The adventures and misadventures of a family history researcher
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Missing Persson Found
Who and where is this man's father?
I had an exciting genealogy
breakthrough recently. Out of the blue, someone emailed me who had
seen something I had posted on a message board so long ago that I had
completely forgotten about it. The message I had posted was that I
was searching for the father of my Swedish grandfather, John Albert
Ahl (pictured at left). There was no trace of John's father at all/Ahl.
John's mother's name was Johanna Blade
Ahl and I didn't have much information on her either, but at least I
knew her birth and death dates. She was born in Sweden but by the
time her son was born in 1860, she had moved to the US and was living
in Illinois. I began to entertain the thought that maybe there was
no father. Well, at least no husband. Maybe Johanna had gotten in
the family way and had come to America by herself to put the scandal
behind her—to raise her child where he would be free from stigma.
Maybe in her new life she identified herself as a widow. That seemed
plausible until a few months ago when I found that John had a younger
sister, Ida Ahl. So back to being stymied. Where was their father?
In my message board post I had listed all
the names associated with mother Johanna. On her birth record she is
identified as Johanna Sofia and her father's name was Samuel
Samuelsson. So where did the name
Blade come from? In Sweden, sometimes when a man went into the
military he took a different last name. When there were several
Anders Anderssons or Ole Olssons or Samuel Samuelssons in the same
company, these military names helped to distinguish one from another.
Often the military name was short and was a noun. When I looked up
Blade (blad) I found that it means 'leaf' or 'blade'—the latter
quite fitting for a military name, I'd say. Some men kept their
military name when they returned to civilian life, while others went
back to their patronymic name. So I included Blade as a possible
name for Johanna. But it was the Samuelsson that evidently caught
the eye of the respondent to my post. She sent me the startling news
that Johanna Samuelsson had married a man named Johan Peter
Persson....wait for it....AHL!!
Ta da! The missing Persson is found
and Johanna is no longer a fallen woman. She is now a respectably
married mother of two children bearing their father's name Ahl—which,
by the way, means 'alder'. Perhaps another military name? Stay