Johann Johanneson Fristad

Johann Johanneson Fristad was born 2 April 1859 on the Fristad farm, Askevold Parish, in Sogn og Fjordane. His parents were Ole Johannessen Fristad and Pernelle Berntdatter, who were then working at the Fristad farm.

In 1865 Johann's parents evidently moved to Bergen, leaving their six-year-old son at the Olsæter farm in Askevold, in the care of a foster parent named Peder Bendixs. His biological parents lived in Bergen for at least twenty years (according to 1865, 1875 and 1885 census records). There they had two additional children - Ingeborg Gjertine (b.1865) and Peder Johan (b.1867). Being a foster-child in Norway had none of the connotations it has in today's society: likely Johann was fostered to close relatives or friends for health or financial reasons. At any rate, this foster-arrangement had no lasting negative effect on the relationship between Johann and his biological parents, as many years later they were present at the christening of his first child. Johann himself was confirmed into the Lutheran Church at Askevold in 1875.

On March 9, 1877 Johann left Askvoll for Bergen. He apparently remained there until 1882 when, at the age of 22, he first journeyed to the United States, where he stayed in St. Louis into 1883. The reason for this journey is unknown at this time.

Johann returned to Norway. Though between 1883 and 1887 his exact whereabouts are unknown, in 1888 he is listed as a "Politikonstabel" in Bergen. Likely he had enrolled in a military school in Northern Europe. Individuals pursuing a police career typically would start a career before the age of 20, often first at some under-officers military school. Possibly this has some connection to his travels abroad in America. (Conjecture follows: Family lore claims that he graduated from Heidelburg University in the same year as Kaiser Von Wilhelm of Germany. Inquiries have been made to Heidelburg, with no confirmation as of yet. A proveable fact to counter this tradition - Wilhelm attended Bonn University, not Heidelburg.)

Nykirken in Bergen, Norway

On March 16,1888, the twenty-nine year old police constable married Marta Malene Kristensen (b. 1871) at the Nykirken ("New Church") in Bergen. Johann was "robbing the cradle" a bit it seems, for Marta was only 17 at this point. In fact, the marriage occurs exactly on her 17th birthday! On May 30, 1889 they christened their first son, Sverre Leonhard at the Domkirken (Bergen Cathedral). The first recorded witness is Johannes' mother, Pernille, and his sister, Ingeborg Gjertine.

Johannes remained in his capacity as Police Constable for fifteen years, adding an additional five children to his family: Arthur Peder William (1890), Hilda Ragna Sofie (1892), Alf Birger (1894), Agnes Marie (1896), and Solveg Wilhelmine (1899).

SS Hekla

On 27 Aug 1903, Johann departed Bergen for Christianssand, where he boarded the Scandinavia-America Line ship Hekla, bound for New York City. Passing through Ellis Island, he arrived in New York City in September 1903, and began work as a machinist in Brooklyn. "Engineworks" is listed as his profession in the immigration record. (Conjecture follows: Family lore claims Johann was a Naval Ordinance Expert, loaned by the Norwegian Government to teach the United States Navy how to install and use torpedoes.) He returned to Bergen briefly in October of 1904, then left on 28 Nov 1904, boarding the Scandinavia-America Line ship SS United States at Christianssand 2 Dec 1904, arriving back in New York City 13 Dec, 1904.

Family lore claims that Johann was forced to leave his position as Politikonstabel in Bergen. Apparently his sense of justice exceeded his restraint, for on a certain occasion he confronted a man accused of beating his wife. After thrashing the man senseless he left him, alive, near the docks of the port city. Somehow the hapless wife-beater fell into the water, where he drowned. Thus the rapid exit from career service in Bergen, the "official" transfer to service as a military consultant, and emigration to the United States until the smoke had cleared.)

USS United States

The rest of the Johann Fristad family left Bergen in 8 Sept 1905 on the USS United States from Christianssand, arriving 18 Sept 1905 at Ellis Island. Johann and his family lived in Brooklyn for the next five years, during which time Alma (1907) was added to the family flock. Malena and daughters Alma and Solveig visited Bergen in the summer of 1910, returning to the United States in August of that same year. Sometime soon after the entire family returned to Norway - with the exception of the older son, Arthur Peder William Fristad. In his late teens, Arthur had become involved with work in the United States as well as valued friendships. He chose to make America his home and in due course became a naturalized citizen.

Details are scarce regarding what happened to the Fristad family upon their return to Bergen. Hilda married Hans Issertel; remaining in Bergen she died in 1968. Younger son Alf volunteered to serve in the British armed forces (through Canada) in WWI, and was killed in France in 1916. Agnes became a nurse, and returned to Brooklyn in 1916 (to visit Arthur) and 1920. It is thought that she eventually moved to Dallas, Texas and became Mrs. Anderson. Alma also remained in Bergen, marrying Otto Mannigel and dying in 1999. Johann's wife Marta died 11 June 1916 in Bergen at the age of 47. Johann Johanneson Fristad died in Bergen on 29 Jun 1935 at the age of 76.

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Johannes as a member of the Bergen Police force. c.1900

Johann Johanneson Fristad c.1910