Friday, March 21, 2014

Never Give Up - Friday's Faces from the Past

My family tree has a few researched branches so long they almost reach the sky. I can't take the credit for most of that growth. Much of it was accomplished years before I ever began my research.
Memorial stone in Byarum Parish, Jönköping, Sweden
My loose translation: Memorial To the memory of the
532 Byarum residents who 1853-1930 emigrated to America,
to seek their 
My great grandfather, Johann August Johannesson, was one
of the 532 that left Byarum in 1869.
I have had help and I've been fortunate to meet some wonderful cousins along the way who dropped crumbs for me to follow when I needed it.
Other branches have only grown a few inches in all the years my family has been working on our genealogy.

One of the most stubborn branches has been my dad's Johnson and Nelson lines. All four of his grandparents came to America from Sweden in the mid 1800's as young, single adults. We had vague stories of Sweden, and a few names that had been passed down, but little else.

If you know anything about Swedish names before the 1900's, you know that each generation received new last names.

August Johannesson really was Johannes' son! Johanna Håkansdotter really was... you guessed it, Håkans' daughter!
That makes for very difficult searching made even harder by the fact that I didn't speak much more Swedish than "thank you," "yes," and the names of some traditional dishes.

It was a very slow growing branch! 

The information I had on my Swedish ancestors existed on my tree for years without comment, as the branches around them grew with new information and newly found cousins.

Years of searching and waiting ended abruptly one day last spring when I opened a message from a
Anders and his family in their home in Jönköping, Sweden
woman in Sweden claiming that her grandfather, Anders, and my great grandfather, John, were brothers. John had come to America while Anders had remained in Sweden.

The pictures started coming and I found myself looking into faces of family. Familiar family resemblances! I never dreamed this would happen after so much time.

After many questions, much research, and major breakthroughs in my understanding of Swedish records, I am proud to call Gunnel my cousin. We write back and forth and share new and old bits of family news.

And... I've started planning a trip to Sweden!

Never. Give. Up.

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