Grave obsessions

Across the pond…letters from Norway
Who is Ranveig Helland? And who are the people she talks about - Marit and Annie Gravdal? What else does this card say? Those were the questions I pondered when my grandfather's second cousin, Sandra Hesse, allowed me to scan this and many other photos and documents held by other family members.
Card to Elisabeth_back

Addressed to Elisebeth (Gravdahl) Veland, I assumed this small card was from a family member left behind when Elisebeth and her family emigrated from Norway to America in 1893.  Saved for many years, it was evidence that Elisebeth (Gravdahl) Veland stayed connected to her family across the pond.  After doing a bit of research, I discovered that Ranveig was the daughter of Elisebeth's cousin, Marta Grabrielsdatter Fatland.  But I was still mystified by the language - Google Translate was of little help in deciphering this Norwegian letter!

Praying for an answer, I reached out to another newly discovered cousin on MyHeritage and was thrilled to find her response in my email this morning!  Kari, another second cousin of my grandfather, lives in Norway and provided the translation:
Dear Elisebeth!
I hope you have received the letter I sent you from Brooklyn.
I'm now sending the cushion from Marit and Annie  Gr.d.
The jam spoon with a motif from Haugesund to you from aunt Lina.
The cake spade from me to you Elisebeth, and the other jam spoon to your homestaying daughter from me.
This I wrote about in the letter, by the way.
You can believe I would love to see you, but that I don't dare think about. It is great as it is.
Best regards Ranveig
Thanks to's passenger lists, I learned that Ranveig Helland came to Brooklyn 13 May 1952, and didn't head back to Norway until the 5th of August.  It is unknown when this letter was sent, or when the gifts Ranveig describes were received by Elisebeth.  However, what we do know is that Elisebeth died 10 July 1952 - during Ranveig's stay in America -  and it may likely explain the lack of response to the precious items these Norwegian family members sent to their cousin Elisebeth. 

So how do all these people fit together?????

Gravdal short 2

Ole Olsen Landa and Johanne Haldorsdatter Gravdal had nine known children.  Their eldest sons, Ola, Gabriel and Haldor, are shown above.  Haldor came to America in 1892, and his wife followed with the children the following year, including Johanne (who went by her middle name, Elisebeth).  Elisebeth clearly stayed in touch with Ranveig, the granddaughter of Gabriel.  And Ranveig sent the gifts from their other cousin, Marit  (daughter of Ola) and Marit's daughter, Annie. 

Johanna Elizabeth (______) Gravdahl

Johanne Haldorsdatter Gravdal, my 4th great grandmother, and mother of Ole, Gabriel and Haldor mentioned in the diagram above.

I like to think that Ole and Johanne would be pleased to know that descendants of their sons have connected and that family history has a place in our hearts. 

A Meeting of Cousins!
Tom Collins, Sandra Hesse, and me on the right, Saturday, 12/4/21.
Tom & I are descended from Haldor's daughter Elisebeth, and Sandra is the granddaughter of Haldor's daughter Anna.   I was the new one to the family, having recently met Sandra online, but was welcomed with open arms!  By the end of our visit I felt like I'd known my Norwegian cousins my whole life!