(as told by Aunt Grace Kapek)
I copied this verbatim from an undated document that was in the genealogy notebook I got from Dad (George Fyhrie) in 1987. It is undated and ‘unsigned’ so I think it is a letter / followup by Aunt Grace. I do not recall who gave it to me, but I ‘filed’ it in the notebook (so I get ‘points’ for that anyway?)
FYRI, THE NAME
Torstein said that his mother used to tell the children stories of the trolls. In the beginning, all was darkness. Out of the darkness came the trolls. Out of the waters came trolls lifting rocks and trees, and thus islands were formed. Out of the mists and darkness, mountains appeared — showing black of the rocks and white of the snow. All the land, with the exception of the highest mountain tops, were covered with heavy forests of fir.
The land was called “fyri” which means land overgrown with Fir trees. The land was called fyri, and the people living on this land were also called fyri. The people owned the land called their home “fyrihagen. ” when the daughters married, their husbands lived there and took the name “Fyri.” Ownership of the land passed from father to the oldest son. Or, if there were no sons, the land passed to the oldest son-in-law and this is still the custom today.
Historians call these early people “Vikings.” It was not unusual for a farmer to sow his fields, then go “A-Viking,” come home to harvest his crops, then go “A-Viking” again, and return home before the winter became too severe, usually in November. It is possible that some of my ancestors dis go “A-Viking,” as the northern most part of the farm is the River Glomma which heads straight to Oslo and the sea, and the farm is only seventeen miles from Oslo. Viking artifacts have been found on Fyri property.
The following is translated from the FAMILIES OF NES.
“There have been some old finds on Fyri. One is a two-edged sword of iron, and a spear point of iron from the Viking period. Two other finds are from the Stone Age and consist of a broad-edged axe head, a flint axe head and a thin necked flint axe.
The people lived on the land continuously and were ruled in early days by chieftains and kings of petty kingdoms. Later, when only one king ruled in Norway, Fyhri was taken over by the king. During the Middle Ages, the land was taken over by the church, and tithes were paid by each farm to the church. During the Reformation, in 1537, the king confiscated all church possessions and N. Fyri became one of the farms which was reserved to keep the schools and teachers in Kristiana (Oslo). This meant that the ownership of Fyri transferred from Martinsalteret to Katedralskolden.
Early history of Norway is known only through the Sagas which have been passed on to us. In the saga of King Hokaan Hokanson, it is mentioned that in the year 1215 a Torstein Fyri entertained king Hokanson who was traveling from Oslo. It was also mentioned in a sage of King Olav, that he spent a night on Fyri when travelling from Oslo. After Norway was unified under one king, Olav became the patron saint of Norway. he is credited with introducing Christianity to Norway, and the legends say that he built more than 200 churches — even enlisting the help of the trolls who helped put up the high steeples.
“The name was not always spelled as it is today,
FYHRI. According to the Hokaan Hokanson Saga,
it was spelled FURRI in 1325; FYRY then FYRI in 1499;
FYRYE in 1520; FURU in 1557; FYRRJ in 1575;
FYRRYE in 1578; FYRRE in 1594 and 1617; and FYRI in 1666 and 1723″
The name has been spelled FYHRI in Norway since the 1800’s.
My grandfather, and Anton, added and “e” to the name when he emigrated to America. Martin and Hjalmer followed suit, so all the families in America spell the name Fyhrie.
THE OWNERS OF FYRI
The following is from the book, FAMILIES OF NES, which gives much more information about the land and the people living on the fyri land. [Link to appropriate web site]
The legal description of Fyri was as follows: ” The Fyri land lies on changing sand and clay. the farm boundary is North to Tviethaug and Boler, East to Glomma and South and Southwest is Strom. The West boundary is inland toward Mordre and its own (?tributary?) which stretches out quite far to the west.”
Our family, the Fyri’s have lived continuously on this land since the “beginning.” they could not sell the property but it was passed on from father to son. The farmers had to pay taxes on their crops, horses and cows. Taxes were paid first to chieftains or petty kings, late to the king. In later days the one King of Norway took over the land, and taxes were paid to him. he and his tax collector would ride around and visit each farm and they made meticulous records of the size of each farm and the kind and amount of crops grown. Later, the church owned the property and then the school system. which was part of the church government. It was at this time that a line was drawn through Fyri, creating North Fyri and South Fyri , and the children north of the line had to go to schools in North fyri. during the Reformation, when all church property was confiscated by the King, Fyri became one of ten farms owned by the king.
North Fyri was a “complete” farm in old Norwegian times. a “Complete” farm is described in the tax records. The inventory was made at the time of Knut Larson’s death. His son-in-law received one-fourth of the farm upon Knut’s death, but the estate was not divided until 1801 when Knut’s widow, Inger, dies. The houses, the land and the forest were all cut in two. The buildings were: “the main building, small buildings where farmers and their families lived, a store house small guest house, thrashing room, barn with two floors, under barn, shreku, beer house, kjone, smithy, stalls for sheep, house for pigs, and fjos.” When the farm was divided at Inger’s death, some of the houses were cut in two. In dividing the farm in two pieces, that meant they had to move all the buildings to new locations.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE TAXES PAID: In 1665 the land was taxed one-tenth of 25 TN blended corn, wheat, and oats, two and one-half TN corn. In 1689 and 1691, the farm on this land sold 18 TN oats, 60 blended corn, they fed 4 horses, 2 foals, 15 cows, 12 young goats, 16 sheep, and 7 swine. They reaped 90 loads of summer hay. From 1722 to 1803, the tax records indicate there waas damage to the land because of the overflow of the river, and it was recommended that the tax be reduced. In 1819 the records indicate that the land good for cultivation was enclosed and inconvenient to the harbor and the forests were missing. The crops were listed as 1 1/2 TN wheat, 1 1/2 TN barley, 5 TN peas, 1 skp linen (flax?), 1/2 TN rye, and 13 TN oats, and 8 TN potatoes. They fed 3 horses, 10 goats, 5 sheep and 2 swine.
Today the Norwegians say the taxes are still very high, but that because of the high taxes, they receive free schooling and free medical and hospital care.
The earliest known Fyri who ran the farms, was called Alf. His name was given in the tax records of 1593 and 1594. The next farmer was known as Anders, and he ran both North and South Fyri. He was followed by Hans Gulbrandsen Strom; his son-in-law, Ole Kristoffersen Berg, next ran the farm and he was followed by his son, Ole. he Built the stabburet (storehouse) still in use on North Fyri. It was built in 1769 and moved later when all the buildings on the farm were moved. In 1778, the farm and buildings were turned over to Ole Olson’s son-in-law, Even Hansen Frilset who married Eli Olsdatter Fyri (1746-1815}.
The buildings on this farm originally lay where the road now comes into the property on S. Fyri, but in 1806, Torger Tostensen moved his house to the place where Fyrihagen is now. “It is said that Torger and Ase were not in agreement as to how the main house should stand on the new property. Torger wanted the house to face the Glomma, and Ase, wanted the long side of the house toward the water. They had, just then, the tailor in the house, and he said they should send for Soren Kjolstad to make the decision. He came and declared the house should lie as Ase wanted. And so, that is the way it is.”
Torger Tostensen received the deed of ownership from the King in 1813, and so he became the first single owner of the faarm in the “newer times.” In 1845, he turned the farm over to his son, Tosten Torgersen (1806-1866) who married Dorte Marie Amundsdatter (1824-96}. They had eight children, one of whom was my grandfather, Anton Thodore Fyhri. Tosten ran the farm as long as he lived, and my grandfather then ran the farm for only a few years before he emigrated to America. my grandfather’s mother married again to Arne Kristiansen Sorknes from Gue. They had one child. August Hjalmer. Arne Kristiansen became the new owner of Fyri, and later turned the farm over to Martin and Auguest Hjalmer. These two brothers left for America, and ownershp went to Thorvald, another brother (1857-1946). He built most of the houses which stand on the property, and he cultivated most of the inner part of the property. His son, Torger Johannes Fyri (1902-1975) married Solveig Sannes in 1941. Their three children, Torstein (1943), Jon (1945), and Ragni (1946) are the cousins that I visited in August 1989.
Torstein as the older son, inherited the property and ran the farm for a few years. In about 1978 he turned the property over to his younger brother, Jon, who is the present owner.
ANY COMMENTS or ADDITIONS? HEY FYRI? FYHRI? FYHRIE? HELLO!