Hjalmar Alexander Klarstrom was born in March of 1873 in Alvkarleby, Sweden.  He was the fourth child of Carl Magnus Klarstrom and Christina Elisabeth Bennberg.

His family moved from Alvkarleby to Lenhovda in 1885, from Lenhovda to Alem in 1889, and on to Gavle in 1890, where his father died that year.

At 20 years old, on 26 May 1893, he left Goteborg for Boston with his younger brother Robert.

His older sister, Maria, had been in Boston for ten years and was already married with a young daughter at this time.  Perhaps they stayed with her family when they arrived.

I thought that he would be easy to find.  Hjalmar isn’t exactly that common of a name, after all (but I was really surprised at how common of a name it is in Sweden).  It means “helmet- warrior” in Old Norse, by the way.

I have no trace of him after his immigration record though.

I wonder if he may have Americanized his name.  What would Hjalmar be changed to anyway?  I am having a hard time making a guess since I can’t even figure out how to pronounce it. Or perhaps he went by his middle name instead.  I didn’t find any trace of an Alexander Klarstrom either though.

I wonder what happened to him?  His sisters were so easy to trace in the Boston area.  Why did he disappear?  Maybe he only used Boston as a jumping off point for further adventures.  Did he head West?  Did he work for a while and return to Sweden?

Perhaps I’ll never know…

  • Liz - April 9, 2011 - 1:48 am

    Jen. I am really enjoying this series. I may borrow your idea and do posts on my grand aunts and uncles,
    I am so far behind… Congrats on your blog anniversary and being named a top 40 blog!
    I hope to see you at NGS.ReplyCancel

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This poor picture has all but faded away. It’s almost ghostly, isn’t it?

I am not sure who this baby is, but I know that it is someone on my Grandpa Don’s side of the family.

  • Jo Graham - April 6, 2011 - 10:33 am

    Oh poor faded baby! I wonder if the photo could be digitally restored?ReplyCancel

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undefinedI feel so incredibly lucky to have Swedish roots.  Let me count the reasons…..

  1. I have absolutely fallen in love with the beautiful St. Lucia Day celebration.  I am bound and determined to attend one.  One of my favorite pictures is of my grandmother, participating in one of these lovely ceremonies.
  2. IKEA.  Who doesn’t love IKEA??:)
  3. The landscapes in Sweden are breath-taking.
  4. I always loved the Swedish chef from The Muppet Show.  Yes, I’m a child of the 80’s.
  5. For some reason, I really like Swedish names.  Lars. Gunnar. Brita. Elvy. And it cracks me up that my great-great grandfather’s middle name was Magnus.  I imagine him as a huge hulk of a man just because of that name.:)
  6. But by far my favorite thing about having Swedish roots is the fact that they kept such fantastic parish records!  Births, Deaths, Baptisms, Marriages, Moving records, and Household Examinations that list everything from birth dates and places, immigration information, shot records, and lots of other really helpful stuff.  Most of them go back to the early 1700’s and some further than that.  I have been having so much fun trying to decipher what I’ve found.

Do you have Swedish roots?

Have you traveled to Sweden to do research or simply visit?  Did you find long lost relatives still living there?

I would really love to go there someday.


  • Mike B. - April 5, 2011 - 7:21 am

    What resources do you use to find the birth and marriage records? I’m researching my wife’s family and their names seem to be extremely popular. Gustaf Gustafson and August Lindstrom. Other than being from Goteberg and eventually moving to Ohio, I have not been able to find any Swedish documentation. But they were married in front of the Queen of Sweden.ReplyCancel

  • Shaz - April 5, 2011 - 8:27 am

    My husband is 50% Swedish so I am very
    familiar with those clerical surveys.
    I used to joke that if you sneezed,
    the minister made note of it!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Palmer - April 5, 2011 - 1:10 pm

    I love the photo! Are you aware of living relatives in Sweden? I had a distant cousin from Sweden find my blog last year! My goal is to go to Sweden this year!ReplyCancel

    • Jen - April 5, 2011 - 2:13 pm

      I wish I knew of some living relatives in Sweden! I am hoping that by posting about my Swedish ancestors, one of them will find me! :)ReplyCancel

  • Amy - April 7, 2011 - 12:32 am

    got a few Swedish roots on my “Anderson” side… but I haven’t been digging on that side just yet :) But they stayed close to their roots in the states, living amongst many swedish communities & towns :)ReplyCancel

  • Hillary - April 8, 2011 - 6:32 pm

    I have Swedish roots. My Great-Great Grandmother Boel Christina Nilsdotter was born in Skane, Onslunda Sweden in 1865. After imigrating to America alone at the age of 16 her surname was changed to Nilson.

    This is a line I’m currently working on an dwould love to know what sources you are using?ReplyCancel

  • Adam Glenn - April 8, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    I don’t have any Swedish roots but my brother lived there for a couple years and I would love to go there. Until then, though, I’ll have to be satisfied with IKEA.ReplyCancel

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This post is going to be short, because I really have very little information on him.

Carl Gustaf Adolph Klarstrom was the third child of Carl Magnus Klarstrom and Christina Elisabeth Bennberg.

He was born on 6 Nov 1870 in Alvkarleby, Sweden – near Gavle. I found his birth in the Swedish parish records on Ancestry.

His family moved to Lenhovda, Sweden in 1885 and then on to Alem in 1889 where they only stayed for one year before moving again to Gavle, where they had lived before Carl’s birth.

His sisters were on a passenger list bound for America in 1910.  They listed him as their closest living relative – and stated that he lived in Gavle.

I found a Karl Klarstrom in 1893 on the SS Gallia arriving in New York.

I also found a Carl Klarstrom heading to Minnesota in 1901 who fits his age range.

I have no idea if either of these guys is him.

On one of the household examinations, it also mentioned that he immigrated.

He may have come to America for a time and then returned to Sweden though.

I did find a clue in Sweden, Births from the Swedish Death Index, 1947-2006 on Ancestry.  There was a Gustaf Adolph Klarstrom listed as being born 1 Nov 1871 in Alvkarleby.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t give a death date, but it does mean that he died in Sweden -if this his him.  I searched the parish records for that date and didn’t find anyone with a similar name born at that time, so I’m assuming that this is my guy and his birth date is simply incorrect in the Death Index (it’s a year and five days off).

Unfortunately, that’s all I have.  I know that there is more research I can do in the Swedish parish records, but it’s so difficult since…

  1. They are in Swedish, which I don’t speak
  2. The handwriting and abbreviations are sometimes hard to understand
  3. It isn’t indexed, which means I”m searching page by page

I might do a quick perusal, but this is definitely something I”m going to need to delve into when I have a bit more time on my hands.  So, in 15 years when all of my kids are grown up, maybe I”ll have the time to devote to it. :)

  • Cheryl Palmer - April 4, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    I am enjoying following along as I have Swedish ancestors also!! Nice to meet yours!ReplyCancel

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The weeks are flying by.

I will have movers packing my house in 4 short weeks.  And I’m trying not to think about it.  So, instead of preparing for the move, I’m relaxing on the couch, getting caught up on some blog reading. :)

  1. I’ve been fascinated reading Judy’s accounts of her Mormon ancestors at Curbow-Montoya Family. I have Mormon ancestors also, but I don’t know if they were polygamists.
  2. Cherie from Have You Seen My Roots? shared her new family heirloom.
  3. Cousin Wendy is busy partying it up in New Orleans, but can’t seem to stay away from the cemetery, despite the fact that she has no family connection to the area.  I don’t blame her.  :)
  4. I also enjoyed Susan’s ( from Nolichucky Roots)  “Motor Frolics“.  I know nothing about cars whatsoever, but I love looking at pictures of old ones.
  5. I love the Ancestor Wall over at Olive Tree Genealogy Blog.  I would love to do something similar, someday when we’re in a permanent home.
  6. Jaisa, at Creative Gene, wrote a great post about her beloved MC.


  • Susan - April 1, 2011 - 11:26 am

    Thanks for the shout out, Jen. And best of luck on the move. I’m sure you have it down to an art by now, but it’s always a project and a half.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy B. - April 2, 2011 - 12:53 am

    Thanks again, Jen! Now that I’m finally back from vacation, I need to catch up on my blog reading, too. Good luck on the move — I’ll be thinking good thoughts that it’s uneventful… =pReplyCancel

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