that they are sailors)
Conrad Nelsen – male – 26 years old – Norway- Deck hand

In the 1940 census, his wife is listed as Amanda and three children are listed Hilda(16), Thelma(12) and Arthur(10).  They have one lodger living with them whose name is Howard Cole.  He is an American and his occupation is listed as Meter reader for the electric company. The family photo you sent me was likely taken around the 1940 Census. The children look about the same ages which were listed in the Census record!

James, Amanda, Thelma, Hilda and Arthur Jorgensen
(This photo was in a box in the home that the Jorgensen lived in on Tjome.  Inger shared it with me. Amanda sent it to James' sister, Maren.)

James's WWII draft record does not list his job but it states that he his 58 years old and he still lives in Brooklyn. His social security record  which is a death record in the US indicated that he died in September of 1982 and was born in Sept 1, 1883 in Tonsberg.  He was 99 years old when he died...That is really something to live that long.  My Grandfather was also born in 1883 and he died in 1971.  We thought that he had lived a long time!

Maybe I will look around the Norwegian church records to see if I can find John Arthur Jorgensen who was born in 1921.  I am wondering if they took him to Norway to be baptized and they were returning to the US on Jun5, 1923 .  And maybe that was the only legal entry into the US that they could use for their naturalization applications....I'll look around to see if I can find any New York records. I'll let you know if I find anything...Might look at the Norwegian passenger lists too.  They might have kept better records...

I better go for now.  I will look around and see if I can find anything else about this family but it has been an interesting day today searching through records...It was much more fun than any house work I could have done!  I might have to use this family for my blog since I have acquired so much information about them....

I'll write again soon. 

Love,  Jan

I was very surprised how much information could be found about this family on  I wish I knew if any of this family is still living. I would love to share this photo with them.   I will look around a bit to see if I can find anything.  My hope is that some day someone from the family will go looking on the internet and find my blog.

This is a classic example of how a family can "come to life" through the records left behind in county vital records, in books on library shelves, and in databases online which now can be accessed through, and other local family history database sites. 

Happy Hunting...until next time,  



  1. James Marensus and Amanda olina olsen were married in the carroll street church in brooklyn

    1. Thanks for contacting me.Wish I knew your email. Thanks for the info I really appreciate it.

  2. My name is Laurie Houston. My Grandparents were Amanda and James Jorgensen, and my mother is Hilda Jorgensen. Thelma Jorgensen is my Aunt, and John Jorgensen is my Uncle.

  3. If you would like to contact me, my email is

  4. By the way, we have the same portrait hanging on my Mom's wall!

  5. my E mail is I am the first born grandchild of James and Amanda Jorgensen. I have often wondered if Marin James sister married or if James had any more sibbling. appreciate any answer you may have


If you would like me to respond to you, please include your email address. Thanks I hope you enjoy!