Kari Sivertsdatter and her family from Ytre Sæbø

In the spring of 1751, Simon Gregoriusen from Ytre Sæbø farm in Radøy municipality was admitted to St. Jørgen’s Hospital. He paid 18 rikdsaler as an admission fee for the first year’s board and had a guarantee from the pastor back home that, if he lived that long, a second term would also be paid.

The following year, the estate of Simon and his wife Kari Sivertsadetter (also known as Siursdatter) was divided. He was not expected to return from the hospital. His son Sivert was to live with his grandparents, his daughter Botelle was already married, and a son, Gregorius, had died in childhood.

In the late summer of 1752, Kari Sivertsdatter moved into the healthy ward at St. Jørgen’s Hospital where she had purchased a place for herself. She paid 60 rikdsdaler for board and lodging for life, a kind of life tenancy. Presumably, Kari primarily chose to live at the hospital to care for her husband.

Two years later, her 13-year-old son Sivert was was also diagnosed with ‘leprosy’ by city physician Erichsen. He was then admitted to St. Jørgen’s Hospital and reunited with his parents. In 1755, he was confirmed in the hospital church along with five other young people from the hospital and one from the parish of Årstad. The family lived at the hospital together for several years before Simon died in February 1757. He was laid out in a standard coffin costing 3 marks and was buried three days later to the tolling of the church bells.

After a few years, something unusual happened. After living at St. Jørgen’s for seven years, Sivert Simonsen was discharged from the hospital. Perhaps he enjoyed an unusual recovery, or perhaps he had never had leprosy in the first place, but another less harmful disease. The diagnosis methods were not foolproof at that time.

Whatever the reason, Sivert was discharged in 1761. He then worked for a while as a servant to the hospital’s superintendent. The superintendent and the sexton at the hospital were witnesses when Sivert got engaged to Anna Fabiansdatter three years later. Anna was a maid at St. Jørgen’s Hospital and before that was a maid at Tarlebø farm in Årstad parish, so she was probably familiar with the church and the hospital before being employed there.

The wedding took place at St Jørgen’s Church on 2 September 1764. It must have been a special and joyous occasion at the hospital. Not only was it was uncommon for anyone to be discharged from the hospital, and the couple also chose to wed in the hospital church, meaning Sivert’s mother Kari could attend the ceremony, as well as all the other residents.

Simon and Anna leased a farm at Nygård just outside the city centre where they had dairy cows and sold milk. In 1771, Simon and Anna suddenly died just 11 days apart. We do not know whether their deaths were caused by an epidemic or if something else happened. They left behind three children, the oldest of whom was five years old. Their grandmother, Kari Sivertsdatter, initially cared for the children, but it is likely that they later moved to Ytre Sæbø.

Kari Sivertsdatter lived at St. Jørgen’s until 1790. We know nothing about how she fared living alone after her husband and son both passed away. After nearly four decades living on the healthy ward, she must have been accustomed to new residents coming and going.

By scrupulously studying various types of archival material, the historian and archivist Knut Geelmuyden has found a great deal of information about his ancestors and their families, including his great-great-great-great-great-grandparents Simon Gregoriusen and Kari Sivertsdatter or Sjursdatter.

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