Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Did any of us in the American and Canadian branches of the family grow up being exposed to Swedish cuisine?  I know I didn't and there isn't anything available here in Houston in the way of Swedish restaurants, either, besides a certain global home furnishings chain.  But I've been getting into Swedish cuisine over the past year or so.  A couple of months before I heard from Maria Lundberg for the first time, I went to the Kräftskiva or summer crayfish party at the Houston IKEA and had a great time.  Swedish crayfish are served chilled, seasoned with lemon and dill.  I also went to the Julbord at IKEA last December and then staged a little Julbord of my own for Christmas dinner.  I've also been to the Kräftskiva put on by the Swedish Club of Houston last spring and just this past weekend, the Smörgåsbord they put on once a year.  It was held at a very nice country club just a stone's throw from where I live.  Here are some pictures.

This was the Breads and Cheeses table.

Deviled eggs, plain and with caviar (salmon roe, not Beluga!)

Salad table:  Gravad Lax at the far end, salad fixings in the middle, marinated cucumbers at the near end.

The warming trays on the table with the hot dishes were still closed up so I didn't get any pictures of them.

This was my 'cold plate' (actually, the potatoes were warm): two kinds of herring, in wine sauce and mustard sauce, breads and cheeses, boiled potatoes, deviled eggs and Gravad Lax.  The ladles provided for the herring made it impossible to get any fish without a lot of sauce.  I've become really fond of herring and gravad lax over the last year. 

This was my salad plate:  Marinated cucumber slices and salad greens (without any dressing)..

And my 'hot' plate: Mr. Jannson's Temptation, Swedish meat balls with lingonberries, ham and more Gravad Lax.  Mr. Jannson's Temptation (no, not our Mr. Jannson) is a casserole of shredded potatoes, onions, cream and, in this case, a hint of anchovy.  It was delicious.

And a Texas dessert:  Blueberry cobbler and Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Besides what I took there were also mashed potatoes, crisp breads, lots of salad fixings, and a brown gravy for the meat balls, which they could have used since they were over-cooked and dried out, unfortunately.  A server circulated throughout the room selling shots of schnapps and there was coffee and tea.  I was absolutely stuffed.

Do you have any Swedish restaurants where you live or do you cook Swedish dishes?  If you live where there is an IKEA, check with their cafe (not the snack bar).  Different IKEA's have different special days, I think.  They don't publicize them much here and you have to buy tickets in advance at the cafe.  In the past, the Houston IKEA has held an Easter Smörgåsbord and this year had a Midsommar Smörgåsbord.  The Kräftskiva has become very popular, apparently.  This year the enlarged the space for it, upped the price, and sold out two weeks in advance and I didn't get tickets in time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Curtis, Michigan - Early and Mid 1900s

This is where our ancestor, Andrew Gustave Strom, and his wife, Alma Charlotte Carlson settled and started their family of four sons, John Royal, Henning Edward, Harry Allan and Andrew Christopher.  From what I have been able to determine from land records, their home was situated along the shore of South Lake Manistique, about 2 miles southeast of Curtis, Michigan, Portage Township, Mackinac County, in the Upper Peninsula.

Here's a Google Map and Satellite image of Curtis today.

Mahn's Store

Railroad station, 1910.

Feneley School, 1906.   The teacher was Erman Scott, the girl is Lizzie Feneley, Harry and Chris Strom are side by side on the right, the other boy is Earl Norton.

Newberry Road, 1910.

The above four pictures are photocopies of post cards; the information came from Chris Strom.


Another town get-together.   These two pictures are from Joyce Williams keepsake album in 1985.

This 1904 Map of Mackinac County does not show Curtis, which had not come into existence by that time.

More pictures of our ancestors and their home in Curtis from the late 1800s to the early 1900s will be posted in another Gallery.

Joyce Williams visited Curtis in 1952 to see her grandmother Alma and Harry and his wife Vivian.  The following pictures are from that visit.

 This cabin on the banks of South Lake Manistique was the family's original home.

Joyce in front of the cabin.

This was the house that Alma lived in after Andrew Gustave died.

Joyce with Wayne and Paul, Alma, Harry and Vivian with their son Butch.

This Genealogy Trails gallery has more pictures of Curtis in the Mid 20th Century plus one from the first decade.

This page from the same site shows a big inn at Curtis that was constructed about the same time A. G. built his big house to replace the cabin.

CardCow.com also has some historic postcards from Curtis and, from time to time, there are others on EBay.

My understanding is that Harry Strom, who lived all his life in Curtis, owned some of the rental cabins.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Strömbacken 2006

Maria Lundberg first visited Strömbacken in 2006 and took these pictures.  This was our ancestor's home on the Brandbo Peninsula in Västmanland that he left behind when he came to America in 1880.

According to the current owner of the building, this was originally a stable and the building behind it a cowshed.  There was also a barn, where hay was stored.  The picture was taken from the front of the house.

This shot from the opposite direction shows the one-time cowshed on the left, the one time stables, and, a little behind them on the right, the house.

Maria neglected to get a picture of the front of the house but here are a couple more views:  this shows the house looking up from the boathouse.

And the side of the house

The boathouse on the banks of the canal; that is Sundbo across the water.

A closeup view of the boathouse deck and Sundbo across the canal.

Another view of the canal looking north from the boathouse.

The purpose of this building is unknown.

An aerial view of Strömbacken.

A map showing the location of Strömbacken on the canal, across from Sundbo.

A larger map of the area around Strömbacken.

A map of Sweden showing the location of Strömbacken.

Here is the site the aerial view and maps come from for those who want to explore in more detail.  You can choose maps or aerial views, zoom in and out, etc.

A record from around 1940 states that the estate was 268 acres of which 85 were farmland and 183 forest.  The main building or house was built in the early 1800s, another building a little after that.  Maria believes that refers to the boathouse.  The 'farm buildings' were built in the 1880s and the barn around 1990. 

Welcome to the Blog - Välkommen till bloggen

Almost three decades has passed now since several of us were actively engaged in exploring our Swedish ancestry.  All of that shared work culminated in the production of a keepsake album by Joyce and a big family get together in Colorado.  Since then a whole new generation has come into the world and we have lost more than a few.  Also the means of doing genealogy have changed greatly and it's now possible to find things online that were virtually inaccessible to us back then.

About a year ago I was contacted by Maria Lundberg, a third cousin from Stockholm, who had heard that I knew something about the family history and wanted to ask some questions.  What became apparent very quickly was that I had forgotten many of the specifics and had to dig out my files, which at the time were in a file cabinet blocked by a home repair project.  Once I got into my files it really became clear I had forgotten much more than I remembered.  And, as it had decades ago, the question of our ancestry got me interested.

Since then Maria and I have exchanged lots of information, asked each other lots of questions, and made much progress. She detected a basic bit of misinformation in our original data which had kept us from finding out more about Andrew Gustave Strom and when he first came to North America.  We have also exchanged many pictures.

So I have started this blog to share this with everyone else.  There will be lots of pictures here plus articles updating what we knew back then.  Some day, I may even try to put up everything we had discovered back then for those who weren't around and don't know the basics.

I have also been getting into Swedish cuisine and Maria has been filling me in on some aspects of Swedish culture, especially from around the time our ancestors left.  There will be blog posts about those topics, too.

Please check in and say hello and pass word of this blog along to family members and invite them to check in.  I have been blogging since 2007 but never used a Guest Book on any of my blogs and I will look for a module that I can plug in that might work better but for now, this thread will serve as a Guest Book.

Your contributions will be welcome here, too, if you care to share.  Probably there are at least a couple of other people in our extended family who have also been doing genealogical research and will have data and pictures to share.  If so, if you want to post it here, please let me know so we can work out how to get it online.  Or if  you already have a family website that you want to share with others, let me know too.  There will be a section on the sidebar for links to other websites or blogs of interest to the whole family.

And by all means use the comment feature to add your thoughts and comments to what is posted. This will be a public blog which means anybody  in the world can read it and it will come up on search engines.  For that reason I have activated Comment Moderation which simply means that your comments will not appear online immediately but only after I have been notified by email and okay them.  I know that there is a very effective spam blocking system on Blogger but we will get spam and comment moderation will make it possible for me to keep any of that from getting online.  I have disabled Word Verification, however, because I know that gives some people fits.

Also, since it is a public blog, be careful about any sensitive information you post - email addresses, ATM pin numbers, things like that!

And no, I don't speak or read Swedish.  I have thought about taking the Swedish class offered by the Swedish Club of Houston but for the purposes of this blog I just asked Maria to give me a few words I could use.  I'm hoping that some of our cousins from Sweden will be joining us here.