FAMOUS SWEDISH AMERICANS
A new genealogical book details the ancestry of 24 famous Swedish Amefiram; giving a unique insight into life in Sweden in the olden days.
At a certain age, almost everybody starts wondering about his or her roots. For most of his life Swedish American poet Carl Sandburg was not specially interested in his heritage, but when he visited Sweden in 1959 to receive an honorary degree at Uppsala University he wanted to see with his own eyes where his parents had come from.
With a large entourage, the 82-year old "Bard of America" visited his mother's birthplace at Lilla Appuna in the province of Österg6tland but missed the farm Källan where his paternal grandfather had been a crofter, and the Fattigstugan poor house where his paternal grandmother had died in 1877.
It was a local historian who had put Carl Sandburg on the wrong track regarding his father's family, and the mistake has persisted in all the literature about Sandburg. It was an American researcher, Norman Bergstrom of Ogden, Iowa, who only recently set the record straight and the correct genealogy of Carl Sandburg is now presented in the book 24 Famous Swedish Americans and their Ancestors (published by the Federation of Swedish Genealogical Societies and available for USD 40 incl. p&h from Swedish American Genealogist, P.O.Box 2186, Winter Park, Fl 32790).
Carl Sandburg, who paid homage to the simple folks and who found his political home on the left died without knowing that he was related to most of Sweden's as well as Germany's nobility. His forefather, the court chaplain Olaus Simonis Luth married Margareta, King Erik XIV's daughter out of wedlock, so the blood of the Vasa dynasty ran through the veins of the poet of whom John Steinbeck spoke when he received his Nobel Prize in Literature.
"Of course I am glad to get it. But I wish it had gone to Sandburg. Damn it. He is America," said Steinbeck.
It may come as a surprise to some that people like cartoonist Bud Grace, actress Melanie Griffith, singer Kris Kristofferson and author Ray Bradbury are in fact Swedish Americans. Others such as astronaut Buzz Aldrin, actress Candice Bergen, businessman Curtis Carlson, actresses Susan Hayward and Gloria Swanson have always been known for their Swedish ancestry. Just like Charles Lindbergh, Judge William Rehnquist, scientist Glenn Seaborg and Eric Wickman who started the Greyhound Bus Company.
Quite a few of the well-known persons in the book like the actresses
Greta Garbo and Signe Hasso were born in Sweden and emigrated as adults
as did John Ericson, agitator Joe Hill and actor Warner Oland who changed
his name from Verner Ölund. Through their ancestors we get a fascinating
view of life in Sweden in the old days as well as a shortcut to Swedish
It is also possible that the book is some help in digging for your roots through its surname and parish name indexes.
© and all rights reserved from Swedish Press February 1990