by Nancy Berg (Inge Munson Christiansen’s daughter)

Our grandparents were each raised by a widowed mother. Bedstemor (Ingerta Josefine Halling Munson) often told me stories of her childhood, I don’t like them to die with me. Bedstemor was the youngest in her family. Her sisters, Jörgina, Dorothea and Ida were very bossy, but our grandmother was a favorite of her mother’s, among the girls. There was a son lost at sea, who had been very good to his mother. The day she heard of his death and burial at sea, she was working, but was not expected to take the rest of the day off – she worked and cried all day.

Bedstefar (Lauritz Monsen) also was a devoted son. When his mother rose in the dark winter mornings to go to work, he would get up to accompany her and then go home for breakfast and school.

Did you ever hear about their romance? At a wedding in the family, our grandmother’s brother went to her and said, "Let my shipmate, Lauritz Monsen, take you home. He wants to, he told me." Grandmother was so shy, she demurred, but only consented if he would go along. However, three weeks later, they were engaged. She was working by that time, and she kept trying to hide her hand, so her employers would not see her new ring. In Norway, then, as now, it is the wedding band that they get for their engagement, merely changing it to the other hand at the wedding. They had a big wedding with all the fixings, and every vehicle in town engaged for the guests.

Bedstemor had some relatives who were in military bands in Norway, so the musical talent comes through her. She also wrote songs. ( SPD: I have a copy of a lullaby dated 1870 .)

While Bedstefar was away at sea for months, and even years at a time, money was sometimes a problem. Lawrence remembered that once when he was a small boy, they had nothing to eat, but Bedstemor had them sit down at the table and say grace. There was a knock at the door, and when it was opened they saw a neighbor’s child who said, "Mother just baked some bread and thought you might like some."

Bedstefar is Norwegian for Grandfather, and Bedstemor means Grandmother.

(SPD is Susan Pasquet Das who typed this up)


from Munsons by Alex Munson

My Dad used to tell the story about his mother in Norway, on the waterfront where they had their home. The children were in bed for the night. Bestafa was somewhere at sea.

Josephine Halling Monsen

Some waterfront rowdies had obviously been drinking. Their loud talk could be heard in the house. They stopped right in front of the house. They could be heard discussing the woman who lived there. They approached the front door. It was locked.

Hearing them, Bestamor called out in a loud voice, "Christian, John, Alfred, Andrea, Lawrence, better come down here before we have some noisy visitors." The rowdies quickly disappeared into the night.


Click either image below to open a larger version of the lullaby in a new window.

Here is a version with the words:

Sov nu sõdt du lille vuggen står så stille
Sov nu sõdt i Jesu narn ti nu er du i Hans farn
I found a hand written English version in my files:
Sweetly sleep my darling, little cradle stands so still
Sweetly sleep in Jesus' name, as he holds you in his arms

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