[this post is written for family members and will likely be of little interest to others]
Half of my genes came from Norway, and half of those from the Fjaerland fjord, where the Distad family had its roots. About fifteen years ago Google Maps showed "Distad" marked on the western side of the fjord, about halfway between Balestrand on the Sognefjord and Fjaerland up at the northern terminus of the fjord.
I visited the Fjaerland fjord in 1982 and met some distant relatives who kindly gave me a chart of family names going back to the 1600s. One of my cousins had the good fortune to be able to spend a summer there working on a farm. When it was time for her to return to the United States, the family she was staying with presented her with a gift of the photo embedded at the top, which they thought might show the original Distad homestead.
The photo (image quality impaired by glass frame) shows four timber-framed buildings on stone foundations with what are probably sod roofs. Behind the buildings is a deep cleft in the mountains, and in front is a flowing stream. The text at the bottom includes an identification number (8271), the words "suphellerbraen" (in) "Fjaerland", and the photographer's name ("K. Knudsen, Bergen").
The photo was a duplicate of an original stored in The National Archives of Norway. I tried to track it down to see if any additional notes associated the name Distad with the photo, but didn't have any success. Apparently material in the archives is labeled with the photographer's name, but not with info about the subject matter, and a search of Knudsens (and for "Fjaerland" and "Distad") didn't locate the original image.
What puzzled me was the topography in the photo. The "Distad"-associated region in the mid-portion of the fjord that I had visited (and could now view on Google 3D maps) did not look at all like the landscape behind the four structures in the photo, since that property faced a fjord, not a flowing stream.
This week while "mousing around" tilting and dragging the Google 3D view, my eye was suddenly caught by the word "suphellebreen"-
- at the far right of the photo, a long distance up the valley from the town of Fjaerland at the head of the fjord (yellow oval). And suddenly everything made sense.
"Suphellebreen" is "soup-ladle-glacier" - one of the branches of the massive Jostedalsbreen glacier (when I had visited Fjaerland forty years ago, the Distads had driven me up to see the glacier, which I remembered as Jostedalsbreen). So the snowfield behind the buildings in the heirloom photo is actually the tongue of the glacier (visible more vertically at the top left of the photo), and the stream running in front of the buildings is glacial meltwater heading down to join the fjord near Fjaerland. The location for the photo of the buildings is probably the other red oval (labeled "glacier viewpoint").
The unanswered question is whether the Distads owned or lived in those buildings. In more modern times they have clearly been further south, but there's not much tillable farmland along the fjord, where the slope is steep, while up near the glacier there probably has always been better topography for farming. Maybe someone in the family (someone younger than me) can tackle either the national archives for more details on the photo or can perhaps find records of old land ownership.
FWIW, this entry marks my 18,000th post on TYWKIWDBI in 15 years of maintaining the blog (and those posts have generated about 64,000 comments).