In general, Swedish records are easy to find and use. The Swedes started keeping detailes records of vital records, but also of migration and emigration, from a very early date. And they have had a long-standing tradition of pacifism, meaning that comparatively few records have been burned.
My elusive Swedes, however.… They told everyone — in my great grandfather Nels Johnson’s family Bible, in the history of the family by the eldest daughter (Lena Johnson) of the eldest daughter (Bothilda Johnson) of the immigrants — that they emigrated from Viby in 1868. (Viby was small then, and is still small now: In 1995 population was 936.) There is such a parish, and they were not lying, they were from there.
They just didn’t think to mention that it had changed its name a couple of times:
- After the Gustav IV Adolph ascended to the throne of Norway and Sweden in 1792, the name of the parish was changed to Gustav Adolf in his honor.
- Another wrinkle: from 1681–1856, Viby was associated with Rinkaby, and apparently also with Åhus.
- After 1856, Gustav Adolf and Rinkaby become parishes of the Villand Hundred.
Clear as mud? Just as one is told commonly in genealogy to look to the next county over, I am searching Viby, Gustav Adolph, Rinkaby, and Åhus for my Swedish ancestors.
I am having great success. I am still mainly in the Gustav Adolph papers. (One of the leading Swedish firms for genealogical records, Arkiv Digital is providing free access for a couple of days, ending on December 30th.)
There is a lot to like about AD: The images are gorgeous new, color images, downloadable as PNGs. (They are also supposed to be downloadable as JPGs, but it does not seem to save the files when I ask for a JPG.) The documents are not indexed by name, but AD provides some handy ways into the documents based on locale and timeframe, and the images load very quickly.
I have been able to locate 8 records of birth or birth and baptism, and one marriage certificate. The births include:
- Nils Svensson (my great grandfather, known in America as Nels Johnson), b. 24 October 1863, #7 Viby, [Kristianstad län, Sweden]; bapt. 31 October 1863, Viby, [Kristianstad län, Sweden]; son of Sven Jönsson and Kerstin Jönsdotter, The godparents were Nils Andersson of #8 (next door) and Karna Jönsdotter of #7. (Karna is mentioned in the family history as Kerstin’s sister, who they later helped immigrate to the U.S.).
- Kerstina Jönsdotter (my great-great grandmother, known in America as Kjerstin Johnson), b. 6 November 1834, in Wiby, [Kristianstad län, Sweden]; daugher of Jöns Westassons [family documents say “Vesterson” or “Wyscelius”]
I have also found the record of the marriage of Kjerstin and Sven, in 1853, and the birth records of
- Bothilda (in America Thilda) (1854)
- Petr (in America, Peter) with a separate baptismal record (1857)
- Jöns (in America, John) (1860)
- Ingrid (in America, Ida) (1865), and
- Erik (in America, Eric) (1868).
That’s just a highlight. There’s more for me to do, even with the records I found, but it is exciting to be working with such well preserved and well presented records. (Thanks Arkiv Digital!)