A 'Swenglish' journey through family photos, notes and postcards from the early 20th century.


Last Names / Efternamn

Som om det inte vore krångligt nog med alla min farmors halvsyskon ändå – de hade till råga på allt flera olika efternamn, även som ogifta.

På Gustafs gravsten står namnet Gustav Samuelsson. Men i det gamla vykortsalbumet som tillhörde honom är korten från 1902 och många år framåt ställda till Gustaf Ekman. Ett par kort från 1930-talet i slutet av albumet är dock adresserade till Gustaf Samuelsson, vilket tyder på att han senare återtog det namnet.

Jag vet att även syskonen Gerda, Ester och Oskar antog efternamnet Ekman. Gerda och Ester, som förblev ogifta, har båda namnet Ekman på sin gravsten. Den äldre brodern Carl däremot hette Emanuelsson; dvs samma efternamn som fadern, Samuel Emanuelsson. En syster (Olivia) som dog 1899 hade också (enligt gravstenen) efternamnet Emanuelsson.

Även farmor hette som ogift Emanuelsson; och likaså hennes yngre bror Nils.

Jag har för mig att pappa någon gång sa, när jag frågade om den här namnförvirringen, att Gustaf kom att heta Samuelsson på grund av att den präst som antecknade namnet vid dopet skrev fel. (I tidigare generationer var det standard att efternamnet bildades på faderns förnamn. Samuels far hette t.ex. Emanuel.)

Eftersom Gustaf hette Ekman 1902, verkar det troligt att han och de tre andra syskonen antog namnet runt sekelskiftet. Vad som är oklart för mig är när och varför han senare bytte tillbaka.

♥ ♥ ♥

Turning over a number of random cards in Gustaf’s postcard album, they seemed all to be addressed to Gustaf Ekman.

This surprised me a little, because his last name according to his gravestone was Gustav Samuelsson.

This never made much sense either though, because his older brother Carl, buried in the same grave, had Emanuelsson as his last name. Gerda and another unmarried sister went by the name  of Ekman (also on their grave); and so did, I understand, their brother Oskar. But my grandmother’s and her younger brother’s last name was Emanuelsson.

The father’s name was Samuel Emanuelsson. His father’s first name was Emanuel… In earlier generations, names were passed on like that. Your last name would be son-or-daughter of whatever your father’s first name was. It seems to have been around my grandparents’ generation that the practice changed and children were given the same last name as their parents instead; and the ending –dotter (daughter) was put out of use. So my grandmother’s maiden name was not Sally Samuelsdotter, but Sally Emanuelsson.

I asked my father some time about the total surname confusion among his mother’s many siblings. He said the story was Gustaf was given the name Samuelsson by mistake. The parson misheard or got confused and wrote Samuelsson instead of Emanuelsson in the church records, and he got stuck with it.

However, the cards do tell me that for a number of years, he called himself Ekman instead. But checking some of the last ones in the album, it seems that in the 1930’s (or earlier) he had changed back to Gustaf Samuelsson.

Why some of them started calling themselves Ekman in the first place is not clear either. Maybe they just wanted a shorter name. My guess is that Oskar, Ester, Gustav and Gerda all changed to Ekman around the turn of the century. What I don’t know is why and when Gustaf changed his name back again.



  1. this is a fantastic idea, all your family history in one place, you are off to a wonderful start with it, perfect to show your postcard collection.

  2. Sounds like our family - only we all mess around with our forenames. I hope that something turns up the answer one day.

    I do appreciate your kindness in writing your blog in Swedish and English; twice the work for you but it makes it accessible to folk like me so a Big Thank You!.

  3. Well, thank YOU, blogging friends who have shown up here so quickly with comments. Since the old postcards in the collection that inspired me to get started on this project come from various countries, and I myself have got used to blogging in English... It seemed the right way to go with this blog, to use both languages. To do a Swedish family history blog in English only would be odd. But to do a blog in Swedish only would also feel odd, knowing that my English-speaking friends wouldn't be able to read it. And your feedback is important to me too. So bi-lingual it will have to be, even if it means writing some things twice!

  4. This is proving to be even more interesting as a social as well as a family history. I'm hooked already.