Friday's Faces from the Past - Mystery Solved?

This photo was in the possession of one of the American Abrahamson cousins. Unidentified.

Last week I was researching the three youngest boys of  Johana Lena Karlsdotter (my great grandmother Anna Karolina's sister) and Linus Andersson. Today I looked again at the photo of the three unidentified men and I thought; could these three be the three Anderson sons who immigrated to Chicago together, never married and lived together in Chicago? One face seemed eerily familiar. I looked at another Abrahamsson family photo. The fishing photo. On my computer I blew up two unidentified men in that photo.

Whoa............I'm no Sherlock Holmes but in my opinion these are the same guys.

The light blond hair even as adults, the square face, the size and shape of the ears, the elongated nose, slight clef in chin, same width of mouth with prominent philtrum

Oh yeah, I would put money on it that these are the guys and just by guessing who is oldest to youngest?

Well, what do you think?

free clipart from

Friday's Faces from the Past - Hello Aunt Sarona!

Sarona Källman & Stanley Alvine (1year) ↔Lydia Abrahamsson and Albin Kallman (7mo)

This is another photo that arrived from my second cousin in Sweden. The photo is marked "Albin 7 months Stanley 1 year". The lady on the right is my grandmother Lydia with her baby (my uncle) Albin on her lap. The woman on the left was unknown to my second cousin and although I readily recognized my grandmother my first thought was, boy I wish grandma had taken the picture of just her and uncle Albin. Who needs a photo of some unknown woman? I put the photo into my adobe photoshop and quickly transformed the photo into one of just Grandma and Uncle Albin. A cousin in California is the only child of baby Albin in Grandma's lap.  I knew she would want the photo. I emailed it to her and in the last moment also emailed the original, in case she cared.

She immediately recognized the other woman! "That's Aunt Sarona and our Dad's cousin Stanley Alvine on her lap." Great Aunt Sarona was my grandfathers older sister and Lydia's sister-in-law. I had only a grainy snapshot of Sarona and her husband in their later years. Sarona and her husband Hugo had moved out to California from Illinois. I had seen her and my grandfather's other two sisters, Olga and Tekla, only once or twice in my life and I was a child at the time. My California cousin had grown up knowing these aunts.

Family History lessons for me were:

1. Those "unknown" people were photographed with our ancestors because they were important to them. Spend a little time researching them. They may also be someone who was part of who you are and someone you would have liked to know. Don't be so quick to "photoshop" them out of the family.

2. Share your findings with others. Others may have the important answers to questions that you didn't even think to ask yet.

Thank you cousin!


Lydia begins her life in America

This lovely photo of my grandmother Lydia and a cousin came to me yesterday. It was sent to me by a second cousin in Sweden, a man I have never physically met but connected with through our mutual interest (or should I say passion) for family history.

1910 Rock Island, Illinois, USA

My grandmother Lydia Abrahamson (1890-1978) is the young woman on the left. Doesn't she look lovely? But then I thought..she is so so so young. In this photo she is 20 years old. Leaving all of her immediate family behind Lydia emigrated from Sweden one month shy of her 19th birthday. In the 1909 ship manifest of the "Ivernia"  it appears she traveled with a girlfriend from her home community but she was not accompanied by family. Eighteen! How times have changed. She stands next to her American-born second cousin, Florinda "Flora" Abrahamson. Lydia's father, Robert Albin, and Flora's father Laurentius Gustav were first cousins. I love the sweet expression on Lydia's face. Young, innocent, wide eyed yet hopeful and eager in anticipation of her future in America.

Thank you cousin Ingemar for this wonderful gift!


Census Sunday - Abrahamsson Family of Östra Frölunda, 1908-1922

Husförhörslängd for Östra Frölunda, Stommen 1908-1915

*click to enlarge*

A little explanation of the "husförhör" for those not familiar.

Sweden in the early days did not have a census, per say. Lutheranism became the state religion in 1593, and for three centuries, all Swedes had to belong to the church. Since the 1850's, they have not even had to be baptized to be counted as members (I can imagine how this frosted my Great grandfather Robert Albin). Not until 1951 could they legally quit the church and stop paying it 1.1 percent of their annual income in taxes. The separation became complete at the turn of this century. The church still held a monopoly on funeral homes and graveyards (the reason the Abrahamssons although SDS are buried in the Östra Frölunda churchyard). The king of Sweden no longer has to be a Lutheran but the current king stated he was and would remain a man of faith. The "husförhörslängd" (household examination) was a record similar in format to a census but has so much more information than our census records. The parish was divided into smaller groups for each "husförhör", the meeting at which the people were asked questions about what they knew about the Bible, Luther's Catechism, etc. Each group met with the local parish priest at a predesignated home for the exam. The local parish priest was responsible to the bishop yearly as to the outcome. By the 20th century the household examination part was dropped but the parish still was responsible to account for all of the church members (which by law was everyone).

a gathering for the household examination

Frölunda Stommen 1908-1922 - The Abrahamsson household

My great grandfather Robert Albin is listed first as the head of the house, his occupation is "hemmansegare" (farm owner). "Gift" (married) 16 Jul 1881. The dates of each household member's birth and the place of their birth is also listed. In this time frame it would not longer be necessary but the priest notes "icke döpt" (not baptised) for all the children of Albin and Anna from Gustav on down which may indicate they live in a conservative parish or the priest himself marks them as a sign of his disapproval (note the underline). Hilma and Anna had been baptised which tells me the family converted to SDS sometime from 1885-1887. A name crossed out means they left the parish and if they returned they are again written in. To the far right is listed where they left to and when. Hilma left for the town of Borås where she received her education in 1910 and she returned to Stommen from Ultrishamn in 1915. Gustaf married and is now listed on page 110 of this same accounting. Here is where I saw for the first time that Seth also went to N. Amerika in 1912 and he returned the next year 1913. One of these days I am going to attempt to explore the hows and whys of his trip to N. Amerika. The sixth column "v" indicates all the adults have been vaccinated for smallpox. Anna's three children have not but would have been vaccinated before entering the US, most likely even before boarding the ship. In the notes column it tells Anna's husband's name, when he left and where to. Anna Karolina and her daughter Anna are listed occupation "hustru" (housewife). All three adult males, Robert, Gustaf and Seth have paid taxes to the church. Another slap in the face to Robert no doubt!

Loads and loads of information can be found on the Swedish parish records. Unfortunately only available by paid subscription. Oh those "fattig" Swedes! The Norwegians make their records available to all for free. My Norwegian maternal grandmother used to say. "The Swedes, deep pockets and short arms." Have you found that to be true?


Wednesday's child - Anna Timothea Carlsdotter

Death for any one person but especially the young is particularly tragic when it is a death that we know today is entirely preventable. And easily so.

My great great grandmother Sara-Brita Larsdotter was not the first wife of my great great grandfather Karl Andersson. He first had married Johana Edla Timetheidotter. He and Johana had a little girl Anna Timothea Carlsdotter. Then something terrible struck his and some surrounding farms in his Swedish village.

Girl child; Anna Timothea Carlsdotter, from the farm Skäremo, died 09 Oct 1855 of Rödsot, she was 4 years 5 months and 4 days old
Housewife; Johana Edla Timotheidotter, from the farm Skäremo,  had died the day before, 08 Oct 1855, also of Rödsot, she was 29 years, 7 months and 4 days old
Mother and child were both buried 11 Oct 1855. Quite possibly in the same grave.

I blew this document up so you could read it more clearly but the entire page and the one before it is below just so you can see the magnitude of suffering in this community.

Rödsot is dysentery or extreme watery and bloody diarrhea. Most likely brought on by a tainted water supply. For three months the surrounding farms were burying their dead. Clean easy...but unavailable even today to some in third world countries.

 (Swedish Church Records - Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden 1830-1861, 
GID#1032.11.49100, Vol C:3, Roll#XY-1124, page 537)

Johana Edla Timotheidotter (the wife of my great great grandfather, Karl Andersson)
   born: 03 Mar 1825 Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Swedenweden
   died: 08 Oct 1855 Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Swedenw
Anna Timothea Carlsdotter  (my second great aunt)
   born: 05 May 1850  Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden  
   died: 09 Oct 1855 Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden

*click on documents to enlarge for easier viewing*


Grandma's Abrahamsson cousins

Lena Johanna Karlsdotter was born  on the farm Skäremo in Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden to my second great grandparents Karl Andersson (1819-1895) and Sara-Brita Larsdotter (1821-1906). She was their first child and the older sister of my great grandmother Anna Karolina Karlsdotter. She married Linus Andersson in 1881 and 11 months later gave birth to her first child, the first of eleven!

Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden, the farm Skaremo

Lena Johanna Karlsdotter b. 15 Jan 1857  d. 06 May 1917
Linus Andersson b. 21 Feb 1853 d. aft 1920
   they married 15 July 1881 in Håcksvik

   their children:
     Axel b. 1882 d. 1884
     Johan Bernhard b. 1883 d. 1884
     Karl Axel b. 1886 d. ?
     Johan Bernhard b. 1887 d. 1935 in America
     Alma b.1888 d.1890 (twin to Lara)
     Lara b. 1888 (twin to Alma) ?
     Ernst Robert b. 1890 d. 1890
     Ernst Robert b. 1892 d. 1949 in America
     Frans Gottard b. 1894 d.? in America
     Lars Gunnar b.1895 d. 1973 in America
     Sven Albin b. 1897 d. 1971 in America

Lena Johanna and her husband Linus lost 4 of their children when they were no more than infants and toddlers. Her first two children died within a day of each other from whooping cough (Axel and Johan Bernhard). A twin girl was lost possibly to being born premature (Alma), her twin survived (Lara) but I have been unable to trace her since her birth. Another boy died at 2 months (Ernst Robert), the cause not documented.  Karl Axel married and moved to Borås. I know he died in Sweden but I do not know if he had any children.
Times were difficult in Sweden at that time and many young men probably did not see much of a future in Sweden and were lured to the promise of America. The remaining five of Lena Johannas boys left for America, never to return. Johan Bernhard left in 1906, followed by his brother Ernst Robert. The remaining three youngest brothers; Frans Gotthard, Lars Gunnar and Sven Albin departed from Gothenburg 14 May 1920.  None of the three ever married but remained bachelors living together in Chicago. Their father Lars? The last trace I have of him is that the three youngest mentioned him as their next of kin in Sweden.

By comparison, my great grandmother Anna Karolina Karlsdotter had 9 children, all healthy, all lived to adulthood. Those 9 children gave her 35 grandchildren and great grandchildren? I didn't even try to count us all.

But I fear that perhaps Lena Johanna died in 1917, after burying four babies of her own and without ever having the joy of a grandbaby on her lap.

How cruel and unfair life can sometimes be.

Grandma Lydia had five Abrahamsson cousins that lived not far from her in Chicago. I had never heard mention of any of them. It is possible she herself did not know?


Abrahamson photo update

In these two Abrahamson family photographs some more family members faces have been identified.
Thank you to cousin Ingemar!

Above photo was most likely taken in 1911, not 1912 as previously guessed

The older woman front in center is NOT great grandmother Anna Karolina Karlsdotter. Cousin Ingemar thought this perhaps could be one of Anna Karolina's sisters with her husband to her right. I have been looking through Swedish church records to find a bit more about Anna Karolinas sisters to see if I can make a fairly educated guess as to who these people are.

I believe the woman is Anna Karolina's younger sister Anna Susanna Karlsdotter and her husband Anders Abrahamsson. Why? Other Abrahamsson names have come up before and I could never place them in Robert Albins family. Of course! with patronymic names, those with the same name are not necessarily related in earlier days. As surnames became established our Abrahamsson grandparents had first cousins with the Abrahamsson name from their Mothers side of the family. Anna Susanna had children that would fit the age of many of those in this photo. For instance Susanna and Anders last three children were Johan Robert b. 1902, Lars Aron b. 1905 and Anna Marta b. 1907. I guessed that this picture was taken in 1910 but certainly don't the three in the front appear to be about 3,5 and 8? They also had an 11 year old daughter Johanna. Perhaps the little girl to Robert Albins right? Two daughters Alma and Selma were 15 and 17 in 1910. Perhaps to their mothers left in plaid? Behind Susanna is a boy/young man who could very well be her son Luther who was 19 in 1910.

Anna Karolina's older sister Lena Johanna and her husband I do not believe are in the photo but Lena Johanna gave birth 11 times (4 children died in childhood) but the additional older children/young people present throughout the photo could very well have been hers as the ages are seemingly appropriate.

Genealogy....what fun....each clue leads to the next. Next week  when I get a bit of time to investigate it more I will blog about Lena Johanna's three youngest boys. They left together in 1920 for a new life in America. In Chicago, no less. I have never heard about these cousins of my grandmother? Is it possible she herself wasn't aware she had maternal cousins living within a few blocks of her?

For the complete families of Anna Karolina's two sisters check out the updated family tree on
Robert Albin Abrahamson Legacy
 If you are not logged in as a family member to this tree, contact me below and I will see that you have access.

Time to start dinner,

*click on document/photos to enlarge for easier viewing*


Mystery Photo of Great Aunt Ruth

Great Aunt Ruth Soderstrom in uniform?

Cousin Lyn kindly allowed me to copy this lovely photo of her mother Ruth Abrahamson Soderstrom. She was not clear about the circumstances or the uniform. So I have been doing some digging. The cross symbolized to me the Red Cross. And so it is. This particular uniform is the uniform of the Red Cross "Gray ladies". The uniform worn during the years of World War II. Judging by the age of Aunt Ruth in this photo, a World War II time frame would also seem about right.

In 1917 during World War I Red Cross chapters were organized in Rock Island, Moline and Davenport. It was likely one of these chapters Ruth volunteered for. At the peak of World War II in 1945 7.5 million volunteers contributed to the war effort by working for the Red Cross.

One arm of the Red Cross was the Hospital and Recreation Corp. During the war"Hospital and Recreation Corps provided a variety of hostess and recreational services in over 1,000 military and veterans’ hospitals throughout the United States. Services included writing letters, reading to patients, tutoring, running shopping errands, and serving in hospital recreation rooms and at information desks (49,882 volunteers in 1944-45)."* Because of their long gray uniforms during World War I they were lovingly referred to as the "Gray Ladies", a name that stuck and became the official name of this volunteer group in 1946.

Perhaps as a way to honor her son Harry, in the Air Force, or her nephews, or sons of friends, or any of the millions of young men and women who were serving, fighting and dying for our country, Aunt Ruth was one of those giving comfort; gently and lovingly doing what she could.

*for more interesting information on the Red Cross in World War II click▼

World War II and the American Red Cross

proud to be her grandniece


Census Sunday - 1910 US Census - Moline, Illinois - Richard Kallman

1910 US Census - Moline, Rock Island, Illinois - Richard Kallman

this is the first US census that my grandfather, Richard Severin Kallman, can be found in

*He is living on 530 10th Ave. Moline, Illinois as a boarder.  A bed to sleep in, a daily meal and he most likely shares a bedroom with the other male boarder.
*25 years old, single  Richard is actually 23 but the census indicates his landlord answered the questions for all in the household.
*Richard can speak English, read and write.
*He had immigrated in 1906.
*Richard works as a laborer for a plow company (most likely John Deere).  Richard came from Grytòl in Östergötland, a town famous for its iron works since the 1600's (and still to this day).. He was a blacksmith by trade. The Deere company offered jobs to those experienced in the Swedish iron works. Word of this company had spread all the way to Sweden along with the knowledge that a large Swedish speaking population of immigrants lived there. All three of Richards sisters are already also in America. Sarona is married. Olga and Tekla are working as live in servant girls in Chicago.
*He worked the entire year

In just a bit over a year he will marry my grandmother Lydia. I do not know if he had already met her at this time or how he met her but in the 1910 census Lydia is working as a live in servant and living just 8 blocks from her future husband. A cousin told me that she had heard that Richard would hide behind some bushes just to watch her walk by.

Rather a nice looking fellow, don't you agree?

*click on photo or document to enlarge for easier viewing/reading*


Happy Birthday Aunt Ebba!

Ebba Rebecca Kallman would be 96 years old today.
 The fourth child of 5 born to my grandparents Lydia Abrahamson and Richard Severin Kallman she came into the world on January 7th 1920 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

*While I believe Lydia's other children were born at home, Ebba was born at the Chicago Union Hospital (possibly now Illinois Masonic Hospital) which leaves me wondering if there was some difficulty in her birth.
*Look at the mothers name, Lydia Robart. I imagine a senario something like this. A hurried hospital worker asks for the mothers maiden name. Lydia doesn't understand the meaning of "maiden name". "Oh, these stupid immigrants! What is your father's name?" she says disgustedly. The sweet young blond Lydia answers innocently in her thick Swedish accent, "Robert". And so it is official in Chicago birth records for all time.

The lesson here is that even primary genealogical records can be wrong.

Happy Birthday Aunt Ebba!



Immigration of Johan Emil Jakobsson

Finding the passenger manifest of the ship your immigrant ancestor arrived on is a biggee for the family historian. Particularly if your ancestor arrived during the Ellis Island years, as my direct ancestors did. It can be a goldmine. You now can possibly know his full name, his physical description, his town of origin and family members back home and those in America who he is counting on to help him begin a new life in America. I have found it wise to go back again and again and truly inspect that manifest to see what other nuggets of info can be gleaned from it.

The "Mauretania" pulled into New York harbor on May 19,1911. On board was my great Uncle Emil Jacobson.

*New York passenger lists 1820-1957, year 1911, Arrival 19 May, 
Microfilm serial: T715, Microfilm roll:T715_1680, line #24*
*click to enlarge documents for easier reading, Uncle Emil is line #24*

From the initial look at this manifest I got these great statistics for my family tree

*name - Jakobsson Johan Emil
*age, marital status, occupation  -  28, married, railway official - this info assures me I have found MY Uncle Emil as I knew his birthdate and occupation from family records I had seen earlier.
*last permanent residence, next of kin - Svenljunga, Elfsborg, wife:Anna Jakobsson
*final destination - New Briton Connecticut which he has a ticket to
*ticket was paid by - self
*money in his possession - $35
*in the US before - no
*contact in the US- cousin: John Petterson 44 Kelsey St, New Briton, Conn.
*physical description - good health, 5'3", blond hair, blue eyes, no distinguishing marks
*place of birth - Sweden, Mårdeklev, Elfsborg

The later in depth look at this manifest gave me  more info to help in my further research. More importantly, the details, even the smallest details on this manifest give me more insight and understanding of Uncle Emil's immigrant experience.

*I now know the proper Swedish spelling of Uncle Emils name which will assist me in searching Swedish records. His name follows the "rule?" I have seen before with Swedish names. What we view as the middle name is what many are called by in Sweden. The first name is in honor of a saint or an honored family member. Ellis Island took names right off of the manifest. Ellis Island did not change his name. Uncle Emil himself "Americanized" his name to John Emil Jacobson.
*"Elfsborg", it seems is an alternate spelling of Älvsborg, the lan in which the family resides. That info proved to be useful in other Swedish record searches.
*Aunt Anna's address was Stommen-Hid so I know that she and the children stayed with her parents while Emil was in America. Can I deduct then that the family approved of his journey to America? My grandmother Lydia was the first of the immediate family to go to America in 1909. Can I deduct that the family approved or felt that going to America had been a good decision for her if they now supported Anna and her family?
*Uncle Emil had $35 dollars on him. That seems a bit higher than the other immigrants. Better prepared?
*Who was this cousin John Petterson? We know the family ended up in Illinois. Aunt Anna listed Moline, Illinois when she entered the country with their children.  Was Connecticutt a bust so he moved on to the lure of ample work in Illinois? Did Uncle Emil ever intend to go to Connecticut? Did his cousin even know he was coming? Some immigrants used names of relatives gone before whether or not they had been in contact to sound more legit?
*5'3" Well, I did remember Uncle Emil being this quiet little guy following behind his tall imposing wife. But that is the memory of a little girl that really did not have a lot of contact with my great aunt and uncle. Aunt Anna scared me as a child. She would march up to our door clutching her pock-a book ( I remember my grandmother using that word). She seemed large and looming and knocked boldly on our door. "Go to get yur mudder, and tell her Tanta Anna is here." and in she came with Uncle Emil following meekly behind. I don't recall ever hearing him speak! Looking at the manifest I see only 1 of the 30 on that page reached 6ft in height. So he was shorter for a fellow but everyone was shorter in those days. And the large looming Aunt Anna I remember? Her manifest states she was 5'9". Even as a fairly short adult (5'3") she doesn't seem that scary to me any more. I also thought Uncle Emil had dark hair not "blond" as the manifest stated but again my memories of Aunt Anna and Uncle Emil are sparse and from the perspective of a little child who seldom saw them.
* None of the folks logged before or after him come from the same town. I would think that friends traveling together would also disembark or be registered together. The manifest of those leaving from Gothenburg shows the same. This tells me that Emil was most likely traveling alone.
*I noted 5 persons, out of 30 on this page were "non-immigrant aliens". It seems many Swedish immigrants went back and forth from Sweden. Perhaps the husband went to work and make money returning periodically to his family back home in Sweden? Missing family and just returning for a visit? Did America not live up to its promise for some?
*Emil sailed "steerage" class which brings up visions of being in the hold of the ship like cattle., Indeed in the early days of immigration on sailing ships it was a pretty rough trip that could last a month or more depending on the weather. Crowded, unsanitary conditions, poor inadequate food, sickness spreading and killing many, particularly the very young and very old.

Uncle Emil however came on the "Mauretania".

Steerage was now called third class which is how most immigrants traveled. His trip was 6 days long. In 1909 the "Mauretania" received the blue ribard award for crossing the Atlantic in the shortest time and held that honor until 1929. The ship was huge and widely praised for its accommodations for third class passengers. Before World War I the "Mauretania" alone brought 181 thousand immigrants to America. He also traveled in May when violent weather was less likely. He may have had plenty of opportunity to stroll above deck. Outside of missing family and home, which I am sure was hard, the actual trip on the "Mauretania" was probably not bad, maybe even pleasant.

Another interesting note is that the "Mauretania" on its return trip in June of 1911 transported thousands traveling to Great Britain for the coronation of King George V.

For lots of interesting information about the "Mauretania" and its accommodations 
click ▼

For now, that's all, but I am sure I will check out this manifest again at a later date. You never know what you will discover when you look at a document with new eyes.


Saturday's LAST silly Ole and Lena joke

Ole: "Lena, dis year I svear I am going to make yew da happiest voman in da vorld." 

Lena:  "Really? How Vonderful! Tank yew! Tank yew! Tank yew!

................ I'm gonna miss you Ole."

I will also miss Ole but as my grandmother used to say "enough is enough already". 
Along with 2015 I think its time I lay Ole and Lena to rest. This new year, 2016, I will attempt to focus on at least one ancestor each week, seeing what I can learn about them and their life and times through a document, story, photo, etc.

I leave you with this New Year's blessing from Ole.

May da ruts always fit da wheels in your pickup.
May yur ear mufs always keep out da nort wind.
May da sun shine varm on your limpa bread.
May da rain fall soft on your lutefisk.
And until ve meet again,
May da Good Lord protect ya from any 
and all unnecessary Uff Da's.

Happy New Year!