Saltpeter Collector (Salpetersjudare) Important job for manufacturing gunpowder

saltpeter1Krigskollegium Artilleridepartementet F2a:2 (1764-1804) Image 212 (AID: v50440.b212, NAD: SE/KrA/0003) Link.

Occasionally at conferences in North America, a customer has asked,” I have an ancestor who was a salpetersjudare?  What is that occupation?” It is a saltpeter collector or sometimes referred to as saltpeter maker.

As the Swedish army increasingly used rifles and cannons, there was a great need for gunpowder. Gunpowder consisted of 75% saltpeter. Large concentrations of saltpeter were found in the soil under farm buildings and stables. Since saltpeter was so important in the production of gunpowder, it came to be that the soil under many farm buildings was declared to be royal property. In the beginning the farmers collected and delivered the saltpeter themselves, but soon a new profession was created, saltpeter collectors.

The saltpeter collectors traveled around to the farms and dug up the floors of the barns or stables and collected the soil and then boiled and seethed it for about six or seven days. Then the pure saltpeter was transported to the gunpowder factory where gunpowder was produced.

In the series Krigskollegium Artilleridepartementet, there are three volumes with muster rolls for the saltpeter collectors or makers (salpetersjudarna) from 1693 – 1805. These muster rolls are organized in the same way as the ones for cavalrymen and soldiers.

To search for these archives enter the search words: Krigskollegium Artilleridepartementet in the search box.

The image at the top of the page is the muster roll for the saltpeter collectors of Skåne and Blekinge counties. The mustering was held on the 29th of April 1778.

salpeter2Krigskollegium Artilleridepartementet F2a:1 (1693-1757) Image 92 (AID: v50439.b92, NAD: SE/KrA/0003) Link.

Sometimes you will find more information about a person who was a saltpeter collector. In the above image you see in the third row Anders Erichsson from Lerdala parish in Skaraborg county. He was born in 1699 and became a saltpeter collector in 1721. On the right side there is a note giving more information about him.

Siuk af et hug i wänstra knäet och bewitnades af des Cammerater at wara oduglig. Recommenderas till afskied, medan han och intet kunnat giöra något arbete för åhr 1726.

Disabled by a stab in the left knee and testimony by his comrades stated that he was unfit. Recommended for discharge, meanwhile he wasn’t able to work in 1726.

Read blog entry in Swedish.

ArkivDigital

Swedish soldiers captured at Poltava – What can one discover about them?

After the Swedish defeat at Poltava in 1709, many members of the Swedish army were captured and imprisoned in Russia. Is it possible to find information about the individual prisoners?

The short answer is yes. For those who are interested about war prisoners during the 1700’s, we recommend that you take a look at the archive:  ”Krigshandlingar Stora nordiska kriget: Krigsfångar” or “War Documents of the Great Northern War: War Prisoners”.  Note that there are two archives with the same name but they include different volumes.

We want to especially point out the two name register volumes: Reg:1 and Reg:2. These records cover admittedly only a portion of the volumes that we photographed, but they are still of great value since one is able to find a reference to a number of volumes and pages for most persons. Register LarsKrigshandlingar Stora nordiska kriget: Krigsfångar Reg:1 (0-9999) Image 791 (AID: v787880.b791, NAD: SE/KrA/038814B)  Link.

Above is the index card for First Lieutenant Lars Gröning. The first reference, I: 39, refers to the volume 14B: 1, page 39.  Lars is found in a roll that shows all of the prisoners in Russia from the Battle of Poltava. On this page, it notes that Lars was held a prisoner in Tobolsk, a city in western Siberia.  You will find Lars in the middle of the page on the right in the image below. lars page 39Krigshandlingar Stora nordiska kriget: Krigsfångar 14B:1 (0-9999) Image 270 / page 39 (AID: v787699.b270.s39, NAD: SE/KrA/038814B) Link.

On July 14, 1722, Lars returned home to Sweden. This information appears in volume 14B:3, page 20 which the reference III: 20 on the index card refers to.  Lars is shown in the image below.

Lars page 20 Krigshandlingar Stora nordiska kriget: Krigsfångar 14B:3 (0-9999) Image 290 / page 20 (AID: v787701.b290.s20, NAD: SE/KrA/038814B) Link.

By following the other references listed on the index card, we can find additional information about the long stay Lars involuntarily spent in Tobolsk.

Click here to see original article in Swedish.

ArkivDigital