Friday, June 5

Postcard Friendship Friday: Emma Charlott Nygren

I love this photo. It is the earliest I have of my Grandma Emma, born in Assaria, Saline Co, KS in 1876, which would make her 34 here. The little guy in the straw hat looking sooooo serious is my dad at 3 1/2. The other little guy - don't be fooled by the bonnet - is my Uncle Roy at about 11 months. One more son, Melvin, would arrive four years later.

From the date on the back, I'm guessing the photo was taken about mid-May, 1910. But definitely in Coldwater, Comanche Co, KS, where Daddy's other grandfather and an aunt were living at the time.

Emma Charlott NYGREN was the 5th of eight children of Abdon "John" Nygren and Charlotta "Lotta" SUNDHOLM, both from Varmland, Sweden.

John and Lotta married there on Christmas Eve, 1864. On 30 June 1865, they sailed for America with Lotta's sisters, her parents Jan Anders and Christina (nee Larsdotter/BERGSTROM) Sundholm, and John's brother whose name was reportedly Axel Nygren.

By all accounts the Sundholms weren't the "poor and down trodden", but rather well-off. Years later, Emma's brothers would squander most of their inheritance (and hers) on worthless land in Texas.

But I digress.

John, Lotta and the Sundholms et al entered the U.S. at New York City through Castle Garden (Ellis Island wouldn't open until 1892). They settled in Chicago, then around 1875 moved to Saline County, KS. John had been a blacksmith in Sweden, and remained one in Kansas, where he was also a farmer.

Emma and my grandfather married in Assaria, Saline Co, KS in 1904. My birth certificate says my dad was born in Protection KS (a town near Coldwater), but years later it was determined he was really born in Assaria.

The postcard is in Swedish, from Emma to her parents, who by then had moved to Lindsborg KS which had a large Swedish population.

Emma was bilingual by necessity. As children, my dad and Uncle Roy probably were too.

The only part of the message I understand is "godt portratt af barnen", meaning "got portrait (photograph) of children". No doubt it was mailed (as opposed to being tucked into an envelope with a letter), but after sitting in a trunk for several decades, the glue dried out on the stamp and it fell off.

Emma was psychic. She also loved to rock babies and sing to them. By the time I was born, she was in her seventies and living with my parents.

One hot September afternoon when I was 3 months old, my mother had put me in my bassinet in an upstairs room with no fan and no trees to shade it. Emma hounded her to "bring that baby down here so I can rock her". When my mother finally complied, I was comatose from heatstroke and dehydration. According to my baby book, I was in the hospital for 3 days, no reason given, but all my mother would ever say is I "wouldn't wake up".

When I was 6 months old, Emma went to a nursing home, where she died three months later. Almost everything I know about her is from stories aunts, uncles, and cousins have told over the years. The rest is from other photos...and an oil lamp that supposedly belonged to her.

Whether it did or not, when the power goes out and I'm carrying it from room to room, it always feels like she's right there with me.

Postcard Friendship Friday


Debby said...

This is a wonderful picture. Thanks for sharing. Happy PFF!

Terry said...

Happy Postcard Friendship Friday
Thank you for sharing all about Emma today.
This is a lovely post and I had so much fun reading all the background information you provided
for us.
I am so glad your Emma insisted your Mom go up and get you and that you survived.
Have a blessed weekend.
Happy Trails

Daryl said...

Glad you suffered no side effects of that experience .. and glad she's with you and that you shared her and that story .. Happy PFF!

Kathy McCreedy said...

What a cool postcard, thank you for sharing it with us! I love, love, love geneology, so I thoroughly enjoyed your post. All my best!

papel1 said...

A great true story to go with the postcard. Happy PFF.

JamaGenie said...

Thanks all! I've been wanting to post this photocard *somewhere* for ages.

Happy PFF!!

Marie Reed said...

This post gave me absolute goosebumps! You can see her power and strength! Is there anyone else in your family who has this second sense? I didn't realize that there was an entry other than Ellis Island! I had never heard of Castle Garden... Fascinating.... just fascinating! My Mother (maiden name Lindquist - I know - super common) remembers her Grandmother always singing to her in Swedish:) Seeing that the card was written in Swedish was then very special to me too considering my Swede heritage:)

Aimee said...

I enjoyed reading your stories of Emma. She must have been wonderful! I also love that stroller in the picture! Thanks for sharing!!

JamaGenie said...

Marie...another with Swedish heritage! Wowwww.

As for the "second sense", I inherited it from Emma, as did a second cousin. I suspect others in the family have it too, but won't admit to it. Somewhere I read it's quite common among Swedes and Norwegians. Icelanders too.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

I loved this beautiful picture and especially the story behind it. Thanks for sharing it today. Happy PFF!

Anonymous said...

What a delight that you gave us this picture of your Grandma Emma AND the story I've heard you tell--together! Together, they make your family history come alive and you and your Granda Emma look so much alike, it's uncanny--except for the hairstyle and you are usually smiling or laughing, whereas she is sober. Beautiful women, both! Thank you so much for the picture and story!

Kirby3131 said...

I truly adore family history - and it's just so much better if you can have a photo to go with it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Postcardy said...

I am jealous of people who have phot postcards of their family. You are lucky you turned out OK after the heatstroke.

Bob of Holland said...

Beautiful and very personal post. Thak you for sharing.

JamaGenie said...

Apologies to everyone for not getting around to your PFF. I've been adding tombstone photos and memorials to Find A Grave.

Aimee, I don't know how I missed your comment because I was hoping someone would mention the stroller, and you did! Isn't it a beauty?

Judy, you're most welcome! As Kirby said, it's so much better to have a photo with the story.

Postcardy, if my mother hadn't been a packrat, I wouldn't have any of them either! As for the heatstroke, yes, I was lucky, and lucky to have Grandma Emma for a guardian angel that day.

Bob, it was my pleasure!