Family history moments: Norwegian reunion

My mother's parents, Knut Hansen Berge and Valborg Marie Thalle, came from Etne, Norway, to central Alberta, Canada, on business shortly after their marriage in 1912. Due to financial difficulties, they were never able to return home.

Born in 1950, I lived on our family farm in southern Alberta until my mid-teens. My grandmother died before I was born. I joined the Church at 19 and married my wife, Shirley, in the Alberta Temple a year and a half later. Following my graduation from university several years later, we moved back to the farm. As we settled into the house where I had grown up, we came across some hand-written pages my mother identified as part of her father's journal. Included was a list of names and dates.In June 1977, Shirley and I and our two small children moved to Redmond, Wash. Shortly thereafter, Shirley noticed my grandmother's maiden name, Thalle, in the telephone book. Because that name is uncommon, she decided to call the man, Jerome Thalle. As they talked, Jerome mentioned some of his family in the Midwest. His father's name was on our list - a brother of my grandmother! He also recognized several of the other names.

A couple of days later, we drove to Jerome's house to meet him. He gave us the name of a woman in the Midwest who had done considerable family history research, and the letter writing began.

Many letters were written, and the family circle in Norway began to grow. In 1982, my parents spent almost three weeks in Norway, meeting 135 direct relatives. In August 1989, thanks to the generosity of my parents, our entire extended family traveled to Etne for a family reunion of the descendants of my great-grandfather. We visited many places, including the home built by my grandfather, now owned by my mother's cousin.

From these experience and research at the local family history center, we now have more than 700 names from my mother's family. My mother passed away in late 1994, and was met on the other side, we hope, by some of those family members we have been able to reconnect. The chance finding of a name in a phone book has led to many wonderful experiences.

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