The Adoption Witness On Ancestry: The Baroness of Skog-Vefsn Emigrates to Lake Cowichan

Here is a copy of an original letter from the Baron of Manby/Baron of Skog-Vefsn; Dr. Lloyd J. Bailey, B.A., M.A., M.Ed. Ph.D. to our father, John O. Hemmingsen, dated 11 Feb 2000.1 Now, even original materials must be offered with caution; some may contain a little farce. That is, while it is far from us to question validity of those “Baron” titles, everyone else should.

Still, it must have been the very authority of the august Baron of Skog-Vefsn that brought this old brief to mind when most needed. It was an expression of sympathy to John, on the recent loss of his beloved sister, Marie. The week after its receipt, John penned a note, under which he forwarded the condolence to Marie’s daughter, Margot. Margot treasured it, and when John died in 2008, she shared it and many notes from John, with us, his children. The Baron, then, seemed to call out from deep within our hoarded material, for us to review this correspondence-set for help on two of ours from Mosjoen, their town in the Vefsn/Vefsen municipality. They were Anna and her daughter, Betty.

John was son of Matt Hemmingsen, of Hattfjelldal, which was in the Vefsn municipality until 1862.

Anna Hemmingsen (1884-1954) [Danielsdatter/Tobiassen/Thomson]

Our last post struggled with the surname “Thomson” claimed by Anna at the time of her marriage to John’s uncle, Ed Hemmingsen. Anna was otherwise, compellingly data similar to Anna Danielsdatter b. 1884, Mosjoen, whose family had undertaken a surname change to Tobiassen, at the end of the 19th Century.2 We thought we would leave it at that, opining that all Anna were likely the same.

Dorothea Elizabeth (Betty) Kissinger (Hemmingsen) (1920-2004) [Dorthea Larsen]

That stance was not robust enough, when we went to find birth particulars for Anna’s daughter, Dorothea Elizabeth, known as Betty. Ed and Anna’s first child, George Daniel, was born in 1907. Betty, born in Mosjoen, came along on 16 July 1920. Since the Hemmingsen family was available in Washington State, at least until January for the 1920 Census, it occurred that Betty may have been adopted.

John tells us here that Anna was aunt to Thora Bailey, born Mathisen in Norway. Thora Matheson married Harold Bailey in 1933. 3 She was a 21-year-old maid at the Empress Hotel in Victoria B.C. Her parents were Daniel Andreas Matheson and Caran Thomson.

Thomson again; could Caran Thomson be Anna Jorgine Danielsdtr/Tobiassen’s sister, Karen Marie? This marital record and other documents put Thora’s birth at 1912, in Mosjoen and her sister, Elfrida Dorthea, 1911. Unfortunately, a decade of records for Mosjoen Parish seem missing around these years. We needed a work-around.

Here is a two-census-point tabulation of children in the Tobiassen/Danielsdatter family.4

Clearly, this Anna had a sister named Karen. Caran? Alas, Thomson was seemingly not in her profile. Yet, we felt we were “getting warmer”. Recalling that our Granny, Margaret Naysmith Alexander, had imparted a smidgen of Irish into our DNA, we tried our luck at just looking for any female born on 16 Jul 1920, in Mosjoen, Betty Hemmingsen’s claimed birth data.5

Daniel Mathisen and wife, Karen for Dorthea Larsdatter; Daniel Mathisen also works for Thora. Even if Karen is Caran, there is still no help for Caran as Thomson.

Dorthea’s mother, Dagny Bergitte was likewise found in the Mosjoen register for 1898. That is, assuming she took her father’s surname of Olsen, rather than the traditional Andreasdatter, perhaps a reflection of her parents unwed status.

Daniel Matisen-Karen Marie Tobiassen (Danielsdtr): If Dorthea Larsdatter was Betty, then her grandmother was Karen Marie Danielsdatter and step-father, Daniel Mathisen. By now it was obvious the Mosjoen register was lean, so just paging forward in its marriage record after 1898, quickly brought this: On 22 Aug 1899, Karen Marie Tobiassen married Daniel Andreas Edward Matisen. Karen’s father was cited as Daniel Tobiassen.5 Never a mention of Thomson.

Norway Emigrant: Dorthea Larsen with Skog, to USA July 1926

USA Immigrant: Dorthea Larsen to Wickersham WA August 1926

We must say, Johanne Karoline Skog looked suspiciously similar to Johanne Karoline Tobiassen. The two arrived in New York, 2 Aug 1926, from Oslo on the Stavangerfjord. Its manifest showed Johanne Karoline was married to Johan Skog.4 It further noted that Mrs. Skog’s final destination was Mosjoen Norway, while Dorthea was bound for Wickersham WA. Thus, it now appeared that “emigrant” Skog was a temporary caretaker. Their first encounter with America had them posted to the “Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry” as Johanna had apparently traveled without a VISA. Whoopsie. Just another wrinkle on Dorthea’s ultimate destination of Lake Cowichan.

Canada Immigrants Hemmingsen: to Lake Cowichan, BC June 1926

Where is my mommy?

It appears that Ed, Anna and George re-entered Canada the month before Betty arrived in the US. The Border Crossing document gave much more detail than that extracted here.4 It referenced Ed’s sister, Henrietta Church at Wickersham WA – Betty’s probable first destination, after docking in NY.

This international adoption was likely already complicated and long. Ed’s new job may have happened late, such that it was prudent to keep a Washington destination for Dorthea, in the short term.

Note about the Border Crossing Document: this record was found at and is pointed to “Nova Scotia>Manifests” with output for Hemmingsen arrival in Halifax. Our first thought was that the Hemmingsens had just returned from a trip to Norway to collect Dorthea. We took a second look when we found that Dorthea arrived in July. The underlying document is labeled for the Port of Sydney, B.C.; not for Ports of Halifax or Sydney, NS.

Thomson/Thompson: We still cannot account for this surname. The current best bet: since it was appended to a name-changing family; they originally settled on the four syllable Tobiassen. They condensed it to two, for Tobsen; found that not sufficiently Jones-American and took the close sounding Thomson.

See Notes and Sources #7 Helgeland Museum; Vefsn amd Hattfjelldal

Baron of Skog-Vefsn: Lloyd Bailey died in 2006. He probably knew these details, including that the adopted daughter of Edward and Anna Hemmingsen was Anna’s great niece. If so, we did not know where he may have housed his work.

Canada Immigrant: Baroness of Skog-Vefsn to Lake Cowichan

We do not know the name under which Betty crossed the border, or exactly when she made it home to Ed and Anna’s embrace. We do know she quickly won hearts in Lake Cowichan where she would spend her first Canadian years. A wee insight shows that on 31 May 1928, she enjoyed an eighth birthday party, along with Ruth Alexander.6 It was a girls-only event.

The same aged Cowichan Area Cousin group: Ruth Alexander (Samuel Alexander and Edith Joyce) was seven months Betty’s senior. Bob Hemmingsen (Matt Hemmingsen and Margaret Alexander) was in between. As the tale is told, there was nary a contrary word amongst them as they splashed through youth in the lake they loved.

Dorthea Larsen of Mosjoen Norway, Dorothea Elizabeth (Betty) Hemmingsen of Wickersham WA, Lake Cowichan and Victoria B.C., Mrs. William (Bill) Kissinger (Betty) of Lake Cowichan and Victoria, will now be returned to the main story in the roll-out of the Memoirs of Matt Hemmingsen.

1913 VEFSN: JOHAN SKOG wed Johanna Karoline. Born Daniels(sen/dtr) of Daniel Tobiassen, she and her siblings changed their surnames to Tobiassen, then to Thompson – creating ancestry havoc. Her niece, Thora, had a son, Lloyd Bailey, who dubbed himself Baron of Skog-Vefsn, in fun for family history. He died in 2006, after leaving a key clue for our story series – CLICK HERE for list.  

Please leave comments, questions and corrections below notes and sources.

Notes and Sources

1 From the Orcutt-Tomlin-Hemmingsen Family Collection, graciously provided by Margot Orcutt.

2 Documented previously in the post for which link has been provided.

3 Royal BC Museum: BC Div. Vital Statistics Marriage Registrations: Harold Bailey to Thora Matheson Reg. 1933-09-411508

4  a) 1891 Norway Census and 1900 Norway Census [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2019. Source Citation Riksarkivet: The National Archives of Norway; Norge;Norway; 1891 Norge Folketelling;1891 Norway Census and 1900 Norge Folketelling. Original data: 1891 Norge Folketelling, and 1900 Norge Folketelling,Arkivverket, Norge. / b) Skog and Larsen: New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957. Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3896; Line: 26; Page Number: 150. Original source: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls. NAI: 6256867. Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36. National Archives at Washington, D.C. and Aliens Held for Special Inquiry 2 Aug 1926 Year: 1926; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 3896; Line: 17; Page Number: 175. / c) Hemmingsen: Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935. Source citation: Library and Archives Canada; 1908-1935 Border Entries; Roll: T-15350.

5 National Archives of Norway. a) Dorthea Larsdatter b. 1920 SAT, Ministerialprotokoller, klokkerbøker og fødselsregistre – Nordland, 820/L0303: Parish register (copy) no. 820C05, 1917-1952, p. 8
Quick link: / b) Dagny Bergitte Olsen b 1898 SAT, Ministerialprotokoller, klokkerbøker og fødselsregistre – Nordland, 820/L0296: Parish register (official) no. 820A17, 1880-1903, p. 61 Quick link: / c) Matisen-Tobiassen 1899 marriage SAT, Ministerialprotokoller, klokkerbøker og fødselsregistre – Nordland, 820/L0296: Parish register (official) no. 820A17, 1880-1903, p. 158 Quick link: / d) Emigrant Dorothea Lars. 1926 Archive Ref: SAT/A-1887/1/32/L0016. Trondheim politikammer, 1/32 Emigrant protocols, no. 16: Emigrant protocol no. 15, 1916-1926

6 The Daily Colonist (1928-06-01) University of Victoria Libraries Collection. Column “Lake Cowichan News” p.8 “Society and Women’s Affairs”

7 Helgeland Museum kindly allowed the photo of Skog i Vefsn. At one can the umbrella of 18 museums and “large natural history collection” Two of them are of particular interest to us: Vefsn and Hattfjelldal. However, the over all map helps us appreciate the many Helgeland names found in our history.

14 thoughts on “The Adoption Witness On Ancestry: The Baroness of Skog-Vefsn Emigrates to Lake Cowichan

  1. Hi.
    Wow- Thanks For Guiding. Us
    Thru’ This Paper Trail Even…
    When No Papers (Visas) Around. Abouts
    😮 👍
    So Well. Done. Enjoyed. Enjoy
    Your Day/Night.

    Till Next… Shiro 😎


  2. Hi! I`m Johanna (e) Karoline`s granddaughter. She was married to Johan Skog. My grandmother was the lady that followed Betty to the States. I`ve met Betty and Bill twice in Norway. Betty or Dorothea was the family secret here in Norway untill I learnt as adult that Dagny was Betty`s mother. Dagny was my mother`s cousin and they were close.


    1. How marvelous it is to have your note! Thanks Torill. Good too, to find that Dagny remained close to her family – hopefully with a happy life, knowing that Dorthea was much loved within her extended family, albeit far away.
      I wonder, was Johanna Karoline able to cross the continent to Betty’s destination of Wickersham WA before returning to Norway? Surely if so, Anna would have come down from Canada to embrace her kin. It is fun to imagine all the possibilities while being touched by you, on the other side of this family equation. Either way, Johanna is to be honored for her selfless trip that brought us all together. – Marilee


  3. Thank you for your note! My english is bad when I`m writing, but I understand better and talk a litle. My grandmother visited the States several times so I`m sure she was following Dorthea all the way to Anna. This was her last trip over since she had two children at home with Johan Skog. She had earlier visited her brother Theodor. Dagny was almost dancing aroud Betty when visiting us here in Molde on the west coast of Norway. Betty had a halfbrother in Trondheim so there are lots of cousins in Norway. Dagny`s grandchildren in Norway had not been told about Betty before I did it a year or so ago.Johanna my grandmother born Tobiassen married Johan Skog. He had a brother in Tacoma W. Johan and Johanna were cousins so we have family in Tacoma too. I`m on facebook under my full name and you have my e-mail. I wonder if Dagny`s grandson Stig has found Betty`s family?


    1. Pictures show how beautiful your Molde is! I must correct you: your writing is quite good! I have no Norwegian except to say, I am proudly Mormor. I am thrilled to have your comments on my blog so that others can search and connect. Maybe someday, kin from Hattfjelldal will drop by. Interesting that Johanna followed Theodor more than once. I believe one of her visits to him was in Wisconsin where Ed Hemmingsen lived at the time. So many questions. Such a lot of fun. If you input “Cowichan” into my blog’s search box you will see pictures of where Betty grew up. I have not finished with the series, and more will go up. You may be interested in the float-home that the Hemmingsen family lived in.


  4. I`m a proudly mormor and farmor. I have a daughter and son in-law and grandchildren living in Arizona. She has been following Anna, Johanna and Theodor`s steps. There was another brother of Anna named Edvind Tobiassen born in 1871 in the States or may be Canada. He was working with timber, I think. I was told that he died in the woods while working. Only Karen and Johanna were staying behind in Mosjøen. A sister Dorthea died in ths Spanish desease. The family on both sides I`ll love to be seeing in Molde.


    1. Amazing! The children of Daniel Jorgen Tobiassen and Bergitta Danielsdatter covered a whole lot of territory, leaving wonderful legacy! I wonder how much they saw. Its a comfort to know that some kept anchor, in Norway. Your Molde is breathtaking beautiful. It must have been so hard to leave.


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