Those Places Thursday - Using Google Maps

Surely anyone familiar with computers have used Google maps for directions. I use it for that purpose but have found it be be a great resource for family history also. When I see an address on a census record of an ancestor or family member I generally use Google maps to see the house or building in which they lived. Sometimes a disappointment when a family home was leveled for a parking lot but often the building still exists and it gives me a feeling of closeness to the life  experience of that particular ancestor.  Following the arrows on Google maps I travel up and down the streets, checking out the area.

The Östra Frölunda church stands next to the home and property of my great grandfather Robert Albin Abrahamsson. He, his wife, parents and additional family members are buried in the churchyard. I have posted this photo before but now thanks to Google maps you can now view

How cool is that? Thank you cousin Ingemar Majholm of Sweden for the update on the views of the interior of the town church and for the reminder of how awesome GOOGLE MAPS is.

***click on photos to enlarge for easier viewing***
***click on the above links to go directly to the church and Google maps***


Census Sunday - 1910 US Census: Moline, Rock Island, Illinois - Lydia Abrahamson

Line 27 - Abrahamson, Lydia, Servant, aged 20

1910 US Census Moline, Rock Island, Illinois
click on census to enlarge for easier viewing

April 1910, my grandmother Lydia has been in the US. for just over a year. She is working as a live in household servant for the Irwing family. This was a very common occupation for young single Swedish immigrant women. Swedish housemaids were among the preferred. In fact at the turn of the century a fourth of all of Chicago's domestic servants were of Swedish origin and nationwide they were among the predominant groups in household labor along with Irish, Germans and Norwegians. Swedish  housemaids had a reputation for being honest, diligent, hardworking, willing to learn and unlikely to complain.* It was a good paying and highly respected job in the Swedish community.

I think she may have liked her life with the Irwing family. Sure the work was hard, but housework was difficult in those days and no worse than it had been back home in Sweden  Swedish maids were respected and relatively well paid as opposed to harsh conditions working in Sweden.
The Swedish American population was young, the majority of the population was between 20 and 40 and there were more Swedish men than women in America. The Swedish girls could have their pick. The Swedish girls adapted quickly to American ways and working in an American home they picked up English quickly. As you can see by this census record Lydia, here just a year, already speaks English.

My grandmother Lydia would shortly meet my grandfather Rikard, now going by Richard, who had arrived from Sweden in 1906. In the next year she would leave her employment to be a full time housewife as was then the custom and expectation.

*an excerpt from "Peasant Maids, City Women: From the European Countryside to Urban America." a book by Christiane Harzig, Cornell University Press


Sibling Saturday - Peter, John and Hulda Jacobson

photo from the personal collection of Paul Jacobson

Jakob Lorentz Petersson and Johanna-Lena Larsdotter of Mårdaklev, Älvsborg, Sweden had eight children. Only four survived to adulthood. Three emigrated to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century; Petrus (Peter) Leander, Johan (John) Emil and Hulda Maria Elisabeth Johnson.
Only one child remained behind in Sweden; Gustaf Adolf.

Johan (John) Emil Jakobsson would emigrate in 1911 and his wife Anna (my grandmother Lydia's sister) would follow with their first three children in 1913.

my Great Uncle
John Emil Jacobson 
 b: 11 Sep 1878 in Mårdaklev, Älvsborg, Sweden
d: 22 Feb 1962 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA

***click on photo to enlarge for easier viewing***


"Will you kindly call for him about 2:30 P.M."

This letter, dated: February 9, 1920, was among the items my father had saved from his childhood. 


Durand Hospital
of the
The John McCormick Institute of Infectious Diseases
637 South Wood Street

          Mr. Richard Kallman
          3056 Clifton Ave.,
          Chicago, Illinois

                            This is to inform you that your 
          son, Karl Kallman, is now entirely recovered 
          and able to go home. Will you kindly call 
          for him about 2:30 pm and oblige.

                                                   very truly yours,
                                                   Durand Hospital
                                                   by: E. Johnson


My Dad had been seriously enough ill at the age of 3 1/2 to enter a hospital? Dad had never mentioned being ill as a child. I had never heard of the Durand hospital of Chicago. What had happened? They had to "call for him"? I would never have left my child alone in a hospital. Of course 1920 is close to a century ago. I decided to do some research.

December 29, 1911 the Northern Trust company of Chicago, as trustees of the will of Anna W Durand, purchased a site for a hospital for infectious diseases. Mrs. Durand had left $375,00 for the erection and maintenance of the hospital.* The hospital was built in 1913 and unfortunately, mainly due to the depression, lack of funding forced its closure in 1933.**

One of the reasons the life expectancy was so much shorter years ago was the high incidence of childhood morbidity due to the many many childhood illnesses exacerbated by living in cramped quarters, little knowledge of how disease spread, no antibiotics, poor nutrition, unclean water etc. etc.  The rich had personal physicians who came to them in their home. Industrialization, urbanization and immigration made hospitals necessary and the only place to receive any medical care for the poor.  Hospitals were for the poor and indigent, the "worthy poor" because back in the day many felt that poverty, illness and morality all went together. You didn't go there unless you were desperate and for good reason. You may very well not come out.  And the Kallmans were poor and probably desperate that their little boy was gravely ill. At the end of the 19th century enlightened dedicated physicians and caring citizens realized that children needed specific medical care, not the same as adults and pediatric hospitals began in the larger cities like Chicago. Many children, by the time they entered the hospital, were malnourished or at death's door. If they did survive, and that is a big if, their hospital stay was long, perhaps weeks even months.*** And those destitute scared parents were not allowed to stay with their most likely even more frightened children. 

I don't know how long they waited for that letter. I don't know how long my Dad was in the hospital, nor exactly why. Since this was a hospital dedicated to infectious disease it could have been any one of a number of childhood infectious illnesses, or perhaps the flu pandemic that had just swept through the country.  Whatever it was I am certain it took great courage and perhaps a sense of desperation for Lydia and Richard to take their sick little boy to the Durand hospital and leave him there, all the while praying the doctors could help him. 

In a previous post I wrote about a "FAMILY TREASURE". A lock of my Dad's blond hair lovingly saved by his mother.

 I had always assumed it was perhaps a memento of his first haircut as it was common back in the early part of the 20th century to let a little boys hair grow long until the age of 4 or 5. Now I see it differently. "Melvin's hair when he was 4 years old" she had written on the paper the lock of hair was sewn to. Carl Melvin was 4 in 1920. Maybe Grandma Lydia feared the worst and the clipping of hair was a memento of little Carl Melvin himself, cut just before he entered the hospital. No wonder they saved the letter that informed them their little boy was coming home.

*The journal of the American Medical Association 1911, Volume 56, issue 2 pg 127 Click here to read this passage
**The Chicago Tribune Tuesday January 31, 1933, page 1 Click here to read the article


Mystery Monday - who is Luther?

Last spring the wife of a cousin shared some mystery photos with me. They had belonged to her deceased mother in law who really didn't know who many of the people were but didn't want to throw the photos out because her mother (my grandmother Lydia) had kept them for so long. One of those photos was really only half of a photo that had been ripped. On the back was written "Ruth and Luther". Great Aunt Ruth Abrahamson Soderstrom of course, but who was Luther?

I have found that Anna, Lydia and Ruth had some additional Abrahamsson cousins who also emigrated to the U.S. Not Abrahamsson on Robert Albin's side but on their mother, Anna Karolina Karldotters side. Anna Karolina had two sisters. Her younger sister, Anna Susanna b. 1861 married Anders Abrahamsson. Their oldest son was Luther. Luther emigrated in 1912 but he went to New Briton, Connecticut (another Swedish favorite town) not Rock Island as his cousins had. His younger sister Alma Charlotta followed him in 1916. Another photo shared with me at the same time I believe to also be of Luther, in Sweden before he left for America. A bit overexposed, when enlarged and compared side to side, is a close match to the photo of Luther with Ruth, in particular around the eyes, ears and nose.

May I introduce my first cousin twice removed
Luther Abrahamson
b: 29 Jan 1891  Håcksvik, Älvsborg, Sweden
d: 9 Nov 1974 Kensington, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

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


Leif Eriksson - The First European in North America

"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue".
He certainly did but he was about 500 years too late to "discover" the Americas.
We know Leif Eriksson was here first!

 to all my Scandinavian-American Family and Friends
Happy Leif Eriksson Day!

**click on illustration to enjoy a short you-tube presentation**


Long ago friends identified

A week or so back I posted this picture of my grandmother Lydia, my great Aunt Anna and two unidentified friends. I was hoping a family member out there could identify those ladies. And someone did! Two cousins in the Abrahamson clan have identified "the lady to the right of Anna as Sister Emma Olsen, and sitting is Sister Anderson." Friends most likely from church they spent lots of time together over coffee and pastries, sometimes at the bakery. FIKA!

Thank you cousins Miriam and Frances. Now tell me this. Do you recognize anyone in this yearbook page from the Long Beach Polytechnic High School graduating class of 1950?
 Hint, hint...the cute young gal on the upper right.

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


Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Bun Day)

**this is a repeat of last years tribute to Cinnamon Bun Day because you can NEVER tire of Cinnamon Buns!**

Cinnamon Bun Day - Kanelbullens dag

Today, October 4,  is Cinnamon Bun Day - Kanelbullens dag! Today, in bakeries and convenience stores all over Sweden you will find baskets of warm cinnamon buns, or Kanelbullar, as these tasty swirls of pastry are called in Swedish.

"Cinnamon buns are an almost daily feature of Swedish life, but today, 4th October, is their special day. The tradition of celebrating Kanelbullens dag is however only seventeen years old – though it fits in perfectly with Swedish culture and tradition: there are a number of other days in which pastries play a significant roll, such as Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) when the nation eats semla.

Cinnamon Bun Day was established in 1999 when staff at Sweden's Hembakningsrådet ("Home Baking council") were looking for a way to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

The idea behind the creation of the day was to celebrate Sweden's home baking tradition by highlighting a traditional and much-loved pastry. The autumn harvest is high season for baking in Swedish homes, so it was an ideal time of the year for a festive day with a baking theme.

Finally, very much in keeping with Swedish culture, it was considered important that the tradition should be something that everyone can participate in - a goal which has easily been reached: go into any bakery in Sweden today and you will find Cinnamon rolls in abundance!"*

My husband Otto, our family baker, is THE expert at Cinnamon Buns. Ya sure, ve know dat he isn't Svedish. You have to admit though that the Germans DO know how to dine well! Here is the recipe he uses.He found it on and says "there is no better". The only difference is that Otto uses all butter, never a bread machine and doubles up on the cream cheese frosting. And boy, do we LOVE them!

"Clone of a Cinnabun"

Happy Cinnamon Bun Day! - Ranae

*from the University of Stockholm

click "more to read" for written recipe


An Anniversary to Remember

Sixty seven years ago today my parents, 
Melvin Kallman and Grace Sevald, became husband and wife.

The happy young couple
Mr. & Mrs. Melvin Kallman
married: October 1, 1949

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