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 Stevemorse.org 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 Ancestry.com 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 norwayheritage.com 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 Ellisisland.org and ancestry.com; stevemorse.org; findmypast.com; genline.com; 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 Ancestry.com. 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 ancestry.com 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.

Svenska test