Kristina Friberg and Anders Larsson Families

Introduction and Acknowledgements


            When I was about 16 years old, I went with a friend to Busch Gardens – a theme park in my hometown of Tampa, Florida. We wandered into a gift shop there, and something caught my eye. There were rows of little badges that had flags on them. They all said things like “Proud to be Polish”, “Proud to be Irish”, etc. I had a real compulsion to buy a “Proud I’m Swedish” badge, so I did. The rather frightening fact of this somewhat mundane tale is that I did not know I was of Swedish heritage! As an adopted person, I was brought up in a Polish-American family, and knew absolutely nothing about my heritage – not even my birthname.

            As I grew older, I wanted to “fill in the blanks”. I had always been interested in history, yet my own personal history was an absolute blank page. In 1996, I started the process by writing to the State of Michigan for my non-identifying records. Basically, they photocopy all your records from the social services files, but they cover up any identifying details like names or dates. Fortunately, they made a few errors, and left my birthname, my mother’s name and the death date of my father. 

            Only with the advent of the internet would I have been able to carry out my research from that point. The details from my notes sounded quite scary and tragic, and many people would not have pursued things any further. But I wanted to know more of how I came into being, and perhaps the circumstances of my adoption. And my biggest dream was to have a photograph of my mother. So I looked on the internet Social Security Death Index to find people with my birthname who died on my father’s death date. There was only one man who did. I found his obituary, and that listed all my brothers and sisters – as well as some aunts and uncles.

            Using internet telephone directories, I found people’s addresses all across the USA that had the same names as my brothers and sisters. In a big gamble, I did a huge mail shot of some 84 letters asking if that person was my sibling. It was a real needle in the haystack, as I didn’t know if my sisters had married, or if any siblings had been adopted out and had their name changed. Amazingly, one letter found my brother Raymond – which really was the beginning of an incredible adventure. He put me in touch with my sister Wendy, who in turn helped me get in contact with my mother.

            Events from there were almost like a cliché! In April 2000, I was on a trip to California and was hoping to meet up with my mother in Arizona. My sister Wendy decided to join her husband Mike on a business trip to Las Vegas in the hopes that we could meet halfway. And so it was…when I looked on the map, the best place to meet my sister was the Ghost Town of Calico, California! We had an amazing time, spending a few brief hours together as she showed photos of the family and filled me in on our rather complex family history. She also gave me invaluable advice about what to expect from my mother, who has schizophrenia.

            I could not believe the town my mother lived in. Lake Havasu City in Arizona was founded in 1964, which is my birth year. It is also home of the London Bridge, which the town had purchased and shipped over piece by piece. Everywhere, there are British Union Jack flags, and little hints of England. England has been my home for over ten years now. The coincidences seemed incredible to me.

            I had an amazing, emotional four hours with my mother. I wasn’t sure of how much validity there would be in her relaying of facts about her life, due to her mental condition. But in time, many of those facts were proven true. Her father’s original name was Andersson, before changing it to Fries. She had a brother named Benny Fries who lived in Tennessee. She had cousins in Moline and Rock Island in Illinois, as well as in Canada. One search had now ended, and a new one begun. I enjoy a good mystery, and now it was time to reach back into the past and put the puzzle pieces together. And from the hope of just having a photograph of my mother had sprung a rich family history beyond my hopes and dreams.

            There are so many people I wish to thank for making all this possible. These are just some of them! First and foremost - my wife Ali, for her patience, support and understanding during the various stages of my search. To my brother Raymond for replying to my original letter. My sister Wendy, for coordinating reunions, giving advice and just being a super sister. My Uncle Benny Fries, for providing photos, documents and addresses of Canadian cousins; and relaying stories about his dad. To my cousin Linda Fox for information on Canadian relatives. To my cousin in Moline, Illinois – Elaine Christiason for providing some fabulous photos and information on the family’s history. To Sharon Shaw, who has provided me with some wonderful stories and photos from the Wallin branch of the family. To my dear cousin in Sweden, Thorbjörn Nilsson; for his invaluable assistance with regard to the history of the family in Sweden - I couldn’t have done it without you! And to my cousins, Erik and Rolf Kvarndal for their hospitality during my visit to Sweden.

            Just to say, I hope this is an ongoing history…I will be happy to update the stories of the next generations, add or alter any of the history that I’ve put down here – especially inaccuracies. Please contact me with anything that you would like to share : photos,documents, stories – even rumors. And remember, we are living the history of tomorrow!


















Thorbjörn, Ron, Erik and his wife sorting through old photos              













Ron, Ali & Jessica



Kristina Friberg and Anders Larsson



It is only theory that this photo above on the left is Anders Larsson (on the back the photo says Moline 1882), but note the similarities with the photo above right – which is a known photo of Kristina and Anders. Both men have nearly the same beard shape and exact same hairstyle.


Kristina had the last name Pettersson (her father’s last name), Johanstotter (daughter of Johannes), and my grandfather named her as Friberg in documentation such as marriage certificates (Friberg being the area of Eggby parish she was from). She was the eldest child of Margaretha and Johannes, born in the Billigen region of Eggby Parish on the 26th of January 1851. Kristina moved to Vättlösa in Eggby Parish to work as a maid at the farm Hultet.  A few years later she married Anders Larsson in Amfindsryd of the same parish. They were married on the 15th of November in 1874 in the church of Vättlösa (where Sven Stenander was presumably buried). She bore 7 children, 3 daughters and 4 sons (but one son died as a toddler). 

Her husband, Anders Larsson, was an interesting character to say the least! His mother, Maria Charlotta Friis, was rumoured to have come from Germany; however I have found documentary evidence stating she was from Sweden ; as well as a long line of ancestors- all Swedish with the rather distinctive last name of Friis – rather than the usual Patronomic names (like Svensson, Petterssson, Gustafsson, Larsson, Andersson, etc. etc.). This has made them relatively easy to trace through time. The family name may have originally have been Danish, as of course the Danes had a strong historical influence on the area. However, the Friis family were quite humble farm workers. They were from the beautiful Sunnersberg and Otterstad areas near Läckö Castle, one of the most visited castles in Sweden today – located on the shores of Lake Vanern, the largest lake in Sweden. It is through Maria that the Fries last name came into being for all of Anders and Kristina’s children. It was rumoured that there were too many children named Andersson in the school, so the teacher gave them the last name of their grandmother.

             Anders Larsson was born in Vättlösa on the 18th of February in 1840, the oldest of three sons. He lived much of his life in the small farming hamlet of Amfynsryd. Perhaps farm life was too sedate for him. Or maybe the economic depression that hit Sweden hard in the 1860’s forced him into the criminal world. Smallpox vaccinations and improved diet had sent the Swedish population skyrocketing. Still a largely agrarian society, there were not enough jobs for adults in the countryside. This, coupled with some very bad harvest years, led to the mass emigration of Swedes abroad.

Anders left behind a rather notorious legacy. In Sweden, church records were very detailed. They had an annual house examination roll, which served as a detailed census. The local priest would note dates of birth, marriage, children, church attendance , and often would make some notes about the individuals. This can leave behind some rich details, as is the case here. On the 11th of February 1867, Anders was tried and convicted by the court in Västeräs for the crime of distributing fake coins (in effect, forgery…or betraying the confidence of others). He was sentenced to 3 years hard labour, and 6 years loss of civil rights. I have yet to send for the details of the case. It would be interesting to see if his plea was guilty or innocent, and to hear his side of the story. On the 19th of February 1870,his good behaviour was confirmed and he was released from prison just after his 30th birthday.

I find it remarkable that Kristina, great-granddaughter of a policeman, and granddaughter of the former priest and smuggler killing Sven Stenander, fell in love with this man. They were married on December 18th , 1874. Their first child was born just under 9 months later; so either baby Johan Alfred (Fritz) was a bit early – or maybe Kristina could have been newly pregnant at the time of her wedding. On the 4th of August, 1880, Anders left Gothenburg for New York. His younger brother August Larsson had emigrated to America on the 21st of March 1879. He had a wife, Emma Louisa Lungren, who was staying in Sweden with their young daughter Anna Charlotta. Sadly, little Anna died in the January of 1880. Emma had an exit permit issued at the same time as Anders. It is quite possible – even likely, that Anders accompanied his grieving sister-in-law to America in order to deliver her to his brother August.


Kristina, Thekla, Selma and Fritz about 1881


Anders did not return from America until the 18th of September 1885. He may have made his ‘fortune’ while away in America. In the house rolls he is noted as owning his farm outright, which was unusual in this land of poor, tenant farmers. He was also in a bit of legal trouble again! In Sweden at the time, people were not allowed to roam freely from place to place. They had to have an official exit permit. There was a thriving business in Denmark of selling ‘waistcoat papers’. Tailors would make a waistcoat for Swedish men and sew false exit papers in secret linings for their customers, easing the exit for those who couldn’t get permission to emigrate. Anders lost his papers that explained his whereabouts from 1880-1886. This was a rather serious matter, but fortunately the local priest issued a paper confirming the good reputation of Anders!

A little oral history - Anders’ daughter Thekla had stated that her father had a glass eye. He lived until the 19th of October 1922; outliving his wife Kristina, who had died the 8th of November 1920. I was unable to find their grave at Vättlösa churchyard, but they may have been buried elsewhere, or I could have missed it. Only one of their children, the youngest daughter Emelia, continued to live in Sweden.
















I feel quite certain that this is Kristina and Anders outside their home in Amfynsryd.



Trying to find the house in Amfinsryd. Amfinsryd is a very small community of only about 10 houses. This house on the left seems the most likely candidate, although it has been altered in time. The house seems to have the stone steps, but the stone wall may be overgrown. There is a similar chimney and correctly positioned windows. Right, an old photo showing a similar doorway (labelled Tekla’s house in Sweden)


            A little oral history - Anders’ daughter Thekla had stated that her father had a glass eye. He lived until the 19th of October 1922; outliving his wife Kristina, who had died the 8th of November 1920. I was unable to find their grave at Vättlösa churchyard, but they may have been buried elsewhere, or I could have missed it. Only one of their children, the youngest daughter Emelia, continued to live in Sweden.



Some views of the lovely farmland around Amfinsryd.



            Johan Alfrid , who became known as Fritz Larson-Fries, was the oldest child of Kristina and Anders. He was born on the 15th of September, 1875. He was the first of the children to leave for America. He arrived in Moline, Illinois in 1891. He worked for John Deere, the famous farm machinery manufacturers, for about 15 years. He moved to Chicago for a time. Then in 1911, he moved to Rife – near Bonnyville in Alberta, Canada. There he set up a farm with his brother August. Fritz went to the USA again briefly for a few months. Towards the end of his life, Fritz was admitted to a mental institution, where he seemed to be suffering from a form of dementia. He died, aged 63, in 1938. He never married.









Dated either 1914 or 1917 of all the siblings in the USA.  August, Thekla, Benny, seated are:  Fritz and Selma


















Fritz center others unidentified


Thekla and Ivar Gustafsson

            Thekla was the oldest daughter, and second child to emigrate to the USA.  She was born on the 18th of November 1876. She met her future husband, Ivar Gustafson, in the town of Lidköping. But their wedding would have to wait a few years. Thekla lived and worked briefly in Gothenburg (living in the parish of Gustavi Cathedral– which was in the centre of the city). She left Gothenburg for America on the 28th of June 1899. She arrived ten days later at Ellis Island in New York, aged 22. Ship passenger records at the public record office in London state that she was on a Wilson line ship from Gothenburg to Hull (the British shipping firm had a virtual monopoly on this route). She would have taken a train west to the port of Liverpool, where she boarded the S.S. Campania of the White Star Line. Her fare was paid for by an uncle, written as A. Dahlin. This must be her Uncle Per August Waline , who emigrated to the USA in 1887. Thekla initially stayed with a Mr. and Mrs. John Frynell in Moline.

            Ivar also arrived in New York on the Campania, but on the 24th of November 1900 when he was 25. His Ellis Island record states that he was going to visit his sister Thekla in Moline! They were married in Moline on the 17th of May, 1903. Ivar built their house at 1227 3rd Street in Moline. The top floor was rented out to lodgers. Descendants of the couple occupy the home to this day. The couple seemed to have acted as host for many of Thekla’s immigrating family, and her brothers August and Benny are known to have lived with them for some time. Selma lived only 5 streets away.


Wedding Day:  Ivar, Thekla, ?, Selma, ?               .

at left: Ivar holding Carl, Thekla, August, John Zetterland and Elsa in front about 1917












They had two children – Elsa Christina Sophia (1908-1999) and Carl Ivar (1915-1977). It is interesting to note that in the 1930 US census, John Zetterland was listed there as a boarder.  He may have just been a long time friend or maybe there is a connection to the family.

Ivar worked for the local auto factory – Velie Motors. He started as a benchworker, and then became a carriage assembler. He seems to have helped many relations get jobs at the factory, including Benny Fries.

Ivar and Thekla no date given                                                                                                                                                  Elsa (I think)










Elsa married Alfred Peterson in 1927.  They had two daughters, Phyllis and Elaine. Carl married Virginia Calhoun in 1937.  They had one daughter, Karin but later divorced.  He married Berniece Johnson in 1950.

            Thekla passed away in 1953 and Ivar in 1961.                                                                                     

Alfred and Elsa Peterson










Selma and Emil Anderson






























Left: Selma, Emil,and  young Fritz Anderson; about 1905.    I believe this is the same trio, probably newly in America…1901.



            Selma who was born 8th February, 1880, was next to emigrate. I have yet to find her arrival records, but she left Gothenburg on the 2nd of August 1901 bound for New York. I don’t think her husband was with her. Selma had three sons: Fritz (1901-1967), Lawrence (1910-1979) and Arnold (1913-1980). There was a baby daughter born after Fritz but she died. 

In the US census dated 19 Apr 1910 - Emil was 30 years old.  He and Selma had been married 8 yrs. Emil polished iron in a shop.  Selma, also 30 was the mother of 2 children but only son Fritz 9 is living.  Lawrence would be born later that year.  Also Fritz Larson age 38 and a brother-in-law to Emil was living there and working as a grinder at a plow company.


Fritz, Lawrence, Selma and Arnold seated


Selma divorced Emil when the boys were young. Apparently, Emil was a heavy drinker and wouldn’t provide for his family properly. She ran a boarding house, especially popular amongst recent arrivals from Sweden. Selma lived very near to Thekla and Ivar.


Selma is seated at center  with her sons and grandchildren from left: Arnold, Nancy Kay, Jim, Edward and Lawrence.  Standing in back from left are Elva and Edna her daughters-in-law.


Selma died in Moline in 1959.  Her oldest son Fritz made a name for himself in sports.  He was good at boxing and wrestling.  The photo below appeared in the Dispatch with the following write up:  Pounding the punching bag in Moline YMCA is part of a daily routine of Fritz Anderson of Moline, now 63 years old.  Fritz has been associated with YMCA’s for more than 51 years and was once an outstanding boxer in the Quad Cities and a state-wrestling   champion in Michigan.



























            Karl August Fries was born on the 7th of November 1888. He was arguably the best looking of the Fries children - with his lean physique, blue eyes and strong, dimpled chin. Some of the photographs of him I’ve tracked down are an absolute delight! Posing with a moose head, hamming it up with friends in novelty photos and wearing fur from head to toe – I feel that I have some insight into his character. He really comes across to me as a jolly, kind hearted fellow…

            August left Gothenburg on the 9th of November 1906. I haven’t been able to trace his arrival information. He went to Canada with brother Fritz to set up the farm in Rife, Alberta in 1911; but he returned to the USA for at least 4 years. He was listed at Thekla’s house in Moline during the 1920 census. He was in Moline, living with Thekla, when he registered for the WWI draft on the 5th of June 1917. He is noted as a Canadian citizen, working for the Wright Body Co. in Moline. He claimed his parents as dependants. He was hoping to claim exemption from the draft by stating “I don’t believe in war” (having examined the draft registrations of dozens of Moline men…every single one tried to claim an exemption – later versions of the draft document omitted the section for claiming an objection or exemption).

            On the 12th of July 1922, he married Pearl Mabel Olson (b. 1898-d. 1986) in St. Paul, Alberta.


They raised four children Frederick Clarence (1923-1984), Carl Raymond (1930-), August Elmer(1927-1987) and Ruby Hazel (1924).




This is August and Pearl by their home in Rife in Jul 1956




The occasion may have been a visit from cousin Larry Anderson (Selmas son) far left and  Ruby, Carl and Freddy.












Jarles Armagost, Ruby Armagost, August, Freddy, Pearl  and 3 Armagost children, Thomas , Gary and Sandra.            


August passed away in October of 1981 and Pearl died in May of 1986.











One more candid photo of Pearl and August standing in center back with unidentified persons






















Emelia and Linus Johansson


Linus,  and Emelia Johansson family. Little blond girl is Ruth,  and her baby  brother.

 The older boy and girl were foster children that Emelia cared for.


            Carlotta Emelia was the youngest daughter, born 8th of February, 1890. She was also the only child of Kristina and Anders to remain in Sweden. She was often teased by her children as they said the others left her behind and didn’t want her! She married Linus Johansson, and they had a farm near Istrum. This is very near Eggby, which is the closest church. It is also not far from Amfinsryd and Vättlösa; so she remained near the family homeland.

Emelia was very concerned about the social welfare of others less fortunate. She worked especially hard to help the poor during times of economic crisis, like the Great Depression. I saw the site of the bakery, where free loaves of bread were available daily to the poor, which she organized. Emelia also cared for many foster children in her time.  They had a daughter, Ruth; and three sons – Ingve, Elof and Arvid. The family was encouraged to change their last name. One of the names available was Kvarndal, which seemed to fit in well, as it means Mill House and that was the name of Emelia’s farm.  At left is the original farmhouse but it burned down in 1930’s. 

Her grandsons have carried on the traditions and values of Linus and Emelia. Erik is in charge of social services for the elderly and disabled in the region. Rolf has a dairy farm only about 1km away from Emelia’s.

            I was very honoured to visit Rolf’s farm, where I was able to ride on a horse drawn cart – perhaps, as my grandfather would have done as a boy. Erik brought photos from his recently deceased uncle. It was an amazing treasure trove, but unfortunately – most photos were unnamed, giving no clue as to the people in the picture. I was able to identify perhaps 20% of them, but there must be even more relatives among those photographs… perhaps other Fries family, Wallins , Petterssons and even Stenanders . It was a real reminder to me of how we must ensure this history of our family is retained and passed down through future generations as the rich treasure it really is.           


 The rebuilt farm as it is today, near the village of Istrum, can be seen in the picture above.











 60th birthday for Emelia                                                  




















Emelia and daughter, Ruth   Below:  sons












  Elof, Ingve, and Arvid                                   



















4 Gens – Emelia – Arvid – Erik – baby                       Eggby Church yard where Linus and Emilia are buried


Linus passed away in 1948 and Emelia lived on until 1973.  It is nice to have a branch of the family still in Sweden maintaining those original roots.



Gustaf Bernhard Andersson Fries (Benny)


Benny Fries, was the youngest child of Anders and Kristina. He was born on October 30th, 1893. Thanks to my uncle, also Benny Fries, and with a bit of persistent research on my part – we have been able to piece together a significant paper trail of records that tell us a bit about the man. Yet every new piece of paper seems to bring up a new question as well!

His school report card of 17th July, 1907 presents a record of what this 13 year old boy was like. His behaviour and diligence were very good. He excelled in history and bible studies, did very well in woodwork, farm management, gymnastics, geography and nature knowledge. He passed art, singing and spelling – perhaps these weren’t his strongest subjects. But all in all, this represents a very hard working, intelligent, well-behaved young man – an ideal student.

 His exit permit of 1910 states that his profession was to help his parents, who were farm owners. He left Gothenburg on the 12th of October 1910, arriving at Ellis Island aboard the S.S. Baltic from Liverpool on the 23rd of  October. The record states his occupation as farm labourer, and his destination was his sister Tekla’s home in Moline. 

One of the most helpful documents I found was a U.S. Border entry document from a train on the Canadian border. He was arriving in the USA at Eastport, Idaho on the 13th of November, 1916. His paperwork states that he had worked as a quartz miner in Kimberley, British Columbia. He had lived in Illinois from 1910 to October 1914. He had $80 with him and his destination was Spokane, Washington. Perhaps he travelled around a bit, trying to decide what to do as a career. A 1912 Moline city directory states that he worked at Velie Motor Company, a job I’m sure Tekla’s husband Ivar helped him to get. I am sure he must have visited Fritz and August’s farm in Rife, Alberta

Benny was living with Tekla again in 1918. I have an unofficial marriage certificate from the 21st of September 1918 in the State of Illinois to an Ebba Peterson. This is the first puzzle of the mystery of Ebba. I haven’t been able to trace the actual legal marriage certificate, but there seems to be no record of it in the state…I’ve been looking for years! What I do know is that Peterson was actually Ebba’s married name. So her marriage to Benny was her second – either she was divorced or widowed.

Ebba arrived in the USA on the 4th of October, 1912 aboard the Lusitania; accompanied by her new husband – Carl Edward Peterson, a 26 year old Swedish man from Boston who had recently become a naturalized American. I suspect they married in Sweden, but that is only a theory. Arriving at Ellis Island, they went through the American citizen channel – so the paperwork on them is much more brief than if they were from Sweden. The only clue of her origin I have is a photo of her taken in the Swedish town of Lidköping…she may have been from a small village nearby, or maybe not. In 1912, Carl was working as a piano tuner in Boston. In 1913 , Boston city directories have him living in Boston, but Ebba isn’t mentioned. 1914 City Directories suggest married life wasn’t very blissful for the couple. Carl was living in Moline with a Hans Peterson (perhaps a brother or a cousin?), while Ebba was living as a domestic for a Frank G. Allen in Moline. In 1915 and 1916, Ebba was living in nearby Rock Island. Carl continued to live with Hans in Moline, who ran a livery. By 1917, all three were gone from city directories…a real mystery. Was Ebba’s first marriage a sham? Was it an arranged marriage? Did Carl die? Was he drafted into the war? Or were the couple divorced? Was Ebba really free to marry Benny?

            By the 1920 census, Benny and Ebba were lodging with a Swedish couple in Detroit. Benny was using his experience from Velie Motor company in Moline, now as a painter for the DeSoto Motor Company in Detroit. On the 27th of December, 1927; their only child – Margaret Viola was born. We may never know what events transpired after this. Maybe Ebba was suffering from post-natal depression. From my adoption notes, I do know that Ebba was hospitalized as a mental patient. This must have left Benny in a very desperate state, as a single man with a young baby and no family nearby to assist. Also, to be in a mental hospital at the time was often a life sentence. Facilities varied, but in general conditions could be appalling by today’s standards. Harsh treatments, such as electric shock therapy and lobotomies were the norm. This makes it more understandable why Benny had Ebba released from hospital against the wishes of the doctors. Unfortunately, Ebba was in an extremely fragile mental state. Not long afterwards, on the 31st of August 1929 – Ebba committed suicide. The death certificate gives the verdict of asphyxiation by illuminating gas while mentally deranged. Benny stated that her father was Gustave Gustavson, but did not know the maiden name of her mother. She was born March 17, 1892 in Sweden. She was buried in Moline, very near the family grave of Tekla and Ivar Gustafson.  Did she have family in Moline?

This tragedy must have thrown Benny’s life into turmoil. Margaret went to live with family friends, and according to my adoption notes he paid for her upkeep. My mother told me she wasn’t very happy with this family, but she always spoke fondly of her father, Benny. My notes state that she ran away from this family as a teenager, then was in a Children’s Aid Society care home, which she also left. In 1944, she married Robert Beckman.

            In the meantime, Benny moved to Dearborn – a Detroit suburb; and continued his auto factory work. He put in his Declaration of Intent for US Citizenship in 1937. On March 6, 1942, he became a citizen of the USA, and also had his name legally changed to Benny Fries.

His life took a happy turn, when he married Golden Tarkington in July of 1945. A few years later, they had their only child, Benny Edwin Fries. According to my Uncle, all liked his dad – he didn’t have an enemy. He liked fishing, flowers, dogs and cats. He smoked cigars, had an occasional beer, but was never drunk. He was a good billiard player. He knew a lot about boxing and wrestling, but he never spanked his son.


Margaret Viola Fries  about 4, circa 1932  



Benny retired to Tennessee, Golden’s home state. He died there in 1962.



















Golden, little Benny and Benny Sr