Why We Went to Sweden

Daryl Hallquist is descended from eight great grandparents, all of whom emigrated to the United States of America from Småland in Sweden around 1870. Some of their parents, Daryl’s great great grandparents, emigrated as well.

Daryl Hallquist and Anne Horn

Daryl Hallquist and Anne Horn

This story begins when Daryl and his spouse, Anne began looking through Daryl’s mother’s memorabilia and photographs which Daryl had brought to his home after his mother’s death. Louise Hallquist, birth name Lefgren, collected a treasure trove of old photos, obituaries and various scraps of writing. Much of this had been handed down by her mother, Ellen Lefgren, and her husband Chester’s mother, Minnie Hallquist.

Among the scraps of paper was a “family tree” typewritten in the 1970’s by Daryl’s Aunt Eleanor Hallquist.  Anne decided to organize the old photos in conjunction with Eleanor’s Hallquist family tree. It turned out that many of the photos contained long-ago studio photographs of people completely unknown to Daryl and he had no living relatives to call upon to identify them.

How we got started

About the same time, Anne was doing internet research trying to find out the date of Aunt Eleanor’s death and happened upon ancestry.com. Daryl and Anne decided to buy a membership in ancestry.com and input all the people and relationships from Aunt Eleanor’s Hallquist family tree. For those of you familiar with the site, you know what happened next. From the hints provided by ancestry.com they were able to add many more people and details to the original family tree. The old photographs were matched with their names by comparing number, gender and relative ages of the children to the information on the family tree. Daryl and Anne spent weeks sleuthing the pictures, somewhat like solving a giant human puzzle.

Along the way, many more people have joined the research, contributing pictures, stories, names and dates. Daryl’s cousins Rhoda Hallquist Hartstack and Collete Crouse Wortman were early contributors. Later a couple from Sweden, Barbro and Åke Bogelius, who were also members of ancestry.com, contacted Anne because they saw one of Barbro’s relatives on the Hallquist family tree. Barbro and Åke filled in a branch of the tree that had been missing. Anne was able to put them into contact with their living relatives in the U.S. who included Daryl’s Lefgren second cousins, Judy and Nancy.

Barbro and Åke Bogelius in their home with Monica Lindstrom

Barbro and Åke Bogelius in their home with Monica Lindstrom

Barbro and Åke generously used their Swedish genealogical resources to find more of Daryl’s ancestors, in some cases going four more generations into the past. The couple also traveled around Småland to visit the old homesteads and villages of Daryl’s ancestors and then sent pictures and documents. They made a point of finding Daryl’s living Swedish cousins wherever they could. Barbro and Åke’s generosity of time and resources is simply mind-boggling.

Daryl’s first cousin, Carolyn Lefgren, indicated that she had a 15-year-old letter written by a man named Jan Lövgren, living in Sweden, who had sent letters and a picture to everyone in the Essex, Iowa, area with surnames similar to his. He wrote, “Do you know the people in this photo?”

Jan and Bodil Lövgren with David, Karolina, Linnea, Samuel and Sofia

Jan and Bodil Lövgren with David, Karolina, Linnea, Samuel and Sofia

Jan knew that his great grandfather had a brother who had emigrated and settled in that part of Iowa. Daryl recognized the man in the picture as his great grandfather, John Alfred Lefgren. Daryl and Anne wrote to Jan, third cousin to Daryl, and another very fruitful collaboration began. It turned out that Jan had many first cousins named Lövgren who qualified as third cousins to Daryl. After about a year of this correspondence, Daryl and Anne planned a trip to Sweden. What is contained in this site is a diary of that visit to the ancestors and living relatives in Sweden in May and June of 2012.