Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about three women: Johanna Andersson, Ingar Jönsdotter, and Hanna Persdotter.
A few weeks ago I plunged back into the Swedish records for ten days, focusing on my maternal great-grandmother and her Swedish roots.
All I had to go on was an old book that I inherited from my great-aunt Caroline. It was “Family Book” that may have been given to her mother and father on the occasion of their marriage on Januari de 26 i 1893 in Chicago.
The section titled “Our Ancestry” is, sadly, blank. Names, dates and stories that were forever lost when August Linden and Johanna Andersson both died early.
A few pages later, under the heading of “Our Family”, someone–presumably Johanna–did write some details in a mix of “Svedis and Englis” in pencil. Pages for the Husband, Wife, and three Children were completed.
Name: Johanna Anderson.
Birth: 4 Mej 1872 in the län of Skåne–Bjerstjäladugar, Sveden.Baptism: in Kjärrstorp socken, Sweden, by Pastor X. Converted or Confirmed: 1886. Education: Skol in Sveden. Occupation: husvarak an landres. Married to Agust W. Linden de 26 Januari 1893 in Chicago, Il. Residence 132 E. Superior St.Death: the 12 of October 1908. Died of canser.
My first challenge was to figure out the names of the town and parish (socken). Someone had repaired a tear with tape long ago–right over the name of her parish–now it is discolored and difficult to read. It took awhile but eventually I found a map of hundreds in Skåne, and located a parish labeled Öster Kjärrstorp. I signed on for another week of ArkivDigital and found the parish, and then the Birth & Christening Records for 1872. It didn’t take long at all to find May 4th and Johanna’s name.
Johanna was indeed born on May 4, 1872. Her mother was “Pigan” (maiden) Ingar Jönsdotter and there was no father listed. In later records, Johanna has the word “oäkta”(illegitimate) written alongside her name.
I spent 10 days obsessing (as before) my way through the records, searching for clues about the lives of these women. By the time Johanna was 3 years old, she was living with foster parents and Ingar eventually went on to marry and have three more children. It does not appear that Johanna ever lived with her mother in her new life. She took on the surname of her foster parents, first as Andersdotter, later as Andersson, and eventually Americanized it to Anderson.
When she was 9, her foster mother died and her foster father remarried a year later. By the time she was 12 or 13, she was living, probably as a maid, away from her foster parents, and by the time she was 20 she was headed towards Amerika.
Johanna’s mother, Ingar, was also born to an unmarried woman named Hanna Persdotter on December 1, 1825. At her baptism nine days later, a young man named Jön Jönsson was one of four witnesses and I’m guessing that he was the father since Ingar was always known as Jönsdotter. Hanna also eventually married (not Jöns Jönsson) but I think that Ingar grew up in her home, as her stepfather attended both the baptism of her daughter (Johanna) and her wedding.
I was able to follow the families through several moves and many years. Johanna’s foster father (and family) and her mother’s new family both lived in the area for many years, dying as old folks.
By then, of course, Johanna had emigrated to Amerika.
I’m planning to quilt a family tree into the design of my Swedish quilt and like the idea of three lone buds representing these single women who gave birth and most likely lived, at least for awhile, in difficult circumstances. I don’t know their stories, but I wouldn’t be here without them! And so my quilt will somehow honor them. I doubt if they were honored much in life. Perhaps they didn’t even deserve honor–and yet, grace surrounded them.
Johanna, Ingra, and Hanna.
(Story to be continued….)
Here is my finished quilt top and the Swedish flag I made for part of the backing.
(Story to be continued….)