Discovering Hendrick

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 I’ve always known that Hendrickson means “son of Hendrick,” but it was just a vague historical reference to me until I started trying to learn more about … well … Hendrick … our Hendrick… and who he was.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)).

This entry was posted in Hendrickson, IOWA (ALL), IOWA (Central), NORWAY, RESEARCH PROCESS and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Discovering Hendrick

  1. Jana Last says:

    Very cool! Wow! 103 years old! Amazing. So, was Hendrick’s name then Hendrick Hendrickson? I have an Iver Iverson in my Norwegian line (ah, those Scandinavian names!). Do you know why the four brothers came to America? That’s always an interesting question. I wish I knew why my Iver left Norway and came to America. He was my first Norwegian ancestor to immigrate to the U.S.

    • ljhlaura says:

      Yes, I’m always amazed when I find people that far back in history who lived long lives. And you’re correct – the younger one was Hendrick Hendrickson. Iver Iverson is a wonderful name as well! I imagine they left Norway for opportunity in America, but I don’t know details. Would be wonderful to find more on that story, though… So glad you stopped by!

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday to my late Great-Grandfather Hendrickson | Branch and Leaf … a family history blog

  3. Dennis Hendrickson says:

    My last name is Hendrickson and my relatives came from the Stavanger Norway area, and we are located in Iowa – do you think we are of the same branch?

    • Laura says:

      It’s possible Dennis! I believe there are several Hendrickson branches in Iowa, but my Hendrickson ancestors came to Iowa from Norway through Illinois. They tended to cluster around Central Iowa — mostly around Hamilton County (Kamrar, Webster City, etc.) — but various branches went from there to other places around the state. Do you know where your original Iowa ancestors settled? If you don’t want to answer here and would like to exchange information, you can email me at

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