Bridge to Sweden

Newsletter no 18
October 2005

Midsummer children
Photo: Marie Louise Bratt

Another summer is gone, and no time for writing a newsletter until now. So sorry, but our trips with Americans and Canadians to farms and relatives have taken much of my time. And, of course, visits by my children and little granddaughter Lauren during the summer... Now fall has arrived, with yellow birches outside my window and some chill in the air. Just beautiful! 

As usual my husband and I have traveled to many corners of this country during the summer, with quite a few of you. We went to Halland, next to the Atlantic ocean - twice in fact. And to Småland, Öland, Västergötland, Dalsland and a few other areas. No more trips this year, but next spring, summer and fall there will be. Perhaps you would like to join us? 


A note from Gail Bates, who came to Sweden with her daughter Jennifer and found relatives in Halland, Öland, Västergötland, and even in Stockholm. 

Here you see Gail and Jennifer with relatives from Halland. 

I have thought for many years that I would like to go to Sweden to the areas from which all 4 of my grandparents came.  Well, this summer my dream came true when Marie Louise and her husband, Lonny, took my daughter and myself on a tour to Kölingared, Sjötofta, Tvååker, and Färjestaden.  Marie Louise did a great deal of research to supplement what I already knew and located a number of relatives that we were able to meet. It was also fun to see how the natives celebrated Midsommar.  Everyone was extremely friendly and made us feel like we had known them all of our lives.  It was a most rewarding experience to actually stand on the farms where our ancestors were born as well as visit the churches and graveyards where many of our ancestors were buried.  Without the help and planning of Marie Louise it would have been impossible for us to do all that we did in such a short time. 

Gail Bates


What's in this newsletter? 
1. First a quick visit to Göteborg and the new Emigrant House with exhibits and research facilities, right in the building where your grandma or grandpa once sat waiting for their ship to Amerika

2. Then we'll go south, as far south as we can go in Sweden in fact, to Skåne, Halland and Blekinge. Yes, we discussed this area before, but many of you have ancestors from there and have asked me to tell you more.  (removed because of old information)

 3. Finally we'll take off across the ocean, to New Zealand, a country some Swedes emigrated to. An interesting book I picked up recently has lots of information about many of these emigrants, and I'd like to share it with you.


1. The Emigrant House in Göteborg
Most of the more than one million Swedish emigrants left from the big harbour in Göteborg, on Sweden's west coast. To Göteborg most arrived by train, getting off at the central railroad station, walking Sillgatan (now Postgatan), to Tullhuset, where parents, brothers, sisters and friends said goodbye to those leaving for Nord-Amerika. 

Emigranternas Hus  (the Emigrant House) opened recently with an interesting exhibit - some of it you'll find when you click on "Gallery".  They also have a number of databases, which you'll certainly find interesting (just click on Research Center). 

So if you plan a trip to Göteborg, and would like to spend some time doing research within a thoroughly historical environment, remember Emigranternas Hus.  


3. Swedes in New Zealand
I recently picked up a book called Svenskarna i Nya Zeeland (The Swedes in New Zealand), written by Sten Aminoff. (Yes, it's spelled Nya Zeeland in Swedish!) I found this book quite interesting, since little has been written about the emigration to this part of the world. 

Let's go back in time, to the early 1800s, when a few Swedish sailors heard about a wonderful country far from Sweden, called Nya Zeeland. One of the first sailors to leave for New Zealand was Sven Sjögren, who then became friendly with a Maori family and married their beautiful daughter, Hinahina. They moved to Sweden, where unfortunately she became ill and died. 

Other sailors followed, most of them from the parishes along the Swedish coast. Charles Hopkinson, a sailor, became naturalized in New Zealand already in 1854. Carl Eberhard Sjöstedt, from Värmland, arrived in 1842, and changed his name to Charles Suisted. 

By mid 1800 gold was found in many places, including in New Zealand. Many Swedish emigrants settled in Australia first, then continued on to New Zealand. Yes, some of them found gold, and at least one, Olof Adam Söderlind, called Sutherland in NZ, apparently made quite a bundle. 

Many Swedes settled in Mauriceville West and in Norsewood, where they worked in the lumbering industry. Since most of their neighbors were English speaking, the Swedes assimilated rapidly and it did not take long before the Swedish language was forgotten. When World War I arrived and it became difficult to travel on the seas of the world, emigration more or less stopped. 

The Swedes who emigrated were named Johansson, Andersson, Persson, Olsson etc., like most Swedes. Many of these names were anglicized, like in other English speaking countries.

Over 10.000 people in New Zealand now have Swedish ancestry. Where do you start your research, if you believe you are one of them? Your first goal is to find your emigrant's Swedish name and his or her parish of birth or residence in Sweden. Start by asking your relatives, especially older ones, to see if they know where your great-grandfather came from.

Svenskarna i Nya Zeeland includes pages of Swedish emigrants, who settled in New Zealand and I'll be happy to look up your emigrants for you. This is the information included: 

  • The emigrant's name
  • The date of birth (usually only the year)
  • The parish and county in Sweden (VERY important)
  • The year of arrival in New Zealand
  • When and where he or she was naturalized in New Zealand
  • The date and place of death
  • If married and number of children
  • Occupation
  • Notes (sometimes include name of spouse)

So time to find your family in Sweden - and start the long journey from New Zealand across the oceans -  to visit them! 


I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter and that it will inspire you to start, or continue, your research. Please contact me with any questions you might have and I'll try to answer them. If you found this newsletter helpful to you, please forward it to friends and relatives who might be interested. 

I wish you a beautiful fall, like the one we now have here in Norrtälje. I'll be back again, with another newsletter, when snow covers our trees...

Marie Louise Bratt


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