My Swedish genes took a meandering route to Canada. The central figure in this journey is Israel Andersson, my maternal great great grandfather. He was born in Laxarby, Älvsborg, Sweden on 26 April 1829 to Anders Svensson and Anna-Maria Andersdtr. Israel was the second oldest of 8 children. Being the second son, he knew he would be expected to find his own way when he grew up; Israel proved that he was more than up to the task.
|Israel in his later years
The first record of Israel migrating to another country is to be found in the Swedish Household Examination Record for his family in the period 1851-1855. These records were essentially annual censuses taken by the church and included birth, death, and marriage information as well as reporting when a person moved into or out of the parish. The far right column shows Israel leaving for Norway in 1854.
|Household Examination Record for family of Anders Svensson - Israel left for Norway in 1854
As in Sweden, Norway's Lutheran Church was tasked with keeping vital statistics, including in-migrations (innflyttede) to the parish. Sure enough, Israel appears in the Lier, Buskerud, Norway church book as having moved into the parish in 1854. Although the record is difficult to read and to translate, I believe it indicates he actually moved in November of 1854 and officially declared that intention on 9 December. Apparently he was living on the Opsal farm.
|Top entry is for Israel Anderson, age 25 when he moved into Lier Parish, Buskerud, Norway
Within the year, Israel had made a life for himself there, marrying the Opsal farmer's daughter Johanna Gundersdatter Opsal and fathering a young son Anders (my great grandfather). In 1856 the young family left for "Amerika", once again documented only by the church record of departures from the parish that year. No passenger lists can be found for this time period.
|Lier Norway Church Record "Uttflytted" for 1856, with enlarged segment for Israel, Johanna and Anders shown below.
Fortunately, the Lutheran Church continued its practice of maintaining records of births, baptisms, marriages, confirmations and deaths in America. From those records, we find that the family first lived in Rock Prairie, Wisconsin and moved a few years later to Kenseth, Iowa. By the time Israel's wife Johanna died in 1900, they were living in Hoople, Walsh County, North Dakota.
Hearing of opportunities for land in Canada, several family members made the move to Alberta to take up homesteads in the first decade of the 20th century. My grandfather, Ingwald Anderson was included in that migration but he and his brother chose land in Saskatchewan quite distant from the older generation, perhaps wanting to assert their independence.
|1914 Canadian Naturalization of my grandfather Ingwald Anderson
By 1903, widower Israel had settled near some of his sons near the small village of Bawlf in the Camrose area of Alberta. His homestead application form indicates that he had become a naturalized Canadian citizen 28 June 1906 and that he had made considerable improvements to his land.
|Homestead application of Israel Anderson in Bawlf area of Alberta, Canada
Sadly, Israel did not live quite long enough to "prove up" his homestead grant, dying 7 March 1910 just short of his 81st birthday. He is buried in the local Lutheran cemetery.
But my story does not end with immigrant Israel, nor with his son Anders/Andrew who came as a baby from Norway with his parents and remained in the United States for the rest of his life, nor with Andrew's son Ingwald who went homesteading in Saskatchewan and also became a naturalized Canadian citizen. All three generations of my grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather were immigrants to one or more of Norway, the United States or Canada. But I was to discover there was yet another generation of Swedish immigrants in my tree!
Israel's parents Anders Svensson and Anna-Maria Andersdtr had been left behind in Sweden when Israel moved to Norway and then to America. The Swedish family must have received positive reports of life in the new land. In 1868 parents Andrew and Anna and two of their other grown children followed Israel across the Atlantic. Passenger lists available for this time period brought this new information to light.
|Anders Svenson and son Gustaf Anderson on the "City of London" arrived in New |York 25 May 1868
Information about and an image of the ship that they arrived on can be found through this link: "City of London". Ann Andersdotter and daughter Eva are listed on another page for the same voyage. All joined Israel and his family who were living in Iowa at the time.
A combination of ship's passenger lists, church records, Naturalization documents and land records show the meandering migration path of 4 generations of Swedish ancestors whose Swedish genes now reside contentedly with my family in Canada.