It is not easy, and you really have to be determined sometimes when looking for facts in the different archives.
As you know I search for my Swedish soldiers in the different archives out there, both the large and common ones, but also in the outskirts of the normal digital resources. I was searching for some swedish names in Wisconsin Gold Star list, a kind of a Honor Roll that I found through Familysearch portal. I started to search by putting the word “Sweden” in the search bar, and got three hits.
I find Swan O Peterson, stated to be born in Sweden, and I cross check with the American archive over casualty cards, and he is there, but he is buried back home in the states, and then he is outside my criterias for my project, as I search for those who are buried at the Western Front. But under him I see another name that looks Swedish, but after that person, it does not say “Sweden” but I decide to check him up.
I know that I have searched through his casualty card before, but then I did not see that is actually says that his next of kin is from Sweden, his father is from “Holma, Medange, Holm”. – that can be anywhere, I think for myself, but I decide to search for John H Stenberg in Ancestry. I find a John H Stenberg and it says that he is born February 1st 1890 in Boltak, Skbg.
For many people this could be quite hard to read, but luckily I have passed the sign everyday for three years on my way to work, and I know it means “Baltak, Skaraborg”. Baltak is a small village in Skaraborg region. So far so good, he is born in Sweden, but is this the correct John?
I search in a map for Baltak, and I see quite quick some familiar villages around Baltak. I see Madängsholm, and look at Johns fathers place again, ah, “Medange, Holm” should be Madängsholm. This is probably the correct John.
The next step is to search for him in the Swedish Archive “Riksarkivet”, and the name I know is John, and we also know that it can be Johan, and I try to search for “Johan H*”, and also put in the year 1890 as we know from Ancestry. I get 223 hits.
I know that Baltak is in Västra Götalands County, and in the area of Tidaholm, and that narrows it down to 3. And there he is, Johan Harry, the fathers name is Stenberg. Here he probably is. But I want to look in the church book as well and then I have to search for the perish that Johan Harry is born, which I find from the first search. The perish of Agnetorp. And there he is. Born February 1st 1890. But the name says Jan Harry…
From the beginning we had John, that I guessed could be Johan, and now he is baptised to Jan, or could it just be written wrong?
I decide to search for Jan Harry as well, but I do not find anything, and decide to search for John Harry, and I actually find him again under that name in the same archive, with some of his family as it looks like. This is not easy at all sometimes. Ok, I am quite sure that this is the individual I am looking for.
I now want to take a look in the other chapters in the church book, and when I do that I find the family, and he is the book as well. I have to know that they lived in “Brunnsvik” which I found in the earlier search, just to be able to find the right page in the book instead of searching through all the pages, that sometimes can be around 1000 pages. It says that his father left for America in 1905, but I can see some notes about that he maybe came back. John moved to another village nearby, which I think was Velinga, in 1904, and I know that village is nearby, also from my commute to work … I also see in the church book that there is a line over “A” in “Johan”, so maybe the correct name was John all the time after all?
I also find that John left Sweden for USA in April 23, 1913, from the notes in the list from the ship that he left with. I dont know when or where he settled down, but I know he joined the AEF from Wisconsin, and went to France after have joined Co L, 7th Inf Regt, 3rd Division, and that he fought in the Meuse Argonne offensive and fell just south of the village Romagne in the Argonne region in October 5th, 1918. John is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery.
I see that John belonged to the same Division as Carl J Hagel, another Swede from Skaraborgs Region, village of Essunga, not very far from Baltak, so this gives me some new to dig in to. May both of those Swedes rest in peace.