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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crossing the Skunk River

I've spent the day crisscrossing the Skunk River in Iowa on my quest to discover my great-grandfather's (Rev. Joseph Sanderson) origins. Wednesday in Galesburg was a bit frustrating. I could find my mother's grandfather in the census records, but no birth or marriage announcements in the papers. It was hard to pass up the stories in the papers, since my mother's aunt (Emma Louisa) was born a year before the Civil War began. Her uncle (Edward) was born two years later, when Missouri was struggling with secession. Three hours of scanning microfiche gave me some census data that showed my great-grandfather in Knox County (probably Galesburg), Illinois in 1860 and 1870, then moving to Iowa. In 1850, he was unmarried and living in Sangamon County, Illinois.

On Thursday, I spent the morning in the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. A wonderful researcher named Jill spent almost three hours with me. We were unable to locate immigration on my great-grandfather, but I learned that my mother's father (John Albert Edward Axelson) was born in Falkoping, Sweden and his birth name was actually Johan. I had gotten information that he immigrated at age 16, but Swedish parish records put him at 17. Jill said they sometimes lied about their age to get a cheaper rate on the steamships. He departed from Goteborg, but passed through Liverpool, England and Queenstown, Ireland. I also printed off minutes from the Fremont Evangelical Mission Covenant Church meetings from 1905-1910, when he was minister there, but they are in Swedish and handwritten.

Tomorrow I head to Stratford, Iowa to visit my great-grandparents' graves. I am meeting my mother's aunt's grandson, Weldon Swedelund and his wife Audrienne. They have corresponded with me about our mutual relatives, but I haven't been able to meet them yet. Let's hope the rain and snow have ended for the week!

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