May 23, 2012: Norra Ljunga, Åkaköp and Porsamålen

We visited the Norra Ljunga church (57.3747, 14.5906), home church of Erick Abrahamsson (1821-1917), Daryl’s great great grandfather and Erick’s daughter, Helena Sofia Ericksson (1856-1889), who would become Daryl’s great grandmother Ring. Johan Larsson Ring moved his family to Norra Ljunga in 1863, when son Andrew was 13, and they lived there until their emigration in 1869. In 1875 Andrew married Helena Sofia after both groups had emigrated and moved to Stanton, Iowa.

On the exterior there is red decoration under the eaves, around the windows and faux brick decoration on the corners. This decoration can only be partially seen due to restoration.

The Norra Ljunga church is one of nine churches in the Njudung district built in the last half of the 1100’s from the same architectural plan in the Romanesque style. The church was built with 5-foot thick stone walls covered inside and out with plaster. It was originally decorated with red rosemaling inside and out but because of subsequent fires and repair only small areas of the decorations remain. In the 1700’s, the parish was home to Swedish artist Pehr Hörberg who decorated the pew gates, the loft railing and the pulpit. These have been restored after a fire in 1977.

The farm, Broddagården, where the Abrahamssons lived, was adjacent to the churchyard. It is now home to a large working dairy farm but the area where the Abrahamsson house stood can be seen.

As in much of Småland, where Daryl’s ancestors emigrated from, the abundance of stones here makes farming difficult.

We next drove to Åkaköp (57.3975, 14.3891) where Carolina Johannesdotter, Erick’s wife, was born and raised. Once again, the area where the house once stood could be seen. One of the features of this area was the large and abundant rocks in the open grassy areas. Farming was extremely difficult in most of Småland because of the thin, rocky topsoil. This was one of the contributing factors to the mass Swedish emigration to America after 1850. Now the agricultural economy of the area is based on forestry. Most old farmhouses are now used by the Swedes as summerhouses.

Daryl, Anne and Barbro on the porch of the summerhouse in Porsamålen

From there we drove to Porsamålen (57.4232, 14.4065) where Erick Abrahamsson was born and raised. To get there we had to drive a circuitous route on 11 km of very dim roads, in some places only two tire tracks through the grass. At one point Åke had to get out and open a farm gate, as if we were driving through someone’s pasture. When we arrived we saw a house maybe built in the 1920’s. It is currently owned by Carina Bengtsson Nyström and is that family’s summerhouse. The owners had given permission to visit and were not there. The fields surrounding were really quite flat and contained no visible rocks. The area was completely surrounded by forest and felt very isolated. It turns out that, as the crow flies, Porsamålen is only 2 or 3 km through the woods from Åkaköp, which explains how Erick was able to court Carolina, walking through the forest. The only structure we found that may have dated from Erick’s time was an old, fallen-in root cellar.

A newer cottage sits atop an old foundation.

The final stop of the day was Mossaryd, Mellangården, N Ljunga. This is where Johan Larsson Ring and his family spent five years before emigrating. If you drove from where the Abrahamson family lived, it is about 5.5 km but if you walk as they likely did in the 1860’s, it is only about 2 or 3 km. The families Abrahamson and Ring lived very close together in those years from 1863 to 1869. Mellangården seems currently to be a thriving little community with a few structures that were possibly from the time of the Rings. There was an old basement with a newer cottage built on top, a nice old root cellar with earth mounded against the sides for temperature control, and a large disintegrating barn.