I had intended to go through all my Saunders County probate records in chronological order but discovered this morning that I had skipped over John Martinson. So let’s back up to 1901 and take a look.
John Martinson was my great-great-grandfather on my dad’s maternal side. He was born in 1833 in Sweden with the name Jöns Mårtensson. He emigrated to the United States in 1869. He traveled with Colonel Hans Mattson. Col. Mattson was a notable historical figure when it comes to Swedish/American emigration. He was appointed by the State of Minnesota to bring Swedish settlers to populate the empty Minnesota prairie (see this post from our Sweden trip). John Martinson, his brother Lars, and several others from Önnestad parish were supposed to be Minnesota settlers, but they didn’t like the climate when they got there. They ditched Col. Mattson and went to Nebraska instead!
After John got settled, he sent for his family to join him the following year. John and his wife Nilla were homesteaders and lived in a sod house for a number of years. My great-aunt Esther told me that her mother, Hulda, cried when they moved out of the sod house because the wooden floors in the new house were too hard!
John did very well in America. In fact, I would surmise that he was the most successful of all of my immigrant ancestors. The family legend is that he was able to provide an 80-acre farm to each one of his seven children. I haven’t tracked down all the land records to verify this (on my to-do list, though!) but it certainly seems likely based on the contents of his probate file and the maps that show several Martinson farms spread about the Ceresco/Swedeburg area by 1907.
John died on January 26, 1901. He died before there was a statewide process for administering death certificates. I do not know the cause of death, but I suppose there is still work I could do to locate an obituary or other news item. He is buried in the Fridhem Cemetery near Swedeburg and has one of the taller, more elaborate tombstones.
John died without a will, so a few weeks after his death his oldest son Andrew filed a petition to appoint an administrator. The petition lists all of his heirs:
His widow Nilla is listed first, then his six surviving children. One daughter, Anna (“Annie”), had died just four years earlier and her two daughters Mabel and Ruth are listed. Just a note to refresh everyone’s memory on this point, Anna’s husband was Edward Cornelius Hanson and after Anna died, Edward married Anna’s younger sister Hulda.
All of the children are listed as living in the Wahoo/Swedeburg/Ceresco area except for son Nils (sometimes known as Nels) who lived near Mead, Nebraska (not that far away, actually).
The petition identifies some real estate owned by John, namely, “the west half of section 24, town 13, range 6”. This is the same Section 24 we talked about in Gust Rudeen’s probate papers – it is just a little ways north and west of Ceresco. By 1907, Nilla is shown as only owning the northwest quarter, so I wonder if she sold off part of it between 1901 and 1907. Something else to check on!
John is also shown as owning an interest in Section 22 in the Richland Precinct. Other documents in the file show this to be a lease interest, not an ownership interest.
Finally, Andrew requests that his uncle Lars Martinson, John’s brother, serve as administrator for the estate. Trusty Lars had been with John every step of the way, from childhood to emigration to homesteading and now at John’s passing. Lars was 10 years younger than John and would outlive him nearly 20 years. Lars is buried in the same cemetery as John.
Lars’ first task would have been to take an inventory of the estate. We’ll look at that next time.