Friday, January 28, 2011

Dimbo, Sweden

World Co-ordinates  58°10'0" N  -  13°49'0" E  
Dimbo, Sweden  
Located in Vastra Gotaland Lan (West Goth Land)
170 miles West of Stockholm

A remote village surrounded by vast forest, Dimbo is home to the largest Viking Burial Site in Vastergotland. Located behind the Kyrka (church) are 300 graves. Some of them are burial mounds, some are marked in stone. The graveyard goes back to the Bronze Age, dated in the Viking Era between 800 to 1000 AD. Surrounding the area are wild paths that have been used since the Middle Ages. These immortal paths still exist today and now lead to an enchanting Nature Park. Imagine the Viking spirits who roam these forest paths evermore...

This is where my roots are...and where someday I too will walk.

The Land of Ice and Snow

Sometimes, Music reflects Nature...

The land of ice and snow
Where the midnight sun blows
Hundred thousand lakes glow
In the land of ice and snow

Northern lights guide our way
Come whatever may
Forest god protects our day
In the land of ice and snow

Where Koskenkorva flows
Where the freezing wind blows
Summer nights are white and warm
In the land of ice and snow

Some might say that we are cold
Don't believe all that's been told
Our hearts are mad of gold
In the land of ice and snow

We didn't bow under oppression
We fought and we died
Redeemed in blood
The land of ice and snow

Here I was born and here I've lived
And one day here I will die
Under northern starry sky
In the land of ice and snow...

Music & Lyrics - Stratovarius


Thursday, January 27, 2011


"Your past is a great part of who you are: the pain and the pleasure, the trials and rewards, the ease and difficulty. All is to be embraced by you, for without it, you would be less than who you are." 
Ivo/Lisa Dorr

The above statement, is totally true. (and eerie how karma repeats itself...)

For my birthday in April, I planned a trip to Sweden. For a year prior, I had been researching my family history there, clues to my mysterious past, and of the culture which deeply runs thru my Viking blood, more than I ever knew.

I originally was going to travel with Bridge to Sweden - which does research and custom tours. Instead, I ended up with a 102 fever and flu which ruined my birthday trip, but by the magic of the universe - I did take a trip through the halls of time. 

My Grandmother died in 1996. She loved Nature, Art, and was highly intelligent (although not college educated) adventurous, and fascinated with life. She loved to travel more than anything. I am a living copy of my Grandmother. Which further brings up the question: are we really a product of our environment or do genetics rule? Is there some magic invisible thread that ties us together where ever we end up in this world?

I had to find out.  

So, with nothing to go on but my Grandmothers' name, birthday, and arrival in America in 1923, - I found the same person on the online Ellis Island Passenger Arrival Lists (along with her parents names!) I posted only my Grandmother's info on a Swedish research forum and the next day, I got responses from strangers who were kind enough to look into the Emigranten database in Sweden. Within 24 hours, I had verified my great grandparents information, and a day later my GG Grandmothers information, which is where it all started. I discovered the Swedish women in my family all have the middle name Elizabeth, (as do I) a chain that has not been broken in over 158 years! I was beyond amazed.

1848 - Dimbo, Sweden.....Deep in the countryside of Vastergotland (translation: West Sweden) my GG grandmother Anna Lisa Karlsdotter was born.  Dimbo is a rural Medieval village of rolling hills and wild forest, home to the oldest Stone Age Viking cemetary in Sweden. Population 757.

Sadly, Sweden was a very poor country back then.  Small towns with little red houses were far between, connected by long roads painted in nature's canvas of emerald forest and everblue sky. Sparkling white snow swept by arctic winds covered the land like whipped frosting during harsh Northern winters. The bittersweet beauty of this place was home and a hauntingly beautiful fuel to the Swedish spirit. 

The lucky few were landowners. Most of the population were tenant workers, and had to find jobs at the nearest farm to survive. There were no other options. There were 2 large farms in the area, Skattegarden - otherwise known as the Tax Farm, and Ryttegarden - the royal farm that provided horses and soliders to the Swedish military.

GG Grandmother Anna Lisa was a handmaid (the equivalent of a personal servant) at Skattegarden, and it was nowhere she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

Like a fairy tale dream come true, GG Grandmother Anna Lisa met and married a charming 24 yrs older man Johannes Svensson (born 1823) from the next town.  Rumor has it he was instantly enamoured by Anna Lisa's stunning beauty and strong spirit. They had a lifelong bond, marriage and 4 children together. Anna had 3 more children after her husband passed away.

d.  Hilma Elisabet, b. 1876 in Baltak Skaraborgs län
s. Oskar Levin, b. 1878 in Baltak
s. Karl Anton,  b. 1879 in Baltak
d. Helga Olivia, b. 1881 in Baltak
illegitimate son Gustaf Alexander, b. 1887 in Baltak
 illegitimate son Josef Nikolaus, b. 1889 in Baltak
 illegitimate daughter Gerda Elisabet, b. 1897 in Baltak 

Anna Lisa and Johannes moved to a bigger town - Baltak, to live happily ever after. In Swedish tradition, they gave their children the last name JOHANSSON.  Meaning children of Johannes. (The last name reflects the Fathers first name in Sweden.)  She had her last baby at age 49. By the time she was 50, she was a heartbroken widow with 7 children. With no means of support, and too old to do physical farm labor, Anna Lisa eventually went broke and moved to a Home on the Parish farm.   

Twenty six years later, this cycle of fate repeats itself, as Anna Lisa's youngest rebel daughter Gerda (my Great grandmother born 1897) thought running off to America was better odds than being stuck in a small farm town with no opportunities and an elderly mom. At that time, children were also being auctioned off to farms as labor. So, Gerda married, and talked her husband into leaving Sweden, taking off to America to follow her Dreams.

They left July 25, 1923 from the port City of Goteborg, on the immigrant ship Drottningholm. Destination: Chicago.

Gerda was 25 yrs old with her 3 yr old daughter (my Grandmother) on this trans-Atlantic journey. The young family did not know anyone in America and spoke limited English.  Despite the odds against them, G Grandfather Al got a job immediately as a Construction foreman, near Hyde Park neighborhood. 

Gerda and Al stayed together their entire lives, creating a new life in the USA, raising one daughter, and enjoying a Summer home in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, their favorite  place, that reminded them of the forests of Sweden.

To be continued...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Power of Words

"Stories are medicine. They have such power, they do not require that we do, be, act anything - we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories."

Clairssa Pinkola Estes