American "spirit of adventure"

My husband and I spent last week vacationing with my brother and his wife. They live in Texas and we in Illinois. We compromised and each traveled half way. We rented a cabin on a lake in Missouri. We were told the week previous was beautiful and this week also promises to be nice in Missouri, but last week? Not so nice. It rained every day and I mean RAIN. Flooding, rock slides and the topper was the tail end of hurricane Bill smacked us also. We still had a good time, good food, a little fishing, and boating. Most importantly we all got to be together and catch up on each others events.

Thinking how spread out we all are it got me to thinking. Perhaps a trait of those that left everything and everyone behind to begin anew in America was the desire for adventure and travel. Seeing new things, meeting new people, going to new places, a "spirit of adventure". My grandmother Lydia was one of nine children. Six remained in Sweden. Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about those family members that remained in Sweden nor their descendants. What I do know is that the majority of those folk seem to have remained in Sweden. Sweden is a wonderful place to live today, not the poor and crowded country of a century ago so that is a hugh factor I am sure. Lydia and her sisters, Ruth and Anna, chose to emigrate to America. I am thinking that one possible trait that may have set them apart from their siblings was their "spirit of adventure". An inward personal quality that along with the "push and pull" of those European immigration years prompted them to be the ones to leave.

The descendants of Lydia, Ruth and Anna Abrahamson now number in the hundreds.  The sisters started out in Rock Island, Illinois. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren have lived all across this country. Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Montana, Florida, California, Washington, Iowa, Connecticut, Arizona, Ohio and Michigan are the places I am aware of. There may be more and I almost forgot a cousin now in Canada.

The new emphasis on DNA, being the latest way to look at your family history, makes we wonder. Is the "spirit of adventure" inherited? Has America, the nation of immigrants and the children of immigrants, inherited that spirit of adventure? After all, doesn't that "spirit of adventure" seem to be a very American quality?

Just a thought,

                                    **clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing*


Journey to America - Ruth Abrahamson Soderstrom

Lydia's younger sister Ruth was the last of the three sisters to immigrate to America. We know their father Robert Albin if not approving at least agreed to her journey as he paid for her ticket. Ruth traveled second class, leaving from Copenhagen on the Fredrick VIII and arriving in New York Dec 4, 1914. She also was headed to the Rock Island/Moline/Davenport area. Her fathers cousin Dr. Rev. L.G. Abrahamson was her contact in America


The Manifest of the ship Fredrick VIII, which left from Copenhagen November 19, 1914 and arrived in New York Dec 4, 1914. Ruth traveled second class which meant she did not have to go through Ellis Island proper but would disembark right to the dock. She was still however examined and questioned on the ship before arriving in the U.S.

#30  Abrahamson, Ruth, 20 yrs old, single, female, servant, Swedish, can read and write, resides in Ö Frölunda, next of kin father RA Abrahamson in Stommen Hid, destination Rock Island, Illinois,has ticket to final destination, passage paid by father, in possession of $25, has never been in US, contact is cousin Dr. LG Abrahamson of Rock Island, in good health, 5'7"tall, light hair, gray-blue eyes, no identifying marks, born in Östra Frölunda, Sweden

Ruth, like her sister Lydia, also worked as a servant until she met Anders (Andrew) Olof Söderström.

Andrew  was also a Swedish immigrant. born in Helgum, Angermanland, Sweden he served two years in the Swedish military.

Andrew came to the US in 1915. He served in the US Cavalry in World War I.

Andrew and Ruth married December 24, 1917. They remained in and raised their four children: 
Harry b.1922, Melvin b.1924, Esther b.1926 and Evelyn b.1935 in Rock Island, Illinois.


Harry                                                   Andrew, Ruth Harry and Melvin

 Esther Anna Marion

Andrew, Ruth, Harry, Melvin and Esther

 Andrew, Ruth, Harry, Melvin and Esther


Ruth and Esther
Esther and Evelyn                                              Esther


Ruth Abrahamson Soderstrom 
born: June 3, 1894 in Östra Frölunda, Älvsborg, Sweden
died: October 4, 1969 in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois

Anders "Andrew" Olof Söderstrom 
born: September 13, 1888 in Helgum, Angermanland, Västernorrland, Sweden
died: October 8, 1960 in Moline, Rock Island, Illinois, USA

*clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing. Right click to download copies to your own computer*

**I owe heaps of gratitude to Evelyn Soderstrom Eckberg and Sally Liljegren Thomas 
for sharing some of their personal family photo collection with this blog**


Journey to America - Anna Abrahamsson Jacobson

Lydia's older sister Anna was the second of Albin and Anna Abrahamsson's 9 children. Born July 31, 1885, she was tall and blond like her father. She married Johan Emil Jakobsson, a railway worker, on February 21 of 1907 in a civil ceremony in Borås, Sweden. She and Emil had three children in the first 4 years of their marriage. There was Rudolf b. 1907, David b. 1908 and Elizabeth b. 1910. I wonder if America was their plan from the beginning as the children had decidedly American-sounding names or at the least names that would be readily recognized in either Sweden or America? Johan Emil traveled first to America arriving in May 1911. He followed his brother Petrus (Peter) who had come to America 15 years earlier.

Lydia visited Sweden with her young son Albin in 1913 and returning home to America she accompanied her sister Anna and her three young children who were joining their husband and father in America. It would have been a difficult trip alone but with three young children?

They left the port of Gothenburg on the "Calypso" to cross the North Sea to Hull England. From Hull the two women and four children took a 3 hour or so train ride to Liverpool where they boarded the "Caronia" for America.

Landing at Ellis Island, New York Sept 17 1913, Lydia and Albin (American born) could disembark directly but Anna and her children would be processed through Ellis Island proper. They traveled steerage or third class.

Caronia's manifest states:

"Anna Jacobson, 28yrs old, married, wife, can read and write, country of origin Sweden, last living in Ö Frölunda Sweden, nearest relative in country of origin is father RA Abrahamson, final destination Moline Illinois, ticket paid by husband, $25 in possession, never been in US before, going to husband Emil Jacobson 104 5th street Moline Ill, good health, 5'9', fair complexion, blond hair, blue eyes, no distinguishing marks, born in Ö Frölunda, Sweden, accompanied by children: Rudolf 6, David 4, and Elizabeth 3."

1920 Census Phoenix Township, Henry County, Illinois

By the 1920 Census Anna and Emil had two more children; Evelyn b.1915, and Robert Harry b.1918. Later that same year Gustav Arthur b.1920 and Paul Emil the baby was b.1922. They had become naturalized citizens by 1918. They are farming.

1930 Census Newton, Miami County, Ohio

By 1930 Rudolf and David are grown and gone. A nephew of Emils, his sister Hulda's son Harvie, 14 years old is living with them on the farm.

1940 Census Tipp City, Miami County, Ohio

By 1940 the family has left farming and Emil is working as a night watchman. Only the youngest two children remain. Two grand daughters, Betty's girls, are staying with them.

 Rudy           David            Betty             Evelyn            Harry              Arthur            Paul        

To know more about what Anna and her children's trip from Gothenburg to New York was like click here▼


To know more about the experience of steerage passengers (Anna and children traveled 3rd class or steerage) on board ship and through Ellis Island click here▼


- Ranae

**I owe heaps of gratitude to Paul Jacobson Jr, Vivian Jacobson and Frances Fraser Angeles 

for sharing some of their personal family photo collection with this blog**
**clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing**


Journey to America - Grandpa Richard Kallman and Grandma Lydia Abrahamson

The journey begins---

 Lydia's journey to America began early in 1909. Rikard Källman, who would in 2 1/2 years be her husband, had made an almost identical journey in 1906.
Swedish law required that citizens register their leaving in the församling (province) Utflyttningbok and state where they intended to move to.

Lydia documents her intention to leave Östra Frölunda, her life long home in the Östra Frölunda Utflyttningsbok för år 1909 (outgoing book for year 1909) .
The book states " January 9, 1909, Lydia Abrahamsson, a young single woman, born in 1890, residing in Stommen, registers her intent to leave Östra Frölunda to go to North Amerika". Lydia was the first of her family to leave Sweden. Two of her sisters, Anna and Ruth, would follow. The remaining six siblings remained and married in Sweden.

Richard had done the same May 11 1906 in the Väderstad Utflyttningbok för år 1906 (outgoing book for year 1906)
The book states "May 11, 1906, Rikard Severin Källman, drang (young unmarried man) born in 1887, residing in Valsberg registers intent to leave Väderstad for North Amerika."
Rikard had grown up in the town of Grytgòl in a poor factory working family. His mother had died of TB and his father had remarried in 1906 and Rikard moved to the larger town Valsberg to look for work to pay for the trip to America. Two sisters, Sarona and Olga had gone to America earlier (1904, 1902). A brother Håkon Patrik had also gone to America but had returned (with Olga) due to his health. Håkon Patrik would die of TB in Sweden in 1908. Having to pay for return tickets I don't know if his siblings were able to help him pay his fare. Olga would return to America for good in 1907 bringing younger sister Teckla with her. Botvid was the only sibling who remained and married in Sweden.

Leaving their home towns Lydia and Rikard would travel to Göteborg (Gothenburg), a seaport city on the west coast of Sweden. Today Östra Frölunda is perhaps an hour and a half drive from Gothenburg on a toll road but in 1909 she most likely traveled by horse and wagon first north to Böras and then west to Gothenburg. A road not always safe with highwaymen waiting to rob unsuspecting travelers. Lydia most likely traveled with a group of friends as there are a handful of young people from her area noted to be traveling with or alongside her. Did her father Robert Albin approve of her journey? We do not know. Rikard's trip to the coast was about twice the distance and a rail line was in place at the time but I doubt he could have afforded the additional expense of a railroad ticket. The price to America had come down significantly in the last few years but Rikard was poor and most likely he walked to Gothenburg.

Leaving Sweden---

The vast majority of Swedes left Sweden via the port of Gothenburg. There they boarded a ship which would take them across the North Sea to Hull England. Rikard boarded the ship "Ariosto", Lydia boarded the "Calypso"

The English people of Hull did not look kindly on thousands of new immigrants pouring into their city possibly bringing crime and disease with them. The immigrants were hustled immediately off the boat to waiting areas provided by the railroad line which would provide rail cars specifically for immigrants to take them 3-4 hours overland to Liverpool.  At Liverpool travel agents would escort them to the ship which would ultimately take them to America or Canada. In Liverpool Lydia and Rikard would both board the ship "Ivernia" bound for Boston Massachusetts. The Ivernia, of the Cunard line, made its maiden voyage on 14 April 1900. It sailed from Liverpool to Queenstown to Boston harbor. It had a reputation for reliability and steadiness at sea. 164 first class, 200 second class and 1600 Steerage or third class passengers. Lydia held a second class ticket which meant a cabin (shared). The poorer Rikard went steerage. When it was launched it was the largest cargo vessel afloat. Pressed into service in World War I the Ivernia was sunk by a German U-Boat.

On to America---

The trip across the Atlantic took approximately two weeks which was modern. The old sailing ships dependent on wind and weather could often be at sea for months, the passengers responsible for bringing their own food and bedclothes where they were packed in steerage like cattle. By the turn of the 20th century steamships although not luxurious at least promised a bed and meals. There was often also some entertainment and rudimentary medical services on board. Remember the movie of the people traveling on the Titanic?
Most Northern European immigrants arrived through Ellis Island. I do not know if there was a reason Lydia and Rikard chose to enter the country through Boston Harbor or that just happened to be the route chosen. Nonetheless they were questioned and inspected before entering the U.S.

Ship Manifest of Alien Passengers arriving steerage on the "Ivernia" to Boston Harbor June 7, 1906

#16 Richard Kallman 18 yr, unmarried male, blacksmith, from Väderstad, Östergotland, to Chicago, Illinois, has ticket to final destination, paid by his sister, has $10, can read and write, is healthy and going to his sister Sarona Kallman of 1431 King Place, Chicago, Illinois

Ship Manifest of Alien Passengers arriving 2nd class on the "Ivernia" to Boston Harbor Feb 4, 1909

#27 Lydia Abrahamson, 18yr, unmarried female, servant, Swedish, from Frolunda, can read and write, nearest relative, father RA Abrahamson of Östra Frölunda, final destination Moline, Illinois, does not have a ticket to final destination, paid ticket by self, has $15, going to friend SP Swenson 141 5th Ave Moline, healthy, 5'7" fair complexion, blond hair, blue eyes

Lydia most likely had a job already arranged through her friend mentioned or through a cousin of her father who was a prominent Lutheran minister in the Swedish community in Moline Illinois.
Richard was pretty much on his own.

**clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing*


TRUTH or Family legend?

Every family has stories or legends about their ancestors. The family is descended from an Indian princess or related to someone famous, or better yet infamous. Our family story has persisted and been repeated for over 150 years .

My Dad loved a good laugh and loved to tease us kids. "Why is your teachers name Mrs. White, her hair is black, her name should be Mrs. Black?" It seems, and is, silly now but you have no idea how crazy this made me in the first grade. We kids had a great way, or so we thought, to tease him back. Shopping in the grocery store we would hold up a red can of King Oscar Norway sardines. "Hey look Dad, its grandpa!" This would irritate him so. He was really mad at my mother for telling us the family "secret". He told us never to mention it to grandma Lydia because she was ashamed. He told us that Edvard Julius Abrahamsson was the adoptive father of Lydia's father, Robert Albin.  When Edvard Julius Abrahamsson married Charlotta Majholm she was already at that time pregnant with another mans child. That man, said Charlotta, was Oscar Frederik Bernadotte. Robert Albin was truly the illegitimate son of the King of Sweden, Oscar II. 
One of the first questions I was asked by a second cousin in Sweden who had just been introduced to me through email was "Tell me the story of our great grandfather as you heard it". So I told him the story my father had told me. Claiming Oscar was almost proof of being related to the family! The ticket, so to say, to the Abrahamsson clan. One of my cousins collects pictures of Oscar. Several descendants claimed that an article from one of Oscars palaces had been a family possession. Oddly, no one knew where those items are now. Hmmm.
Looking at Oscar (left) and Robert Albin (right) I have to say there is a resemblance. Then again I have a brother in law who you would swear was the twin of Chevy Chase. I looked again at the documentation that I had found on our family. I studied up on Oscar a bit. He did get around with the ladies it seemed. Bottom line was that the story of Oscar did not seem logical to my "get the source and citation" mind of a genealogist. I proudly, and a little arrogantly, presented my theory of non-relationship to a cousin. I sensed by his reply........... he did NOT want to hear that. I had to get over myself and do some serious thinking. After all, I could not prove he was our ancestor but I could not prove he wasn't either.

Statistically we should carry about 6.25% DNA from a great x2 grandfather, but human genetics doesn't work that way. It is also possible that we have no DNA from a great x2 grandfather. I read on the internet (and we know of course that everything on the internet is true) that worldwide it is only 85% certain that your mothers husband was indeed your father. I have my family tree documented back to the mid 1600's. Do I know for a fact there were no "non-paternal" events in my family? Were there no adoptions? And if there were does that mean that those involved are not a part of my family? Heck no! Every one of our ancestors has a story, a story that contributed to the greater story of our family, what our family stood for, believed, was, and is today........what I am.

The story of the Abrahamsson family includes the story of Oscar. Whether it is fact or fiction really doesn't matter. What matters is that we believed it for 150 years and it shaped how we felt about ourselves. We were a little more special, a little more royal. Although the descendants of Robert Albins nine children are scattered across Scandinavia and North America, the story also brought us together again. Does it really matter anymore if we truly have Oscars DNA or if we in effect have adopted Oscar? The Story of Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, paramour of Charlotta, and father of Robert Albin which has persisted for 5 and 6 generations is part of the Abrahamsson family story. 
It is part of who we are. And that is the TRUTH.

'There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his." 
                                                                                                                     --- Helen Keller


Lydia, on her tiptoes, peeks over the crowd

This photo of the children of Robert Albin and Anna Karolina Abrahamsson again seems to confirm that, financially anyway, life was not too shabby for their family. None of my other three Scandinavian grandparents have any professional portraits of them as children. Lydia's future husband Rikard never posed for a picture until he came to America. Professional photographs were expensive. That's why we have those creepy post mortem photos from the Victorian era. That was the only remembrance of a child who died. I have been studying the pic, particularly my grandmother. There she is second from right, peeking out between her oldest and her youngest sister. Maybe on her tippy toes? I became hooked on the BBC show "Downton Abbey". The English countryside, the costumes...beautiful. It is a real insight into the lives of Western European women during the Victorian era. The era that Lydia was born into. There was really no other future for women but that of wife and mother. Not that Robert Albin didn't love all his children but, how valued was a female child in this society and in this time? Let along one of seven daughters? Maybe Lydia is standing on her toes to be noticed. "Hey I'm back here, the short one with the choppy haircut and the buck teeth, look at me too, I'm here too." A ticket to America was a ticket to the unknown for sure but a ticket to something different or maybe a chance to be someone different.  

Just a thought,


                                        **clicking on photos or documents will enlarge them for easier viewing*


My first contact with Sweden

    I am Norwegian on my mothers side and Swedish on my fathers. As a child I never really knew much of anything about my Swedish roots. I was very close to my maternal grandparents, particularly my grandmother. She used to say, tongue in cheek, "just tell people you are Norwegian like me, that's the best thing to be". I had visited Norway three times and fell in love with the beautiful country and people. An added bonus was that many of the extended family were redheaded like me! Grandma told me wonderful stories of her life in Norway, her emigration to America, her life in Chicago and her eventual return to her beloved Norway. After her death a cousin sent all her personal papers and photos to me, as grandma had wished. Back home the local librarian recommended  checking out a family tree program to organize the items Grandma had left me. My love of family history and genealogy was born.
    Fast forward to 2002, the wedding of a niece in another state. I was seated across from a cousin who I had not seen for many many years. Small talk took me to what was now my passion, genealogy. She mentioned that maybe two years ago she received an email from someone in Sweden who claimed to be a relative. He was working on finding the descendants of his great grandfather, the descendants of the three daughters who had emigrated to America. She was not sure how he got her email address and was too embarassed to answer at this late date. Wow! Forward it to me! I remembered a paper hand typed by my grandmother that I had found among my Dad's things after his death. She had typed out family names. Her fathers name was Albin Abrahamsson. 
    My cousin did forward the email to me and I immediately emailed the gentleman in Sweden. He responded to me almost equally as quickly. "Robert Albin Abrahamsson of Östra Frölunda is my great grandfather", he wrote, attaching the photo of the family that I posted a few days ago. This was my second cousin! I recognized my grandmother in the photo, young as she was, and for the first time wished I had really known her.