About Roots & Branches
The Family Roots: Soldier Ek
I have been doing genealogical research since I was a teenager, and today I have about 25 years of experience. My family name, Ek (=oak), is known as a soldiers' name, ie a typical name that was once given as a surname to a soldier in the Swedish army, to tell him apart from others with the same first- and family names. In high-school, I decided to find out who the soldier was who was first called Ek. I searched the records at the genealogy center of my home town, Skara, where I would end up spending a lot of time during school breaks and, later, vacations. I soon found Johannes Johansson Ek, a dragoon born in 1783, in the Soldiers' register. My next task was to find out if there were any other Eks related to me around, other than my closest family. I followed all of Johannes Johansson Ek's descendants and found out that no, there is no-one by the name of Ek related to me outside of my immediate family, but by then I was already addicted to genealogy.
The Related Branches: American Relatives
In 1984, a couple of relatives from the United States came for a visit. They were related to my great-grandfather's brother, who had emigrated from Sweden in 1906. They stayed for a few days, and their short visit made an indelible impression on me, then 12 years old. As a university student a decade later, I had the opportunity to spend a semester in the United States, and I went to see them. I received a warm welcome, and got more fond memories for life.
As I came home from a second visit to American relatives of the same family a couple of years later, I sat and talked with my grandmother about my experiences. She revealed that there were more emigrants on another side of the family. She produced a shoebox full of old photos and letters, and there was also information about relatives who had settled down in a small town in Michigan. The combination of a small town, an unusual but typically Swedish family name, and typically Swedish first names, made it possible to find some of them in a white pages search on the Internet. I wrote a letter to three of them, mailed the letters and waited. Soon enough, e-mails from their children and grandchildren started to drop into my inbox, and letters in the mail from themselves. They had not believed there were any relatives left in Sweden! Since then, several members of the American family have come over to Sweden for visits on four occasions, and every time it's been just as wonderful and interesting to meet them.
Family Roots & Related Branches
My roots are humble in the social hierarchy; my ancestors were mostly tenant farmers, soldiers and cottagers. It has, however, been an interesting journey to get to know them, and get some insight into their lives. Contacts with my American relatives have resulted in new friends, interesting family stories and common projects. Now I hope to get a chance to help others finding their roots and new branches on their family tree. I have therefore founded Family Roots & Related Branches, abbreviated Roots & Branches. Contact Roots & Branches, and let me give you an insight into the lives of your Swedish ancestors and new aquaintances among their descendants!