I always enjoy the surprise and challenge of genealogy discoveries – that’s why this hunt is so addictive and the rewards so sweet. So this week’s 52 ancestors theme of ‘surprise’ kind of left me thinking thusly in general, broad strokes and took me a while to narrow down to someone specific. [as noted by my Friday, not Wednesday posting]

Something that my uncle and I discussed last week as we were reviewing the Swedish genetic percentages from his latest dna testing, was if his grandfather Carl Severin Hallberg was not a Hallberg at all. He related stories of Carl and his younger brother Sigfrid not being liked by their father Hans Peter Hallberg. Now Hans Peter could have just been like that, but I’ve found there’s always a grain of truth in a family story, especially if it is investigated thoroughly.

Carl Severin Hallberg, author’s collection

Carl Severin was born 26 Sep 1882 to Lina Svensdatter in Ränneslöv, Halland, Sweden. It is in the southwest part of Sweden, close to the sea which separates Sweden from Denmark. It came as a surprise to me to find that Carl Severin was listed as illegitimate (oäkta) and his mother listed as unmarried (piga and ej gift is marked) on his birth recording.

Swedish Church Records Arkivdigital via

There is also some tantalizing info about her address, and some comments to the far right that I haven’t quite figured out. [there is a great facebook genealogy page community that provides translations, though]

Lina’s second son Nels Sigfred was born 13 Oct 1885. His birth recording shows he was also ‘oäkta ‘ and his mother was ‘ej gift’. Her last name was listed as Svensson instead of Svensdatter, which is interesting.

Lina was listed as fästekvinna (fiance) of Hans Peter Svensson on the ‘utflynning’ (outgoing) register [I love the Swedish custom of recording people’s moves] from 29 Oct 1885, just 2 weeks after her second son was born. Västra Karup was listed as their destination, which is 25 km west of Ränneslöv towards the sea.

Lina marries Hans Peter Svensson (common last name is a surprise too) 16 Nov 1885, in Torekov, a beach village about 5km from Västra Karup . He was listed as a farmhand and she a maid (piga). It was the first marriage for both and they were also listed as being from Ränneslöv. What brought them to this place to marry?

Then Lina Svensson immigrated to ‘Amerika’ 25 Feb 1887 from Skummeslöv, which is up the coast a little bit from Torekov. She was listed as hustru (a wife) and her sons Carl Severin Svensson and Nils Sigfrid Svensson were traveling with her. Hans Peter Svensson followed them on 17 May 1886. The family became known as ‘Hallberg’ in America – which they probably took from their regional name ‘Halland’.

Halland/Skane region of SW Sweden via The New York Times

So it has been verified that my great grandfather as well as his brother were born of an unwed mother. But what is unknown is if Hans Peter Svensson Hallberg was their father or not. That Svensson name being the same for the maiden name of Lina kind of throws a kink in the chain because it makes it harder to track other names that might have been associated with her children. Lina did have three children together with Hans Peter and raised all five of them as one family. Maybe some new surprise will surface down the line that will provide some more information about this family lore.

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, a year-long blogging project focusing on family history stories. This week’s prompt is “surprises.”