Simon and Ingrid on their Wedding Day
July 18, 1906
My parents, Simon Martin Christiansen, and Ingrid Marie Paulsen were born in Norway two hundred and forty miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the island of Hinnoya. This island is the largest of the Lofoten islands located on the Oksfjorden in the "Land of the Midnight Sun". Mother was born June 8, 1888 on the farm Sommarset, and Dad was born October 14, 1880, on the farm Hundness. In 1997 a biography entitled The Simon & Ingrid Christiansen Legacy was written about these wonderful parents. The following description concerning these two farms, and this beautiful part of Norway is taken from this book.
Sommarset is a small place with two farms located on the west side of the Oksfjorden about ten miles from its inlet at the large Vestfjorden. It is thirty three miles northeast of Kabelvaag, the headquarters of the Vaagan Parish, Lutheran Church.
At this latitude the sun sets below the southern horizon about the 23rd of November and remains hidden in the south until about January 20th, when it comes briefly into view. Each day the sun remains a little longer until it shines twenty-four hours a day beginning on May 24th, and never sets until late July. It is a beautiful place with one sloping hillside above the other, profusely covered with native grasses, and wild flowers beginning at the shoreline and extending up the mountain side. A roaring creek flows down the mountainside about fifty feet south of our home.
Hundness is located approximately four miles south of Sommarset on the Oksfjorden coast. It is located on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Oksfjorden with a small harbor on each side providing shelter for small boats during stormy seas. There is a white sandy beach at each harbor. In 1899 theirís was the only house at Hundness, and this was true when I visited in 1994.
Dad and Mothers parents were hard working fishermen and farmers. They taught their children to work at an early age. Each child was given responsibilities around the home and farm. Their children were educated in the public school system, although this education was minimal compared to our standards in America.
Dad went to sea as a fisherman at an early age, and mother learned the basic skills of homemaking. They were both proficient in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Mother and Dad were married July 18, 1906 in the Vaagan Parish, located in Kabelvaag, Norway. Their first child, Rolf, was born January 10, 1908 at Sommarset, Norway. They later immigrated to Utah, on May 7, 1909 on the S. S. Oscar II.
I am the ninth child of these wonderful and honorable parents. I was born January 4, 1926. Rolf the eldest son was born January 10 1908, Sommarset, Norway; Harold September 24, 1909, Salt Lake City, Utah; Signe October 28, 1911, Salt Lake City, Utah; Walter, January 22, 1914, Springfield Idaho; Birger January 24, 1916, Springfield, Idaho; Waldemar September 24, Springfield, Idaho, 1918; Elsie February 2, 1921, Rose, Idaho; and Esther, January 10, 1923, Rose, Idaho. My birth place was the front bedroom of the home owned by Abel and Borghild Paulsen, my mothers brother and sister in law, located at 1483 Hollywood, Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah. The Doctorís name was Willard Christopherson, and he was assisted by Tante (Aunt) Borghild. This room was a birthing place for several in the family, as many of my cousins came into the world in this same room. During that period of time most children were born at home, and a birth at the hospital was a rare occasion.
The advent of my birth came at a time when the family was struggling with the death of my Father. Father died five months prior to my birth on July 25, 1925, at the age of forty five, from a ruptured appendix. Mother told me in later years I was given the name of my Father as a reminder of her love for him
Dads death was not the first tragedy suffered by the family. While living in Lavaside, Idaho, Birger died from diphtheria one month prior to his sixth birthday, December 7, 1921. Twenty four days later January 1, 1922, Elise passed away with complications from influenza. The death of these two children was the primary reason the family moved from Idaho back to Salt Lake City, soon after Estherís birth.
Life in America had not been easy for Dad and Mother. They suffered through many hardships, and life had its many ups and downs. During the years in Idaho, they worked very hard at farming, and they had some poor and some good years.. In the final end the years in Idaho were very unproductive. They lost all of their equity in the farm they had worked so hard to build up, when at the end of the crop year of 1922 the price of potatoes fell from seven dollars per hundred weight to two dollars per hundred weight.
During his years in Norway Dad learned the skill of carpentry repairing fishing boats during the off season for fishing. When he came to America he worked for a short time making bricks at the Interstate Brick Company. He worked there until he had learned enough English to find another job. He eventually obtained a carpenters job working for a contractor who was building railroad stations in Southern Idaho. This work eventually led to farming when he homesteaded forty acres of arid land in Springfield, Idaho. He used his carpentry skills to build houses for our family and others during the years in Idaho. Upon the families return to Salt Lake, Dad went to work as a carpenter. He was working for a Mr. George Adamson at the time of his death.
Although I did not have the privilege of knowing my Dad, I always had a great love and respect for him. This came about from the many stories I heard from my mother, members of the family, and others who knew him. He was a hard worker, honest with his fellow men, treated others with respect, and his word was his bond. He taught all of his children these attributes, and I learned these same things from my brothers and sisters through their example.
Shortly after Dads death the family move from 1560 South, West Temple Street, to 1421 South, Major Street. Major Street runs parallel North and South between Main Street and State Streets. It was a white frame house with blue trim, and this is where the family resided when I was born.
During the short period of time when Dad worked as a carpenter in Salt Lake, Mother persuaded him to purchase a life insurance policy in the amount of Twenty Five hundred dollars. This insurance money, and a small savings account was the only assets Mother had to sustain life and take care of the family upon Dadís death. Later on she obtained a small widows pension of ten dollars per month from the State of Utah.
When the family moved back from Idaho, Rolf went to work with dad as a carpenter apprentice. Harold found a job working for Whitley Plumbing and Heating and began learning the plumbing trade. When Dad died they were working learning these trades, and they then took over the financial responsibilities of the family. This was a heavy burden to place on young men of eighteen and sixteen years of age. Following are excerpts taken from Dad and Mothers biography concerning this period of time.
Mother, in her wisdom, could see that paying rent to others for housing was not a wise thing to do. She knew if she was ever going to accumulate anything of value she would have to take steps to purchase a house for the family to live in. So, sometime in 1926, she purchased a house which had come up for sale at 1389 Major Street. I understand she paid $1,000 down and through the help of Uncle Abel, she financed the balance, which was a little over $1,200, with Zions Savings Bank. She made arrangements to pay only the interest on the loan for the first three years. This would give her extra time to get better established financially. She also thought the family needed transportation, especially Rolf, who now became the primary bread winner. She purchased a used Durante Touring car which would be the source of many fond memories for the family in the future. This was the start of a new era in Motherís life. If you stop and think about Motherís plight, you can see the courage and faith in the future she must have had when she took these steps. I am certain what held the family together during those first years was the leadership the family received from this remarkable person, their mother. The love each family member had for the other and the willingness to make sacrifices for each other. Rolf had been working with Dad for several years as a carpenter. He willingly stepped in and took on the responsibility of providing financial support. His weekly pay check was turned over to Mother with the exception of a small amount which he needed for street car fare. This he continued to do until he was married in the fall of 1933. Harold pitched in his share. Signe, at fourteen, went to work as a secretary even though she was too young. Mother made and sold flowers made from crepe paper dipped in colored wax. Walter went to work prior to his graduation from high school. [When Walter was about 70 years old, he enrolled in the adult education program offered by the Salt Lake City School District and qualified for his high school diploma.] Mother expressed on several occasions the financial support given by Rolf and the rest of the family is what kept the family going during those immediate years following Dadís death. Without this support it would have been next to impossible to survive
I shall always be grateful to my older brothers and sisters for their willingness to step forward and make many sacrifices to provide for the family, and for those of us who were too young to help.
This information about my parents and the early years prior to my birth is a limited overview. I encourage you to read more about their lives in the biography aforementioned. It can be found on this web site listed under the link Christiansen Book.
-- Simon M. Christiansen
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