We headed north from Stockholm today, hoping to find out a little bit about Dad’s great-grandfather, Louis (Lars) Hanson.
Our first stop, however, was in Uppsala, a big city just north of Stockholm. It is famous for its big cathedral and university. We arrived at the cathedral just as the 11:00 “high mass” was about to start. This was a great stroke of luck – the service included the ringing of the cathedral bells, an excellent choir, and a fantastic organist. Can’t say that I got much out of the sermon. I spent that time thumbing through the hymnal. I spotted all our favorite old-time hymns, including “Tryggare kan ingen vara”, “O Store Gud”, and even a Swedish version of “Blessed Assurance”. Our entrance hymn was the tune to “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow”. Dad had a nice chat with the organist after the service.
We enjoyed lunch at a streamside restaurant, and then set out for Hanebo, the small church where Lars was baptized.
Lars was my Grandma Rudeen’s grandfather on her father’s side. He was the first of my Swedish ancestors to come to America.
In 1846, a group of Swedes from the Uppsala area, led by Eric Jansson, emigrated to the United States to escape the constraints of the Church of Sweden. I’m pretty sure that by today’s standards, we would call them a “cult”. They settled in Henry County, Illinois.
Lars left Hanebo in 1850 and also ended up in Henry County. We don’t know if he was part of the Janssonist group, though.
Just as a side note, Eric Jansson sent a group of men to the California gold fields in 1850 to see if they could bring back additional wealth to their community. Lars went off to the Gold Rush too, in 1852, but again we don’t know if it was as part of the Janssonist group.
We only have one photo of Lars, taken in the early 1890’s with his wife and children, when he was in his 60’s.
Lars was born In 1830 and baptized in the Hanebo church. We were surprised to find this beautiful, well-tended church on the top of a small hill right next to a lake.
According to the historical brochure, the central stone portion of the church dates back to the 1200’s. The stucco portion on the right was added in the 1700’s and the steeple was added in 1870.
A choir concert was scheduled for 6:00 in the evening. When we walked in the door at 4:00, the choir was just starting their final rehearsal – another great stroke of luck. Their first piece was an American gospel tune, “Down in the River to Pray” (featured in the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack). They were really, really good and we were sorry we couldn’t stay for more. One of the choir members approached us and was interested to learn that our ancestor had been baptized in this very church. She offered us a candle to light in his memory.
Next we headed just five or six miles west to see the farm areas where Lars grew up. He was born at Löthen farm, where he lived until his father died.
Impossible to know which building, but it’s cool to know that the place is still here. His mother re-married and then the family lived at Knisselbo, just down the road. Lars left home when he was 18 and moved to Västansjö, a nearby big farm on a hill.
We had dinner in Uppsala on our return to the hotel.
An awesome day.