Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stepping Back in Time...

As I explore the nooks and crannies of Sweden, I am overwhelmed with the deep sense of history that seems to seep into one's mind and soul. Wandering through quaint villages along winding cobble-stoned streets, there's a sense of stepping back in time...far back.

In America, I was intrigued with "relics" from the 1800's. Here, I'm disappointed to find that the village church where some of my ancestors lived during the 1600's and early 1700's was not even built until 1840! Imagine that!

What I have seen so far are incredible Gothic and Romanesque medieval churches and cathedrals dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Swedish life has always revolved around its' churches, perched high above surrounding little villages and farms. They feature some of the finest art work and decor that you will see anyplace in Europe. The history behind these "kyrkas" is fascinating, opening one's mind to endless possibilities for future stories!

I have one of my own amazing stories to share. Something had been nagging me to visit a certain research center here in Ronneby, Sweden on the Baltic Sea. I soon discovered why! The research geneologist who was helping me decipher Swedish records suddenly became very much interested in my family's pedigree chart. She began furiously working at her computer. Finally she turned to me with a big smile on her face, tears in her eyes, and gave me a big hug! She informed me that we were related! It seems that my great-great-great-great grandmother was a sister to Annika's! The two girls, born in 1796 and 1801,came from a family of FOURTEEN children! So, I now have a relative in Sweden whom I plan to stay in touch with.

Amazing things can happen when you embark upon a journey to research your past.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch!

Janet Kay

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Trollin" in Sweden

Greetings from the land of the midnight sun! I'm here in Smaland doing some family history research, visiting little villages where my Swedish ancestors once lived, trying to learn more about their lives.

I recently went "trollin" in the amazing Trollskogan forest on the northern tip of the Island of Oland in the Baltic Sea. They say that trolls live here! Ancient gnarled oaks twist through the dense forest, taking on the shape of witches, ghosts, and trolls. One tree is 900 years old! I was alone in a fairyland, stumbling over rocky trails, walking through silky threads of spider webs. In the background, the sea wails and crashes against the rocky shoreline. All alone...wondering what lurks around the next bend. Yes, this is a place where imaginations soar. A place to set a story, perhaps. What if...

I contined my "trollin" - this time, searching for tiny villages where my ancestors lived in the 1700's and 1800's. A very long time ago. Some of their old farms no longer exist although remnants of their lives dot the forested landscape.

I was delighted to find the Algutsboda Kyrka (church) where my ancestors were baptized, where many were buried. It was built in the 1500's, renovated in the 1700's. Searching through the grave yard in a drizzling rain, I was disappointed to learn that the graves of my relatives were no longer visible. They now lie buried beneath another layer of gravestones. That is the way they do things here...

My search for these graves was similar to my search for the trolls. Perhaps I didn't find what I thought I was looking for...but maybe I found even more. Maybe we don't need physical evidence of things like spirits and trolls. Maybe it's enough just to feel their believe in the magic.

Stay tuned and please stay in touch.

Janet Kay