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, dmfowler74@hotmail.com


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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com.  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 Amazon.com and other sites.

 True Immigrant Stories: The Swedes of Cleveland, Ohio, 1873-2013, can be ordered by sending an email to:
rolf.bergman.sbcglobal.net    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.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 20

This 20th installment update submitted by David Anderson documents the completion of his trip and his primary reason for this adventure.  Thank you David for taking us along. 

If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor

25 June, 2014, Wednesday

Mark Twain once wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” 

I think that Twain’s view of travel in this case is travel for recreational purposes, not one of necessity.  It is not the form of travel undertaken by my ancestors when they left Sweden and came over to a foreign country in which to make a new home.  It could have been hunger and the promise of having land on which to grow food that prompted my grandfather to leave.  It could have been escaping having to continue military service that drove my great-grandfather to leave Sweden.  We don’t totally know.  But travel they did. 

Curiosity is a motivating factor in my travels and it has taken me to far corners, (if there can be corners on a sphere), of the earth.  Curiosity on who my ancestors were is what drove me to start trying to find out who they were, where they lived, how they lived, and what they did.  Curiosity of who the people were in the photos that my Great Uncle Eric had from Sweden has brought some people in to my life who I can call friends.  Curiosity about my Great great Grandparents from a place (incorrectly) spelled “Gonsapengen” led us to relatives who are friends.

On the first trip to Sweden in 1985 we didn’t know our relatives.  We largely relied on tourist brochures to determine what places were of interest to visit.  Several years after that first trip the genealogy bug became a fully fledged bug that fed on my curiosity to find out more.  Local genealogists and historians gave of their time to answer questions and find our unknown relatives.  It was curiosity about my ancestors that led to us to meet people who are our relatives, and ‘almost relatives’.  And it is through all of those people that two Americans who are half Swedish were able to see and do some amazing things on an all too short trip out of our “one little corner of the earth.”  We were allowed to do some amazing things that few regular tourists ever get to do on a trip because our friends and relatives thought we might find something they take for granted of interest, or they thought we might be interested in seeing some place they knew of that ‘isn’t on the map.’  All I can say is Tusen Tack, and that doesn’t fully express the appreciation we feel towards those who opened themselves and their homes for us.

Sweden is more than a country of picturesque scenery of fir and birch forests and fields full of cute little red houses and red barns, it is a country, like all other countries, that is full of people who are after all just like us.  If we find out that people are just like us how can we be full of “prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”?

I hope I never run out of curiosity.

Most all of the photos from the trip have now been added to flickr.  Some are being edited and captions will eventually be put on many.  In the meantime though you can see what has been posted on flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/ujelang/ .

David Anderson

Monday, June 23, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 19

This 19th installment update submitted by David Anderson connects the dots from previous trips to Sweden to this 2014 visit.  It highlights some very emotional moments for David, as he is beginning to prepare for the trip back to Portland.  This is a must read.

If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor

June 22 2014,  Sunday            

On our 2nd trip to Sweden in 1995 my parents and I knew a lot more about our Swedish heritage than we had on our first trip in 1985.  I had located relatives in Småland, the Lingmerths and Beckers, and we had a great time getting to know relatives on my grandmother’s side of the family.  And, I had been able to locate one relative in Hedemora who was still living and was very excited to meet us and show us around.

During our visit to Hedemora I went to the offices of the Dala-Demokraten newspaper with copies of old portrait photos of people from Hedemora.  I figured it would be a long shot to have them publish some of the photos in the paper, and who knows, but maybe someone would recognize someone from photos from about the 1890’s.  Luck happens, and it was worth a shot.

The Dala-Demokraten was more than willing to publish four photos with a story on “David Söker Sina Rötter.”  We finished up our trip and returned home.  We had a great time and that was that, until about a week after I got home I opened my mail box and there was a large envelope from Sweden. 

I opened the envelope and there was a letter and a copy of the newspaper clipping from the Dala-Demokraten, with handwritten notes for each of the four photos.  I about dropped over backwards.

Anna Mattsson began her letter “Dear Friends”, and proceeding to tell us how she had been raised by her Grandmother, Pelles Anna and because of that she knew the history of Grådö, where my Grandfather was born.  The photos included two of her Grandmother, a fiancé of her Grandmother (they didn’t get married), and a gal who was believed to have been a fiancé of her Grandmother’s former fiancé.  WOW, was I giddy!

Anna and I corresponded, and three years later in October 1998 my parents and I made our third trip to Sweden.  This was also my parent’s 50th Anniversary!  We travelled to Småland, where we again met our Lingmerth relatives, before heading north to Dalarna and our meeting with Anna Mattsson and her husband Ivan.

In 1888, at the age of 20 my Grandfather Fred Anderson emigrated to Kansas.  A year later his older brother Anders Erik follows and in 1892 their parents and surviving two brothers also move to Kansas.  Our family lore says that Uncle Eric had wanted a girl by the name of “Pelles Anna” to move over and they would get married.  Anna, didn’t move over to America and Uncle Eric never married.  And that’s about what we knew. 

Anna Mattsson’s letter told us what we had known and then some.  She knew where the house my grandfather was born in had been located, AND, she located the farm that we had a photo of that had been taken sometime around 1890-1900.  That photo had been taken at Källviken, Hedemora and we now think most likely included my great grandmother, Anna Ersdotter Klingström’s brother Anders Johan Klingström!


1998 photo 

We met up with Anna in Avesta and she guided us to Knallasbenning (Grytnäs) where my great grandmother Anna Klingström was born before taking us to Källviken (Hedemora).  At Källviken I had to get out in the same field and get photos of my parents, Anna and Ivan and our translators Tomas and Jane Åhmark-Vikman.  It was a goose bump feeling to stand close to where another photographer had stood about 100 years previously to take a photograph that is currently in my possession.

After Källviken we travelled over to Grådö where Anna guides us to the location of the house Svens, where my Grandfather was born in 1868.   There she present me with a plain brown envelope and said, here, these belong to you.  I don’t know how these came to be with my family, but they belong to you. 

Inside were original documents from the late 1800’s when my great grandfather bought the house Jonas Erkers and two copies of documents where he borrowed money from his brother-in-law Anders Johan Klingström before they emigrated to the U.S.  Talk about goose bumps!  It was more than goose bumps, it was a direct connection to the past, and to get it where my ancestors, worked and lived, was a strange feeling indeed.

At the homesite where my Grandfather was born Anna explained that the house, like many others, had been torn down during WWII, and the wood was sent to Stockholm to heat homes during the war.  However, while we were there a small rose bush was found and Anna told us that that rose had grown below a window in the house, named Svens.  Everyone agreed that we should have a start from the rose, and I explained that I couldn’t take it home with me since it would most likely be seized by Customs.

Jane Åhmark, Mom, Anna Mattsson, Dad, Tomas Vikman (Janes husband) and
Ivan Mattsson (Annas husband).

A start of the rose from Svens did eventually make it to Portland and it now grows in my yard

On June 22, 2014, my last full day in Dalarna, and after half a day driving around sightseeing in northern Västmanland and southern Dalarna Tomas, Jane and myself return to Grådö to try and find the location for Svens.  We take one road then another before finally driving up a road and there it was. 

The current owner’s wife is curious to know why three people in a car are in her yard, but she confirms that we are in the right spot and is more than willing to guide us to the homesite! 

Me at the house site of Svens.  My grandfathers birth Place.

We get up there, it is a scenic spot overlooking the valley and in the distance the steeple of the church in Hedemora.  Not much had changed at the spot, but the rose that once grew here was no longer to be seen. 

After spending some quiet reflection time at the site I return to talk for a bit with the current land owners.  The sun is getting low on the horizon at 7 pm and it’s long rays cast shadows over the small rise where Svens used to be.  In my mind’s eye I can see a small cottage and people in the doorway. 

View down the lane leading away from Svens.

Down the lane a horse drawn carriage leaves, taking first a son, and then another, before the four surviving members of my ancestors leave Grådö for a new home far far away.  My Uncle Eric returned once, maybe to try and persuade Pelles Anna to move to America with him, but he returned to America by himself.  He wrote Pelles Anna many times and wrote to her granddaughter Anna who remembers receiving a quarter from Uncle Eric.  Mom gives Anna a dollar to commemorate the reunification of two families who are almost relatives.

Dad (George Anderson), Anna Mattsson  and 
Mom (Dorothy Anderson) giving Anna a $1.

Dad and Mom are gone now, as are Anna and Ivan.  My grandparents I never met.  Even though I have no idea of what winters are like in Sweden I think I know my ancestors from Dalarna a bit better after this trip to Sweden.

David Anderson


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 18

This 18th installment update submitted by David Anderson documents the 2014 Midsummer celebration in Grytnäs, Sweden.
If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor

20 June, Friday

It is Mid-Summers day, when all of Sweden has the day off to celebrate the sun’s northern most reach in to the northern hemisphere.  This is an event that goes back to the dawn of human awareness that the seasons change.  There is a time of light, a time for dark; a time for growth, a time for harvest; a time for work, a time for rest; a time to celebrate life.

Throughout the country from cities to the smallest villages people celebrate the longest day of light.  In six months, in the darkest days of winter, the promise of longer days of light will be celebrated when select girls wear candles in their hair.  These are celebrations that mark the changing of the seasons.  Mid-summers is a joyous celebration of life. 

We went to Grytnäs parish’s Hembygsgård to watch the festivities.  Cars lined the narrow country roads as they were throughout the country.   Hembygsgården, for those who don’t know are local open air museums that preserve historically important buildings.  Several of the buildings were open, including a great example of a farm house, where a few books of local interest were being sold.  I had to obtain a ‘new’ book for my library at home, a book published in 1953 titled “Grytnäs Socken”.   It will take me awhile to use a letter opener to finish the job the printer didn’t do since the book wasn’t trimmed after binding.


Here's a link to part of the Midsummers video:

After watching the maypole going up, traditional dancing, and everyone dancing around the maypole we went home to gather with friends, eat a fine meal that included locally produced ham, smoked bacon, and freshly made pickled herring, and just a little drinking of beer and locally made vodka (otherwise known as moonshine in the U.S.). 


The party had an international flavor with people from Israel, Great Britain and the U.S.  Sweden in some respects is also a nation of recent immigrants.   A great time was had by all on the evening of the longest day of the year in Sweden.  It was a special time to celebrate Mid-Summers in the home of my ancestors.
David Anderson

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 17

This 17th installment update submitted by David Anderson documents an interesting reason for the need of a visit to the little village of Husby.
If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor
June 18, 2014, Friday

I had several goals in mind today when I set out by myself to explore my ancestral home area.  Husby, was at the top of the list.  Husby is a small sleepy village on the banks on the wide Dalälven river not too far from Hedemora, It is no longer on the main road from Hedemora to Borlänge.  One of my ancestral families lived here for a brief 4 year period from 1779 to 1783 before he ultimately moved south to Hedemora.  None of my direct ancestors were born here, but an aunt was.  So, why was Husby so important to visit? 

I have been collecting information on Swedes in Oregon to the SweAme website for a while now.  A year or so ago, I was going thru prisoner records from the Oregon State Penitentiary looking for people who claim to be born in Sweden, extracting data for those and copying their booking photos if there are any left in the files. I call this select group of gentlemen, my “penpals”. 

One person I came across was from Portland, was prisoner 8289, one Anders Albert Ausplund, a Physician, who had been sent to the Pen for murder.  That caught my attention. 

What is a good Doctor doing getting charged with murder?  That sent me on a tangent, that still continues, to find out more.  Long story, short, the Doctor seems to have been a real Dr. Jekyll, Mr Hyde personality.  He did a lot of good helping people, but he also had a very dark side.  He had been sent to the Pen on charges of murder of a girl, who it turned out was engaged to be married and was pregnant. She died on Dr. Ausplund’s operating table from complications from an abortion.  After Dr. Ausplund had finished his sentence he was to be returned to Sweden. 

The girl’s fiancé came forward and said that no, the Doctor wasn’t the one who performed the abortion, it was a self- induced abortion gone bad.  That his fiancé didn’t want to be pregnant when they were married, and she had taken steps to terminate the pregnancy.  Things had gone badly and she went to the Doctor to try and get things patched up. 

Oregon’s governor at the time came to the rescue of the good Doctor, and issued a pardon and all things were bright and sunny again.  But, wait, not so fast.  Mr Hyde was always there lurking and waiting and popping up at all the wrong times.  There were marriages and divorces, even a duel with another Doctor over perceived insults.  There was even the death of his son who was saving a niece from drowning in the Columbia River.  There was the death of a younger brother who was also studying to be a dentist in Colorado, and a run-in with a neighbor in Hood River.

This is the material tragic Operas are written about.  And, if I could write one in Swedish I would be doing it. 

And on the farm Aspåker, in the parish of Husby, on the banks of the wide Dalälven is where it all began for Anders Albert Ausplund on 29 December 1866.
Read more about  Dr. Ausplund here.
David Anderson