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


G.011-3 Sweet Smile (ca 1902)


G.011.3A-001 2283/84


Kortet har inte varit frankerat så har antagligen skickats i kuvert. Jag tror det är det första kortet i samlingen som har “modern” baksida med plats för text utöver adressen. Jag gillar accentueringen av bara några detaljer i färg mot det svartvita.

Meddelandet är skrivet på vers:


Så söt hon är! är hon ej kär?
men var hon fins? jag nu ej mins;
du bäst det sjelv kanhenda vet?

In English

This anonymous card never had a stamp on it so was probably sent in an envelope. I think it is the first postcard in Gustaf’s collection designed for a message beside the address on the back. I like the accentuation of just a few details with colour in this portrait of an anonymous girl.

The message is rhymed home-made poetry written by someone with a rather poor sense of spelling (I think, even if rules of Swedish spelling have changed a bit since 1902). I’ve attempted a rhymed translation but gave up on trying to imitate the spelling mistakes as well!

Isn’t she sweet and a dear?
But is she anywhere near?
I can’t remember but maybe
you know that better than me.


G.010.2 Ulriksdals slott, Stockholm (1902)

Ulriksdal Palace, Stockholm


No 1378 Ferdinand Hey’l, Stockholm.
A. Blomberg, Photo



Postmark: --1902
To: Här (Herr) Gustaf Ekman, Storegården, Fristad
From: Karl / Hj.A (?)


Vi är nu i Stockholm och vi äro Mycket --- efter resan
--- så träffade vi --- från din vän Karl och hans --- Hj.A
[Kan inte utläsa alla ord]

In English

Postcard to Gustaf from friends visiting Stockholm.
I have not managed to decipher all the words in this message.

Ulriksdals slott. Foto: Norberg Design AB/Dick Norberg.

The building is Ulriksdal Palace from the 17th century.

The palace was originally built for Count Jacob De la Gardie in 1645 and then called Jakobsdal. About 25 years later it was bought by Queen Dowager Hedwig Eleonora for her grandson Ulrik and renamed after him. The little prince however died at the age of one. After the queen’s death in 1715 the palace was transferred to the Crown.

In 1902 (when the postcard was sent), the King of Sweden was Oscar II. I’m not sure how Ulriksdal Palace was used in his day. Later on in the 20th century it was residence to his grandson Gustav VI Adolf (king of Sweden 1950-1973). Since 1986 it has been open to the public. Parts of the former living quarters are used to exhibit items from Gustaf VI Adolf's art and crafts collection.


G.011-1 Prinsessan Törnros (1902)

Sleeping Beauty


Axel Eliassons Konstförlag Stockholm. No 251.


Postmark: Sörby 6.8.1902
To: Herr Gustaf Ekman, Storegården, Fristad
From: Edith

Hjertligt tack för senast!
Kära hälsningar från Edith.
Skrif snart.

Hälsningar från Ester!
Hälsa moster Gerda!

Med ledning av de extra hälsningarna drar jag slutsatsen att den Edith som skickat kortet är Gustafs systerdotter – dotter till hans äldsta syster Emma. Emma var född 1866, jag tror Edith var äldsta dottern men jag vet inte när hon föddes.

In English

This card was sent to Gustaf from his niece Edith, daughter to his oldest sister Emma, with thanks for last time. It also has greetings from his sisters Ester and Gerda.


G.010-3 Dalarne, Rättvik (1902)


Dalarne, Rättvik
Axel Eliassons Konstförlag, Stockholm, No 2026.


Postmark: Sörby, 26.8.1902
To: Herr Gustaf Ekman, Storegården, Fristad
From: Ella, Agda and E-n

Hjertliga hällsningar till eder alla. Ella.
Hälsning fr. Agda
Hälsningar E-n


Det kolorerade fotografiet framhäver folkdräkterna men lämnar ansiktena spöklikt gråbleka…

The coloured photograph shows off folk costumes from Rättvik, Dalarna (Dalecarlia), but the faces of the people come out rather ghost-like!


G.010-2 Floby kyrka och skolhus (1902)

G.010-2 Floby church and school house


Floby Kyrka & Skolhus. Vestergötland.
Foto. & förlag: Dagmar Eriksén, Norrköping



Date: 17.8.02(?)
To: Herr Gustaf Ekman, Storegården, Fristad
From: Gerda

Jag är nu på s-y(?) (Sörby) och har mycke roligt, resan gick utmärkt, (Elsa?, Ernst?, Cassel?) träffade jag ej. Kära hälsningar G-a.

Jag var inne i (B---?) en stund. Ester o Johansson mötte mig der.

Jag vet ej när jag kommer hem igen. Om du kommer hit till fredag eller lördag så skall jag stanna öfver nästa söndag. Det kan du gerna göra.

Oscar har varit här en stund, han hadde ej någon velociped.

Gerda verkar ha återkommit till Sörby (systern Emma) efter en resa. Jag kan inte uttyda platsnamnet som börjar med B. (Och inte heller med säkerhet namnen på de personer hon “ej träffade”.) Ester, deras andra syster, vistades kanske också omväxlande hos Emma resp. Oscar. Jag vill minnas från andra kort att Johansson var namnet på en anställd hos Oscar.

In English

Postcard to Gustaf from his sister Gerda, August 1902. The view is Floby church and school house. The handwriting is not easy to decipher, but she seems to be back (from where?) with her sister Emma at Sörby/Floby (where she seems to have spent much of 1901-02 before emigrating).

I’m now at Sörby and am having fun. The journey went well. I did not see E—, E— or C—. Best wishes, G-a.
[upside down:]
I was in B—for a while, Ester and Johansson met me there. I don’t know when I’ll be back. If you come here Friday or Saturday I’ll stay over next Sunday. Please do come. Oscar
[another brother] has been here for a short visit, he did not have a velocipede.



Sepia Saturday: Unknown

“All lovers of old photographs are familiar with unknown people, unknown families and unknown places, we all have them in our collection, and Sepia Saturday 165 provides an opportunity to give them their moment in the limelight, not because of who they are but because of who they may be.”



Among my old family albums there is one with lots of unknown faces and places in it. I think it probably belonged to my grandmother’s half-sister Gerda – one of the “cast” in this blog. There are some photos of her in that album, and some of family members I recognize; but also many people I don’t know at at all.

The first photo is the very first one in the “unknown” album. I think the woman in the middle may be Gerda herself. Further on in the same album I found the other photo from the same room. Different occasion. Three people seem to be the same. Two are different. No Gerda.

It’s looks like a rather stylish house, doesn’t it, with that ornamented fireplace?

I’m thinking maybe a family she worked for… And kept in touch with afterwards??

To sum up what I know about Gerda so far:

She emigrated to America in 1902 (at age 21), worked as a servant at a few different addresses in Chicago for about 10 years (one of those positions was in the household of a rather prominent man in Chicago, dr Otto L. Schmidt – she is registred as servant in his house in the 1910 US population census). Around 1913 (age 32) she was back in Sweden, at least for a visit. But she continued to travel in Europe during the first world war and in the 1920’s. From a relative I learned that she worked as lady’s maid/travel companion to rich English ladies.

In the 1930’s and onwards (age 50+), she was housekeeper to the family of Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte (of the royal family) and his American wife Estelle Manville-Bernadotte. Folke and Estelle got married in 1928, and made their home in Stockholm.  (Possibly Gerda worked for Estelle or the Manville family even before the marriage. Among old photos there is also a press cutting of a photo from the wedding, cut from an American magazine.)

Folke Bernadotte was tragically assassinated in 1948 in Jerusalem. Gerda (then 67) remained with Estelle Bernadotte, I think for the rest of her (Gerda’s) life – which was a long one, as she lived to be nearly 92. Estelle eventually married again, but that was not until the same year Gerda died, 1973 (and Estelle herself was 69).

What do you think? Is the woman in the middle the same as young Gerda to the left, and old Gerda to the right?


The photo to the right shows Gerda wearing a royal medal.  When did she get it? I’m guessing in connection with her 75th birthday, 1956. And/or 25 or 30 years of service to a royal(ly connected) family. Mid/late 50s anyway, as she’s sitting in my grandfather’s chair which got for his 50th birthday in 1954. And it was he who took that photo.

I’ve not been able to find any list of old medals on the internet, only more recent ones given to famous people. Gerda, in spite of the medal, belongs to the Unknown.


Sepia Saturday: Young Lad with Bicycle

It took me a while to find them in the old family albums, but here are two photos of my dad in his boyhood, first with a tricycle rather small for him, then a bicycle a bit big for him… I’m not sure exactly how old he was in either photo but he was born in 1931.

Bertil 3hjuling-001

Bertil 2hjuling-001