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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Tuesday March 5th 2024

Descendant of Norwegian seafarers chose baking, centuries later in Norway and in Minneapolis

Grandson writes from scarce documents

By John Ferman, Guest Author

Inside the Main Lake Street Gates and just beyond the Civil War plots stands a columnar marble marker. Its legends are barely readable save for the name at the bottom: FERMAN.

Here lies one of the early Minneapolis bakers: John Christian Ferman with his wife, Josephine, eldest daughter, and youngest son. John descended from a long line of Norwegian seafarers stretching back to the 17th Century. He was born the 24th of November 1856 in Kragerø, Norway and christened Johan Christian Winther Fermann. Johan was the seventh of a brood of eight.  John was 8 when his father, Peter Biørn Fermann, was lost at sea. John”'s eldest brother, Niels Paulsen Fermann, was lost at sea ten years later when John was 18 in 1874.  A year later Johan was in the 1875-Folketelling [one of Norway”'s three forms of census; Skallemanntall for taxation purposes, Manntall for military purposes-male only, and Folketelling] for Kristiana,** Norway as a journeyman baker.

The year of John”'s* immigration is uncertain but was somewhere between 1879 and 1882. In any event, John was a baker at the Bantly Bakery at 89 S.E. Main Street in 1884. October 25 of that year he married Josephine Josefsen. They were to have five children between 1886 and 1899, three survived to adulthood. John was a baker at 2529 26th Avenue in 1885 through 1886. John”'s next baked at 263 Cedar in 1888. John opened his own bakery at 320 Cedar Avenue in 1893 and continued there until 1912.

John also baked at 231 Cedar in 1913 and 2106 4th Avenue in 1914 and returned to 320 Cedar for 1915. John passed away October 18, 1917.

Prepared by grandson from a dearth of actual records.

* ** Historical Notes of explanation: Apparently, at time of his immigration to the USA, Johan Fermann omitted the “a” of Johan and the second “n”' in Fermann.  As grandson John says, “my dad, who was an expert at condensing a 15-word sentence into 2 words once said, ”˜new country, new name.”' “

**A first town-like settlement in Norway 1,000 AD was originally called Oslo. King Haakon V (1299-1319) built the Akershus Fortress.  From 1536 Norway was in a union with Denmark. After a dramatic fire, in 1624, King Christian IV rebuilt the town below the Fortress area and he changed its name to Christiania.  As a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark in 1814 had to cede the territory of Norway to the Swedish king, Karl Johan.  Norway adopted its own constitution that year on 17 May 1814 and Christiana became the official capital of Norway. From 1877 the name was spelled Kristiania, and in 1925 it was changed back to the original Oslo.

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