Monday, January 13, 2014

#52Ancestors Challenge - Week 2 - Wilhelmina Albertina Johansson

This week I'm continuing the 52 Ancestors Challenge that was proposed by Amy Johnson Crow on her blog No Story Too Small.  I've chosen to write about my great-grandmother Wilhelmina Albertina Johansson (or Johannesdotter, Johnson).  Get ready...this might be a very long post!!!

I never met Minnie.  My grandmother didn't talk much about her either, except that they lived in Sweden for a couple years while she was a young girl.  Minnie's granddaughter, my Aunt Kathy (who's not with us anymore - and I miss dearly), told me once that she remembered her as a very strict and religious woman.  From this picture shown, you might think that.  But when I inherited my grandmother's photo collection some years back, it showed her in a whole new light!!  So many photos of her in beautiful dresses, and pictures of her travels, makes me think she had a bit of an adventurous side to her as well!!

Minnie was born June 7, 1875 in Tegnaby, Kronobergs, Smaland, Sweden.  The house, or property, was called Norregard.  Minnie was the first born child to Johan Wilhelm Petersson and Helena Sofia Petersdotter.  Her 8 siblings are listed below:

  • Henrik Hjalmar 1877-1956
  • Hulda Ellen Sofia 1878-1966
  • Carl Anton 1880-1961
  • Gustav Herman Reinhold 1883-1975
  • Nanny Teresia 1887-1976
  • Alida Linea 1890-1979
  • Teckla Vicktoria 1892-1979
  • Astrid Nina Ingeborg 1896-1980

I don't know much about her early life in Sweden, except that the family owned a farm and it was located just Northwest from Tegnaby Lake.  Someone in the family, or close to the family, owned the property next door, Sofiaro.  These are some pictures of the two properties and the lake c.1930s.

Google maps has current street views of the two houses.  If you plug in the address 56.817036,14.908243 it will take you to Sofiaro.  Norregard is just north of it on Billavägen.  Both homes are still there!!

Minnie left Sweden in 1896. Years ago, my grandmother gave me the swedish to english dictionary that was given to Minnie before she left. It was inscribed: "Gåvra of morbror Frans den 24 September, Till Welhelmina vid avresa från Sverige 1896."  Translated, I believe, this means "Given from Uncle Frans the 4 of September, To Welhelmina at her departure from Sweden 1896."
She sailed from Goteborg on September 4, 1896 to Boston, MA.  I believe this is a photo taken of her prior to her journey.  The year 1896 is handwritten on the backside. 
From photographs I've inherited, I know Minnie didn't stay long in Boston.  She must have traveled back to Sweden around 1900.  We have a family portrait of Minnie with her siblings and parents.  The youngest child looks to be about 4 or 5 years old, which would date the picture about 1900 or 1901.  Below is that picture, Minnie was probably 24 years old.

In this family picture, starting at the back row from the left: Nanny, Ellen, Minnie, Henrik, Reinhold, Anton.  Front row from the left: Alida, Johan, Ingborg, Helena, and Tekla. 

According to my research, Minnie traveled from Sweden to the U.S. at least 2 more times in the next 10 years.  In 1902 and 1910 she went back to Boston.  In 1910 she listed Chicago as her final destination, and listed a cousin, Tillie Hornburg, as her contact in the U.S.  Tillie lived in Spokane, WA with her husband Eric August Hornburg.  Not sure how she is related though?
Between 1902 and 1912, several of her siblings traveled to the U.S. too.  Henrik went to Minnesota in March of 1902.  He ended up back in Sweden, and I'm not sure where he lived.  He married a woman by the name of Edith, but I can't find a record of when or where, and I don't know her maiden name.

Ellen came in 1902 the same time as Minnie.  This photo was taken in Boston by Carl J. Horner, I'm guessing around 1902 (I have several photos of Minnie taken by C.J. Horner in Boston).  Ellen married Edward Kettell and lived in Arlington, MA.  She died January 17, 1966 in Massachusetts.

Rienhold also made his way to the U.S., but I haven't had much luck finding him on a ship manifest.  However, he eventually made his home in the Chicago area.  He married twice - first to Clara (unknown surname) July of 1930, and then to Martha Anderson, probably after Clara's death in 1948.

Nanny came over in 1912.  She Married Richard Taylor, and we can find them and their two children, Lilah and Sears Richard, living in Portal, Burke, ND on the 1920 census.  Richard died in 1920 and is buried at South Cemetery in Portal, ND (per  Sometime after his death, Nanny, Lilah, and Sears moved back to Sweden.  As far as I know, Nanny and Lilah remained in Sweden.  Sears went on to be an Olympic bicyclist for Sweden and competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  He eventually made his way to the U.S. in 1937, and settled in the Chicago area.  This is a picture of Nanny and her children in Tegnaby, Sweden, probably the late 1920s.

Eventually, Minnie settled down and married Roy William Westboy.  He's is definitely my biggest brick wall!!!  But I'll dedicate a whole post to him on another week...too much to discuss here!!

Roy was born either 1880 or 1886 (conflicting records).  Either way, he was a bit younger then Minnie.  On February 10, 1917 they married in Chicago, IL.  According to their marriage record, they were married by Bengt M. Johnson, minister of the Gospel.  Then on March 16, 1918, their first and only child was born, Judith Helen Wilhelmina Westboy

On the 1920 Federal Census, Minnie and Judith are living on Berwyn Avenue, Chicago, but Roy is not shown with them.  According to Judith's birth record, he was a cattle buyer living in Thompsonville, MI.  He may have gone back and forth, but again...he's a mystery!! 

Through pictures, I know Minnie, Roy and Judith spent some time in the early 1920s in Southhaven (Michigan or Indiana...I don't know??)  But sometime before 1926 Minnie and Judith made their way back to Sweden.  They are shown arriving in New York on May 3, 1926. 

May 31st, 1929, Minnie filed a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the U.S., and according to the application, she did not know where Roy was.  However, at this time, Roy had moved to a house in Barrington, IL.  They must have found him, because I do have pictures of Judith with him in Barrington.  In the 1930 census Roy, Minnie, and Judith are shown living together in Barrington, but Minnie and Judith are also listed as living with Olaf Christopherson (Mr. Christopherson as my grandmother called him).  Minnie is listed here as divorced.  I haven't found any divorce papers, but I do know that my grandmother and Minnie lived with Mr. Christopherson at 1449 Roscoe Street in Chicago for several years.  Minnie was his housekeeper.

In the 1930s Minnie and Judith made another trip to Sweden.  Not sure when they arrived there, but my grandmother said they did live in Sweden for a short time (about a year or two I'm guessing).  She remembered living with an aunt, who was "very strict."  Although the photos I have of this time show happy gatherings with family and friends.  They stayed until 1935, and arrived back in New York on June 20th.  This photo is of Minnie, Roy, and Judith probably mid to late 1930s.  On the back it is written "Mr. and Mrs. Westboy and Judith."

On the 1940 census, we see Roy living back in Thompsonville, MI listed as married but living alone, and Minnie living on Roscoe Street with Mr. Christopherson.  This time she is listed as single and as Mr. Christopherson's sister.  Census records aren't always correct...who knows where they got that info from???  By this time, Judith had taken a job as a typist and moved in with a close friend, Vern (Vernice M. Schrieber).  She was living on Winthrop Avenue in Chicago.

Judith moved to California in the early 1940s.  There are pictures of Minnie visiting her.  They had relatives living in Los Angeles, Algina (possibly AliceRose (Minnie's aunt), and Eva Sjogren.  I don't know the direct relationship.  Judith stayed in the L.A. area for a couple of years before moving back to Chicago and marrying Howard Glesener on July 17, 1943.

From what I know, Minnie remained in the Chicago area until her death on January 21, 1955.  Her death record states she was living at 353 Bellwood Avenue in Marshall, IL***.  But it also states she died at Johnson's Nursing Home in Chicago, and had been there for 2 years.  Her status is listed as widowed.  Roy died in 1953, so I don't believe she got a divorce, but just maybe lived apart.  She is buried at Irving Park.

I hope you enjoyed this post!  Hundreds of pictures have helped me shed some light on this woman I knew nothing about.  I'm so happy that my grandmother took the time to make scrapbooks with these photos, listing the names and places.  These scrapbooks are crumbling due to their age.  I've scanned all the photos and made digital copies and I'm currently dismantling them and placing all of the photos into archival photo albums so my children can see who these wonderful people were!  If you are a relative of this woman, or anyone else listed above, I'd be happy to share these pictures.  Just let me know!!

**After posting this, I was browsing through some old photos.  On the back of one of the photos of Sofiaro, it says "Fars lilla stuga," which means Fathers little cottage.  Johan Wilhelm Petersson must have owned both properties at one time.

***Another thing I noticed...Her death certificate says she lived in the city of "Marshall" at "353 Bellwood Avenue."  However, I've been looking through my grandmother, Judith's scrapbooks, and she has a photo of the house where her and her husband lived from 1949 to about 1952.  The address she wrote in her scrapbook was 353 Marshall Avenue, Bellwood, IL.  Could Minnie have lived there as well?  Maybe she moved into the nursing home when Judith and her family moved to California?  


  1. Aymee, you look like Tekla. So fun. Great job can't wait to hear more. :) Shannon

    1. I've tried replying a couple of times, but no luck! Maybe it will work this time. Thanks Shannon!! :)

  2. Hi Aymee,
    My name is Annika and I am writing from Sweden. Carl Anton (1880-1961) is my father's grandfather. We have a big picture of Anton in our home. It would be very nice and interesting to get in contact with you. My e-mail is please write, Best regards, Annika Lindh

  3. I am the granddaughter of Nanny Taylor, and I am the daughter of Sears Richard Taylor the Olympic bicyclist. I grew up in the Chicago area. Sears married RUTH Ann Rieger in Chicago, and they had three children: Sears Richard Taylor, II, Leila Ruth Taylor (me), and Lynette Ann Taylor.
    I have the original photographs that you have posted here.
    Please contact me: