Olson Family Discoveries at Augustana College

Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to visit the Swenson Swedish Immigrant Research Center (SSIRC) at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. (Interesting factoid: Mississippi River was at flood stage.) The archivist/librarian on duty was extremely helpful in translating some documents I already had from ArkivDigital and in locating possible emigration/immigration information for my great-grandparents, Nils Olson and Maria Christina Rinaldo. I wanted to share a little of what I learned with my family today. I hope you find it interesting. First, our Swedish immigrant ancestor Nels Olson.

Information found previously in records found through ArkivDigital in 2015:

  • Nels Olson (birth record), born “Nils”, 26 July 1841, Jonstorp parish, Malmöhus län, Skåne province, Sweden; father=Olof Nygren, b. 5August 1816, in Väsby, Sweden; mother=Sissa Nils Dotter, b. 19 April 1817, in Jonstorp,
  • Nels’s siblings, as of 1846 household record, all born in Jonstorp, were: Johanna, b. 26 November 1842; Christina, b. 5 September 1844; and Lars, b. August 1846 [couldn’t decipher day]. Note: There may have been others, but I have not yet pursued this.
  • Nels went to America in 1868, but was not “written out” of the parish records until 1869.

What I learned at the SSIRC yesterday:

  • The word “hussaren” before Olof Nygren’s name as father of Nils means “the light cavalryman.”
  • The word “rymd” with Nils’s first emigration note in 1868 means “escaped, deserter, fugitive…” Basically, it means he left without proper travel papers. Why? Unknown.
  • When Nils was born, the family lived in the farm village of Teppeshusen.
  • Evidently, the family moved from Jonstorp to Väsby, leaving Väsby in 1866, then lived in the farm village of Ljusbergshus, Allerum, Malmöhus (Skåne), when Nils left for America in 1868.
  • Nils was a tenant farmer (“Husman”) when he emigrated.
  • Swedes were tested for literacy and religious knowledge annually, and our family was no exception.
  • Johanna Nygren, who appears to be Nils’s sister, emigrated 6 November 1865 “from 281, Helsingborgs stadsförs, Malmöhus län (Skåne) to Köbenhavn amt, Danmark” (Source: Emibas migration file ID: Helsingborgs stadsförs M 1865 045)
  • Another possible, unmarried sibling of Nils, Olof Nygren, b. 22 May 1848 in Jonstorp, emigrated to America 29 March 1870 “from Södra Danhult 2, Väsby, Malmöhus län (Skåne)” (Source: Emibas migration file ID: Väsby M 1870 005, citing Household Examination Roll, p. 99.) I need to locate his birth record to confirm this relationship.
  • From the Demographical Database for Southern Sweden (DDSS) for those “Born in Jonstorp Parish, 1689-1894,” Sissa’s birth information was found. (Remember: She was Nels’s mother.) Her father, Jöns Olsson, was a tenant farmer in Teppeshusen. Her mother, Gunnil Siunnasdoter, was 42 when she bore Sissa, indicating she most likely had older siblings. Her parents were married when she was born. (Original Source of this information came from Jonstorps kyrkoarkiv C I : 2) Note: Why she went by Nils Doter, rather than Jöns Doter, is as yet unknown. More research to be done.

More about the Rinaldo family in a separate post. I am off to Vesterheim, the Norwegian museum here in Decorah, IA, and to the Giants of the Past museum in Spring Grove, MN, the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota. Doing research today for my husband’s family.


Why Attend Genealogy Conferences?

I left Sacramento, CA, on Saturday, and arrived in Grand Rapids, MI, on Monday. That’s NINE states in THREE days! California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Thirty-two hours behind the wheel to travel about 2,400 miles. Some of you would probably call me crazy. I get it. Why would anyone travel so far, by car mind you, to spend four days sitting through genealogical lectures from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon?  In one word: Passion.

I was having dinner in the hotel tonight with a fellow genealogist, who is also a friend and newfound cousin, when our waiter asked a similar question. What do you do at a genealogy conference? First, we talked about the passion genealogists have for learning about their ancestors. We explained that genealogy is much more than dates and places. It is about discovering the life lived in those places, between those dates. It’s about “the dash.”  A favorite song by Scotty McCreery explains this idea. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSTY9NZvBfI

Genealogy conferences, such as the NGS Family History Conference, give those with a passion for genealogy an opportunity to learn from experts in the field, to improve their research techniques, to explore records they may never have heard about before, and to network with others in the genealogical community. Sometimes we find cousins we never knew we had. Other times we may find that elusive piece of the puzzle which could complete the picture of an ancestor’s life, allowing us to break through the brick wall in our research.

Ancestors are waiting for us to uncover their stories. I often feel like mine are guiding my research, leading me to the records they left behind. This week I will learn best practices and discover new resources. I can’t wait to get started!


Happy DNA Day!

Hope you aren’t tired of hearing about DNA. I know it can be an iffy topic, but thought I would share a few of my experiences and some things I have learned along the way. Among other things, it is important to remember that DNA testing and traditional genealogical research must go hand-in-hand to achieve the greatest value of any test results we receive by spitting or swabbing. How our ancestry looks on paper, through the records, could be, and probably will be, different from how our ancestry is defined genetically.

I have tested with four different companies–DNA Spectrum (no longer in business), Ancestry, Family Tree, and 23 & Me. In honor of DNA Day, I plan on sending in my 5th test today to My Heritage. I first learned about DNA testing for genealogy through National Geographic’s advertisements for their Genographic Project. I got curious. Then, in 2013, while attending a Family History Conference in Sacramento, I signed up with DNA Sprectrum. After receiving and analyzing my saliva, they sent me lots of fun lists, charts and graphics. I was totally surprised by many of the resulting groups in my ethnic distribution, but then I didn’t know much about DNA testing at the time. I loved that it showed I had a little Romani Gypsy in me, though. (That explains my love of travel. Ha, Ha) Other unexpected groups included Iberian, and American Indian. There were many expected outcomes, as well, such as German, Swedish,  and Western European.

The other three testing companies returned results  mostly similar to each other, but only vaguely similar to that of DNA Spectrum. (Perhaps the latter company was a deeper DNA test, like the Genographic Project 2.0.) It is important to remember that every company has a different database. Perhaps more and more people are testing with multiple companies, as I recognize this trend among my peers, but there are other differences from one testing company to another, including how matches are determined.

Blaine T. Bettinger’s book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy (Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2016) is full of wonderful information to help even the novice understand the basics of DNA Testing and how it supports genealogical research. The book is full of graphics to demonstrate the meaning of the text. Eleven myths about DNA testing are discussed, as are the different types of DNA tests–autosomal, mitochondrial, Y-DNA, and X-DNA. The examples come from the author’s own test results and demonstrate the differences between the three major testing companies. For those who want to know more about analysis, Bettinger further demonstrates how to use the most popular third-party tools in the industry. There is even a chapter especially for adoptees. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about DNA testing and what all those results mean.

Never stop learning… DNA can even help you Show Your Tale in new and interesting ways.


2019 International German Genealogy Conference

July, 2017–The International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) held their first-ever family history conference in Minneapolis, MN–CONNECTIONS: International Cultural Personal. Instead of an expected 250 attendees, the conference committee was ecstatic to host over 700. It was one of the best conferences I have ever attended! What else would you expect when you gather together a group of German “cousins” from all over the world who are interested in finding their connections to the past, to the present, to each other? It was so great in fact, many people said, “Just give me a few days to regroup, then let’s do this again!”

Well, it is going to be more than a few days, but the Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS) is hosting the 2019 International German Genealogy  Conference, June 15-17. The theme is “STRIKE IT RICH! with Connections 2 Discoveries.” If you have German ancestors and want to learn about the best resources and methods for German genealogical research around the world, or want to connect with possible cousins, I would encourage you to attend this marvelous conference.

For more information about this conference and IGGP, go to https://iggpartner.org/