My great grandmother, Elna Andersson, was born October 16th, 1876, in Önnestäd, Skåne, Sweden to Anders Persson and Bengta Jönsdotter. On October 11th, 1903 she married Victor Hugo Emanuel Wiberg in Kristianstad, Skäne, Sweden.
|Elna Andersson and Victor Emanuel Wiberg|
|Heliga Trefaldighetskyrkan, Church of Holy
Trinity, Kristianstad, Sweden|
built between 1617 and 1628 by Christian IV of Denmark
Their daughter, my grandmother, Elsa Margit, was born August 8th, 1904 in Kristianstad.
Victor and Elna divorced around 1908 and Elna was sent to live in America with an aunt. Their daughter, Elsa, remained in Sweden and was first raised by her maternal grandfather, Anders Persson, and later by her uncle, Per Andersson (a brother of Elna).
In 1912, my great grandmother, Elna Andersson, then living in Chicago, remarried to Peter Emil Hammarberg.
Peter insisted they send for Elsa, my grandmother. At age 16, my grandmother boarded a ship and immigrated to Chicago to live with a mother she barely remembered. On her Ellis Island documents, Peter Emil Hammarberg is listed as paying for my grandmother’s passage to America.
My mother told me Peter was a wonderful step-grandfather and was somehow related to my great grandmother, Elna. Intrigued, I explored Peter Hammarberg’s ancestry.
Peter’s World War II draft record lists his date birth as March 31, 1878 in Helsingborg, Skåne, Sweden. According to my mother, Peter had been banished to America, like Elna. Peter supposedly was kicked out of college in Helsingborg for getting in a fight, so his father sent him off to America.
In 1900, Per (Peter) Emil Hammarberg was living with his parents and siblings in Sweden. Below is the census for this year. Per's father is listed as Per Persson, born in 1846. The children have the last name "Hammarberg" instead of "Persson" or "Persdotter." Prior to 1900, children’s last names were their father’s or mother's first name with “son” or “dotter” added. Name Laws enacted around 1901 mandated permanent surnames uniformly passed on to the next generation. Peter’s father chose the last name “Hammarberg” for his children. You will soon see the origins of this new family name. [If your head was not spinning enough with Swedish surname practices, brace yourself: Newer laws allow people great latitude in changing names and many Swedes do so. --JL]
Here is the 1890-1894 Household record for Peter’s family in Helsingborg, before the Name Laws. In this earlier census, Per Persson is listed as born on November 8, 1846 in Nosaby, Kristianstad. Note the absence of the surname "Hammarberg."
Here is Per Persson's birth record from 1846, listing his father, Per Månsson, occupation Bonde (farmer), and mother, Else Olasdotter. They lived in the village of Hammar, in Nosaby parish, Sweden. We now know why the name Hammarberg was selected in 1900- Per Persson used a location as a permanent surname for his children and subsequent generations.
And now the plot thickens. Here is the birth record of Anders Persson, the father of Elna Andersson (my great grandmother). Anders Persson was born on November 6, 1833 to Per Månsson and his hustra (wife) Else Olasdotter.
|A photograph of Per Månsson and Else Olasdotter,|
grandparents of Elna Andersson and Peter Emil Hammarberg (formerly Persson).
This is the gravestone of Anders Persson taken by my grandmother, Elsa, when she and my grandfather traveled back to Sweden in 1965. His birth year is 1832 on the stone, instead of 1833. Note that his residence, "No. 1 Hammar," is etched on the stone.
|Grave of Anders Perrson, Nosaby Parish Church in Nosaby, Kristianstad, Sweden|
My Mother and I visited the cemetery in 2008 and it is a beautiful church.
Here is Per Månsson and family in the household records for 1845-1850. The children were born in Hammar from 1831-1846. Per Månsson's children include Anders Persson (my great great grandfather) and Per Persson, the father of Peter Emil Hammarberg. I had to call my Mother and tell her that her grandmother, Elna Andersson, and her step-grandfather, Peter Hammarberg, were not distantly related, but rather were first cousins! Elna and Peter did not have any children together. Sadly, Peter Emil died in 1943 from pneumonia due to his occupation as an asbestos worker.
Ancestry.com (World Membership) - Sweden, Church Records, 1500-1941
To research ancestors from southern Sweden (Halland, Skåne, and Blekinge läns or counties) the website “Demografisk Databas Södra Sverige” or Demographical Database of Southern Sweden” is an excellent starting place. It is free and has Swedish and English versions.