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
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.
Tölö (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.
Onsala (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.
Onsala (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.