This second installment of David Anderson’s Return To Sweden continues to explain his battle with becoming a hard core genealogist. He also talks about his 2nd trip to Sweden in 1995. If you missed the near real time trip updates, go to Trip Highlights . Editor.
I promised Mom that when I got a computer I would get a program and input all of the data that she had been recording on our ancestors both from Sweden and New England. I can still remember buying Family Tree Maker at Costco and installing it on the computer. And as they say: “That did it.” I was hooked: hook, line and sinker. There was no turning back and no cure.
I soon had the family group sheets in the computer and was building trees and charts and reports.
But, I needed more pieces of the puzzle to assemble. A co-workers husband introduced me to a Family History Library in Vancouver, Washington, and then the ordering of micro-filmed church records started and regular weekly trips to the library began. This was after all well before ancestry.com and arkivdigital were even in their infancy.
Phone calls home to my parents were made weekly when I found some new ancestral family on my grandfather’s branch. All of the research at the time turned out to be therapeutic since I realized that the feelings of pain over losing someone very close was not unique to me. All of my ancestors felt it too – I wasn’t the first, nor would I be the last. I can’t imagine the anguish experienced by my 3xgreat grandfather over losing a brother, then his mother, then his father, and finally another brother, all in the space of seven month period in 1773 at Höjen, Garpenberg. Wow. How horrible. In a way it was similar to my situation in the early 1990’s in losing of my partner, and hearing all too frequently the passing of others. But life goes on.
Letters were written to Sweden and plans were made to revisit my paternal homeland. We had more information on my grandfather’s roots around Grådö, Hedemora, and, we had old photos of people from my Grand Uncle’s collection that needed to be identified. Letters were written to genealogical groups in Jönköping län, and to several Pastor’s in the Hedemora area. And then the responses started coming back! Weimar Sjöstedt in Tranås sent a large envelope full of charts and all kinds of wonderful information telling me things about my grandmother’s line in the Linderås and Frinnaryd area and reporting that we had relatives who were interested in meeting us on our upcoming trip! How cool was that?!
In October 1995 my parents and I made our second trip to Sweden. This time I was ready to do some research at the regional archives in Vadstena. And on this trip we would meet up with Weimar Sjöstedt, genealogist and some of our relatives who were also descended from Lovisa Johansdotter (1819-1862).
We scheduled the trip such that we would be in Vadstena when the archives would be open in the evening. That way we could sightsee during the day and I would be able to do some research in the evening. There is nothing quite like sitting in a castle built in the 16th Century, with wall paintings from the 1600’s, and having not microfilm records brought out, but the original church records. Oh my, what a feeling of the weight of history looking at the original records. I was giddy as a school child, only to look over and see both parents snoozing. Turnabout!
When we got to Tranås we met up with our relatives who were as happy to meet relatives from America as we were to meet relatives from Sweden. They were descended from the soldier Anders Gabriel Stjerna who married Lovisa Johansdotter after the death of his first wife and two children. On February 8th, 1842 Lovisa, pregnant with her second child, lost her husband and brother Gustaf Adolf Fritzell. They died from drowning.
We were escorted around Linderås and Frinnaryd parishes being shown places where Lovisa lived. One of the places was the site where a soldier’s cottage that now stands in the city park in Jönköping once stood and where Lovisa and Anders Gabriel lived for a short time. On the second day of our stay in Tranås we travelled to Jönköping with others of Lovisa’s descendants to see the small cottage she once called home.