Sunday, June 14, 2009

Swimsuit Beauties? Maybe Not, But Family We Are!

Hunt as I might for some awesome bathing beauties in my family, I did not find much. They have all been the modest type! Thousands of great photos but very few with bathing suits and pools, guess I got the genes too as I am not a pool enthusiast either, but that did not stop me from posting a few precious pictures of family.

The three ocean photos were taken in 1958 when my family traveled by train to Los Angeles, California to visit my aunt and uncle: Brig. General M.M. Beach and Stella. They had a beautiful home which he had built in Garden Grove. We had a wonderful trip there on the passenger train and saw many great sights while visiting. Of course Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland were tops on the list. Disneyland had only been open 2-3 years at that time and it was a thrill for me, a girl who was 6 years old at the time. My big brother, Dick, who was about 17 got the great job of escorting me on many of the smaller rides at Disneyland. Looking back, I bet that really thrilled him, but they are my memories for a lifetime!

Our relatives lived quite close to the ocean and we took a picnic and spent one whole day there. It was my first visit and I have only seen the ocean 2 other times since, in my almost 60 years. My photos of that day bring back very fond memories! I can very clearly hear my Dad calling to my Mom, telling her to "run" as a big wave was coming. That "gotcha" photo is a prized possession. That is my Mom, Irene, The Bathing Beauty. It appears as though she didn't quite make it ahead of the wave. We probably didn't pack any bathing suits for the trip so we all just had summer clothes. I can still see that black sun dress that my Mom wore and my Dad always had his pantlegs rolled up in the summer , especially if he was boating or fishing.

The lone picture is my Dad, Freddie. It is an old slide and the picture was taken before I was even born in the late 1940s. My two brothers, Bill and Dick were about 10 and 7 years old. My parents spent as much time as possible in the Black Hills of South Dakota in the summer. We only live about four hours away and to this day it is a favorite vacation spot for all my extended family. The family had gone there for one of their camping and fishing trips. They had rented a small cabin close to a small lake near Hill City, South Dakota. My Dad was an avid fisherman and as a younger man he used to walk many miles a day while fly fishing along the streams in the Black Hills. On this day, he had gone in nothing but his bathing suit and fishing shoes. To this day, I don't know why but he paid the price dearly! In the picture he has a very bad sunburn. He got very ill and they had to call the doctor while there. The family had to stay over a few extra days so Daddy could even get clothes on comfortably enough to get back home. Over the next 55+ years of his life, he often went without a shirt when fishing and working outdoors but he was always careful not to do so to the point of burning. Lessons learned!

My two "bathing beauties" are gone now, but the precious memories live on. Some say computers are the greatest invention of technology but I respectfully disagree. Cameras have given us the treasures of a lifetime! Life would be pretty dull and geneaology quite boring without our great photo reflections.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Success and a great beginning to finding our Swedish ancestors! My recent trip to Salt Lake City and the Family History Library proved to be a wonderful learning experience and I am so thrilled to have found quite a lot of information on my husband's Great Grandfather and some of his ancestors, dating back to the early 1800's.

In part 1 of FINDING MY SWEDISH GENEALOGY, USING MAPS TO LAY A FOUNDATION and Part 2: STRATEGIC STUDY PLANS AND FINDING THE RECORDS, I put forth a plan that I hoped would help to lead me through the research process to find important records. I must say that diligent use of maps and study of the handwriting really did pay off for me. While the old Swedish script is not terribly difficult to learn, had I not studied it well beforehand, I am sure the task would have been much more difficult and may have taken days longer. Having a working knowledge of the handwriting and vocabulary made the records and names begin to "pop" out before me as I started to go through microfilm of old records. Nearly all the film numbers that I thought I may have needed were looked up ahead of time and I had planned which records to tackle first. In my case I choose birth records since I was relatively sure of the parish of birth. We did have the birth date of our GGrandfather, Fred Larson and sparse clues as to where he was born: possibly Floby, Sweden. Birth records are not always the best place to start with Swedish research, but for me it worked since I had some starting information. I had studied maps a lot before I left for the Family History Library and was prepared to branch out the research area in necessary.

The first hour was spent setting up my work area and learning to use the microfilm readers which I had very limited knowledge of before my trip to Salt Lake City. Hour two and I was deep into reading documents and wondering already if my eyes could last all day long. I began looking for Great Grandfather Frederick Larson's birth records and in so doing, just lucked onto his brother Johan's records as the first one I found. What a thrill to find the first record of fact after preparing for nearly a year! Luckily the name of the parish was correct as passed down in the family. From this record I learned the real name of our GGreat Grandmother, Klara Hansdotter. We had for many years known her as Clara Edlund. That name was never for sure but was the only one the family had heard or known for her. The picture of Gustaf Larson and his wife which I had shown previously now finally had the right names. Klara Hansdotter and Gustaf Larsson had finally become "real" to us. We had our first concrete proof as to who they really were. From this birth document for Johan Gustafsson I learned the age of his mother, Klara. She was 25 years old when Johan was born in 1864. That made her birth about 1839. Johan was born in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden. Our first clue to the actual place our family may have originated from. Johan's birth record also gave the names of persons who were in attendance at his birth, presumably Godparents and/or other relatives. I was then able to narrow down to the Lugarp area of Floby for more records.

The second record I found was the birth of GGrandfather, Fredrick Albert Gustafsson (Larson). He adopted the name Larson upon coming to America. Fredrick's first name did not contain a second "e" which had been used by family in his name and he was born in 1867, in Lugarp, Floby. Klara was also his mother and she was 28 at the time Fredrick was born. Godparents were listed in attendance to Fred's birth.

My next microfilm examination was some "household rolls" for Lugarp. I found the family listed and to my surprise there was a daughter, Anna Louisa, born in 1869. She was a sister to both Johan and Fredrick and we never knew of her before! Fred had mentioned two other brothers but never a sister. That record gave me the birth dates of both Gustaf and Klara and where they were born. GGreat Grandfather Gustaf was born 1834 in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden and Klara was born 1839 in Loftahammar, Kalmar, Sweden. Each type of record gave more bits and pieces of information.

I had started with only a date of birth and approximate place for Fred Gustafsson(Larson), Three hours into my search had revealed birth information for Fred, his brother Johan, sister Anna, and also birth dates and places for the GG Grandparents, Gustaf and Klara.

My next film provided the birth records in 1834 of Gustaf Larsson. It confirmed that he was born Oct 22, 1834 in Lugarp, Floby, Skarasborg, Sweden. His father is listed as Lars Andersson and his mother as Cajsar Bengtsdotter. We were now back to about 1810 with the addition of the GGGGrandparent's names. Godparents(attendants) were listed for the birth of Gustaf which may eventually prove to be another generation.

Record searches that day provided several more great documents. I now had the marriage Bann's and Marriage records for Gustaf Larsson and Klara Hansdotter who married in July 1864. Found among the hundreds of names was the marriage of Johan Gustafsson to Maria Christina Anderdotter (Anderson). Johan had become a Swedish soldier and been given the last name of Hellgren. Our family had known of Johan's name change to Hellgren. It was common practice to rename individuals upon entry into the military to a name that reflected their traits or personality. Hence Johan Gustafsson became Johan Hellgren. Johan and Christina were married in 1886 and soon thereafter emmigrated to America. Johan again changed his name and became John Hellgren. Several other records surfaced that day which defined the Gustafsson family as having lived in the Lugarp, Floby area for some years. I did not get time to begin looking for any death records or to explore for records of other family members, all that will be for another trip or done later on the Swedish genealogy site Genline.

Maria Christina Andersdotter(Anderson), wife to Johan Gustafsson( Hellgren)was a sister to "Minnie" Andersdotter(Anderson) who married our Fredrick Larson. Fred emmigrated from Sweden to America in 1888 and "Minnie" followed later that year. They were married in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois in 1891. To this date both "Minnie" and her sister, Maria Christina have eluded me as to their actual place of birth and origins. More searching for another time.

In total while at the Family History Library, I spent 1 1/2 days working on my Swedish ancestry. I did spend several more days on other record searches. My next step in the quest for more family records is a subscription to the Swedish records site GENLINE. I hope the summer researching will bring many more ancestors to light, especially the Anderson sisters and more of their family history.

I firmly believe that my mapping studies and taking the time to learn Script, patronymic naming and some old language really did help in aiding the retrieval of records on my first visit to the FHL. I am now again into map study of the area of Loftahammar, Kalmar, Sweden. This area will be one of my first stops on Genline for records of our GGGrandmother, Klara Hansdotter.

In conclusion: I am thrilled with the information I got at the Family History Library on my first visit.

1. Correct names and spellings for several ancestors.
2. Names, birthplaces, actual records and dates for at least 3 generations of the family.
3. Marriage dates and records for 2 ancestral couples.
4. Several household records of daily living for our family.
5. Acquired names of Godparents who will likely prove to be even more ancestors to add to our ''tree".

If you have foreign immigrants in your family, don't hesitate to tackle overseas researching. It may take a little extra study time to learn about the country, language, and record availability but it should be fun and the payoff can be great. I am relatively new at genealogy research and that is proof that anybody can and should tackle looking for their ancestors, wherever in the world that they may have come from!