Another look at Swedish American Church Books

ArkivDigital has Swedish-American church books for the following states in ArkivDigital’s online library:

  • Illinois – 2
  • Iowa – 88
  • Kansas – 99
  • Minnesota – 125
  • Missouri – 9
  • Nebraska – 120
  • Oklahoma – 1
  • South Dakota – 1
  • Wisconsin – 12

The Swedish-American church books include birth, marriage, death, membership, reception of members, dismissal of members, protocols and account records. Often you will find anniversary booklets, church histories, attachments to records and even in some congregation archives family histories. The types of records vary by parish and denomination. Click here for more information about types of church records.

The membership books for the Swedish-American Lutheran churches are very similar to the Swedish household/congregation books. These records have often been the link in helping Swedish-Americans identify where in Sweden their ancestor came from. Below is an example from Trade Lake Zion Lutheran Church in Wisconsin for Per Erik Erikson and his family.

per erik eriksonTrade Lake Zion Lutheran Church, Wisconsin, USA (WI) Vol:2 (1895-1943) Image 54 / Page 23 (AID: v904701.b54.s23) https://app.arkivdigital.se/volume/v904701?image=54

The above record shows that Per Erik was born on the 27 of September 1848 in Linde (Lindesberg) parish in Örebro county and that he joined this congregation in 1889 and arrived in America in 1880. The record shows his wife, Anna Rosenqvist, who was born on the 16th of July 1862 in Vinslof (Vinslöv) parish in Kristianstad county, followed by the names of their children and their birth information. The record shows that Anna immigrated in 1881. Sometimes, the date of marriage will be shown on the membership record but in this case it is not. More research will be required to find the marriage date. The first child, Harry Lawrence, is shown as having been born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1884 and the next child was born in Trade Lake in 1886. So, it appears that the family moved from St. Paul to Trade Lake between 1884 and 1886 and then joined the congregation in 1889.

With the above information, we can search in the Swedish church books for Per Erik’s birth record.

per eriks birth recordLindesberg (T) CI:13 (1833-1850) Image 408 (AID: v53511.b408, NAD: SE/ULA/10851)
https://app.arkivdigital.se/volume/v53511?image=408

The birth record confirms his birth date as the 27th of September 1848 and that his parents were Erik Olsson and Maria Andersdotter. His mother was 29 years old at the time of his birth. The family lived in a place in the parish named Ryda.

Also, with a little further research, we can see the notation in the household record showing his move to North America in 1880.

erik move to americaLindesberg (T) AIc:19 (1871-1881) Image 229 / Page 225 (AID: v52142.b229.s225, NAD: SE/ULA/10851) https://app.arkivdigital.se/volume/v52142?image=229&page=225&register_collection=28

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Jumping the pond becomes easier with the Population of Sweden 1860-1947

The biggest challenge for many persons with Swedish American ancestry is to identify where in Sweden their ancestor came from and his/her Swedish name. For many beginning their research, often one has limited or incorrect information. Many emigrants changed their name and often little information was passed down to the next generation.

But today, it is becoming much easier to find out where an ancestor originated from in Sweden by using the Population of Sweden 1860-1847 index. Even when the information might be incomplete or incorrect, this riddle often now can be solved. The Population of Sweden 1860-1947 index is a searchable name index of all the household/congregation books for all of Sweden for the years between 1860 and 1947.

Here is an example of a search request. The request is to locate where in Sweden, Swain Pearson, originated. Given information includes a birth date of the 6th of October 1860. Two different emigration dates appeared in the U.S. sources: 1877 and 1875.  The father’s name was Paer Pierson and the mother’s name was Hannah Swans. Also, a sister was named, Bessie Pearson Moline born on the 11th of October 1852 whose emigration dates in the U.S. records were recorded as 1877 and 1866.

One needs to be flexible in the search and use various search criteria. The advanced search offers a variety of possibilities. In this case, we will try a search based on an assumption that the birth dates are correct for Swain and his sister, Bessie. It is better to start wide and then narrow the search.

sven advanced search 1

 

advanced search 2

We were successful in finding the correct person by doing the following as shown in the above image.

  • Go to Index Search
  • Select the Population of Sweden 1846-1847 under Index Source
  • Got to Advanced Search and enter the following information in the following fields:
  • First Name – Look for name beginning with letter S or enter S*
  • Gender – Male
  • Birth date – 1860-10-06

Under the Household section – enter the sister’s birth date – 1852-10-11.

By doing this search, we receive two hits, both for Sven born on the 6th of October 1860 in Djurröd parish in Kristianstad county.

result list sven

We also see in the index record below that he has a sister, Bengta, born on the 11th of October 1852.

sven index record

In doing further verification with other records, this was the correct person. Luckily, the given birth dates were correct. On the index record, Sven’s father is noted as Per Lustig and his mother’s name is Hannah Nils or Nilsdotter. Sven emigrated in 1880. His sister Bengta later known as Bessie emigrated in 1872. One sees the challenges working with incomplete and often incorrect information but with the Population of 1860 – 1947, many of these challenges can be overcome.

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Swedish American Church documents provide genealogical information

 

hanepictureWe have written previously about the Swedish American church books in ArkivDigital. (See previous blog entry). Besides the church books, there are anniversary documents for many congregations and these publications often contain historical information about the congregation’s founding as well as genealogical information about some of the early church members. This information can help one jump the pond and trace the family in the Swedish church books. For many North Americans, one source for finding out where their ancestor came from in Sweden is often a Swedish American church book.

One interesting document is the one produced for the Centennial Anniversary of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bucklin, Missouri in 1970. Here you will find historical information for several families. One example is for Andrew Fredrick Hane’s family.

The text below states that he was born on “June 23, 1828 in Ostergutland, Sweden” and that he immigrated to American in 1880 with his wife Maria, born on “October 15, 1840, Grosmark, Varmland, Sweden” with four children. At the top of the page, you will find an image of Andrew, Maria and a child.

andrewhanetext
Bucklin Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Missouri, USA Vol:1 (1870-1970) Image 13 / page 13 (AID: v811754.b13.s13) Link.

We can find information about the family in the Swedish church books by using Maria as our starting point. The text provides information about Maria’s birth date, birth parish and immigration year. When one looks at the American records, often there is an Americanization of Swedish person and place names. In this case Grosmark, Varmland refers to Gräsmark, Värmland. As well, the county of Östergotland was spelled Ostergutland.

To search for Maria in the Swedish church books, we will begin by looking for her birth record.

  • Go to the search window.
  • Select the county archive and select Värmland.
  • Select the parish, Gräsmark.
  • Look for the birth volume that contains the year 1840.
  • Search for a birth record for Maria on October 15, 1840.
  • You will find record at the following reference: Gräsmark CI:5 (1838-1859) Image 18 / page 29 (AID: v6598.b18.s29, NAD: SE/VA/13165) (Link).

By tracing Maria in the church books forward, you will find that she marries Anders Fredrik Hane and they have several children and in 1880 the family immigrates to North American from Skedevi, Östergotland. You can see the notation about the move to North America in the household record shown below.

hane moving out recordSkedevi AI:25 (1880-1887) Image 128 / page 118 (AID: v29036.b128.s118, NAD: SE/VALA/00332) Link.

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