Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Swedish Romance

Equal time.
The story of my Grandma Berg's courtship and marriage, as told by her son, Roy.

My Grandma Berg's Mother, Fredrika. 1890
My Grandma, Signe Ellen Viktoria Jonsson 1919
Ellen, daughter of Fredrika and Efraim Jonsson, was born August 23, 1894 in Alghult in the province of Smaland in south east Sweden. She was the second in a family of six girls and one boy. They lived in the small farm hamlet called Ostra Ras. The hamlet consisted of four family homes located on a keyhole drive in the centre of the farm holdings. The four families owned and operated the farm and attached woodlot jointly.
(Smaland is a rocky, treed province, famous for fine glassware and superior furniture. Over the centuries, Smalanders had grubbed and hewn their small holdings out of the rough terrain. There is a Swedish saying that if you put a Smalander on a rock with a goat, both would thrive.)
The small community produced most of their necessities--food, clothing, shelter—on the farm. Income for other needs and luxuries was generated primarily from their woodlot. Occasionally, pigs, chickens or calves, as well as some farm produce, were sold or traded.
Life on the Swedish farm was filled with hard work. The six girls and their brother shared all the outdoor chores. They assisted in the cultivation, seeding, tending and harvesting of their small fields. This took a great deal of manual labour, supplemented with horse and oxen power. The men and older boys cut the hay with a scythe. Women and girls raked the hay into bunches and piled it on six-foot upright stakes for curing.
In the autumn, the men scythed the ripe grain, mainly rye, the staple for bread. The women gathered the crop by hand and tied it into bundles with a few stems twisted into a rope. Six to eight bundles were placed together into stooks for drying. All participated in the threshing—by flailing and winnowing. Flailing involved bashing the heads of grain with a short board, about two feet long, hinged with a leather thong to a 4 to 5-foot pole. The grain was then separated from the straw by winnowing—tossing the flailed mixture into the air with a fork on a windy day. The straw blew away and the grain fell directly to the ground. Finally, the grain was scooped into bags and stored for future use.
Ellen recalled that the rye produced was often just enough to last to the next crop.
Ellen’s family kept a large garden with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Also, wild strawberries were plentiful in the woods. Together, the family kept a few animals, three or four milk cows, a few sheep, fifty or more chickens and one sow. Chickens and pigs acted as scavengers and lived primarily on field, yard and kitchen scraps.
Through their own efforts, the diet of subsistence farmers in Smaland was quite healthy: Milk, cheese, bread, potatoes, vegetables, fruit in season or canned, and chicken, fish or home-canned meat in summer. They slaughtered a few pigs, and steers from the milk cows over the winter, keeping the carcasses cooled or frozen by hanging them from a shed gable. Any surplus pork or beef was canned for use throughout the year.
The women produced linen from flax and wool from the sheep which they carded and spun into yarn and wove into clothing, blankets, sheets and tablecloths.
It wasn’t all work for the young people growing up in Sweden at the beginning of the 20th century. Ellen and her siblings had a happy childhood, sharing responsibilities, joys and sorrows in a closely-knit family and community. She remembered the fun and joy at gatherings, centered on feasting with traditional dishes and festivals with music and folk dances.
When Ellen was thirteen, tragedy struck the family. Her father was killed while he and the other three men of the farm hamlet were improving a road over a creek. They were dynamiting rocks and a flying rock from one of the explosions struck her father on the head, injuring him fatally.
The eldest sister, Hannah, eighteen at the time, soon married and increased responsibility fell on Ellen, the second in the family. Her brother, Josef, two years her junior, was not interested in farming and left home in his teens. The strength of character and responsibility which Ellen developed as the eldest sister in a fatherless family in Sweden, sustained her through her long life in her role as the care-giver to a large family in Canada.
At eighteen, Ellen met Petrus when they were both attending a temperance meeting near Monsteras on the Baltic coast about 30 miles from Alghult. Ellen recalled going to the meeting by train. Their courtship began when they exchanged cards and then letters. Any chance of further meeting was suspended when, in 1914, at nineteen years of age, Petrus emigrated to Idaho in the USA. Their correspondence seemed to have stopped until Petrus, in early 1918, renewed the contact, encouraging Ellen to join him in Idaho. Five years had passed and Word War 1 was over before the young couple were able to see each other again.


7 comments:

  1. What a treasure trove of family history you have. These glimpses into another time and place are so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love so much of where our society has gone in terms of equal rights and tolerance of others, but this story reminds me of what we've left behind. Where is our work ethic? Our civility and sense of family and community? We've moved on in positive ways, but left too many positive values behind too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The overwhelming work they had to do just to survive! Very interesting account. I hope there is more :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with Karen..we have gained a lot but we have left so much behind...like respect, ethics and family importance...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such a hard life - but a life with purpose and meaning.
    The access you have to family histories is a treasure. Which you kow.

    ReplyDelete
  6. reading about all that hard work makes me a little ashamed of how lazy I've become in this last year. I look around me at things waiting to be done and I take a nap instead.

    ReplyDelete
  7. thank you for this your broadcast provided bright clear concept..


    หนังการ์ตูน

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting! Drop by again!

All of My Friends

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael

The Long-Awaited Sequel to Daughter of Ishmael
A House Divided is now available at all fine bookstores and on Amazon.com and .ca!

Daughter of Ishmael

Daughter of Ishmael
Now available at Amazon.com and .ca and Chapters.ca and other fine bookstores.

Follow by Email

Hugs, Delivered.

Compass Book Ratings

Compass Book Ratings

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?

Google+ Followers

Networked Blogs

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!

My Granddaughter is Carrying on the Legacy!
New Tween Novel!

Gnome for Christmas

Gnome for Christmas
The newest in my Christmas Series

SnowMan

SnowMan
A heart warming story of love and sacrifice.

Translate

My novel, Carving Angels

My novel, Carving Angels
Read it! You know you want to!

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic

My Second Novel: Kris Kringle's Magic
What could be better than a second Christmas story?!

About the Mom

My photo

Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

Join me on Maven

Connect with me on Maven

Essence

Essence
A scientist and his son struggle to keep their earth-shattering discovery out of the wrong hands.

Essence: A Second Dose

Essence: A Second Dose
Captured and imprisoned, a scientist and his son use their amazing discovery to foil evil plans.

Looking for a Great Read?

E-Books by Diane Stringam Tolley
Available from Smashwords.com

The Babysitter

The Babysitter
A baby-kidnapping ring has its eye on J'Aime and her tiny niece.

Melissa

Melissa
Haunted by her past, Melissa must carve a future. Without Cain.

Devon

Devon
Following tragedy, Devon retreats to the solitude of the prairie. Until a girl is dropped in his lap.

Pearl, Why You Little...

Pearl, Why You Little...
Everyone should spend a little time with Pearl!

The Marketing Mentress

The Marketing Mentress
Building solid relationships with podcast and LinkedIn marketing

Coffee Row

Coffee Row
My Big Brother's Stories

Better Blogger Network

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis
I've been given an award!!!

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award
My good friend and Amazing Blogger, Marcia of Menopausal Mother awarded me . . .

Irresistibly Sweet Award

Irresistibly Sweet Award
Delores, my good friend from The Feathered Nest, has nominated me!

Sunshine Award!!!

Sunshine Award!!!
My good friend Red from Oz has nominated me!!!

My very own Humorous Blogger Award From Delores at The Feathered Nest!

Be Courageous!


Grab and Add!

Search This Blog

Ghost of the Overlook

Ghost of the Overlook
Need a fright?