Searching for a parish of origin in the Kansas church books

One of the biggest challenges for many Swedish Americans is to discover the parish of origin for their Swedish ancestor. When one attends a presentation about how to get started with Swedish research, the Swedish American church books are mentioned as one source that might provide some clues. (Click here for beginning Swedish genealogy research tips.)

Many Swedes who immigrated to North America joined a Swedish American church. While most of these congregations were Lutheran, there were also Swedish Covenant, Swedish Methodist, Swedish Baptist, Swedish Mission and other free churches. Many of these churches kept detailed records as they did in Sweden.

ArkivDigital’s online library includes many Swedish American church books from Kansas and a few from Missouri and Oklahoma. If one’s Swedish’s ancestor settled in these areas, these books can be helpful in determining where your ancestor came from in Sweden.

One can search in the  Swedish American church records to discover where in Sweden a person came from or to discover more about the person’s life in North America. The detail and content in the Swedish American church books do vary by time, minister and religious denomination. The Lutheran church books tend to have some standardization and more detail than other denominations but again that will vary by congregation.

Search Method
To begin your search, you will need a name and a location. If you have a name and town location, but don’t know the person’s religious denomination:

  1. Look for church books for that town.
  2. If there are several denominations, begin with the Lutheran church books since most were Lutherans, then proceed to Covenant, Methodist, Baptist or other church book denominations in that order.
  3. If you don’t find the person in the church books, you may want to search in the church books in a nearby town that is in the same county or nearby county.

Case Study – Begin in Congregation Book (Church Register)

We want to discover the parish of origin in Sweden for Carl Carlson who lived in Lindsborg, Kansas and was Lutheran. We have been told that he was born around 1835 and that his wife’s name was Emma and one of his children was named David.

  1. Start the ArkivDigital application and click on search archives.
  2. Select new archive search and county.
  3. Select the archive for Kansas (USA).
  4. Search for the Lindsborg Lutheran church archives.
  5. You will find that there are 3 Lutheran churches in Lindsborg:
    1. Lindsborg Lutheran Bethany Church
    2. Lindsborg Freemount Lutheran Church
    3. Lindsborg Messiah Lutheran Church
  6. Select the first in the list: Lindsborg Lutheran Bethany Church.
  7. The info box above the archive list names the county where Lindsborg is located which is McPherson. On the right side is a list of volumes available for this congregation. For this parish, there are four congregation books all beginning in the year 1869 with different end years.
  8. Search for congregation books and click on each congregation book and see if there is a name register in the book. In the info box above the volume list, the name index will be noted with the entry “med personregister”. You will notice that one appears for the volume, Lindsborg Bethany Lutheran Church, Kansas, USA Vol: 2 (1869-1886).  Not all congregation books have name registers. In those cases, where there is none, you will need to browse through the book page by page.

Open the book and you will see an indexed name register. Search for Carl Carlson. See image below.
lindsborg-index
Lindsborg Bethany Lutheran Church, Kansas, USA (KS) Vol:2 (1869-1886) Image 9 (AID: v812465a.b9, NAD: ) Link.

While there are no Carl Carlson’s, there are the following entries in the list:

  • Carlson C. J.                     25
  • Carlson C (Sec 28)           96
  • ” (Sec 30)                          83
    The numbers: 25, 96 and 83 to the right of the names in this case represent an entry number in the church register.  Sometimes the number represents a page number. The minister did not repeat the name on the third line but only indicated that it was the same name by a ditto mark.

Go to entry  #25 to see if the information matches. In this case, the record does not match the given information. Below is the image for entry #25.

entry-number-25Lindsborg Bethany Lutheran Church, Kansas, USA (KS) Vol:2 (1869-1886) Image 37 / page 7 (AID: v812465a.b37.s7, NAD: ) Link.

Next, go to entry #96. See image below.

entry-number-96Lindsborg Bethany Lutheran Church, Kansas, USA (KS) Vol:2 (1869-1886) Image 50 / page 20 (AID: v812465a.b50.s20, NAD: ) Link.

This is the correct person. The record shows Carl Carlson born on the 12th of June 1835 in Lungsund, Värmland. You will notice that Värmland is abbreviated as Werm. Also, Carl has a child named David and his wife is Emma Olsdotter born on the 23rd of July 1840 in Färnebo, Värmland. This record shows that they were received in this parish in October of 1869.  Carl and Emma arrived in America from Sweden in 1869 and came to Lindsborg in 1869. The record also shows three children all born in Lindsborg:

  • Emma was born on the 28th of June 1870.
  • David was born on the 21st of December 1875.
  • Hannah was born on the 2nd of February 1880 and she died on the 17th of July 1880.

Now you have enough information to research Carl and Emma further in the Swedish church books. Below is an image of Carl’s birth record in Lungsund, Värmland.

carls-birth-recordLungsund (S) C:5 (1830-1854) Image 29 / page 53 (AID: v7336.b29.s53, NAD: SE/VA/13342) Link.

Click here for more information on Swedish church books.
Click here for examples of birth records.

ArkivDigital

Two blacksmiths in same parish had stillborn babies on same day

Sometimes by chance, unusual events seem to happen around the same time. In an earlier blog, we described two triplet births that happened in the same parish with only a few months between the births.

That a stillborn child would be born to two men with the same occupation on the same day in the same parish is highly unlikely. But this happened in 1798 in Burlöv parish in Skåne.

smedenstillbirthsBurlöv CI:4 (1775-1816) Image 91 / page 92 (AID: v106310.b91.s92, NAD: SE/LLA/13050) Link.

Den 26 januari fick smeden Bengt Andersson och hans hustru Kjerstina Nilsdotter tvillingar, varav den ena var dödfödd. Samma dag fick smeden Pär Ahlström och hans hustru Elna Bengtsdotter en dödfödd son.

On the 26th of January, twins were born to the blacksmith Bengt Andersson and Kjerstina Nilsdotter. One of the twins was stillborn. On the same day, a stillborn son was born to blacksmith, Pär Ahlström and his wife, Elna Bengtsdotter.

At this time the number of stillborn children in Sweden was approximately 27 per 1,000 births. Today, it is about 4 per 1,000. During the second half of the 1700’s, there were approximately 70,00 births per year. The number increased during the first decades of the 1800’s so that by the middle of the 1800’s there were as many births yearly as there are today despite that the population was much smaller. According to the official statistics, there were 2,160 stillbirths in 1798 in Sweden.  While stillbirths were not unusual, still the combination of the above circumstances can be described as being a unique event.

This article was written by Örjan Hedenberg for ArkivDigital and originally published in Swedish. Click here to read in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Moving Certificates

karlskrona-moving-recordKarlskrona amiralitetsförsamling HII:1 (1773-1809) Image 80 (AID: v249317.b80, NAD: SE/LLA/13200) Link.

Whenever a person moved from one parish to another, the minister gave a moving out certificate to the person moving to give to the minister at the new parish. Sometimes, it was a brief notation that included the person’s name and what was considered important to know such as information that the person had fulfilled their duty to receive Holy Communion and marital status. Above is an example from Karlskrona in 1785.

However, in many places even in the 1700’s, preprinted forms existed with lines for dates and places of birth, reading knowledge and proof of receiving of Holy Communion. In addition, often there was a line such as “Är till vande” or something similar referring to the person’s character or morals. This line is interesting because the priest often wrote down his opinion about the person. These opinions often mirror the times and the minister’s views about morality.

moving-out-certificateKarlskrona amiralitetsförsamling HII:31 (1855-1855) Image 1190 (AID: v249347.b1190, NAD: SE/LLA/13200) Link.

An example of this in the above example where the Pigan (maid) Anna Maria Hultberg moved from Karlskrona Stadsförsamling to Karlskrona Amiralitetsförsamling in 1855. Her character is mentioned as ”sålunda att hon eger en oäkta son Carl August” or that she has an illegitimate son, Carl August. It also could be interpreted that the minister considered her to be promiscuous.

One can also note that a completely filled out certificate would include birth date, birth place and parents’ names. Not all the moving certificates have been preserved but they can be a very good source for researchers in tracing a person backwards in time.

The original article was written in Swedish by Örjan Hedenberg. Click here for original in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Name Registers in Parish Archives

borasregister

In a previous blog entry, we pointed out name registers (släktnamnsregister) in ArkivDigital for those who research in Göteborg och Bohus, Skaraborg, Älvsborg, Värmland or Västernorrland counties. If one is searching for a person who has a non-patronymic name meaning a name that does not end with a “son” or “dotter”, these registers can be very helpful. Examples of groups of people who had a non-patronymic name were the nobility, priests and not least the many soldiers.

However, you will also find name registers for parish books in some parish archives which also include both patronymic and non-patronymic names. Whenever you research a parish, it is always recommended to browse the archive to see what types of volumes are included in the archive. Occasionally, you will see “register” or “personregister” volumes. For example, if you browse the Borås parish/congregation archive in Älvsborg county, you will see name registers for birth, marriage, death and household records. In this parish, there are name registers for the household records between 1745 and 1860 as shown in the above image. These can be very helpful in the search process.

Below is an example of a page from the household record register book for Borås for the years 1745 – 1754. To the right of the person is the page number where you can find the person in the household record book for the years 1745-1754.

household register imageBorås (P) HFReg:1 (1745-1754) Image 74 / page 70 (AID: v188594.b74.s70, NAD: SE/GLA/13048) Link.

Examples of a few other parish archives where you will find name registers for church books are:

  • Gävle Heliga Trefaldighet – Gävleborg
  • Göteborgs Karl Johan – Göteborg och Bohus
  • Göteborgs Kristine – Göteborg och Bohus
  • Uppsala domkyrkoförsamling – Uppsala

ArkivDigital

SCB extracts 1925-1945

The birth, marriage and death extracts from Statistiska centralbyråns (SCB or Bureau of Central Statistics) for the years 1925 to 1945 are now available in ArkivDigital.

The SCB extracts are organized by county and year. This means that we have been able to photograph all parishes through the year 1945. The law of privacy in Sweden prohibits us from photographing some records that are younger than 70 years or for years later than 1945. This also includes church books where the final year in the book is for records later than 1945. Thus if a birth book includes the years 1930 to 1950, we are not allowed to photograph that book because some of the records are protected by the privacy law. In these cases where the original birth, marriage or death books are not available for the years 1925 to 1945, you may wish to look in the SCB extracts.

You will find the SCB extracts in the archive with the long name, Statistiska centralbyrån (SCB) – Avdelningen för befolkningsstatistik 1:a avdelningen. The easiest way to find this archive is to enter “SCB” in the search box and you will be directed to the archive.  Each volume specifies which county and year it covers. If nothing else is mentioned, the volume includes birth, marriage and death records for that year. In other cases there may be an abbreviation specifying the types of records the volume includes. The abbreviations are: fbu (birth records), vbu (marriage records) and dbu (death records).

skaraborg scb

Each volume consists of many images and therefore can take a few minutes to locate the correct parish. We are well aware of this problem and are working on creating a register for the SCB extracts so that one can select a parish and year and go directly to the image.

The SCB extracts are based on transcriptions sent by each parish to the Bureau of Central Statistics. One should be conscious that these are secondary sources and there could be errors and that these records do not contain all the information that is included in the original church book records.

deathscbStatistiska centralbyrån (SCB) – Avdelningen för befolkningsstatistik 1:a avdelningen  H1AA:2656 (1929-1929) Image 10 (AID: v816233.b10, NAD: SE/RA/42040101) Link.
First page in the SCB extract for Vänersnäs (Skaraborg county) death book for 1929.

Read original blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Mothers’ acknowledgments of births in Maria Magdalena parish

envelopeMaria Magdalena HIIIc:1 (1897-1900) Image 980 (AID: v826540.b980, NAD: SE/SSA/0012) Link.

Many researchers have been excited to find an ancestor’s birth record only to be disappointed to discover that the mother is “oäkta” or unmarried and that the father is unknown. But the disappointment is even greater if one discovers that both parents are unknown. However, in some cases there may be hope. For those of you who have found unknown mothers in the Maria Magdalena parish birth records in Stockholm, we want to point out four volumes with maternal acknowledgments of births that are available in ArkivDigital.

The four volumes are named Maria Magdalena HIIIc: 1-4 and they cover the period 1897-1917. The volumes contain envelopes which in most cases have been sealed until recently. The Stockholm city archives have now opened the sealed envelopes and have given us the opportunity to photograph the contents.

In the image at the top of the page we see the front page of an envelope referring to Alma Maria born on the 23rd of July 1897.  In the recently opened envelope, there is a page with the following text.

mothercertificate2Maria Magdalena HIIIc:1 (1897-1900) Image 990 (AID: v826540.b990, NAD: SE/SSA/0012) Link.

Undertecknad boende härstädes Bellmansgatan 16, 1 tr opp. erkänner sig härmed vara moder till flickebarnet Alma Maria född den 23 Juli 1897 och döpt den 27 Julis. år. intygas Stockholm den 27 Juli 1897 Mathilda Alma Sandberg född den 20 Juli 1871.

The undersigned who is residing at Bellmansgatan 16, 1st floor up, acknowledges that she is the mother of the female child, Alma Maria, born on the 23rd of July 1897 and baptized on the 27th of July of the same year. Certified in Stockholm on the 27th of July by Mathilda Alma Sandberg born on the 20th of July 1871.

In this record of acknowledgment, we see the mother’s name and birth date. In other acknowledgments, details of the mother’s birth parish are noted and sometimes even the father’s name. The majority of these photographed envelopes have recently been unsealed by the Stockholm city archives. However, some were unsealed long ago and in some of these cases there is documentation about when and who requested the opening of the envelope.

Read original blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Sara Jönsdotter lived 106 years

oldageNederluleå C:2 (1726-1742) Image 294 / page 531 (AID: v138428.b294.s531, NAD: SE/HLA/1010132) Link.

Occasionally we see examples of persons living  a remarkably long life in the church books. In the 1741 death book for Nederluleå’s parish, the priest wrote the following notes about Sara Jönsdotter.

”Mycket ålderstigna Pigan Sara Jönsd:r ifrån Måttsund. Född 1635. Fadren Jöns Erichsson. Modren hust: Sara N.d:r afled genom döden d:1 Augusti. Begrafdes på kyrkogården d:8 ejusd. Warit 15 år blind, men dock under sin blindhet spunnit finaste garn. Thes höga ålder är 106 år.”

The very elderly maid Sara Jönsdotter from Måttsund. Born in 1635. Her father was Jöns Erichsson and her mother was Sara N. dotter. Died on the 1st of August. Buried in the church cemetery on the 8th of the same month. Was blind for 15 years, but still spun the finest yarn despite being blind.  Was the high age of 106 years.

We wish to thank Björn Rydh for the tip.

Read original blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Inger Anonymidotter

IngerAnonymousGlimåkra CI:5 (1836-1862) Image 148 / page 145 (AID: v99243.b148.s145, NAD: SE/LLA/13111) Link.

The priest wrote the following entry about the maid Inger in the 1842 Glimåkra’s parish death book. Neither the priest or Inger knew who she was.

1842 Sept. 12 P. Inger Anonymidotter i Glimåkra efter en svår förlossning med ett oäkta barn, som var dödfödt. Inger hade i barndomen utvandrat fr. sitt hem, men visste ej sjelf hvarifrån hon var kommen. Ingen säker underrättelse hade om henne kunnat fås. Hon tycktes vara vid pass 26 år gammal. Till sin första nattvardsgång var hon här beredd och admitterad. Hon begrofs d.17 Sept:r”

On September 12, 1842, the maid Inger Anonymidotter (daughter of an unknown person) in Glimåkra died after a very difficult birth of a child who was born out of wedlock and stillborn. Inger had wandered from her home as a child but she did not know where she came from. No one was sure or had any information about who she could be. She was thought to be around 26 years old. She prepared for her first communion and was confirmed in this parish. She was buried on the 17th of September.

Read original blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Elfva-Bengtan from Skårby

elfva1

elva2Skårby CI:4 (1825-1862) Image 193 / page 375 (AID: v111804.b193.s375, NAD: SE/LLA/13350) Link.

In the 1842 death book for Skårby parish in southern Skåne, the priest included some additional information in Elfva-Bengtan’s death record.

Den så kallade Elfva-Bengtan i Skårby socken, som från urminnes tider lär hafva bott i en af henne uppförd jordhydda på gränsen emellan Willie, Kattslösa och Skårby Socknars ägor vid Snöftarp, och som i flera decennier blifvit skjutsad omkring i Skårby Socken från gård till gård, dog i Torpet Grekland den 26te och begrofs den 30de Januari. Hennes ålder är okänd; men sjelf har hon längesedan uppgiwvit sig hafva hunnit öfver 100 år. 84?

The person known as Elfva-Bengtan in Skårby parish, who as long as one can remember was said to have lived in one of her dugouts on the border between Willie, Kattslösa and Skårby parish grounds near Snöftarp, and who for several decades was pushed around from farm to farm, died at Torpet Grekland on the 26th and was buried on the 30th of January. Her age is unknown, but she herself for a long time stated that she was over 100 years.  84?

These few lines give us a picture of Bengta’s difficult life. Imagine how much more we could learn if more priests had noted more than just the name and age in the death record. It appears that the priest was questioning her age and that might be the reason he wrote “84?” at the end of the notation.

Read original blog in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Newspaper clipping in the household record

newspaper clippingJung AI:14 (1892-1899) Image 119 / page 109a (AID: v11092.b119.s109a, NAD: SE/GLA/13260)  Link.

If one happens to browse in the household record volume Jung AI: 14, you may be surprised to see a pasted newspaper clipping on a page. Think about this, if all the priests had the sense to do the same, it would have saved much time for additional searching to satisfy’s one curiosity about a crime an individual committed.

The image above shows Olof Andersson living in Kartegården, born on the 16th of October 1848 in Skarstad parish. In the special remarks column, the following notes were written.

Häktad för bedrägeri 1895. Prestbetyg 1896 1/10 sändt till kronolänsmannen. Dömd 1895 till straffarbete. Förlust af medborgerl. förtroende f. alltid.
Undergått straffarbete för bedrägeri och mened i 3 år från d.8/5 95-8/5 98. Medborgerligt förtroende för alltid förlustig.

Arrested for fraud in 1895. Vicar’s certificate sent to the sheriff on the 1st of October 1896. Sentenced in 1895 to hard labor. Loss of civic trust forever.
Sentenced to hard labor for fraud and perjury for 3 years from the 8th of May 1895 to the 8th of May 1898. Civic trust lost forever.

Usually there are some detailed notes in the household records when someone has committed a crime. But in this case the priest has also pasted in a newspaper article about Olof and his deceitful behavior. The article provides more background and ends with Olof being sentenced to five years hard labor. But there is a second article that states Olof appealed to the Court of Appeals where he was acquitted of the fraud but found guilty of perjury and sentenced to three years of hard labor and perpetual loss of civic trust instead.

Read original blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital