When did my ancestor return to Sweden?

+2 votes

So, for the longest time I thought that my Grandmother Signe Margareta (Rehnfeldt) Bleher came to America entirely on he own in the late 20s. I have recently discovered not only that she had two uncles living in California where she moved to, but her grandfather had emigrated as well.

I hadn't looked at the uncles at all and with her grandfather, I ignored the records of someone with his name in Maryland in 1898 because I also had a record of him dying in his home town in 1926.

This all came out while exchanging email with Swedish cousins who told me he'd immigrated.

Now that I've dug in, I can't fine anything other than his naturalization in 1898 and then he disappears from the record until his death back in Sweden in 1926 (one year before my grandmother immigrated, interestingly).

Any idea how I can determine when he returned to Sweden? I'm trying to figure out the narrative of his two sons moving to San Francisco in 1902 and 1913. his younger son was only four when he became a US citizen in Maryland. I don't find any record of him in California at all which is where both his sons went.

WikiTree profile: Carl Svenson
in Genealogy Help by Chris Garrigues G2G5 (5.8k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
Have you considered that there might actually be two persons named Carl Bernard Berntsson?

According to the registers at emiweb.se, I can only find one person with that name who emigrated, one who is born 1866-08-16 in Valla. His parents are Bernt Berntsson and Anna Helena Hansdotter. He left Sweden in 1893 with destination "Nordamerika" so in 1898 he would have been in US for five years.

Edited to add...

Since "your" Carl Bernard never used the name Svensson in any of the sources provided in this thread, you should really change his LNAB to Berntsson, that seems to be the name he used since he moved away from home.
by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
selected by Chris Garrigues
That seems very plausible to me other than the fact that the Swedish relatives of the Carl Bernard Bertsson in Marstrand claim he emigrated.

I'd be happy to determine that they're wrong.

This is why initially I ignored the 1898 record until the Swedes told me he'd emigrated. Given that they live in his father's house, I'm taking them seriously until proven otherwise.

Move evidence that I've collected all I can about him before getting back in touch with them.
Best answer, Maggie!!
I'll leave the starring to Chris.
His Baptism record lists him as Svensson, hence using that as his LNAB.

Swedish christening records rarely says anything about last names, the one for Carl Bernhard does not either.

FamilySearch/Ancestry transcriptions often assign "last names at birth" that aren't in the actual books.

I guess the transcribers don't have much choice, since they transcribe record by record and have instructions to fill in a last name for the kid, whether it is actually attached to the name of the child or not. I think the FamilySearch instructions also have an explanation about the patronymic system.

The 19th century was our drawn-out transition from the patronymic system to inheritable family names (some of which are -son names). One really has to check the names a person was recorded by through life. The transcriber volunteers cannot be expected to do that.
+4 votes

Hello Chris,

Are you looking for records in Sweden or in America? Also, do you want Carl Svensson followed or the two sons? Or all of the above? I also noticed that you did not have a marriage record for Carl and Maria.

Have you looked on RiksArkivet, the free website for Swedish research? I will look into the “moving in” (In- och utflyttningslängder) records there.


I will start looking now and I will post what I find or do not find here.

Missy smiley

by Missy Berryann G2G6 Pilot (180k points)
edited by Missy Berryann

Carl Bernhard Berntsson and Maria Gustava Andersson

May 8, 1879 Marriage Record:

Marstrand, E/2 (1861-1883), bildid: A0019239_00020, page 28


I found them together in the their last household examination record. I want to make sure this says båtförare (boat driver?) next to Karl. I was unable to open the book on RiksArkivet. Chrome (on my IPad) just kept trying to sign in unsuccessfully. frown

Marstrand (O) AIIa:2 (1912-1932) Image 3080 / Page 298


EDIT: Could someone tell me where it says they came in from? G. l. p. 312? I think the letters are the book and 312 is the page number, but I don’t know which book. Can someone help? Thank you!

I've got a lot more questions about Carl right now than about the sons who left a pretty solid trail here in the US.

Is RiksArkivet usable in English? I'll have to explore it, if so.

boat driver makes sense. Both his sons were sailors. His youngest son was even the Commodore of a merchant fleet.


RiksArkivet can be read mostly in English, by selecting “other languages” at the top, then select English.

The parish books are written in Swedish, however, and take a while to learn. We have a lot to help us learn what the books say, though we still need to figure out what the handwriting says. wink 


Gammal bok 312

Marstrands kyrkoarkiv, Församlingsböcker (inbunden serie), SE/GLA/13363/A II a/1 (1895-1912), bildid: 00120123_00315, sida 312


No mention of him leaving...

On his death record he is 'båtskeppare'

Marstrands kyrkoarkiv, Död- och begravningsböcker, SE/GLA/13363/F/3 (1913-1932), bildid: 00098223_00044, sida 40


Thank you, Gerry! smiley

I am going back through the household examination records to try to find when he came back to Sweden from the US. Here they are all together from 1884-1894:

Marstrand, A I/13 (1884-1894), bildid: C0041624_00166, page 16


They are here in Sweden:

Marstrand, A I/12 (1877-1883), bildid: C0041623_00127, page 140 https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/C0041623_00127

Marstrand, A I/13 (1884-1894), bildid: C0041624_00019, page 11 https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/C0041624_00019

I have only found Carl’s birth record, marriage record and I found him through the household examination (HHE) records. I did not find anywhere where he left Sweden. If you had not mentioned it, I would not have thought he did. Usually there would be notes written in the HHE records and/or he would be in the moving in and moving out records. I looked in the moving records and I did not find him between 1897-1899.

Do you have a date of when he came to America besides the naturalization records? I will do a search on Ancestry, so I can actually see the images.

Can anyone else help? Am I missing something?

He may have left for a short time without informing the parish and returned before they noticed. It seems to typically take several years before they are "obefintliga".
I was thinking that, but (now) to become naturalized in America, one has to be a resident of America for five years. (NOTE: I do not know history of residency laws.) It would be kind of difficult to leave a parish for five years without telling them, especially since it seems the wife stayed in Sweden. Right?

EDIT: He was written in every HHE.

Gerry, are you able to tell me what it says over Carl’s name in this HHE? Maybe it is easier to read in ArkivDigital?

Marstrand, A I/12 (1877-1883), bildid: C0041623_00127, page 140 https://sok.riksarkivet.se/bildvisning/C0041623_00127

Monday morning is my grocery-shopping-before-breakfast day. Now I've had my coffee I can say:

Like Missy and Gerry, I don't find any sign  in the Swedish books that he ever left.

Like Missy I believe that he had to be a resident in the US for several years before applying for naturalization. In the "declarations of intention" that I have seen it is always stated when people arrived. I think, also, that they have not lived elsewhere in the meantime. I'm not finding his declaration of intention at FamilySearch or MyHeritage.

It's a mystery how he pulled it off ;-)

As for the faint note over his name in AI 12 p. 140, I just think it says "en mindre villa". Strangely enough it shows up better in B&W.

This is interesting because the Swedish cousin who I was recently in touch with said first:

I just googled Svennung Bertnsson and ended up here. He was my faternal grandmothers grandfather (I think). We are still living in the same house that he built on beautiful Marstrand. Really enjoyed seeing photos of Anna-Maria. I have photos of a painting of Svennung and Sabina but don't know how to upload them here. 

I am helping my dad write about my relatives on Marstrand. Here is some info and photos (unfortunately only in Swedish). It's about working as a pilot etc. 

and then

My father is the one who knows the most. I'm thinking we could do a video-call on hangouts together and he will be able to tell more. I always mix up the different things. 

Svennung had 8 children of whom one emigrated to australia, and Karl (your great great something), who emigrated to the US. They had a son named Arthur? Who started a shipping company called Mattson or Matson-something? I think dad found something about this. As you hear, I am not the one with all the facts. 

Clearly I need to talk to her father. She was mostly right about Arthur and I found the one record about Carl in the US which seems to confirm this part of the story.

What she's written so far in Swedish is at docs.google.com/document/d/1eQEqG0I0hiagD57DMAsnGLXORxQ9D-mFX93IFQKdiO0/edit?usp=sharing

I ran it through a translator and it didn't fair well.

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