Randi Andersdatter Solem 1776-1859

Randi came from the farm Lauvåsen in Tiller. "Løvaas" is therefore often linked to her name. She married early and had a son, but was a widower by 21. During the period when Hans Nilsen Hauge [a famous revivalist preacher] was in Trøndelag around 1800 she was caught up in the religious fervour and soon became a supporting player for the movement. In contrast to very many other religious communities, Hauge was not afraid to let women stand out, and Randi is said to have soon been travelling far as a reviver and preacher, including skiing across the Dovre Mountains! In 1801 she was also working in a Haugian book bindery in Bergen. Thus she had at a young age seen more of the country than what was common at the time.
In 1805 Randi married again, this time to Arnt Bjørnsen Solem from Klæbu. He was also a Haugian, but combined spiritual matters with his skills in farming, trade and business. They established a household at Søgaden in Trondheim, (Solemsgården, earlier Mustgården, Kjøpmannsgate 42). Here they held revivalist meetings, an activity that was against the law at the time. Several well-off families in Trondheim joined the movement, such as the Wullum, Grendahl and Bache families. This probably ensured that the movement had sufficient funds. Randi and Arnt probably also copied much of the bourgeois lifestyle, such as wearing fine clothes and practising the manners of that class. The main idea among adherents of the Haugianism movement was sobriety and temperance in all aspects of life, so for periods of time this was a source of conflict.
Solem owned several properties, such as Moholt vestre, where they built new houses in 1819. Here they also held revivalist meetings while operating the farm. Apart from short assignments in Gjæslingan and Værnes, they lived in Trondheim until 1825, when they moved to Aker near Oslo.
The years in central Norway led to some new approaches in life. Randi was the leading thinker of the two. She was called something of a pioneer among women, an independent, reflected and outspoken theorist, with good social skills and natural authority.
In part she navigated her way out of the layman movement, coming into direct personal dialogue with Grundtvig, the vicar and spiritual leader. The girl from agrarian Tiller had come a long way! Grundtvig's main work was to enlighten the masses and encourage a more open way of looking at life.
In 1850 the couple returned to Trondheim. Of their many children only their son Fredrik reached adulthood. He stayed with his parents for a long time, and was a trained farmer living in Stavne. In 1861 he fell into disgrace, having embezzled money. But that was two years after his mother had been laid to rest close to Havstein church.
Recommended reading: Trondhjemske samlinger [Collections from Trondheim] 1992. Article by Sverre Røvik.

Author: Einar Rædergård