One of the biggest challenges I have encountered so far in my research has been trying to figure out who my grandmother really was. I knew her as Marie Dahl Hanson, but she had changed her name when she emmigrated, and I had absolutely no information about where in Norway she came from or who her parents were, so it didn’t take me long to hit the brick wall that is all too familiar to anybody who has tried their hand at genealogy. I started asking around the family for any information that might help me with my research: one of the tidbits I got came from my mother:

Do you remember Gram’s nephew coming to visit us in Hinsdale? He had a wife and I think 2 small children, the little girl had cancer in her eye, and she later died. He was a minister in Orange, New Jersey, I am not sure which religion, but would think maybe Lutheran. I think you were in the area of 8 years old then. Linda remembered the little girl’s name was Heidi and she had died after they returned to Norway. Gram’s nephew’s first name was Tolloff.

I had vague memories of some Norwegian relatives visiting but did not remember exactly how they were related. Still, I had a first name, and “nephew” implied that there was a brother or sister somewhere that I did not know about, so I kept on digging. Some time later I was prowling around a cousin’s web site (thank you Danny Hanson!) and I came across the picture below labeled “Relatives from Norway”. Unfortunately, the trail seemed to end there. Many people remembered meeting them but nobody had any more information about who they were or how they were related. And so the mystery remained unsolved…

Tolleif Roni Andersen Family
Tolleif Roni Andersen, Daughters Norma & Heidi and wife Ragnhild

….until I visited Norway in September of 2006 and met some 2nd cousins from that branch of the family. Through them I discovered that my grandmother had two brothers, two sisters and a step-sister: “Tolloff” was the son on one of her sisters (Maren Louise Antonsdatter). His real name is Tolleif Roni Andersen and his wife was Ragnhild. The youngest of the two children (wearing the yellow dress in the picture above) was Norma who, sadly, did die in Norway in 1967. The other young girl (Heidi – in the red dress) lives in Norway with her husband: they have four daughters.

I would love to hear from anybody who recognizes the picture above, especially if you can tell me when and/or where it was taken. I’m guessing it was taken sometime around 1962, but I don’t know where… does anybody in the family recognize the picture in the background?

In Birchwood, Wisconsin
Visiting Birchwood, Wisconsin about 1961
Back Row (L to R): Albert Evans, Norma Andersen, Gomer Evans, Marie Dahl [Hanson], Jean Hanson [Albert], Arnold Hanson
Ragnhild Doksrod, Laura Hanson [Evans], Ann Amborn [Hanson], Linda Hanson [Glover] Brad Evans, Heidi Andersen, Nora Andersen, Tony Hanson

Relatives from Norway