Berthe Marie Jensdatter of Svelvik (1791-1867)

25 March 1791, Tonsberg, Vestfold, Norway
20 February 1820, Drammen, Buskerud, Norway
31 December 1867, Svelvik, Vestfold, Norway

Berthe Marie, known in the family as Berthe-Dol, was born Berthe Maria Jensdatter in Tønsberg in 1791 to her father Jens Halvorsen Reistad, a blacksmith, and mother Johanna Tollvesdatter. Berthe was nicknamed "Berthe-Dol" meaning "Valley girl". (It's a name that was passed down in the family to her granddaughter.)

Berthe spent her early childhood with her family in the city of Tønsberg. By the time Berthe came along, her parents already had three children. Halvor was born in 1781, Marthe in 1783, and Tobias in 1787. Sometime after Berthe's arrival, the family relocated to Borre just north of the city of Tønsberg and were definitely there by 1796 to welcome the arrival of their son Anders who was baptized on 20 Nov of that year.

Their time in Borre didn't last much longer as they family relocated north again. This time to Stromm (now Svelvik). By 16 Dec 1798, when the next child, daughter Anne Cathrine was baptized and then sadly passed away the following year at only 10 months old.

The family seemed to set down roots in Svelvik and welcome another daughter, Marthe Katrine on the 20 Jul 1800. They were counted there the following year in the town of Strommen. At that time the family consisted of father: Jens Halvorsen Reistad, 46, blacksmith; mother: Johanne Tolvsdatter, 40; children: Halvor, 19, sailor; Tobias, 13, blacksmith apprentice; Berthe Maria, 10; Anders, 4; and Marthe Katrine, 1.

In early May of 1804, shortly after Berthe's 13th birthday, she would lose her mother Johanne. We're not sure why Johanne died, it wasn't recorded, all we know is on 13 May she was buried in Strommen Churchyard. She was only about 43 years old. Life in the coastal sailing village didn't get much better after that. Only 4 years later, in Feb 1808, father Jens would also pass away at the age of 53.

While Berthe was 17 and could probably manage on her own, the same couldn't be said for her brother Anders who was only 11 and sister Marthe Katrine who was only 7. 

We know for certain that, Berthe, would eventually move to the Bragernes parish in Drammen and be raised in the care of Ole Tollefsen who is listed as her foster parent (and likely her uncle) even though they were probably the same age. She would eventually work as a maid for him where he was noted as a "Høker" or small shopkeeper / grocer and also a schoolmaster. We currently don't know what happened to her siblings at this point.

Drammen was the neighboring metropolis and frequented at least by the sailors of Svelvik, if not the majority of it's residents. It is here, in the Bragernes Parish of Drammen, on 20 Feb 1820, Ole Christensen Ruud married Berthe Marie Jensdatter in Bragernes Chruch. (I assume the two met while Ole was at port in Drammen, or at least prepping his ship that docked in Drammen, yet there is no proof of this. It's also likely that the couple met in Svelvik as Ole was from there and Berthe was raised there.)

Berthe moved back to Svelvik with Ole where they raised six children together. Jens Christian was born in Nov 1820, Ole in Jun 1823, Johan Andreas in Sep 1825, Anne Marie in Oct 1827, Anders in Jan 1832, and Inger Andrea in Jul 1836.

Sometime between the years of 1832 and 1836, by the age of 46, Ole retired from the life on the high seas and, like his father, took up work as a day laborer.

Not much is documented about Ole's later years other than he and Berthe remained in Svelvik for the remainder of their lives surrounded by their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Ole died at the age of 73 on the 10 Mar 1865 in Svelvik. His cause of death was listed as "old age". He was buried on the grounds of Svelvik Church 7 days later.

Berthe lived another two years in Svelvik and died on New Year's Eve 1867 at the age of 81. She was also listed as dying of old age and was buried 8 Jan 1868 on the church grounds.


Jens Halvorsen Reistad, 11 Sep 1754 - 21 Feb 1808


Johanna Tollevsdatter, about 1761 - 13 May 1804


Ole Christensen Ruud, bef 31 Jun 1791 - 10 Mar 1865


  1. Jens Christian Olsen Ruud, 20 Nov 1820 – 10 Jan 1894
  2. Ole Olsen Ruud, 16 Jun 1823 – 02 Jan 1873
  3. Johan Andreas Olsen Ruud, 19 Sep 1825 – bef 1886
  4. Anne Marie Olsdatter Ruud, 07 Oct 1827 – 11 Aug 1867
  5. Anders Olsen Ruud, 05 Jan 1832 – bef 1886
  6. Inger Andrea Olsen Ruud, 02 Jul 1836 – 13 May 1886


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