Saturday, April 13, 2013

Well its been too long since I have written here and a lot has happened.  Last September I traveled to the Homeland with my Aunt and cousin.  The experience was amazing, but one should always be cautioned when traveling with non-genealogists, they will cramp your style a bit.

Those of you with spouses who do not do genealogy certainly feel this pain. To have to drive past
an archive, or a cemetery or a church where you ancestors walked, is difficult for me.  To tour the castle in the same building as the regional Archives at Vadstena was more than difficult.  To have been able to enter those doors for just a few hours, and hold the probate records of my Wetterström ancestors.  I have vowed to return to Sweden either alone or with another genealogist friend who has relatives in the same area.

 The trip was not a complete a genealogical wasteland though. I did arrange a tour of the iron smelting plant where my great grandfather Enoch Mattson worked as a young man.  We were able to see the living quarters that he would have used and how manual the work would have been.  The Österbyburk forge is open for tours along with the manor house and a workers apartment.  Time stood still as we wandered the halls. Our guide was wonderful older man who helped me understand the life Enoch choose to leave.  Work at the forge was hard and difficult.  The rooms are still black with the furnace's soot.  They made a high grade iron some of the purest in the world at this forge. Following our trip through the forge and manner we drove to the town of Östhammar where I had made arrangements with the local historical group to tour the churches of Film, Börstil and Östhammer.  Jön was to be our guide, he spoke both Swedish and English and he had a surprise in store for me. When Jön opened the door to the tourist bureau, he introduced me to my great grandfather Enoch's great nephews: Yngve and Torsten. 

In addition to meeting Yngve and Torsten, we met up with a fellow genealogist, Lotta that shares this family line.  We had a lovely afternoon touring the house where Enock and Yngve and Torstens grandmothers lived as children. Yngve took us to the grave of his parents, and Torsten showed us where his mother was buried and his grandparents Sarah and Matts Forsberg were buried, but there was no stone to mark the grave.  It was an amazing day. It is why we do genealogy isn't it?  To feel part of a bigger family that is ourselves.  To belong to a community beyond what we know, in someways makes me feel attached to the place where your ancestors came from.

A thought to leave with, genealogist should always share. We do not own the facts and when you share the information or the knowlege you have worked so hard to obtain, then the knowledge grows and it has life.  If we keep the information and the knowledge to ourself and we never share it, it will wither and die like an unloved plant.  Knowledge and information shouldn't have an expiration date.  And in my experience when you share what you know other's will share and it will expand what you know even further.

Happy Ancestor hunting.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Well, I am back again!

Seems I have a hard to to keep track of where my blog spot is. So sorry I have been neglectful.

Recently I have returned from the Swedish American Genealogist Conference held annually in Salt Lake City, which this year coincided with the SwedGen tour. A great week and I was able to break through some brick walls.

For the past 3 or 4 years I have been trying to move back in time, trying to find the parents of Lena Stina Gråberg born in Stenninge in 1739. I really felt I had hit a dead end. I couldn't locate Stenninge and the parish rolls didn't go back far enough to put Lena Stina with her parents.

Well, I signed up for a private consultation with the SwedGen group and a great stradegy came out of it. First with went to DIS.SE and used the Gråberg surname in Östergotland (the county that Lena was living in with her husband) and got two hits, but no Lena Stina. But we did get a hit for a Daniel who was a few years younger than Stina; and we got a hit for Anders father to Daniel. It was a thread a possible lead. The researcher had found a death for Daniel, but didn't state a death for Anders, but did state that the family was from Skänninge parish. I then found out the Stenninge and Skänninge were the same place.

First I looked up Daniel's birth, he was found with ease. Then I checked the 1739 records for Lena Stina (possibles included Helena Kristina, and all its derivatives), no luck her birth wasn't there. So Olof, from SwedGen, recommended that we check the probates before tackling the tax records. There he was Anders Gråberg died at age 40 on 26 Feb 1747 in Skänninge parish, he left his widow Helena Hallin, his son age 5 Daniel; his daughter age 8 Helena Christina. Now I had my Lena Stina, she was left without a father in 1747. No birth record though, the Skänninge parish records are fragmented that year and difficult to follow, but I am sure this is my Lena, and now I had her mother's maiden name.

So I was off and running. The techinque of using to get the possibilities helped alot so I tried it again looking for Hallin's from the same parish and NOTHING. So where to start, well I went to the Bouppteckningars, the probates. I did find a Daniel who died in 1752, so I thought I would look and see who his heirs were. And indeed he left a wife, a son Daniel; 3 daughters: Helena now the wife of master painter Hans Zelleroth; Elizabeth wife of Johan Myrtenberg; Anna Christina the widow of Nils Myrtenberg. By review each of the probates for the sisters: Elizabeth, Anna Christina, and Daniels, I was able to piece together a family structure.

I have come to believe that with time and patience everyone of my ancestors will be found.

After much persistantance, I have determined that I might just have found a few more relatives in the US, but I will save for another day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Beauty of Swedish Maps Online

Hello all,

Well I am back on track I think. And today I want to talk about the Swedish Mapsites that are available online.

First there is This is the official office for land surveys in Sweden. And you can short cut getting to the site by typing and it will bring up the site in just a few short key strokes. I like this site it offers a wide array of maps from all over Sweden. I go to the Historic maps link on the right column of the home page. I wouldn't bother with the standard search unless you know all the current legal names for the location you are looking for. If you go to advanced search, you select the archive you want the map from. There are useful maps under each catagory. The survey map group gives great maps about the land divisions and the changes in the land boundries. The Harad Economic maps are great for the time frame of 1850 to 1900. The maps are highly detailed and show relationships between communities. they are detailed enough that buildings are notated on the maps. Maps can be download. They will come as an electronic file 150 Kronor for each map regardless of the number of pages. But they come in a file format read by DjVu. So they need to be converted. I converted to a PDF file, then to a JPG and finally to a TIFF file. Above is a land survey map of Råby in the parish of Lysvik. It not only gives great detail about the division of land, but also gives a listing of the land holders and the acerage that they held. I find this website to be very useful. It can get extremely expensive if you are planning on downloading every community that your relatives lived in.

The next website is This website is from the University of Stockholm. Kartrumnet is the site name. When you get to the home page, I go directly to the map cabinet. Select the county you want to work in, the län, then the Harad. You will need to know the court district known as a Harad in Sweden. These are very easy to find in the Cradled in Sweden, by Carl Erik Johansson. Once you locate the Harad you will select the map, some regions are divided by north and south, east and west. These maps are wonderful for locating communities within the county regions. They give excellent detail even notating the location of houses, churches, bodies of water. And the best part is they can be downloaded for free. Not every county has a map in the Map Cabinet, but many are there and if you are a lucky on these are wonderful additions to your genealogy collection for Sweden. They can be downloaded in TIFF files, which are huge. My Photoshop Elements could not open because the files were too large. JPG downloads are also available and much more managable.
Well that is all for today. Happy hunting for your Swedish Ancestors.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Return from Salt Lake City

Well I have just returned this evening from the genealogy Mecca, Salt Lake City. I spent 6 great days working at the LDS Family History Library. I was one of the attendees of the Swedish American Genealogist Conference which is held each year for the benefit of the subscribers to The Swedish American Genealogist.

Here is a word to the wise. First the minute you return from a fabulous research trip transfer all your finds from your flash drive to a hard drive and then to a permanent CD/DVD. I found out the hard way. 1 week of work lost because my flash drive died without warning. I will be able to find most of the information without too much trouble because I do have a copy of my scratchy notes and my excel file with the index pages on it. Second take 10 minutes everyday to find one thing on your family, it keeps you grounded.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Spreading Swedish Genealogy

This past Sunday I spent the afternoon working with 4 Swedes, all looking for their ancestors. I got a great thrill out of helping each of them find a bit of their past. We had some success and some failure. It is like being on a great adventure or scavenger hunt to a place I have never been before.
Some people ask why I get so excited when someone else makes a discovery that I have helped them with, and I have to say, its the thrill I feel when we are all brought a little closer together. The ships lists were again the object of our quest.
I thought maybe someone might benifit by using the process that we followed to find our ships lists.
1. Established the year of emigration from the US 1900 or 1910 Census.
2. Checked Emibas for the emigration for that person with the year of birth and
year of emigration.
3. Checked the Swedish Parish records indicated on Emibas to confirm the
or family of the individual we were seeking.
4. Used Ancestry to search the US passenger lists. First by only searching for
the name of the person, then narrowing it by year of immigration, and then
by year of birth. We had problems with the ancestry search if the orginal
search was very restrictive. We got few or no results.
5. If our individual was not found, we searched Emihamm for the Larson Brother's
Gothenborg records.
6. We then used to search the individual port records for NY,
Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. (We found all our emigrants in these
ports but others are available).
7. Once we had the orginal record we went back to and created a PDF
from the image in 11 x 17 format.

Some records were easier than others. One only took 3 of the steps, another took all and a bit more to find him. But in the end a bit of creative interpetation of handwriting and spellings and we had all the immigrants. We also went to to look at the images of ships.
I hope this helps someone in their quest for finding their Swedish passenger lists.

Happy Heritage Hunting

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trip to Ellis Island

Well as I told you in last week's posting, I was on a mad dash to get all my ships lists for all my Swedish immigrant ancestors. I have been looking for this group of people for so long, I guess I needed a bit of inspiration to collect all the tidbits into a logical format and to fill the gaps where I needed to. And as a bit of persuasion, I decided that the Drott Lodge trip to Ellis Island was the perfect time complete the search. And I was successful after strong perserverance.

Our lodge visited Ellis Island on Saturday and had an amazing guided tour. Being able to walk the halls where Johan and Maria Tossman walked, and to feel the fear of being rejected as they entered the country. The noise and confusion had to be overwhelming.

Above it the ship the SS St. Paul, and she arrived on 16th Dec 1904. Johannes Tossman was 55 years of age, a laborer, born in Wermland Sweden, going to Escanaba, Michigan. He had $45 and an affidavit of support. He and his wife Maria were going to their son-in-law and daughter in Escanaba at 219 Stephenson Avenue. (the photo is above).

As I walked the halls I thought of them bundles of linens, a few clothes, the family bible in a small trunk and a basket. Its hard to describe exactly what the feeling is, I can best describe it as hope. A sense that there can be no going back so you must move forward. There is loss of the homeland but a dream of a future, that life could be better.

They left a scenic village on the shores of Fryken Lake for a place with a strange name, Escanaba. They went to their daughter Ida Matilda Tossman Mattson who was living there with her husband Enock. Enock's home became the safe haven for several new immigrant relations: his brother Emil Forsberg, Johan and Maria, his brother in law Axel; his wife's neice Karin and nephew Anders Oskar. Enock helped each one come to this country for a new start. A place to farm and to live free.

Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempst tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Journey to the Homeland

Hey Hey, this is my first attempt at a blog so please tell me if you like the content and format.I am going to try to share some of my experiences in my search for my Swedish Heritage. My quest to find my past began 30 years ago now. Most days I cannot believe that I have had this obsession for this length of time.

I thought today I would share some wonderful news with all of the other Swedish Genealogy buffs out there. Today I have had a wonderful breakthrough. Today I have reached the genealogy "Holy Grail". After searching for nearly 25 years for the ships that carried my ancestors to this country. I am now proud to say, of the 43 emigrant ancestors and their relations I have been able to locate all but 4. All of them on ships and confirmed arrived into the ports of America.

This journey has not been an easy one. Swedish names are common and several variations of simple names like Johnson came from Swedish names with much different spellings. Today in fact in search of my great grandmother's neice, I knew she arrived in 1920 (she had Swedish exit papers for that year on October 22, 1920). But after hours of searching and;;;; Miss Martha Alice Andersson was no where to be found. Well almost no where; I decided to take one last swing at it and scan all the Andersson females for 1920 who arrived in the US on Well Martha didn't come up on the index, but after reviewing all the arrivals in NY for the month of October and then November, I found her. There she was, plain as day, Martha Alice Andersson arriving the 8 Nov 1920 aboard the SS Drottingholm with her cousins Axel Helmer and Ingamär Andersson. There she was born Tossberg in the parish of Sunne going to Chicago. I cannot explain why she doesn't appear on the index by either Soundex or by exact search. Nether she or her cousin Axel are, only Axel's sister Ingamär appear there. The lesson here is be persistant. Just because the search didn't find my Martha Alice Andersson I was sure she had to be there, and she was. Remember indexes were created by people, and people, even wonderfully gifted genealogists make mistakes.

Well what started this quest this weekend for the boats began with a wonderful gift from Ola Lundström of the Swedish American Center in Karlstad Sweden. I wrote a brief inquiry to him in reference to the Emigrant Popular 2006 for my great great grandfather Johannes Johannesson Tossman and his wife Maria. (the picture below is of Johannes, their daughter Selma, and his wife Maria). They had emigrated in 1904 from Tossberg, Sunne Parish, Varmland, Sweden. And I was trying to find them on the passenger lists, and again to no avail. The Swedish exit papers had them listed as Johannes Forsman and wife Maria. I tried every version of Tossman, Johannesson, Johnson, Forsman I could image. It took a Swedish archivist 5000 miles away to search and find the couple as Johannes and Maria Fossman. And it goes to show sometimes we all need fresh ideas about how to interpret the names we all have. The poor handwriting on the ships lists could definitely be made out to be the letter F; or a very frilly T.

Keep Looking your Swedes are out there, and so are their ships.