When I began my genealogical journey 12 years ago, I never imagined that I’d have any kind of connection to Madagascar, remote as it is. Surprise, surprise!

{Sorry for the poor quality of this picture, but it is a scan of a photocopy that was given to me by a distant cousin.}

Rev. John Peter Hogstad was my first cousin, three times removed.  He was my great-great grandfather’s sister’s son.  Even though he is not a direct-line ancestor, he had such an interesting life that I wanted to share a little bit about him here.

John Hogstad was born on 2 Dec 1858 in Inderøy, Norway.  He was the son of Ole Pedersen Hogstad and Anna Martha Petersdatter Melhus.  Anna was a sister to my great-great grandfather, Peter Andrew Melhus.

He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1866. They settled in Renville county, Minnesota.

{Incidentally, this answered my question as to why my 2nd great-grandfather settled in Renville county in 1888.  He already had family there!}

1887 was a very busy year for John.

"Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 34" published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) in 1995. :

Hogstad was ordained during the Conference's annual meeting, held 8-15 June 1887, in Hogstad's home county (whether by chance or design is not known), at Hawk Creek Lutheran Church, near
Sacred Heart, Minnesota. It was decided that because of the historical importance of this first ordination of a foreign missionary from their ranks, Hogstad would be individually ordained at a huge mission festival rather than with his classmates, as would have been normal. The mission festival was held on Sunday, 12 June. Georg Sverdrup preached on a text
from Matthew 12:38-42 (the sign of Jonah). Then the candidate's curriculum vitae was read and a charge was given by the president of the Conference, Gjermund Hoyme, on a text from Isaiah 6:8 ("Whom shall I send? And who shall go for us?"). So it was that John Peter Hogstad and
his wife went from the young immigrant Church in the United States to found another young Church on distant shores.  Just before his ordination John had married his sweetheart Oline (Lina) Grodal, who was born in Elverhøi in Sunndal in western Norway on 11 July 1854. An older sister, Gjertrud, had emigrated to the United States and her "America letters" home to Norway eventually influenced Lina to decide to emigrate as well, which she did in 1883. Since Lina's sister resided in Minneapolis, that is naturally where Lina went also. How she and John met is not known, but it is likely that they met at Trinity Church, which was next door to Augsburg and long had close ties to that school. Or it is also possible that they met while Hogstad, as a faithful member of the students' missionary society, was teaching Sunday School at some neighboring church. At any rate, they met, fell in love, and decided together to go into foreign missionary service. The couple were married at John's parents' home in Camp, Minnesota, on 7 May 1887. The newly married missionary couple departed for Madagascar on 18 July 1887. They stopped in Stavanger, Norway, on their way to Madagascar so that the directors of the NMS could meet this first American to serve under their auspices.

"The Hogstads arrived in Madagascar some time in the middle of September, 1887, landing at Toamasina on the east coast. The missionaries did not linger long in Toamasina, then infested with malaria. Instead they set off on the 19th of September for the capital city, Antananarivo.

After a period of time in the capital for orientation, the Hogstads were sent to the interior region of Fisakana for language study.While the Hogstads and the other members of the new group of missionaries from the NMS were studying Malagasy the NMS decided on its strategy. Much like the European nations at this period in history, mission societies deemed it important to "plant the flag" and thus claim territory for one's nation or mission. For this reason, this new class of missionaries were not sent to augment staffs at older sites but instead were spread around the island in order to define the field for the NMS and thus to exclude other mission groups. Hogstad deeply resented this policy and complained of it bitterly to Sverdrup in his letters. He particularly resented the fact that not only was he at the most isolated site of all, Fort Dauphin, but that the directors of the NMS did not write to him to encourage him, as he knew they did for the "real" Norwegian missionaries. Hogstad became convinced that the NMS did not really want any more American missionaries but was afraid to say so because they needed the American money. Nevertheless, the Hogstads arrived in Fort Dauphin on 14 September 1888. They were led down to their new field of work by veteran NMS missionary Peder Eilert Nilsen-Lund, sometimes called the "Livingstone of Madagascar" because of his two pioneering exploratory trips through the southern part of Madagascar to find posts for new NMS missionaries. John Hogstad did not begin his work among a people totally unfamiliar with the Christian faith, though some of their earliest experiences of
Christians had not left favorable impressions.

“…the region that the Hogstads came to evangelize was in a state of turmoil.”

With more work than he could do alone, Hogstad soon acquired the services of a Malagasy assistant, a man whom Hogstad redeemed from slavery from one of the Merina officers and to whom he gave the name Rabenjamina. The price of the man's freedom was $70.”

Besides a simple elementary school, Hogstad also opened a special school for the training of evangelists within two months after his arrival in Fort Dauphin."


Can you even imagine??  I sure can’t!!

The settled in Fort Dauphin {present day Tolanaro} in the southern part of the country.

According to Wikipedia, “Fort Dauphin was the headquarters of American Lutheran missionaries who worked in southern Madagascar starting in 1888 for almost 100 years. They were engaged in community development, education, evangelism and medical work and also operated what was known as the “American School” and the “Missionary Children’s Home”.”

From Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 34" published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) in 1995:

"While John Hogstad taught the boys in his school and the young men in the "Efa-polo lahy" school, Lina Hogstad began to gather a class of girls to whom she taught handwork, reading and writing, and the rudiments of the Christian faith. This work eventually evolved into a full-fledged women's school..."

"In 1893 the Hogstads and the young American Lutheran Mission were augmented by yet another new couple: Reverend Gabriel Isolany, who was born in Madagascar of Norwegian missionary parents and graduated from
Augsburg Seminary, and his wife Inga. With the coming of these reinforcements the Hogstads were able to return to the United States, after a sojourn in Norway, for a furlough for all of 1894 and most of 1895."

I am not sure on the dates, but I believe that it was during this above-metioned furlough that Rev. Hogstad preached on Epiphany Sunday at the Sakshaug Church, where so many of my ancestors attended.

I’m not going to get into all of the things I read about the changes within the Lutheran Church at this time period.  It’s confusing.  Suffice it to say that it influenced the Hogstad’s missionary work and they ended up being forced to start their work over in a completely different area – Manantenina. It caused him to be isolated from most of his other colleagues.  Another blow to his work was the fact that Madagascar became a French colony.

They took another furlough in 1903 – and stopped off in Norway again, but apparently this time they stayed so long in Norway that the Board of Directors of the Mission practically had to order them back to the United States to report on their work.  I can only imagine that they were enjoying themselves – being around family and cooler weather.:)

I love Google.  I was able to find this beautiful picture of a group of Madagascar missionaries from 1907.  Peter and Oline Hogstad are the 4th and 5th from the left in the back. This picture is from the Evangelical Luthern Church of America archives.  What a find!

Madagascar missionaries 1900s

Unfortunately, Rev. Hogstad’s missionary work was cut short by his death in 1911.

From Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 34" published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA) in 1995:

"The archives in Madagascar are mostly lost, and very little record remains of Hogstad's last years in Madagascar.Sometime in mid-October, 1911, Hogstad became violently ill with blackwater fever, a complication of malaria which killed many missionaries and colonialists during this period. He had suffered this usually fatal disease on at least two previous occasions, but survived. Lina Hogstad arranged for some Malagasy porters to carry Hogstad the 110 kilometers down the coast to Fort Dauphin where there were French doctors and fellow missionaries to help nurse the sick missionary back to health. Hogstad lost consciousness on the trip but made it to Fort Dauphin alive. He lingered there in a coma for several days before he died on 24 October 1911.
John Peter Hogstad was buried in the missionary plot in the city graveyard in Fort Dauphin, the town where he began his missionary career. Perhaps also feeling betrayed, Oline Hogstad did not return to the United States to live. She settled in Norway, the land of her birth, and died there on 19 June 1943.

A Google search produce a lovely picture of his gravestone in Madagascar on the website www.mhs.no, a School of Mission and Theology in Norway.



This makes me want to add Madagascar to the list of places I want to visit someday!!:) 

Do you have any missionaries in your family tree? If so, where did they do their work?

  • Carolyn Larson - March 19, 2014 - 2:33 am

    Hi It was so interesting to read your article on Hogstad. I grew up in Fort Dauphin Madagascar and when we walked the mile through town to the beach, the path went by the cemetery. I loved going to look at the grave markers and I was always fascinated by Hogstead’s grave marker. Was it the oldest marker in the American missionary section? I can’t remember but I always wondered what life had been like for those early missionaries. It seemed so very long ago when I was young and I felt so modern! When I go back to visit I will visit the grave again and now I will have a story about this person!ReplyCancel

    • Jenn - April 11, 2014 - 3:07 pm

      I have often walked past graves and wondered the same thing – what was life like for that person? I’m glad that you found this post. :)
      What an interesting place to live! I was very excited to find this story on him, because the majority of my other ancestors all stayed in America.ReplyCancel

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Thank you everyone for your kind words.  We all miss her so much, but I know that she lived a long and happy life.

We made the trek from El Paso to Kansas and back within 3 days.  It was 16 hours each direction and man am I exhausted!!

We had Pukefest 2011 in the car on the way back.  No exaggeration.

Three kids with a stomach bug on a 16 hour car trip is not pleasant, in case you wondered.  You can’t even begin to imagine how happy I was to pull into our driveway!

I’m still glad that we made the trip.  It was nice to be able to say goodbye to her and to visit with family that we don’t see very often.

I {of course} took pictures.

Here are my 5 rugrats…

My husband and his dad…

Our kids and Andy’s cousins’ kids.  It was really hard to get all 8 of them to look the same direction.  My youngest {on the right} is making such a strange face!:)

I think it’s going to take us all a week to recover from the 30+ hours in the car and the stomach bug.

  • Cherie Cayemberg - September 19, 2011 - 5:43 am

    Yeah, Andy doesn’t look like his dad at all! ;)

    I’m glad you guys are back and that everyone seems to be getting over the vomit-itis.

    Get some rest when you can!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Shenette - September 19, 2011 - 10:28 am

    So sorry to hear of your family’s loss. I’m glad everyone made it back from the trip safe and sound. Beautiful family photos, BTW.

    I’ve had one sick kid in the car and thought that was bad. I can’t imagine having three. I hope everyone is either feeling better or continues to stay well.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle Goodrum - September 19, 2011 - 10:46 am

    Bless you I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to travel in the car with 3 sick people.ReplyCancel

  • Greta Koehl - September 19, 2011 - 8:49 pm

    I’m glad you were able to say a final goodbye and survive the trip to boot. I remember the days when every trip to the mountains was a pukefest. We always carried two large metal bowls in the car (2 kids). Ah, the old days…. Glad you’re back!ReplyCancel

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My husband’s wonderful grandmother, Ola Louise {Davidson} Weeks, passed away in Kansas yesterday. She was so loved and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

We’ll be heading up for the funeral this weekend, so I might be a little scarce on here for the next few days.

Louise was the matriarch of her family at 96 years old and was immensely helpful when I started on my genealogical journey 12 years ago.  She was full of so many wonderful family stories.

The last time we saw her was this past May and I was lucky enough to have interviewed her about her amazing birth story, which I posted earlier this month.  I will add it again here today for those of you who didn’t get a chance to watch it.  It’s remarkable to think that she lived such a  beautiful, long life after such a precarious beginning.

It’s hard to believe that she’s gone.:(

  • Debbie - September 14, 2011 - 5:20 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. And so glad you were able to know her and interview her and learn her wonderful stories. I’ve a story of twins that were kept in teacups on the wood stove. Crazy things they used to do!ReplyCancel

  • Cherie Cayemberg - September 14, 2011 - 5:34 am

    Jenn, I’m so sorry. Please give Andy and big hug from us. Drive safely!ReplyCancel

  • Linda McCauley - September 14, 2011 - 6:18 am

    Sorry for your loss but glad you all had the chance to spend time with her this summer.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Clark - September 14, 2011 - 6:40 am

    I am so sorry, Jenn. She was a treasure. Safe travels. Your family is in my prayers.ReplyCancel

  • Dee Burris Blakley - September 14, 2011 - 10:59 am

    So sorry for your loss.ReplyCancel

  • Debi Austen - September 14, 2011 - 4:41 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds like such a wonderful woman – loved the glimmer in her eyes when she was talking about the milk that saved her life. I’m so glad you had the opportunity to spend time with her and capture her amazing spirit on film. My thoughts will be with you – travel safely!ReplyCancel

  • Greta Koehl - September 14, 2011 - 8:12 pm

    Oh, no, I am so sorry to hear this. I loved the interview with her – truly a great lady.ReplyCancel

  • Sheryl - September 16, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you.ReplyCancel

  • Alice Keesey Mecoy - September 18, 2011 - 12:56 pm

    Sorry for your families loss, but it sounds like she had a full life. While her death is a sad event, please remember to celebrate the good parts of her long life.

    Alice Keesey MecoyReplyCancel

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Samuel and Nancy Lee were my 3rd great-grandparents on my father’s side.

I love the two following records, both from 1846 in Franklin County, Virginia.

The first document is kind of like a “permission slip”. :)  Nancy Glass gave permission for Samuel Lee to get a marriage license for their marriage.

There is also another message written below by Nancy’s brother-in-law, Jacob Machenheimer.  He was married to Nancy’s sister Patience.  Their father, John Glass, died in 1840 and now I know that Nancy was living with her sister at the time of her marriage and that her brother-in-law was responsible for her.  He also gave his permission for the marriage license and apologized that he couldn’t ride to town at the time.  {on a side note, I wonder why he couldn’t ride to town – was he injured or sick or just busy?}


The Clerk of Franklin Cty Court is authorized to grant marriage license to Mr Samuel Lee for his and my marriage given under my hand this 27 July 1846

test  Jacob G Machenheimer         Nancy Glass

And here is the second document, giving surety…

Know all men by these presents that we Samuel E. Lee and Samuel R. Kirks are held and finally bound unto the Commonwealth of Virginia in the just and full sum of One hundred and fifty dollars the … payment of which will and only to be made … Executors and … jointly and … and dated the 29 day of July 1846.
The condition of the above obligation is such that … the above bound Samuel E. Lee hath this day obtained from the clerk of Franklin County Court a License for his intermarriage with Nancy Glass of said County. Now if there shall be no lawful cause to obstruct said marriage then the above obligation to be paid else to remain in full free and …
Samuel E. Lee (his mark) [seal]
Samuel R. Kirks [seal]

{It’s late at night and I’m squinting as I try to transcribe this. I’m hoping that I can fill in some of the above blanks during the day. :)}

  • Cherie Cayemberg - September 13, 2011 - 5:35 am

    Very cool that you have a marriage document so old. You did a better job transcribing than I would have that late at night too. The darker side of me doesn’t ask why he couldn’t come into town, it says, maybe she had someone else write it so she could get married. I really should be a more positive thinker! :)ReplyCancel

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Lillian Cossaboon was my husband’s great grandmother.

Dated 3 Sep 1968 in the Wyoming County Times, Warsaw, NY.


Mrs. Lillian Cossaboon, of 40 Inwood Pl., Buffalo, died Friday, (Aug. 23, 1968) in a Buffalo hospital.  She had been in frail health for some time.
Mrs. Cossaboon had formerly lived in Silver Springs, when her late husband, Rev. Nicholas V. Cossaboon, was pastor of the Silver Springs Methodist Church.  She spent her summers at their Silver Lake cottage, and winters in Buffalo with her daughter, Mrs. Virginia Johnson. Because of ill health, she was not at her cottage this past summer.
She is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Pearl Dull of Arlington, Va, Miss Ruth Cossaboon of San Antonio, Tex., and Mrs. Virginia Johnson of Buffalo. Another daughter, Mrs. Helen Woods of Lockport, preceded her in death; also 4 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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