About photos; look at the Swedish verison.
Link to a website in US, written by a relative to the part of the family who emigrated to U.S.A.
THEY BECAME SETTLERS IN JÄMTLAND.
By Karl O. Gerdin
It was dark, with no moon, but from the starry sky small beams of light lit up the snow-covered landscape around Våmhus, Dalarna.
Although it was already the end of March Winter still held it`s grip over the countryside and Erik massaged his cheeks carefully with the inside of his knitted blue mittens. From the porch he gazed out over the countryside.
He didn`t see much but could imagine the siluette of the villages of Björkvassla and Moren in a far away haze. Perhaps in an hour when the first light of dawn appears over Fryksåsberget and slowley spreads down towards Orsa and across the lake it would be possible to distingquish the nearby villages.
Erik, Bighans Erik Larsson as he was called, stood a long time gazing into the dark. It was as if he specially wanted to engrave every single detail in his mind. This was, maybe, the last time he stood on the step? Maybe he would never return to the place he was born? The thought was so overwhelming for him that he felt tears in his eyes and he had to blink hard to prevent them from falling down his cheeks.
Here in Limbäck he was born, and in every village he had relatives and friends whom were very dear to him. Here, he and his wife Anna had been the first in the district whom were baptized and they also started the first Baptist community together with the mother, mother - in - law and three other people. Due to this they had, especially from the church, been subjected to a lot of abuse.
Here, every year, they had fought with nature to get enough hay to feed the animals during Winter. Here they had fought the several hundred kilometers to the chalets. Back and fourth, back and fourth. Several hundred kilometers had he walked and he knew that he had yet a long way left to walk!
When Erik, after he had seen to the animals in the barn, returned to the house, he was met by hustle and bustle. His wife Anna was busy cooking the first meal of the day and the children Anna (the mother of my grandfather), Lars and Kristina (married Staverfelt) were excitedly gathering everything they were going to take with them. The day had come. It was time to begin their travel!
TO HALLEN IN THE COUNTY OF JÄMTLAND
When it was first known to the children that they were going to move they were unhappy and cried, but when they realized that both Grandmothers, Aunt Karin ( on their fathers side ) and her family were coming it felt easier. Yes almost exciting. It would be a great experience to walk almost 300 kilometers Northwards to Hallen in Jämtland where Father Erik, together with Anders, Aunt Karins husband and a man called Lok Jon had bought a big farm they would share.
Father Erik had vividly described to them how beautiful it was there, how the high mountains could be covered in snow during the sommer. Imagine being able to both go swimming and throw snowballs in the middle of Summer. All at the same time!?!
For little Anna, seven years, it seemed unreal. She was so deep in her daydreaming that when her Mother Anna placed the steaming porridge on the table it made her jump.
It was necessary to eat as much as possible now because they could not expect to get any cooked food until the same evening when they reached the chalet Stora Vasselnäs where they would spend their first night.
Content and satisfied she put on her thick coat, her mittens and her cap. Now the adventure could begin.
The wagon was loaded and the horse ready. The children sat huddled up at the back and Erik paced impatiently in the snow. His wife Anna had difficulty leaving the house and made many errands all around the place.
She stood in the kitchen dorrway and noted with blurred eyes the faults in the room that had irritated her before. Suddenly they became dear memories of both sad and happy moments they had shared. Here she had sat together with her Mother Kråk Anna Hansdotter and her Sister-in law Storhans Karin Larsdotter and planned their trips around Europe.
They were all so-called ”hairwomen”, wandering from district to district making jewelery and brooches out of womens hair. They were beautiful and sought-after ornaments made by deft hands. A handicraft still found in these parts today.
At one time Anna whent all the way to the Black Sea, and on her way home the plague had come to Finland and she was forbidden to leave the coutry until ”the danger was over”. She had been forced to burry in the earth a roll of fabric she had bought in Russia to bring home. The Government would have been sure to have burnt it to ensure that no contamination would occurr. Anna had to stay three years in Finland before she was allowed to leave for home. She wandered 3000 kilometers. By foot!
She took a last glimpse at the room, then shut the door and left.
With a rustling sound, the wagon on which Erik had put runners especially for the journey, glid down the hill towards the church and then Nortwestwards. On the other side of Våmån (a river) to the East they could see the first lights being lit at Björkvasslas`farms and behind the mountain of Fryksås they could foretell the brake of dawn. The sky was not reddened it ought to become a fine day.
Slowly the little group of people and animals glid Norhwards past Bäck and Heden, and reached Stora Vasselnäs` chalets in the afternoon. Now, the place was empty and deserted but in a few months there will be a hustle and bustle in every chalet. Then, the village-men would be there seeing to the feences and roads, preparing for the women and animals to arrive there.
Automatically Erik drifted around noting what the damages were and what needed to be repared after Winter. He sighed and decided that it would have to be his Nephew Lars who had to see to it. At that point he would be several hundred kilometers away. Erik filled his lungs with the beautifuly clean fresh air and returned to the chalet where the fire crackled cheerfully in the fire-place.
Little Anna had difficulty going to sleep that evening. It wasn`t because she wasn`t in her own bed. She had spent numerable summers here, as far as she could remember. No, it was something else, something intangible. A feeling that someting definate was about to happen gripped hold of her tender body and she didn`t know how to handle it.
In the beautifullly carved bunkbed with woven curtains she lay tossing and turning, with drawing the curtains carefully and glancing at the flames and the shadows dancing upon the walls. Slowly, slowly she was swept into a comfort that took her closer and closer to the land of sleep, and now she was there. Large mountains covered in white appeared and on them wild reindeer danced around a little girl dressed in a national Våmhus costume. The scene then changed and the mountains were replaced by the flowery slopes of Stora Vasselnäs and at a distance she heard a girl chanting as she called the cows in to be milked, and later all of a sudden she appeared in her Grandmother`s kitchen in Bäck where the delightful smell of freshly baked bread spread in the room.
Anna awoke and was aware of the smell of freshly baked bread. For a moment she thought she was back in Våmhus but reality became clear when she saw her Grandmother at the fire-place making the morning meal and food to take on the journey.
With a light step she jumped out of bed, towards the wash-stand where she in a childish manner carefully dipped her fingers in the water and in the same careful way wet her eyes and cheeks. She was finished. For Anna and her siblings another day awaitened full of excitment and new adventurers.
THERE WAS A SMELL OF SNOW.
Erik, Anders and Jon stood outside the chalet talking. They watched eastwards, their heads streched, sort of scenting the direction of the wind. Would it stop at an easy snowfall or would it get worse and even endanger their journey? They decided to continue as planned. They knew the route they were to travel today so well and felt no need to worry.
Slowly they worked their way down the slope, down towards the valley, across Våmån and started the climb up to and past Bleckets`chalets. The snow began to fall heavier and although it was past dawn the light was scarce.
Erik felt a gnawing anxiety that it might become a difficult day for the children. It was not the first time he had made his way here in a snowstorm. When he, together with the other villagemen, had made their way up to Kölen to fetch hay for the animals, they nearly got snowed in at the chalet in Dalen when the storm continued withour weakening for several days.
Those episodes had been quite exciting then, but this time it was different, he had his family with him. It was still 10 kilometers to Dalen. The storm got more intense and it had started to blow. Like grey shadows they slowly fought their way ahead. Just as definitely as they had left Limbeck behind, the wind covered their tracks. Erik, Anders and Jon took turns taking the lead which was a demanding task due to the poor visibility, only a few meters.
The wind tore at all loose things and on the wagon the children sat like little white balls, covered by a thick layer of snow. Underneath this cover Anna sat with tears of fear falling down her cheeks. The mother also cried whilst she helplessly faught against the wind. This was not what she had anticipated. Thoughts circled like a whirlwind in her head and she wanted to go ”home” to the warm cottage in Limbeck. Why had they left? Was this better? Would they ever reach their goal? Or would they perish out here in the wilderness?
She took her sleeve and wiped her face when she suddenly felt an arm around her shoulders. It was Erik on his way to replace Anders up front and at the same time Jon had replaced him in the line so that no one would be left behind. Anna felt warmed and comforted. All the love and affection she felt for her husband overwhelmed her and she threw herself round his neck. A tender hugg was just what she needed. It gave her her strength back. Of course they would overcome this. It wasn`t the first time they had worked themselves tired together. Wasn`t that what they had had to do most of their life so far? Worked together against most things? Yes, that was a fact and that was why they decided to search for something else that seemed more promising and rewarding than what they had left behind.
Erik continued to struggle and Anna tramped on with regained strength and ease. Shouldn`t they soon reach the lake of Bösjön? Was there not a fishing-chalet there? Yes there was!
Up front Erik and Anders had had the same thought and when they reached the spot where the river parted they headed Northeast. From there it was merely a few kilometers to Bösjön. they would make it!
THE CHALET OF BÖSJÖN.
They nearly just missed the little chalet, it was covered with snow. The men helped out with the animals, and the women shovelled away snow infront of the door and took care of the children. The chalet was as cold as a food-cellar and a fire was necessary to prevent illnes. The men brought wood from the supply with them when they came in and soon the fire was crackling in the fireplace and with a contented smile Anna felt the warmth spredding and saw the light breaking the shadows in the otherwise so dark chalet. They would be cramped, they realized, but they wouldn`t have to be cold.
The iron-casserole was filled with snow, the women pottered about and soon a mouthwatering soup was simmering over the fire. The hot soup with chunks of ham in, soon warmed and livened the quiet little group of muffled-up men, women and children, and when coffee was about to be served coats were removed and the conversation became livlier. They discussed the storm and the men were given chance to tell of the adventures they had had.
Hours later they noted that the storm had diminished and after yet another couple of hours the sky was starry and the temperature fell. The men dressed and whent out to see to the horses and the other animals they had brought on the trip, whilst the women prepared for the evening in the chalet.
The older women would sleep on the barrack-beds and the others would have to make do sleeping on the floor. They all soon fell into a deep sleep due to the hardship they had endured today.
Morning came and with it sunshine and a smell of fresh brewed coffee. It was Aunt Karin and Mother Anna who were preparing the meal. Little Anna stretched herself then awoke her siblings. After doing this she got ready to start the day. Father Erik and the other men had gone to see to the animals and prepare the wagons, so that they could leave as soon as they had eaten.
The animals were in good shape despite yesterdays storm and were soon put infront of the wagons. The morning meal was eaten, the wagons packed and the chalet had been seen to and was ready for it`s next guests.
They were on their way again. They had all had a good nights sleep after the hardships they had had yesterday , and didn`t awake until daybreak. They admired the wonderful view, in daylight, as they returned to the spot where the rivers divided. At the crossing they turned and headed North and followed the stream up towards Näcksjön (a lake) and onwards to Dalen. They had to move at a slow pace, the snow that fell yesterday made it difficult for the horses, although they were thoroughly rested, but the runners were wide and all whent well despite the conditions. They reached the outskirts on the vast area North gererally called Kölen.
”JÄMTMOT”, THE MARKET-PLACE.
People travelled from near and far in the middle of Winter to a market-place called Jämtmot, to buy and sell their goods. There, one met new people, socialized and had a good time.
When they later reached Tvärrymdalen it was time for the mid-day-meal and a well deserved rest for the animals. Here, in Tvärrymdalen the Limbeck-farmers had, together with the farmers of Heden, some of their distant-chalets. Meaning, the chalets that were very far from home. There, they lived like the vikings did, in so called ”fire-houses”.
After a steady meal they continued towards the North. Last night they planned to spend the night at Pär Jonasson in Kräckelbäcken, but they would be there far to early, so they decided to continue towards Lillhärdal.
Kräckelbäcken was approximatly 40 kilometers from Älvdalen and 35 kilometers from Lillhärdal, both places lay in the area called Finnmarken. (A district where many people from Finland lived.) Kräckelbäckens ”lonley- mans-farm”, as it was called, was founded by Pär Jonassons father in the year 1841, and was a well known, and popular restingplace for travellers heading north or south. The Father died during the fifties after which Pär took over and had expanded and improved the farm.
They could, at a far distance, hear the sound of an axe powerfully chopping thicks logs, as Erik, Anders and Jon with family got nearer the farm. Pär Jonasson was a young man in his best years and already known to the district as a strong man. A stubborn but friendly strong man, that, after many, many years ahead was seen stubbornly removing stones and tree trunks from his land. When he was over 90-years old, he was still working at the farm.
They were very close and the chopping decreased and they could see how Pär rested on the handle of the axe, and looked to the South trying to distinguish who was coming. Earlier, this Winter, he had met Erik and the other men at the market-place and was therefor aware of the journey they were about to complete. It wasn`t hard to guess who it might be and he whent to meet them with a smile. They shook hands cheerfully and he offered them in for a hot meal before they continued. Pär made everone who came feel welcome.
From Kräckelbäcken they continued North. They would have liked to stay the night at Pär Jonasson, but the storm had delayed them, they had to catch up on time. Pär was a generous man, he had offered them both coffee and fried pork on bread. They left him some handicraft made from chip shavings to show their gratitude for his hospitality, Pär`s wife was delighted to recieve the gifts. Handicraft made from chip shavinges were, just like the ornaments made from womens hair, significant for Våmhus, and widely known for their fine quality.
Strengthened from the meal they continued. They had to walk at least five kilometers before nightfall. Yet again they could hear the sound of an axe shopping wood as they reached Ulvsjön, (Ulvsjön=Lake of wolfs) and there, just south of Kölån river they could see a man busy chopping timber. The little group came to a stop , and Erik and both other men walked towards and started talking to the man.
HALVARD THE SETTLER.
He was from Finland and introduced himself as Halvard Persson. Halvard told them he intended to settle there and that the loggs from the felling would dry during Spring and Summer, and be ready for him to build a cottage in late Summer.
The man was very nice talking to and Erik asked him if he would object to them staying the night there. Halvard did not mind the slightest. In fact he would enjoy the company, so they started shovelling away snow in a big circle making large banks to shelter them from the wind. Inside the circle a wind shield from twigs, from Halvar`s felling, was built. Inside the circle, which looked like half an igloo, both humans and animals gathered together to seek protection and warmth. Halvard too accompanied his new found friends, leaving the camp he used at night.
The setting of the sun occured between Dödåsen in the west and Munkheden in Southwest (mountains) and there was a striking silence over the district. Both animals and humans were quiet and there was an uncanny atmosphere. they all seemed to be far away as they all sat still and quietly around the fires.
Little Anna curled up in the reindeer skins she had around her. She gazed at the dancing flames and the starry sky, and from the sky into the deep forests outside the camp. She had never experienced this before, therefore it felt even more exciting. An experience she would remember for a long time ahead and tell her grandchildren.
The fire crackled and it made Anna jump. At the same time they all heard a howling somewhere in the distance. It was a wolf calling. A lonely wolf calling for company and it was not long before it was answered by a call from Knätten, a mountain in the East. When Anna turned her head to the direction she could see the siluette of the high montain against the lighter starry sky.
Anna was scared. The other children were too, and they all creped closer to their parents. Mother Anna sang and old children`s song gently, to calm them; ”The wolf he howles in the northan woods, he wants to but can`t go to sleep....” From the woods north of Kölån, maybe a hundred meters away there was another answer and Anna realized that Father Erik had told them the lake nearby was called Ulvsjön (Lake Wolf). That must mean there were numerable amounts of wolves around? She became scared.
A branch broke at the felling, and through the light from the fire she stared into a pair of yellow eyes.
The horses neighed nervously as they could scent the wolves and Anders went tol calm them down. Jon put more loggs onto the fires and Erik kept a look out in the outskirts of the camp. He grabbed a thick stick, ready to defend them if a wolf dared to come close.
They all sat quietly and tense. Only the crackle from the fire and the soughing noise from the trees, as the wind combed the foxtail- shaped fir-tree crowns, broke the silence. It was as if all living creatures held their breath awaiting what was to come next.
Suddenly, without warning, a wolf flung itself against the animals at a safe distance from the fires. It attacked one of the sheep but Anders, who was still there, threw his thick stick through the air and hit the wolf with a tremendous blow right in the head. The wolf would never harm anyone again.
Anna and her siblings sat tight, and close to Mother Anna, even hours after the shaking experience. Mother Anna was scared, she too, but pretended to be calm to not further frighten the children.
No more attacks occured that night, so eventually they fell asleep arount the fires. The men took turns guarding the camp and when Erik had his shift he gazed at the myriads of stars, twinkling down upon him, and thought of Abraham whom, he too had left his home to seek, something to him, new and unknown. Erik wondered how things would turn out, could the soil be much richer up North? Would there be enough food for them all? Erik thought yes, we will have to see.
UP THE HILLS IN KLÖVSJÖ.
As the days went by they slowly worked their way further and further North. Across Vemdalen, down into the valley and upp the hills in Klövsjö. They continued through Åsarna and Svenstavik where they took off and followed the narrow road along Storsjöns south side and reached Höla, south of Hallen where they would stay with people they were acquainted to. They would stay there untill all papers, concerning their new farm, were settled.
Their new farm belonged to Ytterhallen and was called Högen. It was situated high up, with a magnificant view over Storsjön, thereby it`s name. The first thing little Anna saw was that the mountains really were as big and white as Father Erik had described them.
During their stay at Höla she met a boy, three years older than herself. His name was Olof Andersson- Gärdin. He was a kind and pleasant boy, and his father was a crofter. There were other children too in the village, and Anna felt that she would be happy here. The difficult part was, they had a strange accent. Sometimes she couldn`t understand what they were saying, but Father Erik said that in time she would get used to it.
Högen was, at this time, a big farm and now they would be three households sharing it. They all agreed to Erik`s family living in the farm-house. Anders would build a house for his family east from the farm-house, and Jon would build his further up the hill a hundred meters away.
A lot of work lay ahead of them, but they knew Spring was on it`s way and the yearning to get started seethed through their veins.
They had reached their goal, they were settlers in Jämtland.
Storhans (Bighans) Erik Larsson was born in Våmhus, Dalecarlia on the 16 th of July 1813 and died in Hallen on the 3 rd of February 1873.
His wife Hed Anna Andersdaughter, also born i Våmhus, on the 17 th of Oktober 1829 and died on Frösön on the 1 st of August 1923.
Anna, born on the 29 th of August 1852 in Våmhus, died in Tottänge, Östersund on the 29 th of March 1928, married to Olof Andersson-Gärdin, building contractor and factory owner.
Lars, born in Ljusdal on the 22 nd of Oktober 1854, died in Texas, the company he worked at burned down on the 4 th of July in 1918. He was married to Kerstin Bergdahl.
Kristina, born in Våmhus on the 30 th of November 1856, died on Frösön the 25 th of December 1936, married to Anton Staverfelt, furrier.
Karin, born in Hallen on the 14 th of December 1859, died in Park Rapids, Minnesota on the 7 th of April 1954 married to Hans Hansson-Wallin, tailor.
Erik, tailor, born in Hallen on the 24 th of December 1861, died in Park Rapids, Minnesota on the 26 th of July 1905 from Tbc, married to Selma Danielsson from Örebro.
Anders, born in Hallen on the 24 th of December 1861, he came to be a victim of crime, hit on the head by a robber during a robbery, date and place unknown.
Mait Maria, born in Hallen on the 24 th of August 1865, died in Norway, Michigan on the 30 th of September 1936, married to Johan E Blomgren, building contractor, from Ronum, Overholden in Norway.
Only two of their children stayed in Sweden.
Just as they had done in Darlecarlia, Erik and Anna and the other settlers started a Baptist community. They were met by the same problems as they had in Darlecarlia, from the estabilshed Church. They were accused of false doctrine and their children Kristina and Karin were christened by force.
Tales were told of how Rev. Ångman haced a hole in the ice of Storsjön, where he held his christenings. The children must have been mould ot the right stuff, because within Baptism the whole body is exposed to water, it must have been somwhat of a chilly ceremony.
Erik and Annas farm was torn down long ago, but the house that Eriks sister Karin and her husband Anders built, east of Eriks house, still remains. Their offspring live there and run the farm. The house is painted red and it is beautiful.
Lok Jon and his families destiny is unknown to me, seeing they were not nearby relatives.
Erik and Annas daughter Anna married Olof Andersson- Gärdin from Höla nr 3. They lived in Annas hom a short time after they maried, then they mooved to Böle in Ytterån at fall 1885 and from there to Odenslund in Östersund where Olof managed a tilery-factory and a small farm. Olof was also a building contractor.
They had seven children, Anders, Erik, Kristina, Anna, Olle, Karl and Julius.
Anna and Karl died very young, ”beautiful” Kristina never had children, she died at the age of 38 years old. She was a great singer they sad.
Anders had two children, Olle and Ruth who both died in their twenties from TBC. Olov and Annas son Olle, he also, never had children but married a women whom was very much known to the whole of Östersund, Anna Pettersson-Gärdin, who turned 102 years old in 1992.
Left ar Erik and Julius. Julius had three children who`s offspring live around Karlstad in Sweden and Trondheim in Norway.
Erik had seven children, three died in their childhood and as teens. Of the four remaining, Gunnar died 1991, Karl, my father, in May 1996, Erik in May 1996 and his daughter Ester in Stockholm 2008. Nevertheless there are many grandchildren and great grandchildren so the name Gärdin lives on.