Generations 4 — 7
Unfortunately not much historical information has sifted down on my two Swedish families, the Letts and Johnsons, concerning the time before their immigration to the United States. Difficulties in tracing families back into Sweden are compounded by naming conventions that existed there well into the 19th century.
Family history, as we know it, states 4 Samuel Edmond Johnson, my second great grandfather, was born September 8, 1848, in Sweden, and married in 1866 to 4 Hannah Marie Honson, who was 3 years older than he.
Whether or not there were any children in Sweden from the marriage is not known, though none arrived with them, but soon after they immigrated to the United States in 1869, they began an American family.
In 1875 Samuel declared intention to get American citizenship. By then daughters Ella Matilda (my great grandmother) and Sophia May or "Sophie" had been born.
A number of the children of the family did not survive infancy or childhood. Five did. The entire family line consisted of:
5 Ella Matilda Lett (1870 — 1930)
Sophia May Page (1873 — 1939)
Johnny (about 1877 — 1880)
Frank Robert (1879 — 1930)
Mandy (born 1882, died young or in infancy)
Albert (born 1882, died young or in infancy)
Viola (born and died in 1883 or 1884)
Bamford Freddie "Bam" (1883 — 1971)
Nettie Marie Paddock (1885 — 1963)
Another child who died in infancy, birth year unknown
My uncle, Dale H. Brumm, has theorized the Johnsons who died young are buried near Morning Sun, Iowa, but I have not come upon any records. It seems pretty certain they are in unmarked graves, wherever they are.
It seems after living in Burlington, Iowa, for a few years after their arrival, they moved near or into Morning Sun for several years, and by 1880, if not sooner, the family were living in Yellow Spring Township of Des Moines County, near Mediapolis, Iowa. My great grandmother, Ella Matilda Johnson, the oldest child, met another child of Swedish immigrants, 5 Walter Lett, and was married to him in March 1892 at the home of W. W. Dodge in Burlington, Iowa. Their children were 6 Bertha Leota (Lett) Brumm, my grandmother, and Charles William "Charlie" Lett (1899 — 1918), who died during the epidemic after contracting the flu.
The family patriarch, Samuel Edmond Johnson, died in October 1892.
Sophie Johnson was married in 1894 in Kossuth, Iowa, to Henry "Walter" Page (1873 — 1939), whose family had moved to Iowa from Pennsylvania before 1870. Walter was one of five children in his birth family. He and Sophie would have four children of their own and raise one grandson as their own. Walter and Sophie's children were Edna May Shields, Bessie Jane Nienhaus, Ray "Walter" Page, who died at age 9 in March 1908, and Marie Lucile (Page/Richardson) Neufner. Edna Page had a son out of wedlock, Harry LeRoy "Bud" Page, who was the child raised by his grandparents. Edna and her husband, William Lewis Shields, would have no children of their own. Bessie Nienhaus and her husband, Ralph, also had no children. Marie Page and Edward Richardson were the parents of Virginia Wiley and Edward Richardson Jr. Marie and William Neufner, Marie's second husband, were the parents of Patricia Lou "Patsy" Cline.
In 1915, Frank Robert Johnson married Amelia Ellen Larson (1884 — 1982) who was one of five daughters in her family. Her father, John Larson, had accidentally shot himself to death on his farm in 1898 while showing a gun to a friend, when the girls were very young. Frank and Amelia (Larson) Johnson were childless.
Bam Johnson married Pearl "Blanch" Ping in 1905, and they had a son, but Pearl died about three years after the marriage from effects of tuberculosis. Their son was Howard Raymond Johnson (1908 — 1975). Bam and Pearl had moved to Illinois to live, but returned to Des Moines County and lived with Howard's grandmother, Bam's mother, Hannah. She died in 1915. Howard later married Grace Burkhiser and had four sons.
My great grandaunt, Nettie Johnson, the youngest child of Samuel and Hannah Johnson, married a native of Arkansas, William "Arthur" Paddock (1884 — 1939), and resided in Malden, Illinois. Tragedy struck the entire Johnson family at Christmas 1939. Nettie's brother-in-law, Walter Page, died Christmas Eve, and after she left Malden (ostensibly for the funeral), her own husband, Arthur, who remained home was killed in a house fire on December 26. Nettie was the only child of this family whom I once met. She lived alone and in poverty for the rest of her life after Arthur's death, living by kerosene lamp light rather than getting electricity. I have a vague memory of my parents and I stopping at her house one night, in the mid-to-late 1950s, when I was too young to understand much. I was taken by the fact she lived in such a dark house, and I had no idea as to why.
Bertha Lett, the daughter of Ella and Walter, and first grandchild of Samuel and Hannah Johnson, married 6 Oliver "Clayton" Brumm in 1915, and took over his father's farm after his death in 1919. Their seven children were: Helen, Dorothy, 7 Bill (my father), Boyd, Dale, Lorma and Kathleen.