Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Ringgold Swedes: So, Who was Erik Anderson?

About a month ago, when I wrote my first blogpost about my Swedish grandfather, John Hanson (Johan Månsson), I really didn't think there was much to his story. I had not actively researched him for several years, but when I went back to review my files, I realized his story was richer than I remembered. This is the case of a young man, who lost both parents by age 14, lost an eye while working on a neighboring farm in Hyssna, Sweden, boarded a ship bound for Hull, passed by rail to Liverpool, landed in Quebec, and made his way to Ringgold County, Iowa, where a judge dismissed his petition for citizenship because in America he chosen to use his father's patronymic name as a surname.

Last week's post told the story of Andrew Swanson (Anders Svensson), who apparently recruited Johan Månsson to work as a farm laborer near tiny Tingley, about 15 miles from the Missouri line. This week, I am digging a little deeper into the immigration story. The same day (17 February 1912) that John Hanson declared his intention for citizenship at the courthouse in Mt. Ayr, another Swede, Erik Anderson also made his declaration. Who was Erik? What relation did he have, if any, to John Hanson?

The first clue came from Erik Anderson's citizenship file. A witness for his 1914 petition for citizenship was J. W. Fender, who stated he had been born in of Mercer County, Illinois -- the same county where Andrew Swanson had farmed before coming to Iowa. This was perhaps mere coincidence, but having followed the same migration path, perhaps the Fenders and Swansons knew each other. In 1910, Erik was a "servant" on the Fender farm in Liberty Township.

So, who was Erik? American immigration and Swedish emigration records reveal his identity. Erik Andersson landed at New York 21 March 1909 on the Baltic, which had sailed from Liverpool on the 12th. He had told authorities he was destined for Lamoni, Iowa (about 15 miles from Mt. Ayr), where he would be met by a "friend," A. W. Swanson. He gave his birthplace as Sätilla -- a parish a mere three miles west of Johan Månsson's home parish of Hyssna. Göteberg records list the 9 March departure of Erik Andersson of Sätilla.

The Baltic manifest stated that Erik's nearest relative at home was his father, August Anderson. Indeed, Sättila parish records list the birth and baptism in March 1886 of Erik, son of Carl August Andersson and Anna Charlotte Andersdotter. The 1925 Iowa state census of Ringgold County named the parents of Eric Anderson: Carl Anderson and Anna Anderson. Bingo!

It appears that Erik Andersson, like Johan Månsson, was recruited to Ringgold County, Iowa, by farmer Andrew Swanson. Johan had crossed with Swanson in the fall of 1908, and Erik followed the next spring. They had met on Swanson's farm the spring of 1909. If either ever worked on Swanson's farm, it was probably for only a short time. Both seem to have soon struck out on their own. By 1910, Erik worked on the Fender farm in Liberty Township, while Johan, now known as John Hanson, was on the Ashenhurst farm in Tingley Township. Eric Anderson married Luella Loy 5 September 1917. John Hanson married Edith Romkee 13 August 1918. The marriage records of both accurately named their fathers, but did not name their mothers; both stated they were born at Göteberg (spelled differently).

Here's the maddening part. I remember clearly that the packet of letters that produced the postmark that led me to my Hyssna cousins(see October 22 post) included two postcards sent him by Erik Anderson. From Boston, as I recall. Alas, I can not find them. We moved two years, and things are still appearing in the oddest places, so I'm confident that when they surface, they will help me wrap up the story.

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