Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Question in Hyssna: Why Iowa?

Johan Emmanuel Månsson was the youngest child of Måns Hansson and Christina Andersdotter. Måns was 49 when he married 27-year-old Christina in 1871. (Yes, Måns had not married before). He was 67 when Johan was born. You can probably guess what comes next.

Johan was only 10 when his mother died in 1899. Four years later, in 1903, his father died. Johan was just a lad of 14. From the journal I kept on our 1996 trip comes this story, from the neighbor lady, of Johan's father's death. "The clock in the parlor started chiming when he died and would not stop until someone opened the clock and stopped it. Also, the door to the house started banging by itself." On our first trip in 1993, we had heard the story about Johan's mother's death. She, we were  told, died from pneumonia after standing under the downspout of a gutter to cool of in the rain after working in a hot field all day.

About the time of his father's death, Johan went to work just across the road for the owner of the Löcko farm. Most of the stories that might have been told from the next five years have gone to the grave. We do know that Johan lived with the family across the road and worked as a farmhand, and we gather that he lost his left eye in a farm accident (see 5 November 2015 post).

Probably with only a single trunk of belongings -- the one that sits in our family room, Johan boarded the S.S. Ariosto 11 September 1908 at Göteborg bound for Hull (view photos of the Ariosto). He held a ticket through to Chicago. After a train ride across England, he sailed from Liverpool on the S.S. Kensington 17 September and arrived at Quebec 28 September. From there, he entered the United States by train and likely went to Chicago by train, and eventually on to Iowa.

His emigration and immigration records tell two interesting stories. First, as described in this blog two weeks ago, Grandpa Hanson was listed as Johan Emanuel Månsson. That was his patronymic name -- he was Johan, son of Måns Hanson. This caused a problem when he petitioned for U.S. citizenship as John Hanson (see 29 October post).

Second, both his Swedish departure record and the passenger arrival record indicates that he was traveling with Andrew E. Swanson, a U.S. citizen who was returning to the United States, destined for Mt. Ayr, Iowa. The Göteborg port police records show that Johan and Andrew sailed under the same contract number. While the departure record said both were traveling to Chicago (probably the endpoint in their contracts), the arrival record stated that both were destined for Mt. Ayr, Iowa. In the column naming the passenger's nearest relative at home, the manifest stated that Andrew Swanson had been naturalized in 1896 in Mercer County, Illinois. Removing any doubt that the two were traveling together, the second page of the arrival record states that Johan was traveling with "Andrew Swanson (friend)" of Mt. Ayr.

Andrew did first settle in Mercer County, Illinois, where he married Amelia Johnson 12 December 1894. By 1899, he had taken his family 240 miles west to Ringgold County, Iowa, where the 1900 U.S. Census listed a son born 1896 in Illinois and a second born 1899 in Iowa. Andrew Swanson told the census-taker that he had immigrated in 1885.

Why was Johan Mansson traveling to Mt. Ayr with Andrew Swanson?  The 1908 passenger arrival record did not name Andrew Swanson's home parish because he was a U.S. citizen. However, a search in 1885 Göteborg departure records reveals that 21 year-old Anders E. Svenson from Hyssna parish sailed on  6 March 1885. Hyssna parish records state that Anders Emil, born 28 February 1864 to Sven Jonasson and Anna Britta Andersdotter, had departed Hyssna 27 February 1885 for Illinois.

Was Anders/Andrew related to Johan Emanuel Mansson? Working back through the Hyssna parish records to the baptisms of Andrew's father and mother in 1827 and 1833, respectively, gives no indication of a family relationship. This may simply have been a case of a Swedish immigrant Iowa farmer returning to Hyssna for a visit after 20 years in America, during which time he induced Johan, a man with one eye and few prospects in Hyssna, to join him in Iowa, possibly to work on the Swanson farm.

Of course, as in all immigration stories, the question remains: What drew Anders Svensson, aka Andrew Swanson to Illinois in 1885.  Did he have friends or relatives already there? And, if so, why did they chose Ogle County? Andrew is not my ancestor, so I'll let someone else tackle that question.

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