Saturday, January 6, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 1: Adolf Johannes Waldemar Hansen



It really began “In the Year 2000”. That’s when I posted on a Norway message board looking for my Adolf Hansen. In my genealogy newness and knowing that the Norwegians used the Patronymic naming system, I was looking for a Hans who fathered Adolf Hansen. He was not to be found, but I did connect with a Norwegian author who was writing a biography of my Adolf Hansen in honor of his 150th Birthday. The book was to be published in 2002 in conjunction with a concert of his music. The author, Egil Gunderson and I corresponded for the next two years as I tried to find the parents of Adolf Hansen, Norwegian Composer and Music Instructor. I didn’t find all the answers in time for the publication of the book, but I have finally pieced his story together.

Adolf Hansen was born Johannes Adolf Waldemar Hansen on 11 October 1852 and christened at Aker, Akershus, Oslo, Norway on 26 December 1852.[i] He was the illegitimate son of Johanne Sophie Johannessen and Martin Hansen. Martin was in the military, but I haven’t yet determined Johanne Sophie’s occupation.  Sponsors at the christening were Johanne Marie Johannessen, Martha Marie Andersdatter, Adolf Anderssen and Julius Johns. 

Martin never married Sophie (as she was called) and she raised her son on her own. The 1865 Norwegian census shows Sophie Johannesdatter living with Adolf in a house with 47 other people at Grønslanderet 2. She was born in 1829 and her occupation indicated she was a peddler of vegetables. Adolf was 13 years old.

In 1867, an impoverished Adolph joined the 2nd Brigade Band as a drummer, and at the same time, he also joined the Mollergadens Theater Orchestra as a clarinetist. Both were under the direction of Paolo Sperati. One day in 1868, Adolph showed Sperati 2 pieces he had composed. One was a march and the other was a galop. Sperati had both pieces performed and they were a hit.[ii]

From 1875, Adolph was employed by the Kristiania Theater Orchestra under the direction  of Johan Edvard Hennum. He remained there for ten years and was known for his performing abilities.

The 1875 census shows Sophie Hansen, now 46, an unmarried seller of newspapers living at Grønslanderet 4 with Adolph who is listed as a musician. Band. As his talent became more evident, he was sent to Paris for additional studies and training. Adolph’s primary instrument was the clarinet, but he was also a proficient pianist as can be attested to by his many compositions.

On 12 Dec 1877, Adolf married Dorette Christensen in Grønland Parish[iii] and the couple moved into the military Garrison in Oslo where Adolf continued his work with the Norwegian Army Band. Dorette bore seven children, five of whom survived infancy, before her death on July 4, 1887.[iv]

Adolph was the conductor and director of the orchestra at the Tivoli, an amusement park, in Christiania from 1885 until he and his new family moved to Bergen in 1892.

Adolph joined the Brigade Band in Bergen and continued with his work composing musical pieces. Some of his music was used in theatrical performances featuring Nathalie. While their careers soared, the family grew with the addition of five children born to Adolph and Nathalie. Of the children born to Dorette and Adolph, four, Dagny, Artur, Adolph, and Sigurd, immigrated to the United States and one, Thorolf remained in Norway. Of the five children born to Nathalie and Adolph one, Lili came to the United States while Eilif, Elvind, Edit, Adolph remained in Norway.
It is known that Adolph visited the United States in of 1909 as there is a photo of him with his children Dagny and Adolph and their spouses.
Adolph died in Bergen, Norway on 24 Jan 1911 and was buried there on 31 Jan 1911. 

Today Adolph's music can still be heard on YouTube here

[i] SAO, Aker prestekontor kirkebøker, F/L0019: Parish register (official) no. 19, 1842-1852, p. 395
[ii] Details of the musical career of Adolph Hansen courtesy of Egil Gundersen, author of his biography, conveyed via email  27 Aug, 2002.
[iii] SAO, Grønland prestekontor Kirkebøker, F/Fa/L
005: Parish register (official) no. 5, 186880, p. 311    Quick link: https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/kb20060921030440 accessed 23 Oct 2017
[iv] SAO, Garnison Church Church Books, F / Fa / L0012: Ministerial Book No. 12, 1880-1893, p. 238