Monday, January 11, 2016

Visiting The Old Homestead

We wrote last summer about a second cousin in Sweden, Roland Classon. A "genealogy fiend" I called him. Yesterday Roland wrote on his genealogy blog about my sister's and daughter's July visit, which the rest of my family took advantage of to vacation in Seattle, using my sister's house as home base. Roland lives in Helsingborg, located at the narrowest part of the Oresund strait, across from Denmark.

For reference, here is a map locating Helsingborg and Aseda, the rural community where more than a century later the family homestead still stands nearby.

Google Maps screenshot of routes between Helsingborg and Aseda, Sweden.
We repeat Roland's post in the following, verbatim -- translated into English of course. His references to Kuttaboda are to the rural crossroads of our ancestral home located about five miles east of Aseda (population 6,336) proper.

America visit became an unlikely story

Text: Roland Classon
Släktforskning Kuttaboda
Blake Foster-Wagamon (with original 1914 photo) and Joanne Foster in front of the Kuttaboda Mellangård in Småland -- ancestral home of the family Stödberg.
There are many Americans seeking their roots in Sweden. Here is a story of an unusual journey that turned into a beautiful memory for life.
This story is about how it can be when family comes to visit - if you're lucky.
My cousin Joanne Foster and her niece Blake Foster-Wagamon had come to experience the Swedish atmosphere.
Obviously, we showed the most beautiful of Helsingborg: view from the core, promenade, Pålsjö forest with waffle in Pålsjö pavilion - and Sofiero. We also made a trip to the Molle and Kullen Lighthouse.
But my American relatives also had a special desire: to see the old family farm in Småland, Kuttaboda Mellangård, where we have common roots.
They had made a long journey across the Atlantic. Joanne Foster lives in Seattle, Blake Foster Wagamon lives with mother, father and two sisters in Bozeman, Montana.
Joanne Foster had indeed been to Sweden before, but she had never gotten to see where our common ancestors had been active. Now it was time.
It was a three hour journey to the forests of Småland. Kuttaboda Mellangård located in Åseda, Kronoberg. Here we have the roots of at least 400 years back in time.
Kuttaboda Blake
Blake Foster-Wagamon with family picture from 1914 at Kuttaboda Mellangård, Åseda.
We were approaching. I drove slowly along the narrow dirt road to not miss anything, but soon realized that we had driven too far.
And it was perhaps not surprising. Everything was overgrown. Kuttaboda Mellangård could not be seen from the road, but finally we saw the red building with white portico.
But to take it from the beginning: my grandmother Hildegard Claesson and Joanne Foster's grandfather Johan August Stödberg were siblings. They were born and grew up in Kuttaboda Mellangård. Of the nine siblings four emigrated to America in the early 1900s. Johan August Stödberg said goodbye to his family as 21-year-old in 1911 and never returned to Sweden. He settled in Chicago, took the name John Stuberg and became a bricklayer.
John Stuberg died in 1951. Three years later, in 1954, his wife Elsa Stuberg traveled to Sweden to visit family and friends. She even came to Kuttaboda and then created quite a stir. At that time it was not so common for an American visit.
Kuttaboda Blake foto
Blake Foster-Wagamon at Kuttaboda Mellangård, Åseda.
Kuttaboda Joanne
Joanne Foster at Kuttaboda, Åseda.
Kuttaboda spisen
Joanne Foster at the stove inside Kuttaboda Mellangård, Åseda.
Now, 61 years later, it was time again for a new historical journey through time. We were lucky. It was a beautiful day with blue sky. And it felt a little strange and almost a bit unreal.
Everything could have ended with that we have seen the family farm and then traveled back to Helsingborg again. But we got help from higher powers ... All was shaped into a good improbable story:
After half an hour, when we were ready to travel on, a car stopped a few meters in front of the house. We were greeted politely by a young couple, who proved to be the current owners of our ancestral home. We explained why we were there. And received an encouraging response:
- We have not been here for a whole year. You may want to join in and see how it looks?
Joanne Foster and Blake Foster-Wagamon moved thus about 100 years back in time. Much still looked like before. Everything was well preserved. We took plenty of time, photographed, carefully checked out the walls.
- This will be a memory for life, said Joanne.
Before we would leave town we talked with one of Kuttaboda's oldest inhabitants. Ella Nilsson, 83, "happened" namely, to sit out on her patio. She knew all about the family Stödberg.
Kuttaboda kyrka
Joanne Foster in Åseda church.
Kuttaboda kyrkogården
Joanne Foster at the cemetery in Åseda.
In Aseda the church was open for visitors when we arrived. It closed an hour later. Joanne and Blake saw the painting our relatives once donated to the church.
I showed the family graves in the cemetery (including a tomb from the 1700s), and took the picture of Joanne Foster, just where her grandmother once posed for the photographer.
We went to visit the family's eldest Thorsten Magnusson, 94, and his wife Keile and had a nice chat. The eldest of the family's youngest, Blake, 14, felt the pulse of history.
A few days later Joanne and Blake even managed to meet the second-oldest in the family: Majken Starkenberg, 93, in Stockholm. Yes, the language went well. Majken had also met with Joanne's mother, Evelyn Foster during a visit in 1987.
An e-mail from Joanne Foster summed family trip:
"We had such a wonderful time in Helsingborg and Stockholm. Thank you for showing us all that fantastic. It was wonderful to see our common ancestral farm. Both Blake and I have become "Sweden Fancy", if that is a word found in Swedish! "
Roland Classon
Publicerad 2016-01-10
Read more:

Stödberg, Carl 1914 family.
Stödberg, Carl 1914 familj x
How it looked in 1914 at Kuttaboda Mellangård, front row: Teolinda (1862-1950), Gottfrid and Carl Stödberg (1852-1922). Standing, back row from left: Ottilia, Hildegard, Jenny, Anna and Nanny. Three of the children had already emigrated to America.
Stödberg, Gottfrid 1954, and Elsa.
Stödberg, Gottfrid 1954 och Elsa
Gottfrid Stödberg (1904-1984) and Elsa Stuberg (1894-1984) during their visit to Kuttaboda Mellangård 1954.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Grady -- this is,a great story from Roland. Among the many delights of visiting the family homestead -- everything very much as it has been 100 years previously -- was a look inside the extremely well appointed two-seater outhouse with candlelight and reading material.
    BTW -- I didn't use the phrase "Sweden Fancy" -- that's Google Translate for you. I used the phrase -- which I made up I think "sverigesugen" -- craving for Sweden as in "cafesugen"in Swedish meaning, of course, "coffee craving" -- an oft used phrase in Swedish.