This week’s theme is “surprise” so I will tell you about the surprise I got when I ordered a compiled Service Record for one of my husband’s mysterious Swedish ancestors.
Oloff Hanson is my husband’s great-great-grandfather and he first appears in the 1860 [i]census with his wife Mary living in Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana. As recorded in the census he is a Swedish born fisherman. Oloff’s wife Mary was reported to have been born in Hanover, Germany in 1842.
Oloff and Mary had eight children between 1860 and 1879. They remained in Michigan City until they appear in the 1880 census living in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.
All of the children are reported as having been born in Michigan (It appears that the census taker heard Michigan but not City as the actual records are for Michigan City which is in Indiana.) in the 1880[ii] census taken in Chicago.
Oloff died before the 1900 census was taken and I could find no trace of a widow in the census and no obituary record.
I was at a standstill with the family. Even two trips to Salt Lake City with finding something out about Oloff as a priority were unsuccessful except for finding out that he had served in the Indiana Calvary during the Civil War. He was honored by La Porte County, Indiana in 1867 for his service in the war.
What did I know about Oloff? I knew he was born in 1824 or 1831, that he appeared in the census in 1860, and 1870 in Indiana and the 1880 census in Illinois. He served In the Civil War and fathered eight children. Those are the only documented facts I had for Oloff.
I had no record of Oloff coming into the United States and found no marriage for Oloff and Mary. I had no place of birth or names of parents for Oloff.
Having no success with finding other records for Oloff, I sent for his Compiled Service Record from the National Archives hoping it would hold his Letter of Intent, which I hoped would tell me where in Sweden he came from.
It came faster than I thought it would and held several surprises! His biographical record told me that he left Sweden and traveled first to Germany before coming to the United States. While in Germany he met Marie(Mary) Hepke and they were married in the American Consulate in Hamburg. I further learned the names of all of his children and that Mary had died in 1881 in Chicago.
OK, I still don’t know where Oloff was born but I know where he was married and about when. I know when and where Mary died and since I found her death record, I know she died as a result of childbirth. I also know that I need to look for Oloff, a Swedish man leaving Hamburg with a wife born in Hanover.
I haven’t quit looking for Oloff! I'm just taking a different path,
[i] Year: 1860; Census Place: Michigan City, La Porte, Indiana; Roll: M653_275; Page: 389; Family History Library Film: 803275; ancestry.com, online images, accessed 10 Fem 2019
[ii] Year: 1880; Census Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 195; Page: 163B; Enumeration District: 141; Ancestry.com ,images inline, accessed 10 Feb 2019; Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.