Teslie Name and the Tesli Farm

The name Teslie in my ancestors comes from the Tesli farm. The farm is usually spelled Tesli. In 1559 the farm name was spelled Tesleyn, in 1590 Teslidt, in 1626 Tezlj, in 1667 Teslj and then later Tesslien and Teslien. The name Tesli is unique in Norway. There is no other farm of that name. The last part of the name (li) means slope of the hill (hillside), while the first part probably means thistle. One possible meaning of Tesli is a hillside of thistle.

The Tesli farm lies east of Trondheim, Norway outside the suburb of Strinda. While today Strinda is suburb of Trondheim, in the 1700's and 1800's it was a municipality outside of Trondheim.

The Tesli farm is a very old farm with a rich history. As noted above it is mentioned as early as 1559. Its original "Matrikkelnummer" (unique farm identifying number) was 494. Prior to 1683 the farm was owned by the crown. The tenant farmer listed in 1645 was Bersvend Tesli and in 1661 was Oluff. In 1683 the farm was sold by the King and became privately owned by the merchant Johan Manzin of Trondheim. The next owner listed is Hans Kaas. He probably purchased the farm from Johan Manzin and is listed as the owner in 1692. In 1692 Hans Kaas built a large and beautiful house that is there today on the Lower Tesli farm. It is the white building in the pictures below. Mr Kaas and his wifer were very religious and built their own chapel on the farm.

Tesli Nedre (Tesli Lower) Farmhouse
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird

Kaas died in 1700 during a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. His widow didn't like living at the Tesli farm after her husband died and took her children with her left for Denmark.

The next owner in 1704 was Iver von Ahnen. He also owned Øvre Viken or Overvik "Matrikkelnummer" 461, which as of that time became also part of or known as Tesli. However whenever the Tesli property changed hands the two parts were referred to by their old "Matrikkelnummer". Iver sold or gave the interior and everything from the chapel on the farm to Nordli church. A silver plate for the bread and a silver pot for the wine used in Holy Communion together with a very nice coat used by the priest during mass, and a cloth for the alter may now be seen in the Scientific Museum in Trondheim.

At this time Norway was ruled by Denmark. In 1717 General Carl Gustaf Armfeldt was directed to take Trondheim by the Swedish King Charles 12th. They were unable to take Trondheim and when winter set in during the fall of 1718 the General made the Tesli farm his headquarters. The troops used the wainscot of the hosue for fires for heating and cooking. All the cattle were slaughtered to feed the soldiers. Poorly equipped the general pulled out after King Charles was killed in November 1718.

In 1722 von Ahnen died and in 1728 his widow sold the farm to the Vicar Antoni Brunbass. In 1762 Vicar Brunbass sold the farm to his son Antoni Brunbass, who sold it the same year to the pharmacist Otto Sommer, who in 1779 sold the farm to Johannes Finne. In 1788 magistrate Morten Borchgrevinch was the owner and later his son Lieutenant Leonhard Borchgrevinch.

In 1803 Lieutenant Borchgrevinch sold the part of the farm that was "Matrikkelnummer" 494 (Tesli) to Ole Mikkelsen (my 5th great-grandfather) who was from Røros and the other part "Matrikkelnummer" 461 (Øvre Viken or Overvik) was sold to Ole Mikkelsen's son, Ole Olsen (my 5th great-uncle) also from Røros.

The part sold to Ole Olsen was called "Lower Tesli" (Tesli Nedre) and held the original farmhouse. The part sold to Ole Mikkelsen was called "Upper Tesli" (Tesli Øvre). Later in 1803 Ole Olsen sold two small farms (Grinneplassene) that belonged to the Lower Tesli farm to his brother-in-law Jacob Iversen. This farm became known as Jacobsli. Jacob Iversen is my 4th great-grandfather. He was married to Ingebor Olsdatter (my 4th great-grandmother), Ole Olson's sister and daughter to Ole Mikkelsen. Later in 1803 Jacob and Ingebor had their first son, Iver Jacobsen Teslie (my 3rd great-grandfather). Iver was born and christened at the Lower Tesli farm. This chart shows the relationships between these ancestors.

Ole Olsen was a well-respected and skillful man and was the 2nd parliament representative from South Trondheim county in 1818. He was also a member of the Parliament delegation at the coronation of Carl Johan the same year and received a silver coronation medal. His descendants later made watch chains out of it. In 1819 Ole became the owner of the Upper Tesli farm in addition to Lower Tesli. In 1830 he sold Upper Tesli to his son-in-law Bjørn Pedersen (Tesli) who was married to his daughter Elen. In 1849 Ole sold half of Lower Tesli to his grandson Peter Olaus Bjørnsen, who was the son of Bjørn Pedersen owner of Upper Tesli and Ole's daughter Elen. Ole died in 1851. In 1854, after the distribution of Ole's estate, Peter Olaus Bjørnsen also became the owner of the other half of Lower Tesli. After his death his son Bjørn Petersen became the owner in 1859. He sold the farm to his step father in 1878. Peter Olaus Bjørnsen's older two daughters emigrated to America in 1880.

In 1819 when Ole held both Upper and Lower Tesli, the farm held: 3 horses, 20 cattle, 18 cows and the crop was 16 barrels grain and 4 barrels potatoes. The grain ripens perfectly and is free of frost and is not shiny. The crop is very difficult to get indoors. The field is free of rocks and forrest. The harvesting is done with seven scythes. Corral space sufficient and "brenneskog" (forest for gathering firewood) is insufficient.

In 1835 the records are for Upper Tesli alone. The farm held: 2 horses, 15 cattle, 10 sheep, 2 pigs. The crop was ¼ barrel rye, 2 barrels barley, 10 barrels oats and 16 barrels potatoes. Number of persons on the farm was 7, whereof 1 Cottager and 2 servants.

After purchasing Upper Tesli in 1803, Ole Mikkelsen sold a large part of it back to Lieutenant Borchgrevinch and part of it to his son Mikkel Olsen. The different pieces of Upper Teslie were sold several times until as mentioned above Ole Olsen owned it in 1819 and then sold it to his son-in-law Bjørn Pedersen. From 1851 Bjørn's son Ole Bjørnsen was the owner until 1859 when he sold it to his brother Edvard Bjørnsen. Edvard sold the farm in 1872 to Bernhard Lassen. It is uncertain where Edvard's family moved to after selling the Tesli Upper farm, however all his children emigrated to America in 1880.

All three of these farms, Lower Tesli, Upper Tesli and Jacobsli are still working farms. Below is a google map (earth view) that shows all three farms today.

Googlemaps earth view of all three farms ( source )

In October 2014 I visited the Tesli Farms. You can see all my pictures from this visit at this photo gallery on my photo website. It requires a password which you can get by emailing me

Tesli Nedre (Tesli Lower) Farm
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird

Tesli Nedre (Tesli Lower) Farm
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird

Tesli Nedre (Tesli Lower) Farm
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird

Tesli Øvre (Tesli Upper) Farm
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird

The Tesli and Jacobsli farms were associated with the Lade Church in Strinda. More pictures can be found here.

Lade Church, Strinda (Trondheim) Norway
Photo October 2014 by Michael Baird