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Hit a genealogical brick wall....

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm just going to see if I can pick your brains for a minute here. Recently I've been trying to trace some records of my great great grandfather to see if I can take the family line a bit further back in time. My mum has his seaman's logbook (which is over 100 years old) complete with a letter form him to his ship master, pencilled notes of his birthday and his wife's. There is an absolute font of invaluable information in this logbook - and my uncle has their passports - with photographs! Both mum and my uncle Nils have a ship in a bottle each that he made on his sea voyages with the merchant navy. And again, they're over 100 years old. So if I can depart some info to you, could someone maybe give me a new starting point? Because I've tried all that I can think of in the way of searches.

We know for a fact that his given name was Nils Frederick Jansson, born 11/07/1859 in the Skåne area of Sweden although we don't know that he was ever baptised. We know that he married a woman with the name Elizzabeth (Liverpool), but her maiden name is missing. He joined the British merchant navy and sailed on the S.S. Kildonan for several years - the really unlucky ship that eventually sunk in 1917 - though by then he was retired, possibly even deceased. We also know that although his name was Nils, he was known on board as Fred, and somewhere along the lines when he came to the uk on 16/08/1891, Jansson was mispelled by the Brits as Janson.... which is the name that has been passed on to his children and some grandchildren, my uncle and mother included. I've just had my name changed by deed poll so that Alex and I can have the same surname and to put the family name back into our line, with the original spelling.

I've searched for his birth records, records within the merchant navy, crew lists, census records for 1901 (he missed the 1891 by 5 months) but we suspect he was offshore when it was taken. I cna't find a thing. Because of the dates, we're pretty certain that his father's name was Jan, because of the way the Swedish name system worked. BUt I'm all out of ideas now....

If anyone can give me a new place to start I'd be more than grateful. I've poste don a couple of genealogy sites too,so hopefully I'll get some turnout somewhere along the lines. Ta very muchly folks!!
post #2 of 14
I'm so impressed by all your research! Sure wish I had some advice to offer. Hope you find the key to go from here!
post #3 of 14
That is so interesting, Emma!

My family is presently tracing our family tree too! I am not really sure where they are up to, but I can ask them if they have any advice on where you should start.

Have you spoken to all your relatives? Do you have any of your Great Great Grandfather's medals? We used my Grandad's Navy medals to help us to get some more information!

I will see if I can find anything out for you and get back to you on that! Being that his wife was from Liverpool, I might be able to have a browse through some of the information we have, as a majority of my family originated there!
post #4 of 14
Have you tried www.worldgenweb.org? Click on Europe, central europe and then Sweden. I hope it's an English site. I've never tried to research Swedish roots so I don't know if it would be helpful or not. I hate brick walls.
post #5 of 14
wow, you know right now im making a family tree but of my cats!
post #6 of 14
My brother has got our tree back to 1750 in two directions, but is stuck ont he others. He has spent years on, and has visited Somerset House and hte Public Records Office in the UK, many parish records and old graveyards in Scotland and he found the Mormon CHurch family site very helpful, as they have been recording every family they can find, whether Mormon or not. Good luck, it is a nice thing to do, and I think everyone benefits ffrom knowing where their roots are.
post #7 of 14
www.ancestry.com is supposed to be a good place.
post #8 of 14
My grandfather did ours and got it back to 1608. He had the luxery of being retired and traveled to the towns across our country until he found when they came over from Derbyshire, England in 1638, then went over to Derbyshire to trace from there. Don't know if you have the luxery to search that way. I have found some of my other family lines thru a google search on the internet.

Grandpa's part of our family is now well documented on the Internet - they have found something close to 700,000 decendents from the original couple that migrated from England now living in the states. Here's the website: http://brownellfamily.rootsweb.com/chronicles.html I think there are tips on the site on how to go about tracing your family lines.
post #9 of 14
I'm sorry I can't help you. Geneology is so interesting, isn't it? My mom ahs been researching our family for years and has one side all of the way back to the 1100's!! She managed to do this because as it turns out, we had a lot of lourdes and ladies and some roylaty as well (so there's more likely to be more info on them). Good luck to you. I hope you can figure this piece out, it only gets more and more interesting!!
post #10 of 14
Yes, Ancestry.com is a good site and I have noted through their daily newsletter they occassionally mention doing research on Swedish ancestors. Through Ancestry.com (and genealogy.com) I have been able to contact distant cousins who helped break through some of my brickwalls. It took a while on a couple of them,though!

I am fortunate that I have been able to go back to my ggg grandparents on both sides. One paternal line stops there because my grandfather's biological father abandoned the family.

Most recently I have been able to locate the graveyard of a gggg grandfather - despite the directions given on a website!

Good Luck.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by jennyranson
My brother has got our tree back to 1750 in two directions, but is stuck ont he others. He has spent years on, and has visited Somerset House and hte Public Records Office in the UK, many parish records and old graveyards in Scotland and he found the Mormon CHurch family site very helpful, as they have been recording every family they can find, whether Mormon or not. Good luck, it is a nice thing to do, and I think everyone benefits ffrom knowing where their roots are.
Jenny just incase you need to do anymore searching all records have now been transferred from Somerset House to St. Catherines House in London.

I've got records going back to my great, great, great grandparents, thanks to a cousin!
post #12 of 14
Well done until now, here are my ideas: Can you search death records? death certificates. Search the death records under those names all the way down to World War I. More often than not those records carry the birthdates, wife, and all that stuff. You could also search records of the Anglican Church to see if there was any mass for the deceased.

Since you have searched Navy records already... have you searched retirement records? You know, when he retired, did he get a pension, or some form of retirement benefits, and the likes? Anything helps. Marriage records perhaps? You know, when you get married a marriage license is issued, and if it was an Anglican or Catholic marriage, the church also keeps a record. (Sometimes its easier to search the church, because you can just befriend a priest or two, while the government keeps the red tape).

Another question: Do you know where exactly in the Merchant Navy he was? Sometimes the mentioning of him might appear elsewhere where you didn't look. Perhaps some transfer he got, some spelling mistake in his name, some idiot who forgot to place it by alphabetical order.

Another good idea, why don't you check the logbooks and records of the ship itself. The papers of the S.S. Kildonan will have something on him if he served there. Anything goes, from some obscure mentioning of him on the captains logbook, to a paper saying he wanted to get permission to go out for a few hours to the port they were anchored in, you name it. Even if you cannot find it, you will know for sure if he was abroad when the 1901 census was taken, and where he was, which could help you a lot in the search.

I am out of ideas right now, but if I can think of anything else, I will come around. It helps being the son of historians.

EDIT: Go see the Mormons. Thats a must. Do like me. Befriend a couple of them, and check what they have got on records. From experience I can tell you they have records of nearly everything you can imagine related to genealogy. What they usually do is that you can see their catalogs in the local churches, and order a copy of microfilm rolls of the documents they have to be sent directly from Utah, and you will be allowed to study them in a microfilm reader right there in that particular church. Just learn to politely say no whenever they invite you for a mass.
post #13 of 14
My dad is our family geneaologist:-) and has records back to 1140 in Germany:-).

Do you know what religion he was or do you have any ideas about what some of his descendents religion was? Many churches kept registrys of births and marriages of their parishioners so you may wish to contact the churches in the area of his birth and see if they keep such records, or if they have turned them over to some sort of national archives or repository.

Do you have an idea of the community in which he died? I realize you don't have a date, but if you know where he last lived you can also check church records and cemetery records to locate him. Do you know his parents' names? Try searching the census records for them and you may find him listed as a family dependent. Check to see if Sweden has census records - he should be listed on some of those if they do. Many times records like that are not kept nationally but are kept with a regional or county government, or at least organized by region. You can then track his parents and see if there are later references to him through their records - or through other siblings. You should be able to obtain crew rosters for Merchant ships and possibly pay records in England. Sometimes you can track them through payroll records or ship transfers. If you can find references to names of other ships in his diary (what a great resource!) you might be able to find listings of the crew. You can check newspaper archives for the home port of any ships that are listed for the years you find he might have served or for any of the places where he lived. Do you have the birthdates of his children? Sometimes their birth records record information about their parents - possibly Elizzabeth's maiden name. Or her maiden name may be used as a middle name in one of the cihildren. Family wills may make reference to properties and that might reveal more leads to follow. Sometimes you can track people through City Directories or County Business Directories if you know where they lived. He was 32 when he came to England so he must have left some sort of life's records in Sweden. It may be a good excuse for you to go to Sweden directly for some in person sleuthing. You may also wish to get in touch with genealogical societies in Liverpool and in Skane area of Sweden and ask them if they know of any other obvious resources available. A local contact would be invaluable and would know of any other uniquely local materials that might be relevent.

Good luck with your research!

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks guys! Unfortunately I've tried all of the websites you've already listed - and although I believe I've found a record for him, I can't be sure until I get to see the real thing - there are so many times the names have been mispelled. I know he's buried in Streatham Cemetery, London, and his wife in Sweden even though their birthplaces were the other way around. It's funny to look through all the documents we DO have (they are the originals) and just think about how old they are. They are so fragile now, but I can imagine them being brand spanking new at the time. It's almost like a window into the past and I can see him in my mind's eye, filling in details in his logbook, or sititng making the ships in bottles on his trips to the states. I'm going to ask my uncle if I can see his and his wife's passports, because I would simpy love to see their faces. I've tried local contacts, but it seems that Moray only deals with Moray history and is more or less totally unaware that there is anything outside the area. When I asked if they had a contact number for the records at Kew, they looked at me like I was mad and asked "Where?". Said it all for me really I'm gunna keep ploughing on and see if I can't find something else.
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