It is not often that we see our eldest son David as he has lived in Canada for the past ten years. This year he and his wife have come “home” to Auckland for Christmas. As has been the case in previous visits, we try to take some family photographs with as many of our family as are able to gather together for Christmas Day. Like others in our family, David is a keen photographer. So too it seems is the youngest family member, three and a half year old Frances. Here she receives instructions on which button to press to release the self-timer and get herself into the picture.
I trust that everyone has been able to have as happy a Christmas celebration with family and friends as we have had here in New Zealand.
I don’t know whether it is age or curiosity, but lately I have again become engaged in trying to trace my family origins. One of the fascinating aspects of this is Norwegian ancestry on both sides of my family. Through work carried out by a second cousin the Norwegian connection has been traced on my father’s side, but tracing my maternal grandfather has been very problematical.
In the course of trawling through family records I have discovered photographs taken through the years of various generations dating back to the late nineteenth century. Its a fascinating record of a social history that forms part of the fabric of who I am today.
I have only one photograph of my maternal grandfather Gustav Jacob Dahlin who was born in Norway in 1881.
Family record of his life before he arrived in New Zealand in about 1909 is sketchy, and has been gleaned from recollections of conversations that my late mother had with him when she was a child. Story has it that he was born in or near Arendal (Bygland is another possible birthplace) in Norway and was sent to a naval school at Dartmouth in Devon in the UK at the age of 13 years. This may have been the Royal Naval College Osbourne, but this is conjecture on my part. At the age of 21 years he supposedly deserted the navy at Zanzibar after an altercation with a senior officer when he took exception to an injustice being dealt out to a fellow seaman. He is said then to have travelled in North, East and South Africa working in or around the mines, before travelling to New Zealand at the age of 27 or 28 years. He was naturalised as a new Zealand citizen in 1910.
My problem has been tracing him back to Norway. This may be because he possibly changed his name to escape detection by the Royal Navy. His marriage and death certificates both show his father as being John Dahlin of Norway and his mother being Jean(ie) Dahlin (Munro[e]). He had a sister Christine (maybe Kristina) and an older brother who drowned as a child. For many years my parents had a fire screen that had as its centrepiece an oil painting by my grandfather of a Norwegian lake scene, with a white wooden house on the shore surrounded by fir trees, and a moose at the water’s edge.
Al my research to date on the name Dahlin in Norway has drawn a blank, as have my searches on the names Gustav, Jacob, John (Jon, Johan) and Christine (Kristina). Does anyone have any suggestions as to where I should look next?