|Photo 1: Inscribed "Anne and Mary 'Sloan.'" Photo courtesy of Michael Siverhus.|
(Note: I use the names Slaaen/Sloan interchangeably, because although the original Norwegian surname was "Slaaen," the family adopted the Americanized version of "Sloan" after a few years in America.)
The surprise was a couple of photographs Mike found while visiting his mother recently. He thought they applied more to my side of the family than his, and so, he sent them along. The lovely mid-19th century photo above is of sisters; "Anne and Mary Sloan" is written on the back.
|Photo 2: Inscribed: "Sister to "Pa's--Grandmother Annie Sloan" (Courtesy of Michael Siverhus)|
There was another problem getting in the way of accurate identification of the women in the two photographs. As with many families, the names "Anne/Anna/Annie" and "Mary/Mari/Marie" were popular among Norwegians, and there were more than a few of the same name among the Slaaens and Vaterlands, and more than a few spelling variations, as well.
Photo #2 really set me thinking. I was not aware of any "Sloan" sisters by the name of Anne and Mary, although the shorter woman standing on the left looked familiar to me. I compared the photo to the one of my great great grandmother (Anne Vaterland Slaaen), taken with the rest of her family, ca. 1890, and lo and behold, I found it to be the same woman. Could it be that the women in the second photo are actually Vaterlands, then, and not Sloans?
|Photo 3: Anne Vaterlans Slaaen, ca. 1890, Chippewa County, Minnesota (cropped photo from the Hans T. Slaaen family portait in my previous blog post)|
The woman in Photo #3, whom I know to be my great great grandmother, Anne Vaterland Slaaen/Sloan, appears harried and thin, almost gaunt, compared to the calm and appealing older woman standing on the left ("Grandmother Annie Sloan") in Photo #2, but they are indeed the same woman. Look carefully at the hairline, the droop of the eyes, the set of the mouth, and the distance between the nose and mouth. In 1890, Anne was in her mid-fifties, and was still recovering from years of difficult homesteading and raising six children to adulthood. Some ten years later, as in Photo #2, she was looking more rested, and not quite as thin.
|Photo 4: Cropped image of Anne Vaterland Slaaen from Photo #2)|
My conclusion? The photos are actually Vaterland women, and not Slaaens/Sloans, in spite of the inscriptions on the back of the photos. Anne may have married a Slaaen, but her sister and mother could not lay claim to that name. When someone wrote on the back of the photos, perhaps many years after they were taken, Anne's maiden name had probably been forgotten, and the exact relationship of the women in Photo #2 was no longer clear.
But, did Anne actually have a sister named Mary, as the inscription on Photo #1 indicates? Searching for proof, I took another look at a pioneer biography of Anne Vaterland Slaaen's father that I found in a book by Hjalmar R. Holand, some years ago. It reads:
"Thor Johannessen Vaterland was born in Nordre Fron, Norway, April 8, 1808. He emigrated to America in 1858, and settled in Coon Valley on section 35, Town of Washington, La Crosse County, the same year. He was married to Marit Pedersen with whom he had two children: Mari and Anne..." 
Thanks to my internet cousin, not only have we "found" two more photographs of our great great grandmother, Anne Vaterland Slaaen, but we have also met the acquaintance of her sister, Mary/Mari Vaterland, and their mother, Marit Pedersdatter Vaterland.
I now have a photograph of my great great GREAT grandmother--how cool is THAT?
 Holand, Hjalmar R. "Coon Valley: An Historical Account of the Norwegian Congregations in Coon Valley." Augsburg Publishing: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1928, p.201.