Persson History

The Persson family has its roots in Frostviken, Jamtland, Sweden, a hilly and heavily forested area with winters much like nothern Minnesota.  Frostviken is the northern most part of Jamtland, an area that was once an independent nation until conquered by Norway in the 12th century.  It remained a part of Norway until the 17th century when it was ceded to Sweden after one of the many wars the Jamts found themselves in.  Initially, Sweden neglected Jamtland and treated the Jamts poorly.  Norway coveted this territory and many of the Jamts for a long time considered themselves aligned with Norway.  Eventually, the Swedish government supported the Jamts and assimilated the region into the Swedish nation and culture. This inherent restlessness and independence certainly made it easier for these Swedes to join the European migration to America at the turn of the century.

About the time that Elmer Olson (my maternal grandfather) was staking out the boundaries of The Farm in 1905, Anders Persson was emigrating from Jamtland, Sweden with his family, including four year old, Albert, my paternal grandfather.

Albert was born to Anders and Sarah Persson in Frostviken, Jamtland in 1901.   Anders was the son of Jonas and Kristina Jonasson (also known as Jonas Persson).  At the time Anders was born it was traditional to take your father's first name as your surname.  Thus, Anders was originally Anders Jonasson, while his father was known as Jonas Persson.  Because of rulings from the government, surnames were no longer to change from generation to generation.  Anders and his father, Jonas, both then went by the name of  "Persson" before they emigrated to America.  Anders first name was Americanized to "Andrew".  Jonas and Kristina emigrated to America in 1903 and Andrew and Sarah and their family followed in 1905.  

Our family lineage on the Persson side is as follows:

             Per Palson (born 10/4/1807) married Brita Jonsdotter (born 10/22/1807);
             Their son Jonas Persson was born on 9/14/1848 in Frostviken, Jamtland Sweden;
             Jonas married Kristina Andersdotter (born July 18, 1846);
             Jonas and Kristina had a son, Anders (Andrew), born 12/18/1876;
             Jonas and Kristina emigrated to America in 1903;
             Andrew emigrated to America with his wife, Sarah (born 12/12/1870), and children, in 1905;
                            Andrew and Sarah's children:
                                            Johan born 1890, remained in Sweden;
                                            Christina, born 1893;
                                            Helmer, born 1896;
                                            Anna, born 1900;
                                            Albert, born 1901;
                                            Arvid, born 1903;
                                            Sally, born 1905 in America;
                                            Carl, born 1907 in America;
                                            Bertha, born 1910 in America;
                                            Hilding, born 1912 in America;
                                            Elva, born 1915 In America;
Albert married Edith Flank and they had two children:  Don (born 1928) and Rodney (born 1932).

Don married Myrna Olson and they had six children:  Denny, Darrold, Donna, Debi, Dale and David.

Rodney married Dorothy Larson and they had three children:  Dana, Lori and Dean.

When Jonas arrived in America, he took a train to Duluth and eventually settled for a short time in Hibbing, working in the mines and staking a claim to 160 acres of land 40 miles north, in Carpenter Township (Togo).  This land is about 10 miles from The Farm.  Jonas and Kristina built their homestead on the Carpenter property in 1905. Andrew and family arrived from Sweden that same year and his family of 7 moved in with Jonas and Kristina in their newly built home,  As one could imagine, conditions in that home were pretty crowded as they worked on a home for Andrew and family.  Andrew then joined Jonas working in the mines in Hibbing. They walked 40 miles to Hibbing and stayed there that fall and winter earning needed money, but leaving their wives and children on the homestead to fend for themselves in this new country.  This lonely time for the Persson family was documented in a book written by the Rostvit Family, cousins of Albert:

                Christmas was a lonely time for everyone without the men.  Since the miners
                were given only one day off for the holiday, they couldn't get home.  The families
                could not afford the traditional lutefisk -specially prepared codfish that all
                Scandanavians enjoy for Christmas dinner.  They looked forward to another
                year for that special treat when the men could be at home also.  For this first
               Christmas on their claims, rabbit stew would have to suffice, yet they did not
               complain.  They were thankful that they did have enough to eat. Their root cellar
                had been filled that fall with many bushels of potatoes, rutabagas, turnips and
                carrots, yet with so many mouths to feed, the supplies diminished continually.
                . . . The children were permitted a light sprinkling of sugar on their oatmeal, 
               but when Christmas came they splurged by baking cookies, making flatbread
               and lefse, and even using a few raisins in their Christmas Eve rice porridge.

Wilderness Homestead, Rostvit and Gilbertson, pp. 19-20.

When Andrew and Sarah left Sweden, Sarah was pregnant, and they traveled with their 5 young children.  However, their oldest son, Johan, stayed behind.  My grandfather Albert told me that Johan remained in Sweden because he had a girlfriend, but other research says that he remained in Sweden because the government discouraged young men from leaving Sweden, a developing nation.  It appears both stories are true.  Johan initially remained, but was later sent money to emigrate.  When he did make arrangements to come to America, young Johan fell ill and had to be removed from the boat.  By the time he was healthy enough to make the trip, he had met a girl and later married.  Johan thereafter stayed in Sweden and never saw his family again.  We have, however, connected with Johan's descendents and Johan's great-granddaughter, Solveig Vidarsdotter, has visited us several times.  In fact, in the summer of 2012 she spent several nights at The Farm, using it as a base to visit relatives and places in the area.

Jonas and Kristina lived out their lives on their original homestead, and died within 24 hours of each other from the flu epidemic of 1919. 

Andrew and Sarah also remained on their 160 acres adjacent to Jonas' homestead.  Andrew died at the age of 86 and Sarah at the age of 97. These original homesteads still belong to the Persson family, on Rodney's side.

Albert worked a variety of jobs and retired as a timber scaler with the state of Minnesota. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 87.  In 1924 Edith was one of the first graduates of the newly completed Hibbing High School where she went on to obtain her teaching certificate. She retired from the Togo School in Carpenter Township and in 1997 passed away at the age of 91.

By 1947 Don had dated Myrna Olson, the neighbor - 10 miles down the road.  To his dismay, she then moved from Bear River to the bright lights of Chicago.  A determined man, Don made a trip to Chicago to "retrieve" her from her new lifestyle, and in 1948 they were married in the Bear River Church.  The rest, as they say, is "history".

Written by Darrold Persson  (June 2013)
Great-great Grandson of Jonas, Great-Grandson of Andrew, Grandson of Albert and son of Don Persson

Special thanks to the Rostvit family for their research and for the use of their photos

Results  [ 1 - 20 of 20 Records ]    

This photograph taken in 1903 shows Jonas (standing far right)
with his wagon packed as he leaves Sweden for America. His wife
and daughter are in the wagon and his son, Andrew, is pictured
front center. Andrew and his family would follow his parents to
America two years later.

(Circa 1905) Jonas and Kristina are shown sitting in front of their
newly built homestead.  When Andrew and Sarah arrived with their
five children in the summer of 1905, they moved in with Jonas and
Kristina until they could build their own home. 

(Circa 1906) Andrew and Sarah are shown in front of their
home that was completed in 1906.

Children of Andrew and Sarah Persson.  Front, left to right:  Albert,
Arvid, Carl and Sally.  Back, left to right: Helmer, Christina and Anna.
Not shown:  Johan (in Sweden), Bertha , Hilding and
Elva (not born yet). (1908)

The Persson clan in 1908.  Back row, left  to right:  Helmer,
Andrew (holding Carl), Sarah, Krist, Cristina, Sanna and Hans
Skoglie (holding Jonny).  Middle row, left to right:  Albert, Arvid,
Anna.  Sitting in front:  Jonas and Kristina, holding Sally Persson
and Saura Skoglie.  Sanna and Krist were sister and brother to
Andrew. Sanna married Hans Skoglie.  Hans died of typhoid
fever in 1910, making Sanna a young widow.

This photo depicts Andrew running a gas powered 
machine used to grind cattle feed. Sarah is  
pictured behind the machine, while Jonas uses a
hand made rake with wooden tines to gather
the grain.  (Circa 1915).

Andrew and Sarah sitting in front of their home contemplating
the many years that had passed and their life in two countries.
(Circa 1950).

Donald and Rodney (1935) 

Albert, Edith, Rodney and Don (1947).

Don striking a handsome pose (1948).

Myrna appears to be running from something - or someone.  
Coincidentally, Don "caught her" around the time of this photo.  
Don and Myrna were married in October, 1948.  (1948)

 Andrew and Sarah Persson (1960)

Edith and Albert on their 25th wedding anniversary. (1953)

Christmas Day 1961.  Left to right:  Dana, Darrold, Edith,
Denny (holding Debi), Albert, Lori, Myrna,
Dorothy and Rodney.

Rodney Persson family. Rodney (holding Dean),
Dana, Dorothy, and Lori (1962).

 Albert, Hilding, Sally and Bertha at "The Farm" (1987)

Edith and Albert (1987)

Don, Rodney and Edith (1992)

Don Persson family.  Front, left to right:  Darrold, Myrna, Don, Debi.  Back, left to right:  Dave, Dale and Denny. (1998)

Dana, Lori and Dean at  "The Farm"  (1995)
Results  [ 1 - 20 of 20 Records ]