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


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