Sunday, May 26, 2013

Swedish Family History

The Anderson family has been quite interested in my great great great grandfather Johan Anderson, since he is our pioneer ancestor who brought his family to Utah and cemented the Anderson surname into the family tree. Since Johan's family were the first to join the LDS Church, and they didn't join until they moved to Denmark, the rest of the family in Sweden has less of its family history done.

Johan's parents (Anders Petterson and Stina Goransdotter) had 9 children, but only 4 of them lived to adulthood: Andreas Johannes, Petter, Johan and Anna Stina.

Hamneda Church - Built in 1889-1892

Anders and Stina moved around a bit after they got married in 1824, but in 1842 they settled into a farm in Backaryd Norregard in Sweden, and never moved again ('ryd' means clearing, and Backaryd was near the village of Back; 'norr' means north, and 'gard' means farmyard or homestead). Backaryd is near the western banks of the river Lagan, which is one of the longest rivers in southern Sweden and an important trading route since Viking times.

Their little spot was called Ekebro ('oak-bridge') and it was big enough for 2-3 families to live there and work the land. The records indicate that they were very poor. Twice the local priest of Hamneda Parish wrote notes in his survey that he had issued warnings to them about possible neglect, given their destitute state. Add to this their sadness at the loss of 5 children, including 3 girls in a row who never reached the age of four (each was named Gustava). Their four surviving children moved away when they came of age, but Johan and Anna Stina eventually moved back with their families to work the farm (I don't know where Petter or Andreas Johannes went exactly -- still working on that).

Johan Anderson
Johan and his wife Nilla moved back to the farm between 1851 and 1856 and stayed there until 1866. In that year they moved to Aarhas, Denmark, where they joined the LDS church (1874) and then ultimately moved to Benjamin, Utah in the mid-1880s. When Johan passed away in 1905, Nilla followed her children to Taber, Alberta, Canada. She died in 1909 (more detailed history about Johan Anderson is available online).

So that was Johan's story in North America. But what happened to the rest of the family back in Sweden?

Anna Stina (Andersdotter) Storgaard
While Johan ran the family farm in Sweden, his younger sister Anna Stina lived in the outskirts of Aarhus, Denmark, where she married a Danish man named Lars Storgaard (apparently, Swedes and Danes can understand each other quite well -- although Norwegians can understand each of them better than they can understand each other). They lived in Denmark near Aarhus for about 8 years, where 3 boys (Anders, Frederik and Johannes) were born in the villages of Harlev, Framlev and Folby, respectively. After Anna Stina's parents both passed away (Anders 1860, Stina 1865), then Anna Stina moved back to the farm with Lars and the 3 boys.

Lars and Anna Stina's move from Denmark to Sweden came shortly after the Second Schleswig War, which was waged in 1864 between the Danes and the Prussians & Austrians. Denmark lost and ceded a considerable amount of territory to the Prussians. I think times were pretty tough and pretty uncertain in Denmark in those years, likely prompting the family's move back to Sweden. At the time, Aarhus was the second largest city in Denmark and prior to the war it likely had a lot more opportunity when compared to the small farm in the middle of nowhere in Sweden. As noted above, when Johan & his family left for Denmark in 1866, they also went to the Aarhus area.

Amanda (Larsdotter / Larsen) Hagman
After Lars and Anna Stina settled into farm life back in Sweden, Amanda was born in 1870. The boys all moved away when they came of age (Johannes moved to London on Feb 2, 1887), but Amanda remained on the farm until she married a soldier named Hans Alfred Johannson Hagman in 1891. They had a son named Lars Johan Reinhold Hagman just a few months later (read into that what you will). The newlyweds started living in spot #2 at Ekebro, which must have been a smaller cottage on the farm, because everyone seems to have started there and worked their way over to spot #1 (probably a bigger house) as they became more established.

Hans Hagman
Hans Hagman was born on May 16, 1869 in Denmark, but moved to Sweden where he eventually enlisted in the military (Ljunby Company) at the age of ~18. He lived in Halmstad, on the Swedish west coast until Dec 3, 1888, when he moved 70 km inland to Hamneda. He was about 21 years old when he married Amanda in 1891. He likely continued his military service until the family moved to Canada in 1892. He became a Canadian citizen in 1896.

Moving to Winnipeg
Lars Storgaard & Anna Stina left for North America on Apr 6, 1892. Amanda and Hans left for North America in the same year, settling on a farm in the area of Winnipeg, Manitoba (Selkirk). Sadly, their first son Lars Johan Renhold Hagman died on 15 May 1892 in Winnipeg, at the age of only 4 months. By 1915 the family would come to reside at 451 Martin Avenue in the city of Winnipeg proper and have 11 more children who all survived to adulthood. The last available appearance of the family in the census is in 1911, when all but two of the children had been born.

World War One
Hans and at least three of his sons (William, Albert and John) enlisted in the Canadian military at the outset of WWI, as depicted in the newpaper photo below from Jan 18 1915, taken in Salisbury, UK (the first wave of Canadian volunteer soldiers spent that winter training in the mud and drizzle of Salisbury). Hans served with the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers and was injured and sent home. The details of his medical discharge are currently unknown. Hans then enlisted again in June of 1915 to serve with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, although he provided his age as 3 years younger than he actually was. Based on his enlistment info, by that point his occupation had changed from farmer to woodworker. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial has no results for any war dead with the surname of Hagman, and it appears that the whole family made it home from the war -- quite a feat, given that they were among the first to volunteer, and the Canadian Expeditionary Force took massive casualties in these early conflicts. John Hagman was discharged with a gunshot wound to his leg, but re-enlisted in Jan 1918 to serve in Canada-only duty until July 1918. Sgt William Arnold Hagman returned to Canada aboard the ship Adriatic from Southampton to Halifax on 10 Sep 1919. He had been in active service for 5 years. The eldest son, William, served in England and got married in 1818 to Florence Playford, who was working in a munitions factory near Canterbury.

Calgary Connection
I found it interesting to note that Hans and Amanda had a daughter named Annie Wilhemina Hagman who married an Irishman named Alexander Cuffe, had four children and passed away in 1956 in Calgary. She was buried in the Queen's Park Cemetery. It boggles the mind that a little cottage in the tiny hamlet of Backaryd in Sweden has multiple pathways to my home town of Calgary.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Great Fun With Great Uncles: A Family History Success Story

In March of this year our Stake President challenged us to find a family name by June 4. I was a bit overwhelmed, because I had printed off my fan chart and it was completely filled 8 generations back. I had no idea where to start. On March 17 I was sitting in a church meeting when I got an email from my uncle Doug in Naperville, Illinois, that said:

"Dear Family Members,
I am taking a break from work on BJA's Personal History to do some family history research.
1. To identify family members who have deceased.
2.To take their names to the temple for ordinance work.
Are any of you doing work or would you be interested in doing work in this?
With love,

Within moments I replied:

This is my most earnest desire. Show me the way. I am a total novice.

Later that evening (just before I went on stage for a church production) Doug sent me instructions on how to access original records maintained by the Lutheran Church in Sweden. These parish clerical surveys were equivalent to a census prior to the 1900s.

We worked together to dig through records in search of information. Eventually, I migrated further along the branch he had targeted and started searching the parish records for another set of Swedish relatives that lived in the early 1800s, and I struck gold.

I found the clerical surveys for my great-great-great-great grandfather's family on the farm in Ekebro, Backaryd Norregard, Hamneda Parish, Kronoberg County, Sweden. Tracing through 60 years of records I saw his children grow up, leave the farm, then return to the farm with their own families, who then repeated the cycle.

In the end, I was able to connect their daughter Anna Stina (my great-great-great-great aunt) with her Danish husband Lars and their four children (three born in Denmark, one born in Sweden). The three boys born in Denmark had already had their temple work done as temple file extraction names, but I was able to connect them all together and then request ordinance work for two names: Lars and the Swedish-born daughter Amanda.

My neice and nephew in St. George, Utah, printed off the names and took them to the temple to do baptisms and confirmations this week. Thanks uncle Doug!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Churning Ice Cream - Mega Ball

We got the Mega Ball ice cream maker for Christmas and have had to roll it around the family room the first few times we used it. This time we were able to take the churning outside in the warmer weather. The kids really like helping to pour the ingredients inside, but their focus wanes after a few minutes of rolling it around in the back yard. I end up doing most of the rolling, so we play a game where they run away and I chase them with the rolling ball, which they occasionally try to hurdle. We are getting better and better at the process of making vanilla ice cream and now I think we will venture into various flavours.

Note Katie's sweet PJs + rainboots ensemble.

First Golf of the Season

Sunrise at Shagganappi Point

Monday, May 20, 2013

Victoria Day at Fort Calgary

The Mounties just had their 140th birthday and we were a part of the action.

The Canadian Parliament passed an act to form the North West Mounted Police in on May 23, 1873, and the force's first action was to march from Winnipeg to Fort Whoop-Up (modern-day Lethbridge) in summer of 1874 to clean up the cross-border whiskey trade. They arrived to find Whoop-Up deserted, so they moved further along the Oldman River to establish Fort MacLeod. The following summer the force began construction of Fort Calgary at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers.

The fort was rebuilt in 1882, and then demolished in 1914 for use as a rail terminal. The site was later planned for a freeway, but in 1974 the city of Calgary chose to reclaim the land, removing the warehouses and rail facilities to reveal remnants of the original fort walls. A replica of the 1888 barracks was added in 2000.

Thirteen years later we showed up at the Fort to eat cake, try on authentic uniforms, receive balloon animals, have faces painted, check out exhibits about Calgary history, and watch an episode of Dudley Do-Right.

Scott thought he got an exceptionally good deal. He observed that some kids only got small spider design on their cheek, but he got a Spiderman half-mask that was WAY better. He also noted that he wasn't interested in getting a balloon animal until he saw a boy get a Spiderman balloon, and then he was convinced. He observed that the final creation didn't really resemble a real Spiderman very much, and commented that it looked like stick figure more than anything.

Katie was super-excited about her butterfly face paint and her purple-heart balloon wand. She especially liked all the vintage toys that they had set out. I was a bit surprised myself at how fun and interesting some classic wooden toys really are.

I have done a few early-morning runs near the fort and I have appreciated the beauty of the area and I think the city has done a really good job here. I had very little knowledge of the history and I found it all fascinating. We have had a special spot in our hearts for the RCMP since our time in Ottawa watching the Musical Ride, so it was fun to see how the force was instrumental in the founding of our home town.

Under the Big Top

The circus was in town on Victoria Day weekend, so after our visit to Fort Calgary we went to Big Top for the show. It was a pretty small venue, so we had a great view of the action. It was actually really entertaining and I think the kids enjoyed themselves.

The kids really liked the exotic animals, but maybe not as feverishly as some people -- R noted that there was a guy sitting in front of us who was over the moon about the large contingent of Bengal Tigers that opened the show. He shot photos pretty much non-stop during that segment and then left during intermission. Our kids enjoyed the Bengals, but maybe not quite as much as him. They probably liked seeing the elephant relief itself into a garbage can about as much as anything else. Potty humour abounds among the younger set in our house.

I was genuinely concerned for the safety of the acrobat who jumped rope on the outside of the revolving Wheel of Death. He was sweating like a maniac throughout, and when he missed a skip and nearly fell off the top he was either genuinely freaked out or a pretty decent actor. I remember going to the circus when I was young and the only things I can remember very clearly are the trapeze and the wheel of death, so I am glad that we got to subject our children to similarly harrowing experiences.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spartan Weekend with Cousins

I entered into the Spartan Sprint obstacle race near Kalispell, Montana this year. Since it was Mother's Day weekend, we decided that I would take the kids down to Montana with me and R would have the weekend to herself to do whatever she liked. Win-win.

Katie slept in the little girls' room, and her cousin Bailey obliged her in every respect, reading books to Katie late into the night. Katie was in heaven. She was also completely wiped out by the following evening.

Speaking of Bailey, she was playing solitaire on the computer and singing along to Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" at the top of her lungs. So awesome. On repeat.

Scott and Cannon are finally getting old enough that they are playing together. All they needed was a pickup truck and a couple of swords and they were good for several hours.

Chest Bump (Cam & Kaitlin)

Chest Bump (Kaitlin & Becca) - Attempt #1

Chest Bump (Kaitlin & Becca) - Attempt #2

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kindergarten Presentation

Scott's school had a kindergarten presentation to show off some of the things they learned during the year. They performed all together and in small groups. Plus there were a few videos up on the screen. You could tell Scott was really enjoying himself and really got into the dancing. Judging by his bright red face, he may have been a bit out of his comfort zone, but he never let that stop him.

Spartan Sprint in Kalispell

Obstacle races are a big thing lately. I see the appeal. It is a very accessible event with no real equipment or expertise required, beyond a set of shoes and shorts that are okay to get dirty. I have run a few road races now and I think they are fun mainly because I listen to audiobooks while I plod along. Conversely, having a race course that fights back and tries to maim you really passes the time.

My brother Cam was the one told me about the Spartan Sprint obstacle course. He told a lot of people about the race and ended up with a team of about 20 people that all registered together. Unfortunately, Cam had walking pneumonia and had to bail out of the race.

When you show up to one of these races, you really don't know what to expect. You don't have the benefit of a course map to study -- you don't even know how long the race will be. A "Sprint" race is described as a "3+ mile" event. In this instance, they went heavy on the '+'. It was more like 5 miles. Apparently, the race director got out to the site and was so excited about all the terrain that he added some more distance to include a extra bog here and an extra hill there, etc.

The advertisements mainly show people climbing ropes or slogging through mud, but the hills were the hardest obstacle of all. I find clambering over a 6 foot wall a lot easier than clambering over a mountain. It was very tempting to walk the hills, since you didn't really know if you needed hold back a bit of energy in reserve. I ran all the hills except for two -- one of those was a steep climb up a ridge and back down with a 50 lb sandbag on my shoulders, and the second one was right after the first, but longer and without the sandbag.

In the end I did really well. I was in the top 5% in my age group, in the men's category and in the overall. That is considerably better than I typically do in a road race, so I think this is more my style. Our team came 8th overall out of 300 teams, so that was another really good result. One of the guys on our team works for a company that sells remote-controled helicopters with cameras and they made a sweet video that really captures the beauty of the surroundings.

I am definitely doing it again next year. Aroo!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Fitness Contests & Other Feats of Strength

We have had several fitness competitions at work, starting with P90X, then half-marathon training, and yesterday we finished another. This time we had to log 5 1-hour workouts per week for 16 weeks, during which we did a fitness competition against each other every 3 weeks. The winner was the person with the best completion record for workouts, and the loser had to buy lunch for everyone else (and could only eat salad and had to wear a muscle shirt). Since no one missed a single workout, the tie-breaker came down to your average performance in the six competitions:

Wall Sit

For the actual competition, everyone doubled any previous time they had recorded in training. I thought I had a good chance of winning because I could do 2 minutes at home without too much pain. I thought I could do 2:30 on game day. For the competition, we all lined up on either side of a hallway and started the clock. When 2 minutes came and went without anyone dropping out I got a bit concerned. Same with 2:30, and then 3 minutes. I started to think that I might lose. But finally somebody gave up and dropped, and then it went like dominoes. I ended up 2nd place, because I could hide how badly my legs wanted to shake and the 3rd place guy gave up.

Box Jumps

The challenge was to do 100 box jumps as fast as possible, on a box 24 inches high. Once again, when game day came around, everybody went twice as fast as they ever had in training. I went head-to-head with the other two guys who had been in the top three for the Wall Sit and couldn't keep up with their pace. I was a few reps behind them when I got to about 80 reps and my legs failed me completely. I went to jump up and hardly left the ground, smashing into the front of the plastic steps with my shins (pretty good scar from that one). The guy who won did something similar at about 90 reps, but he recovered faster than me and got done in about 1:45. It took me another 30 seconds longer than that and I came in 3rd place.

Crescent Heights Stairs

This is a popular training spot just north of downtown. The interwebs say that there are 11 flights of steps making 167 total, for an estimated elevation gain of 125 feet (38 meters). Some people do regular training sessions there where they run 10 laps up and down (2 steps at a time) in <25 minutes, and other people run it carrying 50-lb sandbags. Our challenge was to run to the top and back down, taking the steps one at a time.

The first person did it in 1:27, which was much faster than the 1:58 I had done in training. However, in training I had always done the stairs in the middle of a longer run and had never quite given 100%. I just about crashed on the final downward flight of steps, but I made it in 1:31, shaving 23% off my previous time. I held my position in 2nd until the final runner managed to beat me by 1 second. Back to 3rd place again.

100 Pushups

I can't do 100 consecutive pushups, so the fastest way for me to reach 100 was to do 40, wait 10 seconds, do 20, wait 10 seconds, do 15, wait 5 seconds, do 8, wait 5 seconds, do 4, wait 5 seconds, then do 2 at a time until I could only do 1 at a time. It was a very painful process, and I managed it in 5:24 to finish in 3rd. The winner did it in 3:36, so there was no chance I was going to beat that. I did my first 60 pushups in about a minute. It took me 4.5 minutes to do the remaining 40.

1000 Skips

All that skipping that we did in elementary school came in handy, as I was able to grind out 1000 skips in 6:12 and lock down 2nd place. The guy who won used to be into boxing and was a flawless skipper. I went as fast as he did, but I missed more often. Scott has his own skipping rope and he liked to practice with me in the basement. He finally got so he could string about 3 consecutive skips together.

1-Mile Race

Our big finale was a 1-mile footrace along the Bow River downtown. In addition to my longer runs for marathon training, I did some training runs for the mile:
- My first attempt at a mile was 6:10, but I knew I could do more.
- Then next one was 5:56 and I still thought I could squeeze it some more.
- The last training run was 5:51 and I felt like I was going to die.

All my training runs were with a small backpack (2-3 pounds), so on race day I figured I would be a few seconds better. There were 7 of us in the race and 2 of us followed closely behind the leader, who is a pretty legit runner. After 400m the other guy dropped back into 3rd and I stayed within arm's reach of the leader, but he started to pull away from my at about the half-way point. Since I had a comfortable grip on 2nd place I didn't push it to 100% for the homestretch, but I still came in at 5:25, which was a massive improvement from my training and only 7 seconds behind the winner.

The competition is now over until we start up again in the fall. I came in 2nd so I can consider ordering a main course.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Tipping Point

One evening last week I took the kids down to the community center to play. Scott rode his bike, Katie rode her trike, and I brought up the rear toting some tennis rackets (it is important to Scott that he be first wherever we go). Right away we noticed that last year's paddleboats had been replaced with three red canoes. We decided to give them a try. I snapped a photo of the kids in their lifejackets just before we embarked. That was just a few moments before the tears started.

Scott climbed into the canoe (first, obviously) to sit up front and I helped Katie into the canoe to sit in the middle. Scott was startled how much the canoe tipped side to side when Katie got in. He started to panic a little bit.

If he thought things felt unstable with Katie's 32 pounds in there, well, he really didn't like it when I stepped in the stern. Katie didn't like it either, and she wanted out. I pulled her out for a second and we sat on the dock for a minute while she calmed down and then we tried again. It wasn't much different. In fact, it was worse.

Even though I had unhooked I couldn't push off because Scott had sprawled himself across the canoe to latch onto the edge of the dock and would not let go. Katie continued to cry. Her wailing pushed Scott over the edge and he began to scream. Then Katie started to scream and cry. I sat dumbfounded in the back of the canoe, trying not to laugh.

In the end, we abandoned the attempt and retreated to the safety of the playground, where the kids got on a teeter-totter mounted on a spring, where they proceeded to tip back and forth with laughs and smiles.

Makes sense to me.