Oftebro family has been defined as all descendants, and their spouses,
from Villum Christian Henriksen Oftebro (1775-1848) and Gunhild
Oftebro (1777-1855). They lived at a small farm, Oftebro, in Lyngdal,
Norway. The farm was in fact a cottage allotment, belonging to the
pastor’s farm Aa, and in his function as a cottar Villum Christian
responded to the pastor as his superior. Villum Christian’s contract
as a cottar was quite humane, and it is interesting to notice that the
pastor’s family and the cottar’s family, in spite of the social
stratification of the society in those days, seem to have been on
close, friendly terms. This close relation to the pastor and his
family, and the inspiration our family gained from this friendship,
became of great significance to early Oftebros in Lyngdal. It is even
a fact that the world wide settlement that can be seen in the family
today, to a large extent is due to the close contact with the
pastor’s family, and to the inspiration for mission work this meant
to the Oftebro family.
and Villum Christian had 10 children. 4 of these children, Henrik
(1800-1876), Tobias (1803-1889), Anne Marie (1806-1887) and Ommund
(1820-1893) have founded the 4 main branches of the family. Based on
these 4 main brances the
Oftebro lineage consists of many
families, using many different family names, beginning with Oftebro,
Bjoernestad, Rom, Foss, Johnson, Opsal, Hojem and Reime. Descendants
within these families carry today a great number of other family names,
and the “Oftebros” have settled in many countries and on most
the Oftebro family we have registered more than 2000 members, counting
those living today, and those that have passed away. Our graphical
family tree is more than 16 m wide. One may study the separate
branches of the tree, and find detailed information on each member, in
the Oftebro family book which is available.
at Oftebro no. 3, Villum Christian and
forefathers of Villum Christian and Gunhild lived in Lyngdal and in
the surrounding counties for several hundred years. From around 1850
this pattern changes at a growing rate, and an exodus takes place.
Those who moved internally in Norway went east along the coastline to
Mandal, to Kristiansand and to the Grimstad region. Westward one
moved to the Stavanger region. The emigration was pronounced. In
America one settled on the East coast, on the West coast, in the Mid
west and in Canada. The emigration across the Atlantic followed the
pattern of the great, general, economical emigration from Norway in
marked Oftebro emigration led to South Africa. The growing interest in
Norway for doing mission work abroad, in Lyngdal nursed and inspired
by pastor Kielland, led 3 Oftebros from Lyngdal to a missionary
pioneering work in Zululand. Later on another group of Oftebros,
tempted by the rich gold- and diamond mines, also emigrated to South
Africa. The descendants of the immigrants to Zululand have in general
been very mobile, and today they have settled also in Zimbabwe, in
Australia, in New-Zealand, in USA and Canada, and in Great Britain and
studying the settlement of the members of the Henrik main branch, the
Tobias main branch and of the Ommund main branch, one finds the
descendants have settled in equal numbers in Norway and abroad.
Tobias’ descendants have also settled inland and abroad, but with
clear preference to Norway. Ommund’s descendants have, for obvious
reasons, all settled abroad. It is a striking fact that Tobias and his
descendants have been more productive. In numbers they dominate the
Oftebro family today.
Oftebro family took its family name from the cottage allotment,
Oftebro, where the early Oftebros lived in Lyngdal, Norway. The
history about Oftebro and its cottars can be read in old documents
back to 1668. Other families have also lived as cottars at Oftebro,
but it seems that only our own forefathers adopted the name of their
homestead as their family name. This makes all “Oftebros” in the
world one big family. In 1877 the cottar at Oftebro bought the small
farm as freeholder. In 1892 the farm was split in two halves, one for
Villum Oftebro(II), and one for Gabriel Oftebro.
farm at Oftebro got its name from the river “Ofta” (today Litleåna
(“The little River”)), and the bridge (“bro”) that crosses the
river at this place. The name “Ofta”, or “Åpta” is derived
from old Nordic “Alpt”, meaning Swan. From this we can deduct that
Oftebro means “Swan Bridge”, or rather “Swan River Bridge”.
Our minds are instantly led to mr. Stephen Foster:
Oftebro no. 5, Gabriel Oftebro’s farm.
down upon the Swanee River
Far, far away.
There‘s where my heart is turning
There’s where the old folks stay.”
And so on.
river at Oftebro was for generations known for its rich pearl fishery.
Over-fishing and urbanisation have unfortunately brought an end to
this natural resource.
also the Oftebro farm is history. The ground has been developed, but
names of the streets in the area, like “Oftebroveien” and
“Oftebro terrasse”, remind us about times that have passed. So
does also the local Oftebro bus stop.
More information on the Oftebro family and the
Oftebro farm can be found in the family book.
Oftebro, Zimbabwe, with his family at the Oftebro bus stop.