Friday, May 17, 2013

AKSEL MIKKELSEN - A Message from Norway

You will remember the story I wrote earlier this year of Chicago policeman Aksel Mikkelsen.  Several months after the death of his wife Hulda Olsen Mikkelsen, Aksel killed himself at Hulda's grave in Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago.  When I am researching families for this blog it is very difficult for me to keep track of everybody so I usually create a family tree on for the family I am researching. That makes it easier to remember all of the relationships and it also gives me access to ancestry's search feature where they search their many databases for information on the people you put in a tree.  So, back on February 10, 2013 I put a family tree on that I called "Aksel Mikkelsen Family."

Imagine my surprise when I got an email last week from that said:

Hello ! 

I'm contacting you on behalf of Kjetil Straume and wife in Norway. They are searching for both acendants and decendants of Aksel Mikkelsen. Would you like to get in contact with them? Aksel was brother of Kjetil Straume's wife's great-great grandmother.

They would be very happy if you could email them.

Best Regards, Liv Christin Markussen, Norway.

I would be happy to contact the Straume family with the information I had, but since the story was a sad one, I was not sure how to approach them.  So, I responded:

Hello from Chicago!

Liv Christin Markussen contacted me through asking about the forebearers and descendents of Aksel Mikkelsen. I am not related to him - I started doing research on his family for a story about him that I wrote for my blog. The story is in two parts:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Virtually all of the information I have on the Mikkelsen family is contained in these two articles. I suggest you read them and then you can contact me if you are looking for more information. Unfortunately the story of Aksel Mikkelsen does not have a happy ending, but I present it as it happened.

Jim Craig
Evanston, Illinois

This way I was able to give them all the information I had on the family, and they could answer or not answer as they wished.  The very next day I got the following response from Kjetil and Inger Straume:

Hello from Oslo, Norway!

Dear Jim,

My wife and I thank you so much for your e-mail! The story of Axel and his family is truly sad, and also very touching. We also want to thank you very much for your work and effort to find out, and tell, the story behind a tombstone. In addition to being of interest to anyone concerned with our ancestor's life, this has for us made it possible to get knowledge about " a lost member of the family" and his destiny. We are very grateful to you!

Axel's parents were Charlotte Albertine, nee Berg (1828), and Johan Fredrik Mikkelsen (born about 1824).  

Axel had at least six siblings.  Charlotte and Johan Fredrik's seven children (as far as we know today) were:

1. Olivia Susane, born 4th April, 1847 in the municipality of Sør-Odal, Hedmark County. She is the great-great grandmother of my wife Inger Straume, nee Storm-Nielsen.

2. Carl Thorvald, born 5th February, 1849 in the municipality of Grue, Hedmark Co.. Emigrated to USA, buried 4th Jan at Mt. Olive.

3. Johan Albert, born 3rd February, 1851, at the same place. Emigrated to USA.

4. Ole, born 18th April, 1853, at the same place.

5. Axel Ingvold, born 26th January 1859 in Christiania. Christiania is the earlier name (1624-1925) of the Capital of Norway, today: Oslo, which also was the medieval name of this city.

6. Emmy Marie Wilhelmine, born 28th November, 1862 in Christiania. My wife knew three of her four daughters (one died as a child), the youngest of them died in 1997, 96 years old.

7. Ragna Theodora, born 15th February, 1865 in Christiania.

Here is link to the entry in the church record of the marriage of Axel's parents Charlotte and Johan Fredrik Mikkelsen:

Here is link to the entry in the church record of Axel's baptism (No. 129): Kildeinformasjon: Oslo fylke, Trefoldighet, Ministerialbok nr. I 1 (1858-1863), Fødte og døpte 1859, side 61. 

We have not yet found out where, and when Axel's father was born. He is told to have emigrated to USA, and that he died there before 1875, as Charlotte is registered as a widow in the Christiania (Oslo) census 1875.

We have a picture of Charlotte - but not as a normal portrait! It is a over a hundred years old jig saw puzzle! This is the only picture we have of her, and the same is for her daughter Olivia. I will send you a copy of Charlotte's picture in a separate mail. The picture puzzle of Olivia is now with my wife's sister who lives in Bourgogne, France, and we look forward to have a photo of this too, when she has puzzled it!

Again, thank you so much!

Inger and Kjetil Straume

Here's the puzzle picture of Charlotte:

Charlotte Albertine Berg Mikkelsen

I was very pleased that they were happy with the articles that I wrote about their family.  Here's my reply to my new friends in Norway:

Hello Inger and Kjetil -

Isn't the internet a wonderful thing? Through it we get to meet and communicate with people all over the world. I am very pleased that you liked the story I wrote about Axel and his family. It was a tragedy, to be sure. I say in my blog that I try not to judge the actions of people I did not know, but it is very hard to imagine what must have been going through Axel's mind just before he killed himself. How could he have done that to his children? They had already lost their mother, a traumatic experience for any age, and now they were going to lose their father as well - and the family would be broken up. It is only by the grace of God, and the strength of their extended family, that they turned out as well as they did.

In my research about your family I tried to find out if any other members of Axel's family were here in Chicago. We know that Hulda had a large family here buit I was never able to find any relatives of Axel's here. There were other Mikkelsens in Chicago, and there are even other Mikkelsens buried at Mount Olive, but I could never connect Axel to any of them.

Do you have any evidence of any of Axel's relatives in Chicago?

Now I have a favor to ask of you: Could I add the information you have given me to the information already on my blog? I would like to tell my readers how a member of Axel's family contacted me, and also include the other family information you have given me. I will not publish your email address, of course, and I don't even need to use you names unless you want me to. I would very much like to add this additional information to Axel's story as I have told it so far. Let me know if this is OK with you. I would also like to include the photo of Charlotte.

I'm sure you have cousins here in the US - Lillie Mikkelsen Hansen had a large family; August had two sons. Have you made contact with any cousins in the US?

That's all for now. Thank you again for your kind words.

Your friend in Chicago,

Jim Craig

As I mentioned when I wrote the article about Axel's suicide that I couldn't imagine how Axel could have felt that his children would be better off with him dead.  They were already grieving over the loss of Hulda, as he was, but how could he leave five young children orphans?  Inger had a very interesting response to my comment:

Hello Jim,

Yes, internet is truly wonderful. Without the internet it would have been impossible to find all the information we can find today, and to communicate all over the world so quickly.

You can of course feel free to use all the information we have sent you (and hopefully will send you later), and the picture of Charlotte. It is also quite OK to mention our names. We will also appreciate if you mention that it was Liv Christin who found out all this for us, if she agree. I will send her a copy of this mail, and believe she will send you a mail and tell if this is OK or not with her.

I think that when a person commit a suicide, he or she is in a situation of total darkness, where it is impossible to think sensibly, to see any alternative, or to overwiew the consequences for others. I think too, it is impossible for us to understand such an action, although we can try to find out what led to it.

Until now we don't know very much about Axel's brothers who emigrated to USA and their families. In Norway we have an internet site to help people to trace their ancestors and families: English version: It is quite free of charge to use this site. This is where we had the excellent help from Liv Christin.

Here is a link to the subject about Axel:

And to his father Johan Fredrik Mikkelsen:

One has to be logged in to see the names of those who have written a post here. Anyone can sign in as a guest user, and then you will see the names. Without signing in, it shows only "Skjult navn" which means Hidden name. This is because google shall not be able to pick up the names. Therefore we also only use the first name in the posts which are open without logging in.

There is also a lady in Minnesota, Margit Nysetvold Bakke, who is very helpful with the connections between USA and Norway. Here are links to her sites:

Here is a link to her advices at Disnorge:

Best greetings from your new friends in Norway,

Inger and Kjetil

I think Inger and Kjetil are correct:  Axel was in a situation where it was impossible to think sensibly or to see any alternative.  How sad for him, and his family. 

As Inger and Kjetil suspected, Liv Christin was happy to give her permission to be included in this article as well:

Hello Jim!

And thank You for giving us information about what happened to the Mikkelsen family. Tragic and touching!

It has been a pleasure for me to partisipate in the searchings for Johan Fredrik and Charlotte Mikkelsens story and decendants, and it is okay for me that to be mentioned in Your blog regarding the Mikkelsen Story. This story has truly captured my heart.

Thank You so much for all Your reasearch and work regarding both Mikkelsen family and other familys. that You have been tracking. It means a lot for us that are searching for lost and unknown parts of our familys.

Is there anything I can do in return for Your help, just let me know.

Best regards,

Liv Christin Markussen
Forntunalife AS

Liv Christin is one of the founders of an organization called Fortunalife.  Their website is:

I checked out the website for Fortunalife and found a quote that I felt was very thought-provoking so I will share it with you:


So, through the miracle of the internet, we are still thinking about and talking about Aksel Mikkelsen, the Chicago policeman who died almost one hundred fifteen years ago.  I was glad that my research was able to fill in some of the gaps in the Mikkelsen family tree.  I have a feeling that we have not heard the last of Aksel Mikkelsen and Hulda Olsen Mikkelsen - we shall see!

May all of the departed members of the Mikkelsen Family rest in peace.

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