25-48 The Second Twenty-Four
49-72 The Third Twenty-Four
73-96 The Fourth Twenty-Four
97-120 The Fifth Twenty-Four
121-on The Sixth Set
49 Pure Michigan
50 Ah, Youth
51 Unlikely Friend
54 Before/After Squared
55 Hawaiiana 1
56 Hawaiiana 2
57 Hawaiiana 3
58 A New Outlook
59 Hawaiiana 4
60 Crash Dummy
61 Dogs, Boards, Kids...
62 Photographic Treasures
63 Hawaiiana 5
64 My Comb is Crooked
65 Call Me A Doctor
66 Hawaiiana 6
67 Home for Christmas
68 Led By Words
69 Pono Bowls
70 Poppy Tour
71 An Invitation
72 Wunderkammer I
LED BY WORDS
Boy, am I lucky! Why? Because I have ancestors who are Swedes! Some 15 years ago I started pursuing my genealogy. I had already been gathering contemporary information on my relations, but I decided to start digging into my ancestral heritage. The first thing I learned was that all four of my grandparents migrated to the United States from Sweden. The second thing I learned was that Swedish records were among the best in the world. Boy, am I lucky!
Over those next few years I found some 567 direct ancestors – those who actually contributed to my DNA – and some 5428 persons including siblings of directs, with some brief excursions into spouses and descendants of siblings. I collected names, dates, and places for these people as typical genealogists do, and quite enjoyed it.
Then I discovered bouppteckningar (bou) and my life took a turn. In fact, if one would plot the various paths I have taken since the discovery, it would resemble the data chart from the Large Hadron Collider interpreted to depict the Higg’s boson.
Let me explain.
When a person died in Sweden in earlier times a qualified team was called in to inventory the estate and evaluate all chattel and real property. This was done to settle all claims and debts, as well as to identify the heirs and provide the basis for disposition of the estate. Not everyone was subject to this, but when one can be found for an ancestor, it is a treasure trove of detail into the day to day life of that person and his family.
For a person like me however, translating bou to English is a great challenge. They are handwritten in Swedish in ledgers, but this statement alone doesn’t begin to describe the difficulty. Handwriting factors include the recorder’s penmanship, spelling, and knowledge of the decedent’s areas of interest. Language factors include local dialect, year of the death, and age and dialect of the recorder. Ledger factors include quality of paper and ink used, storage conditions, and digitizing techniques used. I’ve only done a dozen bou, but in just this sample, the above factors varied widely.
Now we must add in my personal shortcomings. I started with almost zero knowledge of Swedish. Those few words I did know came from parents who knew the language in their youth but lost it over time from disuse. In addition, the lifestyles of my ancestors were unfamiliar to me. They all were firmly attached to the land as reflected by possession of animals, farm equipment, wagons, and sleighs, while some also had specialties like milling and charcoal burning. I was quite ignorant of most of these activities – but that was the fascination of pursuit.
Fortunately, many items found in a 1785 household will likely also appear in one in 1882 and all the years between. And that type of item is in my house today. I’m talking about knives, forks and spoons, pots and pans, plates and bowls, furniture and bedding, and clothing. Once I learned these words, they could be recognized in each bou.
Other words took me down their path. Väfstol (loom) led me to learn a bit about loom accessories, with their reeds, shafts, shuttle, heddles, pulleys, winders, harness and cogs, as well as the ribbon or inkle loom. Swedish is skedar, skaft, skyttel, solv, trissa, nystblad, spännare, kuggar and bandstol.
Häckla (heckle) led me down the road to processing flax into linen by breaking, scutching, heckling, combing, spinning and weaving. Tools for those processes include bråtor, häcklor, kammar, spinnrock and väfstol. Bast is the raw fiber and linne is the fabric.
Brännvinspanna (still) introduced me to the equipment for distilling alcohol, including the still, cover, funnels, pipes and cooling vessel. Still parts include hatt, tratt, pipor, and kyhlfat.
Vadmal (homespun) led me to explore period cloth types. Blends of linen, wool, and cotton and methods of fabrication include dräll, blaggarn, kalmink, rask, kamlott, and lärfts. Lin, ull, and bomull are the big three fibers, silke is silk, and sammet is velvet. Definitions of the blends and methods are still vague to me, just like the English word “worsted” makes my eyes glaze over.
Kviga (heifer) got me curious about farm animals, so I had to learn the words anka, bock, får, galt, get, gris, gumse, häst, höna, kyckling, kalv, killing, ko, lamm, oxe, risbit, spadgris, sugga, sto, tacka, tjur, and tupp. Now let’s see if I remember – duck, male goat, sheep, boar, goat, pig, male sheep, horse, hen, chick, calf, kid, cow, lamb, ox, 1 to 3 y.o. male goat, suckling pig, sow, mare, ewe, bull, and rooster.
Timmerhake (log dog) got me into the field of log joinery, where I found drag, käxla, huggjärn, bandknif, and vändhake. These tools had other uses as well, but supported construction with logs – dividers, small axe, chisel, two-handled band knife or spokeshave, and cant hook or peavey.
Städ (anvil) reminded me of smithy tools I had used before and led to hammar o tång, rasp, filar, blåsbälg, skruvstäd, ögonval, nageltorn and hovtyg. These tools are used by blacksmiths, tinsmiths and even farriers. They include hammer and tongs, files, files, bellows, vice, axe head hole maker, nail head form and farrier tools.
One of my ancestors was a miller, but must have fished for additional income. He had 24 fishing nets and 4 boats. Fishing equipment included läggnät, skottnät, slinga, båt, eka, metrev, träkrok and ljuster. The gear was lay net, trammel net, fishnet section, boat, flat-bottomed row boat, fishline, wooden fish hook and fishing gig. One boat was upriver, one downriver, one on a local pond and one at home.
Hand tools for farm and garden showed up in most of the bou and some had more serious equipment like vält, harv and many types of plog. That is a roller for flattening the field, a harrow and plow. Plows included järnplog, hästplog, vändplog, snöplog, and finnplog or gaffelplog. That is iron plow, horse plow, mouldboard plow, snow plow and Finnish plow or fork plow (for rocky fields).
Kärra, skrinda and vagn introduced me to wheeled conveyances. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying it, but these three words seem to be somewhat generic terms for carts, light wagons and heavy wagons. The dragkärra and färdkärra are light manual pull cart and animal drawn travel cart. Färdskrinda and höskrinda are somewhat heavier travel buggy and hay wagon. And åkvagn or trilla and planvagn or flakvagn are the more robust carriage and flatbed wagon.
Of course winter was a significant factor so some substitute for wheels was required – släde and kälke served the purpose. Various sleighs and sledges or toboggans were used for work and travel. Their use or cargo usually was attached to the word. Examples are kyrkosläde and wedkälke – church sleigh and firewood sledge.
By far the largest group of Swedish words found in these bou involves the subject of kärl (containers). I feel the need to summarize rather than simply list them. Barrel, bin, box (4), chest, jar (2), jug, keg, pail or bucket (7), trough, tub (3) and vat each have 1 or more “root” words as noted. But it doesn’t stop there. Many of these root words are combined with words that indicate the intended content (milk pail), the material the container is made of (wooden box), or the intended use of the container (brew vat). The possible combinations are limited only by the imagination of the recorder.
Every one of the Swedish words discussed here appeared in at least one of the 12 bou that were translated during this period. The words themselves gave great insight into the lives of my ancestors and further educated me in many areas. The monetary side gave still further insight and revealed that the sample covered a wide range of the human condition. The following table provides a means for comparison. Values are given for 7 inventory items that are somewhat common, 4 category sub-totals, and the total value of each estate.
The monetary systems changed over this time and values needed to be adjusted to provide a valid comparison. Several early ones showed values in two systems, the higher values were divided by 18 to get the lower. Shown in the table are the lower values. The 1879 and 1882 may need some adjustment – possibly a division by 4. The 90 daler cow in 1785 is odd relative to other item values, but consistent with other animals in the same inventory.
After adjustments, 1820 was the largest estate. The gentleman had significant real estate and was owed more on promissory notes than anyone else. 1879 was the only one with a negative remainder – last digits of debts and total are unreadable.Instead of doing an inventory of loose items for 1853, an auction was conducted and the proceeds determined the total.
* Real estate apparently belonged to the widow
and was not included in the estate
|It doesn’t seem like much now that I reread it, but it took many months, lots of help and innumerable side trips to get where the information is today. The result is a dozen translated bouppteckningar and a Swedish-English Pictorial Dictionary with more than 750 words online and available to help others trying to do a translation. These Genealogy Resources are available at http://www.sandinfamily.com. I hope they will help you.|