Origins of Sgt. Gustaf Olson (b. 1839, d. 1885)

+6 votes
I've reached my brick wall in trying to track this man, Gustaf Olson (b. 1839) back to Sweden. He was a Swedish-American veteran of the US Civil War. He lived and married in Chicago, and died there on 5 Jun 1885. Based on his age at death, he is calculated to have been born on 1 Sep 1839. I don't know the year of his immigration. His profile has his death certificate, newspaper clippings and info from his military service, among other things.

His friend, Peter Stark, a fellow Swede and veteran of the same Civil War unit, claims in an affidavit that he's known Gustaf since 1858. That could mean that they knew each other in Sweden, or that Gustaf had been in the USA since then.

I know you WikiTreers are resourceful. I'd be grateful for your eyes on this and hopeful that your new ideas and new approaches will help conquer this wall.
WikiTree profile: Gustaf Olson
in Genealogy Help by Marta Johnson G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)

6 Answers

+5 votes
Sounds like a fairly tough brickwall, if he left Sweden as early as 1858.

I think I saw that you have been using MyHeritage - and if you have had no luck there with the 1860-1930 indexed household records, it's going to be a hard nut to crack.

I'll see if I can think up something that you have not.
by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (502k points)

Olaus Sund, from that newspaper, can be found in Folkräkningar and so could be explored further. A son of an Olaus could well be Olsson.

Thanks for your eyes, Eva. I know you're a good nutcracker for these hard shells.

My MyHeritage membership is lapsed. I've got a pretty satisfying Ancestry subscription, but I think I've exhausted their leads. Olaus Sund is best thread to chase. Actually, even more so after following your link. In a birth certificate for one of Gustaf's children, he's listed as Norwegian or from Norway -- which I thought puzzling. There's no question it's the same Gustaf Olson -- the birth certificate is included as part of his official pension application. Explanation? Norwegian Woods?

Yes, "wild west" country along the border towards Norway.

It might make sense to make an unconnected profile for Olaus Sund as a base for exploring his family further, even if it turns out to be a false lead - although it is beginning to sound as if it's not false.

Olaus Sund was a former soldier (Sund will be his soldier name) born in Nårunga parish in 1827.

There is a single Olaus in Nårunga 1827. Nårunga kyrkoarkiv, Födelse- och dopböcker, SE/GLA/13412/C/4 (1779-1842), bildid: A0019216_00161

And I was wrong about the Norway border. Learning something new every day!  Norska Skogsbygden does not have anything to do with Norway - the name originates from the parish of Nårunda = Når-ska Skogsbygden.

Nårunga is the mother parishe in a pastorate with several parishes, the church is here.

This does not invalidate Gustaf being listed as coming from Norway - whoever provided that info was fooled the same way as I was :-)

Hi Marta!

I'm going to make a profile for Olaus of Nårunga, to be better able to explore the family whether they connect to yours or not.
Made a profile:

Probably no relation, although I still haven't checked all the children.
No, this family is too young for a son born in 1839.
I found an even younger Amanda Sofia Olausdotter in Hudene parish - her father was an Olaus from Nårunga, but not a Sund.

It looks like what can be caught by the indexed census 1880 is a little bit too late in time.

I thought that Olaus as a version of Olof was pretty uncommon - but it seems to have been fairly common in the area of Vårgårda-Herrljunga :-(
So, I finally thought to look up Olaus Sund in Soldatregistret; there was one in Hudene, born in 1801 and with a Gustaf and a Sofia among the children.

This family is found in a tree at FamilySearch:

This Gustaf was born 11 June 1834, so maybe not yours, after all?

But quite certainly the family the ad refers to. Mother died in 1844, father died in 1848. Several children died in infancy, but not Gustaf and not Sophia.
Thanks for going down that hole, Eva. I didn't think that Olaus was so common either. Perhaps there was a fervent pastor pushing the name on folks in the region?

I wish the birth dates, or at least the years, were closer to the info I've got. I think you're right that these Gustaf and Sofias at the FamilySearch link were the same from the advertisement. It's beginning to feel more like a false lead.

In all the documents I've seen, there has been no birthdate. The census and pension docs and everything usually estimate his birth in 1840. It's only on his death certificate that we possibly narrow it down to the Sep 1839 date.
It was an interesting rabbit hole :-)
+5 votes
Carl Gustaf J.Olsson,  Born Sept 2 1839,Baptised Sept 7 1839,

Boo,Stockholm Sweden,Father  J.OL, Sjobom,  Mother  Gustafva  Charlotta  Ekman.

Family Search.Org.

I do not know if this is positively your person,but close too your date.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (922k points)

This Gustaf-with-a-father-named-Olof was still in Sweden 1866-1868.

Boo kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/SSA/1489/A I/8 (1866-1875), bildid: 00027119_00081

It also turns out that he used the family name Sjöbom when he moved from home.

Thanks for your help Wayne. The birthdate was tantalizingly close, and the nearest we've yet found.
Yup. I should also have thanked Wayne.

The guy existed and his data were possible to follow.
Negative leads are also worth something.
+5 votes
I tried to locate Gustaf Olsson by using emiweb but I have not found any hits likely to be the correct person emigrating to North America. No person at all, with that name and born1839, is emigrating according to that database.

There is however many with the same name, born between 1835-1845, emigrating to Norway so a possibility is that he was born in Sweden, emigrated to Norway (for work perhaps) and then left for North America while living in Norway. That would explain the confusion of his heritage in some records you found.

Only one person, Gustaf Olausson, born 1837-11-21 emigrates as a young boy with his whole family to North America in 1852 but then he was not born 1839.

I think I found Peter Stark emigrating as a 14 year old boy with his family in 1851 so it would not have been impossible to find Gustaf as well one would think.

Is Gustafs birth year consistent through all the records you have found???
by Maggie Andersson G2G6 Pilot (139k points)

SVAR works for me now: Källunga kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/GLA/13305/A I/5 (1850-1857), bildid: C0046835_00055

husband Olaus Bengtsson 1811
wife Johanna Larsdotter 1814
son Gustaf 1837
son Johannes 1840
daughter Anna Greta 1844
son Bengt Fredrik 1849

Can any of them be found in America?

Peter Stark was named Nils Peter Stark Samuelsson in Sweden, born 1837-10-31 in Tjärstad parish, Östergötland county. Since the birth year and month matches "your" Peter Stark it's a very strong match I think. He was 14 years old when emigrating from Vårdnäs in Östergötland, together with mother Anna-Greta Nilsdotter, siblings Fredrica, Carl Gustaf and Christina Lovisa.
Vårdnäs (E) AI:14 (1846-1852) Bild 298 / Sida 285 (AID: v27263.b298.s285, NAD: SE/VALA/00435)
Maybe the name Olaus is just so very much an Älvsborg sort of name?

I'll see if I can locate the Olaus Bengtsson family in the USA. But I'll have to come back to that thread in an hour. First I'm being called to assist my spouse with some waffles -- making AND eating.
There is a Johannes Håkansson, born 1825, from Södra Ving in Älvsborg emigrating in 1852 as well. Can they perhaps met on the ship?? I will check if he is a smith of any kind...

Edit: He is just listed as "hemmansägare" unfortunately.
Smoked salmon and new potatoes here :-)

Another thing we must consider is that Olsson might be his fathers name, it would all depend on how it was registered at his arrival. Let me give an example...

If he emigrated together with his family and his fathers name was Bengt Olsson, he might not be listed as Bengtsson (as he would naturally been if he had stayed in Sweden) but there is a possibility that he could have been given his father last name upon arrival to US, ie Olsson.

Yes, I was wondering a little about that, Maggie.

Would that make a difference to your emiweb searches?
Yes, I have been searching for Olsson.

I just thought about including Olofsson in my search and found a boy born 1839-06-12 in Hov, Östergötland who leaves with his family in 1854, they leave from Harstad parish (AID v25841.b185.s174). His father is Anders Olofsson so in Sweden he would have been Andersson.

I will do a search for just his first name and the birth year of 1839-1841 and see what I come up with.

Edit: Found 14 Gustaf born 1839-1841 emigrating 1852-1859, will mail you the list as I'm working tomorrow and don't have much time right now, time to make dinner here. Perhaps someone will be another candidate to work with.
I have looked at the emigrating Gustafs in Maggies list - not all of them, though, since some of the ones I looked at were a bit time consuming.

I checked the seven who were going to "Amerika" - there was one Gustaf Larsson with a father named Olofsson; he emigrated alone, so would not have reason to be saddled with his father's patronymic. There was another one Gustaf, born 1839-06-12, who emigrated with his family, the father by name Anders Olsson - so he would VERY likely be Gustaf Olsson in America.

The single Gustaf leaving for "USA" had a father with a different name. I don't really think I need to look at the ones who went to Denmark, perhaps those who went to Norway. I have checked one of the guys who went to "Nordamerika", father had a different name. A couple of the others have a family name, which they would surely have kept, another couple have "double patronymics" which seems to be the EmiWeb reflection of the name of the father (and so excludes them).

What I will do is get all the names of the whole family for the son Gustaf with father Anders Olsson.
I have made two of the potential families into answers of their own.
+5 votes
Looking again at Gustaf's profile I begin to think that he went over to the US specifically in order to join the light artillery commanded by Axel Silfversparre. I wonder if they went as a group.
by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (502k points), Tab 14
He was a sergeant of Andra livgrenadjärregementet before he left Sweden.
I would think that IF he already had emigrated before, he would naturally like to join a group of other Swedes??

It would be interesting history to explore. And it would make for a great story, that Swedes would join up together for such a unit. The Swedish press in Chicago was covering Silfversparre as a hero. The battlefield reports home from his unit in the digitized Swedish-American newspapers highlighted his successes. I don't know if he was covered the same way back in Sweden, but I think it's easy to imagine the coverage may have attracted folks to join.

In Gustaf's case -- I found an entry for him in the 1859 Chicago Directory. That's a year before Secession and two years before the Battle of Fort Sumter. So in his case, it seems he was in the USA already and was just glad to join a unit of his fellow Chicago Swedes.

Yes, I think I must abandon this hunch.

Right now I think "Maggie's guy" is the best bet.
+4 votes

Anders Olofsson from Lemminge in Harstad (Östergötland) left Sweden for America 19 May 1854 with wife, four sons and three daughters:

Anders Olofsson, 1814
Carolina Andersdotter, 1816

Gustaf, 1839 (12 June)
Johan Fredrik, 1841
Mathilda Amalia, 1846
Augusta Vilhelmina, 1849
August, 1851
Adolf, 1853
Carolina, 1853

Can any of them be found in America?

Väderstad BI:2 (1840-1869) Bild 84 / sid 159 (AID: v42101.b84.s159, NAD: SE/VALA/00439)
Väderstads kyrkoarkiv, Inflyttningslängder, SE/VALA/00439/B I/2 (1840-1869), bildid: C0019121_00092

Harstad AI:7 (1846-1854) Bild 185 / sid 174 (AID: v25841.b185.s174, NAD: SE/VALA/00126)
Harstads kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/VALA/00126/A I/7 (1846-1854), bildid: C0015893_00187

by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (502k points)
+4 votes

Repeating this as an answer of its own:

Källunga kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/GLA/13305/A I/5 (1850-1857), bildid: C0046835_00055

husband Olaus Bengtsson 1811
wife Johanna Larsdotter 1814
son Gustaf 1837
son Johannes 1840
daughter Anna Greta 1844
son Bengt Fredrik 1849

Can any of them be found in America?

by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (502k points)

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