Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Wessmans in Sweden, Part 2 of 5

Life was hard for our Swedish ancestors. They lived in a very beautiful land, which was quickly becoming overpopulated.

Sweden is about the size of California. It has 96,000 lakes. The country is divided into provinces (landskap). Our Wessman ancestors are from the provinces of Bohuslän (about 25 miles wide and 100 miles long) and Dalsland (30 miles wide and 60 miles long) which are on the western coast of Sweden bordering Norway and just across the Kattegat or strait from the tip of Denmark. Scandinavian borders have shifted extensively during history, so this area has sometimes been under Norwegian rule. The area is rich in legend and superstition including tales of a giant who formerly lived in the mountains of Svarteborg parish (northern Bohuslän), a king and his knights who live inside the mountains of the same area and would return to help Sweden at its time of need, trolls, and little elves (tomts) who lived in orderly households and helped the inhabitants.
Although Swedes now enjoy religious freedom, the Catholic Church was the state religion until the Protestant Reformation, when the Swedes became Lutheran en masse. In doing genealogical research, you must know the ecclesiastical divisions. Information on the Wessman family is in the church records of “Göteborgs-och-Bohus Län” and “Alvsborg”, which are then divided further into districts and parishes. The genealogical records may also mention the farms where people lived. Our ancestor Johan Bengtsson Wessman was born on Braseröd farm, in Romelanda parish, Göteborgs-och Bohus Län (G-o-Bh), Sweden. The Wessmans did not live in the city of Göteborg until the mid 19th century.

Update: I realized that the farm names are probably the same 170 years later. Here's a map of the location of Braseröd farm. It's a 20 minute drive to Romelanda and a 45 minute drive to Göteborg.

View Larger Map

Read a history of Sweden (short or long) and debate with someone the merits of cross-country versus downhill skiing. Extra credit if you do this at Ikea while eating Swedish meatballs.

Part 1
The photo of Bohus is from www.flickr.com/photos/jimmyroq/1088257154/. The photo of Göteborg is from www.flickr.com/photos/mikaelmiettinen/3929886448/. The picture of hunting wolves on skis from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wolfskidor.jpg.

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