Where the Sweden story starts
I didn't think much about my ancestral story until 2016, when my sister and I went to the island our forebears left more than a century before.
When I wrote about Aunt Anna’s ring in last week’s newsletter, I realized that I needed to fill in some gaps in this Sweden story.
When people ask me how I started doing ancestry work, or why I have a random island off the coast of Sweden tattooed on my forearm, this is the story I tell them.
Well, one of the stories I tell.
If you’ve been a subscriber to The Feminist Kitchen for a while, you’ll know that I’m always pulling on these invisible threads with my ancestors to learn more about where I come from. Making quilts, learning Swedish, crying over coffee cake.
This trip to Sweden awakened this part of me. I’m so glad I wrote about it then and that I can share it here now.
After 124 years, Sweden beckons, so here I go
Originally published: Aug 8, 2016
In 1892, my great-great-grandmother got on a boat.
She was 37 years old and had been living on an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea with her two children, in a village not far from where she was born.
By some measures, she was a single mother.
Although Karolina Sofia Andersen was married, she hadn't seen her husband in a decade. He had left Sweden 10 years earlier — while she was pregnant with their second child, Anna — and was living in Springfield, Missouri.
He’s always promised to “send for her,” according to the family story.
Until 2015, I knew absolutely nothing about Sweden or Gotland or Visby. Or Karolina.
But Springfield is a place I know well. I was born there. My mother was born there. My grandmother was born there. My great-grandmother was born there.
But Karolina and Gustav were the generation who would ultimately write the last letter home.
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