Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Hat Trick - Point Three

This weekend I have three tips for the price of one:

  •     Never ignore evidence
  •     Consider unusual sources for unusual problems
  •     Even professionals get it wrong sometimes -- by accident or on purpose

Having looked at the evidence ignored by a professional researcher, we now turn to using unusual sources to find a death date in Sweden. The normal sources are the church death records and the clerical surveys. But the death of Soldier Jonas Flink is not found in the church records of  Stora Malm parish in Södermanland.

In addition to Stora Malm, I checked the death records in the home parish of his wife and a handful of surrounding parishes. No matter what country you are researching, remember that people did travel and births and deaths may have occurred in an unexpected jurisdiction.

At this point, I'd exhausted all the record types on Ancestry.

The website ArkivDigital has available some other record types that are less used in Swedish research. The next stop is the military records. Not all still exist, but let's look at what is available for the county of Södermanland. For 1806 and 1807 there's a single book with muster rolls (volume 151).

Soldier 22, Jonas Flink, age 32, representing Klicksta Rote, is listed on a muster roll dated June 20, 1807. He is married, has served for 9 years and is 6 feet and 0 inches tall. Not shown on these images is that the company is called a "Lif Compagnie", a company that is a life guard or body guard company charged with protecting others.

Is this the right Jonas Flink? Since military names are assigned to soldiers, there may be more than one Jonas Flink among the hundreds of soldiers in the Södermanland army. The age is certainly right and there is a Klicksta in Stora Malm parish.

Is there a church record that ties Jonas Flink to Klicksta? Yes, one such record exists. The godparents of daughter Brita Kajsa were from Klicksta, as seen in this 1801 birth and christening record from book C:5.

The soldier number and rote (area served) are tied together, so now we know that soldier 22 from Stora Malm always represents Klicksta. We have now narrowed down the death date for Jonas Flink to the second half of 1807: after the muster roll of June 20th, but by the end of the year.

ArkivDigital also has estate inventories (probates). I saw a statistic somewhere that only about 25 percent of the Swedish estate inventories have been preserved. But it's always worth a try to check a record set that is not complete.

To find a probate for Stora Malm, we first have to know the court that covers the parish: that's Oppunda. The inventory (bouppteckning) can be done anytime after death and most of the books are not indexed, so there are no shortcuts. Finding nothing in the 1807 book, we find the probate of Jonas Flink in the 1808-1809 book (FII:8).

We can now state that Jonas Flink died on the 23rd of August, 1807. We don't know, though, how and where he died. I'm continuing to look for those parts of the story.

Research into that time frame does reveal that the Swedish Army was heavily involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania was under siege through most of 1807, ending with a loss to the French on the 24th of August. 

By taking the time to research and understand the unusual Swedish records, we can now say with confidence that Jonas Flink (1775-1807) was an ordinary soldier. He was not a murderer, as portrayed by a researcher who was more interested in the paycheck than in the truth.

One last question: how do we find out about the less common genealogical sources?

There are so many resources available on the internet today. A wonderful place to start is Cyndi's List, where you can find links to thousands of resources for genealogy.

I hate to suggest adding to a paper collection, but if you find there is an outstanding reference book for an area difficult to research, buy that book, even if it's paper and not an e-book.  This is especially true for research in a foreign language. As Americans, we can't expect our knowledge of America to  carry us through research in any other country.

I've nearly worn out my favorite Swedish reference book. Cradled in Sweden has long been considered as the definitive work on Swedish research and it's been close by my side through every step of my Swedish research. I've also bought maps and an English-Swedish dictionary.

It's through researching how to research that we learn about the unusual sources that might otherwise elude us.

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