Oscar Albert Christenson – 52 Ancestors #4

This week’s theme “closest to your birthday” was a no-brainer for me. I have many fond memories of sharing a birthday cake with my paternal grandfather, Oscar Christenson, who was born 3 days before me on July 8 (albeit 63 years earlier).

Grandpa Oscar and Cara 1980
Grandpa Oscar and Cara, 11 July 1980

Oscar was born in 1911 in Winger, Minnesota to Norwegian farmers Christ and Agnethe (Rindahl) Christenson, the youngest of 3 surviving children.  He grew up in a close-knit farming community surrounded by his uncles, aunts and cousins from both sides of the family.  It looks like he had many good times with his cousins and prize animals.

Oscar and Agnethe Christenson_1913
Agnethe Rindahl Christenson and Oscar, 1913
Oscar and pets, 1930
Oscar and pets, 1930
Oscar Christenson threshing_1930s
Oscar threshing ca 1930s
High School graduation
Oscar at High School graduation 1929
Oscar’s prize shorthorn, October 1932
Oscar 1934

He seemed a bit of the bachelor, for he was living on his parent’s farm with his siblings on the 1940 census at age 28.  However later that year he did marry Eleanor Johnson, youngest daughter of George and Albertina Johnson, another local Norwegian family, (although that’s not saying a lot, I think everyone in the county was of Norwegian ancestry)  There is no record of his WWII enlistment, however it is unlikely that he served, because my uncle was born in 1943, my father in 1945, and my aunt in 1948.

Eleanor and Oscar Christenson, Allan and Larry, 1945

My grandparents grew up speaking Norwegian, but didn’t teach their children the language (the story was so that they could have “private” conversations without the children understanding!).  My grandfather Oscar did teach me the Norwegian table prayer, which I had to recite before each meal upon their visits:

I Jesu navn går vi til bords
å spise, drikke på ditt ord.
Deg, Gud til ære, oss til gavn,
Så får vi mat i Jesu navn.


When I had the role of Norwegian composer, Edvard Grieg, in a school play, he taught me some niceties, such as, “vær så snill” (please), and “mange tak” (many thanks).  I felt authentic!

I am pleased to think that I inherited my musical ability from him (neither of my parents have it).  At his funeral in 1995, a relative spoke of him playing accordion at the dance halls and other functions – I wish I could have seen that!  I hope that he’s looking down with pleasure on the band concerts of his great-grandchildren – perhaps one of them will pick up the accordion!  Takk og ha det bra!

5 thoughts on “Oscar Albert Christenson – 52 Ancestors #4

  1. The photographs are wonderful! If he did serve in WWII, it would have been in 1943-1944 as a replacement soldier. Have you tried requesting his military records from the Military Personnel Center in St. Louis?

    Your post made me curious about Norwegian marriage customs. Did they marry early or wait until they were financially ready? It might provide a clue.

    1. Cara Jensen, historical researcher

      I talked to my dad and he said that his father never served – he would have had a marriage exemption since he had to provide for his family. I don’t know what the official terminology for that is, but I think it was common? I think his late marriage might have been an economic decision, not necessarily an ethnic one. We also suspect he might have had other suitors – we have a set of letters between him and my future grandmother while they were courting that kind of point to that – now I’m anxious to transcribe those!

      1. Claire Mackie

        Beautiful pictures! Certainly in the UK, farming was a reserved occupation during the war. I don’t know if the states had the same idea?
        Enjoyed your post 🙂

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 4 Recap | No Story Too Small

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