This is the first part of a ten part series on the 10 children of my great-great grandparents, Carl Magnus Klarstrom and Christian Elisabeth Bennberg, of Sweden. I am attempting to post what information I have on each of them (and some of them are going to be pretty short!). I’m hoping by getting it out there into Google Land, I might find some long lost relatives that can answer some of my questions.
Maria was the oldest of their ten known children.
She was born 2 July 1865 in Gävle, Sweden. It’s on the Eastern Coast of Sweden, north of Stockholm.
According to her birth record, she was “oakta” or born out of wedlock. Her father’s name was not even mentioned on the birth record, which was normal for an illegitimate child of this time period.
According to the book Your Swedish Roots, by Per Clemensson & Kjell Andersson, “The fact that the father isn’t noted in the birth record doesn’t mean that he wasn’t known. It only means that the parents were not married. In many cases they married later and the child was considered legitimate.”
This is the case with Maria. Carl and Christina married in 1868, one month before the birth of their second child. I’m not sure why they decided to wait to be married, but the aforementioned book also says that “Having a child out of wedlock wasn’t necessarily a shame. In Stockholm in the nineteenth century, for example, many couples lived together and had children without being married.” Perhaps in the city of Gavle, which was a decent sized city, it wasn’t as looked down upon as it would have been if they had lived in the country.
The family moved from Gävle to nearby Alvkarleby in 1870. At first, I hadn’t put much thought into this move. People move all of the time – for so many different reasons. But as I started to read about the history of Gävle, I learned that in 1869 there was a huge fire, in which 8,000 of the 10,000 residents lost their homes. Could my ancestors have been amongst those who lost their homes and all of their possessions? Did they have to start over? Even if they didn’t lose their house to the flames, I am sure that this was a very chaotic time to be living in Gävle.
Maria’s parents had 9 more children after her, the youngest one of which was my great-grandmother, Charlotta Eugenia Viktoria Klarström. Maria wasn’t around when her youngest three siblings were born though. She left Sweden for America when she was 17 years old. She was on board the S.S. Romeo bound for America in August of 1883. Her final destination was Boston.
Did she have a specific reason for leaving Sweden? Was she looking for work or a husband? Was there family already in the Boston area? I have a sneaking suspicion that she may have had some aunts or uncles who lived in the area. I will have to do some further research on the next generation up when I’ve finished this one. Some of my questions might be answered then.
I’m not sure what she did when she arrived. She must have found work of some kind though, because it was about five years before she married Klause G. Johansson on 2 Dec 1888 in Boston, MA.
They had a daughter in August of 1889, named Agda M. Johansson.
In the 1900 census, they were living at 153 Lauriat Avenue in Boston. Klause was listed as a machinist.
I’ve personally never been to Boston before, but I thought I’d look on the map to see where they lived anyway. The “A” marks the spot.
In 1904, Maria’s mother Christina and her youngest sister (my great-grandmother) came to Boston on the S.S. Ivernia. They listed Klaus Johanson as the relative they were joining. The interesting thing is that the two women were listed as servants. Were they coming to America to earn some money before returning home? Or were they visiting? Or maybe a little of both? :) Whatever the reason, I know that they did end up returning (although I have yet to find the passenger list for their return, so I’m not sure how long they stayed). Charlotta was married in 1908 in Sweden and Christina died in Sweden in 1919. I guess I’ll have to dig a little deeper to fill in some of those blanks. Here they are in the passenger list:
In the 1910 census, Klause and Maria were still in the same house. They had added 2 more children: George F. and Ethel C. – both adopted. I am not sure if they may have been children of a relative or maybe they just longed for more children and couldn’t have any of their own so they adopted.
Their newly married daughter Agda and her husband Gustaf Peterson were living with them also.
As were Klaus’s brother Charles and his son Edward.
It was a house full of Swedes.
By the 1920 census, it appears that they moved to 153 Woodrow Avenue. It seems odd that they would be at the same numbered house, but on a different street. It was very close to their first home.
They had a boarder living with them in 1920. His name was Gunther Peterson. He may have been related to their daughter Agda’s husband – Gustaf Peterson. What sparked my interest about him is that he was listed as a photographer. That makes me envision stacks of pictures of the family, waiting to be found….
And that is where this chapter of the story ends folks.
I have absolutely no idea what happened to Maria and Klaus Johanson. I didn’t find them in the 1930 census, although I didn’t dig very deep. Maybe they’re there and I’m just being blind. Maybe they moved. Maybe they died. There is obviously more research to be done. Isn’t there always?