Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Found Louis Lidman

With the help of one of the Family History Library's Swedish consultants (a special shout out to Wilma Larsson who patiently and expertly guided me through my first foray into Swedish genealogy research ~ thank you for being such an enthusiastic, helpful and informative educator) I found my great grandfather, Louis Lidman, together with his family, all of whom were originally from Sweden.  Genealogy Happy Dance!  My great grandfather came into this world (Fastnas, Norra Ny, Varmlands lan, Sweden to be exact) on 25 Jul 1860 and his given name was Lars Elofsson.

A Little Background
I was ten when my grandfather died.  At that time I was unaware of genealogy and I don't think I knew anything of his background except that he was born in Minnesota.  Years later, my grandmother shared with me two of her great loves ~ first, throughout her life she kept photo albums with pictures of various family members and friends (unfortunately not all marked with names, dates & places, but at least I had a start) and second, my grandfather was the love of her life and throughout their courtship and marriage she had several stories about him and photos of him, his family and her family (still not all marked with names, dates & places, but again a start).

A few years before my grandmother died and in preparation for a family reunion, my mother and her cousin put together a combination recipe/ family history book.  While some of the "family history" information was preliminary or based on the recollection of the family elders, it provided an excellent jumping off point when (a few years later) I was bitten by the genealogy bug.  At that time, my grandmother told me that my maternal grandfather's parents were Swedish and Norwegian.  My great grandfather was born in Sweden and my great grandmother was born in Minnesota ten years after her parents arrived from Norway (but that story is for another day!).

The story often told was that when my mother's paternal great grandfather and his family came to this country in the 1880s, there were already so many Larssons in Minnesota that the family changed their surname to Lidman.  At the time I wasn't interested in genealogy or family history and didn't really give it a second thought.  Fast forward years later ~ now that there was no one to ask or to find out any information from about my grandfather's side of the family, an enquiring mind (mine) wanted to know.  I was told that my grandfather was born in 1903 in Minnesota and that his parents were Louis Lidman (the Swede) and Josephine Eriksen (the Norwegian).  I originally had no luck finding Louis Lidman on any Minnesota or federal censuses but when I noodled around with the surname, I found a Louis Leidman on the 1900 US census, living and working on a farm owned by Andrew Mark and his wife Mattie. That census gave me two key pieces of information - first, Louis emigrated from Sweden to the USA in April 1880 and second, living on the Mark farm with her older sister Mattie was Josie Eriksen. 

Fast Forward A Few Years Later - At the FHL
After spending a week at the 2009 Salt Lake City Institute and during the "off hours" researching my Irish and Newfoundland roots and desperately needing a break, I heard a voice over the loudspeaker informing the FHL patrons that a lecture on researching your Scandinavia ancestors would be held on the International Floor at 10:00 am.  I thought to myself - why not take a break and are the Norwegians and Swedish considered Scandinavian?  (I know what you are thinking ~ geography really needs to be put back in the schools!)  I went to the Saturday morning session and in the process got an introduction to the history of Denmark, Findland, Norway and Sweden as well as some of the basics of reseaching records for each country.

As I sat through the portion of the lecture on Swedish records, the consultant mentioned that if you knew your ancestor's name, date of birth, and arrival information, you had a pretty good chance of finding the emigration record in Emibas (a Swedish database listing of all parish moving out records), and once you had that information, the world of Swedish records would open up to you.  After the session concluded, I went to the Scandinavian desk and asked for some help researching in Emibas.  With the name "Larsson", birthdate "Jul 1860", and emigration/immigration year "1880" filled in, Emibas had zero hits.  Then after I mentioned that we thought the family changed their name either before or after coming to the USA, the consultant replaced the surname "Larsson" with "Lidman" and voila ~ I had a hit!!!  Not only did I find my great-grandfather but I found his parents, and his siblings, all of whom emigrated from Sweden within a two-year period.

Next time ~ oh, the records you will find in Emibas & Genline!