Tracing your lineage is a great learning experience and give us an an appreciation of the endurance and courage of our ancestors who dared a trip across the Atlantic, and who built our state.
Fear less; hope more.
Whine less; breather more.
Talk less; say more.
Hate less; love more.
And all good things are yours.
We recently attended the annual Midsommer's Day celebration held by the Lake Region Heritage Society. That is always a very pleasant afternoon of good conversation and delicious Swedish food. My husband is not Swedish, but he loves to attend as the Swedes are so nice, and such good cooks.
Half of my heritage is Swedish. My father's parents, Nils and Lisa (Hoagland) Danroth were both born in Sweden in 1866 an 1875. Lisa was born near Ramsele, Nils in the village of Lit. They came to Minnedosa, Manitoba in 1903, crossing on the "The Lake Erie" which left from Liverpool in June of 1903.
Nil's father, Gustav was born in 1838 in Stockholm to a Sophie Walliin. His father is listed as "sailor." She left him in an orphanage saying he belonged to "a friend." A familiar old story, that keeps repeating as pregnant women are abandoned. Gustav had a hard life, as was and is the fate of many children. He was adopted by a farmer named Nilsson in 1843, then lived with another Nilsson until 1870, when he was listed as a farm hand. He married Ingeborg and they moved to Lit and bought a farm noe called Grankvistgarden. The had six children, the oldest of whom was my grandfather, Nils.
If you have seen the film "The Immigrants" directed by Ingmar Bergman, you have seen the story of many, many immigrants who came from Sweden and Norway at the turn of the century. Times were hard, land was scarce, and our ancestors came to America and Canada for opportunities to own land and provide for their families. Isn't that why immigrants still come?
Nils and Lisa had a baby, Brita, who is on the ship's list of passengers, but not on the census of immigrants to Canada or to the USA. My grandmother told my mother that baby Britta died on the voyage, but she did not want her little girl buried at sea, so she held her until they got to land. The ship came through the St. Lawrence Seaway, destined for Quebec and Montreal, and we do not know where baby Brita rests.
At the Devils Lake gathering on June 20th we shared what we knew of our ancestors. We were struck by the similarities of large families, of early deaths, of taking in children, of hard, hard work for men, women, and children. Our ancestors knew tragedy, poverty, cold and hunger, and how to make do with what they earned.
My father, John, was born in Bismark in Decenber of 1904, in the office of Lisa's uncle, John Peter Hogland, located on what is now Main Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets. Uncle Hogland had arrived in Bismarck in 1873. To get there, he had to wait for the Northern Pacific to complete laying track. He became a prominent busnines man in Bismarck. The book History of North Dakota published by The Bismark Tribune in 1910, contains his photo and biography. He was there when news arrived that Custer's men had been wiped out in Montana in 1876.
My father witness the burning of the original capitol. His father, Nils found work building the one we have now. He was a fine carpenter, and was one of serveral Scandinavians carpenters who did the beautiful wood working in the house and senate chambers. I couple of years ago, we were showing one of our California Grand daughters the ND Capitol. She and I went into the Women's lounge on the first floor and Surprise---there was a photo of the builders of the skyscraper of the prairie, with Grandpa Nils standing in the middle of the group, holding a builder's compass!
Thanks to computers, much information about early North Dakota and about geneaology is available on line. To locate information about Swedish family check the following sites: These are only a start
www.genline.se/eindex.htm (in Swedish) (church records)
Finding your heritage may surprise you, or delight you. It will certainly educate you, and if you desire, connect you to family you didn't know you had. At a reunion in Canada, I met 125 Canadian family members I didn't know I had, plus a delightful cousin who works for Swedish TV in England. At the very least, if you have a Swedish ancestor, join us nest summer or for St. Lucia's Day at Christmas time. Give me a call if intersted.