Hit a brick wall tracing back to sweden

+7 votes

I have really hit a brick wall trying to figure out the whole Swedish naming convention on top of the Americanizing of the last names. Her first name was either Eleanor/Eleanora or Signey/Signe/Signa. The left over group would be her middle name. Her maiden name was probably Benson but could be Anderson as there is evidence her Swedish father August switched names.

Her mother gets even worse. Amanda unknown may have been Johansson/Johansdr/Johnson also from Sweden.

Possible Sweden, Household Examination Books, 1880 - 1920 https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QL5Z-ZSP8

possible marriage https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FKF9-H38

Any help tying this into a swedish family would be very appreciated.

WikiTree profile: Eleanor Meservey
asked in Genealogy Help by Steven Tibbetts G2G6 Pilot (178k points)
The "Possible Sweden, Household Examination Books" is not so possible. That Signe Eleonora was born in Norrköping, Sweden, in 1892; I'm looking at them in Arkiv Digital: Kila AIIa:2 (1906-1910) Bild 3920 / sid 380 (AID: v164017.b3920.s380, NAD: SE/ULA/10523) - I don't think this family left Sweden.

Amanda was a popular name when the Swedish common folk started giving their children fancy names, and in the Swedish census for 1890 there are roundly 100 Signe Eleonora of various ages - just showing that the name combination was not unique. Although also not super common, either.

But you don't think your Signe Eleonora was born in Sweden, do you?

5 Answers

+7 votes
Ok, looking at the records you have I think that you should ignore what you've found in Sweden so far and look at what you know about Signey and her parents in America.

Her marriage record says that she was born in Rhode Island, her last name is Benson (and since she is a spinster that means that must be her maiden name) and that her parents are August and Amanda. So her father is August Benson and her mother is Amanda ___.

Amanda Benson appears with Signey in the 1910 census in Rhode Island. She is 61 which means that she was born about 1849, in Sweden. The census states she is widowed (but it is also possible that she is divorced, which might fit with the 1910 census that you found for August Benson). It also says she only had 1 child.

Since the Swedish household examination you have on Amanda's profile is for an Amanda with multiple children, it is probably incorrect.


I found a promising Rhode Island record, but FamilySearch is undergoing maintenance right now so I'll have to wait until it comes back up to give more details.
answered by Jamie Nelson G2G6 Pilot (191k points)

Ah, well before FS broke there was this:

Name: Amanda Bengston
Event Place: Providence, Ward 003, E.D. 0025, Providence, Rhode Island
Age: 54
Gender: Female
Race: White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Wife
Marital Status: Married
Birth Date: 1851
Birthplace: Sweden
Father's Birthplace: England
Mother's Birthplace: Vermont
Relationship to Head of Household: Wife
Entry Number: 8
Mother of how many children: 1
Number of Living Children: 1






Signa Bengston



Providence Rhode Island

Amanda Bengston




On Ancestry there is this which seems to fit:

August Bengtson

 in the Rhode Island, Marriage Index, 1851-1920

Name: August Bengtson
Spouse: Amanda Djerf
Marriage Date: 21 Dec 1878



and this 1880 census

August Bengtson

 in the 1880 United States Federal Census

VIEW1880 United States Federal Census

  • View blank form
Name: August Bengtson
Age: 37
Birth Date: Abt 1843
Birthplace: Sweden
Home in 1880: Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Street: Prairie Ave
House Number: 252
Dwelling Number: 164
Race: White
Gender: Male
Relation to Head of House: Self (Head)
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Amanda Bengtson
Father's Birthplace: Sweden
Mother's Birthplace: Sweden
Occupation: Tailor
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Name Age
August Bengtson 37
Amanda Bengtson 29

The Djerf last name seems to fit with what is on Geni:



possibly Amanda's immigration:

Amanda Djerf

 in the Swedish Emigration Records, 1783-1951

Name: Amanda Djerf
Birth Year: abt 1851
Gender: Kvinna (Female)
Place of Origin: Jönköping Jönköping Län, Sverige
Destination: Providence
Record Date: 4 maj 1877 (4 May 1877)
Port of Departure: Göteborg
Database Name: EmiHamn
Archive Call Number: 11:159:4481
Traveling Companion: M
Principal Person: Djerf Amanda
Bengtson? And it is all behind a paywall except the broken geni link.

The section I see has August Benson and she was Amanda Johanson. Her father was Johan Djerf Johanson and her mother was Johanna Christina Gustafson. All with no sources from 1 person.

This thing is messy and I don't get the priviledge of using Ancestry or Heritage. Besides familysearch has the marriage license as August Benson, not Bengtson.
Geni link got cut off for some reason. https://www.geni.com/people/Johan-Johanson/6000000002857015754?through=6000000002868015168

I found the Geni link after tracing the records I copied for you above (copied since FS is down and I know not everyone has an Ancestry subscription). I only included the Geni link because it also had the name Djerf which means my research is probably on the right track. I don't think I've ever seen a Benson in Sweden but lots of Bengtssons. Benson was most likely an Americanized form.

Her name in Geni is probably Johanson because her father was Johan. It probably was Amanda Johansdotter and then taking her father's Djerf name when she came to America.


Hope someone else can break down your brick wall since you seem to not want my help!
True about Benson and Bengtsson.
I think the 1880 census record and 1877 emigration record found by Jamie look promising. Certainly worth a closer look at that couple.
I was able to find the original for the emigration record in Arkiv Digital.

Amanda Djerf, 26 years old in 1877 went to Providence (by way of Hull) together with an older sister (I presume) Gustafva Djerf.

Unfortunately "Jönköping" as a place of origin is no great help, since most likely it just refers to the county. Only 149 parishes to look through :-/
Connected up Amanda today and started another answer.
+6 votes
First of all, can you find her birth certificate in US? Is she born 1881 or 1885??

To have the parents correct names would be helpful, her father would most probably have been either Bengtsson (Benson) or Andersson, not both. Her mothers last name should probably been something ending in -dotter, not -son. Some people used family names but most had a -son or -dotter ending name.
answered by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Mach 8 (80.6k points)
edited by Maggie Andersson
As I said it gets confusing. August was either born Benson and switched it to Anderson or it was the other way around. Amanda's name still is not clear. The daughter was always listed as Benson. Sometimes Eleanor Signey, Sometimes Eleanora Signe, Signa Eleanor, Signa B, Etc. And I find it hilariously ironic that your own name isn't Andersdotter. LOL. (yeah, I guess marriage)

The only conclusive thing I know is right is the marriage info.

I meant the birth certificate of Eleanor Signey (Benson) Tibbetts. Sometimes the parents correct names are listed on the birth certificate and we will have something more reliable than guesses before we put too much time into research. 

I know what you meant. I can't find it. And the birth record for her son Otis clearly has her as Signey E Benson.

1920 census has her as 1885. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF8Q-YVQ

Yes it is Tibbitts instead of Tibbetts but it IS them.
birth record, if you choose to believe she could be a Bengtson... https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FZ19-78R
When anyone with last name Benson left Sweden they would most probably had been Bengtsson, ie son of Bengt.

I found a 1905 census on Familysearch posting her birth date as 17 March 1885 but since they are working on site it got lost again. Will check again later.

But I think you might have found the correct birth certificate, unfortunately it does not tell us anything more about their last names, just that the parents were August and Amanda, he was 40 years old and a tailor, she was 32 years old, both were from Sweden.
See, the only thing I knew for sure was her last name. Now THAT is questionable. LOL I'm losing ground.
Since she was born in US, if her father already changed his name to Benson then Benson would be her last name at birth.

If you're interested you can read about patronymics and Swedish naming practises here: http://www.hhogman.se/naming-practice-sweden.htm#xl_Patronymics
I knew about the Scandanavian, Irish, and Scottish patronymics. The welsh ones were new though. And I had no reference to Bengtsson until it was mentioned here. Bear in mind I did all of this without being able to talk to any family member and just put together pieces. The Andersson was from a merge with an existing branch here at WikiTree and I tend to keep everything until I can disprove it.

I called this a brick wall because I don't know. That is why I asked. But my suspicion is Axel Andersson was actually a friend of August Benson and the 2 got blurred together.
+3 votes

Some thoughts you might like to consider:

  • I agree that we are probably looking for an August Bengtsson. Not sure I understand where you are getting Anderson from.
  • Rather than trying to jump straight back to Sweden I would try to find them in earlier censuses and see what additional information we can glean about August and Amanda.
  • Since we have a birth year of 1849 for her from a census I think we should be looking for an earlier date than 1864 for August too.
  • We have an immigration date of 1878 for Amanda. Have you tried looking more closely into that?
  • Do we know whether they married before or after emigrating?
  • Is Eleanor an only child?
  • Do you have death records for August and Amanda?
answered by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (619k points)
Gosh, Jamie! It was ages since I logged in at geni. It still has an email for mi that I haven't used for four years!
That should be Böne pastorat, Knätte parish.

There's a Regina Eugenia born 7 Jun 1866 to corporal Johan Djerf and his wife Johanna Kristina Gustafsdotter, living at Lundby Tå. Edit: sorry, Lunds Tå.

Carl Wilhelm (Charles William who I mentioned previously) born to the same parents in Böne 28 March 1861. Before that the Ancestry copies of the church record are too hard for me to read.

I think we nailed them. Gotta have breakfast before continuing.
BTW, that Johan Djerf is Johan Andersson Djerf.
I was working on this family on WT earlier, I'll orphan everyone since their LNABs will probably need to be changed:


I'll do some illustrated work on them today.
Started on it.
Notably, posted an image of the household record 1856-60, which is crucial because you get the parents and six children together - the combination of names and birth years is pretty convincing that this is the right family.

I've gone back to Johan/Johannes Andersson/Andreassons birth and birth family, sourcing by Arkiv Digital - but I'm not taking the time to post images of everything. In less than a month (1 Feb) the same sources (albeit in B&W and often less readable) will be available for free at Riksarkivet SVAR - we can go back then and add links to those. I just find it so much easier to do research with the Arkiv Digital images.
So, enough for one day (unless I go back in the evening). Guess I should try following the wife next.

So when Arkiv Digital has free access this weekend, you can use all those mysterious AID numbers - AID: v43977.b50 and so on. Just paste the v43977.b50 into the search box top left. This example is the birth record for Amanda Djerf.

I was alerted by this G2G thread:

+1 vote
OK, I have taken the liberty to connect the mother of Eleanor Tibbetts, Amanda, to Johan Djerf and Johanna Gustafsdotter as parents. The records on the Swedish side all connect up the whole family as per the Geni tree, although I haven't followed all the siblings yet.

Amanda Djerf and Gustafva Djerf emigrated and went to Rhode Island together in 1877, which ties up nicely with the marriage to August Bengtsson/Bengston in 1878. I haven't spotted him on the same page with Amanda anywhere in Sweden.
answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (270k points)

@ Jamie, Axel Andersson from Högseröd / Höxeröd in Malmöhus county is born 1879-03-23.

Edit: Forget the date above, I read the wrong line. He is born 1849-09-23 and nothing else if the church book is correct.

@Jamie: there was an Axel & August combination in both families, it seems.

But the one in Högseröd is the one with the rigth birth date. Both dates are in this thread, somewhere.

Edit: I was pretty confused at this point in time

The August in the 1905 census you are referring to above is a tailor. When I checked the records for August Andersson Sundberg it seems he don't change his name to Sundberg, he lives with Sundberg, who is a tailor.... 

Unfortunately my find was just another dead end, he moved in 1862 to "obestämd ort", something like unknown destination.

Edit: Found him again, this time in Söderhamn where he apparently goes by the name August Bengtsson and is still persuing his education as a tailor, here he is skräddargesäll and has a note of being a baptist.   He moved here from Stockholm 1864 and leves in 1865, back again 1865 and leaves 1866 yet again to a unknown destination. 

@ Steven, do you know if the baptist part would fit with your family???

I think I was pretty confused about the Augusts and Axels yesterday morning. But I think the August from Höxeröd looks good for several reasons - even though we know the farmworker August from Ryda emigrated and we haven't found the emigration of the Höxeröd August.

  1. the birth date 27 July 1842 which agrees with his naturalization record
  2. being a tailor as opposed to being an unspecified farmworker
  3. being a baptist at that time was a fairly good reason for emigrating to a more tolerant country

On the other hand they both emigrated / seem to have emigrated in 1873.

If Steven would confirm the family being baptists I think August from Höxeröd is a strong possiblity. Lets hope he sees your new answer and reads the comments from yesterday.
I honestly have no idea. I've piecemealed my tree together with spit and bailing wire. Some I knew, some I found, some was a pre-existing gedcom upload by stanley wood.

This seems to be the last big puzzle on my father's side.

Reading through this were Axel Andersson and August Benson brothers or just really close friends?
2nd page of the 1905 census (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLJP-CJQ) says he was a Baptist
Which makes it reasonable to focus on August from Höxeröd.
So, I have filled in the Swedish records for August Andersson / Bengtsson from Högseröd in the profile for https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Benson-2740 - plus the Rhode Island census for him in 1905.

I do not much believe that a baptist tailor in Providence 1905 would turn up as a divorced saloon keeper's partner in Minnesota in 1910. Or he really went to the dogs.

This is enough for today. I'm not going to fumble around more in the American records, but may return to his family in Sweden - since they moved from the "burnt parish" so soon, there will be data for them.
As a postscript I followed up the backwards lead from Söderhamn to Stockholm - where he arrived, stating he had spent August to November 1863 in Denmark. It was duly noted that he lacked "betyg" for that period of time.

Quite spooky to see how closely people were kept track of. Well, we still are, of course.
0 votes

I did some more work on the Swedish side of the Lundstedt brothers. They both had the surname Djerf when they first moved out from home. One of them came briefly back to Sweden with a wife and the surname Lundstedt.

The name Lundstedt was surely inspired by their birth place, the croft Lunds Tå in the village of Lund. As to why they changed, we'll never know.

answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (270k points)
My family seems to have an infuriating habit of breaking or mixing naming conventions. Even the last name Tibbetts was just taken over. We started as Tabbut and are no relation to 95% of the Tibbetts out there. :(
Haha! My family name, Ekeblad was "invented" by my paternal great-grandfather and his brothers in the 1880s. I think they knew full well that they were taking over an "abandoned" noble name.
Mine lived in an area of Maine surrounded by Tibbetts. They probably got tired of having other people correct THEM. lol

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