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'A Family History - From the Garden'

This 'Family History - From the Garden,' was written by my Cousins Solveig (Andersson) Lundquist, her daughter Maria 'Mia' (Lundquist) Peters & myself, Mark Erickson in Sundsvall, Sweden and Oakland, California.

Solveig is the Granddaughter of Sigrid Elisabet Olofsdotter who was the younger sister of my Great Grandmother Brita Kristina 'Christine' (Olofsdotter) Erickson – Eriksson. The story is concentrated on the five siblings, Brita Kristina 'Christine' (Olofsdotter) Erickson – Eriksson, Sigrid Elisabet (Olofsdotter) Andersson, Katarina Olivia (Olofsdotter) Backlund, Anders Petter Ante Sundin (Olson) and Erik Olof Sundin (Olson).

Their parents were Olaf Petter Andersson, who was born on June 17, 1836, in Stöde, Västernorrland, Sweden and Karin Goransdotter who was born on May 20, 1835, in Hassela, Gävleborg, Sweden.

My Great Grandmother Brita Kristina and the Erickson-Eriksson family and her younger Brother Erik Olof both emigrated from Sweden in 1903 to America. Once in America they headed to North Dakota and Iowa, respectively. Erik would also live in Minnesota & Oregon.

Katarina Olivia and the Backlund family would follow seven years later, emigrating from Sweden in 1910 and head to Manitoba, Canada. Sigrid and her older Brother Anders Petter 'Ante' Sundin stayed in Sweden their entire lives. There was contact over the years between all five of the siblings. This tale begins with a letter from my Cousin Solveig:

Dear Mark,

You wondered what made the three siblings, Brita-Kristina 'Christine' (Olofsdotter) Erickson-Eriksson, Katarina Olivia (Olofsdotter) Backlund and Erik Olof Sundin make the decision to emigrate from Sweden to America. I believe that was largely due to the difficult times here in Sweden at the time, the late 1800s, and America attracted many with their vast opportunities and freedoms. One could start all over again and build up a new life with the hope that it would be a better life, than what you had in Sweden.

Those who emigrated in the mid and late 19th century were largely people living on the minimum, laborers, former farmers who had lost their land or were having difficulty continuing on. Many of these people had large families to support, as did Brita Kristina and Katarina Olivia. In the end, often you simply starved. Unemployment was high and there were several years of bad harvests and prices for crops were very low. Many also saw that those who returned to visit their homeland of Sweden, had been successful in America. Their lives were better and they were flourishing. The Swedish businessmen and entrepreneurs saw in all this success their opportunity to expand their businesses in the free country. America was, 'then' a beacon of promise and opportunity.

Older brother, Anders Petter Ante Sundin and youngest sister Sigrid Elisabet Olofsdotter, along with Brita Kristina, Katarina Olivia and Erik Olof were living under tough times by the 1890s in Sweden, and it was due to circumstances that their father Olof Petter Andersson inadvertently had done some years before. There is this history I will tell you now of the family going back a generation that played a big role in the particular events that were affecting the lives of the five siblings, and of course, Olof Petter's wife, Karin (Gornasdotter) Andersson.

My dad, Olof Sigfrid Andersson told me that his siblings' Grandfather, your Great Great Great Grandfather Anders Nilsson 'Ryssmo Ante' Rudin was a well-to-do man. He was a successful tailor and businessman and owned a lot of land and a lot of forest area. 'Ryssmo Ante' was married to Brita Lisa (Ingemarsdotter) Rudin and with her they had six children. They had a large farm in Stöde, Sweden with lots of land and forest surrounding the farm.

When Brita Lisa passed away in 1834, 'Ryssmo Ante' began to woo the 24 year old maid who was employed on their farm, Stina Greta Olofsdotter Hammarström, who would eventually end up your Great Great Great Grandmother, but not for awhile. Stina Greta and 'Ryssmo Ante' had a son in 1836, as mentioned would be my Great Great Grandfather, Olof Petter Andersson, your Great Grandmother Brita Kristina's father.

When Stina Greta got pregnant for the second time with Lars 2 years later in 1838, the village priest came to the house and told 'Ryssmo Ante' that they could not live in sin anymore and must take responsibility and he must marry Stina Greta, which he did. So it was and time passed and together they had a total of seven children. 'Ryssmo Ante' had already with his first wife, Brita Lisa (Ingemarsdotter) Rudin 6 children, so in the end he had 13 children. As it became to this day, we are all thus descendants of the young maid, Stina Greta.

When Ryssmo Ante passed away in 1860, his wife Stina Greta and all his children in both marriages were allowed to inherit portions of the farms and forest. My Great Grandfather, your Great Great Grandfather Olof Petter Andersson inherited a nice farm with a lot of forest area in Stöde. The farm is still there today and actress Ingrid Bergman owned it for a few years in the 1950s. She was married in the local Stöde church, by the way.

By this time, in the later part of 1880s, Olof Petter and his wife, your Great Great Grandmother Karin (Goransdotter) Andersson and children had resided on their own farm for years, the timber industry had begun to expand extensively in Sweden. Along the coasts, near ports and river tributaries, sawmills were being constructed and the companies were acquiring private forest land further inland year by year. These businessmen were as one might suspect, greedy in their dealings and they had no qualms to trick the property owners into selling their forest at lower prices than their worth.

So we get to the point where Olof Petter was rather deceived badly. The businessmen said that his forest would be useless, because one would have to build a railway right across the land to access any future logging, which they knew he would never be able to afford. So selling would be a very profitable business decision for Olof Petter. They felt there was no chance he would not say no to their offer, as the money was at the time seemingly a considerable amount.

Olof Petter was not using the land and so he felt at the time he made a good decision. In the end it was found out he could not read properly, the documents that the businessmen presented to him, basically went unread by anyone in the family. Olof Petter did not reveal that he could not read well enough to catch the true details of the contract and he hid his shame or embarrassment. Olof Petter ended up signing the papers with only his initials to the bottom of the contract.

No one will ever know what went on during these negotiations, but it was obvious Olof Petter was not prepared to protect his family's interests with these greedy businessmen. In the end, Olof Petter sold the forest property to the Lumber Company at the price agreed, he felt it a good price and he felt rich for the moment. In a matter of a few years the money started to run out, as the Swedish economy was beginning to suffer at the end of the 19th Century.

Olof Petter and Karin now had five children to support: Ante Sundin, your Great Grandmother Brita Kristina, Katarina Olivia, Erik Olof and my Grandmother Sigrid Elisabet. The situation was beginning to get grim, money became tight and decisions were looming on the horizon that would change the lives of Olof Petter and Karin and especially their five children.

The family eventually had to sell their farm in the 1890s in Stöde and buy a smaller farm in Attmar. Olof Petter was surely depressed when he realized he had been cheated. He began to drink liquor to quell his anxiety. The children, one by one, begin working at whatever they could find to help support the family. Ante Sundin and Erik Olof worked as tailors and went door to door around the various villages making suits for the well off local gentlemen. The two brothers often stayed at the homes with those they worked for. They soon rented a room nearby in the village.

A year or so later, Ante Sundin and Erik Olof had a tailoring business set up with a businessman in the timber industry in Svartvik, Njurunda. Ironically this was the same Lumber Company that had tricked their father, Olof Petter, into selling the family property. They rented a small apartment nearby so they could stay close to their clients. Their little sister, my Grandmother Sigrid Elisabet accompanied them at this point on their business venture. Sigrid became Ante Sundin and Erik Olof's housekeeper and one of their seamstresses. Sigrid cooked and took care of the household, so her brothers could spend all their time designing and making suits.

In time, Sigrid met a young man, Mattias Forsman, connected with the Lumber Industry and soon enough, she became pregnant out of wedlock with my father, Olof Sigfrid Andersson in 1896. Their relationship did not last long, as Mattais would turn out to be a weak and unfaithful man. He eventually would make his escape from his responsibilities with his son. Mattias left Sweden for Canada. Sigrid would raise Olof Sigfrid on her own, and the child would take on his paternal Grandfather Olof Petter Andersson's last name, instead of Mattais, for his own.

At this time, 1896, Olof Petter's eldest son, Ante Sundin had married Brita Kajsa Lindquist, who came from a wealthy family. Brita Kajsa and Ante Sundin moved onto a farm in Lyngstern, that they received from Brita's father as a wedding present. There they lived, and lived well and eventually had ten children.

Your Great Grandmother Brita Kristina 'Christine' had married Anders Alfred Eriksson in the early 1880s and had four children: Erik Olof Helmer, Ernst Julius Alfred, your Grandfather Frans 'Frank' Gustaf Severin and Anders 'Andy' Sebran Filomon and they lived on a farm Torpshammar. They would have two daughters later: Ebba 'Abbie' Angnis Kristina (Lincoln) and Elda 'Vera' Alfred Elivira (Gallagher) Erickson. By the beginning of the 20th Century Brita Kristina and Anders Alfred had decided it was time to seek new opportunities. They looked West.

Erik Olof Sundin married his Amanda Kristina Nilsson in 1893 when he was twenty one years old. Soon enough, Erik and Amanda had three children, Ebba Kristina Sundin Björk, Elseba Dagny Amanda Sundin and Alcassar Marino Sundin-Sundeen.

Unfortunately, soon after their third child Elseba, was born, Amanda passed away in 1900. Desolate and unsure what to do next, Erik Olof decided the best thing to do was to immigrate to America in 1903. He would leave his three children behind in Sweden, staying with relatives till he was settled in America. Once he passed through Ellis Island in New York City, Erik would travel to Kiron, Iowa to meet up with his cousin, Jonas Svensk (Swede). As time tumbled along, Erik journeyed to Minnesota, then Canada and finally settling in Oregon. His three children would eventually join him.

Katarina Olivia and Sigrid at this point were living at home on the farm in Attmar. They worked to provide for their parents. Soon Katarina Olivia met her Isak Johan Olof Backlund and they married. Sigrid stayed with her parents and raised her son, Olof. Katarina and Isak had seven children that were born in Sweden: Thelma was born in 1899, Sadie (Sara) was born in 1902, John (Yokam) was born in 1906, Oliver (Agda) was born in 1906, Nels (Olof), Isak were born in 1906 and Karl was born in 1908.

On October 13th, 1910 Katarina and Isak and seven of their eight children departed from Vasternorrland for Liverpool, England. From there they immigrated to Quebec, Canada, where they arrived on November 11th, 1910. Katarina and Isak's 8th child, Eric was born in 1911 in Saskatchewan, Canada. Katarina and Isak and family lived in Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, in 1916 and in 1921 moved to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.

Within a short time Olof Petter and Karin had to move to an even smaller and simpler farm with Sigrid and her son Olof. You remember the painting with the little simple houses in a Winter motifs that I sent to you? That farm was not far from Ante Sundin's farm. Olof Petter, Karin, Sigrid and her son Olof got help with food and other things from Ante Sundin. Sigrid was often at Ante Sundin's farm helping with chores on their farm and the children. To earn a little extra money, Sigrid picked blueberries that she sold in the small community markets in Matfors. She also helped in the farms when they were going into their season of slaughtering animals for market.

At this time, Ante Sundin and Brita Kajsa were dependent on the inheritance from her parents, but Olof Petter had nothing. Brita Kristina and Alfred had seen an opportunity to have a better life in America. They had been in contact with Brita Kristina's Aunt and Uncle Ingrid and Jonas Svensk, who had emigrated from Sweden to America in 1870 and had settled in Kiron, Crawford County in the American State of Iowa. There were opportunities in America, and Brita and Anders felt their destiny was to live in America. This 1878 letter that I shared with you, written by Great Aunt Ingrid to her sister Karin, Brita Kristina's mother and father Olof Petter Andersson, surely influenced Brita and Anders decision to go to America.

January 27th, 1878
Jonas Svensk and Ingrid Svensk Kiron, Crawford County
Iowa, North America

Dear Sister Karin and Brother in Law Olof,

After a long silence I would like to write to you once again. I have written a letter to you before, that I never got a response from. Could it be that there was no address in there either. Has it been lost? We are all alive and have good health. I on the other hand have been and still am suffering from gout. The winter is stunningly beautiful, good weather and no snow. Our cattle are outside all of the time. I should tell you if the other letter hasn't arrived.

We moved from the place we lived before four and a half years ago. We bought land here in Kiron, I owa and settled as best as we could. We built a house in the following manner. Dug a hole in a hill fourteen feet in a square. Dressed it in planks, two windows and a door and a small vestibule. And this is the house we still have. It is very expensive to get lumber here because everything needs to be shipped a long way, and there is not a single forest or bush within five mile radius from here. And even in that it is very small and insufficient.

There is no other solution for fuel than to buy. We believe we have sixty acres cultivated land and harvested last year six hundred bushels of wheat. Also one hundred bushels of grain and nine hundred bushels of corn. We have four horses, two cows and four oxen and one heifer, two calves, two swine and a flock of chickens.

We can make two trips into town every day if we please, and there we have a railroad. I like being here as much as in Sweden. There are many here who come from Hassela and many from Sto?de and the rest of the Swedes are from other various places. Daniel Danielsson sends his greetings to you. Spik Anna has requested greetings a long time ago if we ever wrote. We call them Lena Lindblom and Anna Michaelson.

Herman Eriksson sends his greetings. He lives two and a half miles from us and close to Lindblom. He manages the best out of all the Swedes around here. Our son Jonas goes to School and he is a good schoolboy. Our other son, Eric, writes below. I will have to end with a dear greeting from everyone to you, kindly write to us.

Your affectionate sister,
Ingrid Svensk

p.s. from Eric

I understand all well that my poor penmanship will betray me if I were to sign it, but it cannot be helped. Mother has asked me numerous times to write to you. But I have withdrawn. I send my greetings to you. There is a bit of the paper left, but it is late so I will stop and say Farewell.....Eric

My Uncle Anders Petter Ante Sundin and my Grandmother Sigrid Elisabet Olofsdotter stayed for the rest of their lives in Sweden. Sigrid passed in 1939 and Ante Sundin passed away in 1947. I knew them both well and recall many of the stories they told me. That and the research that my Daughter Maria 'Mia' and I conducted in the last years, I can relate to you now, that enough information is available to us to be able to tell you this story related here. There is always more to find out, yet here is an important history of the Olofsdotter, Sundin/Olson, Eriksson and Backlund families.

Your Great Aunt Katarina Olivia (Olofsdotter) and Great Uncle Isak Johan Blacklund were inspired by Brita Kristina and Anders Alfred Eriksson-Erickson's emigration in 1903 that had taken them to the Northern Plains of the American State of North Dakota. Katarina and Isaak would follow, as you have read above, on their own journey west in 1910, settling in Manitoba, Canada.

Great Uncle Erik Olof Sundin, we know through the exchange of letters with his cousin, Jonas Svensk Jr. (transcribed below) who was living in Kiron, Iowa with his family, received an invitation to emigrate to Iowa from Jonas. After his wife, Amanda Kristina passed in 1900, he was desolate and realized he had to do something for himself and his three young children, aged 1-4 years old. In 1903, Erik Olof left his three children with family in Sweden and began the long journey heading to the west. It was there, that he would spend the rest of his life.

Kiron Iowa, March 20, 1903
To Erik Olof Sundin Svartvik, Sweden
My Dear Cousin,

I am hereby allowed to write a reply to your letter that came to me recently. But I'm bad at writing in Swedish, so you have to apologize for my mistakes. I can read swedish well enough but am uncertain when writing.

My father and mother are both dead. My father died on January 3, 1901 after only three days of illness. He had a heart defect. Both were born in 1823. My brother Erik died on January 24, 1890, 39 years old. We were only two siblings so now I am the only one left in my family. My brother has four children living, Inez, Rose, Georg and Algot. The oldest is 20 years old and the youngest is 12. On my father's side I have many cousins after my uncles Erik Ljunglof and Johan Nordell. Uncle Ljunglof and Nordell are dead, but Aunt Ljunglof is still alive.

Now in answer to your question about traveling to America, if you want to travel alone I will send you a ticket from Stockholm to Kiron. At the moment there are good times and full of work and the times never get so bad that you have to starve if you want to work. In this place there is probably no work for a tailor, but in the larger cities there is enough work for a tailor. So if you are willing to work with anything until you have looked around, then it is enough.

Here at this place it is almost only swedes. So it is not difficult to get to the language path. I hear that an unmediated person get along better here than in Sweden. The daily salary for a regular job in the country is never less than a dollar a day. If you want to come then it is best that you answer soon, so I will send a free ticket at once. Spring work had already begun and the ground is starting to turn green.

Health aunt and uncle.
I must stop now for this time.
Jonas Svensk
Kiron Crawford Co U.S. America Iowa

In the end, 3 of the 5 of the Olofsdotter / Sundin / Olson siblings (the name Olson, son of Olof was sometimes used by Ante Sundin, Erik Olof and Brita Kristina) would make it to Canada and America. They would all raise their families and succeed in their new homeland as farmers, laborers and businessmen/women. Their children and grandchildren and so forth continue on to this day. In the end, like many tales back then, with the varied lifestyles and experiences, it's all a very exciting historic story of our family. I hope you enjoyed.

This letter was written in Hollywood, California in May of 1943 by Great Grandmother Brita Kristina ‘Christine' (Olofsdotter) Erickson – Eriksson and sent to her son, Frank (Frans) Gustaf Severin & daughter-in-law, Clara Amelia (Nelson-Nilsson) Erickson-Eriksson in Bismarck, North Dakota.

The letter was translated from the Swedish by Brita Kristina’s Nieces, Solveig Lundquist and Maria 'Mia' (Lundquist) Peters in Sundsvall, Sweden.

Medelpad, May 1943
Dear Son Frank and Daughter Clara,

The violinist, and my older Brother Anders Petter Ante Sundin recently had his 80th birthday back in Sweden. I received word yesterday. Ante Sundin is one of the few now living violinists of the old style within the 'Malpabygden,’ who faithfully carries the traditions of the last century's well known musicians in the province of Medelpad, Sweden.

He has a rich repertoire, very faith-hearted and a pure playing style. Sometimes when he plays an ecstatic realm takes over and can be purely magical. Ante Sundin has participated in most musician's meetings, both local provincial as well as national musician's meetings. There he always wins their top prize.

In 1910, when Nils Andersson in Lund organized the first musician's meeting at Skansen with contributions from Anders Zorn, Sundin participated and received the ‘Zorn Medal in Silver.’ On his recent 80th birthday, Ante Sundin received the same honor, a Gold Medal awarded by the Swedish Youth Musician's Prize Committee.

Now I send this news of my dear old brother to you, Frank and Clara, so you can see that he is in a good health and mood. How glad I am to have heard all this news from my sister, Sigrid In Sundsvall.

From mother Erickson

These are the descriptions of the three photographs attached below:

1. Solveig (Andersson) Lundquist in Sundsvall, Sweden in 1945

2. Solveig's father, Olof Sigfried Andersson (on left) and mother Sonja A.M. Andersson sitting on the right with two friends. Solveig (Andersson) Lundquist is on the far right.

3. Maria 'Mia' (Andersson) walking along the shore near the Town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. The huge sculptural pieces are Raukar rock formations. Rauks are formed by wave erosion and are column-like landforms found in Sweden. The rauks of Gotland are among the best known examples and consist of limestone reefs that have existed since the Silurian period. As waves batter against the limestone cliffs, the pre-existing vertical fractures begin to erode and widen. Eventually this leads to the formation of caves that merge with the remaining central rock-mass becoming rauks. The rauks of Gotland began to form after the last ice age.

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