Immigrant Stories in the Swedish American Church Books

ArkivDigital’s online archive includes many Swedish American church books primarily from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota. But we also have a few from Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The types of records vary between congregations. The most common sets of records are congregation or membership rolls, birth, marriage, death, confirmation, church protocols, church accounts, anniversary booklets and other types of records.

One of the most interesting set of records is the anniversary booklet (jubileumsskrift). Often these booklets include a history of the church and settlement and describes the life of the early immigrants in North America. Some of these books also contain wonderful biographical sketches and pictures.

john benson imageBucklin Swedish Mission Covenant Church, Missouri, USA (MO) Vol:13 (1880-1980) Image 17 / Page 31 (AID: v950811.b17.s31)

The above image is taken from the Centennial Celebration booklet for the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in Bucklin, Missouri. There is a short biographical sketch of John Benson born Johannes Bengtsson in Skummeslöv parish in Halland county in Sweden on April 4, 1852. It states that he first lived in St. Louis, Missouri and worked for the Johansen Shoe company and then moved to a farm north of Bucklin in 1881. The sketch gives information about his wife and children and states that he died on July 24, 1900.

With the information in the anniversary booklet, we can search for his birth record in ArkivDigital and then trace him forward in the household books until his emigration in 1871. Below is his birth record showing his birth of the 4th of April 1852 at Allarp in Skummeslöv parish. His parents are noted as B. P. Persson and Christina Bengtsdotter. His mother was 32 years old at the time of his birth.

john benson's birth recordSkummeslöv (N) CI:3 (1824-1860) Image 380 / Page 69 (AID: v93216a.b380.s69, NAD: SE/LLA/13348)

To find the Swedish American church books in ArkivDigital:

  • Log in at app.arkivdigital.se
  • Select Archive Search.
  • Select country, United States.
  • You can also limit the search by state.

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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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