The family of my great-great grandfather who came to Canada from Sweden has always been a mystery. He came from Sweden in the 1850s and met and and married an Irish girl. His name, as far as we knew, was John Alford Wilson. However, the family story was he came from Sweden as a stowaway and was given the ship captain’s last name. So I thought that was the end of that. I was unfamiliar with Swedish genealogy and I didn’t even have a name to go by. Some family members mentioned the name Rhustadt or Rustad. His tombstone said he was born on April 9, 1833 in Stockholm.

Fast forward a few years, after I had my mother take an Ancestry DNA test, I was contacted by a distant cousin who was also a few times great-granddaughter of John. She shared with me some fantastic documents she had found for a Johan Axel Rustad, born April 9, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden.

jarustad_birth
Johan Axel was illegitimate and surrendered at birth. Mom was 27, her name not listed.

He was baptized on April 11, 1833 in Adolf Fredriks Församling, Stockholm, Sweden. Församling means parish or congregation, so I assume that is the church where he was baptized.

Adolf_Fredriks_kyrka_2011
Church of Adolf Fredrik, Stockholm, Sweden (Image author: I99pema. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Adolf_Fredriks_kyrka_2011.JPG)

Johan Axel’s parents married on September 22, 1833 in Adolf Fredriks Församling. Their names were Berger Halvorsen Rustad and Helena Andersdotter. Berger was born on August 9, 1806 in Elverum, Norway (this explains why Mom has 21% Norwegian DNA and no Swedish!) and came to Adolf Fredrik on Sept. 2, 1833 from Solna (near Stockholm). Helena was born on June 11, 1802 in Räm’s parish, Värmland. She came to Adolf Fredrik on Nov. 4, 1831 from Klara (in Stockholm). They had 2 children born during their betrothal: 1) Bernhard, b. June 29, 1828; and 2) Johan Axel, b. April 9, 1833.

rustad_andersdotter_marriage
Banns and marriage record of “the house servant Berger Halvorsen Rustad and the maid Helena Andersdotter.”

Berger Halvorsen Rustad died on March 4, 1837 in Katarina Parish, Stockholm of typhoid fever. It must have been sometime after this that the family was split up. I’m not sure if Helena died around this time as well. Johan was sent to a foster family in Othem parish, Gotland, Sweden (an island in the Baltic) in 1842 and is last listed there on 9 Apr 1852.

Othem

1850-1851seamanregistration
Johan registered as a seaman at the Visby, Gotland Sjömanshus (Seamen’s Office) on April 24, 1850 and the last notice is in 1851.

Johan’s older brother Bernhard emigrated to the United States in 1854. They also had two younger brothers, Gustav Arvid Rustad (April 10, 1835 – April 27, 1835) and Oscar Arvid Rustad (March 11, 1836 – September 13, 1876). Oscar married Hilda Falk in 1859 and had at least one son who died in 1872.

gotland_map
Othem, Gotland is labeled with the red marker. Johan Axel was born in Stockholm, while his father Berger Halvorsen was born in Elverum, Norway (in the upper left corner of the map).

Johan emigrated to Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada sometime before 1859, when he and his wife, Mary Ann Gibson, had a daughter Rose Mary on May 13, 1859. He was a farmer and a mariner according to the 1871 and 1881 censuses. He died on Howe Island, Ontario on January 6, 1889 as the age of 55.

jawilsonrhustat

Citations:

  • Birth registration for Johan Axel – Adolf Fredrik CIb:3 (1827-1857) Image 1040 / page 133 (AID: v81707.b1040.s133, NAD: SE/SSA/0001)
  • Baptism Record for Johan Axel – Sweden, Select Baptisms, 1611-1920 from Ancestry.com
  • Records for Johan Axel on Gotland – Othem AI:4 (1842-1853) Image 2090 / page 193 (AID: v61925.b2090.s193, NAD: SE/ViLA/23066)
  • Marriage record for Berger Halvorsen Rustad – Adolf Fredrik EI:2 (1813-1841) Image 343 / page 673 (AID: v81715.b343.s673, NAD: SE/SSA/0001)
  • Death record for Berger Halvorsen Rustad – Katarina FI:9 (1835-1844) Image 63 / page 117 (AID: v87044.b63.s117, NAD: SE/SSA/0009)
  • Seaman registration – Visby sjömanshus DIc:4 (1844-1852) Image 2260 / page 389 (AID: v384423.b2260.s389, NAD: SE/ViLA/20246)

Week 15 (April 8-14): DNA

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