Knotted Strands: The Misattributed Heirloom

The one thing you learn in doing genealogy is that just like the old children’s game of telephone things get a bit muddled when passed from child to child or generation to generation. As I have written elsewhere there is usually some truth in the stories and legends passed down through families, even if they sometimes become unrecognizable. It is often that different parts of the family have different pieces of the story.

When I was growing up my mother had a box on her dresser in which the following items were stored.

Human Hair Jewelry

The story she told was that her great grandmother, known to her as Elizabeth Olson Vanstrum (born Asloûg Olson Elifsdotter) made these ornaments from her hair brushings on the passage from Kragerø, Norway to New York. It wasn’t until my second cousin once removed, Lois Lundberg Sando, took a trip to Vrigstad, Jönköping, Sweden to visit our mutual Lundberg cousins and shared photos and the story of her trip that the mistake was exposed.

My mother had misattributed the hair jewelry to the wrong paternal great-grandmother! The jewelry was crafted by Anna Olofsdotter born in Bjuråker, Dalarna, Sweden 13 February 1837 who came to America in 1880 with her husband Johan Soloman Lundberg and her six surviving children. They settled in Minneapolis where she died 11 March 1895. It was passed to her son Carl Johan Lundberg and to his son Roy Sidney Lundberg and then to my mother and then to me.

Anna Olfsdotter Hair Jewelry a brooch and a watch fob.

But there’s much more to the story. Anna Olofsdotter and Johan Solomon Lundberg were born and lived 450 miles apart. She in Bjuråker, near Malung, Dalarna, Sweden and he at Vrigstad, Jönköping, Sweden. The hair jewelry is what brought them together!

Traditional Peasant attire from Malung, Dalarna Sweden
“Malung” Kvinna i dräkt. Akvarell av P Södermark c 1850
Wikipedia Commons

Anna was a traveling saleswoman who hand crafted the human hair jewelry and traveled to Vrigstad to sell her wares. The family thinks she stayed at Sunnerby Norregard, Vrigstad during the market, where she would meet Johan Lundberg and wed him the 1 May 1863 at Aneboda, Kronberg, Sweden. My mother said she was of peasant stock and not well accepted by Johan’s family and this was part of the reason they immigrated to America. She was 26 and he was 23. It took the strands of three family stories to identify the correct artist who crafted the hair jewelry!

The art of making hair jewelry was brought from Finland to the Mora area in Dalarna, Sweden in 1824. It was quite popular throughout Europe during the Victorian period.

In a lovely twist a member of the family in Sweden realized that the hair jewelry she owned was Anna’s and arranged for my cousin, Lois, to receive it as a parting gift before returning to America!

I had just sent this story to her as well and as luck would have it she is visiting the grave of Anna Olsdotter Lundberg tomorrow at Lakeview Cemetery in Minneapolis for Memorial Day. Wow that is some serendipity!

PS If anyone should have a photograph of Anna Olsdotter Lundberg or her husband Johan Solomon Lundberg, please get in touch. My cousin and I have been searching for many years in vain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: