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Three cousins

A description of Terry, Skip and Sigmund Rønneberg's efforts to find and document the history of the Rønneberg family.

Terry, Skip and Sigmund Rønneberg, all cousins, have been searching
for our family's genealogy, and we have been learning about our family's
history since August 1996. At the very beginning of our search, we
assumed there was likelihood that all those possessing our surname may
be related. Subsequently, we learned, from Hans Bernt Starheim, that
there are three separate Rønneberg families in Norway. One family has its
roots in Øvre (upper) and Nedre (lower) Rønneberg in Vestfold, which is
south west of Oslo, another has its roots in the Norddal region (this is
the area in which one finds the breath-taking views of the
Norddalfjord, and our family has its roots in the Stavanger/Sola area.
Later in this brief overview of our family history, the reader will
learn more about a second branch of the Stavanger/Sola family, which was
established in the Ålesund area. As of now, we have not found any
connection between the three families.

There are also some families carrying the name Rønneberg for whom we
have not been able to find the connection to any of the three families,
yet.

Since the early 1600's and until recent times, farming has been the main
occupation of Rønnebergs in the Sola area, but before that time, we can
only surmise what the family did for an occupation. We suspect they were
Vikings before they settled down to be farmers.

Asbjørn Rønneberg (1617-1687) was the first of our ancestors who we know
used the name Rønneberg. Asbjørn married Guri Olsdatter (1625-1695) and
settled at Røyneberg in Sola just south of Stavanger, Rogaland. They
were farmers who did not own the land they worked, but they rented land
from wealthy farmers. Asbjørn and Guri's great grandson, Anders
Asbjørnsen Rønneberg, was the first to own the land he worked.

As with most farming families during older agrarian times, the Rønneberg
families usually had many children to help with the farm work. When the
farm owners died, it was the Norwegian custom to pass the farm to the
eldest son. This custom sometimes presented a problem for enterprising,
hardworking sons who were not the first born, for if there was a
scarcity of available farm land in the area, these sons had to consider
becoming tradesmen or craftsmen or move on to an area where they could
establish themselves and raise their family. Such was the case with our
distant cousin, Kristoffer Rønneberg. He was not a descendant of
Asbjørn and Guri, but was related to their descendants. Kristoffer had
the name Rønneberg since he was born and raised at Røyneberg.

Kristoffer found himself in the situation of being an intelligent, hard
working, and enterprising young man who was not a first-born son. The
prospect of little money and no land did not seem promising, so sometime
between the years 1753 and 1760 Kristoffer decided that he must set out
on his own to look for opportunities elsewhere.

Judge Anton Rønneberg , a living descendant of Kristoffer, told an interesting story to Sigmund Rønneberg that offers an interesting insight into a facet of Kristoffer’s personality. This story has been passed down through many generations. It
goes like this: When Kristoffer was leaving, his stepmother said to him:
"Do let us know how you are doing, Kristoffer." His reply was: "If I am
doing well, there is no reason to let you know. If I am not doing well,
there is no reason to let you know about that, either." So Kristoffer
set out for destinations that lay to the north. He settled in the
Ålesund area, became a large landowner, a farmer and a merchant. The
firm that he started was for more than 100 years the largest employer in
Ålesund. Kristoffer is referred to as the forefather of the "Ålesund
Rønnebergs".

In a directly descending line from Asbjørn Andersen Rønneberg, we find
his 4th Great Grandson, Tørres Andersen Rønneberg (1845-1913) who chose
not to inherit the farm and instead moved to Stavanger assisting his
uncle, Enoch, in his drapery and food store for twelve years. But
Tørres was a risk taker and a visionary. He founded the Rønneberg
Preserving Company at 35 years of age, thus becoming a pioneer in the
Norwegian canning industry. Tørres's brothers, Martin Kristian,
(1858-1929) and Andreas (1855-1933) took over most of the farm. Martin
Kristian Rønneberg is known for taking part in the draining of Stokka Lake.
Another of the brothers was Jon Rønneberg (1853-1948), who moved to Soma where he
and his wife Karen took over the farm after her foster parents. Jon is
Sigmund's great grandfather.

Many other Rønnebergs have gone on to become farmers, medical doctors,
dentists, bankers, chemists, engineers, architects, graphic designers,
housewives, saboteurs, radio personalities, construction managers,
merchants, journalists, educators, judges, painters, cabinet makers,
fighter pilots and government bureaucrats.

Other Rønnebergs have emigrated from Norway over the years. Skip and
Terry's Grandfather, Trygve Rønneberg, their Grand Uncle, Nathal Rønneberg,
and their Great Grand Uncle, Bertel Teodor Rønneberg, immigrated to the United States; several other family members immigrated to Canada or Australia. Grandfather
Trygve, we believe immigrated around 1902; he first settled in Chicago
and then came to the San Francisco Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake
and fire where Trygve earned his living as a structural engineer.
Grand Uncle Nathal immigrated in 1898 and settled in the Chicago area,
and was an engineer/architect. Bertel immigrated sometime around 1880,
and he settled in a small town, Escanaba, Michigan, where he became a
painter contractor. Bertel sponsored several of his nieces and nephews
from Sviland, Joa and Stangeland to immigrate to the United States,
perhaps also Nathal and Trygve.

By now some readers may be wondering how the Rønneberg name came to be.
There are two equally good theories about the etymology of our surname.
Our cousin, Sigmund, was kind enough to relate these theories. The
first theory is: "The place Rønneberg/Røyneberg is itself a hill, and
seen from a distance, it is very rounded against the western horizon."
As Sigmund explained, the Norwegian word used today to describe "round"
is "rund", and it is possible that "Rønne" derives from a former version
of the present Norwegian word "rund". Berg in Norwegian means hill,
thus Rønneberg could mean round hill. An equally plausible explanation
comes from the common Norwegian name for a local ash tree. That name is
a Rowan tree or a Norwegian ash tree. Sigmund related that "The Danes
called the Rowan tree "Rønnebær-tre"." "Mr. Hans Bernt Starheim (an
amateur genealogist and a member of the Rønneberg family from Norddal
region in Norway) maintains that the name Rønneberg describes a hill
covered with Rowan-trees. According to the notes of Phillip Rønneberg,
"there were few other kinds of trees in this area earlier." So we
don't know for sure, but both theories seem plausible.

We hope future generations will have a better sense of their past due
the efforts of the many people who have made a contribution to this
work. This shall continue to be a work in progress, and to all those
who may continue this work, may you have as much fun as we are having,
and learn as much as we have learned.

Terry Rønneberg, Sigmund Rønneberg and Skip Rønneberg


Owner/SourceSkip Ronneberg
Date1998
PlaceChico, CA
Linked toRonneberg, T.L.; Ronneberg, W.A. Jr.; Rønneberg, S.

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