Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 40

October 2018



Raukar ... huge stone formation made from lime stone, common along the Gotland shore.

photo: Marie Louise Bratt



What a summer we had here in Sweden! A heat wave that would not stop, and rain that did not happen. If you were in Sweden this summer, you might know what I'm talking about. Now Swedes are discussing climate change almost daily, and with good reasons.

Even so we were able to arrange a wonderful tour to Gotland, Sweden's biggest island, located in the Baltic sea. It's an interesting part of Sweden, quite different from the rest of Sweden, and so beautiful! You can read more about it here, and watch the fascinating raukar and the city of Visby. 

We had to make the difficult decision that this was our last summer doing tours in Sweden.  With much regret, after almost two decades of of traveling with so many of you. We'll really miss these exciting trips, visiting many parts of this beautiful country of ours.

I'll continue helping you though, with your research, and with finding your living relatives in Sweden, if you so wish. And if you decide to travel to Sweden, let me know, and I'll make sure that you find that village and farm where grandma lived. Write to me, with great-grandpa's name, date of birth, and more, and let's get started!


Oäkta barn
Let's talk about a common problem, not always easy to solve: the one of a child  born without a known father. In the birth record you'll find the mother's name, but not the father's. Disappointing!

In the birth record, next to the child's name, you will find the word Oäkta, fader okänd, father unknown. Sad for the child, of course, but also for all those relatives who follow, who want to find your ancestors.

Why is there no sign of him in the records? He could have been married at the time of the child's birth and already have a family. His wife probably did not know about his relationship, and so he wanted to keep it secret. Or he just didn't want the resposibility of a family and so  he left the country, perhaps for America or Australia. Let's see if we can find him!  It's not always possible, but worth a try!



Finding the father
Let's say that your grandfather was Simon Bergman. You know his mother's name, but not his father's. How do you proceed?

1. Start with Simon's birth record. There is his mother's name, Anna Karlsdotter, but next to Fader (father) is the word okänd (unknown). Check if there is more information, perhaps in the margin. Perhaps: Olof Bergman i Godegården säger att han är barnets far (Olof Bergman in Godegården says that he is the child's father).

2. Nothing in the birth record? Then I suggest checking out the husförhörslängd (the household examination record). Under Anmärkningar (notes), you might find the name of the father. 

3. Try the next household examination record, the one following the child's birth. Simon might have been born before his parents' marriage, which followed a year or so later. In the next records his father was included. 

4. Try the court records, at the regional archives (landsarkiv). Simon's mother might have contacted the court to get child support. This might be where you'll find the father's name! 

5. Don't forget the archives in the kommun (municipality). You might find all kinds of interesting information about those living within its borders. Here are the 290 kommuner in Sweden.

6. For children born after year 1917, a barnavårdsman (child welfare officer) was assigned to assure the child's welfare. There are usually very good records kept by the officer. It's worth trying!

7. A child's last name might be the same as the father's. Simon's last name was Bergman. Where did he get this name from? Try searching through the parish records, especially the neighboring farms. You found a young man named Olof Bergman, working as a farmhand close to where Simon was born. Could he be Simon's father?

8. A bouppteckning, estate inventory, for the possible father could help! Even though Simon was born outside marriage, his father might have included him in his will, and so also in the estate inventory where all heirs are included.

9. You want proof! Try DNA! Here you will probably need help, either by reading or by consulting an expert. This video is a start info about DNA.

If you now found your great-grandfather, whom you did not know so far, congratulations! Of course it's not always possible to find him, but I would love to hear from you if you were successful - or even if you were not!




Time to relax with some videos:

The first one describes a rather typical trip by an American family to Sweden, where they found the farm of their ancestors and even some relatives, To and from Sweden with Love. This video might inspire you to start planning a trip to Sweden, to visit your own Swedish family!

The next video is about the hardships suffered by many Swedes as they arrived in America. Swedish life in America is about Swede Hollow, a Swedish immigrant community in St Paul, Minnesota. Ola Larsmo has written a book called Swede Hollow, that was published recently in Sweden and has been quite appreciated. Worth reading!



God Jul!

Jul is approaching (all of you know, of course, that Jul means Christmas)! Well, I know: Thanksgiving is coming first! But we have no Thanksgiving in Sweden.

There is a newsletter from 2010, telling you about the Jul season starting with Lucia, on December 13, and ending in early January. A very long celebration indeed! I plan to send you the video of the Swedish television celebration of Lucia, on December 13 (or as soon as I can, since I'll be in Arizona visiting my son at that time).

I do wish you a very God Jul (Merry Christmas) and Gott Nytt År (Happy New Year). Remember to ask your aunts and cousins about grandma and grandpa, during your holiday get togethers. This could be the start of an exciting journey, learning where in Sweden they came from, when they emigrated and whom they left behind.

If you need help with all this, just write to me! 

Marie Louise Bratt


PS - If your cousin, or one of your friends, might be interested in reading this newsletter,  consider forwarding it to them. Thank you!



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