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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Records over Non-Existing Persons

missing persons

At many conferences in North America, the question often comes up, “What are the records for non-existing persons?”  Volumes titled “records over non-existing persons” appear in the volume list for many parish archives on ArkivDigital’s English interface as shown in the above image.

The “records over non-existing persons” volume or “obefintlighetsbok” is a list of the persons within the parish whose whereabouts are unknown or in other words missing. Whenever a person moved out of the parish, they were supposed to advise the parish minister that they were leaving and where they were moving to. The minister gave the individual a moving out certificate showing information about his birth, last residence, character and religious standing and the minister recorded the information in the household examination book and moving out book. If the individual moved to another parish within Sweden, he or she would give the certificate to the new minister and that minister would record it in the moving in book and the household examination record. This is the reason why in most cases it is easy to trace a person whereabouts in the Swedish books.

However, there were many cases where the person left the parish without telling the minister. Before the 1880’s the ministers had much freedom as to how they would enter information in the household examination books about persons who disappeared. Some would just cross out the name while others would move the person to a “obefintlighet” page in the household examination book or the “obefintlighetsbok”.

In 1894, there was a requirement that the missing should be listing in a special category, “obefintlighet” or whereabouts not known.  Often you will find persons who emigrated without securing the necessary moving out papers in these lists.

You can read this article as well as other Swedish genealogy tutorials on our website in the section titled, Swedish Genealogy.

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