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Ancestors from Norway: B�rum kommune local history and genealogy

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B�rum local history and genealogy

Photograph of Sandvika (64234 bytes)
I was raised in B�rum kommune, a municipality located a few miles southwest of Oslo. This beautiful community is much more than just a suburb of Oslo: it spreads out over an area of 191.3 square kilometers, and is home to many farms, forests where people can go hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter. There are also some very nice beaches as well as historical buildings to visit. The town of Sandvika (photograph) is the administrative center of the municipality.

A brief history of B�rum

The word B�rum means "mountainous area" - the old name for the community (Bergheim) means a community with many mountains and ridges. The area was first settled during the late ice age, and when the ice melted the soil was rich and yielded good harvests. Under the Kols�stoppen mountain so-called "helleristninger" (rock carvings) have been found - figures of ships etc. dating from 1,500 BC - the Bronze age. On the Kalv�ya, an island just outside Sandvika, archealogists have found traces of settlements from the Bronze and Iron age.

After St. Olaf was killed in the battle at Stiklestad, near Trondheim, in AD 1030, many people began pilgrimages to Nidaros (Trondheim). The route they took went through what is now called B�rum, and the route is now marked with historical markers. Even though the community had been settled and traveled through for several centuries, the first known written reference we have to the name B�rum is about a century later, in Sverre's Saga dated from 1100. The middle ages is also the time period when the two oldest remaining churches in B�rum were built: Tanum church og Haslum church.

The Plague Years
The Black Death, which swept through Norway from 1348 to 1350, left three quarters of all farms in B�rum abandoned. Years of economic difficulties followed, and even after 200 years one quarter of the old farms were still not in use.

Lime Kilns

Lime kiln Lime kilns have been an important source of income in the community for several centuries; they were in use as early as AD 1,300. The lime that was produced was used in many of the large building projects in and around Oslo: churches, monastaries, and the fort at Akershus (Akershus festning). The lime was shipped out from Sandvika and nearby Slependen. (The picture shows the lime kiln at Slependen, which is located next to the junior high school that I attended. It has been restored and today there is a small museum in the building). Lime kilns were such an important source of income to the community that the municipality of B�rum has chosen to use a lime kiln as its symbol on its heraldic shield:

B�rums Verk

Brums Verk B�rum, however, is known for more than lime kilns. Iron ore was found in B�rum in 1603, and the iron foundry B�rums Verk was established (see photograph of the owner's residence). This foundry would become an important contributor to the Norwegian economy in the next centuries. Peder Anker was one of the owners, and after his death his son in law, count Herman Wedel-Jarlsberg, inherited the foundry. It stayed in his family until 1902 when the L�venskiold family acquired it. Other important industries in the community included factories that produced iron nails, and a powder and cellulose factory at the Lysaker river (Lysakerelva).

Artists in B�rum

In addition to the factories, several Norwegian artists lived in B�rum: the Norwegian painters Fritz Thaulow, Christian Skredsvig, Harriet Backer, Kitty Kielland and Otto Sinding all lived in this community. Perhaps best known is the so-called Lysakerkretsen (the Lysaker group) which included Eilif Pettersen, Gerhardt Munthe and Erik Werenskiold. The arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen also belonged to this group. The summer of 1886 is perhaps the most important time period for this artistic community. The Fleskum-summer was a unique time period in Norwegian artistic history: six of the most important artists in Norway spent that summer on the farm Fleskum in B�rum.

Photos from old B�rum

The B�rum municipal library has a collection of photographs showing old Sandvika. Unfortunately the web page is in Norwegian, but I am hoping that they will provide an English version soon.

Church records

Prior to January 1, 1894, B�rum was part of the Asker prestegjeld (parish). The parish records for Asker parish go back to 1726. On January 1, 1894 two new parishes separated out from Asker parish: �stre B�rum and Vestre B�rum. The parish records for Asker, �stre B�rum and Vestre B�rum, are available on microfilm at your local LDS (Mormon) Family History Center).

Local newspaper for B�rum kommune:

Asker og B�rums Budstikke is the local newspaper for B�rum kommune. A brief history of the newspaper is available from the web site of Schibsted A/S, the corporation that now owns this newspaper. You can contact the newspaper to ask them to run a genealogy query for you. The address for the paper is:

Farms in B�rum kommune

As I mentioned above, B�rum is home to many farms. Here is a list of farms in B�rum from the 1900 census

Bygdebook for B�rum kommune

Other books about B�rum kommune

(Although several books have been written about the history of B�rum, none are available in English).

Please notify me of any links that are not working
properly as well as any suggestions for additional links.

Unfortunately my schedule does not permit me to answer
individual requests for assistance with genealogy research

John Follesdal
Copyright 1999
This page was created February 1, 1999

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