Friday, 7 August 2015

Anders Svenson (b.1800 in Sweden) (52 Ancestors Week 32) Theme: "One of 32 third great grandparents"

One of my 32 third great grandparents was a Swede named Anders Svenson, the father of Israel Anderson. Anders led a well-documented life in Sweden for several decades but his life ended without record. Or at least without a record found so far. What became of Anders?

Anders was born 23 December 1800 and no doubt his arrival added to the Christmas celebrations of his family: parents Sven Olsson and 34 year-old Britta Nilsdotter and older siblings Olof, Maria and Per. His baptism was on Christmas Day.

Birth Record for Andreas (Anders) Svenson 23 December 1800, baptised 25 Dec. 1800.

The family lived at Korsbyn, Laxarby, Sweden when Anders was born. This area was very near the border with Norway which is shown as the yellow line on the map below. When Anders was fourteen years old, Sweden and Norway entered into a personal union which meant that they shared a monarch although their laws and other interests remained distinct.

Google Earth image showing Korsbyn, Sweden marked with a red pin

Sweden kept household examination records  called "husförhörslängder". These were essentially an annual census taken in the years during the 17th through 19th centuries. Now primarily of interest for demographic/genealogical purposes to show the composition of a household over a period of years, these records were originally created for religious purposes. Once a year, the minister would show up and test the religious knowledge and habits of each family member who had been confirmed. One could be asked to read or recite passages from the Bible or from the Lutheran Catechism, asked about their daily prayers, church attendance and how often they had taken communion. No doubt the minister's annual visit was awaited with much joyful anticipation!

Anders shows up for the first time in the household examination record book covering the period 1795-1800.  (It is interesting to note how the years of birth were shown: for example, older sibling Olof is recorded as 93 16/11 to show his birthday as 16 November 1793. There was obviously a bit of a conundrum about what to do when the year changed to 1800, a precursor of the Y2K issue we dealt with at the start of the year 2000. Anders is recorded as having been born 800 23/12 to indicate 23 December 1800.) During this period, Sven and Britta and their 4 children were living with Sven's widowed mother Ingrid Svensdotter at Korsbyn, Laxarby.

Household examination record for Erik and Britta's family 1795-1800

The household examination records for this family carry on at Korsbyn year after year. Anders grows to young manhood and finds himself a wife. His marriage to Anna Andersdotter is documented in the church records and shows that he was 25 and she 27. In accordance with Swedish tradition, Anna would retain the name "Andersdotter" for life.

Marriage of Anders Svenson and Anna Andersdotter of Kroken 2 April 1826
Anders and Anna continued to live at Korsbyn farm in the early days of their marriage. Son Johannes was born there in 1827, followed by my 2X great grandfather Israel in 1829. The young family then moved a few miles away to Galthögen farm, also in Laxarby parish. The Lutheran church records record not only births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials, but also record each time a person left one parish to go to another farm or parish.

Google Earth image showing location of Galthögen Farm
in an area of many lakes and forests

Their household examination records are to be found in Galthögen from 1830 to 1863 when they again moved a few miles away to Billingsfors with three of their grown children. Billingsfors was to be home for just five years. The mid to late 1800's marked a period of transition from rural farming life because of the Industrial Revolution as a result of which some one million Swedes left for America searching for a better life for themselves and their families. In 1868, utflyttning church records (for people leaving the parish) indicate that Sven (68) and Anna (68) with son Gustaf (20) and daughter Eva Maria (30) emigrated to the United States. And this is where the well-documented life starts to fade.

All four do show up as steerage passengers aboard the ship "City of London" that sailed from Liverpool to New York, arriving 25 May 1868.

The ship "SS City of London" was in operation between 1863 and 1881 when it was lost at sea taking 41 lives. Pictures of the ship and more details about her can be found at this site. Although we don't have any details of the journey made by Sven and Anna and their two adult children, there is a description of one family's trip aboard the "City of London" in 1863 that gives some idea of what conditions would have been like. The following account was written by Samuel Gompers and was found at
"Our ship was the old type of sailing vessel. We had none of the modern comforts of travel. The sleeping quarters were cramped and we had to do our own cooking in the gallery (sic) of the boat. Mother had provided salt beef and other preserved meats and fish, dried vegetables, and red pickled cabbage which I remember most vividly. We were all seasick except father, mother the longest of all. Father had to do all the cooking in the meanwhile and take care of the sick. . . Father did not know much about cooking."  
It could not have been an easy trip for Sven and Anna who were close to 70 years old. What did they do after their arrival in New York? Son Israel had preceded them to America, having left from Norway with his wife and young son in 1856. There is no indication that Sven and Anna joined Israel's family in America. Daughter Eva Maria Andersdotter married a man named Robertson and raised a family in North Dakota, but there is nothing to indicate that either she or her brother Gustav had their parents living with them after travelling to America together. After their arrival in New York on the 25th of May 1868, no further records have been located in either Sweden or America for Anders Svenson or Anna Andersdotter .  Their fate remains a mystery.

Update 2017:

The availability of the church records for the Lutheran Church in Lake Mills, Winnebago, Iowa has enabled us to find the death and burial record for Anders in January of 1874. It appears that they joined other family in Iowa. A death record has not yet been found for Anna. 


  • Swedish archival records located online at
  • New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957 from for Year: 1868; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 295; Line: 15; List Number: 496

No comments:

Post a Comment