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, Soldat

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!