Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ancestors, continued

You may wonder why so many Swedes went to America. Late 1800 Sweden was a very poor country. The kings of that time,and previously were constantly at war, mostly with Russia. Inheritance laws were unfair. The eldest child would inherit all. Since my grandfather was a teacher with an unbelievably low salary, there would be nothing to inherit. It was a law really concerned with a farmer's estate. My Grandfather owned nothing. He was given a home until he was retired, and then he rented houses until he died. He retired around the turn of the century. He had enough of a retirement pay to rent some very large houses in Viken. I heard him say once, bitterly, I have now earned more money in retirement pay than I earned my whole working life.

I know I have mentioned the aunt who went to America and who never came back. Every time her name was mentioned, people would quickly change the subject. Yesterday I began searching old blogs to see if I could find her name. I have searched all sorts of places in my brain, and I can not find it. I have thought about her more than all the others. Could she have gone astray over a man or over many men? Could it be a sexual disease that killed her? Could it have been drugs or drink that killed her. She was a beautiful woman when she left Sweden. I often thought that maybe I could find her history somehow, but now I can't even remember her name. If her name pops up in a dream I will write it down before it disappears again.

Aunt Ida was the apple of her father's eye. She met and fell in love with a young man in Viken. He proposed to her and after they were engaged he told her he would like to go to America to try to find gold either in California or in Alaska. He would come back to get her as soon as he was ready to get married. This made my grandfather happy because he could keep his favorite daughter at home a little longer. My grandmother died either 1908 or 1910, and Ida was the hostess in her father's house until Martin finally was ready to settle down. The young couple were now in their early fifties. Too old to have children. What a tragedy. They settled in Colorado. I finally got to see Aunt Ida, when she was a widow, and just a few years before she also died.

When Ida left, my mother was the only one to help out with her father. There was Olof, who never left Sweden. He had a little more education than his siblings, and became a banker. We were sort of afraid of him because of his high standing in the community. Actually he was only a teller. He married one of the Cato girls. They lived in the city.

There is a lot more to tell of this family. Next time

4 comments:

Barbara said...

I love these stories!

musingegret said...

Ms. Svensto, these stories just get better and better. The unknown aunt tale is such a mystery. Have you done any research using ancestry.com?

Barbara Shallue said...

You make me want to get back to my own family stories! I really hope you find out more about that aunt!

Charlene said...

I love these stories too. I hope you can remember that aunt's name and then discover what happened to her.