Alma Kjellander and her family
On 11 October 1895, Alma Kjellander set off on a journey to emigrate from Sweden to America.
Alma Kjellander lived on Storegården (The big farm), Äspered Parish, Älvsborg County in the south of Sweden. The rest of the household was:
- Alma’s mother Anna-Lisa Lönnqvist
- Alma’s brother Oscar Lönnqvist
- Alma’s sister Anna Kjellander
- Anna’s hustband Gustaf Andersson
- Anna’s and Gustaf’s oldest daughter Helga
When Alma Kjellander emigrated, she and her twin sister were 26 years old. Oscar Lönnqvist was 29. Their father Oscar Kjellander had died 13 days before the birth of the twin girls. At the time the family and the father’s oldest daughter lived on a farm near Storegården. Three years later the family started moving. Sometimes staying in crofts, sometimes in places that can’t be entirely identified.
Anna Kjellander and Gustaf Anders were married in October 1892 and the whole family moved to Storegården in November 1893.
Judging by the police records of emigrants, Alma Kjellander traveled with three others. It was her brother Oscar Lönnqvist, Sven Åsberg from nearby parish Härna, and Betty Andersson from America.
I have not found any traces of Alma’s and Oscar’s journey from their home to the ports in Gothenburg. But the group of four likely took the train from Borås 20 kilometers from Alma’s and Oscar’s home. From Borås they had two alternatives. One was via Herrljunga, a train ride of 128 kilometers. The other was the direct railway, at 72 kilometers, that had been inaugurated in December the year before.
The best time to emigrate from Sweden to America
Mid October was late in the year to cross the ocean. The guidebook Utvandrarens tolk (The Emigrant’s interpreter), 1882, recommends travelling to the northern states between March and October. The author C.G. Jungberg argues that not even the route via New Orleans and Mississippi was worth it in the fall and winter. It was dangerous and expensive and in any case, the northern Mississppi could freeze.
Arriving in Gothenburg
The city that met the travelers in October 1895 was rainy and cold. It rained in Gothenburg for 13 days straight from 30 September 1895. (This is common, says this seasoned Gothenburger. Watch out for the horizontal rain in the fall.)
Migrants arrived in Gothenburg some days in advance to prepare for the journey. Once at the train station in Gothenburg, they were only 800 meters and one street away from the harbor. The name of the street, Sillgatan (Herring Street), was changed to Postgatan (Post Street) in 1895. It was a street for lodgings and buying equipment for the journey. At the very end was the custom house, where emigrants were obliged to report.
Alma Kjellander is listed in the police records for emigrants onboard Romeo on Friday 11 October 1895. It looks in the records as if she were in the company of three friends. They are listed after each other. They are also the only ones with the destination Manchester, New Hampshire . So it is likely that they traveled as a group.
|The emigrant’s occupation and name||Domicile county and parish||Age||Destination|
|Oscar Lönnqvist||Rångedala EL||29||Manchester NH|
|Alma Kjellander||Rångedala EL||26||“|
|Sven Åsberg||Härna EL||18||“|
If you are interested in the research, you might notice that Oscar and Alma are listed as living in Rångedala EL. But they lived in Äspered Parish, Älvsborg County. EL stands for Elfsborgs Län, with modern spelling Älvsborgs län, or Älvsborg County. Rångedala Parish, Älvsborg County is close to Äspered Parish, Älvsborg County, but is it close enough? It is.
Some Swedish parishes were annexes to other parishes. Äspered Parish was one of them, with Rångedala Parish as the head parish. A document from their home parish might just as well have the name Rångedala Parish on it.
The first stretch of the journey to America was advertised on Monday the same week. The ship left Gothenburg, Sweden, for Hull, England, at 1 pm. The clipping is from the local newspaper Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning:
Gothenburg – Hull
1:st class royal mail and passenger steamships
with salons and cabins mid ship and throughout lit by electric light:
Aristo, capt. Fred Dossor, 2,500 tons
Romeo, capt Geo Leach(?), 2,200 t.
or other corresponding vessels depart alternatively
from Gothenburg every Friday at 1 pm.,
› Hull › Saturday afternoon,
immediately after the arrival of the London express train.
Alma and her companions departed from Sweden on RMS Romeo on Friday 11 October 1895. Sixteen days later they would arrive in Boston, Massachusetts .
On the morning of their departure, the temperature was 6.5 ºC/43.7 ºF, says the statistics from SMHI. When they left at 1 pm it was 9.4 ºC/48.9 ºF. It would rain a bit during the day, 4.5 mm. But it cleared up as they left, according to the observations in the newspaper. Vinga lighthouse reported a storm at 12.30 pm and a light breeze in the afternoon when Romeo passed  .
Crossing the Atlantic
The next blog post goes into the Alma Kjellander’s journey from England to the US and the traces she left in the records. You can read it here.
- EN FÄRD MED GÖTEBORG-BORÅS OCH BORÅS ALVESTA JÄRNVÄGAR RESEBESKRIFNING MED BILDER UTGIFVEN AF JÄRNVÄGSBOLAGEN
- Göteborgs poliskammare (-1900) (O) EIX:56 (1895) Image 1940 / Page 385 (AID: v479780.b1940.s385Open, NAD: SE/GLA/12703
- Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning 1895-10-07
- The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Series Title: Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Massachusetts, 1891-1943; NAI Number: 4319742; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: T843; NARA Roll Number: 017
- Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning 1895-10-11
- Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning 1895-10-12