Featured Post

The Beginning

So, this is Dad and Mom. Ray is the son of Conrad Herrmann and Kate Bundock. He is the step-son of Edith Armstrong and Wally Hewitt. ...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Disproving a Family Story - Herman Justus Sjöholm

One aspect of researching family is proving or disproving family stories or legends. My great-grandfather, Herman, had a great family story connected to him, one I grew up listening to as my mother told it over and over through the years. As an adult, I began to believe the story was just a little too unbelievable. So, one of my research goals was to prove (or dis-prove) this family story.
Before I begin telling this family legend, I must clarify the pronunciation of the Sjöholm name. My mother always said that it was pronounce "Shur-holm". My brother told me it was pronounced "Wee-ohm". Wikipedia had a person with the same surname and a recording on the page of the name's pronunciation. It appears that my brother was correct. The pronunciation is "Wee-ohm" and it is said really fast - like trying to combine the two syllables.

Now, the story Mom told about her grandfather was as follows:
Herman was the illegitimate son of the King of Sweden. His mother was known as Katrin the Beautiful and her grandfather attended private boarding schools. When his mother, Katrin the Beautiful, would visit him in a large, very opulent carriage, she would bring him wonderful gifts. 

This story was told over and over again when I was growing up. It was a great story and created all sorts of wonderful fantasies in a child's mind. However, as I grew older, it became more and more just a far-fetched tale. How did an illegitimate child of a King become a humble house painter?   Eventually, my cousin said that the story was not true and that Herman had grown up in a Foundling  Home in Stockholm. So, when I began researching the Genline records, Herman was one of the ones that I researched first. 

Herman's immediate family - his wife and children - was relatively easy to find from Ragnhild's birth record and the recorded parish of her birth. But all Herman would report of his place of birth was Stockholm - and Stockholm is a large area to cover. It took many hours and many days to find him, but find him I did.
And the story was not related to royalty, but rather quite a sad one - of which his inner strength and the support of two significant people in his life helped him to triumph over the hardships in his life.