Archive for the ‘genealogy’ Category

Oral History and Genealogy

Jim with Gladys Degerstrom Here’s some advice for novice genealogists about the importance of oral history and genealogy.

There will never be a better time than now to tap into the vast treasure of family information by listening to oral history from a family elder. The lady shown here with Jim Degerstrom in 1996 is Gladys “Delia” Degerstrom-McKinney at age 96 during a visit with her at the Hibbard Nursing Home in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.

Gladys is the sister of Oscar Degerstrom, Jim’s grandfather who died in 1953, and her mind was still sharp 43 years later at age 96 and just 2 years before she passed away. As we add family history narratives to this website, the incredible details provided by Gladys would have been lost forever if not for that chance meeting and additional visits later.

Look for 100 year old facts coming soon like the names of their horses from a 1905 photo, and more.

In hindsight, the meetings were an opportunity to record specifics on Degerstrom family life in Maine at the turn of the 20th century, but as inexperienced reporters important questions were not asked. From notes taken at the time we know her oldest sister, Mary, moved from Maine to Alaska. Mary was 2 and the first born child of Fred and Matilda Degerstrom, when the family arrived from Sweden on October 5, 1881. Other than being on the ship’s passenger list, details of her life in Maine and family in Alaska are a mystery.

Gladys did visit her sister in Alaska some time after 1940, and commented in one of our visits that Mary was married with children. It would be so much easier today locating information about Mary, her married name, and perhaps names of her children and descendants related to us if we had asked the right questions.

The message is clear for amateur genealogists. Oral history is a tremendous resource that is best gathered today before it is lost forever. Interview your family elders. Take notes. Consider audio or video recordings of stories as they’re being told. Ask probing questions like a real reporter searching for the answers to the 5 W’s of who, what, when, where, and why. Your research years later will be enhanced if you get specific facts now and document what you learned before it’s too late for followup questions.

Initial Version of the Family Tree

Maine Dirigo symbol graphic The initial version of the Degerstrom family tree was released earlier to include all 14 generations of the descendants of the Degerstrom Family from Maine root ancestor, Peder Danielsson. He was born in 1560 in Ranea, Norrbotten Lan, Sweden and 8 generations lived in that area until the family of Nils Fredrik Johansson Degerstrom emigrated to Maine between 1870 and 1881.

Recent discoveries include evidence of relatives living in Sweden, and uncovering the changes from patronymics to surnames means we expect to find more descendants of Peder Danielsson worldwide.

Our navigation has been expanded with a top button on each page linking to the family tree. For now the information is less than perfect because of how data was collected and converted to html web pages, so visitors are encouraged to report errors. Email us from any page, or send us a note scribbled on a $100 bill to the address at the bottom of any page.

Literally 100′s of hours have been diligently poured into this family project. A special thanks is due Ed Degerstrom for compiling the database used to export as html web pages, and to Leif Persson of Sweden for helping us with research and translations to English of old family documents found in Swedish archives.

1881 Voyage from Sweden to Maine

Small photo of SS Ethiopia

SS Ethiopia, Transatlantic Passenger Steamship 1873-1907

The research of Degerstrom genealogy and our Swedish roots has yielded great progress since started in 1995, and this site replaces a free hosting Geocities version of the Degerstroms from Maine that was lost when Geocities closed. Research continues with remarkable success.

The steamship in the photo shown here is the SS Ethiopia that brought the last of the ancestors of the Degerstroms from Maine to America in 1881.

That last group of the Degerstrom clan emigrated from Ranea Sweden near the Arctic Circle in Norrbotten Lan by way of the port of Malmo Sweden and began their 1881 voyage from Sweden to Maine on 15 September.

They went from Malmo to Glasgow Scotland and sailed to America on the SS Ethiopia after first stopping in Moville Ireland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to New York City where they arrived on 5 October 1881.

The eldest son Nils Johann “John” Degerstrom preceded the family coming to America in 1870, the oldest daughter Katrina-Degerstrom Lindgren with her husband and 4 children arrived on 24 August 1880, and then the entire group of immediate family members arrived on the SS Ethiopia in 1881.

We are certain they did not stay in New York very long because a son of Lars and Matilda Degerstrom, Oscar Fredrik Degerstrom, was born in Brownville, Maine on 15 October 1881 just 10 days after they arrived in New York.

100 years earlier, Johan Danielsson Jernhatt, a patriarch of the Degerstrom clan was 10 years old. His was the last generation of the family to use patronymics, so as adults his children selected various surnames including Degerstrom, Degerlund and Ek, plus two sons who kept using patronymics with Johansson.

Our family history includes living relatives in Sweden descended from Johan Danielsson Jernhatt as discovered and confirmed in 2003 by researcher Leif Persson of Stockholm, Sweden. The ship name and photo shown here from the 1881 voyage from Sweden to Maine was discovered by Jim Degerstrom in 2010.

One of the first additions to this new website will be family listings of over 2500 family members as compiled by Ed Degerstrom from information collected since 1995. Help us grow. Comments, additions, or corrections are welcome from any and all friends and family members.