Saturday, May 20, 2006

Possible Greenlandic Heritage

Indigenous children from Paamiut (Frederikshaab).
I may have ancestors from Grønland (Greenland).

Several years ago, I corresponded with Inger Bjørnaas, a woman from Meldal, Norway who provided some assistance to me by copying pages from Norwegian church books related to my mother's ancestry. I was grateful for her help, but unfortunately, I was unable to learn anything more about my Norwegian lineage... that is, until yesterday. What I found surprised me.

According to church records transcribed by Inger, one of my ancestors was a woman by the name of Caroline Frederiksdatter Urvandsagen Dalager, born on March 24, 1823. She was the daughter of a certain Captain(?) Dalager of Trondheim and Johanna Lind from Kristiansand; she was also born out of wedlock.

As it happens, I found the birth record of a woman named Johanne Catherine Larsdatter Lind, born on June 12, 1806 at Kristiansand, Vest-Agder, Norway. I also found the birth record of a man named Frederik Dalager, born June 26, 1808 at Trondheim. If these individuals indeed became the parents of my Caroline Frederiksdatter Dalager, Johanne would have been 17 years old at the birth of her daughter, and Frederik would have been 15. While I sincerely doubt Frederik was a sea captain by age 15, he may have become so later. Other clues may establish his identity.

The same Frederik Dalager who was born in 1808 was the son of Mathias Ferslov Dalager and Anna Catharina Svartz. It's even more intriguing to realize Mathias was the first native Greenlander to be trained as an academic painter. His father was Danish and his mother was an Inuit from Paamiut (Frederikshaab), Greenland. Historical records indicate he experienced some conflict between his two cultures and eventually settled in Trondheim. They also indicate he spent time prospecting in Kristiansand and even painted a harbor scene of the village.

I have yet to find conclusive proof of my relationship to Mathias Dalager through his son Frederik, but already a fair amount of documentary evidence seems to suggest a connection. For example, the ages of Frederik and Johanna are very close. Both lived in Trondheim and both spent time in Kristiansand. And even though this Frederik may not have been a ship captain, historical records make note of the Dalager family as ship painters.

If this connection proves valid, I have yet another Native American lineage from a most unlikely source, Greenland (Grønland)!

Of course, I received my primary Native American heritage from my father Edward Moses who was a "full-blood" member of the Spokane Tribe of Indians. The second Native American source I was able to document came from my mother, who is descended from a certain Catoneras, a Long Island Native who married a Dutch immigrant in the 1600s. I would be so happy to document a third Native lineage from the Arctic north. I've dreamed of visiting the Native people of Greenland, so maybe the connection is real.

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