Need help with Swedish names and places [closed]

+3 votes

In a moment of complete insanity, I created a profile for my Swedish great grandfather, known after he immigrated to the US from Sweden as John Gustafson Anderson, and made the LNAB Anderson.  I obviously need to correct this, but I don't know what I should correct it to.  Help!??!

The only information I have regarding his birth is in his son's baptismal record, from South Dakota.  I can't read the town name, but it appears John (Johann??) was born in Jämtland on 9 Jan 1859.  The baptismal record is on  John's brothers (Gustaf and Andrew I'm sure about, but there might also have been a Carl) who also immigrated, are no help because they all became Andersons when they arrived.  [edit: I tried to clip the town name from the record, but it didn't work.  It looks like "Offurdal."]

On the same page, the birth place of his brother, Gustaf Anderson, looks more like "Offerdal."  (On the other hand, the same person wrote the place name for John's wife's birth as "Wasterbatten.")  Does anyone have an idea of what this town's name might be?  From what I was told as a child, it might be more of a village than a town.

Since I now have a profile for John, I'd like to create one for his wife, who was known in the American family as Mathilde or Mathilda (or, according to one cousin, Matilde) Sarafia Sundstrom, from Västerbotten, Sweden.  As far as I know, her two sisters, who immigrated with her, also went by Sundstrom.  The baptismal record for her son indicates she was born on 28 Nov 1868.  There is a transcript record on FamilySearch for a Mathilda Saraphia Sundstrand, daughter of Carl Anton Sundstrand and Maria Johanna Nilsdr, who was baptized (the transcript says "born" but it is a baptismal record) on 29 Nov 1868, in Savar, Västerbotten, Sweden.  Is Sundstrom a logical Americanization of Sundstrand or am I probably dealing here with two individuals, both named Mathilda Saraphia/Mathilde Sarafia?  Would Sundstrom or Sundstrand be the correct LNAB for her? Also, I note that Sundstrom sometimes appears as Sundström. Is the latter spelling the correct, contemporary Swedish one?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.  Thank you

WikiTree profile: John Anderson
closed with the note: Problem solved - closing with thanks to all
asked in Genealogy Help by Susan Anderson G2G6 Mach 1 (16.5k points)
closed by Susan Anderson
I understand that it is often difficult to know where to have dots and rings over the vowels. I suppose for place names (above farms and tiny hamlets) one could check Swedish Wikipedia.

A difference like Sundstrom - Sundström looks to my Swedish eyes as self-evidently an American-Swedish difference. I realize now, more strongly than before, that this is not at all so self-evident to non-Swedes. I think your ability to use å ä ö brought it home. Usually I see it as a keyboard problem - and of course, for the FamilySearch transcribers this may be the case. And from there the confusion spreads...

It looks to me that John Anderson could be Gustaf Anders son. The combination may be related to both John's mother and fathers side of the family, however, from what my family tells me many families took in borders and even brought them to the U.S. during immigration.  

Hope that helps a little
Please, Bre - would you be so kind as to repeat this as a question of its own? I don't think it makes anything very clear to mix two different family brances in one question.
Is Bre Cooper an alias for Susan Anderson?

Susan started a question about a family in Jämtland, Sweden. This is what I mean about different branches.

Wasterbatten is actually Vasterbotten County (Province) of the Swedish Lapland. And that you have mentioned Svar I remember my cousin's husband goes there frequently as the Jamtland. I'll confer with him... Might take a few days as I'm not sure where he is currently working. 

Thank you, Eva and Bre.  I just came online and found all this wonderful information.

Eva, John (or Jonas, as you noted in one of your answers) was not Gustaf - he had a brother named Gustaf (known as "Gust").

My question about the umlaut in Sundstrom/Sundström has to do with whether, when Mathilda/Mathilde was born in 1868, the name in the Swedish records would have had it.  Now that you've given me a link into the Swedish records (which I haven't yet had a chance to try), I'll use what I find there.
To comment on Savar and Offerdal

From what I am looking at on the Worldmap... Savar is a town in Vasterbotton, Sweden, Offerdal is a Parish in Krokom municipal province of Jamtland lan. So would the village or city you are looking for be within Krokom, Jamtland?
As a cautionary note, when looking at the Swedish records, I have found that the double dots are often handwritten as a "squiggle" that kind of looks like a tilde.
Thank you, Daniel.  I take it that Swedish has no tilde?  In German, the double dots are an umlaut.  Do you happen to know whether that term carries over to Swedish?
I am no expert in the Swedish language nor in Swedish records, but as far as I know, there is no tilde in Swedish. I do not know what the Swedish term is for the double dots (i.e., umlaut).
True, there is no tilde in Swedish, unless one has slipped in on a loan word.

Yes, Å Ä Ö are considered umlauts - they have earlier been written as aa, ae (æ) and oe (ø)

Remember the old HTML code for the letters - Å Ä Ö

There are a lot of squiggles ovew words in old handwriting - sometimes meaningful, sometimes less so.
A thing about Swedish å ä ö though, is that they are not sorted with the a and o-s, but have their own place at the end of the alphabet.

They are considered letters in their own right, not variants of a and o.
Yes, they are real leters-of-the-alphabet. Not just variants.

3 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
Oh, this must be the guy, number 4 on this page in the birth book for Offerdal 1859:

Offerdals kyrkoarkiv, Födelse- och dopböcker, SE/ÖLA/11085/C/4 (1800-1861), bildid: C0036024_00324

It says: Jonas, born Jan 9, baptized Jan 16. Parents: crofter Anders Gustafsson(?) in Tångeråsen and its wife Maria Jonasdotter 31 years old.

So, unless you have a primary source to the contrary, I don't think he ever was named Gustafsson. These people would still be using patronymics, so that the last names of children would be based on the given name of the father. He would be Jonas Andersson and his sister would be Elin Andersdotter. In the household records children rarely are listed with last names at all. This is the family:

Offerdals kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/ÖLA/11085/A I/11 (1858-1866), bildid: C0036014_00312

And I think the name of his father isn't Gustafsson, but perhaps Gufastsson. This is such an unusual name that I would need to see it in more places to be sure.
answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (270k points)
selected by Susan Anderson
I agree, it says Gufastsson, not Gustafsson. I looked up his birth record and his father's name was Gudfast Pehrsson.

I followed the family forward in time. The family moved to  Backen in Lit parish 1864. The father Anders emigrated to America in 1868, the rest of the family in 1879. It looks like two daughters stayed in Sweden.

Lit AI:10a, p. 61

Lit AI:11a, p. 69

Since the attached newspaper clipping on John's profile mentions Minnesota I looked for them there in the 1880 census. After some tweaking to the search parameters I found this family:

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 August 2017), Andrew Gustafson, Center, Murray, Minnesota, United States; citing enumeration district ED 177, sheet 31D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0627; FHL microfilm 1,254,627.
Thanks Joakim. I checked some of the same same records this morning, after having initiated a private conversation with Susan yesterday evening, when I couldn't cope with more of the extra help we were getting (there was more of it then).

I didn't check a US Census and didn't follow the daughters, but sent Susan the link to Lit 11a and one to the moving-out book.

Gudfastsson was a lot more clearly writen in Lit, also the brother Gustaf was really Gudfast. I can understand how that doesn't work in the US.
Thank you for joining the discussion, Joakim.  That census was a great find.  I see that Gustaf hadn't yet left home to settle in Salem, South Dakota at the time of the census, but that John had moved out.  I suspect he may have married or been serving with the US Army.  Now that I know they were going by the name of Gustafson in 1880, perhaps I'll have more luck finding out about that first wife and the records for his Army service.

Eva, in the household listing, under Jonas's name, there is a Gufast or Gufart with some sort of designation in front of the name and what looks like a cross and a "V" added as a notation, then a birth date I can't interpret.  Could this be Anders's father, living with them, then noted as deceased?  The added notations (arrow, brackets) seem to link him to the family.

I followed the daughters Anna and Agnes and made some progress.

1. Anna Andersdotter, born 1851-09-25 in Offerdal

Had an illegitmate son Carl Rudolf Walter born 1882-11-03 in Östersund. Emigrated to North America in 1885. Returned to Sweden in 1900 with Vejt Rudolf Burman and their son Andrew Gustaf Burman, born 1885-10-10 in Slayton, America (Slayton in Minnesota?) and the aforementioned Carl Rudolf Walter Burman.

Andrew returned to America in 1907 (to work in his uncles store?), while the others remained in Sweden. Anna died 5/8 1924 in Rödön, Jämtland. Vejt Rudolf died 13/12 1924, also in Rödön. Carl Rudolf Walter died 16/8 1933 in Frösö, Jämtland.

Östersund AIa:11b, p. 384

Rödön AIIa:1, p. 147

2. Agnes Andersdotter, born 1854-09-13 in Offerdal

Her oldest child Karl Ludvig was born in 1876. She married Mikael Ludvig Källström in 1878. They moved to Minnesota about 1886. Then to South Dakota, where I found them in the 1900 census.

Lit AI:13b, p. 504 (& p. 511)

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2 November 2018), Agnes Kellstrom in household of Michael S Kellstrom, Clarno, Orland & Winfred Townships, Lake, South Dakota, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 214, sheet 3A, family 46, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,551.

Their son Nels Gustave Kelstrom married Minnie Otilla Johnson. One of his descendants named "Deborah" posted a message on the Ancestry message boards in 2007 (scroll down):

Eva, in the household listing, under Jonas's name, there is a Gufast or Gufart [...]

Gudfast was Jonas brother. The designation "s." in front of his name is an abbreviation for "son" (same word in swedish and english). In America he called himself Gus or Gust. He is the one that married Anna Krebs. Have you seen the profile someone has created for him on FamilySearch?

Thank you, Joakim.  Yah - that's Uncle Gust on FamilySearch.  I saw him and his son, Alvin, on the same page of the Lutheran records from Salem, South Dakota as brother John, Mathilda and their son, Hjalmar.

I couldn't read what was behind the line drawn through that first letter, the S for "son."  The birth year looked to me like 1810 or 1814, which is why I thought it might be the father. Now, with your help, I can see the elongated "6" for 1864.

Do you know whether it was a difference in dialects or accents which would account for the "Gufast" in the early, Offerdal, books and "Gudfast" in the later ones, after they moved to Lit Parish?  There seem to be a substantial number of Gufasts and Gufastssons in the Offerdal Parish books.
First, let me say that I have never heard the name "Gudfast" pronounced and I didn't know the name existed until today. I'd imagine they spoke the same dialect in both parishes since they are close to each other. It's possible that the became "d" silent, similar to the "h" in Pehr. The more likely explanation is that different clerics had different spelling conventions. There were no standard spelling rules as there are today. For example, I believe that Anders' father Gudfast pronounced his name the same way his whole life. But in the church records the spelling changes from Gudfast to Gufast, even though he was born and died in the same parish.

Gudfast's Birth record (1778-12-24):
Offerdal C:2 (1688-1799), p. 278, no. 30

His death record (1862-04-14):
Offerdal F:2 (1861-1895), p. 10, no. 14

Other spellings: Gofast, Govast, Gudvaster, Gouvaster, Gouffast
I've been doing a lot of work in the 17th- and 18th-century records of New England, so the idea of some clerk applying his own notions of how to spell a name isn't new to me.  Sometimes, I can almost hear a New England accent in the spellings.  I had hopes something similar might be happening here.  From the variant spellings you list, it does look like the "d" wasn't always pronounced in "Gudfast."

Thank you very much for the references and links.
I suspect that when his name was written with a D in it, was when the vicar remembered to be an educated man ;-)

I looked up Gudfast on Nordic Names.  It seems to be an Old Norse name and to have persisted longer in Norway than in Sweden.  It would make sense that it was still in use in the mid-19th century in the more remote, rural areas of Sweden bordering Norway, such as Offerdal.

Yes, indeed. That makes sense.
I went back to look again at the Nordic Names page for Gudfast.  Interestingly enough, I see the Old Norse name was actually "Guðfastr."  I'm wondering whether, as time went on and it went out of fashion to use the eth and thorn characters, that eth was interpreted as a "D," but still pronounced with something like the "TH" sound of the eth.  That might help explain the variants which lack the "D" in their spelling: "Guthfast" might easily become or sound like "Gufast" in pronunciation.  Then some too-knowledgeable cleric writes "Gudfast" in place of "Guðfast."
+4 votes
That was a lot of questions at once.

We have a parish by name Offerdal, up north in Jämtland.

Very rural. Nearest town is Östersund.

As for most Swedish parishes, there is also a WikiTree category for Offerdal:

As for the names - I'll take a look at the profiles, see if I can get my brain working this morning.
answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (270k points)
Thank you, Eva.  I've added the Offerdal (Z) category to his profile.
+6 votes

About Maria Seraphia Sundström, what you have from FamilySearch is a fairly bad transcription of this record:

Sävars kyrkoarkiv, Födelse- och dopböcker, SE/HLA/1010199/C/3 (1861-1869), bildid: F0010061_00227

The contrast in the Sävar birth book 1868 is unfortunately pretty low - I'm looking at it in ArkivDigital colour at the same time - but I think you can agree with me about what it says (particularly if you also look at the household record):

Nov 26 born, Dec 3 baptized (female) Mathilda Seraphia, parents: Bonden (farmer) Carl Anton Sundström and his wife Maria Johanna Nilsdotter in Botsmark, p. 602

What they have transcribed as a birth date 29 November is actually the ordinal number 69, where the top of the 6 is very weak and the bottom of the 9 is drawn out to the left. It does look like 29 - but you can see she's between #68 and #70.

Household record:

Sävars kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/HLA/1010199/A I/6b (1865-1874), bildid: C0042580_00191

answered by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (270k points)

OMG! You just gave me some very informational idea's to aid in research. For instance, My aunt Dorothy keeps all the historical recordings of our heritage, but I noticed that each and every person had the same family ministry so... you writing that just gave me the idea that possibly the ministry that conducted the funerals also has records! You are Brilliant!
Thank you very much, Eva, for finding that original record and clearing up the Sundstrom/Sundstrand confusion for me.

I hate dealing with Ancestry and FamilySearch when they give only transcriptions and not images.
In reference to the dots and lines in language...I would also like to add... The dialect during the 1800's and possibly prior to could have been a mixture of swedish/Finnish/ and norse or Danish. For example the names could have been written in Bokali
Eva, on the birth and baptismal register, to what does "p. 602" refer?
That would be the page in the contemporary HFL where the family is listed.
Thank you, Gerry.
Yes, that's the one I looked up and linked.

I realize now the page number isn't in the reference you get when you use the copying function on the page at Riksarkivet. I should be more careful about adding it.

Always nice when the vicar gave us this shortcut. Place names in the birth books can be hard to figure out.
Another question concerning the household record for the Sundströms:  Mathilda's father's birthplace looks to me like "Safvar."  Is this an old spelling for Sävar?  If it is, was it the spelling in use at the time of his birth?

I'm quite sure that there are dots over the ä in Säfvar, but yes, "fv" is an old spelling for "v"

If you look at the archives for Sävar parish, you can see that they start in 1823. Before that Sävar was a part of Umeå landsförsamling.

In the earliest household record for Umeå landsförsamling there is Säfwar.

Umeå landsförsamlings kyrkoarkiv, Husförhörslängder, SE/HLA/1010219/A I/1 (1722-1731), bildid: C0034476_00247

Thank you, Eva - belatedly.

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