Find obituaries in the Houston, Minnesota, Baptist Church Archives

When one browses in the Swedish American church book archives, one will often find photographs, newspaper clippings and sometimes printed obituaries.  Below is an obituary for Christian Johnson found in the archive for the Houston (Minnesota) Baptist Church Archives.

You can find the obituaries by:

  • Go to app.arkivdigital.se
  • Select archive search
  • Select country: United States
  • Select U.S. state: Minnesota
  • Select Houston Baptist Church, Minnesota, USA
  • Open archive
  • Select the volume: Dödsruna

houston baptistHouston Baptist Church, Minnesota, USA (MN) Vol:9 Image 13 (AID: v902876.b13)

Some of the facts noted in the above obituary are Christian’s death date: February 5, 1911 and his birth date of the 30th of January 1818 in Kongsbacka, Sweden. The obituary states that he was a sailor and that he married Louise Redding in 1850 and emigrated in 1854.

This is an example of how many American records can be misleading when one is trying to jump the pond. While some of the information is correct in the obituary, not all is. In doing further research, we will discover that Christian was born as stated on the 30th of January 1818 but in a place named Asslöv in Tölö parish in Halland county. His parents were Gustaf Jönsson and Lena Svensdotter. His birth record is shown below.

christian johnson birth recordTölö (N) CI:4 (1816-1835) Image 150 (AID: v93627a.b150, NAD: SE/LLA/13427)

He married Lovisa Sofia Röding from Onsala parish in Halland county on the 29th of January 1850 in Onsala. He is shown as a seaman and is using his patronymic name, Christian Gustafsson. The obituary shows how Lovisa’s name has been Americanized: Lovisa to Louise and Röding to Redding. Below is their marriage record.

christian marriageOnsala (N) EI:2 (1849-1860) Image 7 / Page 5 (AID: v93103.b7.s5, NAD: SE/LLA/13297)

The household examination record as shown below gives a date for their move to North America in 1853. They are not shown in the moving out book for 1853 or 1854. Below is the household record.

christian household recordOnsala (N) AI:5 (1849-1853) Image 179 / Page 174 (AID: v93088.b179.s174, NAD: SE/LLA/13297)

In both the marriage record and household record, Christian is shown as Christian Gustafsson but once in North America, he changes his name to Christian Johnson.

Obituaries can be wonderful records to help to identify where one’s ancestor came from in Sweden but many times the information is only partially correct as in this case and it will be necessary to evaluate other records before jumping the pond.

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Where did Klara settle in North America?

While we have often mentioned that one of the greatest challenges for many North Americans is to identify the parish where their Swedish ancestor originated from. However, once the mystery is solved, it is usually fairly easy to trace the family backwards in time in the Swedish records. Primarily because the records are so complete especially with household records that were updated yearly.

Finding where a Swedish emigrant immigrated to in North America can often be just as challenging if not more so especially with women who emigrated unmarried and then later married in North America.

This was the challenge that Todd Johnson faced in trying to research one of his ancestors, Klara Jonasdotter, who was born on the 15th of March 1859 in Håbol parish in Värmland. She emigrated from Dals-Ed parish in 1882 to North America. See image below.

householdklaraDals-Ed (P) AI:17 (1876-1885) Image 34 / page 27 (AID: v3863.b34.s27, NAD: SE/GLA/13082) Link.

But where in North America? In this case, Klara’s father, Jonas Johansson’s estate inventory provided the clue for locating Klara. By tracing Jonas forward in the household records, Todd discovered that Jonas died on the 6th of October 1901 in Håbol parish.

To trace Jonas further in the household records, one short method is to use the search index for the Population of Sweden 1880 to 1920 in the All-in-One subscription. In this case, just by entering his birth date, 18251119, and the birth parish, Håbol, all the applicable household records until his death appear in the result list. See below.

search-for-jonas

His death is recorded in the Håbol household record for the years 1901-1905. See image below.

jonasdeathhouseholdrecordHåbol (P) AIIa:2 (1901-1905) Image 2940 / page 282 (AID: v199357.b2940.s282, NAD: SE/GLA/13231) Link.

To find the estate inventory, go to the archives for Håbol parish and search for estate inventories. Open the archive and look for an estate inventory register which is a name indexed register. In this case since there is no register for this time period, we have to search for the record page by page beginning with the death date. However, we meet with success and we find the clue about Klara that helped Todd locate her in North America.

estate-inventoryVedbo häradsrätt (P) FIIa:57 (1902-1902) Image 1250 / page 51 (AID: v511345.b1250.s51, NAD: SE/GLA/11120) Link.

The estate inventory shows that Klara is in North America married to Aron Molin in Minnesota. (Klara gift med Aron Molin i Minnesota i Norra Amerika.) By knowing Klara’s husband’s name, Todd was able to do further U.S. research in the U.S census records where Todd discovered that Klara and Aron lived in Nessel township in Chisago county in the state of Minnesota in 1900.

Thanks to Todd Johnson in Minnesota for this research case.

Read more about estate inventories.

ArkivDigital

Burial Costs

Burial costsOrusts och Tjörns häradsrätt FII:18 (1850-1853) Image 248 / page 491 (AID: v13493.b248.s491, NAD: SE/GLA/11080) Link.

The estate inventories (bouppteckningarna) are a wonderful source for finding information about a deceased’s heirs and the names of guardians for children not of legal age. This information in found in the ingress or preamble of the estate inventory.  When one browses through the estate inventory, one can form a deeper understanding of one’s ancestor’s life by viewing their possessions such as two spoons, four pigs and a clock or other items.

At the end of the inventory, the deceased’s debts (skulder) are listed. In addition, the burial costs are usually included. Sometimes, if you read carefully, you can recreate the burial event as if you were present.

In the estate inventory for Samuel Andersson as shown in the above image, you can discover what was served to the funeral guests at Orust in 1850.

“5 kannor brännvin, 1 kanna konjak, 1/2 kanna vin, kaffebönor och socker, pudersocker och skorpor, malt, korn och råg, 2 kalvar, smör, fläsk och ägg. Allt tillagat av kokerskan”.

5 pitchers of brandy, 1 pitcher of cognac, ½ pitcher of wine, coffee beans and sugar, powdered sugar and biscuits, malt, barley and rye, veal, butter, bacon and eggs. Everything prepared by a cook.

We wish to thank Lisbeth Zachs for this tip.

Link to blog entry in Swedish.

Read more about estate inventories.

ArkivDigital