Elsa and Her Cousins

This post is part of #52Ancestorsin52Weeks – Week 7 Favorite Discovery


My favorite discovery is this picture of James, Elsa and Vivi, taken while they were aboard the S.S. Carmania sailing from Goteborg to Liverpool and then onto New York in the summer of 1910.  I was in possession of this photo for many years before I heard the full story and realized what the picture was and the significance of the photo.

Elsa was the eldest daughter of Anders and Hilda Winberg, and the first person in that family to emigrate to the United States.  She was on this journey to bring her cousins to their new home in New York.  They arrived in New York on June 22, 1910 and, because they were three minors traveling without an adult, were held by the authorities as “LPC” (Likely Public Charge).

The manifest lists them as Elsa Tornberg, 17f; Rosa Vive Vinberg, 9f; James Vinberg, 7m.  I love the story of Elsa.  Her courage, strength and maturity are admirable.

I have written about her before here, and have also imagined a diary entry of hers.

Here is how we are connected:
– Elsa is a sister of #5 Astrea Oskara Tornberg
-#5 Astrea Oskara Tornberg (1897 – 1975) married April 18, 1919 #4 Gustaf Harry Thorell (1889 – 1955)
– Their son #2 Arnold Lennart Thorell (1936-2016) married August 1956 #3 Rachel
– Me

Wealthea Elizabeth Berry

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 45 – Rich Man

This weeks’ prompt is Rich Man. The dictionary defines rich as: having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy

I think it means different things to different people. It can be an abundance of money, possessions, family, opportunities, or a general sense of happiness with what you have and the people who surround you.

I decided to take a less-literal approach with this prompt and searched my name directory for People named Rich. I found one Richard, but no one with the last name of Rich so I kept looking. I searched Banks, Moneypenny, Scrooge, Drysedale, and Hathaway (The Beverly Hillbillies?)  I didn’t find any of those names, so I started scrolling through my name directory and I came across a woman named Wealthea. And in researching her, I found out it is also her Mother’s middle name.

My 4th great aunt, Wealthea Elizabeth Berry (a/k/a Wealthy Eliza Berry) was born on April 30, 1831 to Peter and Jane (Wright) Berry in Clements, Annapolis Co., Nova Scotia.  Her brother William was my 3rd Great Grandfather.  Siblings William, Emma and James appear to be the only three members of that family who moved to Massachusetts, the rest of them remained in Nova Scotia.

According to Google, the name Wealthy (a/k/a Wealthea) means “a richness of spiritual blessings”. 

Wealthea was 19 when her mother, Jane Welthea (Wright) Berry died.  As the firstborn and old daughter, I’m sure much of the running of the household and watch after six younger siblings, ranging in age from 15 years old down to one year old, fell to her.  In 1853, she married Charles Dondale and had five children of her own, one of whom died in infancy.  Wealthea died at age 39 leaving befind four children ranging in age from 14 years old down to one year old.



Elsa’s Diary

This post is part of 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks.  Week 23 – Dear Diary

This is a work of fiction. It is not Elsa’s actual diary, but it is what I presume she would have written. I am fascinated by this story and often think about their journey.

June 21, 1910
Amerika!!  Can you imagine!  Tomorrow we will arrive in a new country!  The children wore themselves out today and are sleeping soundly. But I am so excited I cannot sleep!

What a busy and thrilling few months it has been.  I remember every word of the conversation with Aunt Ebba the day we talked about making this journey.  Momma was so mad!  She had sent me to Aunt Ebba’s house for a few days to bring them some food and to help with the children.    Momma said Aunt Ebbe and Uncle Victor did the best they could, but they were overwhelmed with five little children and couldn’t always afford to put food on the table.  It was so sad to go there and see how hungry those five little ones were. I knew my visit would help to lighten their spirits.

One evening while I was there we were talking about how at ease I was with the children. I said that having helped Momma raise four younger ones at home had taught me how.  Aunt Ebba then told me that Vivi and James were going to be adopted by Aunt Ebba’s sister and brother-in-law. They didn’t have any children of their own and wanted to help by adopting the oldest two.  Aunt Ebba cried and said it broke her heart to do it, but she knew it would help them all have a better life.  She said the hardest part of this was that her sister lived in the US and she wasn’t sure if she would ever see the children again.

“How will the children get there” I asked.  “Well, they must go by ship but they can’t go alone.  My sister has sent me money for the children’s fare and enough for a caretaker to travel with them. I have an idea that I want to talk to you about” she said.  “You are very good with them and they love you as you do them.  I want you to take them to America. You would be the adult along the way, and my sister will meet the ship at Ellis Island.  After that, you could live with them and help with the children and the housekeeping.”

I was speechless.  Was she really asking me to leave my family and friends to move to a strange, wonderful country?  My thoughts ran wild.

I don’t know anyone in the United States.  I have never even met by Aunt Rosa and Uncle Howard. But I would be staying with my family, and I would be with Vivi and James.

I don’t speak the language.  But Aunt Rosa speaks both Swedish and English.  She would need to teach the children how to read, write and speak English, so I could learn at the same time.
How could I leave Mama and Papa with the four children?  The children are growing quickly. Rosa was now 14, Astrea was 13, Arnold was 11 and Lennart was 9.  They were hardly babies anymore.  The girls were old enough to help Mama with everything.

“I will do it”  I said.  “But first we must talk to Mama and Papa.”
Mama was skogstokig!!  “I cannot believe you spoke with Elsa before asking me! You are not only sending your babies away and now you want to send mine, too?!?!” Mama, Papa and Aunt Ebba talked for a long time that night and finally agreed to it.

It didn’t take long to fill out the papers and purchase the tickets. And then we were on our way to board the ship. We boarded the ship and said our tearful goodbyes to Mama, Papa, Aunt Ebba and Uncle Victor. The children cried themselves to sleep that first night. Actually, for a few nights. But we are together and have had some fun adventures on this crossing. After spending more than a month in charge of them I feel more like their mother than their cousin.

America!! The sky is beginning to brighten and soon we will be docking in New York and entering Ellis Island. I guess I have stayed awake all night thinking about what will be. When the children awake we will dress in our fine clothes and have our picture taken on the ship before we arrive in New York. And soon, the next part of our adventure begins!
I believe the picture below is of James, Elsa and Vivi and was taken while they were aboard ship.  Coincidentally, this journey occurred 119 years ago this week.


*This is a re-post.  I somehow deleted this from my WordPress site and only through the kindness of my cousin Crister does this post still exist.  I did not have it backed up or saved anywhere else, but fortunately he did.  Thanks again!!


Rosa Androwna Marietta Tornberg Carlton Waite

Rosa Androwna Marietta was born March 25, 1895.  She married Karl Gustaf Waldemar Karlsson on September 26, 1914.  He was 25 years old, she was 19.  Two weeks earlier, on September 12, 1914, Rosa had given birth to their eldest child, a son they named Kurt Arnold Lennart Waldemar.  On February 20, 1917 Rosa’s mother (Hilda) gave birth to a girl named Barbro Elvy Ros-Mari.  For some reason Rosa and Karl took over the care of Barbro, raised her as their own, and eventually she used Karlsson as her last name.  On July 7, 1918 their daughter Siv Ingrid Viola Karlsson was born.  They now have three children within four years.

This picture, probably taken in the fall of 1918, shows Rosa holding Siv, Kurt, Karl holding Barbro.

rosa- Gustav (kurt Barbro Siv)

In 1918 they registered their emigration plans with the Swedish church and were planning to travel to America on the same ship as Rosa’s parents (Hilda and Anders Tornberg).  For some reason they did not go, and re-registered in 1919.  They arrived in New York on January 17, 1919.  The ship’s manifest lists the family of five, showing Barbro to have the last name of Tornberg.  When they sailed, Gust was 29 years old, Rosa was 23, and the children were 4, 3 and 2.

According to the 1920 Census, the family bought a home farm on Horton St. in Dighton MA, which is about 25 miles from where Rosa’s family members were living in Brockton MA.  Also living with them was Carl Tonby, who immigrated in 1911, is 58 years old and is listed as an Uncle.  Carl Carlton was head of household, and owner of the farm.  None of the 3 adults were US citizens, nor could they read, write or speak english.  Gust’s occupation was listed as Driver, Carl Tonby was a farmer on a Home Farm (I have seen family pictures of Rosa and her extended family on a farm and was told the farm was in Mansfield.  I wonder if there was another farm or if the farm is actually in Dighton?  More research!).  This picture was taken on ‘the farm’.

First row:  Unknown, Frank Emberg, Gus Carlton, Unknown
Second row:  Rosa Carlton, Elsa Emberg, Sylvia Carlton w/ Hilda Thornberg, Astrea Thorell w/ Pearl Thorell
Third row: Richard Emberg, Arnold Carlton

By 1926, when Rosa’s mother died, the family had moved to Brockton, where Rosa would live for the rest of her life.  The 1930 census lists the family living on Plain Street in Brockton.  The children are 15, 13, 11 and there are two boarders who live in their house and work in a shoe shop.

In 1940 Rosa, Karl and Kurt were living in a house that they owned in Brockton.  Rosa was 45 years old, Karl was 51 and Kurt was 26.  Rosa’s occupation is listed as a cook at a restaurant.  Could it have been the Swedish Home Bakeshop?  This picture is of Rosa and 3 children (I’m not sure who they are) standing in front of that bakeshop.


Sometime in the early 1940’s Rosa and Karl Gustaf divorced.  In 1944, Rosa married Harold David Waite.  The resided in Brockton for the remainder of their lives.

This picture was taken in Karlskrona, Sweden in the 1960’s.  Rosa and Harold went and visited family.  From left to right is Barbro, Harold, Rosa and one of Barbro’s daughters.Rosa & Harold

Harold died in 1973, at 78 years old.  Rosa died in 1979, at 84 years old.

Anders and Hilda Tornberg

Hilda Maria Winberg (born April 9, 1872) was the oldest of four children born to Bernard and Ingrid-Marie Winberg.  She had two brothers, Viktor Emanuel (b 1874) and Bernhard Reinhold (b 1876) and a sister Amelie Naemi Adele (b 1880)   Her aunt Hedvig (daughter of Hilda’s sister) also lived with them while she was growing up in Karlskrona.  Hedvig was about 16 years old when Hilda was born and helped with the household and children.  When Hilda was a teenager, they moved from Karlskrona to rural Gothenburg where many of the industrial workers resided.

In the late 1800’s Gothenburg was a large, modern, industrial city whose population had grown tenfold since the turn of the century. Anders Johan Tornberg (born October 1, 1869) was a shoemaker working in Gothenburg.  He and Hilda  met – when and how we do not know – and were married on November 7, 1891 he was 22 years old, she was 19.

In August of 1892 their first child was born.   By the time they left Sweden in 1917 Hilda had given birth to at least ten more babies, five of whom died very young.

  • Elsa Viola Henrietta – born August 19, 1892.  Elsa emigrated in 1910, accompanying two younger cousins (ages 10 and 7) to the United States.
  • Ingrid Angelina – born May 3, 1894, died May 5, 1894 of innate weakness.
  • Rosa Androwna Marietta – born March 25, 1895.  Rosa married in 1914 and stayed in Sweden until 1919.  The ship’s manifest shows that Rosa arrived in New York with her husband, son, daughter and her sister Barbro.
  • Carl Johan – born November 8, 1896, died November 10, 1896 – I can’t decipher what his cause of death was.
  • Astrea Oskara Emanuel – born December 1, 1897.  Astrea emigrated with her parents in 1917.
  • Arnold Sixten Marina – born February 2, 1899.  Arnold came to the US in 1922, but returned to Sweden soon after.
  • Barbro Sirene Gabriella – born May 15, 1900, died July 14, 1901 of bronchitis
  • Tage Helge Lennart Minothi – born August 3, 1901.  Lennart came to the US in 1919 but eventually returned to Sweden.
  • Barbro Syrene Dalase – born January 10, 1903, died June 27, 1903 of measles
  • Bror Jarl Osvald – born April 3, 1904, died May 22, 1904 – I can’t decipher what his cause of death was.
  • Barbro Elviy Ros-Mari – born February 20, 1917.  Barbro was raised by her sister Rosa.  She came to the US in 1919, eventually moving back to Sweden.

Below are the death certificates for the youngest children.  (Click on the thumbnail, which will open in a separate window.  Then click on it again to enlarge it).   If any of you can decipher the causes of death, please let me know.  I’d love to update the family history.

In November of 1895, Anders traveled alone to the US, leaving Hilda to care for their two young daughters..  There isn’t much information about this trip so I’m not sure how long he was here.  Perhaps he was denied entry and that’s why there are minimal records and references. In January of 1911 Anders traveled to the US again.  Hilda stayed home with four children, the oldest would have been 16-year old Rosa.  Perhaps he wanted to check on his firstborn Elsa, who had sailed in 1910, or perhaps he was visiting his brother and sister-in-law, Sven and Alma Tornberg who emigrated to the Boston area in 1903.

When I was growing up, I always knew that Nana had two sisters and two brothers so I was surprised to find out that she actually had three sisters, Elsa, Rosa and Barbro.  I knew there was a Barbro (Americanized as Barbra), but I didn’t know her as one of my Aunts.  As you can see, Barbro was a ‘late in life’ baby.  Hilda was 44 when she was born.  By that time Rosa was married with a two-year old son and for some reason Barbro was left with Rosa’s family when Anders, Hilda and Astrea emigrated.I do not know if Barbro knew she was Rosa’s sister, or if she grew up believing that Rosa was her mother.  I do not know why Hilda left Barbro with Rosa.  Perhaps she was sick at that time, remember she only lived to 1926.  Perhaps her body was worn down due to a combination of the number of births and her age.

What prompted Anders and Hilda to leave Sweden?  Why did they take Astrea and leave Barbro?  Good questions – but we may never know the answers.  Perhaps they left because of what was happening in the spring and summer of 1917 in Sweden. The country was characterized by hunger rebels, the struggle for women’s right to vote and protests for peace.

The shot in Sarajevo started the first World War in 1914. Sweden already imported cereals and there was no concern about securing the import of grain when the war began. In 1916 the harvest failed and grain was lacking. Exports of meat continued because Sweden was paid double by the war countries. The consequence was that there was neither bread nor meat. In addition, the proletariat in Russia revolutionized which inspired Swedish left activists. Demonstrations occurred in many of the cities in April and May, about not only grain and peace, but also demands for equal voting rights because women did not have the right to vote. In most of the large cities there were activities. In Stockholm, Västervik, Uppsala, Halmstad and Gothenburg there was a riot of police officers calling for military assistance. Almost 50,000 were demonstrating in Gothenburg and Sweden’s military power was in the highest preparedness.

If they were hoping for a calmer atmosphere in the US, they were certainly disappointed.  At the request of President Woodrow Wilson, the US Congress declared war on Germany in April resulting in a mandatory draft for men from 21-30 years old into military service, soon after expanding draft eligibility to ages 18 to 45.  Suffragists were holding demonstrations across the US demanding that women be given the right to vote.  In August of 1917, food rationing began.  Anders and Hilda must have felt like they weren’t any better off here.  There was a large Swedish community here and they had many family members nearby, so I’m sure they drew comfort from being close to friends and family.  I imagine it was a difficult time for them.  Especially Hilda, having left her baby girl behind.

By 1920 Anders, Hilda, and their son Lennart lived in a rented apartment in Brockton, MA.  Anders, now 51 years old (the census lists his age as 48), was a stitcher in a Cobbling Shop. Hilda, 47 years old, was a stitcher in a shoe factory.  Although he was 18 years old, there is no occupation listed for Lennart.  None of them had begun the naturalization process. Hilda died in Brockton in 1926.  By 1930 Anders was living with his daughter Astrea, her husband and three children, along with Astrea’s widowed step-mother.  He was working in a shoe shop, spoke english, and had filed his Declaration of Intention for US Citizenship.  By 1940 he was 71 years old and was renting a room at a rooming house in Brockton.   According to the census he had no job, but had ‘other income’.  It also states that his residence in 1935 was the same place so he had been there for years.  There were four other lodgers, ranging in age from 30-56.  Anders died in 1943.  He and Hilda are buried in Melrose Cemetery in Brockton MA.

I want to give a big Thank You to my cousin Crister Anderson who lives in Sweden and has become my translator.  We have been coordinating our research and much of the content for this story was contributed by him.  There are many more stories to come!  I want to follow each of these ‘children’ and tell you what we know about their lives.  If you have any special requests – let me know.   Thanks for visiting!


Immigration Records

Since posting about Nana’s voyage to the US, I have confirmed the name of the steamship she traveled on.  It was the SS Hellig Olav, which is part of the Scandinavian American Line.

Here is the Ellis Island official record of her arrival:Astrid Thornberg - Ellis Island

Back in the day, Swedish immigrants also had to file their intent to leave the country  with their church and I have found the ‘Emigrants Registered in Church Books’, which shows it is indeed Astrea.Astrea Tornberg leaving Sweden

Below is the ship manifest from the Ellis Island website (click on the images to open in a new window).  You can see the many questions that were asked during the screening process, one of which is ‘The name and complete address of nearest relative or friend in country from whence alien came”.  Here they listed Rosa Karlsson.  Rosa Carlton was my great aunt, one of Nana’s sisters.  On the second page, we learn that they were going to stay with Elsa Ember (Emberg was the correct last name) – another sister to Astrea who lived in Brockton MA.  According to this, they already had tickets to get to their destination.  I assume they traveled by train.    It also states that Elsa paid for their passage to the US.  On arrival, Anders has $100 in his pocket.

Hellig Olav 1917   Hellig Olav 2

Three years pass, and by the time the 1920 Census is taken, Nana is married.  Anders, Hilda and their son Lennart (who arrived in July of 1919) live in an apartment in Brockton, MA.  The Census shows that they are not US citizens, they can read and write Swedish, and do not speak English.  Anders (48 years old) is a cobbler in a cobbling shop, Hilda (47 years old) is stitcher in a shoe factory.  Although he is 18 years old, there is no occupation listed for Lennart.


Hilda would only live six more years.  Her story intrigues me.  I’ll tell you about her next.

An infamous date in our family history

On this day one hundred years ago, my paternal grandmother (Nana) arrived in the United States. She was 17 years old and had sailed with her parents from Sweden to New York on a trip that took about 10 days.

Scan 116

When I first saw this picture, I thought it was taken during their voyage, but then I started to doubt myself.  After doing some research, I do believe it was taken aboard ship.  I have compared this to other pictures of Nana during that same time period, and I have also asked my cousin in Sweden for his opinion.  He has family photos of my great-grandparents from around that time and he also believes it was taken on their way to the United States.  How cool is that?!?

Below is the ships manifest that lists them:  Anders, Hilda and Astrid Tornberg.  Wait a minute, Nana’s name was Astrea, not Astrid.  Is this the right family?  So, I have done more research.  There was not a sister named Astrid, and the two names sound similar. It shows a birth date of December 1 – that was Nana’s birthday.  1892 – wait, she was born in 1897.  More research….and I’m confident that this is them.  Some of the things I have learned about entry at foreign ports is that it was hurried, it was loud, and the record-keepers didn’t necessarily speak the same language as the immigrants, so it led to some inaccurate records.


Nana met my grandfather (Morfar*) in Massachusetts.  He was born in the US, moved back to Sweden as a child, but came to the US permanently in 1909.  When they married in 1919, he was 29 and she was 21.  There are interesting stories to be told, and I plan to share more soon.

But for now – shouldn’t we be celebrating today with a big cup of Glögg??


*The Swedish language has very specific names for grandparents.  They differ for the maternal and paternal.  You have mormor (mother’s mother); farmor (father’s mother); morfar (mother’s father); farfar (father’s father).  My Morfar was actually my father’s father, so we should have referred to him as Farfar.  And why Nana and not Farmor?  I’m sure there’s a story there, too…