Updated: May 2013
ANDERS MATSSON and ANNA OLSDOTTER
During the late 1600s, Anders Matsson lived in the village of Gagnefsbyn, near Gagnef, Sweden.
Married Anna Olsdotter.
Mats, born in July 1678.
Anders, born in April 1680.
is known about Anders and Anna at this point because the birth records of Gagnef parish start in 1694 and the household registers
start in 1730.
(1) Information about Anders Mattson and Anna
Olsdotter is contained the death records of their sons Mats and Anders, in Gagnef church books F:3, images 192 and 125 in
the records available through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net.
in 1691 of an Anders Matson, age 52, is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:1, page 103.
However, it seems unlikely that he was the father of Matts and Anders since he does not appear to have lived in Gagnefsbyn.
ANDERS ANDERSON and MARGRITA OLSDOTTER
Anders Anderson was born in April 1680 to Anders Matsson and his wife Anna Olsdotter in the village of Gagnefsbyn,
near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Married Margrita Olsdotter in 1704. She was born in 1685 to Olof Andersson and Matsdotter in Gagnefsbyn. (2)
Anders, born Nov. 26, 1705, and died in December 1705.
born in Jan. 28, 1707.
Anna, born June 11, 1709.
Olof, born Nov. 19, 1711, and died Nov. 26, 1711.
Marit, born Feb. 2, 1714.
Olof, born March 1715, and
died April 10, 1715.
Margrita, born Sept. 30, 1718, and died
Aug. 9, 1724.
Mats, born May 22, 1716.
Kiersten, Nov. 28, 1721.
Olof, born March 23, 1723.
Margrita, born in 1726.
Pehr, born Dec. 1, 1731.
Margrita had two other children. According to her death record, she gave
birth to eight sons and six daughters, but only four sons and four daughters survived.
However, Anders’ death record says he was the father of nine sons and five daughters.
Anders and Margrita spent their entire lives in Gagnefsbyn, where Anders was probably a farmer.
Margrita died in 1739 and Anders died in 1749.
(1) Anders’ birth information and much more about his live is recorded in his death
record in Gagnef church book F:3, image 125 in the records available through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net. (2) The marriage is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:2, page 73, which mentions it occurred on the 21st
Sunday of Trinity in 1704, which probably fell in late October. Margrita’s
birth information are mentioned in her death record in Gagnef church book F:1, image 82.
The record says she was born during Michael’s tide, which would be around the end of September. (3) Some of the children’s births are listed in the household register covering 1730-1775, which
is in Gagnef church book AI:1, page 297. In addition, the following births are
also recorded in church book C:1: first Anders, page 44; second Anders, page 54; Anna, page 67; the first Olof, page 82; Marit,
page 99; Mats, page 116; Margrita, page 132; Kiersten, page 151; the second Olof, page 159. Pehr’s birth is recorded
in book C:2, page 32. Children’s death are recorded as follows in book
EI:2: the first Anders, which occurred around the fourth Sunday in Advent, is on page 37; the first Olof, page 46; the first
Margrita, page 62. In addition, the death of the second Olof is recorded in
book EI:2, page 51. I did not see a baptismal record for him but might have
ANDERS ANDERSON and ANNA JONSDOTTER
Anders Anderson was born Jan. 28, 1707, to Anders Anderson and his wife Margrita Olsdotter, in the village of Gagnefsbyn,
near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Married Anna Jonsdotter on Nov. 3,
1734. She was born Sept. 4, 1717, to Jons Andersson and Anna Olsdotter in the
village of Överbacka, near Gagnef. (2)
Margrita, born Aug. 11, 1735, and died
Aug. 17, 1735.
Anna, born Sept. 11, 1737, and died before 1744.
Anders, born Aug. 27, 1738, and died in 1740.
Kiersten, born Aug. 8, 1741.
born Nov. 11, 1744.
Anders, born in 1747.
Jons, born Nov. 5, 1749. Died in 1752.
Margrita, born July 24, 1752.
Died in 1758.
Matts, born in July 14, 1755. Died in July 1755.
Matts, born May 16,
1757. Died in 1758.
grew up in the village of Gagnefsbyn. But after he married Anna, the couple
moved into her parents’ household in the village of Överbacka and lived there for about a decade. The birth records of their first few children list the couple as living there. In addition, the household register covering 1730-1775 shows Anders Andersson and Anna Jonsdotter living
in the Överbacka household with Anna’s mother and some of her siblings. It
is difficult to say whether her father was still alive when they moved in. In
the register, the head of the household is listed as Anna’s brother Anders Jonsson, but it’s obvious that his
name was written over his father’s at some point. (4)
some point between the birth of Anna in 1744 and that of Anders in 1747, the family moved to the household of Anders’
father in Gagnefsbyn. They appear to have remained there the rest of their lives.
Most of Anders and Anna’s children died very young. Two of the children, Matts and Margrita, at the same time in 1758 during what appears to have been a widespread
outbreak of “blodsot,” a term that’s usually used to designate dysentery.
Margrita died in 1739 and Anders
(1) The birth is listed in Gagnef church book C:1,
page 54. (2) The marriage is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:2, page 89. It says that Anders was from Gagnefsbyn and Anna was from Överbacka.
Anna’s birth is recorded in Gagnef church book C:1, page 125. (3) The children’s births and Jons’ death are listed in the household register covering 1730-1775,
which is in Gagnef church book AI:1, page 297. In addition, the following births
are also recorded in church book C:2: the first Anna, page 63; the first Anders, page 67; Kiersten, page 82; the second Anna,
page 94; the second Anders, page 108; Jons, page 124; the second Margrita, page 142.
The first Margrita does not appear to have been baptized, but her death is recorded in book EI:2, image 29 in the records
available through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net. The death of the first
Anders is recorded in book F:1, page 141. The 1758 deaths of Margrita and Mats
are recorded in the same listing in book F:4, page 101. (4) The household register
is in Gagnef church book AI:1, page 261.
QVARNSVEDS ANDERS ANDERSSON and CARIN ANDERSDOTTER
Qvarnsveds Anders Andersson was born May 30, 1747, to Anders Andersson
and his wife Anna Jonsdotter in Gagnefsbyn, near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Married Carin Andersdotter on Dec. 1, 1771. Carin was born May 19, 1751
to Anders Olsson and his wife Brita Ersdotter of Rista. (2)
Anna, born Sept. 6, 1772.
Died Sept. 27, 1772.
Brita, born June 12, 1774. Died in 1776.
born April 6, 1777.
Anders, born Oct. 31, 1781.
After Anders and Carin were married, they moved into Carin’s home at No. 2 Rista. In 1771, the household was headed by her grandfather Olof Zachrisson and also included
Carin’s parents and other members of the family. When Olof died in 1762,
Carin’s father became head of the household. After Anders Olsson died
in 1793, Anders Andersson became head of the household. At some point in the
1810s, the property appears to have been redesignated as No. 1 Rista. (4)
While Anders was head of the household in Rista, the designation “Qvarnsveds” was added before his name
in church records. This appears to have started a little after 1802 because
the household registers that cover 1802-1817 actually have “Qvarnsveds” added above Anders’ name. (5) It seems likely that the designation derived from the name of his farm. About this time, true surnames were used only by families in Sweden’s nobility, military and clergy,
as well as many in the largest cities, like Stockholm. Most Swedes used the
patronymic naming system, under which children’s last names were a combination of their father’s first name and
either “son” or “dotter,” depending on the child’s gender.
It seems likely that officials in Gagnef had noticed the huge number of Anders Andersson in their parish and decided
something was needed to differentiate them. For example, the village of Gagnefsbyn
had 17 households listed in the parish registers for 1730-1775 and they contained 11 Anders Anderssons. Starting in the early 1800s, many of the families in the area – though not all – started acquiring
unique additions to the beginning of their names. Most male members of this
family were to be known as Qvarnsveds for the next few generations. It seems
to have changed only after members of the family moved to another location within Rista.
Anders died July 27, 1824. Carin died June 22, 1834. (6)
(1) Birth is listed in Gagnef church book C:2, page 108. Transcripts
of records that were supplied by the Gagnef Pastorate (Pastorsambetet i Gagnef) in the late 1980s indicate that Anders was
born July 28, 1747. However, the only Anders born to an Anders (hence Andersson)
in Gagnefsbyn during 1747 was born on May 30. Gagnefsbyn was a very small village
and, although several men were named Anders Anders, none of the others was born in 1747. In
addition, Anders’ death record lists his birth date, and parents, in church book F:7, image 12 in the records available
through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net. (2) The marriage is recorded in
Gagnef church book EI:2, image 111. Carin’s parents and birth date are
identified in her death record in Gagnef church book F:7, page 195. (3) The
children’s birth and death dates are listed in the household registers that cover 1750-1775 in Gagnef church book AI:2,
page 118, and those that cover 1775-1791 in book AI:4a, page 73. (4) The transition
to Anders Andersson is indicated in the household registers that cover 1792-1801, page 71.
(5) The household register is in Gagnef church book AI:12, page 90. (6)
Anders death is recorded in church book F:7, image 12, as noted above. Carin’s
death is recorded in Gagnef church book F:7, page 195.
QVARNSVEDS ANDERS ANDERSSON and KERSTIN PERSDOTTER
Qvarnsveds Anders Andersson was born Oct. 31, 1781 to Anders Andersson
and his wife Karin Andersdotter in Rista, near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Married Kerstin Persdotter in
1802. (See below.)
Anders, born Oct. 18, 1802.
born Sept. 30, 1806.
Olof, born Dec. 22, 1812.
Carin, born April 24, 1818.
designation “Qvarnsveds” preceding Per’s name was probably an indication of the farm where he lived. It was added to the names of most male adults in the family starting in the 1810s.
On Jan. 1, 1802, Anders married Kerstin Persdotter from the
nearby village of By. She was born June 12, 1772, to Per Mattsson and his wife
Brita Persdotter in By. (3)
In the marriage record, Per is listed
as a “dräng,” or farm hand.
Anders continued to live on his father’s farm after the marriage and
seems to have inherited it after his death in 1824. The household registers
for 1826-1835 indicate that Ander’s mother lived in the household at No. 1 Rista until her death in 1834.
Anders died Dec. 22, 1835. (4)
After Anders’ death, the household registers covering 1846-1857 indicate that Kerstin lived
with her son Per and his wife Anna Mattsdotter in Rista. (5)
Kerstin died in Dec. 24, 1847. (6) Kerstin’s death record indicates
that she gave birth to six children. Two apparently died at birth since they
don’t appear in the household registers.
(1) Gagnef church
book C:4, page 39. (2) The dates of the children’s births are listed in
the household register that covers 1818-1825 in Gagnef church book AI:15, page 175.
However, only the month of December is indicated for Olof. The date for
him is found in the 1826-1835 registers in book AI:17, page 178.
(3) The marriage is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:3,
page 40. Many later household registers indicate the wedding occurred in 1801,
possibly because that’s when bans were published to announce the wedding. Kerstin’s
birth is recorded in book C:3, page 113. Her name is spelled a number of different
ways over the years, including Kiersten at birth and Cherstin in many cases. (4)
Gagnef church book F:7, page 217. (5) Gagnef church book AI:23b, image 6 in
the records available through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net. (6) Gagnef
church book F:7, page 355.
QVARNSVEDS ANDERS ANDERSSON and CARIN MATSDOTTER
Qvarnsveds Anders Andersson was born Oct. 18, 1802 to Anders Andersson and his wife Kerstin
Persdotter in Rista, near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Matsdotter in 1835 and, after Carin died, he married Johanna Persdotter in 1848. (See below.)
Children born to Anders and Carin: (2)
Anders, born Oct. 6, 1825.
Mats, born Dec. 5, 1827 and
died Oct. 6, 1830.
Per, born Dec. 31, 1829.
Kerstin, born May 29, 1832 and died in 1839.
Mats, born Jan. 13, 1835 and died in 1838.
Dec. 30, 1836 and died in 1838.
Karin, born Jan. 20, 1839.
Children born to Anders and Johanna: (3)
Olof, born Dec. 13, 1848.
born March 20, 1852.
On April 4, 1825, Anders married Carin
Mattsdotter. She was born Sept. 25, 1798, to Matts Mattsson and his wife Cherstin
Larsdotter in Nysähl, near Gagnef. (4)
In the marriage record,
Anders is listed as a “dräng,” or farm hand.
The family lived in Rista, where Carin gave birth to seven children. However, four of them died very young, including three during the years 1838 and 1839.
The designation “Qvarnsveds” preceding Anders’ name was probably derived
from the farm where he lived. It was used in his first marriage record, when
he still lived in his father’s household. However, for many years after
his marriage, Anders didn’t use the designation, possibly because he had moved out of his childhood home. It seems that Anders established his own home on a corner of his father’s property in Rista. The household registers that cover 1818-1825 and 1826-1835 list the family of Anders
Andersson – without “Qvarnsveds” – at the bottom of the page containing his father at No. 1 Rista. It seems likely that this separation was enough to prompt the dropping of “Qvarnsveds”
from his name. In the registers for 1836-1845, Anders appears as the head of
a new household designated No. 3 Rista. In the next set of registers –
those that cover 1846-1857 –Anders finally reacquired the designation “Qvarnsveds.” However, even then, it was apparently a later addition because it appears above his name rather than before
On Nov. 12, 1846, Carin died. (5)
About two years later, Anders married Johanna Persdotter.
Johanna was born July 27, 1812, to Per Persson and Kerstin Andersdotter in Nordbäck, near Gagnef. (6)
The household register covering 1858-1867 indicates that Karen was the only child of Carin
Mattsdotter remaining in Anders’ household. It also shows that Olof had
joined the army, though he still lived in his parents’ home. Following
common practice of the Swedish military, Olof also added the surname, “Norin.” (7)
The household register covering 1868-1877 reveals Olof and Matts still lived with their parents.
It also show that Matts had joined the army in 1870 and added the surname “Lax.” On March 29, 1875, the household expanded when Matts married Kerstin Andersdotter
of Rista, and again when their son Anders was born on May 24, 1876. (8)
The household register for 1878-1887 shows Anders and Johanna living in the household of their son Olof Andersson Norin
and his wife Karin Andersdotter in Rista. Olof was still a soldier. (9)
On March 4, 1883, Anders died of gangrena senilis, a form of gangrene
that afflicts the elderly. The record mentions that he was a farm owner. (10)
Johanna died of tuberculosis on July 3, 1885 in Rista. (11)
(1) Gagnef church book C:4, page 145. (2) The births and deaths of the
children are recorded in the household registers for 1826-1835, in: church book AI:17, page 178: and for 1836-1845 in book
AI:20, page 188. (3) The births of the children are recorded in the household
registers for 1846-1857, in church book AI:23, image 8 in the records available through ArkiDigital, at www.arkivdigital.net.
(4) The marriage to Carin is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:3, page 98. Carin’s birth is recorded in church book C:4, page 123. (5) Carin’s death is recorded in Gagnef church book F:8, page 22.
(6) The marriage is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:4, image 19 (ArkiDigital).
Johanna’s birth is recorded in book C:4, page 215. (7) The 1858-1867
register listing is in Gagnef church book AI:26, page 234. (8) The 1868-1877
register appears in Gagnef church book AI:29, page 300. (9) Gagnef church book
AI:32, page 375. (10) Gagnef church book, F:10, page 116. (11)
Gagnef church book, F:10, page 143.
QVARNSVEDS PER ANDERSSON and ANNA ERSDOTTER
Qvarnsveds Per Andersson was born Dec. 31, 1829 to Anders Andersson and
Carin Matsdotter in village of Rista, near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Anna Ersdotter Nov. 27, 1853. She was born April 4, 1828 to Quist Eric Persson
and his wife Brita Olsdotter in Rista. “Quist” appears to be the
name of the farm on which the family lived. (2)
Karin, born Dec. 15, 1853.
Anders Qvarnberg, born Dec. 27, 1855.
born Sept. 18, 1858.
Kerstin, born Nov. 21.1860.
Olof Qvarnberg, born April 25, 1864.
Anna, born March 26, 1868.
The designation “Qvarnsveds”
preceding Per’s name was probably an indication of the farm where he was born.
It was used to identify him in every record, even after he married and moved away from his father’s farm. That move, though only to a different part of Rista, seems to have prompted a change
in the family’s name. Per’s children were given the surname “Qvarnberg,”
which would be literally translated as “mill mountain.” After the
Swedish spelling reforms of 1906, the name became Kvarnberg, which is used by descendants in America and Canada.
At the time of his marriage in 1853, Per is listed as a “dräng,”
or farm hand.
In the 1880 Swedish census, per is listed as a
“Jordägare,” or landlord. In addition, this is one of the earliest
records in which Per’s sons are listed with the surname “Qvarnberg,” even though Per’s name continued
to be preceded by “Qvarnsveds.” (4)
In 1890, Per
is listed as a landowner. In addition to his wife Anna, his household
contained their daughter Anna and their son Olof, as well as Olof’s new wife Anna Olsdotter and their young son Anders,
who had been born that year.
Aug. 1, 1896, Anna died of what’s listed as old age frailty – “ålderdoms bräcklighet.” (5)
In 1900, Per appears to be living alone and whatever occupation was noted
in the record has been erased.
Per died of sepsis – “blodförgiftning”
– on June 3, 1905, in Rista. He was listed as a former farm owner. (6)
(1) Per’s birth is recorded in Gagnef church book C:4, page 375. (2) The marriage is recorded in Gagnef church book EI:4, page 29. Anna’s birth is recorded in Gagnef church book C:3, page 355.
An unpublished Kvarnberg genealogy compiled by members of the Kvarnberg family in Canada says Anna was born April 7,
1828. (3) The birth dates are listed in the household register for 1868-1877,
which appears in Gagnef church book AI:29, page 301. (4) Swedish census records
are available through the Swedish state archives. (5) Her death is recorded
in Gagnef church book F:12, page 18. (6) His death is recorded in Gagnef church
book F:12, page 126.
OLOF QVARNBERG and ANNA OLSDOTTER
Olof Qvarnberg was born April 25, 1864, to Qvarnsveds Per Andersson and his wife Anna Ersdotter in the village of Rista,
near Gagnef, Sweden. (1)
Married Anna Olsdotter on Nov. 1, 1890.
Anna was born Aug. 3, 1866 to Plåt Olof Olsson and his wife Anna Mattsdotter in the village
of Graf, near Gagnef. (2)
Anders, or Andrew, born Dec. 22, 1890.
Olof, born Sept. 11, 1892.
Anna, born Jan. 18, 1895. Married Evald Monson.
born Feb. 13, 1897.
Erik, born Sept. 5, 1900.
Gustaf Edvard, born March 18, 1903, and died April 20, 1903.
Karin, born Sept. 23, 1905, and died Feb. 6, 1906.
Gustaf Edvard, born Oct. 8, 1906.
Olof and his brothers
were the first members of the family to use the surname Qvarnberg. The name
was applied to the brothers in the Gagnef household register for 1878-1887 and was probably derived from the place where they
lived at that time. The name, which literally means “mill mountain,”
was spelled Kvarnberg after Sweden’s spelling reform of 1906. Before this
generation, the family used the traditional patronymic naming system, creating surnames by taking the first name of the father
and adding “son” or “dotter” to the end. In addition,
the traditional-style name was preceded by “Qvarnsveds,” which probably derived from the name of the farm in Rista
where the family lived for many generations. “Qvarnsveds,” translated
literally, means “mill wood.”
In the 1890 census
of Sweden, Olof, his wife Anna and their young son Anders are listed as living in the same household as Per in Rista. Olof is listed as a “dräng,” or farm hand.
In the 1900 census, Olof is listed as a “jordarbetare,” or agricultural worker
The Kvarnbergs were very poor, according to their son Gustaf. They lived on a rundown farm, which they didn’t own. Things got worse after Olof’s wife died of tuberculosis on May 19, 1908. (4) Olof was rarely home because he worked long hours at a sawmill.
The 1910 census shows the widowed Olof and his children living in the home of his father-in-law Plåt
Olof Olsson in the village of Graf. He
is listed as a worker in a sawmill.
About this time, the children started immigrating to the United States seeking better opportunities. Anders –
known as Andrew in America – left Sweden on March 8, 1909. Olof –
often spelled Olaf in America – left on Oct. 9, 1911 and served in the U.S. Cavalry in the Southwest in 1918 and 1919. (Family members insisted he was part elf because he had pointed ears.) Anna and Gustaf left together on July 20, 1913. Family tradition
says Kerstin and Erik came in 1919. However, Gagnef church records say Erik
left on Dec. 28, 1916. The records say Kerstin first moved to Stjarnsund on
June 6, 1917. They don’t say when she left for America.
July 12, 1916, Olof died of nephritis. His son Gus said he had a weak heart
and had been a heavy drinker. (5)
(1) Some this information
was obtained through interviews with Gustaf Kvarnberg in 1989. Olof’s
birth is recorded in Gagnef church book C:7, page 9. (2) The marriage is recorded
in Gagnef church book C:7, page 33. Anna’s birth is recorded in book EI:5,
page 44. An unpublished genealogy compiled by members of the Kvarnberg family
in Canada says Anna’s last name was Dragsten and she was born Aug. 2, 1866. (3)
The records of the Kvarnbergs’ births, marriage, immigrations and deaths were in church records obtained by writing
to the Gagnef Pastorate (Pastorsambetet i Gagnef) in Sweden in the late 1980s. These
are also now available online through the Swedish state archives at www.svar.ra.se. The Kvarnberg genealogy says
Andrew was born Dec. 23, 1890. (4) Her death is recorded in Gagnef church book
F:12, page 158. (5) Olof’s death is recorded in Gagnef church book F:12,
GUSTAF and OLGA KVARNBERG
Gustaf Edward Kvarnberg was born Oct. 8, 1906 in Graf, near Gagnef in central Sweden. His
parents were Olaf Kvarnberg and his wife Anna Olsdotter. (1)
Olga Larson. (See below.)
The Kvarnbergs had three children.
When Gus discussed his childhood during a 1989 interview, he recalled that his family was
very poor and that his father was rarely home because he worked long hours in a lumber mill.
On May 19, 1908, Gus’ mother died of tuberculosis. (2)
Within a few
years, the Kvarnberg children began immigrating to the United States a few at a time, hoping to find a better life. Andrew
came to the United States
first and made enough money to bring over others. In 1913, Gus immigrated to
the United States with his sister Anna. On July 12, 1916, after most of the
children had left for America, their father died. (3)
Gus left Sweden, an old man told him that America was a magical land. Americans
road in carriages that weren’t drawn by horses, but were controlled by moving a stick.
Of course Gus had never seen an automobile and thought the man was some kind of psychic when he first saw a car.
Church records in Gagnef, Sweden, say Gus and Anna left for North America
on July 30, 1913. (4)
Young Gus thought the voyage across the Atlantic would never end. The
passengers were allowed on deck only once a day to exercise and Gus suffered from bedbugs.
Anna recorded the journey in her diary (as translated from Swedish): “On Saturday morning, Aug. 2, my brother
and I left our home in Gagnef, Dalarne, and arrived in Goteborg on the evening of the same day. We stayed in Goteborg until Monday morning, Aug. 4. We then
went aboard the steamer Runo and came to Hull, England, Wednesday morning, Aug. 6.
We later went by railroad through England to Liverpool. We arrived on the evening of the same day, Aug. 6. We stayed
in a hotel in Liverpool until Friday morning, Aug. 8. We then went aboard the
steamer Celtic (White Star Line steamer). We arrived in New York Saturday morning,
Aug. 16. We later went to Ellis Island on the evening of Aug. 16. We left there on the fourth day, Wednesday evening Aug. 20. Then
we went by railroad to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago on Friday morning Aug.
22, 1913 around 10:30.” (5)
The record of the Kvarnbergs’ arrival indicates that they traveled in steerage, their passage was paid by a brother,
they were heading to his home in Chicago and they were in good health. (6)
In 1989, Gus recalled that he was amazed by the large buildings he saw in the United States. He also remembered that flowers and shrubs adorned Ellis Island.
“It looked like a paradise,” he said. “I thought, ‘This
is where I want to stay.”’ However, Gus suffered from lice during
his stay on the island and was eager to leave when the time came. Ellis Island,
in New York Harbor, acted as the main receiving station for immigrants from the 1890s to the mid-1900s. Immigrants were registered and examined for disease before they left the island.
When he began school in Chicago, Gus said, he couldn’t speak any English. He felt embarrassed and became determined to learn the language.
Later in life, he remembered little Swedish and spoke with no accent.
Gus spent the next two decades living with various relatives. Gus said he spent his first three years in the United States living with his aunt and uncle, Peter Sundquist. Gus then moved in with his brother Andrew and later lived with his sister Anna and
her husband, Evald Monson on a farm in Rice Lake, Wis. While he was young, he
was treated unkindly at times.
In the 1920 Census, Gus appears
in the household of his brother Andrew, at that time a farmer in Meteor Township, Sawyer County, Wis. Gus is listed as a 13-year-old alien who was born in Sweden. He
was listed as attending school and able to read and write. However, Gus said he left school after eight years.
Gus held several jobs in his youth, including one as an errand boy for Brooks Laundry in Oak
Park, Ill. He also worked in this brother Andrew’s butcher shop on the
west side of Chicago. In this job, he would wear roller-skates when making deliveries.
Gus was naturalized
when he was 19 years old.
The 1930 Census shows Gus living with
his brother Andrew in North Muskegon, Mich. It indicates that Gus was working
as a meat cutter in a meat market.
It was about this time that
Gus met his future wife, Olga Evelyn Larson. During Olga’s vacation in
1930, the pair met at a bonfire social in Twin Lakes, Mich. An older man picked
up Olga and carried her over to Gus and dropped her into his lap.
Oct. 9, 1935, Gus and Olga were married in Chicago. On their wedding day, Olga’s
father broke his arm but didn’t tell anyone until the next day because he didn’t want to ruin the festivities.
Olga was born April 19, 1913, in Chicago to Otto and Bertha Christine
Olga said she dropped out of high school after
becoming ill and missing most of a semester of classes. However, she went to business school to learn secretarial skills. She then got a job with Mutual Trust Life Insurance Co. in Chicago, earning $10 a
week. Olga earned a high school equivalency diploma in the early 1960s.
After they married, the Kvarnbergs settled in North Muskegon, where they
provided a nice middle-class atmosphere for their children. The 1940 Census shows the family living on Ruddiman Avenue. It says Gus was a manager in a retail meat and grocery market.
Gus took a job with Continental Motors in 1941. During
World War II, the company manufactured tank and aircraft engines. Gus worked as a lather operator for most of his time with
the company. He retired in 1973. (7)
All American men had to register for the draft during World War II. His
daughter Grace said, “My father was called up for the draft during WWII, but he was designated as 4F because he was
“During the war, he planted a lot
sized garden and raised chickens and rabbits,” Grace wrote. “Every
kind of vegetable imaginable and fruit were planted in the garden and our backyard. He would sell extra eggs to neighbors.
We had the ‘prettiest corn,’ as he said, because I (Grace) braided all the corn silk. This garden was eventually
used to build the new house before Lee was born because the old house was too small. The address of the old house was 118
Ruddiman Dr and the new house was 2222 Ruddiman Dr. They lived there until after my father died of pneumonia.”
Gus enjoyed woodworking and building things. Gus did most of the finishing work on his house in North Muskegon, Mich.
“He was very creative in rigging up all sorts
of things to make life easier,” their daughter Grace wrote in 2013.
“During WWII he made Don and Grace a playhouse. This play house was a hospital, fort, school, house, etc at various
times. It was a favorite thing for all the neighborhood kids. He also made a scooter out of scrap wood and old roller skates
... another favorite toy for the whole neighborhood.
father was very good at carving. He once carved an excellent likeness of Abraham Lincoln which broke and was thrown out eventually.
He also made me a wooden horse with a lock of my hair for a tail, but my mother wouldn't let me play with it. I still have
Gus also built doll furniture for his daughter
and a cradle for his granddaughter, Ingrid.
When Gus was younger, he played the violin.
Olga enjoyed maintaining Swedish traditions, such as serving lutefisk for Christmas, and she
and Gus belonged to the Vassa Lodge, a Swedish organization.
were active at Samuel Lutheran Church, where Gus served as financial secretary for 22 years.
They were also volunteers at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon.
died Jan. 11, 1992.
About two years after Gus’ death,
Olga moved into the Chelsea Retirement Community in Chelsea, Mich. She died April 13, 1995. (8)
Gus and Olga are buried at the North Muskegon cemetery in Laketon Township.
(1) Information comes from a questionnaire and interviews with Gustaf and Olga Kvarnberg in
1989 and notes from their daughter Grace Reishus in 2013. Records of Gus’
birth are in Gagnef church book C:11, page 67. The birth record spells Gus’
name Gustaf Edvard Qvarnberg. (2) Her death is recorded in Gagnef church book
F:12, page 158. (3) Olof’s death is recorded in Gagnef church book F:12,
page 238. (4) Their departure is recorded in Gagnef church book BI:4, page 84. (5) Copies of the letter has been passed down through the family. (6) List of passengers arriving at Ellis Island on Aug. 16, 1913, available through www.ellisisland.org.
(7) Gus’ obituary clipped from an undated, unidentified newspaper. (8) Olga’s obituary clipped from an undated, unidentified newspaper.