Thursday, February 16, 2012

Svens and Svensibility

Householdex 1884 to 1887 - Block 19 Southern Suburbs

Mapping my Swedish ancestry has proceeded apace since the Perssons of Interest  update. While I’ve filled in a few small details of triply great grandfather Sven Persson’s ancestry back to the 1740s, I’ve concentrated mostly on working forward from his siblings, the surviving brothers Nils, Johan Alfred and Ola, and half-brother Per Nilsson.

Thus below we have the stories of the descendants of Nils PERSSON (1812-1886) and Elna PÅLSDOTTER (1827-1902), my great-great-great-grandparents.

As of this month I can name 31 out of 32 of this generation of ancestors – with some irony, it is only my direct male ancestor WILLIAMS who is lost to time. Only 46/64 of the prior generation is known.

NILSSON.Per   ANDERSSON.JC MARRIAGE 1875 Malmö-Caroli-EI-6-1873-1876-Bild-125-sid-342
Per NILSSON (1853-1879) = Johanna Christina ANDERSSON (1854- )

Railway worker jernvägsarb Per was married to Johanna Christina for 4 years before dying and leaving his young widow with three sons. I lost track of her after 1900, but she had not appeared to remarry in that time.

- Johann Edvard NILSSON (1875-  ) was a carpenter who moved to Stockholm in 1901. I traced him through Stockholm’s archives until 1908 when he was living in Engelbrekts parish, still unmarried.

- Axel Anton NILSSON (1877- ) = Berta Elina PETERSSON (1873 - )
Axel worked on the railways like his father, with his job being described as stationskarl. He married Berta of Listerby in 1899 between the births of their first two children.Monbijou 1899-1906 NILSSON.Axel

  • Johan Albin NILSSON (1898- )
  • Maria NILSSON (1899- )
  • Svea Ingeborg NILSSON (1901- )

There may be further children, but I lost track of the entire family after the 1900 census when they were living in the Malmö parish of St.Paul, Monbijou.

- Per Olof Hjalmar NILSSON (1879- ) was living with his mother at the time of the 1900 census, and in May of that year changed his surname to Ståhle.

1857 Sven PERSSON birthSven PERSSON (1857-1900) – went away to sea and launched an impoverished Australian dynasty of fish-and-chip merchants, artists, golfers and dog-fanciers.

Ola PERSSON to America 1883Ola PERSSON (1859 – ), a sailor (sjöman) like Sven, emigrated to the USA in August 1883. The US records of various men with that or similar names do not provide details of the date/place of birth beyond 1859/SWEDISH. With so many Ola Perssons born that year hopping it across the Atlantic, it would be grossly optimistic to make assumptions about which, if any of them is the right one. It would be good to know if there is an American branch of the family as none of the other family members known to have emigrated there (see below) produced offspring.

To get an idea of how many Ola Perssons I have to wade through see this FamilySearch listing.  Salt that list with the possible deviations to Ole/Olof/Olaf + Per/Pehr/Pear/Peir/Pher - sson/son/sen/ssen, and I’ve got Olas stretched from California to Massachusetts – and he may even have jumped to Canada. 

1864-06-13 Birth Johan Alfred Svens brother
Johan Alfred PERSSON (1864-1926) = Bertha Augusta ANDERSON (1869- )
The only one of Sven’s full brothers to stay in Sweden. In 1893 his occupation was kakelugnsmakare or stove-maker. He married fellow Malmö-born Bertha in 1898, a year after the birth of the first of their six children.

- Johan Albert PERSSON (1887-1972) = Anna Karolina ANDERSSON (1892-)
Appeared to have lived his entire life in Malmö, divorced in 1954 with two children.

  • Göta Dagny PERSSON (1917-2003)
  • Sven Albert Pramholt PERSSON (1920-1986)

- Bertha PERSSON (1889-1893)

- Karin Emilia PERSSON (1893-1977)  had one son, the father unknown

  • Alex Torston PERSSON (1913-1992)

- Bernhard Alfred PERSSON (1895-1980) was a crane driver

- Harald Reinhold Alexander PERSSON (1898- )

- William Waldemar PERSSON (1901-1985)

Nils PERSSON (1866-1933) = Justina Fredrika SKÄRMAN (1869-1931)
This pair lead me on a pretty dance as they moved to and fro between Sweden and Norway, and therefore completely different sets of records. They had 7 children born variously in Oslo (or Kristiania as it was still known at the time), and Sweden (Malmö and Lund). Only the four Oslo-born children survived childhood. I lost track of them after 1908 but they ended up back in Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden.

- Svea Elna Amalia PERSSON (1891-1954) = William John ODEN (1891-1958)

‘Ella’ was a chokoladearbæiderske (worked in a chocolate factory) and emigrated to the US when she was about 19. It wasn’t straight-forward to trace her, as her surname morphed from Persson to Pehrson to Pearsen. Her name Elna - from her grandmother Elna Pehrsdotter, as with her Australian cousin Annie Eleanor Pearson – softened to Ella. The details on her wedding certificate below seem like she dictated her mother’s name Justina Skärman so that it came out as a near phonetically rendered Christina Sherman.

Ellis Island manifest for ship Kristianiafjordkristianiafjord (boat Svea travelled on in 1913)

She married Swedish-born molder William in 1916 and they lived around Cleveland Ohio, producing no children. I hope she at least continued to make chocolate over the next 38 years. They are buried together in Lake View Cemetery.

CuyahogaCountyOhioMarriageRecordsandIndexes18101_4278838191930 US Federal Census: William + Ella Oden

- Nils Uno Wilhelm PERSSON (1904-1977) emigrated to the US, and applied for citizenship several times but this was not granted until after he had served 6 years in the US Navy 1942-48, IIRC spending some time in the Philippines. At some point he qualified as a physician and lived not far from his sister in the Cleveland area. He never married. In his case Nils became Nels.

- Odd Sixten PERSSON (1906- ). As gratifying as it has been to find an Odd Persson in my family, I have not been able to find any subsequent trace of him in Sweden, Norway or the US.

- Alfred Frederick PERSSON (1908-1960) born and died in Norway. I infer he had a family from some posts by a granddaughter(?) on a Swedish forum.

As ever, a special tip of the hat to Ylva, Annica and fellow researchers who helped piece this together.


  1. How brilliant Mike - I'm so impressed. HOpefully I might be at that point sometime with my James Sales!!!!
    Bev Mulcahy

  2. I've often been amazed at the irony that can be Swedish-American ancestry. I've spent years trying to find where in Sweden various Swedish-born ancestors came from, and now that the dam is broken and I'm into Swedish churchbooks, I can find reams of information on a cousin until they go to America, where frequently they disappear completely.

    I happened on your post here searching for a Johan Albert Persson born in 1875 in Grangärde parish -- not the same one as yours, I see, alas.

    1. I think you sometimes have to shelve the research on difficult lines for a few years, and then come back with a fresh eye, and the promise of new digitized archives to plunder. Good luck!

  3. your great-grandfather, Walter Pearson, was my great-uncle. My grandfather was his brother. my daughter found your blog serendipitously after looking up the family restaurant on google a few days ago, just after she had passed 173 pitt st while in town. How can I contact you? Andrea