Jean Adams 2015-04-11

Whatever happened to my ancestor’s brother who stayed behind in Sweden after most of his siblings emigrated to America? Tools used were Arkiv Digital, Swedish Death Index 1901-2013, SVAR, and Gotlands södra häradsrätt.

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According to Encl 2 Lars Öman has 11 children in two marriages of which 9 children in the second marriage. All the children, except Olof, reaching adulthood tend to leave home as fast as they can. This is a common trend in families living at very small farms while having a lot of children. And the farm Petes is only 1/12 mtl.

Four of them emigrated to America. May be the fact that Olof is not moving is an early indicator of being “different”. However, nothing of that kind is indicated in the commentary field (Encl 2).

In 1880 all the children, except Olof, have left home. Two more have emigrated to America. Olof is now the farmer even if he is not the owner. There is a comment in the commentary field that is hard to interpret. It says “Medb. Förtr. Red.”. I think it means “Medborgarnas förtroende reducerat” i.e. ”has a reduced trust by society”. Normally this is something that happens after a person has been sentenced to some penalty because of a shameful crime, e.g. theft. In that case the trust is “förlorat” i.e. “lost” rather “being reduced”. I do not know what it is in this case. It could be some other disliked behavior towards fellow members of the parish indicating that he just isn´t a trustworthy person (Encl 3).

Lars Öman dies 1885-01-07 and his son, Olof Öman, takes over the farm. In the commentary field we can see that Olof is “Sinnessvag” i.e. “Feeble-minded” (Encl 4).

Olof Öman´s sister, Dorothea Carolina has married Lars Gabriel Jacobsson, a homestead owner at Sandqvie and they have three children in 1890 of which one is Fanny b. 1889-06-29. In the Commentary field we find “Medb. Förtr.” For both Lars Gabriel and Dorothea Carolina. This means that both of them were trustworthy persons. We will see later why this is important (Encl 5).
In 1899 Olof Öman is the farmer at Petes. He is single but his mother lives with him. In the commentary field we see, again, the word “Sinnessvag” i.e. “Feeble-minded” (Encl 6).

You say that family lore is that Olof loses the farm through mismanagement and drinking. How can we figure out if that is true? You cannot normally find information of that kind in the church records. Unfortunately there are no more Household records (or Congregation records) after 1899 in Arkiv Digital. But AD refers to the serie AIIa for Congregation records. Aha, then maybe they can be found on SVAR?

Before we start looking there we want to check out when Olof dies. He dies an unmarried man 1917-12-13 at Petes in Öja (Encl 7).

Now, on to SVAR! And they actually have records for Öja 1900-1915 (Encl 8). We find Olof Öman on p 135. Here we can see that he now is “Sinnessjuk” rather than “Sinnessvag”. This means “Mentally deranged” rather than “Feeble-minded”. It is not clear when the description changes. Whether it is at the beginning of the period, i.e. 1900 or later during the period 1900-1915.
However, sometime during the period 1900-1915 the ownership of the Petes farm is transferred to a Viktor Larsson, Sandqvie. And when that happens Olof Öman becomes an “Exemption man”. In the Commentary field we can see that Olof is “Stillsam” i.e. “Calm”. So, what is an “Exemption man”?

Well, here is how it worked in Sweden when a younger generation took over the parents´farm. They normally signed an “Exemption contract” stipulating that the parents, as a compensation for selling the farm cheap or even giving it away for free, would “exempt” certain things like having the right to live at the farm for the rest of their lives. It was also common that their living space was defined, e.g. the second floor of the house. Sometimes the younger generation even promised to feed them until their death.

So, my theory is that Olof no longer could take care of himself and the farm and therefore was persuaded to hand the farm over to family in return for being taken care of (Encl 9). It looks like Olof continued to live at Petes since this is where he died (Encl 7).

Following up on Viktor Larsson, Sandqvie we remind ourselfves that he actually is the son of Olof Öman´s sister, Dorothea Carolina Öman, married with Lars Gabriel Jacobsson in Sandqvie (Encl 5). Since Viktor is from a very trustworthy family this transfer has probably happened in a correct way for all parties. There might not even have been any money involved. The value of a very small farm could balance the offer to be taken care of until death.

I tried to find the Estate inventory for Lars Öman without success. I went through the whole book for 1885-1886. More than 870 pages! However, I found the Probate record for Olof Öman on Arkiv Digital. Here is what it says (Encl 10-13):

1918-02-22 a legal Estate inventory was taken for the former homestead owner and “Exemption man” Olof Öman from Petes in Öja parish, who was born 1841-05-27 and died at Petes in Öja 1917-12-13, leaving behind the following side heirs:

  1. The deceased brother Lars Öman´s children:
    1. daughter, Widow Johanna Bolin, Friggårds I Boge
  2. The deceased brother Adam Ömans children:
    1. son Karl Öman, homestead owner at Austre in Vamlingbo
    2. daughter Emma Öman, married to carpenter Jacob Hansson, Rombs in Hamra and
    3. daughter Hermanna Öman, at an unknown place of domicile
  3. Brother Gabriel Öman at an unknown place of domicile
  4. Brother Jacob Öman at an unknown place of domicile
  5. Brother Karl Fredrik Öman at an unknown place of domicile
  6. Sister Widow Maria Englund at an unknown place of domicile
  7. Sister Jakobina Öman, married to Lars Söderström, both at an unknown place of domicile
  8. Sister Bernhardina Öman, married to Josef Larsson, both at an unknown place of domicile
  9. Sister Karolina Öman, married to former homestead owner Lars Jacobsson at Sandqvie in ÖjaThe heirs above have been called to this event. Present are the sister Karolina and her husband Lars Jacobsson personally and the niece Johanna Bolin through the homestead owner Gustav Danielsson, Strands, Öja, by proxy.The homestead owner Victor Jacobsson, at Lasses in Öja was suggested to the court as the administrator in order to protect the legal rights of all heirs at unknown place of domicile.The estate was declared under oath by the deceased’s nephew, homestead owner Victor Larsson at Sandqvie, Öja where the deceased has had his care and support according to an “Excemption” contract and was listed and estimated as follows” (Encl 14):

Then follows three pages listing all the assets. All of them are typical on a farm and indicates that Olof had not moved away from the farm. If he had moved away to stay with somebody else he would not have kept all the assets. When it comes to cash (which was one third of the assets) they were kept by Lars Jacobsson at Sandqvie, his brother in-law. Lars Jacobsson was Olof´s Guardian! Aha! Olof was under Guardianship! This shows that he was not able to manage the farm and that he probably lost the farm (but not the tools and machines) when he was put under Guardianship.

The taxable net value of all the assets was SEK 776.

Viktor Larsson certifies under oath that everything has been described correctly (Encl 15).

Finally, the executors certifies that they have done everything correctly (Encl 16):

At the Estate inventory the following persons were present:

Lars Jacobsson, Carolina Jakobsson, Johanna Bolin through Gustaf Danielsson by proxy. Victor Jacobsson, Lasses.

So, we certify that based on given information we have carefully listed and valued everything. Year and date as above

Svante G Lindström                  Bengt Pettersson

The probate record confirms the hypothesis about the ”Exemptions” contract and verifies that Olof’s brother-in-law’s family was involved when Olof “lost” his farm.

Kjell S Andersson 2015-03-24
1 Introduction
2 HER Öja AI:8 (1862-1872) Image 880 / page 156
3 HER Öja AI:9 (1872-1881) Image 830 / page 146
4 HER Öja AI:10 (1881-1890) Image 760 / page 138
5 HER Öja AI:10 (1881-1890) Image 240 / page 34
6 HER Öja AI:11 (1891-1899) Image 1370 / page 126
7 Swedish Death Index 1901-2013. Olof Öman
8 SVAR. Församlingsbok Öja AIIa:1
9 Församlingsbok Öja AIIa:1 (1900-1915) p 135
10 Gotlands södra häradsrätt (1900-) FII:19 (1918-1918) Image 610 / page 38, part 1
11 Dito, part 2
12 Dito, part 3
13 Dito, part 4
14 Gotlands södra häradsrätt (1900-) FII:19 (1918-1918) Image 620
15 Dito, Image 630 bottom left hand page
16 Dito, Image 630 top right hand page