An early find in the Grace Lutheran church books is a notation for Nils Olsson, the father of Johanna (Nilsdotter) Pearson. He is my 3x-great-grandfather. I knew he came to Nebraska, but didn’t know for sure whether he ended up near his two daughters, Johanna and Bengta.
We get a really good picture of the Olsson family from the Swedish Household Examination Record for Ivetofta parish covering the period 1872-1877. I’m not posting an image of it (it’s hard to decipher), but record shows that there’s a lot happening during this period1:
- Johanna (my great-great-grandmother) left for America in 1873
- Bengta returned home in 1874 with her son Joel (“Eulie”), and then the two of them left for America in 1875
- A month after Bengta left, their brother Nils leaves home with his wife and child, leaving the father Nils and his wife Botil alone
- Nils’ wife Botil died in 1877
Then three years later, Nils leaves for America, too. Here he is on a passenger list on May 12, 1881 on a ship leaving the Malmö port2. His occupation is “Arbetskarl” which means “laborer”, he is 66 years old, and his stated destination is Omaha, Nebraska.
I had always assumed that he must have come to Nebraska to be near his daughters Johanna and/or Bengta but never had any proof.
Well, here he is in the Grace church records3, living with Bengta and her family!
Besides Håkan and Bengta, we also see three children who would be half-siblings to Eulie: Emma, Oskar and Mathilda. Little Oskar is buried in the Grace Lutheran Cemetery – the tombstone inscription says “son of H & B Olson”. (Thank you, Lee Martinson!) I was not able to make this connection until now. This little Oscar would have been a first cousin of my great-grandfather P. W. Pearson, and very close in age as well.
But then at the bottom of the record above, we see “svärfar” Nils Olson. “Svärfar” translates as father-in-law! So it turns out that Nils did indeed come to live with one of his daughters in America.
(Note that Håkan and Nils share the same surname but only because they both have fathers named “Ole”. Bengta has the surname Olson because she married Håkan. Her “maiden” name was actually “Nilsdotter”, as noted in the record above.)
I’m not sure the time period that this record covers. I suspect it is 1890 or later (and Bengta’s son Eulie is probably out and on his own by this time). At the far right on the page (not shown above) is a notation about Håkan that reads: ““Has belonged to this parish before and has been reincorporated again, see the old book p 158” I’m not sure what to make of this, although I suspect it could have something to do with the division that occurred when the Mission Church split away from the Lutheran Church in the mid-1870’s. Maybe Håkan was with the Mission folks for a time? It also points to a missing book – wouldn’t we love to know whether it has survived in someone’s attic somewhere!
There were two other Nils Olson’s in the Grace Lutheran membership. There are funeral records for these other two but not for “our” Nils.
However, there’s another book that lists the ownership of the cemetery plots. Here we find a listing for Håkan Olson4, but next to his name it says “här ar oven hans svärfar begraven”. This translates as “here is his father-in-law buried”. So now I know where my 3x-great-grandfather Nils is buried!
Next time I’m at Grace, I’ll look again for Nils among some other folks that are listed in “Block E.” But my guess is that his grave is probably unmarked. There is no listing for a Nils Olson in Grace Lutheran at findagrave.com.
So if Nils is buried in Håkan’s plot, where are Håkan and Bengta? And Emma and Mathilda? (Note: there’s another Håkan and Bengta buried at Alma church in Mead, Nebraska; but they are a different family.) As discussed in a prior post, I have reason to believe they moved to Sharon Springs, Kansas.
I’ll mention again how wonderful it is to have these images available online through ArkivDigital’s browser-based interface. They have done a fabulous job in making these records accessible.
1Ivetofta (L) AI:12 (1872-1877) Image 221 / page 217, http://www.arkivdigital.se/aid/info/v99702.b221.s217
2Poliskammaren i Malmö (M) D3:3 (1881-1881) Image 1560, http://www.arkivdigital.se/aid/show/v449905.b1560
3Wahoo (Swedeburg) Grace Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:1 Image 72 / page 46, http://www.arkivdigital.se/aid/show/v882582.b72.s46
4Wahoo (Swedeburg) Grace Lutheran Church, Nebraska, USA (NE) Vol:6 (1904-1910) Image 21, http://www.arkivdigital.se/aid/show/v882596.b21