Klas Oskar Löfgren

Klas Oskar Löfgren was born on September 17, 1853 in Ryd no. 73, Järeda parish, Kalmar län, Sweden. His parents were Jonas Peter Johansson Snygg and Maria Jonsdotter. Snygg (meaning “handsome” or ”nice” in Swedish) was the soldier name given to Jonas Peter. (Soldier names were given by the military authorities, often on the basis of some personality trait of the soldier so quite possibly Jonas Peter was good-looking.) Klas Oskar was the fifth-born of six children. The firstborn, Johan Alfred, was Daryl’s great grandfather Lefgren (an Americanized version of Löfgren).

Klas Oskar was married on December 11, 1882 to Karolina Johansdotter. Eight children were born to Klas Oskar and Karolina, five of whom survived to adulthood. Two of their children, Tilda Sofia (1887-1911) and Axel Vilhelm(1889-?), emigrated to America. Karl Oscar (1883-1918), Gustaf Hjalmar (1894-1979) and Gunnar Fridolf (1899-1984) remained in the Järeda parish.

Klas Oskar Löfgren and Karolina Johansdotter. Standing are their son Gustav Hjalmar and on the left his wife Elsa. Hjalmar and Elsa are holding the first two of their nine children, Stig and Gillis. The young woman standing in the center is Greta Lövgren (1906-1973), daughter of Karl Lövgren, brother of Hjalmar.

Klas Oskar Löfgren was, like his father Jonas Peter Snygg, the resident soldier or “kneckt” in the Ryd community. The kneckt was required to work for the farmers in the “rote”. The farmers supported the soldier so he had to work a certain number of days for the farmers when he was not away on missions. In the summertime the work was farming and in wintertime it was the lumber business. The kneckt also had the right to use the farmers’ horses a few days every year so he could pick up his own wood for heating and cooking and maybe make some extra money in hauling for people. Sven Lövgren, Hjalmar’s youngest child now a Ryd historian, tells a story about one of those days when Klas Oskar had his “horse day”. He had to beat up a stubborn and mean farmer before the farmer would let him use the horse.

Through an accident in the lumber mill, Klas Oskar lost his right arm. This was approximately 1897. After that he was retired from the military but had to wait five years before he could receive his military pension. He worked in the lumber business with his one arm and with the good help of his son, Hjalmar, who was less than 10 years old. During this time Karolina became pregnant with “Little Gunnar.” The priest criticized Klas Oskar and Karolina for bringing another child into the world given their lack of resources. Maybe he said something like “How could you!” Karolina replied, “It was his arm that was cut off!” In one of her letters from America, Klas Oskar’s daughter, Tilda, asks if her father has had any luck in getting the job he applied for at the paper mill.

The ruins of Klas Oskar Löfgren’s home after he lost his arm. Klas Oskar lived here with his wife, Karolina, and his family which included, among others, Tilda, Axel, Hjalmer and Gunnar Löfgren.

They could no longer live in the fine “soldier cottage” and were given a small cottage and a very small amount of land, perhaps a two-meter strip around the cottage. Their older children went out on their own as soon as they could, Karl to his own home with wife and children in 1906, and Tilda emigrating to Omaha, Nebraska by herself at the age of eighteen in 1905. Tilda then helped Axel to emigrate to Omaha three years later. Living with Klas Oskar and Karolina was Karolina’s elderly mother who died at the age of 100 in 1913.

Gravestone of Klas Oskar Löfgren and his wife Karolina, their youngest son, Gunnar, and Grandson Fritz (Hjalmer’s son) in the churchyard of the Järeda parish church, Järnforsen.

Klas Oskar lived to the age of 75, dying December 5, 1928. He lived to know six of Hjalmar’s nine children. Klas Oskar and Karolina are buried in the churchyard of the Järeda parish church in Järnforsen. They share a headstone with their son, Gunnar and their grandson, Hjalmar’s son Fritz.

Hjalmar and Elsa Löfgren’s wedding in 1918

Hjalmar married Elsa Maria Ingeborg Andersson (1898-1992) in 1918. To this marriage were born nine children in the years 1919 to 1935. During Daryl and Anne’s visit in June of 2012, four of these children were still living. Daryl and Anne were privileged to meet three of them as well as the children, grandchildren and, in some cases, great grandchildren of most of these nine siblings.

Hjalmar and Elsa’s fourth child, Karl Erik Löfgren, married Siv Svensson and to this union two sons were born, Jan and Per. (According to the conventions of “new” Swedish, the name Löfgren is now spelled Lövgren.) Jan and Per are Daryl’s third cousins. Jan corresponded with Daryl and Anne about the Swedish branch of the Lövgrens for approximately 18 months before Anne and Daryl traveled to Sweden and met the Lövgren cousins. Daryl and Anne also met many other second, third and fourth Lövgren cousins. Hjalmar and Elsa’s firstborn, Stig, had two sons, Dick and Teddy. Dick and his wife, Britt-Marie, were particularly instrumental, along with Jan, in helping Daryl and Anne become acquainted with the Järeda parish and the history of the Lövgren family.

Elsa and her children in October, 1988. L to R: Sven, Lars, Sten, Karl, Gillis, Stig Löfgren. Sitting: Linnea Löfgren Eriksson, Elsa Andersson Löfgren, Rosa-Britt Löfgren Andersson at Elsa’s 90th birthday celebration in Kvillsfors.