Sweden to the U.S. and Back Again

By Maureen A. Taylor

Do you have photographs in your collection that were taken overseas? That’s Maria Benini’s problem. Only she lives in Stockholm, Sweden. and her mystery photo was taken in Illinois.

Benini found this boy’s picture in a little brown box that her mother had in her family home in southern Sweden.

mariabeniniJohn Doe Swedish boy.jpg
mariabenini backohn Doe Swedish boy.jpg

This little lad sat for his photo about 1870. This date is based on the shape and style of the card photograph, the style of his suit and tie as well as the presence of the chair.

Edgar Codding was a successful photographer in Knoxville, Illinois.
1870 census codding.jpg
1870 Federal Census record from National Archive microfilm M593, roll 241, p.87 digitized image from Heritage Quest, a Proquest database.

In 1888, Maria’s great-grandfather, Anders Nilsson, immigrated to Sioux City, Iowa. He wrote letters home about his time in the United States and stayed until 1933 to 1935. He signed his letters from America with the name Andrew.

Benini thinks this photo might be proof that other family members also immigrated. A quick search of the census shows 38 Nilsons living in Illinois in 1870. The name could be a variant spelling of Nilsson.

This information is a start. I’ll post an update if Benini has any new information.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album