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Out on a Limb: Catching Roots Mania
Family Tree Magazine helps you discover, preserve and celebrate your family's history.

When you grow up with a last name like “Fryxell,” learning something about your family tree is a must. “It's a Swedish army name,” I learned to answer the inevitable question, “What kind of name is that?” I knew the rest by heart: Back in my ancestors' Sweden, most of the population shared a handful of surnames — Magnusson, Svensson, Andersson, etc. — so when you got drafted the Army made you pick a more unusual name. Otherwise, when the drill sergeant hollered, “Svensson, step forward!” (in Swedish, of course), half the troop might respond. When the rest of my family fled the draft to America, ironically, they kept the lone draftee's Army name of “Fryxell” (otherwise it would have been “Magnusson,” and my grade-school life would have been much simpler).

Only much later did I come across a fellow Fryxell's family-tree research and learn more about those Swedish roots. And only this year, with the help of the new FamilySearch Web site, did I discover that first Fryxell was actually born in Denmark.

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