Word Nerd: Knutsen

Knutsen Insurance

Knutsen [kə•nüt•sən]

1. Knutsen Insurance: a local, independent insurance agency with offices in both Astoria and Gearhart. Founded in 1919 by Martin Knutsen, Knutsen Insurance has been doing business on the North Coast for more than 90 years and employs about a dozen agents in each of their offices focusing on both personal and commercial insurance through a variety of large insurance carriers.

2. Knutsen Stringed Instruments: brand of Chris J. Knutsen, a Norwegian emigrant who first settled in Port Townsend, Wash., and made unique stringed instruments around the turn of the 20th century, including harp guitars, Hawaiian guitars and mandolins. One of his harp guitars is on display in the music room of the Flavel House in downtown Astoria.

Knutsen is one of many variations of the Scandinavian surname also spelled as Knutson, Knudson, Knudsen, etc. It follows the Scandinavian tradition of patronymic surnames and is derived from the personal name “Knud” and literally mean’s “Knud’s son,” and would refer to a parent or ancestor. While the name is found all over Scandinavia, it is most common in Norway.

“Ross Knutsen of Knutsen Insurance completed a 30-week course, adding to his skills in general and in commercial insurance specifically.

Knutsen finished Liberty Mutual’s comprehensive Accredited Adviser in Insurance course in August. He handles personal insurance and completed the course to help make the transition to commercial insurance.”

—​“Ross Knutsen adds to insurance credentials,” Coast River Business Journal, Jan. 7, 2015, www.dailyastorian.com

“It is also a fact that Chris changed his name from Johan Christian Cammon to Chris J. Knutsen in 1888 … Though Chris dropped Cammon as his surname, his choice of Knutsen, his paternal grandfather’s patronymic, was still a family name …

At the time Chris chose to change his name, he was now newly married to his cousin, Anna Cammen, his uncle Anton’s daughter. For the next twelve years they lived either with or in close proximity to her parents. Maybe it was just too complicated to explain that he was a nephew as well as a son-in-law, and simpler to take a new last name to avoid questions about how everyone could be called Cammen and not be incestuous.”

—​Jean Cammon Findlay, “What’s in a Name?,” The Knutsen Archives, http://www.harpguitars.net/knutsen/what’sinaname.htm

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