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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    30

    Emil Bernhard Thorsen (Thorsø), abt. 50, 1930-40

    My relative disappeared most likely between 1930-1940 in the Portland area of Oregon. He had emigrated from Norway and was regularly sending letters back home to his step-mother in Norway. Suddenly the letters stopped, and no one has heard from him ever since. His sister, my great grandmother spent all her life thinking about this mystery (she past away in 1997, 96 years old). Now I am determent to solve this case, and I hope you have some inputs.


    I have taken the liberty to create a timeline of his know whereabouts.


    First some general information:
    Name: Emil Bernhard Thorsø (known as Emil Thorsen in the US)
    Birth date: January 9. 1883
    Birth place: Kristiansund, Norway
    Father's name: Hans Thorsø
    Mother's name: Beret Svendsdatter –Step-mother: Johanna Jørgine


    Description from WW1 registry card:Tall, medium built with blue eyes and brown hair.


    Timeline:
    1900: Norwegian census. Working as a steam worker on the ship Haugesund.
    1905: He is sending a letter home to Norway from the ship USS Brooklyn. The return address is "E.BThorsen. U.S.S Brooklyn /@ postmaster (Newgard?) U.S.S) The letter is stamped New Orleans.
    1910: Norwegian census. Stated to be in America.
    1918: He is found on a registry card for WW1 as a marine fireman. Living in Portland, Oregon.
    1925: Sends a letter back home saying he is working the woods. Portland, Oregon.
    1930: American census. Living in Portland, Oregon. Working on the US Tender Rose (Lightship).


    Known addresses:
    73 NE Sr. Portland, Oregon
    80th st. NE.


    Address clue:
    1924 Portland City Directory
    Thorsen

    • E chainmn r 324 1/2 1st



    Info:
    In 1909 a man named Emil Thorsen is filing an naturalization in clatscop, Oregon. That´s not the right person. I have seen the naturalization papers.
    He was reported missing through the Salvation Army, but unfortunately they do not have any records from this time period.
    In 1953 "Bernhard Thorsoe" is showing up on some passenger lists, but this is his cousin.


    Most likely scenario?:
    I have been in contact with the president of the US Light Ship organization, and he tells me that this was a very dangerous job and it was not uncommon that people just disappeared. Could he have died while working?


    I have tried to attack this several times, but I never seem to crack it. I want to inform you that I haves ome threads about this matter on some genealogy sites. I have given all relevant information from those threads to this one. I have tried to give as much information as possible (maybe to much?). If someone wants me to remove some of the information, please let me know. I really hope we can finally solve this case.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    The beautiful Pacific NW!!
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    917
    I am originally from the Portland area, my grandparents were in Portland around the same time and my grandfather was just a little younger than he was. So this caught my attention, I am curious if the address "73 NE Sr" in Portland might be 73 NE San Rafael St.? Not that I am of any help but I will poke around a little and see if I can find anything on him
    The best advice I give to my children: Tell the truth - whether you like it or not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    30
    Much appreciated

    I also wanted to give another clue. I have tried to locate descendants of the other men stated to be in the same light ship in the 1930 census, but I have not been able to: I will attach a url to the census.https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/...=54&cc=1810731

    They should be: Paul Swenson, John W. Paney, Frank Hendrickson, and Charles Sugg.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    UK
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    1,920
    IIRC the 1940 US census is available. Have you looked at that to see if he was enumerated in 1940?

    Also, there can't have been many lightships around compared to ordinary shipping. Who would have kept crew records for them?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    UK
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    1,920
    Quote Originally Posted by Daanjel View Post
    They should be: Paul Swenson, John W. Paney, Frank Hendrickson, and Charles Sugg.
    It seems likely to me that men with surnames Swenson and Hendrickson are likely to have been of Scandinavian heritage. Is there anything there that might be worth following up?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    30
    I have not been able to find anyone in the 1940 census that seems to be my relative - therefore I believe he past between 1930-40. But you never know.

    I believe that records for Light Ships are held at the National Archives, and the record keeping was not very good, so I have been told. But looking through the records will be a very interesting way to find some clues. (If someone suddenly disappeared from the crew, this must have been documented).

    About the surnames Swenson and Hendrickson (and the others): I have tried to locate descendants from these people, but I have not manage to track down any living relatives.

    Thank you so much for having an interest in this case!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    On My Way
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    505
    Hi Daanjel!

    I looked up your posts on Ancestry etc, and a few questions...

    Do you know Emil's route from Norway to Oregon, and the route he was planning to get back home?

    Do you know the date or appr. year of his last letter?
    And any clue how he would have "gotten a lot of money"?

    Also, do you have any ideas for variations of his surname except Thorsen?

    Interesting family mystery, I'll see if I can be of any help!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    67
    [QUOTE=Daanjel;13381731

    I believe that records for Light Ships are held at the National Archives, and the record keeping was not very good, so I have been told. But looking through the records will be a very interesting way to find some clues. (If someone suddenly disappeared from the crew, this must have been documented).[/QUOTE]

    For this you would contact NARA- Seattle. You can probably hire a researcher to go if you can't go in person, but you might be able to get them to email you the folder lists (or maybe not. There's over 400 standard archives boxes for this series.) It's worth a shot! There's a link on the left to hire a researcher https://www.archives.gov/seattle/finding-aids

    Since you have a time period that will narrow it down drastically. If you have a ship number it would be even better.

    You'll need this information when you make your request:
    Record Group 26:
    Records of the U.S. Coast Guard, 1785 - 2005

    Series: Logbooks of LightShips, 1890 - 1941


  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    30
    Alice: I wish I could tell you more, but I have no idea which route he took or was planning on taking to get back home.
    I also do not know when the last letter was sent. As I have been told, this was sent to the salvation army.
    About the money he had gotten: Someone in my family mentioned that he had bought some oil-related stocks in Texas. I can not confirm this though.

    His real name is Thorsø, so Thorso, Torso, Thorsoe, Thorson - something like this seems most likely.

    Librarian: I will definitely contact the NARA-Seattle. I am unable to access the archives website - could this be closed for people outside of the US?

    Thank you both for your help! I am so thankful!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    On My Way
    Posts
    505
    Thanks Daanjel!

    Was he ever reported missing to the police?
    Maybe you could try get him added to Charley Project, NAMPN, as many of those pages as you can, and Namus.
    Also, have you posted him to this FB-page:
    https://www.facebook.com/OregonsMissingPersonsBlog/

    It could be he met a nice lady and decided to stay and "forgot" to tell anyone (there's an Emil Thorsen who died in California in 1950), but I think it's more likely he died in the 1930s, either at sea or on his way back home to Norway.
    The latter my #1, money as motive.
    Maybe have someone help you (if needed) report him missing with Astoria Police / Clatsop County, then look into dentals, fingerprints, DNA etc... whatever needed to compare him to UIDs.

    I have been looking at this site for Emil, and several variations of his surname, but no luck so far...
    http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/

    Some info on the other guys on Tender Rose:

    John W Paney, 32, b.Idaho, Radio Operator
    =John W Povey
    1940:
    Works at: U.S.C.S. Tender Manzanita
    Lives at: 2668 Alder St., Alderbrook, Clatsop, OR
    https://familysearch.org/search/reco...place%3Aidaho~


    Simson, 25, Estonian, im. 1923, Fireman?
    =Karl/Carl Simson
    1940:
    Works at: U.S.C.G. Rose
    Lives in Astoria, Clatsop, OR
    https://familysearch.org/search/reco...r%3A1904-1906~


    Frank Hendrickson, 55, Finnish, im. 1898, Fireman?
    1940 census: Kitsap WA, single?
    https://familysearch.org/search/reco...r%3A1874-1876~


    I think Charles Sugg is an error name, and Paul Swenson is so common it's hard to search.

    Will look around more tomorrow though.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by Daanjel View Post

    Librarian: I will definitely contact the NARA-Seattle. I am unable to access the archives website - could this be closed for people outside of the US?
    Hmm, I doubt it's blocked because when I worked at a different NARA branch we would get requests from Canada and Europe frequently.

    Here's the contact info for Seattle.
    6125 Sand Point Way NE
    Seattle, Washington, 98115-7999

    Contact Information
    General Assistance: 206-336-5115
    Fax: 206-336-5112


    Archival research 206-336-5115 seattle.archives@nara.gov

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    30
    So, there was something wrong with my Internet, but I was able to get into the website using my phone

    I did reach out to someone and was told that the Washington D.C archives have the following of interest:

    [...the logbooks for the Tender Rose from 1927 to July 1933 in RG 26 Entry 328. The log generally lists the crew at the start of each month. You could also look in the correspondence file for the 1930s period in RG 26 Entry 50...]

    I should probably hire a researcher to help me look at this. Does anyone have experiences with hiring researchers?

    Alice: Thank you! I notice that Frank Hendrickson is still single in 1940, but that Mr. Simson is married. I wonder if he had any children.

    I want to inform you that I have contacted the Astoria Police, and are awaiting feedback from them.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Posts
    67
    If you go to the NARA seattle website there is a link for hiring researchers. Many of these people have been doing this for years and years. We had several researchers where I worked, that did research for hire. I would also directly ask Seattle for the logbooks for the Tender Rose in RG 26.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    30
    I am in contact with a researcher who will look into the files for me. 45$ for an hour: sounds about right?

    I also got a feedback from the Astoria Police: They do not keep records from this time periode and suggest that I contact the Office of Vital Statistics for Oregon to see if a death certificate was issued in his name.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    985
    Could this possibly be Emil? https://www.identifyus.org/en/cases/8584

    This man has DNA in the system, so you could submit your DNA to be compared to this man and all other Unidentified persons in the database.

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