Olianna - The Woman Behind the Name

Olianna - The Woman Behind the Name

Olianna was the grandmother I sadly never got to meet, but whose story inspires me.  She was born in Vestnes, Norway in 1880.  She was the youngest of six children and, amazingly, her mother was 50 years old at the time of Olianna's birth.  While women today are having children later in life, it was pretty unheard of in the 1800s.  Olianna's oldest brother, Otto, was married with children and had taken his family to America, settling in Kirkland, Washington, before Olianna was born.  (This fact will be important later in the story) 

Olianna as a child


Olianna grew up on the Remmem farm where several other families also lived and worked for the owners of the land.   I was able to go to Norway in 2010 and see the main Remmem house that was about to be restored. My grandmother's house was gone by then, but I was able to go to the site where it once stood.

 The Remmem farmhouse in Norway

The Andersen family also lived on the farm in the late 1800's and they had a son named Otto, who was Olianna's age.  It's rumored that the Otto and Olianna were responsible for taking the cows to the upper pastures in the summer.  We'll never know the whole story, but evidently there was some romance going on while the cows munched on the green grass.  In the summer of 1900, Olianna was pregnant with Otto's child. 

 Otto Andersen

Again, I don't know why - perhaps Otto, who was 21 by then was already betrothed - but he did not marry Olianna.  It had to be difficult to live in a tiny little town, where everyone surely knew everyone, and not only be pregnant, but watch the father of the baby marry someone else.  Thankfully, Olianna's older sister was working about 150 miles away in Trondheim. Olianna went to her sister in March of 1901 and baby Oscar was born on May 13, 1901.

 Baby Oscar

Remember Olianna's oldest brother, also Otto, who had left Norway before she was born?  In 1902, he came back to Norway and got his baby sister and little Oscar.  He brought them back to Kirkland, Washington.  I think of my grandmother, as a young single mother,  leaving her home, her country, and her family, knowing she may never see them again, and traveling over 4000 miles away.  She was brave and beautiful and I wish I could have known her.  

Her brother got her a job cooking in the logging camp where he worked and introduced her to my grandfather, Axel Noll, an immigrant from Sweden.  They were married on July 12, 1803, under a gigantic pine tree on the shores of Liberty Bay in Poulsbo Washington. 

Axel and Olianna with Oscar and Augusta

They went on to have eight more children. With Oscar, six of the nine lived into their eighties and nineties.  My mother, Amanda, was the baby and only two years old when her mama died from tuberculosis.  Yet, she was the best mom ever. And my aunts and uncles were the sweetest people you would ever meet. Even though she left her family way too soon, Olianna instilled so many good things into her children.

 Axel and Olianna and family

Axel Noll with his children - Oscar, Olive, Amanda, Grandpa Axel, Augusta, Alice, Axel Jr.

I still live on part of the farm that my grandparents bought in 1903.  They're still here with me and I am grateful. My mama left this earth on Mother's Day when she was 93 years old.  Some people think that is sad, but I think 91 years is long enough to wait to see your mom on Mother's Day.  I can only imagine how sweet that reunion must have been.





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I think you meant to say they were married in 1902 not 1802.

Great story Peggy. Glad I got to visit Vesnes with you and had a front row seat to the REST OF THE STORY.

Ardith Lupton

Thank you for sharing this amazing story. Oscar Noll was my Grandfather.

Jackie Rogers

Beautiful story,I never heard before.what a journey.

Karen munn belgarde

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