Wednesday, August 31, 2016

19th Century Faves - Sweden Edition

So many pictures ... so little time! What am I to do?!

Let me try this. I'll group some together and give you just a thumbnail sketch of each. If they generate any interest, there may be occasion to tell more about them.

Here is a Sweden edition. I have quite a few photos from Sweden from the late 1800s The problem is that I don't know who most of the people are. Oh well. But there are a few that I've figured out and they're worth sharing.

#1 - Meet Axel Ljungberg. 
He is my "blood" Great Grandfather on the Dolan side, which would have been the Ljungberg side had Axel not died before he was forty. My Grampa Dolan would not have known him. He was just a baby when his Dad died. It is the only extant picture of him that I am aware of.

Axel is one of my all-time favorite family history stories. It all started with what I was told by my Dad and Gramma Dolan. It was a rather interesting tale (with everything from a carriage accident to homicide, and alcohol may have been involved!) What was handed down, however,  proved to be more of a tall tale than a true one. But there were tidbits of truth in all of it. It ended with a police investigation that tells it the way it really was. I'm not going to tell you the whole story ... yet. I'll save it for later - but I think it will be worth the wait. It even includes a pocket watch that stopped ticking when Axel died. 
Great Grampa was born on 20 May 1854 near Goteborg, Sweden. He died on 9 October 1892. That would make him 38 years old. My Grampa was just over a year old. Axel had four siblings, 2 sisters and 2 brothers (as far as I can tell). He was the second to the youngest. What did he do for a living, you ask? He was a "bokhallaran" which means a clerk, or book-keeper, or maybe an accountant.
At any rate, his death changed everything.

#2 - Augusta (Jonsson) Ljungberg (Dolan)
You've met Axel, now meet the amazing Mrs. Ljungberg - my Great Grandmother. Unlike Axel, I have several pictures of her from the time of her youth to her last days. And I think I can say that in my book she is one of the most remarkable, amazing people in our family history. If nothing else, you could say that she saw it all!

Great Gramma was born on 21 January 1862, also near Goteborg. She died on 28 May 1936 in Zion, Illinois. As far as I can tell she was one of six children, 4 girls and 2 boys. She was near the middle of the litter. Let me tell you just a little bit about her.
Of course, Augusta will have a role in the story of the death of her husband, albeit only as a sad spectator. Before Axel died, however, she gave him 3 sons and 2 daughters. After that, she became Mrs. Dolan and became the mother of 3 more sons and 3 more daughters (the youngest being Aunt Lily from Zion, who some of you got to know.) She was a regular Swedish "Mrs. Brady" and the story of all her children and husbands would blow the modern day Brady Bunch out of the water.
She would leave her old life and family (destined to see only one of them ever again and that would be some 40 years later) and take her brood to Scotland and raise them there; watch 3 of them leave home at a young age and go to the new world (Canada); send 3 of the boys off to fight the War to End All Wars; and finally pack up what's left of her scattered family and head west, going through the experience of Ellis Island, and together with all but one her her surviving children. settle in Zion for the rest of her life. What a life! Sounds like quite a lady. And I didn't even mentioned that her mother committed suicide when she was 13 and she was left with her sisters to hold the family together. Can you see why I am impressed by this lady?!
My Dad remembers her. She continued to speak Swedish even in Zion. He remembers that she would on occasion slip him a silver dollar - which was no small thing in those days of the late 20's-30's. Daddy spoke almost reverently about her. She is buried in the old cemetery near Zion on Green Bay Road, just south of 33rd street, in case you want to pay your respects some day. Just follow the road to the left, about half way down, on the edge of the road, next to her son Bruno.

#3 - The Jonsson Sisters
The picture below is one of my "maybe" photos. I have shared this before. I believe this is young Augusta (standing left) with her two sisters, Emelia (sitting right, who left Sweden before Augusta and lived in Boston, MA. I've shared her family portrait in a previous vignette.) and Fredrika (sitting front, who I believe stayed in Sweden.) Maybe 1870s. Wish I could sit down with those three together and have a chat! The stories they could tell! But then I'd have to learn Swedish.


#4 - William James Dolan - Lace Weaver
Then there's my Step Great Grandfather. His is a stand alone story too, and there are quite a few pictures of him, so I will keep this brief. 
William James Dolan (right) with Two Fellow Lace Weavers
He's Irish, being born of Irish parents in Londonderry in 1857. But he did not stay in Ireland long. He traveled the world since his father was a career soldier (21st Regiment of Foot, Royal Scots Fusiliers) - Ireland, Scotland, England, India, Burma, New Zealand, and ending up in Scotland. He was living in Newmilns, Scotland in the late 1800s and there he had become a lace weaver. That was to lead to his Swedish connection.
In 1891 the Johnston Shields Company of Newmilns opened a new factory in Goteborg, Sweden. A dozen or so men from Newmilns were sent to Sweden to set up and organize this new factory and teach the trade. William James was one of them. 
In 1893 he met and married the widow, Augusta Ljungberg, and thus began that part of the family story. I'll tell you more about this man later.

#5 - William and Catherine (Boyd) Dolan
One more - but it adds another interesting twist to the Sweden story!
When William came to Sweden from Scotland with his lace weaving buddies, he didn't come alone. He had a wife. In 1887 he had married a lass from Irvine, Scotland, the daughter of a fisherman, Catherine Broadfoot Boyd. They had a daughter, Mary Ann, in 1888. But in 1890 little Mary died tragically in a drowning accident. Not long after that the couple made the move to Sweden.

But now that leads to one of my yet-to-be-solved mysteries. Catherine Dolan "disappears." There is the picture of the two of them together in Goteborg in 1891, but the next time I see William (1893) he is remarried to the widow Ljungberg. Before the century ends the blended Dolan bunch is making a new life in Scotland.
So what happened to Catherine? I don't know. I am assuming she died in Goteborg, but I have yet to find any evidence. I will find out - and when I do, you'll be the first to know.

Okay - that's enough for now. There is more - but you'll have to wait. But here are a few of my 19th Century Faves - from Sweden.


  1. I'm intrigued by our Swedish heritage. I'd like to visit and learn a little of the language. And I want to hear more about the carriage drama.

  2. This has been the hardest branch of the tree to climb with the German one not far behind. It's the language mostly, but in Sweden it's other things too. Like the different ways they use surnames. I bought a learn Swedish cassette kit once, but never got very far. I still have it. Also, since there is/was no one for me to talk to who was there, and there are so few artifacts that have survived, that makes it tough.