My Swedish empty branches aren’t so empty any more and I am definitely doing the genealogy happy dance! Back in the 1980’s when I first learned I had a Swedish branch attached to my Danish branch, I didn’t even have a name. It was just the mother of Frits W.O.E. Johnson of Calais, Maine.
First the Johnson family blossomed beginning in January 2011. I’ve written several posts about the Johannes Jensen family and my visit to Copenhagen last May.
Frits’ mother, my Swedish branch, was discovered in the 1880 census of Copenhagen and she gained a name – Johanne Elisabeth Molin, born 1814 in Sweden. It wasn’t hard to trace her back into Sweden to the small village of Öved in southern Sweden.
I was lucky enough to visit the village last May. This is the original church where the family attended.
Öved looks as if it has almost been frozen in time. It is still quite small with what appear to be original buildings. There were a few modern homes, but there are still vast views of beautiful open fields.
Quaint is definitely the word that comes to mind, but it made me feel as if I really was seeing the home of my ancestors much as it looked to them. There aren’t too many places in the world where that can still be said so I am very thankful.
I originally thought that with a non-patronymic surname (no -son or -dotter), it would be fairly easy to trace my family especially with the detailed Swedish church records available. That turned out to be no so true in my case as I discovered that Swedes in the southern portion of the country moved from place to place much more frequently than people to the north.
My Molin family lived in many villages and towns in southern Sweden.
Aside from Anders Molin’s journey up to Marstrand, the other villages are all in the southern most tip of Sweden, which today is Skane County.
There was an added twist to my story, too, as it turned out that Johanna Elisabeth Molin’s paternal grandmother had an illegitimate child while married to someone else and had two more illegitimate children after that. However, this twist turned out to be just the information I needed to continue adding Swedish leaves to the tree.
Here is a quick family recap:
Anders Molin = Sara Brita Krok/Krook
m. 2 Feb 1776 in Veberod, Skane
1. Hans Peter, born 2 June 1776, Öved; died 20 Oct 1776, Öved
2. Hans Niclas, born 31 Aug 1778, Finja
3. Johan Peter, born 20 Aug 1780, Finja; died 15 Sep 1781, Vankiva
4. Johan Peter, born 20 July 1782, Vankiva
Sara Brita Krok’s lineage is of a higher social class with her family going back to the noble von Wowern family who came to Sweden about 1591. I have not had a difficult time helping her family to blossom on my tree.
However, Sara Brita is also the twist in the story. Arkiv Digital had a holiday special running in December so I subscribed for one month and made good use of my time on the site. I also belong to the Swedish American group on Facebook and another member shared contact information with Krister, who is also descended from the Molins and who lives in Sweden. We have been sharing research findings and that is the step that led to all the newly blossoming branches on my family tree.
First, the twist – I had seen some online family tree information about Anders and Sara Brita that included the names of three more children. (If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my pet peeve is wrong information that is copied and recopied and spread like a virus.) The odd thing about the information, though, was that it listed the children, all sons, as Krok/Molin. It did include birth dates and places, though, so I went looking for the birth records.
1. Jons Abraham, born 30 July 1786, Everlov
2. Johan Jacob, born 11 March 1791, Önnestad
3. Hans Samuel, born 24 April 1798, Önnestad
The first shock was discovering that the baptismal record of Jons Abraham had the father’s name – Anders Molin of Marstrand (over 200 miles away)- crossed out and above it was written “illegitimate.”
The second surprise was that both Johan Jacob and Hans Samuel were also illegitimate, born at the “invalide hospital,” or poor house, where their mother, Sara Brita, was noted to be an unauthorized person.
I have yet to find Anders Molin after he left Marstrand. He is listed in the population register, which is actually a tax list, in 1785 and 1786.
However, my new found cousin, Krister, had found a probate file and burial record for Sara Brita. She died in a small village called Andrarum on 5 April 1812. Her probate file named her five sons as heirs – Hans Niclas, Johan Peter, Jons Abraham, Johan Jacob and Hans Samuel. She was called a widow, which is probably true since the Molin men often died in their 50’s or early 60’s. I don’t know if “widow” is a true indication that Anders and Sara Brita went their separate ways in 1786 without divorcing or whether they actually did divorce.
This new information – that all five of Sara Brita’s sons were still living spurred me on to continue the hunt. Hans Niclas is my line, so I set that aside. Johan Peter lived in Öved for a couple of years, but left after 1807.
Nothing further has been found on him, but from Sara Brita’s probate, I know he was still living at least until April 1812.
Absolutely nothing has been found on Jons Abraham, except for his birth record in Everlov and the probate record.
The last two children, though, Johan Jacob and Hans Samuel, brought the next surprise. Their birth records note that their mother is Sara Brita Krok, no father named. They lived their lives using the Molin surname! I literally stumbled on Johan Jacob while looking for Hans Samuel in a household exam.
Johan Jacob Molin lived in the village of Tolanga. He married Benedicta Skosdotter there on 22 January 1825. They had eight children, with six surviving to adulthood. Johan Peter died in Tolanga on 28 February 1854. Benedicta survived him by sixteen years, passing away also in Tolanga in 1870. Their first child was born in Ystad, but then the family settled in Tolanga and stayed put.
Hans Samuel Molin has been more problematic as he never stayed in one place for more than two years. I have no idea where he lived as a child, but between 1819 and 1835, he lived in at least twelve villages. However, his wife – Berta Jonsdotter – and five children have been identified and he died in Blentarp while visiting a daughter on 1 April 1862. His burial record notes that he lived in Raus (outside of Helsingborg) and was married. I suspect, though, that he and his wife, like his mother, may have separated as I have not found them together after 1835. In 1838, Berta and children are found in the household examination. She is married, but Hans Samuel is not there and there is no mention of him being gone.
My most exciting discoveries, though, are about Anders Molin and his parents. The Marstrand population register had a side note that Anders joined the Ystad guild as a master mason. The Finja and Vankiva population registers showed Nils Molin and then “old father Molin” with Anders Molin and the Finja burial records recorded the death of “Molin’s wife” in December 1778 at the age of 73 years.
From this little bit of information about Anders and his family, I estimated that his father, Nils, was likely born around 1700 – he was a master weaver in the Ystad guild in 1737 – and his unnamed wife I knew was born about 1705. I also estimated that Anders was probably born around 1740 if a new master tradesman achieved that status in the mid-30’s.
There is a Demographic Database of Southern Sweden, which is limited, but sometimes can be very helpful.
I found an item that wouldn’t have had any meaning to me before December when I found out that Anders was the son of Nils Molin.
Here was Nils Molin marrying Helena Andersdotter in Ystad St. Maria in 1737! I searched the church register and found three records – the marriage of Nils and Helena, the birth of Peter Johan later that year plus the birth and baptism of Anders Molin! The down side is that the vicar’s handwriting was horrible. Look at these records:
Please don’t ask for me to translate these – I could barely find the names in these records. However, I belong to the Swedish American group on Facebook and the group is fabulous. I posted a request for help with reading and translating and within a few minutes, I had a reply.
I am still on the quest for more Molin family information, but the family tree has quite a few more Swedish leaves on it.