Friday, May 20, 2011

Tom Fossmo, 63rd Balloon Company, US Army Air Service, WW1

Tom Fossmo (Tormod Andressen Forsmo) joined the U. S. Army during World War I while living in South Dakota and working as a carpenter.  He enlisted as a private and was sent to the University of North Dakota - Grand Forks, School of Mines Training Detachment for training (8 Jul 1918 - 29 Aug 1918).  He was transferred to the 63rd Balloon Company, Air Service, U.S. Army, Fort Omaha, Nebraska on Aug 30, 1918.   Fort Omaha was the base for the 9th Naval District - Balloon and Airship Division, as was of the largest training centers for observation balloon crews in the United States.  On 21 Feb 1919, he was promoted to Private 1st Class.  Discharged on May 29th, 1919 at Fort Omaha.

Fort Omaha, 1919

More info on the Fort Omaha Balloon School can be found here:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The family of Tom Fossmo

The Forsmo farm, where Tom Fossmo (Tormod Andreasen Forsmo) was born, is situated south of the Fustvatnet (the Fusta lake), about 12 kilometres north of Mosjoen. His father, Andreas Petersen, was from the Langmoen farm in the same area, and was a son of farmer Peter Andreas Jørgensen and Petrine Andersdatter. They had an older son called Anders Petersen, who later became the farmer on Langmoen after them. His oldest son, Peter Andersen Langmo, appears to have emigrated to America in 1912. Andreas Petersen married Mathea Pauline Nilsdatter Brækken in 1888. It is written that their oldest son, Magnus, was born on the Langmoen farm in 1889. Their second oldest son, Asgar, was born on the Forsmo farm the following year. Then a daughter, Sara, was born in 1892, Tormod in 1894, another daughter, Gudrun, in 1895, Øistein in 1899 and Erling in 1901.

The mother, Mathea Pauline, was from Brækken, one of the Smedseng farms on the other side of the Fustvatnet. She was known as Forsmo-Mathea among her family. She had two younger brothers who went to America. Mikal Alfred went to America in 1892, but returned to Norway after a few years, and married a teacher from the Trøndelag district named Anna Bleke, whom he had met in Vefsn. Another brother, Andreas Mørk, arrived in Alaska in 1903 and became civil in Chicago in 1913. He also changed his name to Andrew Brakken. It is said that he became a logger in Arlington, Washington (Snohomish county), and married an (unknown) American woman. He only returned to Norway one time to visit his family.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Letter from Magnus Forsmo to Tom Fossmo - 1945 just after WW2

This was translated from a photocopy of a letter written in Norwegian to Tom Fossmo by his brother Magnus Forsmo, who had stayed in Norway.  It was written just months after the end of World War Two and is very interesting. 

Letter from Magnus Forsmo to Tom Fossmo
27 Aug 1945. Forsmo, Mosjoen, Norway

Inflation rate is high, goods for purchase are scarce.  Jobs are hard to find.  Magnus is working for Railroad in Mosjoen.  Food is rationed still.  He makes 100 Krone per day, but 20 goes to tax.  Would have made 70-80 Kr per day working for Germans, but he didn't even consider that.

Now possible to go to Oslo by train, soon will be able to go to Bodo and Norvik.  The valley has developed much: railroad tracks everywhere and a station near the cemetery.  Germans did many things to the area: cut down forests that were previously protected, they build many new roads and bridges (Gjerdiakun Bridge, Voldakun Bridge).  German soldiers overtook Gamlehaugen.  In winter, the German Army came through with cars and horses from November (1944?) until end of war.  Soldiers' horses were eating wood off the new houses, many were destroyed.  Things were stolen. 

Fourteen German Army soldiers were stationed at Forsmo to watch the bridge (from 19Dec44 to 15May1945).  The Germans were kind, but stored their belongings in the kitchen.  The family was only allowed to cook in the evening, if they had anything to cook. 

German occupation was a nightmare.  Mosjoen became a military town: they built bunkers and barracks.  The Norwegians lived with violence all around, many jailed and beaten worse than wild animals.  Large mess to clean up the town.  After war, Nazi sympathizers were jailed (150-160 men and women).  German soldiers fathered a number of illegitimate children with Norwegian women.  Things will never be the same and life is looked at differently now.  Communism is more popular, especially with the young, but Magnus is against it.  Unemployment is a problem.  The old political parties are trying to restore power but the Workers party may join the communists for the October 8th election.

Magnus has been at Forsmo since the fall of Norway in 1940.  He traveled down with Erling from Arnes.  Erling was near Oslo for 1 year.  Magnus started Railroad work when he arrived.  Erling had an accident with a handgrenade, it is a miracle that he and Mom (Mathea) were not killed.  She lost her hearing and he hurt his hand (lost use for a while, a finger is crooked now). 

Magnus is not sure how long he will be at Forsmo, his family is in Tonsberg south of Olso and hasn't been there for 2 years.  Will try during summer vacation but hard to get time off.  Weather has been wet.  Sara and John visited 2 weeks ago, they drove from Korgen (Magnus hasn’t been there for 20 years).  Shortage of tobacco, no pipes to purchase so Magnus made his own.  Shoes and working clothes will not be available for another year.  

Will you (Tom) and Asger ever come back to visit?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Surname/Farmname Origins

Our Forsmo and Hagfors surnames came from farms in the Vefsn municipality.  A comprehensive survey of all the farmnames in Norway was researched and published by Oluf Rygh in "Norske Gaardnavne".  Here are the entries from Rygh's research for the farms that generated our surnames:

Forsmo / Fossmo comes from the farm name Forsmoen Indre, which was a farm dating from at least 1610. It was north of Mosjoen, near the waterfalls at the outlet of the Fustavatn (Fusta Lake).  "Indre" meant "inner" or "nearby".  There was another Forsmoen, further north, but it was called "Ytre", since it was "further out" or "outer".

Hagfors was a farm also named after a waterfall, but south of Mosjoen near Skjerva.  It to dates from at least 1610. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mosjoen, Vefsn, Nordland, Norway

The Fossmo (Forsmo) and Hagfors families came from the town of Mosjoen, in the municipality of Vefsn,  the county of Nordland, Norway.  They were part of the Vefsn Parish, and had attended the Dolstad Lutheran Church. 

The town website is here:

The community website is here:

Monday, May 2, 2011


This blog is dedicated to the ancestors and descendants of Tormod Andreassen Forsmo (Tom Fossmo) and Magda Alvhilde Nilsdatter Hagfors.  Tom Fossmo immigrated into the United States at Ellis Island, New York with his father-in-law, Nils Mikael Nilsen Hagfors, on July 17, 1914.  They had come to America on the oceanliner Aquitania.  They settled in Moose Lake, Carlton County, Minnesota, where they established themselves, before Magda and her mother, Petra Amalie Nilsdatter Renfjeld, immigrated (Magda on August 27, 1915, with her sister Nanna; Petra on September 16, 1919 with 5 children).  The families had come from Mosjoen, Norland, Norway, a town not far from the Artic Circle.  Tom's parents, Andreas Petersen Forsmo and Mathea Pauline Nilsdatter Smedseng remained in Norway.