Olaus 'Ole' Jørgensen Abelseth

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Olaus 'Ole' Jørgensen Abelseth (Klevene)

Also Known As: "Ole"
Birthdate: (94)
Birthplace: Ørskog, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Death: Died in Hettinger, ND, USA
Place of Burial: Harding County, South Dakota, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jørgen Anders Hendrik Anderssen Abelseth (Klevene) and Hanna Petrine Christine Johansdatter Hatlevik
Husband of Anna Hansen Grinde (Abelseth)
Father of George Abelseth; Mae Abelseth and Helen Abelseth
Brother of Inga Jørgensdatter Moen; Hanna Jørgensdatter Klevene; Gina Jørgensdatter Abelseth Klevene; Hans Jørgensen Klevene; Gurine Tora Breivik and 2 others

Managed by: Bodil K-Hansen
Last Updated:

About Olaus 'Ole' Jørgensen Abelseth


  • Name: Mr Olaus Jørgensen Abelseth
  • Born: Thursday 10th June 1886
  • Age: 25 years
  • Last Residence: in Perkins County South Dakota United States
  • Occupation: Farmer
  • 3rd Class passenger
  • First Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
  • Ticket No. 348122 , £7 13s
  • Cabin No.: [F] G63
  • Destination: Perkins County South Dakota United States
  • Rescued (boat A)
  • Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
  • Died: Thursday 4th December 1980
  • Cause of Death: Heart Failure / Disease
  • Buried: Glendo Cemetery Ralph South Dakota United States

Mr Olaus Jørgensen Abelseth ("Ole") was born on 10 June 1886, the son of Jørgen Abelseth and Hanna Hatlevik, at the farm "Klevene" in Ørskog - east of Ålesund, a small fishing village in Norway.

Olaus had worked as a sailor and casual labourer. He went to America with his brother Hans in 1902 or 1903 and lived in Hatton, North Dakota where he worked on different farms in the Red River Valley.

In 1908 he established a livestock farm in Perkins County, South Dakota. After a difficult period at his farm Olaus decided to visit his relatives in Norway and he departed for Glasgow by steamship from New York in the late Autumn of 1911. From Glasgow he continued his journey to Scandinavia.

In April 1912 Olaus began the return journey, his stated destination was Johan B. Abelseth 1112 Lincoln St. Minneapolis. Travelling with him were five other Norwegians: Adolf Humblen, Anna Salkjelsvik, Peter Søholt (a cousin), Sigurd Hansen Moen (married to Olaus' sister Inge) and Karen Marie Abelseth. Karen Abelseth was not a relative (? a cousin) but was the daughter of one of Olaus' neighbours when he lived in Norway. They new each other well, so, since Karen was only 16, her father asked Olaus if he could look after her on the trip to America.

The party set sail from Ålesund to Newcastle via Bergen and boarded the Titanic at Southampton. Olaus and Humblen shared a cabin toward the bow on F-Deck (G-63) from where, on the night of the disaster, he made his way aft along the working alleyway 'Scotland Road' on E deck to meet Karen. He finally found her near the main third class staircase towards the stern and then she, Olaus and the rest of their group made their way to the aft well deck.

They waited on the poop deck for instructions. At about 1:30 third class women were finally allowed onto the Boat Deck, followed by the men at 2:00. While many decided to remain on the poop Olaus and his relatives made for the Boat Deck. Olous together with Moen and Søholt placed Karen Abelseth into a boat.

With the last boat pulling away they heard a call for sailors, some of the crew were trying to free a collapsible and Olaus who had six years of sailing experience as a fisherman was tempted to assist but his cousin and brother in law urged him to stay with them.

"I was standing there, and I asked my brother-in-law if he could swim and he said no. I asked my cousin if he could swim and he said no. So we could see the water coming up, the bow of the ship was going down, and there was kind of an explosion. We could hear the popping and cracking, and the deck raised up and got so steep that the people could not stand on their feet on the deck. So they fell down and slid on the deck into the water right on the ship."

When all the boats had gone Olaus and his relatives found themselves near the fourth funnel, as the Titanic sank deeper they clung to the falls of a lifeboat davit. His brother in law urged him to jump for it but Olaus waited. When the water was only five feet away they plunged in. As he surfaced Olaus became entangled in a line but somehow managed to break free, when he looked around him his brother in law and cousin were nowhere to be seen, they had been washed away.

Olaus swam for twenty minutes in the icy water before finally reaching collapsible A. surrounded by dead and dying he tried to pull himself into the waterlogged boat but someone inside shouted 'don't capsize the boat', so Olaus clung to the side for a while before eventually dragging himself aboard.

As they rowed through the night the survivors in Collapsible A prayed, and, although nearly waist deep in water Olaus tried to revive a fellow passenger who lay freezing in the bottom of the boat, he lifted him up and discovered that it was a man from New Jersey with whom Olaus had shared a carriage on the boat train to Southampton 1. When the Carpathia was sighted he urged the man to look up, but as dawn broke the man slipped away. Another man put his arms around Abelseth to relieve cramps caused by the cold but eventually he too died and Olaus had to prise the man's arm off him.

When he finally reached the deck of the Carpathia at 7:00 am he was given a warm blanket he then headed for the dining room for some brandy and a hot coffee. With cabin space at a premium Olaus found he had to sleep on deck and lay down to sleep in the same clothes that he had worn all night in the flooded boat.

In New York he stayed a few days at St. Vincent Hospital. He also testified before the US senate Inquiry before moving on to Minneapolis. During 1912 and 1913 he travelled in Canada, Indianapolis and Montana before returning to his farm in South Dakota.

In July 1915 he married Anna Grinde in South Dakota. Anna was Ole's first wife, he her second husband. Anna had been born in Grinde Norway 6 October 1877. Her father had died at sea in Norwegian waters near Sognefjorden on 19 June 1886. The death occurred only nine day after Olaus was born, Anna was eight.

Olaus worked his farm for a further 30 years and he and Anna had four children; their second son died at the age of 3½, the other children were: George, Helen and Mae.

He retired in 1946 to Reeder, North Dakota. In 1948 they moved to Tacoma Washington and in 1960 to Whetting, North Dakota before settling in Hettinger, Adams Co., North Dakota.

Anna celebrated her 100th birthday in 1977; she died in August 1978. Olaus died on 4 December 1980. His daughter Mae (Mrs Jim Omodt) lived in Sandpoint, Idaho2 and his son George in Prairie City, South Dakota.


1. This may have been Arthur Keefe.

2. His son George still lives on Ole's farm in North Dakota. Helen now lives in Hawaii. Mae Omodt passed away age 87 on March 12th 2007 in Sandpoint, Idaho USA


  • Unidentified Newspaper Obituary

Available Documents

  • Draft Registration Card
  • North Dakota State Department of Health Certificate of Death

Inquiry Testimony

  • (Courtesy of the Titanic Inquiry Project)
  • Senate Hearings, 8 May 1912, Testimony


  • Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
  • Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
  • Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
  • Claes-Göran Wetterholm (1988, 1996, 1999) Titanic. Prisma, Stockholm. ISBN 91 518 3644 0
  • United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912


  • Claes-Göran Wetterholm, Sweden


  • Phillip Gowan, USA
  • Larry Grissom, USA
  • Per Kristian Sebak, Norway
  • Leif Snellman, Finland



Ole Abelseth, 94, of Hettinger, ND, a survivor of he sinking of the oceanliner Titanic, died Thursday, December 4, 1980 at the Hettinger Community Memorial Hospital.

Funeral services for Mr. Abelseth were held Monday, December 8, 1980, at 11:00AM at the Hettinger Lutheran Church with Reverend Peter Humlie officiating.

Interment was at the Glendo Cemetery, rural Ralph, SD, with Walby Funeral Chapel of Hettinger in charge of arrangements.

Pallbearers were Willard Korsmo, Reeder, ND; Gordon Romness, Hettinger, Boyd Abelseth, Ralph, SD, David Locey, Federal Way, WA, Jimm Omodt, Sandpoint, ID; and Mark Omodt, Rawlins, WY; Ted Van Slooten, Hettinger, Harold Abelseth, Rapid City, SD. Music was provided by Mrs. Kurt Erdmann and Cynthia Erdmann.

It was April 14, 1912, that the Titanic went down nd 1,517 persons died. A brother-in-law and a cousin of Mr. Abelseth's were among those lost. Returning from Norway where he had been visiting family and friends after an absence of nine years, he was among 690 people who survived the tragedy.

Ole was born June 10, 1886, in a small fishing village, Alesund, Norway. In 1902, he came to the United States with his brother, Hans, homesteaded in Perkins County, SD. After the fateful trip on the Titanic, he tried to put the incident behind him by traveling for several months, in Canada, Indianapolis, and Montana. Finally in 1913, he settled down in Perkins County, SD, and ranched until 1946 when he retired to Reeder, ND. He then lived in Washington State for awhile before moving to Hettinger, where he lived until his death. His wife, the former Anna Grinde, was 100 years old when she died in 1978.

He is survived by one son, George Abelseth, of Ralph, SD., two daughters, Helen A. Locey, Mill Valley, CA., and Mae Omodt of Sandpoint, ID., eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. A memorial fund to purchase reference books has been established at the Minnie Erlandson Library in Hettinger.

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Olaus 'Ole' Jørgensen Abelseth's Timeline

June 10, 1886
Ørskog, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
June 26, 1916
Age 30
Perkins, South Dakota, United States
December 4, 1980
Age 94
Hettinger, ND, USA
Harding County, South Dakota, United States