Finding My Swedes

Detail of the Baptismal Record of Nils Svensson (Nels Johnson)
Detail of the Bap­tismal Record of Nils Svens­son (Nels John­son)

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!)