Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Surprising Birth Record: Harry Richard Emanuel Westman

It's been more than 20 years since I've done any Swedish research, but when my mother mentioned that she was going to have a chance to look into the Swedish records, I decided to add my research to FamilySearch Family Tree. Back in 1991, I did a painstaking look through microfilm after microfilm of Swedish records for a Scandinavian Sources class, mostly concentrating on the direct paternal Wessman line.

One thing I never got around to was finding the birth records from the Johan and Amanda Wessman family.

Now with access to Swedish parish records on Ancestry, I decided to look for the birth record of my great grandfather, Henry Richard Emanuel Wessman and answer, once and for all, the question of the spelling of his third (baptismal) name. I ended up finding more than expected.

The family records stated that he was born in Göteborg, so I started reading through the parish records for 1885. Luckily he was born in February, so it did not require reading through each entire record book. Fourteen record books later, I found this.

Here is a close-up of his record:

Entry 71. February 7 [1885]. Male. Harry Richard Emanuel. 6th [child in the family]. Legal status: legitimate. Father: Westman, Johan, sailor. G [probably marriage date] 31/3/73. Mother: Anna Mathilda Andersdotter. (O.H. 34.) Mother: married. [Ages?] 43/36. Medical attendant: "ex."


First, "Harry"?

Second, this marriage date may provide a clue to finding Johan and Amanda's marriage record.

Third, why the spelling of "Westman"? (With Amanda's name being spelled "Anna" I wouldn't worry that this was a serious alternate spelling.)

Fourth, Amanda is still going by her patronymic name of Andersdotter at this late date, rather than "Hall." I just added a note to that effect to her Family Tree entry.

Fifth, Henry's baptismal name is spelled "Emanuel."

Finally, here's the heading from Henry's birth record, showing that the family was living in Haga, a district of Göteborg, the geographically smallest parish in Sweden, and at the time one of the poorest and toughest.

In those days after the dissolution of the Perpetual Emigrating Fund, it would have taken a monumental effort for this poor Swedish family to leave that environment for America.

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