Stedjee Family History

Stedjee Family History

         Name origin

Stedje, Norway, also known today as Sogndal, is the origin of the Stedjee name.  Located on the Sogn Fjord, the picturesque village has many residents with the surname the name “Stedje”, but none whose name is “Stedjee”.  The final “e” is unique to our family line.  

The old Norwegian naming custom was to append “sen” or “datter” to one’s father’s first name.  To further distinguish individuals, the place where the person resided was often used.  Thus, our ancestor Anders Olsen Stedje was a son of Ole, and lived in Stedje.  

In 1854, Anders Olsen Stedje, Kari Larsdatter Rutlin, and their sons Ole and Lars Andersen Stedje, left Stedje to come to America.  After arriving in the States, the family adopted American naming conventions, and the entire family began using the surname Olsen.  

Youngest son Lars was just four when the family came to America.  As as he grew up, Lars decided that, now that he was an American,  he wanted an American first name.  He chose “Lewis”.  He also took a new surname.

It was not unusual for Norwegian immigrants coming to America in the 1800’s to adopt their places of origin as family names.  According to one family story, Anders Olsen asked both of his sons born in Norway,  Lars/Lewis and Ole, to adopt the surname Stedje, and that Lars/Lewis agreed, but Ole did not.

Another story says that  Lars/Lewis decided to adopt a new last name  because he thought there were just too many Olsen’s in Waushara County, Wisconsin - an area with numerous Norwegian immigrants. Both stories may be true.

However the decision was made,  Lewis took the name Stedje, but added an extra “e” to the end.  Why he did this is unknown today, but it may have been intended to be a pronunciation aid, or perhaps just a means of distinguishing our particular line.

The first Stedjee:  Lewis Stedjee, born Lars Andersen.

Scene from Stedje/Sogndal, Norway