Bridge to Sweden
Newsletter no 38

November 2016



Ancient stone ship (stensättning) called Ale Stones, in Skåne - around 2000 years old

Photo: Marie Louise Bratt




Summer is over and fall, almost winter, has arrived to Sweden. Our trips are also over for this year. This summer we traveled to Småland, from where huge numbers of emigrants came, and also to Göteborg (Gothenburg) and the island of Tjörn, in Bohuslän. Summer was beautiful, much sun, some really hot days - and yes, a few chilly and rainy ones also! So much fun, and so many wonderful people, Americans, Canadians, Australians and of course Swedes.

Finally there is time to write another newsletter. Today we'll go far back into Swedish history and meet your ancient Swedish relatives. They came to Sweden thousands of years ago, right after the last Ice Age. We know that all humans came from Africa, but how and when did they get to Sweden?

After all that we'll return to the present time, or rather the future. If you are considering a trip to Sweden next summer, it's time to start planning. Here are some thoughts.

Travel by train - not too common in North America, but for Swedes this is considered a practical and comfortable way to go. For our Bridge to Sweden trips we prefer trains to other kinds of travel, at least for greater distances. You might want to try it also!



Meet Bredgårdsmannen!

Image result for bredgårdsmannen

About 20 years ago, in the small town of Marbäck, in Västergötland, a farmer got very surprised  while digging a hole in the ground on his farm. He found something hard: several bones and a skull! He called the police, who discovered that the remains were not from someone recently murdered, but instead from a man belonging to a population of hunters who lived in the area around 10 000 years ago. They were the oldest remains ever found in Sweden! Bredgårdsmannen (the man was found on the farm Bredgården) is now being examined by archeologists to find information about his DNA, and hopefully his origin.

Remains have also been found from other groups of people who arrived in Sweden much later, around 6000 years ago. They came from Turkey and Syria and with them they brought agriculture, which had already developed in that part of the world. The Ice Age had ended and farming now became possible in Sweden, first in areas with excellent soil, such as Skåne, Västergötland, around Mälaren and on the islands of Gotland and Öland.

Around 4800 years ago another group of people (mostly men this time) arrived on horses and in carriages. They came from the east, from present Russia and the areas around the Caspian Sea and Caucasus. The pots and tools they made have been found all over Sweden. The DNA from these people was transferred from father to son through the generations, having the markers R1a and R1b, to the present day. Perhaps it can also be found in you? 




Going to Sweden in 2017?
Maybe it has been your dream for years, to one day visit the farm in Sweden where your grandmother or grandfather was born. And so you decide that 2017 is the year for that important trip. So where do you start?

  • Find out as much as you can about the person who emigrated: Talk to relatives,  read family trees and genealogical research done by others, read any letters you can find (if in Swedish I can translate them for you), study photos (there might be names on their back sides) and more.
  • Write down all you know about the person who left Sweden, especially his/her name and date/place of birth, the names of parents and siblings, and when she or he emigrated. 
  • Send copies of it all to me, if you wish. I'll look through it and give you and idea of where to go from here. No charge for this first consultation!
  • I can, if you wish, do some research in order to find the exact place(s) where the family lived, who was in the family, what happened to the siblings - and did they have children and grandchildren who might be alive today living somewhere in Sweden.
  • If you are then interested in visiting Sweden, and the village where grandpa or grandma lived, and even the farm, let me know. Read more here!
  Nice words from Judith in Australia:
I am an Australian, but my grandfather was born to Swedish immigrants in the US. While I inherited quite a few records and while has given me contact with several US-based 'cousins' who share my interest in family history, there were still gaps and contradictions.
I decided that the only solution was to visit Sweden and then set about searching for an individual or company that could help me.
I was extremely fortunate that my internet search found Marie Louise - she and her husband Lonnie are truly exceptional. 
I was able to identify a small window of opportunity to visit Sweden during mid-summer this year and gave Marie Louise a broad brief. In response, she put together an efficient, detailed itinerary which took me to the farms and villages where my ancestors had lived in Smaland. She also made contact with several relatives that I didn't know I had, and arranged for them to meet me. Her investigative skills were nothing short of forensic, as a result of which I now have close to a complete record.
I can recommend Marie Louise without reservation. 



Train travel
Yes, this is how we travel during our Bridge to Sweden trips, by train (tåg)! Fast, comfortable and quite easy. There are a few things you should know about train travel:

  • I suggest that you buy your train tickets at the website Svenska Järnvägar (SJ) (there is an English version). Here is a map showing train routes in Sweden.
  • Buy your tickets early! SJ starts to sell their tickets 90 days before the day of travel. The earlier you get your ticket, the less expensive!
  • There are rapid trains called X2000 traveling at up to 200 kilometers per hour -  quite fast! These trains are mainly for longer distances. 
  • Note: Travel light! You will be happy you did, especially considering the high steps you have to fight with when getting in and off the train! You are allowed to take as much luggage as you can carry yourself, but no more!

With that information I wish you a very happy and relaxing train trip!



While the November darkness falls over new snow I wish you a great winter and very happy holidays, God Jul och Gott Nytt År (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)!

Sorry, I forgot, before all that comes Thanksgiving (not celebrated in Sweden), so I also wish you very nice Thanksgiving holidays!



Marie Louise Bratt


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