Sam Dykstra 2014-10-11

My grandfather was a sea captain who emigrated from Finland. What more can I find out about him?

Given: Sam´s grandfather, John Johnson, was born in Jakobstad, Finland in about 1859-1860, according to his marriage license in NYC in 1891 and his death certificate in NYC in 1899. He was a Sea Captain. Who were his parents? A John Johnson applied for a passport in Vaasa, Finland in 1879 i.e. when he was supposed to have left Finland.

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John Johnsson died 1899-03-10 in New York (Encl 1). He was 40 years old and had been in U.S. for 20 years. His father´s name is Alex. (probably Alexander) Johnson, born in Finland. His mother´s name is Anna Johnson, born in Finland (Encl 2). His father´s first name is Alexander (Encl 4). The handwritten list of passport applicants in Vaasa contains the following information (Encl 5):


January 2 Seaman Anders Lager
January 2 Seaman Johan Emil Höglund
March 29 Consul Otto August Martin
May 1 Watchmaster Lauritz ?? Andersson
May 2 Captain’s wife Emilia Lovisa Bergren
July 8 Seaman Petter Alfred Persson
July 15 Watchmaster Johan Magnus Broman
July 21 Seaman Anders August Nyman
July 21 Steerman’s-daughter Maria Lovisa Örngren
July 21 Ms ? Hackal
July 26 Seaman Eftraim Asplund
July 28 Farmer’s-son Anders Mauritz Gustafsson Jansson
July 28 Farmer’s-daughter Johanna Henrika Gustafsdotter
August 18 Seaman’s-son Johan Alexander Jansson
August 27 Seaman Emil Jansson

Some of the words were hard to interpret so the translation probably contains errors. Also, I could not see the labels above the columns on the right hand side of the page. Therefore I could not interpret the meaning of the numbers.

I have very limited experience in ancestry research in Finland but googling the subject I found the site which seem to have indexed a lot of records. Trying to find Jakobstad was not easy since the list of parishes is in Finnish. Fortunately, by scanning down the list the Finnish parish name showed up with the Swedish translation on the side. I then entered the following info in a baptism record search form (Encl 6):

Child: Johan
Time period: 1859-1860
Father´s first name: Alex (to be able to catch both Alex and Alexander)

The result is only one hit: Johan Alexander was born 1860-08-25 in Jakobstad and baptized the next day. His father was Seaman Alexander Kronquist. His mother was Anna Lena Nyman, 24 years old (Encl 7).

I then took a chance and went into another web site to find the original birth record and somehow I found it (Encl 8). I think Pietarsaari means Jacobstad and I think syntyneet means birth records. The next step for you is trying to find a Household Examination Record for Jacobstad, containing 1860 to see if you can find other siblings. I learned to use Google to translate Finnish text to English text. Then I could not resist the challenge so I continued and found such a Household record for this particular family (Encl 9). Here we learn the following:

Seaman Widow Cajsa Kronquist b. 1787-04-16
Daughter Anna Lovisa b. 1830-04-19
Son-in-law Matts Widman b. 1825
Wife Maria Sofia b. 1827-01-19


Daughter Brita Cajsa Kronquist b. 1807-05-09
Illeg. Son, Seaman Alexander b. 1836-03-30
Son Anders Alfred b. 1853-04-27


Alexander´s Wife Anna Helena Nyman b. 1836-11-28 Has moved in from p 253
Son Johan Alexander b. 1860-08-25
Jenny Augusta b. 1864-02-23

On the right hand side of the page (Encl 10) we can see that Brita Cajsa has had three illegitimate children but that she was engaged to Anders Svendin when her son Anders Alfred was born. So Johan Alexander had a sister (Jenny Augusta), a half-uncle (Anders Alfred), one grandmother (Brita Cajsa Kronquist), two sisters of his grandmother (Maria Sofia and Anna Lovisa) and a great-grandmother (Cajsa Kronquist). Going to p 253 we find Anna (He)lena Nyman and her family (Encl 11).

So, how can we know that Johan Alexander Kronquist is the same person as Johan Alexander Jansson? We cannot. But, if you knew for sure that he was born I Jacobstad I think it is very likely that we have found the right person, given that his father is Alexander, that he is a seaman and that his mother´s first name is Anna. However, In his death certificate he is said to be 40 years old when he died. This Johan was actually 39. He would have been 40 about 5 months later. The Marriage license says that he was 31 when he married in 1891. But this Johan was 30 since he would be 31 almost 6 months later. I checked for Emil in the search from for Jacobstad birth records between the 1840-ies and 1870 without finding any Emil. But he could of course be born in another parish.

I do not know if this will be of any help to you.


Kjell S Andersson 2014-10-10



1 Death Certificate Brooklynn City, New York 1899-03-11
2 D:o. Turned 90 degrees
3 Certificate of Marriage, Brooklyn
4 D:o. Rear side of document
5 List of passport applicants (according to Sam Dykstra)
6 Search box for baptism records in Jakobstad
7 Jacobstad birth and baptism record for Johan Alexander Kronquist.
9 Household Examination Record for Jacobstad 1857-1865 p 112
10 D:o. Right hand side of page
11 Household Examination Record for Jacobstad 1857-1865 p 253