memoir, memories, nostalgia, Posts With Off Site Links, teenage years, Uncategorized

From our ancestors come our names…

Karl Olov Englund was a large man with a full beard who worked in an iron factory during the week and was a Lutheran priest on the weekend. Olov was married to a lady named Emma Augusta and they had ten children, five of these children emigrated to the USA – one of which, Helga, married another immigrant Swede – George Bernhard Ericson (who appears to have changed his name from Eriksson once emigrated) – and went on to become my great great grandmother. (Bernhard is from Södermanland originally.)

helga and her siblings
Helga and her 9 siblings
helga and bernhard with ruth mildred and george
Helga and George Bernhard with their kids, Mildred, Ruth, and my Great Grandpa George Carl. 1918
dale with george and evelyn 1939
…and George Carl with his wife Evelyn and my Grandpa Dale Ericson 1939 – Ohio

The post I wrote yesterday sparked some discussion and seemed pretty popular – within the comment thread I stated I would write about my Swedish heritage as that has become a point of interest. So this morning, I went online to see if I could find some images I knew would be online of my ancestral home of Axsmarsbruk (Axmar’s Iron Factory) which would be a bit better than my scrapbook pictures. I found myself linked back to my own pinterest page that I had all but abandoned years ago, Haha. I have since found some better alternatives through my great uncle Calle’s facebook page and through bugging my mother, though you may still have to suffer through some of my poor-quality scrapbook pictures.

I have Swedish heritage on both sides of my family – the Ericson and the Johnson side, though I know a lot more about the Ericson/Englunds than I do about the Johnsons. The Johnson side is largely mixed with Dutch and a bit of English – mostly Dutch and Swedish, however, as the Swedes started to intermarry with the Dutch in 17th century New Amsterdam (New York.) My dad tells me too that there was some Russian noble blood mixed in somewhere back then too. There are books published on this part of my lineage, though I don’t have copies to be able to read through it all myself.  I know as far as the Swedish side of it, my father has traced back to the Öland area of Sweden, though it was far back enough in history that there was no real traces left to discover when he visited the island. I now wish I had gone too, not sure what I was up to at the time that prevented me going on that trip. My Dad did; however, just give me this a couple months ago – apparently he had collected enough sand from the beach there to put in bottles for each of his kids. It just took him awhile to actually separate them into bottles it seems, lol.


We did find plenty of information about my mother’s Swedish side when we went to Axmarsbruk and Axmarby (Axmarby being a village about 30 minutes from the ‘bruk) in Gästrikland – Gävle Kommun, Gävleborg.

Axmarsbruk has an old shut down factory surrounded by forest with small cabins interspersed between the trees. There is an old stone warehouse that serves as a restaurant and houses a small museum of the area on the top floor. Up there there is this image:

This is a photo of the factory staff from the early 1900s, “Stor Papa” (Big Pappa) Englund is the one that is 4th from the right in the front row; dark vest, lighter jacket. He was so named by our relatives because of siring so many children that branched out through Sweden and America. Image taken from HERE.

Emma and Karl Olov 1910 and daughters
Emma and Olov with three of their daughters, Englund family home Axmarsbruk 1910

Here are some images of hyttan, or the factory:

A before and after – a picture from when it was functioning (it functioned for about 250 years before closing in 1927) and a picture as it was in 2001 when my family visited.

And a further, better, picture from Gr Uncle Calle:


This is the Church in Axmarby that Karl Olov preached at:



This building no longer serves as a functioning church, but houses another local museum. We went to the area a few times while living in Sweden – the first time we asked the few locals we happened upon in the woods about the area, and turned out that we had stumbled upon someone who had married a relative of the Englunds and while they just had a summer house there, there was another relative that lived just down the road all year round. This is how we stumbled into a wealth of family history and got to meet living relatives as well as more easily find family records in places like Hamrånge church.

Me in the church that holds most of my Englund family records – Hamrånge near Gävle

During this time my sister, Hanna, and I took silly pictures of each other and collected rocks made from the iron waste, which were abundant in the area.

Later we gathered again for a family reunion where we had a picnic in the nearby park, and several members of the party toured the factory and later the old church-museum. I was a bored teenager and did not bother with such activities, much to my regret now.



Family reunion around 2000 or 2001 in Axmarbruk area. It’s hard to see, but my grandparents Ericson came from the US and are standing near the middle in the front, my sister and I are just behind them to the right (I’m in the bright white shirt). Great Uncle Calle and his wife, Ingrid, also came from the US (they go to Sweden just about every year) and he is the one standing on the far right.

At one point, I don’t recall when it was exactly – sometime between the first visit and the family reunion. One old lady went around pointing out things that she recalled from her childhood. She pointed out where the Englund family homestead had stood before it burned to the ground, and talked of rowing a boat out to an island close by to farm the family potatoes. She also talked about riding on the handlebars of a cute boy’s bicycle when the youth would gather to hang out near the water.

A picture I took of where the family house was said to have stood

Alright, I think that covers it about as well as I can for the moment, but I’ll share just a few more pictures …because I can.

Karl Olov and his daughter Ragnhild 1937, the year Emma died
Karl olov englund with beard 1937
Karl and Raghild again, plus other Englunds 1937
1937 Englunds
Englund Family 1937
Great Uncle Calle Englund and Ingrid (and my mom) in Skansen in 2001

Now, can we please talk about why George Bernhard’s sisters were named Hilda, Milda, and Hulda, respectively? (While he and his half brothers have no such relations to their names LOL)

george b and siblings


10 thoughts on “From our ancestors come our names…”

  1. OMG. This is wonderful! Thank you so much for writing this. A little note about your forbear’s name change. My grampa’s original Swedish name was Pehrson, but the folks at Ellis Island changed it to Peterson. Guess they thought all Swedish names that started with a ‘P’ really needed to be ‘Peterson’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol I guess there aren’t too many other versions that would make sense to English speakers but “Peter”… side note I love that just past Karl Olov, his mother’s last name was Andersdotter just like her sisters, but her brother’s names were Andersson. I’ve always found that old naming tradition charming


  2. I’ve just been loving your posts! Thanks so much for sharing another Swedish post! I’m going to have to write about my genealogy sometime in the future. My parents have been able to track our Swedish ancestors back to the 1400’s because of the detailed records the Swedish churches keep. I can’t wait to visit the homeland – I’m hoping in the not-too-distant future. Great pictures! I loved the wreath of flowers and the vest that Ingrid is wearing in the picture of her, your great-uncle and your mother. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ingrid and Calls are in traditional Swedish costume there because it was midsummer and they had been dancing around the maypole 🙂 My mom and dad have both traced their Swedish sides pretty far back, not sure of exactly to when, but I just started with Olov and Emma here to show where the Swedish branched off to America 🙂 I hope to get back there one day soon as well and hopefully show my children the homeland 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I really, really enjoyed reading this, but I enjoyed looking at the old photos all the more. I’m absolutely fascinated by old photos. I can spend so long staring at them, especially ones of my hometown. I love seeing how everything has changed. I do wish I had as good genealogical knowledge of my family as you do yours. I honestly couldn’t tell you the names of my great grandparents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🎶sounds like you have a new PROJECT!!🎶 Lol. It takes a lot of work, your parents shpuld be able to tell you at least their grandparents’ names… but then it takes searching town records etc if there’s no one else living that can tell you names and stories. and such places are very helpful because sometimes you’ll find that half your family has been researched already and automatic connections get filled in, along with records and pictures that have already been uploaded. If you ever have the time or energy to do it, it’s a worthwhile project I think… who knows, you may find out you descended from a pirate???? Lol. But yeah, talk to your parents and grand parents if they are still living. Record their stories and they should be able to at least tell you names and basic info of their parents and grandparents… and once you know it can be passed down to your son in the future


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