February 22, 2012

Cornelius Christoffersen and Birthe Marie Andreasen

Cornelius' birth & baptism record (1860)
Cornelius Christoffersen was born on 16 Sep 1860 in Svelvik, Vestfold, Norway to parents Christoffer Christensen and Mathea Gulliksdatter. He was baptized on 28 Oct 1860 in Hurum, Buskerud, Norway, a short ferry ride to the opposite shoreline from Svelvik, which at the time was the closest church to the residents of Svelvik. Godparents were John Gabrielsen, Thormond Nilsen, Randi Jane, Susanne Hansdatter, Birgitte Hansdatter.

Believe this to be a young
Cornelius Christoffersen
Cornelius grew up in Svelvik at farm house 19a with his parents, 2 brothers Johan & Carl, and a farmhand. His father was a sailor and was regularly away at sea for long stretches of time.

On 04 Oct 1874, Cornelius was confirmed in Strømm, Vestfold, Norway. A confirmation could also be translated as a child's graduation. This was an important event in the entrance into adult life and one could not work or get married unless they had been confirmed. After confirmation, Cornelius took right to sea with the ship "Laura" and its Captain Andreas Gundersen of Svelvik.

When Cornelius turned 17, he passed his co-pilot exam and quickly advanced to the rank of master / captain. For a period of time Cornelius even had his own vessel, a small schooner named "Jens Ruffen", which he had bought for $2400 in 1877.


Birthe Marie or sister Julie
Birthe & Julie's birth/baptism record (1858)
Birthe Marie Andreasen and her twin sister Julie were born on 01 Nov 1858 in Svelvik, Vestfold, Norway to parents Andreas Johnson and Anne Marie Olsdatter. Birthe and her sister were baptized on 23 Jan 1859 in Hurum, Buskerud, Norway. Birthe's parents named her after her maternal grandmother who was nicknamed "Berthe-Dol", which loosely translates to “valley-girl”.

The Christoffersen family home in Svelvik
The Andreasen family lived in a farm house at 11a on Tømmerås Road in Svelvik (since renamed to Brinchs gate). Here Birthe grew up with her older brother John, sister Julie, and other siblings Annette, Ole and Andreas. At the age of 9, Birthe's mother tragically passed away due to complications from the birth of her youngest son Andreas.

Marie and eldest son
Christoffer (1890)
Birthe was confirmed on 02 Mar 1873 in Strømm, Vestfold, Norway.

In 1885, Birthe is listed as living with whole family minus mother and sister Julie, plus nieces and nephews and guests.

Cornelius & Birthe's
Wedding photo (1888) 
Cornelius Christoffersen and Birthe Marie Anderson married on 04 Oct 1888 in Svelvik, Vestfold, Norway. By the time of their marriage, there was a church in the Svelvik area that didn't require the ferry to Hurum.

In 1888, Cornelius acquired the Andreasen family house from his father-in-law who recently passed away and the family moved into farmhouse 11a on road Tømmeraas Gade.  In the coming years as the family grew, Cornelius was doing well enough for himself that he was able to employ a nanny to help Birthe with the growing number of children while he was away at sea. In 1900 it is noted that Cornelius not only employed a nanny but the nanny's daughter worked around the house as well.

Parish record of the wedding - line #2
In 1901, Cornelius was offered the opportunity to officer the crew of a new ship destined for the China trade. Jumping at the chance, he sold his boat the "Jens Ruffen" for $4000 and took the a boat owner Bruusgaard Kiøsterud up on his offer and captained his shipping vessel.

Four years later, Cornelius made a decision to put the shipping industry on hold and took up carpentry. After consulting with Birthe's relatives in America, he decided to take a trip to the United States for the summer to explore the possibility of immigration. On the 21 Jun 1906, Cornelius arrived in America to visit with Birthe's siblings and get the grand tour of the Cleveland area.

Christoffersen's Arrival Manifest (1907)
Left to right - Oscar,
Christoffer & Anna Marie
in Svelvik (1893-94)
Cornelius must have liked what he saw, because on 08 Feb 1907, the Christoffersen family boarded the S.S. Hellig Olav in Christiania, Norway and set sail for New York City, USA.  The family arrived at Ellis Island in New York on 20 Feb 1907 with $82 to his name. Cornelius was said to be a white male, standing 5'8" tall with fair hair and blue eyes, who was able to read, write, and speak English. Birthe described as being a white female, 5'2" tall with a fresh complexion, fair hair and blue eyes.

Svelvik parish emigration register showing
the Christoffersen's leaving Norway (1907) 
Upon arrival, Birthe decided to better fit in she would drop the Birthe and just go by Marie, so on all American documents, including her arrival manifest, she is listed as Marie and not Birthe. This was very common, in fact, Marie and the rest of her siblings would modify the surname Andreasen and adopt the surname Anderson after arriving in the US.

Cornelius and Marie's first residence in America was living with Marie's twin sister Julie and her husband Martin Christiansen at 225 Superior in Cleveland, Ohio.  Here they settled in and found jobs and their own place to live.

Cornelius Naturalization Doc p1
The family lived in multiple rental properties in the coming years. The first is believed to have been at 3904 Whitman Avenue NW, and by the end of 1909 the family had moved again to 2064 West 55th Street in what seems to be a small building with 4 separate apartments where they lived until 1912.

Ingvald Rudd (left) and
Anna Marie (right) abt 1896
Shortly after arriving in America, Cornelius was known immediately through his employment as a sexton at the Calvary Presbyterian Church on East 79th Street, one of the larger churches in Cleveland, and remained employed there as a sexton until his death.

Cornelius Naturalization Doc p2
On 18 Nov 1912, Cornelius obtained his naturalization, became an American citizen and legally changed the family name from Christoffersen to Christopher. At the time he was living at 7812 Euclid Avenue. Witnesses who testified on his behalf in front of the County Judge were  Andrew Andersen of 1884 W. 58th St. (brother-in-law) and Martin Christiansen of 304 Superior Ave. (husband of sister-in-law).

It seems the Christophersen children in the family didn't care too much for the new family name. Most of the children (Ingvald seems to keep Christopher) chose to follow in their brother Christopher's footsteps and adopt the last name "Lowe" in honor of their grandmother Mathea Gulliksdatter Loe who died in Norway about 7 years prior.

Daughter Cora Christoffersen
In 1913 the Christopher family finally found some sense of stability and were able to make a home they could settle in at 2275 E 74th SE in Cleveland. That stability wouldn't last long however, as on 10 Sep 1914 their 2nd son Oscar was admitted to the Cleveland Marie hospital with terrible stomach pains (he was most likely working on the Great Lakes at the time). Over the next 2 weeks the doctors and nurses tended to him and did what they could. Oscar died 24 Sep 1914 of acute appendicitis.

The family did their best to recover and continue living their lives. Eldest daughter Anna "Marie" married Carl Oxford in 1916, eldest son Christopher married Thora Haugen in 1917, and in 1919 the family moved to a new rental property at 7612 Dix Court and again in 1923 to 1883 E 69th Street where they stayed.

Tragedy would strike the family again in 1926. Youngest son Ingvald "Rudd" had been suffering from tuberculosis for the past 10 years and his condition took a turn for the worse on 15 Apr 1926. His parents cared for him at his bedside for the next 2 weeks and on 30 Apr at 4:30 AM, Ingvald Rudd Christopher passed away from tuberculosis at the age of 31.
Cleveland city directory (1919)

In December 1926, Cornelius fell ill and doctors discovered that he had stomach cancer. Cornelius was able to get by for a while but eight months later, on the 10th of August, he got sick again. Over the next two months, his wife Marie and daughter Cornelia cared for him.

Certificate of death for Cornelius (1927)
Cornelius died at 5:30 AM on 28 Sep 1927 in Cleveland of an intestinal hemorrhage caused in part by the cancer.  A funeral was held on 30 Sep 1927 at Calvary Presbyterian church where he had worked and he was buried at the family plot in West Park Cemetery in Cleveland with his sons Oscar and Ingvald - Section 21, Lot 226, Grave 1.

After husband Cornelius' death, Marie lived in the family home at 1883 East 69th Street with daughter Cornelia and son-in-law Henry Hanson.

Only months later, in early 1928, eldest son Christopher learns he has lung cancer, and then the following year, doctors find the origin of his cancer is in his throat (nasophyrnex). The outlook is grim and he has only months to live. Christopher dies in 2 Oct 1929.

Between 1914 and 1929, in those 15 years, Marie lost her husband and 3 sons, all of the men in her life.

Certificate of death for Marie (1933)
On 17 Sep 1933 at 8 PM, Marie Christofferson died of coronary sclerosis at her home in Cleveland.  She was buried on 20 Sep 1933 at family plot in West Park Cemetery with her husband, sons Oscar & Ingvald, and brother-in-law Martin Christensen - Section 21, Lot 226, Grave 1.

Marie’s twin sister Julie would survive 19 years without her husband, but only made it 2 months without her twin sister. Julie died on 19 Nov 1933 and was buried with the rest of the family at the plot in West Park.

A map of Svelvik, Norway plotting showing
the Christoffersen & Andreasen houses
marked by 11a & 19a

Children of Cornelius & Marie Christoffersen
1.             Christoffer Christoffersen, 21 Nov 1889 – 2 Oct 1929
2.             Oscar Andreas Christoffersen, 3 Nov 1891 – 23 Sep 1914
3.             Anna Maria Christoffersen, 19 Aug 1893 – 1 May 1980
4.             Ingvald Ruud Christoffersen, 22 Dec 1894 – 30 Apr 1926
5.             Cornelia Christoffersen, 29 Sep 1897 – 6 Jun 1989
6.             Astrid Mathea Christoffersen, 21 Mar 1903 – 5 Dec 1903


Shared Christoffersen & Christiansen burial plot at West Park Cemetery in Cleveland. 
Laid to rest at this plot are Cornelius & Birthe Marie, sons Oscar & Ingvald Rudd, 
granddaughter Barbara Hanson (by Cora), Birthe's sister Julie & husband 
Martin Christiansen as well as their daughter Martha Fricker.

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