Monday, October 31, 2011

Alsatian Chasing Baby Boar

Bracken  Road

Autumn apple  Field

On our first full day in France we thought we would go for a normal, quiet country lane autumn walk. It was very windy, but the sun was quite strong, so the top layer of clothing came off pretty quickly. As we were coming towards the end of our hour-long walk, we passed the chicken farm wondering if the guard dog, who patrols the grounds, would come pestering us like he has done in the past, following us all the way home.

I thought we had made it without him spotting us, but no. All of a sudden you could hear him breathing next to you. (This is not the time to be afraid of dogs for sure.) As he came up to me from behind, I tried to ignore him, but he said hello, I suppose, by nudging my elbow with his nose. Then he just followed us as usual, sniffing around like dogs do.

All of a sudden he went into the ditch sniffing particularly intensively, and quickly moved into the field where maize had stood before. There he stopped and “froze”, staring into the high grass between the fields. He had spotted something.

Then started a playful chase, if you are the dog, and a scary “run-for-your-life” chase if you are the baby boar! They ran this way, that way and back again, across the road and back yet again. At one time the playful dog grabbed the little boar by the neck and then let him go again. The little wild boar had probably been “separated” from his parents because of the farmers’ Sunday hunt in the area. Gun fire and hunting horns had been heard all through the day. So being picked up and tossed around a little by a friendly playmate was not such a bad alternative!

Boar Chase

(Boar trying to escape on the right. Apologies for image quality, but I was 150 metres away by this time!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wonderful Autumn

The other day the rain suddenly disappeared and the morning sun surprised us. The sun shone through the wooden blinds and I knew I had to grab my trusted Nikon and go and get some autumnal images. I felt I could not trust the sun to stay, so I wolfed down my morning porridge and dashed out.

Here are a handful, well seven then, photos from my neighbourhood.

1 Sun Rays

1.5 Misty Morning

2 Virginia Creeper

3 Autumn Dog Walk

4 Virginia Creeper

5 Geese

6 Virginia Creeper

Wednesday, October 12, 2011



AA Pic of the Week 125 w


Well, two images actually. Since I have not posted many “Pics of the Week” of late, I thought I would put up two in one go. They are from a forest walk this summer when you could hardly see the trees for the heavy mist. It made for some interesting photographs though. I chose monochrome to emphasise the raw and damp conditions.

Misty 1

Misty 2

Monday, October 10, 2011

That Girl Again – Her Tragic Background

Yes, my curiosity got the better of me. I just had to find out. I wanted to know why she went into foster care. What about the mother? I had to do some more digging, work my way back into more old archives. I was hooked!


To fill in the gap in her story I had to go back to the above page in the picture. As you can see, without reading any particular words, some text is in darker ink, fresher and younger if you like. At the bottom you can read “Dot. Maria”. That’s our girl. “Dot.” is short for daughter. Above her is another girl, born in 1878, three years later than the brother on the line above. Squeezed in a bit further up is a new entry, Maria’s mother, Kersti Persdotter.

The reason for Maria and her mother being added to this page, to this household, you find in the column on the right, with the heading “Död”, which means dead. Have you guessed it yet?

In February of 1879 the wife and mother of this household dies of consumption, and in June, four months later the daughter Anna, almost exactly Maria’s age, dies of diphtheria.

Maria and her mother move in, and the mother marries the farmer on 15 May 1880. So far so good. But the farmer had obviously lost both wife and a daughter, but rather quickly replaced them with a girl the same age and a new wife six years younger. Spookily enough, the deceased wife had exactly the same name as her replacement, Kersti(na) Persdotter. Kersti, Kjersti, Kerstina and Kjerstina were all the same name, nobody made any real difference between them.

So where is the problem then? Answer: nine months after the wedding. Yes, sadly I found the evidence in the “Death Book”. Nine months and one day after the wedding our Kersti, Maria’s mother (36), dies. No cause of death was recorded, but the assumption is of course that she died in childbirth. No child, stillborn or alive, was recorded on that day, or near that day, so Kersti presumably died with the child inside the womb more or less. Tragic. Her first child was born out of wedlock, which was noted in archives to follow her wherever she moved, and then she marries properly like a “good woman” and things go horribly wrong.

Not knowing who her real father is and having lost her mother, five weeks later Maria moves in with her aunt Anna, witness at her christening and her closest relative, at the age of eleven. Three and a half years later she appears in the household as a maid with my relatives, my grandfather being just a baby. My first great aunt was just seven days away, so Maria’s presence in the family was welcomed, I guess.

Like I wrote in my previous post, she moved to Denmark within a year, she was ready to fly at the age of sixteen. Perhaps she had children of her own to care for later, but that’s another story.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Who’s That Girl?

Birth register small

A young girl has intrigued me for a couple of weeks now. No no, it’s not what you might think. She lived over a century ago. You see, I am doing research into my family properly now. I have turned into an amateur genealogist by joining a website holding over 30 million photos of pages from Swedish archives. Before, I relied on handed-down documents and just copied other people’s work.

I started by trying to look into my paternal grandmother’s background, because nobody had done that to my knowledge. Since I knew some of her parents’ data I got going straight away. I ran into problems early on, finding some discrepancies to the little information I had previously. I thought I needed some guidance, but decided to practise on something easier first.

I chose to go for my paternal grandfather, and it was much easier. Most of the facts I had before, so this was a pure exercise in research strategy. When my grandfather was born in 1883 there were already two children in the family, but before he was six months old they died at the ages of four and two. The girl succumbed to bronchitis and the boy to diphtheria and paralysis. Later another girl was born, my great aunt.

But now there was a surprise. A fifteen-year-old girl was all of a sudden a member of the household. Where did she come from? Who was she? Could these poor people afford to have staff? Was she a maid or just a lodger? My guess is as good as yours. In this document I could see where and when she was born, where and when she had moved from, that she had moved in only seven days before my great aunt was born and that she within a year emigrated to Denmark, at the age of sixteen!

I was intrigued and puzzled. I needed to find out who she was, so I followed her trail back in time. First I tried the birth register where she claimed to be born, and could not find her. What? Then I suspected she might have lied about her age to get employment, which made me look up and down a great number of pages. Still could not find that entry anywhere, so I took another approach.

I found her in the parish she had moved from in the register (household by household), with data about family members and their literacy, “character” and their catechism knowledge. She was a foster daughter in a farming family far away from my grandfather’s family. She had officially moved from there 13 days before she registered in the town where I had first spotted her. That must be the time it took to move in 1884.

So now I had found her closer to where she claimed to be born at least. I followed the trail and found an entry stating a completely different birth place. Now things started to make sense. But why had she put down the wrong birth parish? Did she not know where she was born? According to this latest information her mother and she were born in the same place, twenty years apart. I had to dig deeper.

But what about the father? My suspicions were soon confirmed. She was born out of wedlock, father unknown, by a twenty-year-old maid in a big household, on a big farm. Since the father was unknown, she was given the Christian name of the master to add to “daughter”. Like so many other girls born out of wedlock she was christened Maria, perhaps to appease the Church, God and whoever. In the registers it was noted that the young mother had “given birth out of wedlock” and the date for when she was given absolution. And I can read about it still after 142 years!

Since the registers and archives I now have access to are photographs, it is not possible to search on the computer in the modern way, but I sometimes have to flip page after page on my screen in my search for a certain entry. In one of them I had to start on the first page until I found her on page 331! But it was worth it.

So now I know that Maria Jakobsdotter was born outside wedlock, father unknown, by a twenty-year-old maid, went into (correction: was in) foster care at the age of ten, moved to my grandfather’s family at fifteen and then emigrated to Denmark at sixteen. The “misinformation”, discrepancies, call them what you like, might have been an attempt to cover up her origin, so that she could start an adult life without prejudice. Did my relatives know her true background? We’ll never know. I only hope that she managed to get a decent life for herself, because I think it takes some guts to move away from what you know when you are fifteen.

Outstanding questions: Who was the father? Why and when did she go into foster care? What happened to her mother?

I think I will have to give up here and go back to my own family history. But I am sure she sang lovely lullabies to my grandfather and his baby sister.