The Remmen Family History - Part 1



The Remmen Family History

This page contains a link and information about a wonderful map site to use for finding Norwegian locations mentioned here, along with a brief introduction to Norway. The next page tells the story of our Remmen ancestors in Norway.

- Part One -

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Here is an incredible and searchable Norwegian map that you can use to look at all the places mentioned in this web site.

How to use the map (print this part, and then follow the directions):
If the text at the map site is in Norwegian, click on the little flag to see it in English. You can pick categories on the right side. For example:

  • Under the heading Search Type, select Search Place
  • Under the heading Select County, select Møre og Romsdal
  • Under the heading Category, select Farm
  • Under the heading Place, type remmem into the block (make sure you type "remmem", not "remmen").
  • Click on Search, and you will get a couple of choices.
  • Click on the one with "Vestnes" (click on the "Show map" button), and it will bring up the area with the Remmem farm. Zoom in using the buttons to see it better (click on the "plus" button about 3 or 4 times). That is the Remmem farm that our ancestors came from!
  • Try it again using the search locations of Sogn og Fjordane for County, Farm for Category, and Place is "nesdal". When you get to the map, zoom in until you see Nesdal and Bødal farms; that is where our ancestors came from before moving to Remmem.

You can also search by moving around in the map itself. Click on the zoom way out button to see the whole country. After that, click on the hand button , and then click and drag the map until the part you want to zoom in on is in the center. Then click on the buttons to zoom in and out. Use the button as you zoom in to move the map where you want.

Introduction to Norway

Our Remmen roots go back to Europe, in the country of Norway, where our ancestors lived and worked for generations on small farms. These were not the large sprawling farms growing huge crops for sale like those in the United States. Instead, they were located among the steep and mountainous fjords along the western Norwegian coast in any location where the land was capable of supporting a few buildings, crops and animals.

These were subsistence farmers, raising everything they needed to survive, with perhaps a little to spare for selling and trading. They also worked at other trades that would allow them to make a living from the land, such as logging and fishing.

Usually each farm would be divided into separate smaller farms, each run by a separate family. These families may or may not be related. Each family would either own the farm, or would be tenants on the farm in which case they would rent just the house, or may lease the house and land.

Geography and Map of Norway

Farmers that worked their own land would do so for generations, handing the farm down from oldest son to oldest son. Since each smaller farm unit could only support one family, only the parents and oldest son would remain on the farm. All the other brothers and sisters would have to make their own way in the world elsewhere, or stay on as a farm worker or servant.

As the parents aged and could no longer work to support themselves, they would sign the farm over to the oldest son with the agreement that they could continue to live there for the rest of their lives receiving room and board. This process would often be repeated for many generations.

This way of life was also represented in the system used for people's names. For example, the people really only had a first name, without a last name. Mons would be known as Mons, the son of Elling. Thus, the name Mons Ellingsen. Mons' sister Dorte would be known as Dorte Ellingsdatter. If Mons then had a son named Elling, he would be known as Elling Monsen.

The farm name also formed a part of the name, but it actually represented the address rather than a surname. For example, if Mons Ellingsen lived on the farm Bødal, he would be known as Mons Ellingsen Bødal, where Bødal indicates the farm name. If Mons then moved to the farm Remmem Indre, his name would become Mons Ellingsen Remmem, and he would no longer use the name Bødal. Around 1900 the laws were changed and everyone was required to adopt permanent last names.

Today, Norway is divided into 19 counties, or "fylkes" (see map, above). Each fylke is further divided into separate units called "komunes." These administrative levels are also identified by their church parishes, which were further divided into sub-parishes.

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