June 4, 2012: Visit to Målilla, Home of Lena Sofia Kämpe

After the reunion on June 2, Barbro and Åke stayed over until Monday because they had arranged a meeting with the Kämpe relatives in the area of Målilla (57.4052, 15.6923) where Daryl’s great grandmother Lefgren, ne Lena Sofia Kämpe, was born and grew to adulthood. Barbro and Åke had been here before looking at and photographing the various homes where the Kämpe ancestors lived. They had also met Rune Kämpe, Daryl’s second cousin once removed. Rune is the grandson of Per August Kämpe, the brother of Lena Sofia. Rune helped them to locate several homes where Lena Sofia or her family lived. Barbro and Åke have been adopted as honorary Kämpes and attended a Kämpe family reunion. (Kämpe is pronounced Shempa, approximately.)

Daryl is shaking hands with Rune Kämpe, the grandson of Per August Kämpe. Between them is Anders Ljungberg, Maria Gustafva’s great grandson. Seated is his father, Olle Ljungberg, Maria Gustafva’s grandson. Rune is Daryl’s second cousin, once removed as is Olle. Anders is Daryl’s third cousin.

Cousins Nancy and Judy were still staying with us in Rödjenäs, so they rode with Barbro and Åke while Aron, Lilly and Jack rode with us. We drove to Målilla (57.4052, 15.6923), a 64 km one-hour drive to the east. The first stop was a large hotel that had formerly been a tuberculosis sanitarium. The trees and flowers were now fully leafed out and blooming so that the day, though rainy, was perfumed and lovely. The Kämpe relatives were awaiting us in a lounge area. Here is list of who was there:

1. Rune Kämpe, born 1924, does not speak English.
2. Anders Ljungberg, who is Daryl’s third cousin, descended from from Maria Gustafva, Lena Sofia’s sister, was the spokesman for the group.
3. Ander’s father, Olle Ljungberg and his wife
4. Håkan Meijer, also third cousin and descended from Maria Gustafva, and his wife, Anne-Marie.

We chatted for awhile, got to know who was who, then proceeded to the lunch area. Barbro and Åke hosted the entire group in a delicious Swedish lunch prepared by the hotel staff.

The church of the Målilla and Gårdveda community, built 1822-1824, is undergoing restoration. This was the church attended by Lena Sofia Kämpe and her family.

After lunch we departed in our cars to visit the Målilla and Gårdveda church. Rune arranged that the priest, Marita Rosén, would give us a tour. We approached the church and saw that it was being renovated with scaffolding all around the bell tower. Marita met us in the entry hall and pointed out a stone carving that had covered the graves of a nobleman and his wife in the old church in the 1600’s. This nobleman had been a pirate in the Baltic Sea. This “new” church was built from 1722-1724. We went into the sanctuary which had a blue wooden barrel vaulted ceiling. Behind the altar and on the altar railing were detailed paintings by the famous Swedish religious artist, Einar Forseth. Marita said that the paintings took him 30 years. He attended the church and rode his bicycle to work on the paintings in the 1950’s.

The church saved for 24 years to fund the purchase of this organ built by Sven Norstrom. It is one of Sweden’s greatest organ treasures. Musicians come to the church for the privilege of playing it.

The organ in the rear loft was built by Sven Norstrom. The church members saved for 24 years to fund this organ which was built in the mid 1700’s. It is one of Sweden’s most treasured organs. Musicians travel to this church for the privilege of playing it.

We went upstairs to view the very old treasures of the church. They included vestments encrusted with silver embroidery and lace, a silver bridal crown, decoratively painted coffins found under the old church, old silver candelabras, and many more things.

This was the church where Lena Sofia Kämpe would have been baptized, attended, and probably married to John Alfred Lefgren. The records would probably indicate her birth, baptism, marriage, the birth of her first son and finally, her emigration to America.

This cottage, named Kämpe-stugan, was built by Johan Samuelsson Kämpe in 1881. This was where he and his wife lived out the remainder of their lives.

The next stop was at “Kämpe-stugan” (57.3637, 15.6451), the cottage built by Lena Sofia’s father, Johan Samuelsson Kämpe, in 1881 and where he and his wife, Gustafva Petersdotter, lived after his retirement. The cottage is very small and so sweet. The ceilings were about six feet tall so that Daryl and Aron had to stoop and bend their heads. An unrelated couple, Sven Gösta and Lisbeth Johansson, now own the cottage and use it for a summerhouse. Barbro had asked and received permission to tour the house. Sven and Lisbeth hosted the whole group with coffee and a whipped cream and fresh strawberry cake and various other pastries. We sat at the dining table with special Swedish flag napkins. The house was filled with lovely antiques so that it was possible to imagine what it looked like 130 years ago when Daryl’s great great grandparents lived out their lives here.

Daryl enjoying the field of Queen Anne’s Lace with grandson, Jack Dean

The next stop was the house where Per August Kämpe and his family lived. He was a renter on this farm. This was a large house set on a farm with a huge old barn. There was a field of Queen Anne’s Lace that was as tall as Jack’s shoulders. Jack and Daryl were both delighted with the flowers. Barbro said that she would love to own this house as a summer house.

The last stop was at the house in Lövhult where Lena Sofia lived with her family, including her five siblings, from age 9 to adulthood. As everywhere that day, the vegetation was so lush around the house. The lilacs were just beginning to bloom and the lupines grew wild and thick on the roadside.

After our tour, Rune hosted us back in the hotel dining room for coffee. So, once again, we tasted wonderful Swedish pastries and drank the rich dark coffee. After taking our leave from the generous cousins, our two cars returned to Rödjenäs.

Back at Rödjenäs, Barbro helps Jack open a gift she has given him.

Barbro had gifts for all of us. She gave us woven table runners from Eksjö, the wooden city, wrapped in commemorative paper with little scenes of Swedish life. She had brought a Dala horse for Jack and she helped him unwrap it. Lilly said that she had wished for a Dala horse for Jack so she was very glad for the gift.

Barbro and Åke left then to return to their home in Vinninga, a 2.5 hour drive. They would have daylight all the way home because there was only about four hours of darkness on June 4.