Once upon a time, in the early 1700s, there was a young girl and her sister tending cows on the coast of Scotland. Their cows grazed all day on a little island a short distance from the shore. The girls would traverse back and forth on a little wooden dinghy to check on the cows, milk them, and so on.

One day, while they were wrapping up their dairy maid duties, they noticed a thick fog rolling in, not an uncommon occurrence, but they could tell there was a storm brewing, so they quickly hefted their milk jugs in to the boat and pushed off back to shore. Before long, they were confused in the fog and hopelessly were lost. Fortunately, the girls had fresh milk to drink, because they floated over the sea for quite some time, possibly a few days, before finally being washed into shore.

Unbeknownst to them, they ended up close to a town in Norway called Tjernagel, and the villagers, came to look at the strange boat that washed ashore. Being a suspicious lot, they assumed the girls rising out of a strange dingy were spirits coming out of the water, but one of the girls thinking quickly, made the sign of the cross. That seemed to be enough for the villagers to trust they were real and not some other worldly terror come to curse their families.

From All Things Tjernagel

Having no idea from whence they came, the villagers took the girls in as their own. Eventually, they married into a couple of families in the town, vowing never to go over the sea again. One of these young women, Kjersteen was my great great great great great great grandmother (or something like that).

While in Austin this past week my aunt told me this story. I am sure I have heard it before, but it obviously didn’t stick. So now I’ve been digging a very little into some of the genealogy that my relatives have studied, it’s fascinating stuff. If you’ve never done this, you should. I found som many stories, including that of an ancestor who, when lost and starving in the deep woods of Wisconsin with his family and confronted by a none too happy group of natives, grabbed his violin and gave an impromptu concert. The universal language of music made them lasting friends and bought them time till they could get wagons to carry them along their pioneer way.

What stories can you find?

4 replies to “Kjersteen

  1. Wow, what a cool story to have from your family. I would love to know more about my ancestors, but unfortunately I just haven’t made it a time priority yet. But I feel like stories are slipping away, as my grandparent’s generation is either gone, or their memories are slipping away. Last summer I embarked on a family oral history project that lasted about 45 minutes before other things took over my time. Thanks for the inspiration (re-inspiration?) to start on that again…

    1. There is so much depth to who we are and where we come from. Let’s make a pact to spend some time looking at it. 🙂 I have a few more stories I’d like to share here. I look forward to reading yours.

    2. I would love to make a pact, although I am afraid that my end of it may not be very easy to uphold, for the moment at least. I’m struggling with quite a few things right now and it feels like family history research will probably take the back seat for a while at least. I suppose I should consider it something good and grounding to spend some of my free time on, rather than an extra burden. It really is something I’d like to do before it’s too late.

      Either way, I’ll also look forward to whatever other stories you will share. 🙂

    3. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate @puddlewonderfullife. When you start digging into your family history let me know 🙂

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