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Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Here, for the edification of you, Internets, is the legend of Swante, my ancestor. It's truth cannot be verified, but it was what my grandfather told me about how his grandfather got to America.

Swante was a young man in Sweden. In that era, your parents arranged your marriage. It worked like this: every Sunday for four Sundays, the father of the groom would get up and announce that his son was going to marry some particular girl. This was called Reading The Bans. On the fifth Sunday, the putatively happy couple got married and that was that.

Swante's parents arranged for him to be married. The only problem from Swante's point of view was that the girl did not have any appealing characteristics. He really didn't want to marry her.

Here's how it went. On the first Sunday Swante's dad (we'll call him SD) got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that completely unappealing girl over there." Or something like that. After church Swante explained to his parents that the girl was not his cup of tea. On the second Sunday SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that really unappealing girl over there." After church Swante said something like, "Really Dad, this joke isn't funny anymore. I don't want to marry her." On the third Sunday SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that nasty girl over there." After chuch Swante said, "Dad I'm beginning to think you mean it. This is causing me a certain amount of concern."

Sometime before the fourth Sunday Swante ran away and joined the Swedish Navy. Three years later he came home. There was great rejoicing, slaughtering of the fatted calf, etc. Eventually it was Sunday and everyone trooped off to church. At the appropriate part of the service SD got up and said, "My son Swante is going to marry that really patient, but still completely unappealing woman over there."

This was serious, Swante was going to get married in a week. But now Swante knews the ways of the sea. So he made his way to a port and stowed away on a ship bound for America.

When he got to New York he asked where he might find some Swedes. On being informed he started walking and after a while he ended up in Minnesota.

And that, Internets, is how one of my great great grandparents ended up on the Tundra of Western Minnesota.

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