The Petter Olsen Bjørkholen and Helene Syversdatter Fjæstad Family

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Petter Olsen
  Helene Fjaestad

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Parents of Petter Olsen: Ole Knudsen Stenberg and Johanne Pedersdatter        Parents of Helen Fjæstad: Syver Larsen Fjæstad and Kersti Christensdatter

Siblings of Petter Olsen: Christian    Pauline    *    Anne (Braaten)    Else (Pederson)    Olaf    Ottine (Rønningen)

Siblings of Helen Fjaestad: Syverine    *    Lina (Torkelson/Kizziar)    Karen Mathea    Julea (Korslund)    Lars    Syverine    Anna Marie (Christofferson)    Karoline (Holen)   

Children of Peter and Helene: Clara (Harmel)    Syver    Selma (Solberg)    Chris    Palmer    Lawrence    Marie    William    Carl    Elsie (Solberg)    Robert


Petter Olsen Bjørkholen was born on 27 Dec 1860 at the farm Snipen in Romedal and baptized on 06 Jan 1861. He was the third child and second son born to Ole Knudsen Bjørkholen and Johanne Pedersdatter Malerløkken. The ministerialbok version of the baptismal record spells his name as "Peter". The klokkerbok version of the baptismal record spells his name as "Petter". Petter would have been known as Petter Olsen Snippen while living at Snippen.

Petter moved with his parents and older brother Christian from Snipen in Romedal to Stenberg østre in Løten sometime between January 1861 and March 1863. His name is spelled as "Petter" in the 1865 census (age 5) while living on Stenberg østre. Petter would have been known as Petter Olsen Stenberg while living at Stenberg østre. After his father lost the family farm Stenberg østre in a poker game around 1873, Petter (then 13 years old) and his older brother Christian went to live with his paternal grandparents (Knud Larsen and Anne Olsdatter) at Bjørkholen in Romedal. Petter became known as Petter Olsen Bjørkholen while living at Bjørkholen. Petter emigrated to the United States in 1881 at the age of 20, leaving from Christianna (Oslo) on 14 Oct 1881 aboard the ship Domino.

Baptismal Record of Petter Olsen (Romedal Ministerialbok nr.4, s.218, #2)
Baptismal Record of Petter Olsen (Romedal Klokkerbok nr.9, s.295, #2)
1865 Census for Løten, Steenberg østre
1875 Census for Romedal, Bjerkhølen nordre, p.564

Helene Syversdatter Fjaestad was born on 18 Sep 1866 at the farm Gaustadeie in Romedal, the second child and second daughter born to Syver Larsen Fjæstad and Kersti Christensdatter. She was baptized on 06 Jan 1867. Helene moved to Heknerydningen with her parents in 1873 and started school at Hekne school on 18 Nov 1873. Helene was living on Heknerydningen at least until 1881 while she was still attending Hekne school. In 1882, two of her sisters are found at the Hekne school, but not Helene.

Helene emigrated to America in 1883 at the age of 16. On 10 Aug 1883, Helene left Christiana (now Oslo) aboard the ship Angelo which took her to Hull, England. From Hull, she traveled to Liverpool and boarded the steamship S/S Celtic of the White Star Line. The S/S Celtic left England on 14 Aug 1883. One of the officers on this ship was Edward Smith, who later became captain of the ill-fated RMS Titantic. Helene arrived in New York City on 24 Aug 1883 at 5:30 in the morning. She then traveled to Bosque County, Texas where she was the housekeeper for the Otto Johnson family. Later she went to Cleburne, Texas and then Fort Worth, Texas. Four years after arriving in America, she married Petter Olsen who had emigrated from Norway to America in 1881.

Baptismal Record of Helene Syversdatter (Romedal Ministerialbok nr.5, s.58, #2)
Baptismal Record of Helene Syversdatter (Romedal Klokkerbok nr.11, s.4, #3)

Petter and Helene married on 14 Sep 1887 in Fort Worth, Texas. After their marriage, Petter (better known as Pete) purchased two acres of land in Clifton, Texas where the couple settled and raised their family. Pete worked first at Norway Mills and later at the P. E. Schow Company. Helene raised eleven children. In addition to raising the children, Helene helped support the family by selling homemade bread and fruitcakes, milk, butter, and eggs. She also washed and ironed laundry for many residents of Clifton and cooked for the Turkey Creek thresher crew during the summer. Helene was an avid gardener and often won blue ribbons for the flowers she entered in the Civic Society’s annual Flower Carnival. Helene was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church. Helene became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 15 Nov 1937. There is no record of Petter ever becoming naturalized.

Notebook Kept by Petter Olsen (contains poems he copied)
Naturalization Certificate of Helene Olsen

Petter died in Clifton on 07 May 1930 at the age of 69. He is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Clifton. Helene died in Clifton on 13 Nov 1955 at the age of 89. She is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Clifton.


Petter and Helene had 11 children. If there is a link, click on one of the children below to see further information on that child.


Clara Josephine Olsen [1888-1982] married Herman Harmel; 7 children; died at the age of 94)


Syver Olaf Olsen [1890-1890] no descendants; died young at the age of 7 months


Selma Lillian Olsen [1891-1938] married Selmer Solberg; 1 child; died at the age of 46


Christian Antone Olsen [1892-1951] married Olive Anderson; 2 children; died at the age of 58


Palmer Hendrick Olsen [1894-1994] married Esther Swenson; 2 children; died at the age of 99


James Lawrence Olsen [1896-1965] married Minna Knautz; 2 children; died at the age of 69


Marie Constance Olsen [1899-1909] no descendants; died young at the age of 10


William Thomas Olsen [1900-1983] married Roverta Spencer; 1 child; died at the age of 82


Carl Edwin Olsen [1902-2000] married Agnes Duncan; 1 child; died at the age of 97


Elsie Jeanette Olsen [1904-1987] married Otto Solberg; no children; died at the age of 83


Robert Franklin Olsen [1905-1989] married twice (Virgie Parks & Terry Brady); 1 child; died at the age of 84


Olsen Family in front of Olsen Home (Clifton Texas)

Helene Olsen sitting with child (Clifton, Texas)

Olsen Family Reunion (July 1919 behind Olsen house in Clifton) - see identifications at right

Olsen Family Reunion (25 Nov 1926) - see identifications at right

An Abbreviated Family Tree

Helene "Helen" Fjaestad (Helene Syversdatter Fjæstad) [1866-1955] m. Peter "Pete" Olsen (Peter Olsen Bjørkholen) [1860-1930]
     A1. Clara Josephine Olsen [1888-1982] m. Herman Frederick Harmel [1880-1958]
         B1. Estelle Caroline Harmel [1908-1995] m. Orion Amos Daniel [1906-1997]
         B2. Houston Franklin "H.F." Harmel Jr [1911-2002] m. Ida Maurine Bradburn [1913-2002]
         B3. Helen Pauline Harmel [1913-1968] m. Sidney Samuell Perryman [1912-1999] N.C.
         B4. Robert Michael Harmel [1915-2013] m. Norma Richards [1916-1991]
         B5. Lawrence William Harmel [1920-2006] m1. Johnnye Lucille Farr [1922-2000]
                                                 m2. Anna Maria Nodarou [1942]
         B6. Lucile Jonell Harmel [1927-2006] m. Robert Oliver "Bob" Andrews Jr [1919-2007]
         B7. Donald Glenn Harmel [1935-living] m1. Martha Jane Fowler [1939]
                                        m2. Patricia Lynn "Patty" Weber [1940-2008]
     A2. Syver Olaf Olsen [1890-1890] D.Y.
     A3. Selma Lillian Olsen [1891-1938] m. Selmer Marinus Solberg [1892-1962]
         B1. Helen Kestie Solberg [1918-1998] m. Ralph Allen Bloomfield [1917-1998]
     A4. Christian Antone "Chris" Olsen [1892-1951] m. Olive Matilda Anderson [1891-1971]
         B1. Mary Helen Olsen [1923-2009] m1. Earle Woodward Deacon [1915-1993]
                                          m2. William Joseph Kerns [1910-2000]
         B2. Charles Melvin Olsen [1926-2006] N.M.
     A5. Palmer Hendrick "Pat" Olsen [1894-1994] m. Esther Kyle Swenson [1894-1981]
         B1. Virginia Marie "Patsy" Olsen [1920-2023] m. John Barry Hubbard [1917-1995]
         B2. Annis Louise "Ann" Olsen [1929-living] m. Lester Huber "Bill" Wiland Jr [1929-2005]
     A6. James Lawrence Olsen [1896-1965] m. Minna C____ Knautz [1893-1991]
         B1. Helen Elizabeth Olsen [1918-1999] N.M.
         B2. James Lawrence "Jimmy" Olsen Jr [1923-2023] m1. Anita Paulina Cabo [1927-2000]
                                                    m2. Rose Cecile Zadec [ca1923]
     A7. Marie Constance Olsen [1899-1909] D.Y.
     A8. William Thomas Olsen [1900-1983] m. Roverta Spencer [1901-1977]
         B1. William Thomas Olsen Jr [1922-1994] m. Nola Mae Hacker [1924]
     A9. Carl Edwin Olsen [1902-2000] m. Agnes Elsie Duncan [1898-1991]
         B1. Carl Edwin Olsen Jr [1927-living] m1. Patricia Claire List [1930-1983]
                                        m2. Martha Christine Sundberg [1931]
                                        m3. Frances Marie Plagens [1932-2015]
    A10. Elsie Jeanette Olsen [1904-1987] m. Otto Cornelius Solberg [1887-1967] N.C.
    A11. Robert Franklin Olsen [1905-1989] m1. Virgie Parks [1905-1990]
                                           m2. Terry Lou Brady [1924] N.C.
        ¹B1. Don Parks Olsen [1931-living] m. Reta Joyce McIlroy [1933]