The Kallman/Abrahamson Family: Exploring my Swedish-born grandparent's and siblings immigrant journey to "Amerika". Searching for cousins everywhere to share family stories, pictures, thoughts, ideas and new discoveries about our Swedish heritage and our family today.

~ This blog, like my family tree, is always a work in process. Please stop back now and again! ~


DNA and Me the fourth AND FINAL part

The latest and supposedly greatest event in the study of  family history or genealogy is the advent of DNA testing. How cool, it seemed to be able to tell where in the world your ancient ancestors came from. I already, a few years back, had traced my family back quite a few generations on all my lines. There was so much excitement about DNA in the genealogy groups I attended and my brother also expressed an interest. I thought then, why not? There were a few surprises but a little internet sleuthing showed me the possibilities. Besides it was a fun game. I blogged about it.

     DNA and Me part 1 - my haplogroups
     DNA and Me part 2 - inherited traits
     DNA and Me part 3 - my autosomal breakdown

I initially tested through 23 and Me. My Heritage had the free offer to upload results from other companies such as 23 and Me to see if there were matches in their database. I hopped on since I had heard that My Heritage had more European participants and my heritage was exclusively Northern European. I just received my autosomal results from My Heritage. Here is the comparison of the two companies results and mind you these results came from the same DNA in the same spit tube.

Me part Indigenous Amazon?

It was a fun game but I think I'm finished with this DNA stuff. I can see the use for those of us Americans descended from slaves who cannot trace their roots beyond a couple of generations. I think for the adopted also. Or just those whose families have been in the Americas so long they have no clue from where they originated.  A genealogist with a law degree, The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL (not sure what all the letters stand for but I'm impressed) is a lecturer, educator and writer who wrote clearly about the limitations of DNA testing today. Read her article HERE.

Sometime soon I am sure the science will have advanced so much they will be able to tell lots from my DNA. But for now I am content to know....we are all cousins, cousins of the same mother who originated in Africa long long ago. 

What am I? I am 100% American.
 My ancestry? I take my grandmothers at their word.

          Love you both,    


Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

Make no mistake about it. I love my country. Mark Twain said this over 100 years ago and I could not say it better or agree more.

"A man can be a Christian or a patriot, but he can't legally be a Christian and a patriot -- except in the usual way: one of the two with the mouth, the other with the heart. 

The spirit of Christianity proclaims the brotherhood of the race and the meaning of that strong word has not been left to guesswork, but made tremendously definite -- the Christian must forgive his brother man all crimes he can imagine and commit, and all insults he can conceive and utter- forgive these injuries how many times? -- seventy times seven -- another way of saying there shall be no limit to this forgiveness. That is the spirit and the law of Christianity. 

Well -- Patriotism has its laws. And it also is a perfectly definite one, there are not vaguenesses about it. It commands that the brother over the border shall be sharply watched and brought to book every time he does us a hurt or offends us with an insult. Word it as softly as you please, the spirit of patriotism is the spirit of the dog and wolf. The moment there is a misunderstanding about a boundary line or a hamper of fish or some other squalid matter, see patriotism rise, and hear him split the universe with is war-whoop. The spirit of patriotism being in its nature jealous and selfish, is just in man's line, it comes natural to him -- he can live up to all its requirements to the letter; but the spirit of Christianity is not in its entirety possible to him.

The prayers concealed in what I have been saying is, not that patriotism should cease and not that the talk about universal brotherhood should cease, but that the incongruous firm be dissolved and each limb of it be required to transact business by itself, for the future."

                                                           - Mark Twain's Notebook


Swedish Midsummer. What is it?

"A Swedish Midsummer is 'endless' summer with sun,fun, great food, flowers, dancing and joy ... a piece of Swedish culture to be proud of."       ---- NORDSTJERNAN June 29, 2017

click on↓

an article by Nordstjernan with links to recipes, celebrations in America etc.


Father's Day

Old as she was she still missed her Daddy sometimes.
                                                                       - Gloria Naylor

Happy Father's Day! Miss you Dad!

Evelyn R. Soderstrom Eckberg

Sharing a cute photo of cousin Evelyn R. Soderstrom Eckberg
Many of the records I have found show her middle initial to be "R".
Anyone know what the "R" stands for?
I am guessing Ruth, for her mother
my great aunt Ruth Abrahamson Soderstrom

Tack så mycket Evelyn
for sharing your Soderstrom memories
and photos with the extended family!


Grandpa Richard Kallman = snus

If I had only one word to describe what I remember about my grandfather the word would be snus. Seal brand Snus. That is what I remember about him. He seemed to forever have a scowl on his face and a frown. A frown with a little dribble of tobacco slipping out of the corner of his mouth.  I don't ever recall seeing him smile or laugh. Sitting with his arthritic hands curled around his cane with a growl he would bang his cane on the floor and holler "SNUS"!!! Grandma would painfully get up (she too was very arthritic) and fetch his snus. I remember once her crying silently over his demands. One summer he sat on our back porch. My grandmother, mother and aunt were inside in the kitchen. As my cousin and I were coming up the stairs he reached out and grabbed my cousin. "you two go to the store and buy Seal brand snus". We tried to explain to him that they would not sell tobacco to kids and he proceeded to  swing his cane at my cousin. I ran into the kitchen hollering for my Aunt and Mom. "Grandpa is hitting Robert with his cane." Funny, I remember it like yesterday because to me it epitomized the type of man my grandfather was yet my cousin has no memory of the event. Seal brand snus is what he always used, tucked under his lip making little sucking sounds. Sorry to say, I did not like the man.

These past years as I have looked into my family history my thoughts of the man have softened considerably. Or is it my own advancing age?  Here is what I now think about that crippled crabby old man with the snus dribbling out of his mouth.

I belong to a facebook group with a focus on Swedish genealogy. We in America are searching for our Swedish ancestry. Those in Sweden are looking for family in America. I have numerous times seen a post by a Swede, most likely my age, looking for their grandfather. Leaving a hard life he scraped together the money for a ticket to America with the promise to send for the wife and family he left behind. But he never did and their genealogical research now shows he married again leaving  a wife and children forever in poverty. Grandpa Richard came to America for a better life and although it certainly was better it was also tough. He lived in a time of two world wars and the Great Depression.  Hard times in America and one business venture after another failed.  I heard he often had to pack and leave his home in the middle of the night as he did not have the rent money. But he always took his wife and children with him. His children loved him. I remembered my Aunt crying uncontrollably at his funeral. My father named his son after him. He was a good father. An older cousin remembers him fondly as the one who took her out for driving lessons. I now have photos of him as a younger man, healthy and full of hope and smiling. The crippling arthritis he suffered? There were none of the drugs then that are available today. By the time I came along life had beat him down, he was old and severely crippled, in pain with rheumatoid arthritis. And he just wanted his snus.

Who was I to judge him? I who was born in a very different time and place to a much easier life? How bad a man could he have been to produce such a good man as my Dad? Seal brand snus? Even today snus is a very popular Swedish habit. Heck grandpa, if that is what made things tolerable for you? You go right ahead.We owe you that.....and more.....much much more.

my grandfather
Richard Severin Kallman 
b. 3 October 1887 Grytgòl, Hällestad, Östergötland, Sweden
d. 28 August 1968 Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA

Occupation Investigation - Margareta Maria Källman the Laundress

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

Today I looked at the very difficult, hardscrabble, poorer than poor, life of my great aunt Margareta Maria Erikksson Källman. 

I look today at the family photos of the beautiful countryside of Sweden and hear of their now enviable welfare system and find it hard to believe that 100 years ago, life for our ancestors was not beautiful nor enviable on any level. The 100 year period from 1870 to 1970 turned Sweden from being one of the poorest countries in Europe into the fourth richest country in the world. 

My great uncle, Håkan Patrik Källman was the older brother of my grandfather Richard Severin Källman. Although from a very poor factory working family he must have had high hopes as he left for America in 1901 at the age of 21. He married Margareta Maria Erikksson in 1902. As she came from Örebro and he from Östergotland I am guessing he met her in the U.S.. Their first child, Arthur Patrik, was born in Joliet, Illinois in 1903. That promising beginning was overshadowed by his health. As his parents before him, Patrik had tuberculosis. He returned with his small family to Sweden in 1904. Patrik and Margareta had another son, Evert Håkon, in 1905. Their twins, Aina Maria and Erik Henrik were born in 1907. Erik was either stillborn or died shortly after birth, Aina lived only a few weeks. Son Evald Arthur was born in 1908. Eight months after Evald's birth Patrik succumbed to tuberculosis. Margareta was now alone to raise her three  boys. 

In the 1911 -1920 församlingbok of Mjölby, Östergötland, Sweden Margareta is recorded as "Backstugor och tomter", working as a "Tvätterska" or Laundress.

This is a picture of a typical Backstuga seen in southern Sweden. Many Backstuga's were just a single room cottage built on someone else's farm and they were often built into a hill because wood was expensive. Three wood walls and the back wall of dirt into the hill. A Torpare rented land with a lease agreement. Those in the backstuga's were called Backstugusittare and were totally dependant on the landowners whims, considered paupers. With no legal rights they could be thrown out at any time. They were exempt from taxes as these folks were the poorest of the poor. Sometimes the landlord would allow them a small plot to have a garden. Margareta had a small garden (och tomter)but she mainly supported herself and her boys by being a laundress.

Margareta  gave birth to daughter Valborg Maria Elisabeth in 1912. I blogged about her birth earlier in ELISABETH MARIE KÄLLMAN - I WONDER IF SHE KNEW?  Margareta gave birth again in 1916 to Georg Anton. That little guy, also noted as öakta or illegitimate, with no father listed, died after just a year. I do not for a minute believe that great aunt Margareta was so lonely for a man she went out looking to be intimate with anyone. No way. She was in a very tough situation. I don't think she ever would have wanted to bear a child to live in those harsh circumstances. It saddens me to even consider what her circumstances were, what she may have had to endure or deal with to provide anything at all for her children. The only welfare in Sweden at this time was through the church. Her illegitimate and unbaptised children?  Her children were totally without a future in early 20th century Sweden. 

The "Promise of America" was her salvation. In 1922 Arthur at 18, who had been born in the U.S., returned.  Margareta and Elisabeth followed him in September of 1923. Evert 18, and 15 year old brother Evald followed in December of 1923. My grandfather Richard was listed on the ship manifest as their American contact.

The family left Chicago and ultimately settled in Minnesota. It would only be a guess but perhaps they left Chicago to protect their sister and mother? My Dad spoke of having cousins Arthur, Evald and Evert but never mentioned Elisabeth. Perhaps my family in Chicago would have been a bit judgemental of Elisabeth's birth 4 years after the death of her "father"? Who knows? Again, just a thought.

Margareta lived to be 96 years old. How pleasant was her life in America? I don't know but I will bet you however that Margareta never again worked as a laundress. 

a strong woman and a survivor
my great Aunt, 
Margareta Maria Erikksson Källman
b. 16 July 1880 Örebro, Örebro, Sweden
d. 6 August 1976 Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA

**1911 -1920 församlingbok of Mjölby, Östergötland, Sweden, Swedish birth/death records,
 Immigration Ship Manifests and Minnesota death records for each mentioned family member 
can be accessed on my family tree on See bottom of this webpage.**


Happy Mother's Day - to my Grandmas

This Mother's my grandmas!

Grandma Kallman and me                  Grandma Sevald and me

my paternal grandmother
Lydia Abrahamson Kallman
b. 25 Feb 1890 Östra Frölunda, Älvsborg, Sweden
d. 23 Apr 1978 Chicago, Cook, Illinois USA

my maternal grandmother
Dagmar Gundersen Sevald
b. 10 Jun 1900 Eidanger, Telemark, Norway
 d. 12 Jun 1991 Skien, Telemark, Norway


A family find in an old yearbook - Melvin Soderstrom

accessed on U.S., School yearbooks, 1880-2012.
Moline High School in Moline, Rock Island, Illinois
Class of 1943 yearbook the "M"

Was there perhaps a plan to keep the brains in the family?
Robert Liljegren's brother Bill will one day marry Melvin's sister Esther.

my first cousin once removed
Melvin Andrew Soderstrom
b. 11 December 1924 Moline, Rock Island, Illinois
d. 24 December 1982 Winston-Salem, Forsyth, North Carolina


1940 Census - Chicago, Illinois - Thure and Evelyn Johnson

2117 W. Gladys Chicago, Cook, Illinois

The 1940 US Census finds Thure and Evelyn Johnson living in Chicago with his widowed mother. Also in the same house is Thure's divorced sister, Mildred. Thure's two younger siblings, Stanley and Florence also live in the home. Now add Thure's sister Emma, Emma's husband Charles and Emma and Charles daughter, Thure's niece, Georgia. That's correct, there are nine people living in this rented single family home which most likely has just three bedrooms! With today's values and circumstances it would be easy to say..what a bunch of dead beat kids still living off their widowed mother! It is important to know and appreciate the times and the culture they were living in.  These last ten years in Chicago and the rest of the Western world and for the Johnson family were very tough indeed.  In the early part of the 20th century Chicago was booming and growing. Then came the Great Depression. Chicago grew by only an additional 20,000 folks in the 10 years from 1930 to 1940. Most came from the farming South, hoping to find work. Immigration from Europe had all but ceased. The work just wasn't there, 20% of Chicago was out of work. In the 1930 census Thure's parents, Thure and Frances, owned their own home. They now lived in a rented house and you see that Frances is a widow, Thure Sr. had died. In the 1940 census the government tried to get a sense of how folks had fared by asking where they were in 1935. The Johnsons were in the "same place". 1935 was the year Thure Sr. died at the young age of 50. Perhaps due to the depression or his death the family no longer could afford the mortgage and lost their home. The adult children were perhaps not working themselves or working to help their mother pay her rent, so she and the younger kids have a home. Another possibility? No where to go. During the depression virtually no new building went on and in 1940 the US is soon to enter the war raging in Europe which would revive the economy but take all building supplies, raw materials and manpower for the war effort. Extended families living together, sharing expenses or renting out your bedrooms to boarders were common and often necessary occurrences in the 30's and 40's of Chicago.

The young couple, Thure and Evelyn, had just been married 4 months previously. Living with your mother is not an ideal way to start out a marriage but when you are young and in love the future always promises to be bright.

my first cousin once removed
Evelyn Jacobson
b. 16 July 1916 Moline, Rock Island, Illinois
d. 3 December 1987 West Chicago, DuPage, Illinois

her husband
Thure Walter Johnson
b. 12 September 1912 Chicago, Cook, Illinois
d. 10 August 1994 West Chicago, DuPage, Illinois

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


Happy Birthday Aunt Laverne!

April 29, 1923 my Aunt Lavern Esther Ruth Kallman Johnson was born. I know I have posted this picture before but I think it is a particularly cute photo of the happy fun loving person she was.

 My grandmother stated Lavern was born in Crystal Lake, Illinois yet I found her listed in the Cook County birth database. Crystal Lake has never been in Cook county. Nor am I aware that the Kallman Family ever lived in Crystal Lake. Perhaps Grandma and Grandpa registered her birth her Chicago, Cook county although she was born elsewhere. Until I see proof otherwise I am going to go with Crystal Lake. I would not dare dispute Grandma's word for it!

my paternal aunt
Lavern Esther Ruth Kallman Johnson
b. 29 April, 1923 Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA
d. 29 June 2009 Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA


Occupation Investigation - Anders Breberg

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

Anders Breberg is my sixth great grandfather...
Anders Breberg→Brita Andersdotter→Margretha Pehrsdotter→Maja Nilsdotter
→Carl Abrahamson→Edvard Julius Abrahamsson→Robert Albin Abrahamsson
→Lydia Abrahamson→Melvin Kallman→ME!
Anders was a "soldat", a soldier.

He was born long long ago (1695). So long ago that the Swedish church does not have records covering his early life. When the first household examination was recorded in Snavlunda 1769-1776 Anders was already 74 years old. He is referred to as a pensioned/retired soldier. As soldiers generally did, Anders did not keep his very common patronymic of Anderson (his father was Anders Jonsson) but took on the name Breberg which was the name of the croft he was living on.

By the end of the 1600's Sweden had a military allotment system which was in place until 1901 when Sweden went to a drafted army. In the allotment systems a group of farms within a given area was called a "rote" and each rote was responsible for a soldier. The rote recruited the soldier from the surrounding farm men. The soldier signed a contract agreeing to getting a place to live for him and his family called a soldattorp, some form of payment and or benefits. He could be called to war and when at war the rote would be responsible for his family and help them with their farming in his absence. When the country was not at war he would have to go to exercises with his regiment and perform other duties. Soldiers often served as teachers being people who were required to read and write. A  soldier could also be a person of an additional trade such as a carpenter, baker, tailor etc. that would be of use in the military as well as an additional source of income for the soldier in peacetime. If the soldier died his wife and children had to leave the soldattorp so the next soldier could move in with his family, if he had one. Often the next soldier would just marry the widow as part of the deal. Often sons of soldiers also became soldiers. There is  another soldier named Breberg living on  Breberg and although he would be the appropriate age to be Ander's son the records to prove that he is are all but non existent or impossible to read (for me anyway).

a 19th century soldier and his family outside their soldattorp

Sweden is noted for being neutral but I initially was not aware that during the 17th and 18th century Sweden was a major world power throughout Europe. Guess who was their downfall? Russia of course. Sweden's army was well trained and well equipped but the Russians just kept coming and coming and coming and ........  Sweden was not the first nor was it the last to feel the might of the Russians. A country and people whose name alone still brings fear to the world. As it should.

my sixth great grandfather
the soldier
Anders Breberg
b. 22 Sep 1695 Snavlunda, Örebro, Sweden
d. 28 Feb 1783 Breberg, Snavlunda, Örebro, Sweden


Kissing Cousins? Jan and Lisa

Something I couldn't figure out was wrong with my family tree. My family tree program gave me an alert that I had duplicate people in my tree. Where were they? With a Scandinavian tree there is a double edged sword. One hundred years ago and beyond there are no surnames only patronymics for the majority of ancestors particularly for the farm and poorer folks as most of my family were. For instance I could have an Ole Olson who is a great grandfather another Ole Olson who is a great great uncle on another branch of the tree who may both have been born around the same time. They are not duplicate ancestors. A couple of names continued to kept coming up. Then I saw it. On my grandfather Richard Kallman's line his maternal grandparents were cousins.  Jan's mother was Anna Lisa's aunt and Anna Lisa's father was Jan's uncle. They were first cousins.


I immediately got the creeps, shades of incest and visions of deformed banjo playing children.
Time for my friend Google Search again.

This practice turned out to be a lot more common worldwide and the creepiness I felt was more a part of my Western European/American culture. After all intermarriage is why we in the north of the planet are more likely to have blue eyes and fair hair and light skin as opposed to our more southern cousins. If you are a nerd like me who wonders about all sorts of things "google" bottleneck effect, genetic drift and founder effect. Better yet check out this youtube → HERE

What about more recent times? It seems that back in the day the Catholic Church first banned marriage between cousins. In Sweden Christianity arrived later than on the main continent so while cousin marriage was a no-no in Germany around 500, we Norse folk still followed some pagan rituals including cousin marriage until maybe 1100 or so when the Vikings brought Christianity home. As much of Europe became Protestant they looked more to the Bible for their "rules" and customs and eased up some but basically was still not comfortable with the idea of marriage within families. In the US today marrying first cousins is only allowed in 19 states though some allow it under certain conditions. The general public though thinks poorly of it. I would guess that spouses who are cousins would surely not advertise it. In other parts of the world marriage within the family is encouraged. I have read that today 10% of all marriages in the world are between cousins with up to 50% in some regions.

The risk of birth defects with cousin marriage is more and more debunked. Yes, we all carry recessive genes, some considered good, some considered bad and some downright life threatening but unless you are in a very small group of eligible mates AND there is a damaging recessive gene in that same group, medical researchers say the risks of genetic problems are practically non existent. We know now that we have no royal blood (hemophilia in the royals), and we are not the Amish who are all descended from the same 200 German/Swiss immigrants (dwarfism, various cognitive/development issues).

In days of old in Sweden, as always and everywhere, the rich can have their own rules. They would intermarry to keep the money in the family and would buy a pricey dispensation from the King to do so. In the 19th century the Swedish Riksdag lowered the fee and then eliminated it entirely. Today, cousins are allowed to marry in Sweden.

 So it seems that Jan and Anna Lisa committed no crime and I cannot point to them as the reason both my son and I have a funky-looking pinky toe but still.....


my second great grandparents
Jan Gustaf Bergvall
b. 4 May 1807 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
d. 5 Dec 1882 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
Anna-Lisa Pehrsdotter
b. 16 Feb 1817 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden
d. 25 Jan 1904 Knutstorp, Lerbäck, Örebro, Sweden

*  Genetic Drift | Founder Effect and Bottleneck Effect Explained
*  Wikipedia - Cousin Marriage
*  Cousin couples - Will our children be normal? 
*  Inbreeding in Sweden
*  How to get married in Sweden


National Ellis Island Family History Day

Today, April 17 has been designated as National Ellis Island Family History Day.

In 1890 then president Benjamin Harrison designated Ellis Island as the first Federal Immigration station. From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, including some of our Swedish ancestors.

CLICK HERE  to view the history of Ellis Island and 
see how our immigrant ancestors entered their new life in the United States


Occupation Investigation - Carl Broberg

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

Carl Broberg was my fourth great grandfather.
Me→Melvin Kallman→Lydia Abrahamson→Robert Albin Abrahamson
→Charlotta Majholm→Brita Christina Broberg→Carl Broberg

Carl was a skomakare or shoemaker. His occupation was noted as early as his first marriage in 1766. Born and baptized Carl Carlsson, he dropped his patronymic and took the surname Broberg on establishing himself in a trade. He had been born in the parish of Bro so that most likely is where he took the first part of his name from. 

The training to become a skilled shoemaker began with working with a Master Shoemaker and from there Carl would have gone from apprentice to journeyman to Master Shoemaker. Skilled craftsmen were only allowed to work in towns, under the eyes of the guild with three exceptions; blacksmiths, shoemakers and tailors. Therefore those working in the countryside (as Carl did, Arboga landförsamling) may not have been of the same quality as those in town (Arboga stadförsamling). Carl however, worked in Jädersbruk which was a large community and he was not the only shoemaker noted in the household examinations. On his death record Carl is noted as a "Master Shoemaker". 

Now do NOT however refer to my fourth great grandfather as a "cobbler", another old trade name we often hear in family history research. A cobbler would repair shoes or repurpose the cast off shoes of the rich to resell to the working folk. A shoemaker was an artisan. He made shoes.

The guild system of old Sweden is better explained and in more detail  here ↓ check it out.

I owe a big thank you to some of the members of the facebook group SWEDISH AMERICAN GENEALOGY GROUP who passed on their extensive knowledge of old Sweden to me.

my fourth great grandfather
Carl Broberg
the Master Shoemaker
b. 27 September 1737 Bro, Uppsala, Sweden
d. 10 December 1787 Jädersbruk, 
Arboga landsförsamling, Västmanland, Sweden


1893 Hugo Henrik Allvin leaves Sweden.

March 3rd 1893, my great Uncle Hugo Henrik Allvin left the port of Gothenburg, Sweden on the ship "Rollo". The "Rollo", full of emigrating Swedes was headed for Hull, England.

The Gothenburg Swedish Passenger List
March 3rd 1893, the ship "Rollo"
line #34 Hugo Allvin of Linkoping Waderstad, Sweden
18 years old, final destination Chicago, Illinois

From Hull, England he and his shipmates would board a train that took them overland to Liverpool, England. He arrived in the U.S., New York harbor, March 25, 1893 on the ship "Britannic". Hugo Henrik was 18 years old and he traveled alone. He stated his occupation as "laborer". Hugo Henrik would then board a train to his final destination, Chicago.

In Chicago he would find work and meet his future wife, my great aunt Sarona Rebecka Kallman, my grandfather Richard's oldest sister. They had two sons, Stanley and Milton. Somewhere early in their marriage they "Americanized" their surname to Alvine.

My Great Uncle
Hugo Henry Alvine
b: 6 Oct 1875 Väderstad, Östergötland
d: 9 Jan 1952 Stanislaus, California

**click on document to enlarge for easier reading**


Occupation Investigation - Karl Andersson

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

My great great grandfather Karl Andersson, the father of my great grandmother Anna Karolina Karlsdotter was born and died on the farm Skäremo in Håcksvik, Västra Götaland, (Älvsborg), Sweden. So did his father Anders. He was a farmer. On his death record his occupation or position is listed as "Undantagsman". What? Did Karl have an additional occupation beyond farmer? I went to one of my favorite internet sites, Google translate. "Exceptional Man" is the translation they gave me. I know that I and my cousins think we have a pretty great family, but exceptional? A nice member of the "Swedish American Genealogy" facebook group directed me to her blog RESEARCHING SWEDISH ROOTS where I linked over to some sites that translated old Swedish genealogical terms.


Early pension scheme
In the old Swedish society (before the 20th century) there was no pension system except for some government employees and a few private initiatives. For a farmer who could, for any reason (old age, illness/injury etc), no longer earn his living there was no pension system available. He could sell his farm and live off that cash as long as it lasted but this would almost always mean that his heirs would not get the farm since they could usually not raise the cash needed. A very common practice was to draw up a födorådskontrakt - a contract between the owner of a farm and his successor with the following content: where the farm owner transfers the ownership to the other person on condition that the "receiver" provides board and lodging to the (former) owner and his family.
The "board and lodging" was usually detailed in the contract, sometimes in great detail stating the exact amounts of different foods, seeds, hay, fire wood, clothing etc, room / rooms / cottage to live in and sometimes also a small amount of cash.

The contract was usually registered at the district court so genealogy researchers can consult these archives (domböcker) to find them.
The obligations that the new owner had could be linked to the farm itself so that if he sold the farm the next owner would then have to provide for the "first" owner.

The person / family receiving the board and lodging were named födorådstagare or sometimes the more generic term undantagsman or backstugusittare were used.
Undantagsman is used for a person who lives on a farm without taking any significant part in the work.

Undantagsenka = a widow who is in an "undantag" situation.
Backstugusittare is used about a person on undantag but living in a backstuga - a small cottage."

Great great grandfather Karl was retired. Just like me!


Swedes Aboard the Titanic

April 1912
Arguably one of the most infamous maritime disasters was the sinking of the Titanic. The Titanic sank in April of 1912. Along with the famous, the Astors, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, were scores of immigrants, traveling steerage, headed to New York and Ellis Island.

Sinking of the Titanic-Wikipedia Commons

 Our immigrant ancestors, coming during the same time period and traveling the same route, could easily have been one of these unlucky Swedes leaving their home in Sweden for a new life in the U.S. on the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic.


An interesting but sad accounting.


The ties that bind? - DNA

Well, I am over it and hope all the cousins are too.

So what if the DNA of the Abrahamson family doesn't match with the King of Sweden? More importantly (to me anyway) is that Cousin Knut Anderson got his DNA results and the first match that popped up on his screen? You guessed it....ME!!!!!

Poor ole may be out but science (and my spit in a tube) proved 
I am officially a member of the Abrahamson clan! 

Right on the money also. Knut is indeed my first cousin once removed. 
His mother was Ester Abrahamson, the seventh child of Robert Albin Abrahamson. 
My grandmother was Lydia Abrahamson, the fourth child of Robert Albin Abrahamson.


Occupation Investigation - Karl Teodor Källman

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

In the 1883-1887 Swedish Household Examination my great grandfather Carl Teodor Andersson (father of my grandfather Richard Kallman) is working as a "Tråddragare". This translates to a wire-drawer. That did not help me, what would this be? The dictionary was no more help telling me that it is "one who draws wire". Really?? My husband, who is pretty knowledgeable explained it to me like this. A "wire-drawer" would be a person who sets up, or operates a machine that extrudes (draws) metal materials into tubes, rods, wires, etc. For instance he might work a factory machine that produces barbed wire. Now I got it.

wire drawers with their tools outside a wire factory @1890
When I thought of Sweden I always, for some reason, thought of idyllic farmland, rolling green hills and the Swedes of old being basically farmers. In fact Sweden has a thousand year old history of mining, particularly iron. Today Sweden is by far the largest iron ore producer in the EU.

To be a miner in the late  19th century was no doubt, grueling and back breaking work. It was also unhealthy and downright dangerous. Perhaps Carl considered himself lucky to instead be working in a factory.  If you can call it lucky that the family lived on company property in company owned housing with pretty poor pay, long work days and hard work.  Looking at where my grandfather Richard was born and where his family lived also gave me more clues. Grytgol, Ostergotland. There is a large factory there still in existence which has been up and running since the 1600's as one of the world's leading suppliers of industrial wire.

Carl very likely could have worked for this same company. Hard work and poorly paid, it was still an occupation that did command some respect, a blacksmith type trade.  Having a trade, he distinguished himself by no longer going by his patronymic Andersson but took the surname Källman, passing the name on to my grandfather Richard, my father Carl Melvin and me. 

my great grandfather
Carl Teodor Källman - Tråddragare
b.10 September 1853 Tjällmo, Östergötland, Sweden
d. 03 September 1910 Mjölby, Östergötland, Sweden


Occupation Investigation - Robert Albin Abrahamsson

Many of the old Swedish parish records list an ancestors title or occupation.
The words are often confusing, antiquated and make little sense to me.
Now and again I like to investigate, do some research.
What is the meaning of my ancestors title or occupation?
How did he support and feed his family in his time?

I thought I would start with my great grandfather. Seeing a portrait of him and his family for the first time was my introduction into my Swedish heritage. On his estate probate he is listed as...

Robert Albin Abrahamsson - Hemmansägare = farmer  

Robert Ablin
Gentleman Farmer
That English translation is not totally correct. On Swedish documentation there are all different words for farmer. Yes, as in English, they all farm the land, but the different words for farmer indicates also their particular place on the farm or social standing. They could be merely a "dräng" which generally indicates a young male farm laborer. A "fästebonde" was a sort of tenant farmer.  A "torpare" worked a small farm he did not own and usually paid the owner in produce or days of work. A "statare" was merely employed by the landowner. There are a few others which indicate different standings of a farmer but the occupation seems to be at its best if, like Robert Albin, you were a "Hemmansägare".  The best English translation of great grandfather Robert Albin's occupation is that he was a gentleman farmer. He owned his own goodly sized farm with buildings that gave him a bit of higher standing in the community at large. It was a pretty good place to be in late 19th century Sweden. Land was at a premium and Sweden's population had grown rapidly. The wish to own their own land was a big big driving force that sent thousands of poor Swedes to the U.S. in the mid 19th century.


The Trombone?

Moline High School
Class of 1940
Moline, Rock Island, Illinois

Wow, a swing trombone player! I think this is a first for our family. Or is it?

my first cousin once removed
Harry Robert Soderstrom
b. 15 October 1922 Moline, Illinois
d. 28 June 2010 Columbus, Indiana