In 1955, my great-grandfather’s first cousin wrote a simple autobiography about her life. Ellida Pearson was born in Sweden in 1882 and came to America in 1898. The early part of her biography is quite detailed about her life in Sweden and I got to wondering, how much of it can be verified in the Swedish records? And what more can we learn about Ellida? Turns out: a lot! So my next several posts will go back and forth between her handwritten autobiography and the actual Swedish records. I was inspired by a book I just got from Amazon called “I Go to America” by Joy K. Lintelman. It tells a similar story of another young woman who also emigrated from Sweden to America.
First, the family connection. Officially, Ellida is my first cousin three times removed. My great-great-grandfather (Christian Pearson) and Ellida’s father (Per Persson) were brothers. Christian and Per were both born in Riseberga parish in the southern part of Sweden near Ljungbyhed (not too far from Helsingborg).
Ellida begins her story like this:
I whas born in a mining comunity in the Provins of Skåne in Sweden by the name of Billesholm […] the 28 of Januari 1882. I whas the 7 child born to my parents, Per and Karolina Persson.
It turns out that Billesholm is just a few miles away from Riseberga.
I’m sure I can trace the movement and timing of Per’s migration from Riseberga to Billesholm but will save that for another day.
Billesholm was indeed a mining community. There is a lengthy article in Swedish Wikipedia that goes into quite a bit of detail about the coal mines in Billesholm, which operated during the period 1750 to 1950.
Ellida’s birth record1 appears in the records of the Södra Vram parish, which served the mining town of Billesholm. The church record says she was born on January 29, 1882 to Per Persson and Carolina Albertina Jönsdotter.
The birth record says that the family was living at No. 131 Kolfält, which translates as “Coal Field”. I was able to find the household record for them at that very location2. Per’s occupation is listed as “Eldare” which translates as “Stoker” – meaning he probably shoveled coal into a furnace of some sort. Sounds like grueling work.
She said she was the seventh child born to her parents, but we see only four older siblings on the household record – I wouldn’t be surprised to find older siblings that had died, especially noticing the gap between Janne Albert (born 1872) and Oskar Edwin (born 1877). Again, I’ll save that for another time.
There are some important names to notice in the family. Sisters Ida and Gerda as well as brother Janne (John) will show up later in Ellida’s story.
Personal Note: Yes, it’s been an ETERNITY since I last posted to this blog. I have met some critical deadlines at work, and the holidays are behind me. Perhaps I can get back into genealogy now!
1See ArkivDigital v106258a.b70.s2, Norra Vram CI:14 Ver:a (1882-1885) Image 70/page 2
2See ArkivDigital v106216.b179.s172, Norra Vram AI:24 (1881-1885) Image 179/page 172