Erik Bøl in english

”ERIK BØL OG FOLKET ETTER HAN”


Oversatt til engelsk av Paul Anton Letnes

med hjelp av Jack Nelson Lexington, Kentucky

og Lois Wilde Grand Forks, Nord Dakota.

Erik Bol - the preface and introduction

 

December 18, 2010

 

 

1 Preface: the book, the farm, the name

 

Now that this book has been published, it is because Asbjorn Smevik has

done a major work by gathering information about families so far back in

time. He has studied the church books as well as other sources.

 

In order to keep the information in its right context, he has organized the

family branches according to the name of each of the nine children of Erik

Bol who have living descendants today. He has had help from various

people; many telephone conversations and letters have been exchanged.

Most of the work has been done by Asbjorn Smevik who mentions

in several places that he has had good help from what Haakon Kvam has

written on the families in Inderoy, with descriptions of people and events

of old. Smevik has also studied other families but the Bol family is his major work.

 

In some family branches far back in time members who married

Bol descendants are known; however, we do not include these here. However, everything that Smevik has discovered and documented is in the archive of Inderoy museums--og historielag1; i.e. nothing has been lost. These may be of help for future family historians.

 

Included here are small sections of text that were recorded in order

to give readers an impression of life in the past. Many of the histories relate to our life today, i.e., hard work, missing a loved one, along with pride and the will to work for a better life.

 

 

1The Inderoy museum and history association

 

 

1

 

In the book are professional titles of the old rural community:

Bonde (farmer), leilending2, husmann3, inderst4. Of these the inderst is the

least well known and needs an explanation. These people were husmenn5

who did not own any land but lived with their family on a farm with a

husmann or in an abandoned house. Most of these people were craftsmen

of some sort and derived their small income from these professions.

 

It was the hope of Smevik that this information would be published in

book form. The Inderoy museum1 and history association2 has received his papers as a gift by his last will. The association has now by the help of others gotten the opportunity to publish this book by Asbjorn Smevik:

 

Erik Fredriksen6 Bol og folket etter han (Erik Fredriksen Bol

and his descendants)

 

To introduce the newest family members, and to include changes and

corrections of errors, I have sent letters to many in the different families. I

will now use this opportunity to thank everyone for their help with this work.

I would also like to say thanks for all the nice phone conversations and all

the useful “reunions".

 

I would like to include some words on the farm and the name Bol. The

farm is located in Inderoy in a rural area that we call Vuddu. It lies up

high, surrounded by forest. The farm was split in 1838 into two roughly

equal parts: Ostre Bol and Vestre Bol (Eastern Bol and Western Bol,).

We do not know for certain where the farm houses were located at the time Erik lived there. There are two places that have clear marks of building

foundations. One of the places, on the present Western Bol farm, is now located

about 60 metres north of the husmanns-farm on Bol. The other

homestead now located on the Eastern Bol farm is about 100

metres east of the husmanns-farm. This appears to be the oldest of the two

plots and therefore may be where Erik and his family lived.

 

 

2The term “leilending" was used to describe someone who did not own land but rather

rented it from a larger farm.

3Similar to a leilending, the “husmann" did not own any land himself. Often, a husmann

was a relative of the farmer and rented some land by working a certain amount each year

on the farm.

4An “inderst" was often a craftsman living on a farm who earned a living from

his skills.

5Plural of husmann

6A Norwegian name on the form XXXsen means “the son of XXX", i.e. Hansen is

son of Hans, and Olsen is son of Ole. We infer that a different form of the patronymic Erik Bol's father was named Fredrik.

2

 

 

 

The foundations at Bolgjale are still clearly visible. The husmann-homestead Bolgjale was cleared and built by Fredrik, the oldest son of Anna

and Erik Bol. At present, the Inderoy museum and history association (in cooperation with the Inderoy sports association) has opened  an old husmanns-house on the Bol farm. The house, moved from Kringgjale by Vist, is protected by the state archaeologist.  The name Bol most likely comes from “to live". “Bole" and “bol"7 are the same words. To cite Anders Underdal:

 

Mitt bu, min heim, min keisardom, mitt rike her pa jord.

 

My home, my empire, my kingdom here on the Earth. In spite of tough times and hardship Bol was an empire and a kingdom for those who lived there.

 

Oddny Stavran

 

 

 

2 Asbjorn Smevik (about the author)

 

Asbjorn Smevik was born in Steinkjer in 1930. He was for many years an

employee of the Norwegian Mail Service, but had his debut as an author with

a collection of short stories in Gyldendal's8 Debutantologi (Debuting authors'

anthology) in 1975. He has since worked as a journalist in the newspaper

“Nordtronderen" and “Namdalen" and he has also had four novels published.

 

Failing health forced him to quit working as a journalist.  His interest in history was awakened when he read the stories from Inderoy about “Bygdedoktoren"9 and the farmer Erik Bol’s life story. Asbjorn had his connections to Inderoy through his mother Johanne Smevik, maiden name Stornes10.

 

Despite several years of hard work with the Erik Bol book, Asbjorn was

unable to complete his work. He died on August 5, 1987.  His wish for a complete manuscript was left to Inderoy museum- and history association.

 

 

 

 

7The name of the dwelling place for some animals, e.g. wasps, is called “bol" in

Norwegian.

8Gyldendal is an old, well known Norwegian publishing house.

9Erik Bol was known as “Bygdedoktoren", the countryside doctor (or similar).

10Stornes is the name of a farm in Inderoy located on the north side of the Inderoy

peninsula.

3

 

3 Information about the book's organization

 

Before  discussing the family branches, we should explain the organization. Asbjorn Smevik used an alphanumeric system which is a convenient way of keeping lists of relatives. For example: Erik Fredriksen Klofstad 18.4.1752-16.5.183711 is A.  His children B-C etc. The order for the siblings is with numbers 1,2,3,4,5.  He  also used “sen" and “dtr"12 for gender. A convenient notation will be used unless otherwise specifed.

 

Oddny Stavran

 

 

 

4 Interesting photography

 

We include this interesting photograph of:

 

B 8 C 1 Pauline Matias dtr. Bol (Ulstad) 28.4.1837-6.12.1909.

She married 29.10.1857  Lornts Larsen Letnes 6.1.1827{15.4.1897.

It is after her that Jekta Pauline13 received her name and  in Volume II under B8 C1 it reads:

 

Lornts took over the farm “Ytter-Letnes"14 on 18.4.1861 for 2150

speciedaler15 and kar for his stepmother Johanna Andersdtr. (maiden

name Lyngstad). One of the things belonging to the farm was

a Jekt valued at 200 speciedaler - this is the original “Jekta

Pauline".

 

 

 

11Norwegian dates are generally on the DD.MM.YYYY format, where DD signifies date,

MM month, and YYYY the year.

12In this context, “sen" means son of" and “dtr" means “daughter of".

13”Jekt" was a Norwegian type of sailing boat from this period.

14This is the farm known as “Letnes" today.

15”Speciedaler" was the Norwegian currency between 1816 and 1875, according to

Wikipedia.

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

5 Erik Bol (1752-1837)

 

Page 6

 

When a family history is published, it is usual to give special attention to that

person who gave a name to the family and who is the common ancestor

of the whole family. We will also do this for the Bol family which branches

out from Erik Bol-- the “leilending," widely known as a good doctor. One would think it easy to gather material for a small article on such a person but this is not the case. The stories about him have lived by word of mouth, never written down, and partially forgotten.

 

The only written sources are protocols from courts of law, that federal

archivist Jorgen Refsaas has investigated and discussed in an article in Nord-

Trondelag16 history association's year book of 1937. An article by local

historian Hakon Kvam also writes of Erik Bol in the 1957 year book.

To get more information about him one must consult the church archives17

where we meet the man numerous times for various reasons:

 

On May 16, 1837 Erik Bol, 85 years old, died after being for

several decades the only person able to help sick people in Inderoy

and apparently also in neighboring communities. There was not

a single doctor in “Nordre Innherred"18. During his life no doctor settled down permanently in Inderoy.

 

These are the words of Jorgen Refsaas in the opening of his article. I will try to describe his life as a rural doctor.  We know little of the farmer Erik Bol. He probably does not stand out from others who lived in poverty and distress.

 

Erik Bol was born on April 18, 1752 in Klovstadbakken in Sandvollan19  the

son of dragoon and husmann Fredrik Eriksen born in 1725 and Marta Andersdtr.

born 1727. In 1762, Erik worked as a goat herder for “kvartermester"20

Ole Pedersen Gangstad who owned the farm Ferstad in Inderoy.

 

16Nord-Trondelag is today the county, or “fylke" in Norwegian, where Inderoy lies.

17Historically, the church was the only organization to keep consistent archives of

historical events, such as birth, death, marriages, and gossip in general.

18This is a geographical region with no fixed boundaries today, smaller than the Nord-

Trondelag county.

 

19Sandvollan is a part of Inderoy.

20”Kvartermester" is a military rank.

5

 

 

 

In those times there was no organized schooling for children. We

know that the church bell ringer21 Kornelius Grundt taught some basic reading

and writing. Erik must have received some education because when we

meet him as an adult he is literate. He received his confirmation in 1767

and continued to live on the Ferstad farm for an additional 7 years.

 

Often, chance can have a decisive influence over the development and

interests in young people. This was the case here as well. The bright young boy’s coming  to Ferstad put him in contact with people who strongly influenced his interests. Ole P. Gangstad was married to Ragnhild Margrete (maiden name Stabel) on the farm Gjorv in Sandvollan. This Ragnhild Margrete took good care of people on the farm. Her mother was the sister of Wittrup on the Sundnes farm. A younger brother of Ragnhild, Lorents, grew up on Sundnes and also took the

name Wittrup. In 1768 he was ordained as “personellkapellan"22 with the priest

Schnittler, and he worked as a priest here for 4 years. He was known for his

enthusiasm for popular enlightenment.  This young priest often visited his sister at Ferstad whose farm was so small that both farmers and the farm hands worked and lived together.  When this eager theologian came for a visit, the time was used for instruction. Erik had the best years of his youth when he was 16-20 years old.  He was strongly influenced by this priest, and the priest noticed the talented young boy and helped him. At the same time the owners of the Ferstad farm were better educated than many others in the area. It is also possible that they had  contact with the new priest, Christian Welding, as they lived close to the priest's farm23. Welding, who arrived in 1773, was a knowledgeable man who quickly organized schooling and employed teachers in the community. He was also educated in medicine and disease, a much needed skill.

 

 

 

21Translations, please?

22A position in the church. I am unsure of the translation.

23Traditionally in Norway, a clerical position is accompanied with a farm for the priest

 

 

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Page 7

 

Hakon Kvam writes on the conditions in the area:

 

When Welding came to Inderoy that fall, the terrible disease

“blodsotta"24 was found across the country worse than the year

before. Church records also show many deaths in the Inderoy

parish. Across the country there were 13,000 more deaths than births.

Also, harvests were bad, grain prices rose, and so much bark bread25

was eaten that entire forests were destroyed.

 

It is reasonable that the priest was looking around to teach someone how

to care for the sick in the area and the choice fell on the young boy Erik

who lived on the neighboring farm. If the apprenticeship was short or long we

do not know, but we know that he received medical books from Welding --

for instance “Mangors Landapotek"26-- where he got recipes for medicine. Information on when he started his work as a doctor is nowhere to

be found as written sources do not appear until 1806. However, it seems clear that he often spent time with his tutor Welding and was taught to gather medicinal plants for  medicine. He also joined Welding when he traveled around

to learn how to care for wounds and diseases. In February 1774 Erik was

married to Anna Tomasdtr. Boll, born 1749, daughter of the leilending at

Bol, Tomas Olsen Boll born 1703 and Ingeborg Iversdtr. born 1701. In

the church books he was known as dragoon Erik Fredriksen Ferstad, 22

years old. He moved away from Ferstad, took the name Erik Boll, and

became “bygselmann"27 after his father-in-law, who was growing old. At this time there was a series of bad years and like everyone else the young farmers on Bol

encountered starvation and poverty. But not much is said about this fight—life was a fight for survival.

 

There were rumors that Erik was a master when it came to treating diseases, wounds and broken legs. He was often away helping the sick. In all times, folk medicine has had wise men and women who were of much help to both people and domestic animals. Some of the treatment administered

surely had some value, but most of their work would make us laugh or cry

today because treatments were mostly based on superstition or magic. With Erik

Bol  folk medicine made a huge leap ahead. We never hear of him using

magic or wizardry in his treatment of the sick. He had learned to recognize the diseases himself and he knew the medicines that worked--both those he made himself and others obtained from a pharmacy. He no doubt had a strong

 

24A blood disease, probably called “flekktyfus" in modern Norwegian.

25At the time, bark from trees were put into the flour to make it last longer.

26”Landapotek" means something along the lines of “Countryside pharmacy".

27Translate this

7

 

 

interest in his work as doctor and had natural talents in medicine. A couple

of centuries later he would perhaps be a known as a skilled doctor

but it was a time when he was the only medically skilled person in a large

area.

 

Page 8

 

At the end of the century there were 4 children who were grownup and able to help with the farm work. The wife, Anna Tomasdtr.,was sick at the time.  In the census in 1801 she was a (“cripple and bedridden"). However, in May 1802 she died, 53 years old. The same thing happened to Erik as with other people back then. If life on the farm was to work out, you needed to be two people. Before the end of the year he married Marith Olsdtr. Glomstad who was born in1769. They had two children together.

 

The first written information about Erik's work as a doctor we find in

1806 when he cured the church bell ringer,28 Johannes Olsen Hofstad, his daughter and two servants who were “severely attacked by Blodgang.” For this

cure, Erik charged 8 skilling (27 ore)29, but he received 1 solvort (80 ore).

Hofstad states that he also had cured a man in Sparbu30 and a woman

in Beitstad31 who were so sick that “almost no hope remained". This shows

that he was sent after and traveled widely. It is known that Erik in 1809 vaccinated his daughter's son (7 years) with smallpox vaccine,

In the church archives I have found that he vaccinated others in

1802 and 1803--probably the first smallpox vaccination in Inderoy. Smallpox

was a dangerous disease that  killed many children and young adults. They did not have a cure for the disease, but around the turn of the century a vaccine was developed. Welding taught Erik Bol about vaccination before he died.

 

In 1807, Denmark-Norway ended up at war with England. Erik Bol was

then a well-known doctor amongst the folk, but he was also

 

 

28TODO translate

29120 skilling was 1 speciedaler. “Ore" is the “cent" in Norwegian currency today, where

100 ore = 1 Norwegian krone.

30Sparbu is located a few kilometers from Erik's home.

31Beitstad is located across the Beitstad fjord, about 30 kilometers driving distance

today.

 

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known to the authorities. Thus he was asked by amtmann32 Rafn to be

a wound doctor at the Coastal Defense. Erik accepted the offer.  Where and how long he was in the service and what mission he had is not known, but we find him back home in 1809. The locals were happy for this because now they needed the doctor from Bol. Following was a series of bad years with a blockade of trading goods and high disease rate due to malnutrition. “Blodsotta" again seems to be

the disease that took the most lives. There was much for the doctor to do;

he traveled without receiving payment because poverty was so overwhelming that few had any money to pay.

 

We do not know for sure but it seems clear that he was now in his most active period and was probably always out traveling with his doctor's bag.  From 1810 there is information that Erik was called upon by a man who appeared to have a venereal disease. He reported the case to amtmann Rafn who ordered battalion field surgeon Blix in Verdal33 to check on the sick man. If he was prevented from going Erik should undertake the cure. Blix was sick so Erik started his cure and when Blix examined the patient later he found that the man was completely healthy. For this cure, Erik received 1 solvort. Three years later he had to treat the man's wife for the same disease until she again was also healthy.

 

 

In January 1812 he again found himself in a family tragedy. His

second wife, Marith Olsdtr. contracted “tyfus" and died leaving children 6 and 9 years old. Again he found a new wife - Barbara (Barbro) Ingebriktsdtr Gran and married her before the end of the year. 1812 is the last of the bad years. Previously herring and pine bark saved so many. But herring and grain were in short supply. People starved and got many diseases that took lives because people were so undernourished.  Profit was not the motivation of the doctor, but

the call of helping people who were sick, wounded or diseased . The next years improved slightly but times remained very hard.  The end of Napoleon's rule was getting near and in Norway the constitution was written at Eidsvold34  gaining Norway’s independence from Denmark, but the common man and woman noticed little of this.

 

32The word “amt" described an administrative region at the time, roughly equivalent

to the word “fylke" or county of today. The “amtmann" is the head of the “amt".

33Verdal is today one of the neighbouring municipalities of Inderoy.

34The first Norwegian constitution was signed on May 17, 1814 at Eidsvoll, which is not

far north of Oslo.

 

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It appeared that Norway would face war with Sweden again, and people were afraid. Erik Bol was again asked byAmtmannen to serve as a wound doctor at “Almuesvaebningen"35.   He agreed and again traveled to serve in the war but fortunately  the war didn’t happen so Erik and the soldiers were able to return home again.

 

Page 9

 

Erik’s luck ran out, “Utakk er verdens lonn"36 goes the saying, and he soon noticed this. What now took place could have been avoided. He long practiced as a countryside doctor; he had twice been authorized as a doctor in the military and the Danish Canselliet37 could give the right to practice medicine to someone not educated as a doctor as long as that individual “possessed knowledge and skill in one or another part of medical science". Haakon Kvam wrote: “It was an error by E. B. that he did not send an application to Canselliet about this permit--he would likely have received it. But he must be excused, that he as a common farmer did

not know the paragraphs in old laws and regulations."

 

In 1818 a servant girl on Flakkenberg was sick. She went to see the regiment surgeon Monrad in Verdal, but he could not diagnose her problem. She then visited Erik Bol who found that she had a venereal disease and prescribed

medicines he obtained for her. She took the medicine and was better. But

then regiment surgeon Stuven (a German living in Verdal) visited her. He

sent her to Radehospitalet in Trondheim, and she came back in the summer

healthy. Another girl on Ingul was also sick. The farmer sent for Erik

who found that she had a venereal disease. He prescribed medication that took a long time before it came from Trondheim. They therefore tried

to get an appointment with Stuven. Before she left, the medicine arrived, and she

brought it with her. Stuven confiscated the parcel and decided to punish the

quack from Bol. This time it did not matter that he had done many a good deed.

Erik Bol was reported to the county for being a quack, and on August 10, 1818

the trial against him began. In this article we cannot go into detail about

the court case but we will note that many witnesses testified about

how they had received help from Erik. All witnesses said only nice things of

 

35This translates roughly to “the arming of the people".

36This is a Norwegian saying; “Ingratitude is the world's reward".

37TODO translate?

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him, but the authorities had “found it necessary to severely punish quacks to

deter them from exploiting their fellow man's trust and ruining their health".

The law being such, he had to be convicted even if the testimonies for him

were all positive. The verdict was taken to the next court. Here, a good written statement was given from regiment surgeon Monrad. This was not useful for the prosecutors. The common folk also spoke about his case. Could no one then give him a bad testimony? Yes, there was a priest Bodtker in Inderoy. This testimony no longer exists, but it is well described in the case documents. It is a harmful  testimony, but the defense tore it down by stating that this testimony was full of harsh claims for which no proof could be found. It was directly stated that the priest was incompetent in medical questions and the whole case was said to be full of lies and ill intentions. About the priest's behavior one must say that he took the law seriously when it came to “warn common folk about ignorant quacks".

 

Judgement came in the court on March 22, 1819. Even if the trial went

well for Erik Bol it was a hard conviction. A 16 speciedaler fine, and an

additional 5 speciedaler to the defense for additional expenses--together more

than the value of 2 cows. This was most likely all the animals owned by Erik

Bol. How he paid the fine we do not know.but perhaps he received help.

Now his practice of medicine had to stop. If he were to be accused again, he would end up in jail. Probably he had to be very careful with helping people and we imagine that the priest Bodtker who did not fare well in the trial paid close

attention to him. This must have been a difficult time for him. On one side were the people around him who needed his help, and on the other side was fear of being punished again. He now experienced something strange, and which must have been a joyous restoration of his good name: from the county administration in Nord-Trondelag he received frequent letters with orders to travel to cure sick people. In the same year as he was convicted he received his first mission. In the

next two years we see that he had missions to Sparbu, Ytteroy38, Stod

and Kvam. As an example we include one of the written requests from the

amtmann: “January 28, 1820. As reported to the county, Farmer Hammers

wife has the last 2 months been sick and bedridden, presumably from her

last childbirth. As gentlemen surgeons Stuven and Monrad still are too weak

to undertake travel, and as you presumably are capable of curing Anders

Hammers wife, you are hereby authorized, as no educated doctor can be

 

38An island in the Trondheimsfjord close to Inderoy.

 

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found, to treat and cure her, when the county otherwise expects you.  If you

find the disease of a type that can be cured after your instructions

to apply medicaments with care. Your judgment can be used to

cure her. The result of your examination should be reported to the county

as soon as possible. At this opportunity the county must also request that

as soon as possible you report on what you prescribed for Johannes Osteraas

and whether he is now healthy or not."

 

By reading these letters we get a strong impression of how poor the state health care was in the countryside…no authorized doctor, the closest pharmacy was in Trondheim, travel was difficult and mail service was slow. “It is from now

and in the following years that Erik Boll was the only man in all of Indherred

who can travel about and help the sick, and what he accomplished during

these times. Many suffering people's gratitude for restored health belong to

the forgotten memories of the old doctor."  Hakon Kvam summarized his

thoughts about the countryside doctor and his life's work.

 

Not until 1826 was the first district doctor employed in Innherred. Now

Erik Bol was an old man of 74 years old, and then we hear little about him.

Probably he had settled down, or at least he didn’t travel any longer.

Life at Bol was also hard. During the winter 1833/34 Barbro, his wife, fell

sick with leprosy. The doctor knew no cure, and neither did anyone else.

In Skogn a small hospital had been set up. She went there but died there in

November 1835, 47 years old.

 

It appears that Eric now wants to settle his matters. The farm was given to

his son, Mattias, and he moved to Lille-Gran in March 1837. He sent his youngest son at 11 years old to Vatn where he worked as a herder. His life's work was over. What remains are the memories of him. What  remained after time was carelessly forgotten, and a big family of descendants where all who

belong have reason to be proud that they are descendants of the skilled country

doctor from Bol.

 

Petter Klepp

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Sist oppdatert (torsdag 29. september 2011 17:42)