By Espen Sundheim, Norway (6th edition Dec 2020)
This letter is focused on my fathers ancestry, the Sundheims from Valdres in Nord-Aurdal commune in Oppland county.
The farm/area naming traditions changed over the years. In the farming districts it was common to be named with a first name + fathers name + farm name (in example Anders Eriksson Sundem). In the earlier Norwegian language, the area/farm names was “SYNDEI”. Then it gradually changed to “SUNDEM” in the 1700s. After Norways independency in 1814, it gradually changed to “SUNDHEIM”. In the early 1900s, “fathers name” was replaced by the farm name, and this new “last name” was carried forward. For a while “fathers name” could be used as middle name. In example children at a Sundheim farm was given first name + last name, like Erik Sundheim.
The origin of the old Norwegian word “Syndei” originates from the animal transport accross the channel from Ulnes to Syndei in the 1200s, to bring the farm animals to the summer gracing areas up in the mountains. it is said to have happened with floats and rafts and such until a bridge was built in the 1700s.
In our “Sundheim lineage” we go in a direct line back to Anders Olsen Svennes, b.1744 d.1784. He was born at a farm called Svennes, and was youngest of 6 children. His parents was Ole Arnesen Svennes b.1681 d.1755 and Inger Andersd. Løsti b.1705. The Svennes farm goes back to Helge Svennes (aka Halle Svenes) born in the late 1400s.
Anders married Astrid Trondsdatter b.1747 in 1767 and they had 12 children.
When Anders passed away in 1784 he owned both the farms “Syndei Upper” and “Syndei Lower” Valdres, Norway. He had inherited some and purchased some. There was a lot of complicated history in the probates between his fathers siblings and relatives. When Anders passed away, his wife and his 3 living children inherited everything. The wife Astrid remarries with Knut Nilsen Quale b.1741, and the eldest son Erik takes over the Sundem farm.
- Erik Andersen Sundem b.1774 d.1810
- Ole Andersen Sundem b.1781 d.1839
- Ingri Andersatter Sundheim b.1782 d.1791
Norway was under Danish rule between 1537-1814. As a result of the Napoleon wars, Denmark had to let go of Norway. The independent Norway formed union with Sweden, which lasted until 1905. During the 1800s quite many of the Sundheim ancestors emigrated to America. We have traced quite a few, and some we know little or nothing about. I find it particularly difficult to keep track of the later generations, and our family is growing at a exponential rate 🙂
The son Erik Andersen Sundem b.1774 marries Eli Bjørnsdatter Solsten in 1794. They have 7 children. Erik was a soldier, and was fighting in the Denmark-Norway againt Sweden war 1808-1809. He comes home badly wounded and dies in 1810. The eldest son Anders b.1795 inherits Sundheim Lower, and another son Iver b. 1799 inherits Sundheim Upper (Stormarken).
Iver Erisken Sundem b.1799 marries Ragnhild Julsdatter Belgum b.1995. They have 6 children. The eldest son Erik b.1828 inherits the farm.
Erik Sundem b.1828. d.1916. He marries Ingebjørg Nilsdatter Hippe b.1827. They have 8 children. Some of them are the earlier immigrants to America. When they emigrated, they often took the farm name as last name, and fathers name as middle name.
- Jul Eriksen Sundem b.1863 to Minnesota.
- Erik b.1866 to Minnesota.
- Tostein b.1872 to Minnesota
Nils Eriksen Sundheim b.1857 married Anne Julsdatter Hilmen b.1865. They had 11 children. 6 of them emigrated to America:
- Erik b.1887 to Stutmans County, North Dakota
- Jul b.1889 to Dubuque, Iowa
- Nils b.1890 to Solano, California
- Ivar b.1892 to Superior, Wisconsin
- Christine b.1896 to San Jose, California (partner with L. Stenerson)
- Marit b.1898 (married Julius Bendiksen Hagen)
The two farms are still in “our” family. Sundheim upper or Stormarken is operated by Terje Norodd Holden. He is great grandson of Nils. On Sundheim Lower we have Anders Sundheim, which is a descendent of Anders Eriksen Sundem b.1795. His ancestor Anders Monsen Sundheim b.1861 was the founder of Valdres Samband, and a rather famous immigrant in the US, that worked as manager of Augsburg Publishing House in Minneapolis.
There is not so many alternatives if you are a “Sundheim”:
There is few other places that relate to that name.
- There is a significant share of immigrants to US from Germany from a town called Sundheim in Kehl, near Strasbourg.
- There is also a spanish connection, Don Guillermo Sundheim in Huelva, Spain, with immigrants to South America. He was born in Gießen, Germany 1840.
- Sundheim farm near Bardufoss. This is a younger name, that came about when Ole Olsen Sundlia b.1869 built his own farm, and called this “Sundheim”. (no relation to Valdres)
- Sundheim farm near Konsvinger
- Sundheim farm near Gjøvik
- Sundheim farm near Ålesund
- Sundheim near Arendal
- Sundheim in Kvam near Voss
- Sundheim in Nord-Aurdal near Ulnes. Here there are several Sundheim farms. Some are in direct relaton to family described on this website, and some are not.
If you are a “Sundem” there are very few origins:
If you are a “Sundem” this name is quite unique to the Sundheim/Syndei area in Nord-Aurdal commune in Oppland county, near Fagernes. If you have the Sundem name today, it is almost guearanteed that you have ancestry from this area, which basically mean that someone from this area emigrated, and took the farm name “Sundem” and kept this as the last name. They are possibly the more earlier immigrants to US. In the US there are today many relatives with this name.
- Sundems bookstore in Bodø is an example of inland migration from Valdres.
The letter is under revision -to be updated!…..
A list of persons & relatives who have visited Norway or made contact over the years:
- Norman Hagen , Detroit, Michigan (Visited Norway)
- Arnold & Joann Hagen Hartland, Michigan
- Joyce (Hagen) Holmes, Dearborn Hights, Michigan
- Evelyn (Hagen) & Ralph Robinson, Spring Valley, California .
- Christine S.(Sundheim) Stenerson, (sister of Iver), San Jose, California.
- Cindy & Scott Sundheim in Fairview, Montana. Scott is descendant of Jul Sundheim b.1863
- Joshua Sundheim in Starbuck, Minnesota. Descendant of Erik Sundheim b.1866
- Leif & Erik Sundheim in Aas, Norway. Descendents of Anders Eriksen Sundheim b.1795
- Kari Olava Sundheim Penser, Stockholm, Sweden. Descendant of Erik Sundheim b.1866
- Cheril Dawn Sundheim Damon. Descendant of Jul Sundheim b.1863
- Joyce M. Harrison. Descendant of Anne Eriksdatter Sundem b.1802
- Gloria Hodge. Descendant of (to be determined)
- Brian C. Sundheim, Chicago. Descendant of Jul Sundheim b.1889
- Thelma Stefonowicz, Spokane. Descendant of Ole Sundheim Toppol b.1860
- Nancy Stefonowicz, Spokane. Visited Norway 2018.
- Anne Margrethe Traa, Voss, Norway. Descendant of Ole Sundheim Toppol b.1860
- Ann Moen Stroupe. Descendant of Marit Andersdatter b.1691
- Mark Ashley. Descendant of Amund Olsen Quale b.1826, son of Anne Eriksdatter Sundem b.1802
- Ruth Anne Henderson. Descendant of Marit Arnesdatter Svennes b.1690
- Carol Sundquist