I’m just back from a few days in South Dakota, adopted land of my mother’s family. The time with my first cousins was just as family time should be and the reunion with more distant cousins likewise. Then there’s my ongoing exploration of the family tree and the grandparents and cousins that go back…and back…and back.

Now I am considering ‘extended family’ in a whole new way—in layers and branches and trees. The first layer grandparents, parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren. Enough family, right? But then it turns out the second layer, aunts, uncles and cousins, may be even more fun…the connections strong but the problems just a little more distant! You don’t have to fight with them in that annoying sibling way, but you can share endless family gossip and stroll familiar graveyards, reminisce over souvenirs from another time and eat too many cookies.

Not to belabor this extended family/ancestry obsession I have right now—with so much Norway ahead in which to explore all of the roots and branches—but this is a travel blog and I just traveled to South Dakota. So before the Big Trip I feel compelled to make a post or two about extended family as that term relates to the South Dakota cousins and this particular trip.

Ole O. Floren and his brother, Lars, immigrated to Minnehaha Country, South Dakota from Trondheim, Norway in the 1880s as young ambitious men determined to make their way in this new world. The little research I have done so far on Ole, my grandfather, is that he worked extremely hard and managed to establish a prosperous farm in the Sioux River Valley near Baltic, South Dakota. He died in 1909 when my mother, Ovidia Mathilda Floren, was only two years old. She said she always remembered him holding her.

Ole’s entire family eventually immigrated as well, including his sister, Bergitta Olsdatter Floren, who would marry Ingebrigt Aasen and found the Aasen family—whose reunion my cousins Vivian, Marty and I attended on this South Dakota trip.

My mom’s paternal lineage goes like this—from Ole O. Floren to Ole Larsen Floren to Lars Olsen Floren to Ola Olsen Storflor (Floren) Tangvoll to Ola Erikson Almli Tangvoll to Erik J.L. Almli (born 1672).  My second cousin once removed, Kirby Aasen, has done substantial research so this is almost certainly correct. This won’t get me into the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) but then, given the way I feel about this country right now, I much prefer heading back into history with Leif Erikson and his dad, Erik the Red, born in Norway May 4, 950, who died in Greenland after founding the first Norwegian colony there.

I am finding this research into my ancestry and subsequent old and new connections with family enormously interesting and also somehow reassuring in its timelessness. Births and deaths and, if we’re lucky, lots of potlucks in between.



  1. The story just keep getting better and better. You have become a real wordsmith…..will try to call before you go

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