September 29, 2016

Matilda's Journey and an Edwardian Scandal

A miserable rainy day outside so time to return to Matilda’s journey. 

As we have seen she arrived in Boston in 1906.  According to the Swedish Emigration records she was due to go to Rockford, Illinois.  Now how the heck she wound up working as a maid in NYC in the 1910 census will always be a mystery but there she is, doing what a self-respecting, farm raised Aland girl would be doing. 
(Not really Matilda but close enuf)
Since there was no census between 1906 and 1910 I will never know what path sent her to working for William (a stock broker) and Mary Oliver.  Perhaps the person who sponsored her in Rockford was just a foreign help broker.  I can only speculate. But at any rate, there she was in 1910 working for this couple at a swank NYC address, 71 Central Park West when the census taker knocked on the door.


Suddenly, in February 1911 she was in the marriage license bureau with Swen Olaf Johnson, a handsome Swedish laborer she had met (by family tradition) at the Vasa Orden in NYC.
Vasa Orden, or Vasa Order is a Swedish fraternal organization that aimed to acclimate the vast number of Swedish immigrants to this country and now serves as a repository of Swedish-American culture.  In all likelihood there was a chapter on 22nd St. at the Gustavus Adolphus Swedish Lutheran Church. (Which by coincidence I used to walk by almost every day when I was living in NYC)

So this is where the story gets interesting.  Long ago and far away my husband and I were going through my parents “stuff.”  Being young and unaware of what it meant to keep “stuff” we, of course, didn’t.  But the conversation sticks in my memory. 

Barry: I found a marriage certificate in Swedish from the Gustavus Adolpus Swedish Lutheran Church.  Were Swen and Matilda your grandparents?

Me: Ya.

Barry: Well I don’t read Swedish but I think this says February 1911.

(I scoot over to look and confirm.  Then turn red.)

Barry: Perhaps our elopement wasn’t the only family scandal.

Yepers, he was right.  My mother was born in August of 1911.  Family scandal confirmed to me later by her first cousin, Beatrice.  1911 was Edwardian, after all, not Victorian.

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