Setting the Scene in Northern Indiana

May 4, 2010

Back in the 1980s, when my genealogy junkiness offered a periodic pause from raising four young children, I wrote letters to two of my grandfather’s cousins.

The cousins, Harry Newberg and Edna (Newburg) Peterson, were from the Larson side—their mother was my grandfather George’s father’s sister.

Oh, I know. As soon as we start adding apostrophes and generations it gets a little confusing. For the sake of simplicity, just remember—Harry and Edna were cousins George grew up with in northern Indiana.

By the early 1980s, George was in his 80s and had developed dementia. Harry and Edna, however, were a few years older and sharp as tacks. They responded to me with a lot of information on the Larson side.

Now today, via ancestry.com, I’ve met up with Harry’s grandson, Larry Newburg. According to this family relationship chart, Larry is my third cousin. He also is a genealogy junkie.

So, between Arthur’s letters, Harry and Edna’s letters, and Larry’s super-sleuth genealogical research, we’re able to establish a fairly interesting family story.

Here goes…

Harry and Edna’s mother was Ellen (Elin) Charlotta Larsdotter. George’s father was Carl Gustav Larson. Ellen and Carl were siblings, and were born to family of eight children in Västra Harg, Sweden.

According to U.S. Censuses, Ellen came to Des Moine, Iowa, in 1887, when she was 25-years-old. Here, she joined Victor Newburg (Nyburg), a man she had known from Sweden.

“Dad worked in a tile factory for a year, then sent for mother,” writes Edna of her parents, Victor and Ellen. “They were married in Des Moines in 1889. She worked as a chamber maid in a hotel those days for a year.”

In 1895, together with their two young children, Victor and Ellen moved to Marshall County, Ind., where they farmed near the city of Donaldson.

Meanwhile, Carl and his twin brother Per, came to the United States in 1888. Their first stopping place was Des Moines, IA, before moving on to work elsewhere.

“My father worked on large wheat farms in northern Minnesota and North Dakota,” writes Arthur. “I believe they (Carl and his wife Sophia, who also had immigrated and was working in Des Moines) knew each other from Sweden. How they met and married, I never overheard them to say.”

In 1895 Carl and Sophia married and moved to Grovertown, Ind., just a few miles west of Donaldson.

“The house was there,” writes Arthur. “They had to build a barn.”

And finally, just to keep you on your toes, there’s one more sibling who moved to the area. I don’t have much information on her, but her name was Clara Matilda Larsdotter, and she seems to have gone by Matilda. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1887, married Per Carlson in 1888, and they too settled in the Donaldson area of Indiana.

So here you have it—three siblings who traveled an ocean and half a continent away from the rest of their family. They founded new homes, they farmed the land, and they raised their children. And they did it together, maintaining the stronghold of a close family bond.

“This is shortly after these sisters emigrated from Sweden. They married Adolph Carlson and Anders Victor Newberg,” writes Larry Newburg, who provided this picture in his ancestry.com files.

Larry provided this photo as well, and suggests it may have been taken in Des Moines. Don’t you love his top hat sitting on the vase?

Victor and Ellen Newburg Family, circa 1900

“The photo was taken about 1900, two miles northeast of Donaldson,” writes Larry Newburg on his ancestry.com site. “They started in 1895 with a log cabin on this sight. Nice picture to send back to Sweden—showing fine home, good clothes, and a fine set of horses.”

From l-r: Edna, Ellen, Elmer, Oscar, Victor, and Harry. Yet to be born was Mabel Helen.

Carl & Sophia Larson Family, circa 1900

I wonder if the same photographer did both families?

From l-r: Carl, Clarence, Olga and Sophia, holding George. Yet to be born are Arthur and Esther.

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5 Responses to “Setting the Scene in Northern Indiana”

  1. Terri Says:

    Nice job…even if I did get lost along the way!

  2. Dave Says:

    Is Larsdotter the Swedish version of Larson? When mentioning the sisters, Ellen and Matilda, you use Larsdotter but you refer to Carl as Carl Larson.

    • adunate Says:

      Good question Dave. In Scandinavia, they took on their father’s first name as their surname and added son or dotter (daughter) to it. It’s called Patronymic Surnames and here’s a link about it.

      I wonder if they still do this today?

      Carl and Ellen’s father’s name was Lars Svensson, thus they were Larson. Just think, we could have been Duaneson and Duanedotter. Shorten that up and I’d be Dudotter.

  3. adunate Says:

    Larry Newburg emailed me with interesting comments on the Larson siblings coming to Des Moines and then to Indiana. With his permission, I’ll pass them along.

    “It looks as though all this family first went to Des Moines. Most all their pictures show this. I believe that Clara Mathilda Larsdotter was the first to go to Donaldson with her husband Per Adolf Carlson. They went by the names of Mathilda or Tille and Adolf. Then the rest of the siblings seemed to follow. This may have been a collective decision–I don’t know.”
    -Larry Newburg, May 6, 2010.

  4. adunate Says:

    Also, I should note:

    We had always believed Carl Larson’s twin brother Per went to Alaska to seek gold and no one heard from him again. However, in her letter to me, Edna wrote that Per died of pneumonia in Minnesota the first winter after they arrived in 1888.

    As Larry Newburg says, family lore isn’t always accurate. Considering the extent of their records, I’d suspect the Newburg version of Per is more accurate than the Larson’s.

    Oh, but our version holds so much more drama and intrigue, doesn’t it?!


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