New Product! Highlight your ancestor with a spotlight story!
We are offering a new product to our customers who are interested in a concise, written story about their ancestor. We will research, compile and write about 1 person in your family tree in an easy to read, and easy to share format, electronically or physical printout. It is a great introduction to a family member that you may have always wanted to know more about! Book a project review meeting to learn more about this service.
I have written an example using one of my ancestors who served in World War I and the story is attached here for download as well as available for review online.
The modern branch of the Tonseth family originated from my 3x Great- Grandparents, Ernst Andreas Tønseth and Anna Lorine Strom. They had 8 children together and remarkably 7 of them survived to adulthood.
Some of their grandchildren ended up in the USA, Sweden and England, while the rest of the grandchildren stayed in Norway. One line that I haven’t focused on is that of their 2nd to the youngest child, Thomas Ernst Andreas Tønseth, who emigrated to England. You might notice his first name, Thomas, is the same as his oldest brother, Thomas H.E. who died in 1866. When Thomas E. A. was born in 1867, he was named after that brother. It was a fairly common custom, to name the next baby of the same gender after a child who died, but it does confuse genealogists.
Thomas left Norway for England about 1891-1892 and got married to an English woman named Mary Gribble. In the 1901 English census, he is living with his wife and 2 children, as well as his mother-in-law. He worked as a “tourist clerk” and seemed to do well enough to inspire his son to the same trade. Thomas Ernst Andreas Tønseth died in 1941 at about 74 years of age in England
His only son, Ernest Frederick Tonseth (Ernest is the anglicized version of Ernst), was born in Jan-March of 1899 in England. World War I started when he would have been 15-16 years old but he enlisted and fought in the war. His first military company was the 12th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry as a private. He finished the war with the 2nd Essex Regiment who fought on the Western Front in France and Belgium, and he left as a Sargent.
(History of the Highland Light Infantry)
He survived the war and was awarded the British Star (for France and Belgium) and the British War Medal for serving during the war. His military deployments are recorded on the card below:
(Army Medal Office (In the Care of the Western Front Association Website); London, England; Wwi Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920, Ancestry.com, digital image 1709)
After the war, he worked as a “tourist conductor” and he traveled the world for the Thomas Cook Agency. He was on ships going to the USA, Calcutta, Casablanca,Yokohama, Egypt and so many other places. He was even on the White Star Line ship the RMS Adriatic in 1930. At the time, this ship was one of the four largest ships in the world, and was a sister to the Titanic.In 1929 Ernest married Dorothy Frances Owens and he continued to travel the world for his job. He did take her with him on one trip going to Gibraltar. They lived in this house while married and he was still living in it when he died. (Click the picture to go to google maps.)
During World War II and after, he was an assistant commissioner for the National Savings Association. This was a government group to encourage citizens to save money and buy war bonds. He was in the newspapers many times, encouraging the citizens of the area to save money. He is always listed as “E.F.Tonseth” in the articles and not his full name. His grandfather also used “E.A. Tonseth” instead of his full name of Ernst. I don’t think Ernest knew about that, but it was a fun coincidence to find. Grandfather and grandson alike had a tendency towards efficiency.
Ernest’s first wife died in 1970. He remarried another woman also named Dorothy in 1974. When he died in 1980, his will left everything to his wife including the house at 54 Rogate Road, Worthing. He didn’t have any children and only 1 nephew. His sister, Margery, died just 2 weeks prior to him on March 28th, 1980 so the family that was left had a lot of tragedy in a short time.
Ernest Frederick Tonseth lived a life filled with adventure and courage. His joining the military at a young age and then traveling the world, indicates he was not someone who was cautious or careful. When he grew up, he went into the banking industry, which might seem a contraindication to that spirit of adventure, but it was still serving his country. His father leaving Norway and becoming a tourist clerk, displayed the same spirit that seems to have been passed down to his son. It is a pity that he didn’t have any children that could be contacted to hear the stories he might have told them. With his multiple mentions in the newspaper while alive, it was unfortunate to not find a photo of him or an obituary that could have provided more information. Ernest served his country well, in wartime and in peace and it was an honor to do the research and tell his story.
Julie R. Tonseth