Nils Johan Sundberg’s date of birth

A few days ago I got an email from someone asking about a mutual ancestor, Joseph Tornander. She sent me a portion of her pedigree chart showing her connection to him and his wife. Naturally, I wanted to add those relations to my own tree, so I started doing so. Two of them are Anna Amalia Almqvist, granddaughter of Joseph Tornander, and her husband Nils Johan Sundberg.

But I quickly came on a discrepancy. On his death record, the date of birth for Nils Johan Sundberg is listed as 14 Aug 1848. But I could find no record of his birth that matched that. Most of the online trees that include Nils Johan indicate he was born in Nederluleå parish or Överluleå parish. Neither of those has a record for a Nils Johan born on that date. Now, Sweden is a big country, so there are lots of places he could be from and possibly one of them has a matching record. But it is pretty likely that Nils Johan was born somewhere in Norrbotten. So I dug a little deeper.

There was a birth record for 21 Feb 1948 in Överluleå for a Nils Johan, born to an unmarried Greta Stina Johansdotter. And one person had an online tree that matched that. My gut feeling was this was the correct date of birth, but I need evidence for it.

To find the truth, I started with the marriage record for Nils Johan and Anna Amalia, the one record I knew referred to both people correctly. It only listed the year of birth for each. Nils Johan’s was 1848. Then I looked at the husförhör record for Nils and Anna immediately after their marriage. It also gave a birth date for Nils Johan of 14 Aug 1848. Each husförhör record includes a reference to the previous record for that person. So I created a table, and started tracing backward in time, record by record.

As an unmarried farmhand, Nils Johan moved quite frequently, but it only took going back a few years. The record for him from 1 Nov 1871 to 5 Oct 1872 has his date of birth as 21 Feb 1848, which matches up with the birth record in Överluleå. Still not solid enough to call it good, but enough to know I was on the right track. Continuing to trace back, Nils Johan appears in a record covering 1855 to 1869, with a birth date of 21 Feb 1848, in a family with parents Olof Gustaf Nordström and Margareta Christina Johansdotter. Greta Stina Johansdotter. There is a strong likelihood this is the same Nils Johan Sundberg, now living in a family with his mother and step-father.

I continued tracing backward. The first appearance of Nils Johan Sundberg in Piteå parish is in 1855 in the family with Olof Gustaf and Greta Stina. He’s listed as having joined the household in 1855. His mother joined the household in 1853. Both from Nederluleå parish. It doesn’t say where in Nederluleå for either, and there are many places they could have lived in Nederluleå.

In addition to tracing backward, I also traced Nils Johan forward from the birth record. However, shortly after his birth, Nils Johan and his mother are listed as moving from Överluleå to Piteå parish. It doesn’t say where, and there are a lot of villages they could have moved to.

Date Date End Place Birth date Record Citation
1848-02-21 Harads Överluleå 1848-02-21 Födelsebok Överluleå C:1 (1831-1855) Image 178 / page 174
1848-02-21 1849 Harads Överluleå 1848-02-21 Husförhör Överluleå AI:2a (1841-1848) Image 218 / page 206
1849 1850 Harads Överluleå 1848-02-21 Husförhör Överluleå AI:3a (1849-1858) Image 222 / page 208
The record in the next row is for Greta Stina Johansdotter; Nils Johan does not appear.
1853-09-17 Rosvik Piteå lfs. Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:8a (1844-1853) Image 58 / page 54
1855-11-25 Rosvik Piteå lfs. 1848-02-21 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:9a (1854-1861) Image 66 / page 60
1869-11-15 Rosvik Piteå lfs. 1848-02-21 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:10a (1862-1870) Image 72 / page 63
1869-11-15 Hälleström Piteå lfs 1848-02-21 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:10e (1862-1870) Image 199 / page 1378
1871-11-01 Hälleström Piteå lfs. 1848-02-21 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:11e (1871-1879) Image 247 / page 1328
1871-11-01 1872-10-05 Rosvik Piteå lfs. 1848-02-21 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:11a (1871-1879) Image 39 / page 30
1872-10-05 1873-10-04 Rosvik Piteå lfs. 1848-08-14 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:11a (1871-1879) Image 28 / page 19
1873-10-04 1874-10-03 Rosvik Piteå lfs. 1848-08-14 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:11a (1871-1879) Image 47 / page 38
1874-10 Piteå lfs 1848 Vigselbok Piteå landsförsamling EI:6 (1861-1879) Image 66
1874-10-03 1877-12-02 Rosvik Piteå lfs 1848-08-14 Husförhör Piteå landsförsamling AI:11f (1871-1879) Image 13 / page 1372
1907-01-18 Luleå 1848-08-14 Dödbok Luleå domkyrkoförsamling F:4 (1901-1923) Image 1170 / page 113

So I have a gap of 5 years for Nils Johan and a 3 year hole for his mother that I should account for in order to complete something that withstands the Genealogical Proof Standard. It’s possible that my Nils Johan son of Margareta Christina Johansdotter is a different person than the one born in Överluleå. I haven’t yet performed a reasonably exhaustive search. Both their names are common enough there could be others.

But I have enough to satisfy me for now. And I absolutely can answer the question as to what Nils Johan’s date of birth is. It is 21 Feb 1848.

Piteå landsförsamling AI:11a (1871-1879) Image 39 / page 30
Piteå landsförsamling AI:11a (1871-1879) Image 39 / page 30

And I even have a pretty good idea how the change in date happened. If you look at the attached image for the record that shows him living in Rosvik from 1871 to 1872, you will see the person listed below has a date of birth of 14 Aug 1842. When Nils Johan moved and a new record was created, the religious official who created the new record looked to the old one to fill out the information properly. It looks likely to me that he transcribed the day and month from the person listed below. Every record created after that copied the same, incorrect, birth date until the day he died.

At least, that’s what I suspect happened.

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