Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reading Swedish Records, Estate Inventory

Using Bouppteckning to find the parents of Inga Sunesdotter (1761-1803) in Asarum

David A Anderson

               Handwriting in Sweden from the early 1800s can be challenging to read.  One of the best ways to improve your skills in deciphering the words is to take known words, cut them out of the document with a snipping tool and save them in a folder with that word as the image name.  I started doing that with a Bouppteckning, or estate inventory, for a Johannes Nilsson who lived, at least most of his life, and died in Asarum, Blekinge. 
              In the first three Husförhörslängd for Asarum we find Bond. Johannes Nilsson and his wife Inga Sunesdotter living at No. 92, Per Nils Hoka, along with their four children: Thore, b 1793; Pehr, b 1795; Elizabeth, b 1798 and Carin, b 1800.[1]  We learn from those three sources that Johannes Nilsson is born 1772, 6 Junii and Inga Sunesdotter is born sometime in 1761.  The location(s) of their births is not given.  A search of the birth records for Asarum does not list a Johannes Nilsson on 6 June 1772.  There is a birth for an Inga in 1761 who could be the Inga we are looking for[2], but without knowing for sure that Inga was born in Asarum we can’t with 100% certainty say this is her birth record.
              From the records we learn that Inga dies 15 Sep 1803 at Per Nils Hoka[3] and Johannes dies there a year and two months later on 16 Nov 1804[4].  They leave their orphaned children behind.
              The Bouppteckningar (estate inventories) for Asarum are found in the Bräkne häradsrätt (district court) files and are accessible on Arkivdigital.   Inga’s Bouppteckning is found[5] as is Johannes’s.[6]  Although ultimately information found on Inga’s Bouppteckning would have lead me to the names of her parents, it is thru Johannes’ Bouppteckning that I started putting the clues together that allowed me to identify with certainty her parents.
              We know Johannes Nilsson

lived in Per Nils Hoka  and that he and Inga had four children (barn)  
whose names are: Thore ,

 Pehr ,

Elizabeth, or Lisbet  

  and Karin, or Karna .
From these examples we can see what various letters look like in the rest of the document and therefore begin to read it with a lot more confidence.  This is exciting stuff!  We read a bit further and find the word . 

That has to be barnans, or the children’s, and it is followed by:

!  Whoa! 

That’s moder broder, which is the mother’s brother, or uncle!  But wait, there is more, and it’s a name:   which is

followed by:  
which is telling us that the children’s uncle lives in some place that’s hard to read. 
We’ve seen the given name before, and it is Thore, but what’s the surname?  The first letter of the surname, and of the place he is from, is a bit strange and really doesn’t look like any letter we might be familiar with in 2014.  However, looking elsewhere in the preamble to Johannes’s Bouppteckning we find words that also have that letter as the beginning letter, and they are:  
and .[7] 

The first word is “?amt” while the second is “?lutat”. 
By now, for those of us who do not even speak much Swedish, but have looked at a lot of church records are thinking that the two words are ‘samt’, (also, or and) and ‘slutat’ (ended, end, the end), which makes that weird letter an ‘s’!  We then re-evaluate Thore’s surname and can now plainly see the name “Sonnasson”, and he is from some place that is: “Södra???rnö.” 

              One of the biggest benefits to using the newer photographic images of the Swedish church records on Arkiv Digital is the fact that many of the Husförhörslängd now have indexes or tables of contents that aren’t found in the older microfilmed records.  Turning to the “Ortregister”, or place name register, in the Husförhörslängd for 1799-1803, AI:2 (Arkivdigital, Image 4), we find the only one place with “Södra” and “rnö” in it, and that is Södra Sternö, found on pages 99-101.  Looking on page 99 we find house No. 62, Södra Sternö, and Bonden (farmer) Thore Sunasson, his wife, and three children.  Further down the page easily over looked is the name Gårdman (house man) Sune Thorsson who was born in 1730.[8]  This could be Thore’s father, and by default Inga’s as well.  Looking in Asarum AI:1, pg 75 we find Thore Sunesson, his family, and Sune Thorsson and his wife Elisabeth Mattsdotter who was born 1731.  A notation indicates that Elisabeth Mattsdotter has died in 1796.  Now we have a name of a possible mother for Inga and Thore!

              Looking in Asarum’s Husförhörslängd AI:3 on page 111 for House No. 62, Södra Sternö, we again find, as expected, Thore Sunesson’s family and again Sune Thorsson who was born in 1730.  A note indicates that Sune has died in 1804.
              Searching for specific people in Bouppteckningar takes a while since they aren’t indexed and not in strict chronological order.  Eventually the Bouppteckning for Sune Thorsson was found in the Bräkne Häradsrätt record.  [9] 
There are at least two children mentioned.  One is Thore Sunasson who lives in “Södra Sternnöö” and a daughter Inga who was married to Johannes Nelsson who lives in Pehr Nils Hoka.
              Going back to Asarum’s birth records for 1761, the year Inga was born we find birth number 24.  In the image you can see the place name “Sternö”, and by now you can also pick out two names that confirm that Sune Thorsson and Elisabeth Mattsdotter are the parents of the Inga Sunesdotter who married Johannes Nilsson:


[1] Asarum Hfl AI:1 (1794-1798), pg 107; AI:2 (1799-1803), pg 139; AI:3 (1803-1807), pg 168; all accessed via Arkvidigital,  20 Dec 2014.
[2] Asarum CI:2 (1745-1767), Fodde, pg 379, 1761, no 24, Inga; Arkivdigital, Image 195.
[3] Asarum CI:4 (1791-1813), Dödde, pg 797, 1803, no 69, Inga; Arkivdigital, Image 408.
[4] Asarum CI:4, pg 807, 1804, no 105, Johannes; Image 413.
[5] Bräkne-Häradsrätt FII:5 (1799-1805), beginning on pg 1373; Image 723.
[6] Bräkne-Häradsrätt FII:5, beginning on pg 1823; Image 959.
[7] Images are from Johannes Nilsson’s Bouppteckning found in: Bräkne häradsrätt FII:5 (1799-1805) Image 959 / page 1823 (AID: v156930.b959.s1823, NAD: SE/LLA/10008)
[8] Asarum AI:2 (1799-1803), pg 99, No. 62, Södra Sternö; Arkivdigital, image 105.
[9] Bräkne Häradsrätt FII:5 (1799-1805), pg 1455; Arkivdigital, Image 766.
[10] Last image from: Asarum CI:2 (1745-1767) Image 195 / page 379 (AID: v95383.b195.s379, NAD: SE/LLA/13008)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Santa Lucia 2014

Submitted by Donna Fowler

The annual celebration of Saint Lucia took place at Hutto Lutheran Church (Hutto, Texas) on Sunday, December 7th immediately following the regular worship service. The young lady representing St. Lucia was Kirstyn Lawson, a freshman at Hutto High School, and a very active member of Hutto Lutheran Church. Kirstyn wore the traditional white dress with a red sash and a crown of lights in her hair. She watched over the maidens and star boys as they served cookies, Swedish rolls, and tea to the members of the congregation.

Pictured are: Bradley Graham, Kirstyn Lawson, Matilda Rydell.
(Photo by Mike Fowler)

The celebration of St. Lucia Day, which is always on December 13th in Sweden is a day that the Swedish people remember a time of famine in their country, and how a Christian martyr brought food and drink in their time of need. The years of famine is what prompted so many immigrants from Sweden to settle in the Hutto area in the late 1800 and early 1900's. The black land was rich and fertile, and the Swedes recognized plentiful and good farmland when they saw it.

St. Lucia Day is also the beginning of the Christmas season in Sweden. In the early morning hours, it is customary that Swedish families awaken to have their own “Lucia” sing to them as she takes breakfast from room to room, waking her parents and grandparents. Lucia is typically the oldest girl in the family accompanied by her sisters and brothers.

The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hutto was founded in 1892 by Swedish immigrants. The services were conducted in Swedish until after World War Two. Many of the Swedes that settled in the Hutto area came from the Småland region of Sweden, one of which was Gustaf Hyltin, who helped to build the current Hutto Lutheran Church building in 1892. Several of his relatives came from out of town and attended worship and the celebration of St. Lucia on Sunday. They also brought their family Bible, a prized possession which is written in Swedish, for members of the congregation to view.

Contact: Donna Fowler, 512-736-2001,


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Swedish Log Cabin

Swedish Log Cabin Restoration Project Completed

Submitted by Barbara Gustafson Pate

 Re-Dedication Event Scheduled
When:          October 26, 2014, 2:30 PM
Where:         Zilker Park, Austin, Texas
Parking:        Strafford Lane

Swedish Log Cabin History

The Swedish Log Cabin was built by a Scotsman named J. J. Grumbles in the early part of 1838. The cabin’s design was copied after the cabins that were built by the Swedish colonist in Delaware in and around 1638 – the Swedish are credited with bringing the concept of the log homes to America.
In 1848, S. M. Swenson, the first Swedish settler to central Texas, purchased 400 acres surrounding the cabin. He named this area “Govalle” after a dialectal Swedish phrase roughly translatable as “good grazing.”. S. M. later increased his ranch to 1,100 acres which was along the Colorado River in Austin between what is today Hwy 183 and I35. S. M. lived in this cabin until his uncle, Gustaf, came to America. S. M.  built his mansion close to where Huston -Tillotson College is today but it was never finished.
In 1853, S. M. Swenson’s uncle, Gustaf Palm, and his family came to Austin and became the second Swedish family to live in the log cabin. When the Palm family arrived in Austin, they had five children and were later blessed with four more children – bringing the total to ten (11) people living in the cabin. Gustaf was a watchmaker by trade and an organist by passion. Gustaf brought his organ with him from Sweden.
When they came to Texas they rode the train from Galveston to Brenham and the organ was carried by ox and wagon from Brenham to Austin. The cabin was enjoyed by many Swedish settlers as they gathered around Gustaf’s Swedish organ to sing. The Gustaf Palm family lived in this cabin until after the Civil War when their new home was built at l4th and San Jacinto. The log cabin was moved intact to this location to be used as a wash house.

When the property at l4th & San Jacinto was sold, Louis Palm, a great nephew to Gustaf Palm, had the cabin disassembled numbering each log. Then he moved the logs to his farm in Palm Valley and the cabin was reassembled by Carl Thornquist a couple of months later at Nelson Park in Round Rock and this was in 1943.

When Nelson Park was sold in May, 1965, the Texas Swedish Pioneer Association, including Carl Widen as President of the Association, made arrangements with the City of Austin to move the cabin from Nelson Park to its present location in Zilker Gardens. The cabin was moved by E. L. Bradford and restoration was handled by general contractor R. J. Lockhart. (HISTORICAL NOTE:THERE IS A MISSING VIDEO OF THIS MOVE THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO LOCATE AND SECURE A COPY.)

The log cabin was awarded the official Medallion of the Texas State Historical Commission in June, 1966.
The interior of the Swedish Pioneer Cabin at Zilker Gardens contains many household articles of authentic pioneer origin. Original contents of the cabin were lost, but descendants have donated treasurers from pioneer days. Among the interesting contents of pioneer origin are…

·       A deluxe, illustrated Bible, once owned by the late Captain Anderson of Galveston.

·       A homemade reed organ (made by C J. Swahn and used as a trunk for clothing and household goods when he came to Texas in 1867 with the 100 other young people from Småland, Sweden.  The railroad from the coast terminated at Brenham, and the group walked the 100 miles to Austin in 4 days. The organ was transported by ox and wagon.

·       2 large paintings of King Oscar II and Queen Sofia Wilhelmina of Sweden (Popular rulers who reigned during the heaviest immigration period of the early 1870’s)

·       A copy of the painting showing King Gustaf II Adolf of Sweden at prayer before the Battle of Luetzen in Germany, 1653.
·       A framed picture of the Rev. T. N. Hasselquist, one of the founders and the President of the Augustana Snod.
·       A Grandfather clock, completely hand-carved and donated by the Swedish cabinet-maker, Gustaf Flodquist.
·       A spinning wheel from Barkeryd Parish, the ancesteral area for most Swedish immigrants to central Texas.  It was donated by a resident of the Parish, 80-year-old, Miss Anna Johansson, who inherited it from her mother.
·       A flax shredder, a gift from Alfred Karlsson who lives on the farm that belonged to Johann Swenson, brother to S. M. Swenson.
·       A Swedish Mora clock which disappeared from the cabin in l994.
 ·       The large fireplace, which served for both heating and cooking, is hung with huge and heavy iron pots, an iron dutch oven, tea kettle and skillet.
·       2 wooden flax carders (used to split flax before weaving (one of these is from Johan of Långåsa in Sweden ( S. M. Swenson’s brother).
·       Other kitchen utensils include authentic wooden bowls, a butter mold, a meat grinder, a rolling pin, candle holders and a copper milk can.
·       A frontier bench with a carding stand attached so the women could sit down and card the wool or cotton.
·       A wooden carder from an old home in Sweden, which was a gift from Barkhold Good when he came to Texas in 1867 with the 100 young people from Småland, Sweden.
·       There was an old Swedish Mora clock in the cabin that disappeared in 1994 and we were told that one of the garden employees had taken it to be repaired and it never was returned. This was the most valuable piece in the cabin and we sure like to have it back.

 Note:  Not all the items are still in the cabin as over the years the varmints getting into the cabin at the park have destroyed some of the items.

Barbara Gustafson Pate

See Swedish Log Cabin for more information and photos.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Growing Your Family Trees

Eight Ways To Grow our SweAme Family Trees
Submitted by:  Jeanne Rollberg

The web provides us with so many options that it is easy to forget aspects of it that will help our family trees grow and blossom.

In addition to already existing databases like SweAme, FamilySearch,  Ancestry, and Arkivdigital, we should not forget:

1) That once we have done our genealogical research, we have a great chance of finding living family members (and their entire family’s pictures and relationships sometimes) on Facebook. To narrow down a list of “Jane Smiths” to ours, we can use place designations. It’s the “Jane Smith” who lives in Jacksonville. We can then message that Jane Smith to see if we have found the right one, and proceed with process of elimination.  Search obituaries for living family members, in particular, for use with Facebook.  Sites such as Genealogybank (paid) provide several extensive obituary listings. (Conversely, this also reminds us to re-check our own Facebook pages regarding privacy issues and our own family members and settings.)

2) Anecdotally, it is said that women tend to use Facebook more, and men tend to use LinkedIn more. Again, once our research has discovered who the living family members might be, we can often find them at LinkedIn. Use a city or other known information such as occupation to narrow down the persons with correct names. Contact them. Many people are very receptive to such contact and can put you in touch with other family members.

3) When searching for a relative, be sure to include the “Images” search tool at the top of the web page after putting in a name. If you can find an image of your person on a linked site, that gets you one step closer to locating the person. Photos from genealogy sites (and professional web sites) often appear once the Images search tool is used.

4) If you know where a person lives, try searching with a name in quotation marks and parenthesized area code for any people whom you anticipate still have landline phones. Ex: “James Norton” and (904) will often bring up White Pages listings very quickly.

5) More and more newspaper archives in varying languages are being published online. Put in your person’s name and a country as a search string and see if it automatically brings up articles or other information.  Use Google Translate for translation, if necessary, even though it may only provide an approximation.

6) Don’t forget Facebook “groups” that relate to your Swedish research. Facebook has “Swedish-American Genealogy Group” that includes more than 1,300 researchers from Sweden and America, and who often live in the exact locations you are researching.

 This local knowledge can often be a wonderful help!  Others to consider:  “Swedish Heart Genealogy,” “Technology for Genealogy,”  “Your Genealogy Brick Walls,” etc. (The message boards, too, organized by location, are very helpful in seeking particularized info in a locality.)

7) Use the genealogy apps on tablets to populate your tree. This is often easier than actually doing it via desktop or laptop, depending on what you are doing. Example: If you receive a photo of a relative in an e-mail, on iPad, you can save that photo, edit it right there, and then upload it to your genealogy tree app such as those available at  Likewise, when Hints come up, they can be viewed and the information may be saved less cumbersomely than by using a desktop or laptop computer.  For some types of information, though, it is better and clearer to use the desktop or laptop if the tablet display is too small to include what you want.

8) Sign up for as a Twitter follower for appropriate Swedish/Scandinavian-related information. The Tweets you receive can sometimes give you ideas/contacts about genealogy in various places and keep you updated on what is happening in various cities (especially in areas like Boston, New York, and L.A. that have Swedish American Chambers of Commerce), generally speaking.   In a short period of time, you can discover if you need to drop any of these entities that are not providing information you find useful.  Sweden & America” magazine, published in Swedish and English, is another highly useful tool in this area.  The Swedish American Genealogist is a major journal in the genealogy field.  It is published quarterly by the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center in Rock Island, Illinois.

Jeannie Rollberg



Monday, July 7, 2014

Lilly Anderson Setterdahl

Swedish-American Author Lilly Setterdahl’s Newest Book about Immigrants

Submitted by:  Jeanne Rollberg

While there’s robust discussion in 2014 about the changed nature of the American Dream, Swedish-born author Lilly Setterdahl’s new book, True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland Ohio 1873-2013, mostly encompasses an earlier era when The Dream was still very real and achievable for many Swedes. The Setterdahl family lived in Cleveland for about 11 years.

This is the author’s 17th book about Swedish history and people.  Published by the Nobel Monitor Lodge No. 30 in Cleveland, the book traces Swedes who came directly from Sweden or from other states, such as Massachusetts, to Cleveland. The book contains oral histories about many of the individual Swedes’ journeys and about how they educated themselves to embrace, fit into, and enhance a new culture in Ohio.
 Lilly Anderson Setterdahl

          Mrs. Setterdahl grew up in Frändefors, Älvsborg län, Sweden and is a naturalized American who has written both non-fiction and fiction books about Swedes as well as many research articles. She has written non-fiction books about Swedes on the Titanic such as Not My Time to Die: Titanic and the Swedes On Board (2012) as well as novels about the topic, such as Maiden of the Titanic (2007) and Hero of the Titanic (2011). 

She often writes about the Midwest in books like Chicago Swedes: They Spoke From the Heart (2010). It was recently reviewed by Lars Jenner in Swedish American Historical Quarterly. Lilly is currently working on a revised edition of her out-of-print Minnesota Swedes: The Emigration from Trolle Ljungby to Goodhue County, published in 1996.  

          In an interview in 2012 with the Midwest Writing Center in Davenport, Iowa, Lilly Setterdahl shared observations for future generations of aspiring writers: “Find a subject that will attract readers. Take classes and attend workshops. Be prepared to work long hours. Don’t forget what you have already written before proceeding. Keep notes or copies of your research.”
Lennart Setterdahl, the author’s now-deceased husband who was originally also from Frändefors, likewise preserved Swedish history and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Gothenburg for this documentation of Swedish immigrants in North America. The two worked together on many projects. Author Setterdahl has recreated a website dedicated to preserving her husband’s memory.  Lennart's webpage.

          Meanwhile, Mrs. Setterdahl has her own blog site here: Lilly's Blog and her books may be found on and other sites.

 True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland, Ohio, 1873-2013, can be ordered by sending an email to:    or   phone: 216-371-5141


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Welcome To Sweden

Submitted by SweAme Board Member Jeanne Rollberg:

Could Poehlers’ “Welcome to Sweden” Television Series Remind Massachusetts of Some of Its Forgotten Swedish History?

When Burlington, MA former resident Greg Poehler’s series “Welcome to Sweden” premiered in Sweden in March, it was so popular that it was picked up for a second season.  Welcome to Sweden Trailer

The premise is that New Yorker Bruce Evans (Poehler) moves from New York to Sweden to follow his Swedish girlfriend and to make a new start, doing something meaningful with his life.  Greg’s super-talented Poehler sis, Burlington’s Amy Poehler, portrays herself on the program that humorously explores the culture shocks and adjustments that modern immigration itself involves.

We Americans will be able to see the show stateside beginning Thursday (9/8c), July 10th on NBC. “It’s time the world laughed with Sweden,” Greg told Sweden’s The Local. "I'm hesitant to say I want the world to laugh at Sweden... Sweden is coming out pretty well in this."

What wonderful timing for Poehler to explore these Swedish issues when a historic Swedish farmhouse in his hometown of Burlington sits endangered at 26 Prouty Road. It is a little more than three miles away from the Poehler family residence where Greg and Amy grew up. 


Johnson home photo by John Goff
The house and then 35 acre farm were owned for about 50 years by a Swedish family that welcomed everyone to “Johnson’s Grove” for weekend outings, immigrant and political gatherings, and religious activities. These fostered a historic kind of community from 1911 to 1959 that helped Swedes, Italians, and Irish find “welcome” in America. Simon and Olga Johnson and their families built their American Dream there by the sweat of their brows and the work of their hands and backs such as most of us avoid today.

As Salem historic preservation architect John Goff noted, when he presented a report to the Burlington Historical Commission last October, the house, circa 1850s, has key architectural features. In addition to being owned by the Johnsons at a time when Massachusetts had the fourth highest concentration of Swedes in the country, it also was owned by town father Augustus Prouty of the Burlington Public Library. The land itself went back to the time of Revolutionary soldier Giles Alexander.  That land and the home have important and recently discovered stories to tell, and those stories should be preserved. However, a demolition delay order for the wonderfully historic old property ended in April.

It is good that Poehler is highlighting Sweden’s special characteristics, its healthy way of life, its less materialistic values, and its sheer beauty as he builds successful television programming. Maybe the Town Meeting and Board of Selectmen could find a public-private partnership that would enable the property to be preserved and made into a multi-history farmhouse museum or some other entity that would valorize Burlington’s past.

Amy Poehler is well known for her program, “Parks and Recreation.” And interestingly, one of the current MA farmhouse owners was Peggy Hannon-Rizza. Sadly, she died in February just after Billerica named the Peggy Hannon-Rizza Recreation Complex after her because of her outstanding service to the local community.

In “Welcome to Sweden’s” day, it is possible for immigrants to grasp with some detail the land to which they are going, and to learn with great detail what to expect.  But when Simon Johnson arrived in Boston in 1903 with $25 in his pocket and stayed to earn his Burlington American Dream, the risks were much greater.

His grandchildren said that when he sold the farmhouse in the late 1950s, he stipulated that it must not be torn down. Simon’s farm played a large and important part in Burlington history for at least five decades. He would like it if the old farmhouse he loved, that now sits abandoned, bereft of its former life of smorgasbords and Swedish music, could be given new vibrancy and life.

If in some strange way the Poehlers’ delightful show about Sweden could heighten their home community’s appreciation of the immigrant history that sits in its midst, that gift would be extraordinary for Burlington and for its children’s heritage. One episode costs more to create than immigrant Simon Johnson made in an entire lifetime of work. As Independence Day nears, let us embrace the values that honor the long-term American Dream affluence that, after all, makes the television show – and well, Massachusetts and America - possible.

What can you, as a person of Swedish interest or heritage, do to help garner support for keeping the farmhouse? You can “Like” the Facebook web page that chronicles the Johnson Family’s contributions: Like This Facebook Page

NOTE: See SweAme’s website information on this Swedish emigrant family: Simon Johnson.

SweAme has co-produced a program in Massachusetts in January about the historic preservation of the farmhouse in which the Johnson family genealogical information was presented.