Houkom family papers, 1805-1938
Ole Bjørnsen (1783-1856) was born in Laurdal's parish in upper Telemark, where his father was a farmer. In 1802, he was elected church singer and school teacher in Kviteseid. He was educated in Kristiansand under Bishop Hansen, and in 1812 served as conciliation commissioner. Bjørnsen served as a representative of Bratsberg county in the Storting in 1815-16 (Member of 1st: church committee), 1836, 1837, 1839, 0g 1842. He was close friends with the priest Jens Zetlitz, who dedicated the 2nd edition of his Songs for a Norwegian Peasantry “because he [Bjørnsen] was the most respectable farmer he knew." Bjørnsen belonged to the so-called Zetlitz circle together with Jens Zetlitz and Ole Blom.
Bjørnsen is said to have been among the peasants who fought for the interests of farmers. In September 1815, he put forward a proposal to complete the abolition of the nobility. This was completed through the Nobility Act in 1821. He was also a supporter of abolishing the Conventical poster in 1841, including repealing the Jewish section. Henrik Wergeland, a Norwegian writer, wrote that Bjørnsen was “a priest in his Enlightenment and in his way of thinking. When his voice has been heard, it has always been for a cause which has glorified his humanity.”
Ole Bjørnsen was married three times: Tone Tollefsdatter Hemmestveit (-1807), Engelev Aslaksdatter Kirkebø (-1822), and Tarjer Aslaksdatter Kirkebø (1800-1875). With his third wife, Tarjer, they had a son Sveinung O. Haukom (now spelled Houkom) married Mari Handsdatter Saltevje in 1849. Sveinung and Mari had eight children, including: Olaf (1850-1920), Targer/Thora (1856-1925), Aslak (1864-1938).
Letters, genealogical material and records from Olaf Houkom who immigrated to the United States in 1870. Olaf attended the Augsburg Luther Seminary in Minneapolis and was an ordained minister with a parish in Manvel, North Dakota in 1886. Included are letters from Aslak Houkom, who migrated in 1887, and records from family member Ole Bjørnson’s time in the Norwegian government and Storting (1805-1845).