The Vicar was not Infallible

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Location: Hova, Västergötland, Swedenmap
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The puzzling birth of Axel Gillberg

Axel Gillberg was the last child of Johan Fredrick Gillberg and his wife Britta Christina Åbom, born 10 July 1860 in Åsterud, Hova. However, his birth record has caused some confusion as to his parentage, since it states that his mother was Johanna Johansdotter. The household record for Åsterud at that time also has Johanna as the wife of Johan Fredrik Gillberg - and children that do not match any other record of the Gillberg family.

Birth record for Axel Gillberg. (Hova C:6, births page 425 image from Arkiv Digital)

A restless family

Brita Christina Åbom from Mofalla parish married the journeyman shoemaker Johan Fredrik Gillberg from Hova parish 22 May 1840.[1] They moved several times, within the same parish:

When their first child was born in 1841 they lived at Buren.[2] When their second child was born in 1843 they lived at Berget.[3] Their third child was born in Kvarntorp in 1847.[4] where, at last, we find them in the household record.[5] Three of their children died in infancy.

In 1857/58 we find Johan Fredrik Gillberg and Brita Christina Åbom at Hovbron, with the three children who were alive at that time (Dorothea, 1843, Johan Fredrik, 1850 and Ludvik, 1858). They all moved to Hova Tull in 1858[6] - and we can see that they moved on to Åsterud in 1859.

The Gillberg family at Hova Tull. (Hova AI:5, household record page 57 Image from Arkiv Digital)

A new family for Johan Gillberg?

The Gillberg Family in Åsterud. (Hova AI:5 household record, page 83 Image from Arkiv Digital)

In Åsterud Johan Fredrik Gillberg suddenly has a new wife, Johanna Johansdotter (the alleged mother of Axel Gillberg). There is also a new bunch of children: Christina, 1849, Wilhelmina, 1853, Aron Fritioff, 1856 and Johanna, 1859. The newborn Axel is entered here, at a later time.

Has Gillberg deserted his family and found a new love? These things happen, although we do not believe this is the case here. If we go back to the previous record we can see that Johanna and her children belong to Gillberg's neighbour at Hova Tull, Johannes Andersson. Since the vicar has been diligent about entering character notes for Gillberg into the margin, we do not believe he would have refrained from a comment if there had been some wife swapping going on. Rather, he has looked in the wrong place on the page while transferring the Gillbergs from one village to the other.

Back to normal

The Gillberg family at Hova Sand. (Hova AI:5, household record page 75 Image from Arkiv Digital)

The Gillberg family did not stay long in Åsterud - they moved on to Hova Sand in 1860. Although this record is very messy with additional notes crammed in, we can see that order is restored and the original family members are present in the household: Johan Fredrick Gillberg and his wife Britta Christina Åbom, Dorotea, Johan Fredrik the younger, Ludvig and Axel.


  1. Mofalla C:2 (1754-1857) Bild 144 / sid 279 (AID: v55958.b144.s279, NAD: SE/GLA/13373)
  2. Hova C:6 (1815-1866) Bild 118 / sid 227 (AID: v45287.b118.s227, NAD: SE/GLA/13222)
  3. Hova C:6 (1815-1866) Bild 126 / sid 243 (AID: v45287.b126.s243, NAD: SE/GLA/13222)
  4. Hova C:6 (1815-1866) Bild 138 / sid 267 (AID: v45287.b138.s267, NAD: SE/GLA/13222)
  5. Hova AI:4 (1841-1857) Bild 115 / sid 727 (AID: v45270.b115.s727, NAD: SE/GLA/13222)
  6. Hova AI:6 (1857-1870) Bild 110 / sid 608 (AID: v45272.b110.s608, NAD: SE/GLA/13222)

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This is actually the worst case of mistranscription I have ever come across.
posted by Eva Ekeblad