It is amazing sometimes, how a small lead, a bit of fantasy and geographical knowledge, and maybe most of all, experience, in searching digital archives, can lead you to the goal.
In my work in trying to find Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in The Great War, I yesterday came across a casualty card that I have tried to work with before. It was the card from Arthur Peterson, who was killed in action August 30th, 1918, when he served for the American Expeditionary Forces.
The only thing that gave me a clue that he maybe was born in Sweden was the words on the card ” A lund, Per Nelson, father, Sweden, Insufficient address”.
I decided to give it a go.
I have access to Ancestry and I use the facts that I know and start with to search with the data that I have, the name, Date of Death, and the data mentioned on the card about the father.
I get some results about an Arthur Peterson who died at the correct date, but he is named Arthur H Peterson according to the US archives. I search further on in the results, and here I see a note about Arriving passenger and crew, alien passengers, arriving to US, and here there is a person who is called John Artur H Peterson, and if I look very close I can read out that the name of the father is named, Per U Nilsson.
I can also read out the name of the village, that I assume is N Möckleby, North Möckleby, “Norra Möckleby”. I can also read out another village name, that looks like Dörby. I decide to search for it in a map, and I find N Möckleby, and just south of it, also the name Dörby.
The village Norra Möckleby is situated at the Island in the Baltic Sea, connected to the mainland with a 6km long brigde, the Island of Öland.
“Ah, maybe the text at the card A lund can be Öland?” It probably is, and here I can connect a person who is named John Artur H Peterson who lived at Öland, with a father named Per U Nilsson.
I decide to use my other archive that I have access to, Arkiv Digital, to search for the only hard fact that I have, Per U Nilsson at Norra Möckleby, and I get a result …
I find Per Uno Nilsson, Norra Möckleby, Dörby, Öland. He must be Per U Nilsson mentioned on the passenger list. And here I also find another name that correlates with John Artur H Peterson, John Artur Helge, his son.
It is stated in the church book that John left for North America September 9, 1909. Can this John Artur be the Arthur Peterson I am looking for? I now have Johns date of birth, November 1st, 1890, and decide to use that on ancestry.
I want to connect the person John Artur Helge Peterson to the individual Arthur Peterson on the casualty card. Now I only have facts about a person who went to US, with a father from Möckleby, but I want to find a military connection with all the data that I have.
I use the data I have from the card, and combine it with Arthurs date of birth. I also use “Montana”, and I use “A land” again, because it is on the casualty card, you never know …
And here I find it. I find the Military records from Montana that connects the Arthur Peterson to John Artur Helge Peterson, and that concludes my search. On this card you find all the earlier clues, “Alund” that is Öland. “Nora Mok Laby” that is Norra Möckleby, and also the father “Per Nelson”.
John Artur Helge Petersson is buried at the American Cemetery in Oise-Aisne region in France. he was killed at an age of 27.
My access to the different archives made me find these facts that could connect the casualty card to the correct information. I pay for it and it is also quite expensive, but it is worth it. I can now put John Artur Helge Peterson, who called himself Arthur Peterson into my database of Swedes who fought and fell in The Great War at the Western Front.
John is the #372 in my database, I will see if I can find 400.