Delving into my Swedish Roots

My Swedish roots have been calling me.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m so interested in following these lines a bit more.  Swedish records are wonderful and I know that there is so much information just waiting for me to find it – all in the church records.

I’ve devoted my free time this week to searching this line. It’s nice to have a little focus instead of randomly skipping from line to line.  I definitely need more focus. I tend to be a scatterbrained genealogist.

Here are some (very random) observations and thoughts that have crossed my mind while researching my Swedes:

  • When I was a kid, I don’t remember my Grandma Eleanore every doing anything “Swedish”.  Her parents were both born and married in Sweden.  They had 2 children before immigrating to Seattle and another 2 afterward.  My grandma was the youngest and I suppose that she simply was an American.  Her older sister seemed to have held onto her Swedish roots more, but she spoke Swedish as a first language, and married another Swedish immigrant.  I wonder what my grandma’s childhood was like – did her parents speak Swedish or English to her?
  • I just realized that both of my great-grandparents (my Swedish immigrants) were fatherless.  Lars Julius Bergman’s father died one month before he was born.  His wife, Eugenia Klarstrom’s father died when she was 2 years old. I wonder if this had something to do with them deciding to leave Sweden.
  • The number of children born out of wedlock in Sweden in the late 1800’s was much higher than I would have thought.  I have a number of ancestors whose parents weren’t married when they were born. I never would have guessed that this was so common.
  • It’s really hard reading documents written hundreds of years ago in another language, with sometimes different script and abbreviations.  Trying to figure out place names has been a challenge too.  The Family Search site has been helpful in that it lists out the place names of the different parishes.  I never would have figured out most of them without this tool.
  • I’ve had an easy enough time finding my ancestors who lived in small rural communities.  It’s not so easy to search page by page through a big city though.  I suppose I’ll just have to put a movie on and start looking through the entire city of Gavle for them.
  • The Swedes were not original with their names.  It seems like there are just a handful of names which are used over and over and over again: Lars, Anders, Nils, Olof, Johan, Per, Karl, Erik, Sven, Kjerstin/Christina, Catherina, Maria, Karin, Brita etc.  It makes finding MY Lars and Per and Nils and Kjerstin a lot harder.
  • Add to that the fact that they didn’t have last names, and it gets even more difficult.  It is helpful though since it gives you their father’s name.  It’s just a lot of the same names over and over which is sometimes hard to sift through.
  • I’m thankful that at least a couple of my ancestors adopted a surname early on (before 1800) – Klarstrom and Bennberg.  It has made them a bit easier to find amongst all of the -sons and -dotters.
  • I think it’s really cool that I have ancestors that came through Ellis Island.  Most of my other lines came to America much earlier than my Swedish ancestors (who came in 1913-1914).
  • I really want to go to Sweden someday.
  • I’m wishing that America had such wonderful parish records as Sweden has.  Household examinations, births, deaths, moving ins and outs, burials, baptisms, etc.  It’s WONDERFUL not having to skip 10-20 years to find them in the census.  The household examinations are continuous – every year!!!
  • I realize that I’m very lucky that I knew what parishes my family came from, because it saved me a lot of research time.
  • Searching through the parish records has reminded me of the fact that I really need to use a research log – so I can mark down which records I’ve already searched.  It’s so uncool to search the same records again (and again and again in some cases).

Do YOU have Swedish Roots?

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