I Wear Tight Genes

Wherein I attempt to relate the trials and tribulations of tracking down information on people who are dead, but bear some resemblance to me...when they were alive.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A New Branch

Originally uploaded by Thomas.Valley
Sometimes it's the little things that please me in all of this research. Today I was talking to a very nice Swedish friend of mine (who's currently looking for a place to live, so if you know someone with an apartment in Helsingborg, let me know) who's going down to the public library tomorrow to look up some stuff for me on the Swansons. He mentioned that "Swanson" is an assimilated name, and that the original was most like Svensson. So, I asked him what a name like Nygren might be like, pre-assimilation.

"Oh, that's not an assimilated name," he tells me. "It's directly translated as New Branch. Nature names were very popular in the mid-19th century in Sweden."

And to think that little bit of history has gone unnoticed in our family for so long. Here are a bunch of people, setting out to the new world, separating themselves from a community of people where every other person was a cousin. What more fitting label could they call themselves but New Branch?

Now, I've moved my family across country before in the name of pursuing new employment, but can't comprehend setting out for a completely new country -- or even just to leave the house -- without a clear and concise goal. It's either a testament to the bravery or stubborn pride of immigrants like these that they could set off on a months-long voyage across the sea and set up shop in a place they'd never seen before.

I'd like to point out that Charles Swanson came to this country in 1888, and 2 years later he's noted in the Wilkes-Barre yellow pages as a Shoe maker. I can just hear the discussion back in Sweden now between Charles and Clara: "But, honey, I can make shoes anywhere. It might as well be in America."


Blogger Cheryl said...

My Dad (Edwin Albert Jr.)was surprised to hear that the records show that Charles Swanson was a shoemaker. Charles did own a bar originally but sold that after the church "transferred" (excommunicated) he and Clara because he owned the bar! Dad has the transfer papers showing the church transferring them but it did not list a destination because there was no church to transfer to. He sold the bar so that the church would allow them back and opened a grocery/butcher store which he ran most of his life, selling it only when income tax started. He refused to keep records and said he'd rather go out of business at that point. I can imagine the problems he's have keeping records since Clara usually did all her shopping by going downstairs to the store and taking what she wanted upstairs with her. Dad still has some of his butcher knives, as well as his Morris chair and telephone table.

His Grandpa Edward Nygren immigrated to the US as a teenager and married Johanna Johannson, who had also immigrated in Wilksbarre. They had four children (Joel, Emma, Vinnie and Hulda) before she became ill and decided that returning to Sweden was the only way she'd recover. So they sold everything and moved back to Sweden, only to discover that Sweden had changed so much that she wanted to return to the US. Edward had spent most of his money getting the family back to Sweden, so they came back as freight with the manifest listing 6 people and several boxes. When they returned to Wilksbarre, the Swedes to whom they'd sold their household goods, brought back all the furnishings and set them back up in a home. Johanna died giving birth to Albert shortly afterwards leaving Edward with 5 young children. He then hired a succession of housekeepers until he found one who could control the kids and married her. The family was expected to bring dinner every Sunday afternoon and my Dad has many memories of those times. When Albert married Ruey, the stepmom was not pleased so Albert ended up eventually building separate kitchens and living quarters for his wife (Ruey) and the step mom who raised him.

Dad has many stories of our family but is a "hunt & peck" typist so you'd do better talking to him about your great-grandparents. Contact me and I'll hook you up.

9:41 PM  
Blogger daeva said...

Hi there!
This is Kathleen Smith. My mother is Ann Elizabeth (Beithon) Smith and my grandfather is Paul Beithon and my great-grandfather was EJ Beithon.

Tidbit: The name 'Beithon' comes from Beito, Norway.

If anyone wants to get in contact with me and chat about the Beithons, email me at: lavender.blind(at)gmail.com

Oh and another thing, there is a brand new Beithon in Arizona!

12:35 AM  

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