Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blenda's Parents

Nils Olsson and Botilda Tengwall somehow met and fell in love. He was born in 1838 and Botilda was a couple of years younger. Nils' mother died in childbirth and I know nothing about his early childhood. When he was a young lad he was sold into serfdom.( I tried to find out from Google how this was done, but I am not smart enough to handle this wonderful invention, the computer) Serfdom is a polite term for slavery. A farmer needed help running his farm and because of his lack of male children, this was a way of solving his problem. I think it was called being 'indentured'. I am guessing about some of this, but also vaguely remembering some of what he told us when we were dropped off in his care while Blenda cycled to the store for some forgotten item. He had a stepmother who was kind to him and he suffered when he was forced to leave at ten or twelve. He lived far away from his family, had to sleep in the barn, was given poor food, and when he was sick with a high temperature, he got no food. This lasted a certain number of years, seven I think, and when he was set free he could somehow get an education. How he managed to get an education I don't know, but he became a teacher and a very well read person.

Botilda's life was as different as one can imagine. She was well educated. She grew up in the city of Helsingborg. She grew up with love and security. She was artistic and each of our four children have a watercolor hanging in their house, painted by Botilda. Every time I see one of them I am a little jealous, but I gave them to them. I am happy to see that they like them as much as I do.

Nils and Botilda were married soon after Nils found a teaching job in a small farming community about an hour North of Helsingborg. Teachers now are underpaid but his takehome pay was pityfull. He did get living quarters. The last time I was home I visited the building. Half of the building was the schoolhouse and the other half was the living quarters for what early on became a huge family. A month after they were married their first child was born. His name was Otto. He left for America when he was fifteen or sixteen. And who can blame him. By the time he left, there were eight children living in what was a small place. Poor Botilda, in those days women were expected to say yes when their husbands felt the urge. I never heard of anything they could do, to keep from getting pregnant.

Otto had a friend who had emigrated the year before. This friend worked in a grocery store in Walla Walla, Washington. He assured Otto that he too could get a job in this grocery store. From then on an Olsson child emigrated regularly from Allrum to the USA.

7 comments:

dailycoyote said...

Great opening line!
xo S.

Katie said...

just wanted to say, this sounds like a very interesting story, a real insight into the past! Thank you!

From Minneapolis, MN

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

This is fascinating. I know so little about own grandparents. I bet your memoir makes a lot of people want to take up geneology.

Ptolemy said...

I think based on how difficult it was to travel, that you actually have FOUR paintings by your grandmother is some kind of tremendous miracle...

Lynda said...

Good Morning!

A belated Happy Birth-Day!

And I'm loving this. Can't wait to read more.

weecyn said...

I, too, am hooked on the story already! It's so hard to believe that just a few generations ago people could be bought and sold openly. It makes me thankful for all of my small luxuries, and my not so small freedoms.

pogonip said...

What a fascinating glimpse into the past. Looking forward to more of the story!