I have written about the history of all sides of my family in this series and I have also written about my friend, Sherri Miller’s family. Her grandfather immigrated from Norway and eventually settled in the Presho, South Dakota area. My Grandparents on the Francis and Sanderson sides were second generation Americans and settled in my hometown of Murdo, South Dakota.
When I was 29 and my brother, Billy, was 36, our father, William Francis died suddenly. He had a heart attack while helping a neighbor put in a shower. Dad was living in California at the time.
My parents divorced when I was 18. Mom and E.M. Gustafson married 3 years later, shortly before my first son was born. Gus has been in our lives for 48 years and Bill’s family and mine are all very close to him. Mom was his only marriage. She was a few years older and always said she was training him for his 2nd wife. They were married 36 years before she died. I hope you’re getting all of this down because there will be a test later.
Gus’ cousin, Marilyn Moseson, researched much of the Gustafson family’s history. This story is a compilation of information contained in her book as well as Gus’ records and memories.
Gus’ grandfather, Gustaf Svensson was born 12/21/1846. You might be wondering why his surname was Svensson and not Gustafson. Sweden abounds in names ending in “son” because of an old Nordic practice. Before hereditary surnames were introduced, they used the father’s first name, and the suffix -“son” for son or “-dotter” for a daughter. Gustaf Svensson’s sons were Gustafsons. If he’d had a daughter, her name, for example, would have been, Sofia, Gustafsdotter.
Gustaf married in 1884. His wife died about a year later. There were no children born of that marriage. On 7/24/1886 he married Emma, Eriksdotter. They had 7 sons. One son died in infancy and four immigrated to America. Not much was written about Gus’ grandfather, Gustaf, except that he was a hard worker and he was very proud of the barn his son, Johan, built for him.
Many times the small farms in Sweden couldn’t support all of the sons and their families which created the need and desire to immigrate to America. Gus said his grandparent’s farm in Sweden was named Rormyren and was near the largest lake in Sweden.
Rudolph was the 5th son of Gusfaf and Emma. He was born 11-4-1893 and was one of the four who immigrated to America. Karl and Johan, the two oldest, remained in Sweden.
Rudolph sailed to America on the SS US Kristiana. He was listed as the 2nd passenger on the manifest.
Rudolph arrived at America’s Ellis Island on December 6th, 1912. He was 19 years old. He immediately went to Sioux City, Iowa where he was greeted by brothers Swan (previously Sven) and Edward as well as his Aunts and Uncles.
Rudolph was a hard worker and he was strong. He could throw a load of bricks over his shoulder and climb a ladder.
He was drafted into the service in 1917. As did many who immigrated, Rudolph became a citizen while serving. Like Sherri’s father, who had to denounce the King of Norway, Rudolph had to denounce the King of Sweden before obtaining his citizenship.
Rudolph’s mother, Emma had a strong faith which helped her endure the fact that 4 of her sons were all the way in America. 1931 was a special year for her. Her sons brought her and her son, Johan to America for a visit. She was 78 at the time. Emma stayed for an entire year and enjoyed many family gatherings. After she returned to Sweden, her boys made trips to visit her. Gus’ father, Rudolph, made a trip in 1938. Edward even took his car on the ship with him, once.
On 11/26/1943, the brothers received a telegram from Johan. It only contained 2 words…Mother dead. Because of the war, the brothers couldn’t join Johan for their mother’s burial.
The rhythm of life changed swiftly and often during the time many of our families were becoming established in their new homeland. The tapestry became richer with all the combined history melding together
Between 1900 and 1915, more than 15 million immigrants arrived in the United States. That was about equal to the number of immigrants who had arrived in the previous 40 years combined…