Klara Petronella Henrietta was the ninth child of Carl Magnus Klarstrom and Christina Elisabeth Bennberg.
She was born in Lenhovda, Kronoberg, Sweden on 22 Aug 1885.
She moved with her family to Alem in 1889 and then on to Gavle in 1890. Her father died that same year, when she was only five years old.
Klara, like most of her siblings, decided to immigrate to the United States. Did she go to be close to her older siblings? Did she need a job? Probably both. It seems like there were many young Swedish immigrants settling in urban areas during this time period – mostly for economic reasons.
She arrived in America in 1898 at the age of 13 and settled in the Boston area – where a few of her sisters were already living.
Can you imagine traveling from Sweden to America without your parents at this age? And knowing that you were going to be working when you got there? She was traveling with her older sister Olga (21), who had already lived in Boston from 1892-1897. The passenger list said they were headed to their sister Marie Johnson/Johanson’s in Dorchester.
I have an almost 12 year old myself and I can’t even fathom sending her across the ocean to work. Different times, I know.
In the 1900 census, she was 14 years old and working as the only servant in the family of Albert Smith, a printer in Boston. I wonder if she was lonely or if she had time to visit with her sisters.
Did her sisters help her get her job? They had worked as servants before their marriages also.
In 1910, at 24, she was one of five servants living with the family of Robert McQuillen in Dedham, Norfolk, MA. At least ten years of being a servant. It doesn’t sound like any fun to me. I suppose one has to earn a living though. I’ve noticed that many of the servants in the Boston area were Swedish. I wonder why. Were the Swedes better servants than say, the Irish or Germans?
At least she seems to have moved up in the world – to a family with 5 servants rather than one. She was a “maid”. It appears there was also a waitress, cook, seamstress, and coachman in the household.
I wonder which was more work – being an only servant in a smaller house or one of many servants in a bigger home. I think I’d rather be in the larger home with some company. What about you?
Klara eventually escaped servitude by marrying Ellis N. Silver, a plumber, on 28 August 1911 in Boston.
They had a daughter Christine on 1 July 1912 and another daughter Olga in about 1917.
In the 1920 census, they were living in Boston.
They had a son Robert in about 1926 and were still living in Boston in 1930.
And that’s all I have on Klara.