Where are we from? From our parents, certainly, and their parents. As we go further back, we come from cities, states, countries, and geographic areas. Going back even further, we come from modern humans and the planet Earth.
This book begins in Norway, briefly touches on early world history, then settles on Norwegian and American history. Early Norwegian history reveals what the Engelsen genetics survived, including harsh weather, unusual geography, deadly plagues, political unrest, and famines. A brief look at American history explains when and why Norwegian immigrants left Norway, what they endured, and what opportunities they sought in a new land. Like Anna and Engel, the book finally settles in the Pacific Northwest, with a look back at early fur traders, missionaries, American pioneers, Native Americans, and Euro-American immigrants in that area. The book scope narrows from the Pacific Northwest to Oregon Territory, Washington Territory, and early Clarke County, Washington, before ending in Washougal, Clark County, Washington. It ends in Washougal because the author's grandmother, Alice Engelsen, was born there in 1889 on the family's 160-acre homestead. It's also where the family lived in the Joseph Gibbons Donation Land Claim after selling their homestead. Homesteads and Donation Land Claims are given family names and help distinguish who arrived before and after 1862. The story of Washougal starts with early visitors and settlers in the 1800s. It continues to a platted town in 1880, an incorporated city in 1908, and ends with Washougal highlights today. Family trees added to the book describe early life in Washougal from census records on lifespans, occupations, numbers of marriages, age differences in husbands and wives, the number of children, and the number surviving to adulthood. Engelsen business associates, witnesses, neighbors, acquaintances, and possible friends started the author's interest in these family trees. Obituaries included in the book help describe family connections and lifestyles in the late 1800s and early 1900s. How people lived then can often inspire how we live today. The image collection in the back of the book helps the reader visualize the setting, clarify descriptions, and personalize the people. In the Appendix, the timelines for Norway, America, world, and religious history further describe the past and provide context for the lifespans and lifestyles of our ancestors.