Martin Tesli 1871 - 1955

Martin Ludvig Tesli

Links for Martin Tesli

Martin Tesli History

Martin Ludvig Olufsen Tesli was born to Oluf Iversen Tesli and Anna Larsen on April 3, 1871 in Trondheim, Norway. The information on the birth comes from Martin himself written in a letter to his sister Margrethe the 12 March 1952 (Source: Letter in possession of Michael Baird). Below is a scan of the letter. In it Martin says: "I will be 81 years old on the 3rd of April 1952. I was born in 1871". In the rest of the letter he tells about his children.

Letter from Martin Tesli to Margrethe Teslie, 12 March, 1952
In Michael Baird's possession

Martin was christened on 7 May 1871 at Vår Frue Kirke Trondheim, which interpreted means "The Church of our Lady". Below is the christening record. The father is listed as "Single young man, worker, Ole Iversen Tiller. The father's first name should be Oluf not Ole. Oluf was living in Tiller which is an area south of Trondheim. The mother is listed as Anne Larsd. Stigen of Ringebo (Ringebu). She is listed as living at Aasvejen, hos Vaardal which translates to living with the Vaardal family on Aas street. There is an "old Ås street" in Trondheim today which may be the same street. The child is listed as "Uegte" which means illegitimate.

Christening record for Martin Ludvig Tesli ( source )

Vår Frue Church, Trondheim Norway
Photo by Michael Baird October 2014

In the 1875 Martin, age 4, was not living with his mother and father. His parents and younger sister are listed together in the 1875 census without him. Information passed down to Martin's descendants (my cousins living in Oslo today) from Martin is that he was fostered out by his parents to the family of John Olsen and Mali Johnsdatter. John and Mali were living at Stav farm in Leinstranden in the 1865 census. In 1886 the family was living at the Ekren farm in Leinstranden. The 1886 farm land registy listed the farmer of the Ekren farm as "Jon Olsen Stav's widow. This registry does not list the family members. It is unclear which of these two places they were living at the time of Martin's birth because Leinstranden is not included in the transcribed 1875 census.

Below is the confirmation record for Martin at age 15 in 1886. His parent is listed as Mali with her place of residence listed as Ekren. Confirming that he was still living at the Ekren farm then. His "Evaluation of knowledge and behavior" is "godt" meaning good. It was not the best mark (m(eget). godt) like the person above him received nor the worst (nesten godt) like several others on the same page received.

Martin Tesli Confirmation in 1886( source )

The photo below is not dated but is identified as Martin. Note that the picture is taken in Trondheim. Based on information about the photographer the picture had to have been taken sometime between 1891 and 1896 with Martin then between the ages of 20 an 25.

Martin Tesli
Photo in possession of Michael Baird

In the 1900 census Mali with her son Ole and daughter Ane are still living on the Ekren farm in Leinstranden. However Martin is not living with them at that time. Martin is not listed in any of the Trondheim Address books in the 1888 - 1900 time frame. I can find Martin's cousin Johan Ludvig Teslie (son of Martin's uncle Johan Conrad Teslie) in the Trondheim Address books starting in 1892, but I can not find Martin himself.

Sometime before 1900 Martin had moved to Kristiania (Oslo). He shows up in the 1900 census as a single man living at Herslebs Street 9. Information passed down to his descendants is that he worked on the railroad in the 1890's and likely ended up in Kristiania because of that. It seems likely that Martin lived at the Ekren farm until he left to work on the railroad, sometime in the 1890's, and eventually ended up in Kristiania.

Martin Tesli - 1900 Census ( source )

Note that his patronymic is incorrect - it should be Olufsen not Olsen, although it is unclear that he knew that at that time as it is also listed as Olsen at is confirmation in 1886. His occupation is listed as a warehouse messenger with Fuglesang. Fuglesang was Norway's first "vatt" factory. "Vatt" means batting, used for quilts, sleeping bags etc.

On 24 November 1904, Martin married Jenny Bredine Kristiansen (1880-1950) of Holmsbu.

Martin Tesli - Jenny Kristiansen Marriage ( source )

This is the first marriage for both of them. Jenny Bredine was from Holmsbu, but Hurum is listed (Holmsbu is a place in the Hurum area/county). Under “Stilling and Bopel” (position and home address) Martin is listed as lagerearbeider (storage worker) Trondhjemsveien 54. Jenny's position is hard to read, perhaps "Butik"

From Liv, Martin's great-grandaughter:

    "I was told they met when she was working in a small grocery store which was nearby where he worked".

The repeat sign indicates Jenny lives at the same address as Martin. Looking up this address it seems that a lot of people lived in Trondhjemsveien 54 so this was probably an apartment building. Martin's father is “Dagarb. Ole Iversen Tesli”. Dagarbeider means day-to-day worker (no permanent employment). Jenny's father is Fisherman Kristian Jørgensen. Note that this marriage record is listed in the "Viede dissentere" (Marriage of dissenters). Under Merkander (notes) it states: "hun tilhører baptisme samf" (she belongs to the baptist society). This then is the reason they were listed as dissenters from the church.

1 May 1905 a son Carsten was born to Martin and Jenny. They are living at Vahl street 2.

Birth record for Carsten Tesli ( source )

In the notes it says that the parents are "Borgerlig gift" (Civil marriage) 24.11.04 and that she is a member of the baptist society.

Martin, Jenny and son Carsten about 1906

In the 1906 address book for Kristiania (Oslo) Martin is listed as living at Wahls street 2. His occupation is listed as a warehouse worker ( source ).

27 October 1909 a daughter Helene was born to Martin and Jenny. They are listed as living at Sverdrups street 18 in Kristiania.

Birth record for Helene Tesli ( source )

In the 1910 Census for Kristiania (Oslo), Martin, Jenny and their two children are still living at Sverdrups street 18. His occupation is listed as a warehouse worker at the "Watfabrik", meaning he was still working at Fuglesangs. ( source ).

By 1911 he is working for Fuglesang Sønner which means Fugelsang's sons (or sons of Fugelsang). So likely a son or sons had taken over ownership of the warehouse ( source ).

14 December 1912 a son Leif was born.

Birth record for Leif Tesli ( source )

17 December 1917 a daughter Mary was born. Mary died 3 years later in December 1720.

Birth record for Mary Tesli ( source )

An interesting note is while Carsten's birth was listed as in the state church, Helene, Leif and Mary's birth records are listed in the "children born to dissenters" listing in the Petrus Parish of Oslo.

Martin has the same occupation (Fuglesangs sons) and residence (Sverdrups street 18) in 1918 ( source )

In 1927 and 1929 Martin is still living at Sverdrups street 18 but he is listed as a business agent for his occupation. From his descendants I learned he was a business agent that purchased and sold items and was active in this occupation up until he passed away. His son Carsten is also listed as living at the same location with the same occupation ( source ).

In 1929 for their silver (25th) year anniversary Martin and Jenny received the silver vase below. It has their wedding date inscribed on it.

Martin Tesli Wedding Anniversary Vase
In possession of Martin's descendants

Martin Tesli Wedding Anniversary Vase with inscription
In possession of Martin's descendants

In 1933 Martin is living at Marselis street 29 in Oslo. He owned the entire apartment building. For a long time Martin, his son Carsten and his daughter Helene each occupied an apartment in the building. The apartment building still exists today and was in the family until it was sold in the 1960's. ( source ).

Martin's descendants related to me several anecdotes about his purchases of things at a "bargain price" and then selling them. From these stories it seems that he was always looking for a bargain and a way to make money. He was even not above making money off of his relatives. One of his sons was incarcerated by the Germans during the German occupation of Norway in World War II. During this time he continued to collect rent from his daughter-in-law.

Martin Tesli
Photo in possession of Michael Baird

I have in my possession a number of letters and cards that Martin sent to his sister Margrethe. Along with the letters I have a number of photos that Martin sent of himself and his family. Evidence seems to point to that the following photos were sent to Margrethe in letter she received 1936 and so the pictures are believed to be from the 1935 - 1936 timeframe.

Martin Tesli - photo location is at the Tesli cabin
Photo in possession of Michael Baird

Martin Tesli (Marked with an "X" on the bridge)
Photo in possession of Michael Baird

L-R: Jenny Tesli (wife), Gunnar Gundersen (Son-in-Law) and Helene Tesli Gundersen (daughter)
Believed to be summer of 1935
Photo in possession of Michael Baird

Evidence is that Martin kept in contact with his foster family. Note that in the above picture Martin states that "this picture taken at Ekren last summer on a visit to Ole and Ane". Best guess the picture was taken in the summer of 1835. Ekren is the farm where Martin grew up. Ole (Johnson Ekren) is his foster brother and Ane his foster sister. Ole and Ane continued to live at this farm after the death of their parents . In the 1910 Census Ole and Ane are listed as living at the Ekren farm (Mali died in 1906). In a letter (page 2) to his mother in 1914, Ane is mentioned as visiting him in Oslo. In another letter to his mother in 1915, Martin mentions that his son Carsten is going to Trondheim for the summer, presumably at the Ekren farm.

From Liv, Martin's great-grandaughter:

    "I was told that Martin and his family had no less than three cars before 1940 and world war II. This was not common at that time and they were really proud of this. All of Martin's children had their drivers license, even Helene. Again, young girls with a drivers license were not common in Oslo in 1930s. The cars were all taken by the Germans during the war and no one in the family had a car again until my father had one in the early 1960s, when the car restrictions (bilrasjonering) following the war were lifted. Helene (Martin's daughter & Liv's great-aunt) told me that she went with her father to Ekren and that he had been so proud he could come there in his own car, showing that he had managed well in life."

Martin died July 7, 1955 and was buried July 11, 1955 at "Vår Frelsers gravlund" which interpreted means "Our Savior's cemetery" in Oslo. Here is Martin and Jenny Tesli's descendants:

  • Carsten, 1 May 1905 - 16 Feb 1988. Married Gunvor Else Gehrken (19 May 1905 - 12 August 1981)
    • Son: Tor, 2 January 1930 - 2008
    • Son: Jan, 10 April 1937 -
  • Helene, 27 October 1909 - Oct 2008. Married Gunnar Gundersen (26 Sep 1903 - 7 June 1992)
  • Leif, 14 Dec 1912 - 19 Mar 2003. Married Aslaug (Tesli) (12 Dec 1912 - May 1941), Dagmar Augusta Sørensen (17 August 1915 - 20 August 1997)
  • Mary, 17 Dec 1917 - Dec 1920.

Martin Tesli and Jenny Kristiansen Gravestone
Our Savior's cemetery, Oslo