Thursday, April 19, 2018

My First Murder Victim - Peter Didricsson

To clarify: First murder victim I've discovered in my family tree. 😉
I'm pretty sure none of my Swedish
ancestors had a fireplace like this one at
the American Swedish Institute.

Peter Didricsson > Elin Petersdotter > Johan Nilsson > Eva Jonasdotter/Nilsson > Edward Lundeen > Marion Lundeen

This past winter I went through a bit of “Swedish phase.” I’m not sure what triggered it, but I’m half-Swedish (with both my parents being the same), so it was bound to happen. I bought a Swedish cookbook, made Swedish recipes, and had a Swedish day with my sister as we visited the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, had Fika and ended with a trip to IKEA. I also took full advantage of a free weekend offered by ArkivDigital, a website with amazing Swedish records. If you aren’t familiar with the old church records from Swedish, they are quite amazing when it comes to genealogy resources (at least for the locations I’ve researched).

Once you find the right family, it can be quite easy to trace family members back thanks to a system of cross-references across different volumes and record types.

Although I don’t know Swedish, with some online helps, I was able to quite confidently trace my way from person to person, generation to generation.

Now we come to Peter Didricsson.
This, on the other hand, is a bit closer
to my Swedish homeland.

Peter is my 5-times great grandfather. He was born on 16 March, 1776 in Tingsås, Kronoberg, Sweden. He moved to Räveboda, Urshult (parish), Kronoberg (county), Sweden around 1804, about the same time he married Ingjerd Månsdotter, a widow with a young daughter. Peter and Ingjerd had 5 children. 

Peter worked first as a tenant farmer and later owned a farm in Rossvik Storegård and Buskahult Tykagård, both in Urshult parish. Then in 1821, Peter and his family moved to Hösjömåla where he was once again renting a farm. It was while looking at a 1821 entry in a household examination (books used by the church to keep track of the people and a major genealogical resource), that I noticed a notation for Peter that read mördad. I pulled up my handy cheat sheet of Swedish words and literally gasped to see it meant “murdered.”

Of course I only wanted to learn more. It didn’t take me too long to find a record of his death on 13 November, 1821. Unfortunately, it was written in an old Gothic style of writing, making a translation (even with the help of Google) impossible for me. Fortunately, I have found a group of very helpful fans of Swedish genealogy on Facebook who know a lot more about these records than I do. Within an hour of posting my inquiry, I was given a translation of the short death entry:
Peter Didricsson in Hösjömåla, in the evening, beaten to death at Hultalycke farm. Buried 22/11.
Nov. 13, Death record of Peter. Source:, Urshult (B) C:3 1763-1827 Image 354/Page 695

(It was also suggested to me that since he was murdered, it might be possible to find court documents. I will have to do some more digging and see what I can find. Stay tuned!)

Peter was 45 years old when he was killed, leaving behind his wife and children ranging ages 3-16. Life appears to have continued to be hard for the twice-widowed Ingjerd who later appears as utfattig (beggarly, impoverish). She died on 24 March, 1843.

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