Ole Meyer and his firm Meyer & Co established themselves in Botnhamn as early as 1905. In 2005 the firm could celebrate 100 years of continuous service. Few businesses in Northern Norway have a history like Meyer & Co.
Ole Meyer came from the neighbouring village Lysnes. He was born 5 January 1877 as the youngest of five siblings. His parents were farmer Ole Mosesen from Lysnes (1830-1915) and his wife Elisabeth Marie Eriksdatter, from Strømmen in Rossfjord (1832-1914). His full name was Ole Meyer Edvin Olsen, but he later got approval to change his name to Ole Meyer only.
Ole Meyer was raised to become a fisherman, and he became a fishingboat captain quite early. After being shipwrecked outside the fjord of Mefjorden on April 12 1904, where he was saved but two of his friends died, he gave up the life of a fisherman. He went into a general partnership with Hjalmar and Marie Nergård, who at that time was running a country store at Vangshamn.
In December 1904 the companions bought an auction deed from Bergen Credit Bank for a property in the neighbouring fjord Stønnesbotn. They paid 1500 Norwegian kroner for the deed, which included a country store and a fishery. The bachelor Ole Meyer Edvin Olsen moved to Botnhamn to run the store and fishery from 1 January 1905.
At that time it was poor circumstances as Norway was a young and poor nation. The people had almost nothing to shop with. However, Ole Meyer was very serious, skilful and patient, and with these characteristics he developed the business. In fact, Ole Meyer pulled through quite well as a shopkeeper in Botnhamn, which became the name of his property.
The year 1910 became a year to remember for Ole Meyer. He got married to the 14 years younger Theminda Bernharda Pedersen (1890-1942). She was from Skarsvåg in Lysbotn and her parents were Peder Johan Olsen, Skarsvåg (born 1865) and Oline Petrine Olsdatter, Vang (1865-1947). Ole and Theminda also had their first child this year!
Ole Meyer got his Trading License to operate a business in Botnhamn in 1910. Now everything was running non-stop. The business was doing quite well and the children kept coming. They eventually ended up with 14 kids. It was normal custody at that time to have many children.
Ole Meyer bought a new lot in 1914 and built a new and big house for himself and his family. A new store was built in 1925.
During the 30’s Ole Meyer got some competition from Bernhard Aaker, who started a fishery and steamship shipping agency, and Marinius Aaker who established another shop in the village. Nevertheless, Meyer was doing quite well. He made a very good business in exporting fresh fish, like salmon, to England. The fish was re-packed and re-frozen in Trondheim before being shipped across the North Sea.
The war became a difficult and grievous time. Theminda died unexpectedly in 1942 from complications relating to a hurting finger. The death of Theminda went hard with Ole. He got bedridden for a long time.
The postwar period was active and brought good times. When Ole Meyer turned 70 in 1947 he gradually transferred more and more of the business to his sons. They took Meyer & Co through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and well into the 80’s.
Ole Meyer lived a long life. He became almost 96 years old, and when he died in December 1972 he had seen an enormous development and a lot of changes.
Few businesses in Northern Norway have a history like Meyer & Co in Botnhamn. The establishment can look back at more than 100 years of continuous service. The firm is today owned and operated by one of Ole Meyer’s grandsons. The Meyer family are still present and influence the life in Botnhamn – more than 100 years after Ole Meyer established himself in the village.
The whole Meyer family, counting more than 450 altogether, celebrated the jubilee with a big party in Botnhamn on 2nd July 2005. It included a history presentation, dinner, coffee, cakes and a party till the wee hours of the morning! The Meyer family certainly knows how to celebrate itself and the jubilee was a great success.
Botnhamn.com would like to thank Terje Meyer Nilssen and Thommy Meyer for contributing to this article.
This page was last updated 12/21/10