Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vigsel, Födde & Död

Is that handwriting not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?! 

Oh, I wish I could write my Ns like this.

 I have been staring at this gothic writing for weeks and weeks now as I stroll through digitized images of Sweden's parish records.

Notice how the N in No. 65 reaches over and loops into the T in Torstensmåla.  Simply Beautiful

You can't help but wonder about the recorder of these records.  As years pass by, you see when a new recorder takes over and their handwriting changes.  You also wonder about all of the villiagers.  Siggamåla was a small farming villiage.  There were less than 20 families usually.  As I go through the decades following my family, I find myself cheering on the Larssons and the Johanssons and Nilssons as well, as each of their children move on, join the military, get married.  Their families intertwine as love birds marry their neighbors.  At some point about 30 years in, one of the sons or sometimes a son-in-law takes over maintenance of the farm, and the original parents move down in the record a few lines.  You know the time is coming soon when the word dödd (death) will appear, and the remaining spouse will be referred to as änka or änkeman (widow or widower).  After several nights of following this neighbor's family thru the generations, you realize that this event caused as much grief and sorrow as our own family deaths do to us.

This is the actual church my family attended.
The Swedish records are beautifully written, beautifully accurate, beautifully detailed. Each parish keeps a record of all marriages, births, deaths, who moves in, out, from one farm to another, who's taken communion, who owes the parish money, there is a treasure trove of information...if you know where to look.  Finding the right farm/village area, right parish, etc. can be daunting.

I wondered where my ancestors were from exactly in Sweden for decades.  I kept getting small pieces of the puzzle, starting with Kronoberg Län.  I received another puzzle piece later that said they were from Almundsryd parish.  I did not know the names of parents, brothers, or sisters that were left behind, and finally that piece of the puzzle fell in to place at the beginning of summer.  I have now found them and I'm just busy putting all of the extended families together.  One of Emma's brothers moved to another farm area and I haven't found that yet, but I eventually will.  Even if I have to sit down and page by page read a 600 page ledger book looking for him. 

When I sit at the computer to do research I do several things.  Open my genealogy program.  Open the internet and one tab for familysearch, one tab for the swedish records, and one tab for Google Translate (Swedish to English).  Sometimes I open a second tab of the records because I might see what I think is a death note, so in the second record I can look up and verify that death right then, without leaving the original page I was on.

This is the birth record of my great-great grandmother, Emma Nilsdotter:

 This tells me she was the 51st birth in the parish that year.  She was born on 27 April 1861, she is female.  Name Emma.  Then the next column says Hakansson, Nils (then something beginning with B) and Nilsdotter, Anna Hustra (wife) from Torstensmäla.  Age of the mother at time of birth was 21.  Because of the patronomic naming system at this time she will for the rest of her life be known as Emma Nilsdotter.  (that ended in 1905 when each family had to decide on a family name from then on out) (and it ended for Emma in 1903 when the United States said she would be known as Berntsson, her husband's last name)

The above record is Emma's mother's birth record.  Had a little bit different format during that time.  Under September births, her name is Anna Stina (2nd from bottom on the left) she was born on the 17, Christened on the 24th.  Father is Nils Petersson, mother Elin Svensdotter. from Siggaboda.  Then it lists 3 lines of witnesses to the Christening.  These are usually family members or neighbors, and where they are each from.  Still beautiful writing.  Sometimes there are doodlings around the years and decorations at the bottoms of the pages.    (P.S., see on the right hand column the last child, Benta.  That word under the names means illegitimate birth.)

This is my favorite record.  Whenever someone would die or move, a line was drawn thru their name.  This record shows that their son, Hugo, died on 15 January 1898.  And then the rest of the family, Johan, Emma, Hildur, Esther, and Anna left Almundsryd Parish and moved to Amerika on the 11th  of April, 1903. 

With that penstroke slashing out their names, my life was forever changed.

Emma Nilsdotter Berntsson in Wisconsin, America in the 1930s.

No comments: