It’s hard to say just why, but I’m fascinated to start learning more about the man from whom the Hendrickson family derived its name. I’ve always known that Hendrickson means “son of Hendrick,” but it was just a vague historical reference to me until I started trying to learn more about … well … Hendrick … our Hendrick… and who he was. The photo at right shows the first two generations of our Hendrick’s male descendants … sons of Hendrick in the truest sense.
Scandinavian naming traditions can create a puzzle for the family history researcher. Finding a Norwegian man with the first name Hendrick is not all that difficult; finding a particular Norwegian man with the first name Hendrick is more of a challenge, especially without a consistent surname to guide you. So who was our Hendrick? We have two, father and son. The senior Hendrick remained in Norway and lived to be more than 100 years old. His son, also named Hendrick, adopted his father’s first name as a surname in traditional Norwegian fashion. As a result, the younger Hendrick’s sons were destined to be Hendricksons with either the Norwegian or the American naming tradition.
The younger Hendrick and his brothers migrated with their families from farms near the western Norwegian coastal town of Stavanger to northern Illinois in the 19th century. As far as I know, Hendrick remained in the same area of Illinois for the rest of his life … and is now buried in a Lutheran cemetery in Lisbon. Eventually, some of his descendants made their way westward to Iowa, where a good portion of our family history proceeded to be written. While the Iowa history is well known to me, the “Illinois roots” are not a surprise either. I learned of them from my grandfather years ago. Still, the Illinois branch is older, less familiar territory to me. Now that I’ve climbed through the family tree, part of me is tempted to just stare at this branch a while before venturing out onto it … but venture I will, expecting another intriguing journey … a journey toward discovering Hendrick …
“I am persuaded to mention a family of four brothers who came to Grundy County in 1857 and are still living and comparatively active. They came from near Stavanger, Norway … From the fact that their father lived to the ripe old age of 103 years, and taking their present condition of health and activity into consideration, they seem to have several years to stay with us yet …”
(Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, vol 2, and History of Grundy County, 1914, edited by Paul Selby and Newton Bateman, Munsell Publishing (Chicago)).