Compiled by Harvey P. Newquist II
The starting point for the Newquist search of ancestors of my grandfather inSweden began whenmy mother recorded our family history in a hand-written spiral binder she gaveto me in 1962. It contained a reprint of the biographic article on JohnNewquist (1848-1937) that appeared in the book "History of Chicago".The A.T. Andreas Co. published it in 1886. It contained the names of those whohad a significant role in the re-building of the city after the devastating1871 fire. VolumeIll,page 83 has the following excerpt:
" John Newquist was born in Wexio,Sweden on December 12, 1848 and isthe son of Peter and Christine (Benson) Newquist. When twelve years of age, hecommenced to learn the trade of a carpenter and cabinet-maker, and worked at ituntil 1869, in which year he came to America, and settled in Minneapolis,Minnesota, where be worked for a short time".
At the time I received the family history, this bio was the only writtenreference to the Swedish birth. My parents said that John had changed hisSwedish surname to Newquist, but there were no records of the previous name,time, or place. Speculation was that the original name was Benson, but no onein my immediate family could add any background. Our family records stated thatJohn's two brothers - Charles and August Newquist - had also immigrated to the UnitedStates, but there was very littleinformation on their family history.
A. Swedish Name Changes
Patronymics (from Latin pater =father and nomen =name) was the naming practice common in the Swedishrural society from very early ages. The name was constructed with the father'sgiven name +genitive "s" +"son" for a son or"dotter" for a daughter. The genitive "s" was sometimesleft out. If that had been used when John was born, his surname would have beenPetersson.
Upon arrival in 19th Century America,there would be thousands of Swedes with the same patronymic name. Records showthat 40% chose to alter it slightly so as to conform to American usage and begrasped more by the Yankee ear. In many cases the name change took place whennaturalization clerks would eliminate or ignore writing the double"s", or choose an Anglo-Saxon variable over the patronymic.
But many immigrants also did not wait that long and simply announced thename change. Approximately 30% chose to change their patronymic names to thosetwo-syllable names that were more distinctive. It could be made up of twosyllables, usually from the animal or vegetable kingdom and/or topographicalterms. In this case, the prefix "New" would be followed by the suffix"quist" (twig). The surname Newquist means"new twig". The Minnesota Naturalization Records for that periodcontain many individuals with Newquist surnames.
In addition to the naming pattern changes, Swedenhas undergone several alphabet reforms, the latest in 1906. The letters ä, å, and ö were ended to the endof the 26-letter alphabet. Any accurate genealogical search has to use theseletters with the associated symbols. The letter "q" has been replacedwith a "k". The letter "w" was replaced with a"v", and is no longer in the alphabet. Thus, the town of Wexiois now Växjö (veck-sure).
Therefore today's spelling of Newquist is "Nyqvist" or"Nykvist". There are thousands of Nykvist surnames in contemporary Sweden,but very few Newquist surnames. The secret to keeping it straight is codesystem called Soundex. Developed to address the name-spelling problems of the1880 census, Soundex has remained a valuable tool for family historians eversince. In the Soundex system, Newquist, Nyquist, Nyqvist, and Nykvist are thesame name: they're all N223.
B. The Cousins Research Team
For ten years, I researched genealogy files and relatives in the UnitedStates and Swedenwithout success. After a 1999 Newquist family reunion, I began a three-yeare-mail correspondence with two cousins I had never met before - Michael PeterNewquist (John's great-grandson) and Kathy Newquist Davolos (Charlesgreat-granddaughter). She said he had also used the first name Carl. We sharedour family history and made contact with several living relatives who providedsignificant information.
Dorothy Labrose, August Newquist's living daughter, said that August wasborn on April 5, 1869 in Nykulla (new-koo-lah), asmall rural village in the Tjureda parish located in the Växjö municipalityabout ten miles north of the city of Växjö. She also said his motherChristine's maiden name was Bengstdotter. She provided a diary kept by Augustin the late 1880's.
Shirley Newquist, Carl Charles Newquist's granddaughter, wrote two lettersin 1980. They identified Nykulla as Carl's birthplace, and Hornaryd (hern-ah-reed) parish, about six miles east of Nykulla, asthe location where he married Louise C. Peterson and raised seven childrenbefore leaving for the USin 1894.
Attached to one of the letters was a 1952 written account by Willie (Carl'sson) of a family farm in Sweden.He said they were also fishermen during the warm months and cabinet-makers inthe winter. His sister Esther could remember the nets that the family wouldhelp to mend and keep in order. He said that it had been in the family foralmost three hundred years, and was being run by Johannes Petersson when theothers left for the United States.
Vera Nichols, Carl's granddaughter, stated that her mother, Esther, said thefamily name definitely was Peterson when they came to the USin 1894. A search in August 2002 of the Ellis Islandwebsite gave the exact members of the Carl Peterson family on the manifest ofthe White Star Line ship "Majestic" arriving from Hornaryd,Sweden via Liverpool,England on September 26, 1894. The surnamePeterson was now part of further Newquist research in Sweden.
C. Swedish Parish Records.
A new Swedish genealogy search website began operating on August 9, 2002. Its purpose is to digitize Sweden'shistorical church records and make them available to the general public via themost up-to-date information technology. During the 1950's and 1960's the Churchof Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) was in Swedento film church books that were kept at the Archives. The Church left one set ofmicrofilms. Genline.com bought a copy in order to produce their website. Theirscanned microfilm data contains information from 1500-1896. The subscriber canuse his PC as an online microfiche viewer.
The initial search of Hornaryd parish records for 1886-94 revealed the CarlMagnus Petersson family birth and death records in the north farm districtNorregård (nor-gord), the maiden name for Louise, herparents, and the fact that Carl was born on March 9, 1855 in Tjureda parish. The vertical marks onthe record indicate the family has left, and the date of the exit permit to NorthAmerica was September 3,1894.
The Tjureda parish search for the years 1718-1894 located Nykulla, and itssouthern farm district Södergård (sodder-gord). Therecords of the Peter Johan Jonasson family had complete birth, marriage, anddeath records, including those for their offspring. It gave the birth record ofJohn ("Jonas Peter Petersson") Carl, and August. The records alsorevealed four more siblings - Johan, Gustaf, Johannes, and Anna - and the vitalstatistics of the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. The fivegenerations of ancestors born in Nykulla, Swedenare: Jonas Peter Petersson (Newquist) b. 1848; Peter Johan Jonasson b. 1818;Jonas Jonasson b. 1778; Jonas Andersson b. 1731; Anders Johansson b. 1709. Wealso know that the father of Anders Johansson first name was Johan. He wouldhave been born in the 17th century, about 1679-89.
The four Petersson brothers changed their names to Newquist when they allsettled in Chicago, ILbetween 1871 and 1894.
D. Relatives Living in SwedenToday
Our research of the parish records found all the exit permit information forthe family as they moved within Swedenand/or to the United States.The most significant ones are listed below.
From Tjureda parish (Nykulla-Södergård):
September 22, 1868, to N.America: Jonas Peter Petersson
May 8, 1871, to N.America: Gustaf Petersson
September 18, 1879, toHornaryd parish: Carl Magnus Petersson
October 22, 1881, toVaxjo parish: Johan Petersson and family
April 14, 1887, to N.America: August Petersson
February 7, 1889, toTjureda: Anna Katrina Petersdotter and husband
From Hornaryd parish (Hornaryd-Norregård):
March 2, 1890, to N.America: Carl Magnus Petersson
September 3, 1894, to N.America: Carl Magnus Petersson and family
From Växjö parish (Växjö-Magnus Smek 4)
October 18, 1895, toTjureda parish (Nykulla): Johan Petersson and family
In 1895, Johan owned the 75-acre Nykulla-Backagård farm adjacent toSödergård. Anna and her husband lived for a time in Tjureda, and then moved toAsa. They were living there in 1894 with three children.
The 1890 Swedish Census data for Nykulla lists 121 residents. Södergård had29 persons, and Johannes Petersson and his family were the farm owners. Hisfather, Peter, had died in 1889. His widowed mother, Christina, was living withthem (four years before her death). I also recorded the same census data forthe Hornaryd Norregård farm district, which had 24 residents. Louise and herfamily were living on the farm with her widowed mother, Katarina. Carl isabsent; as this was the year he went to the U.S.
In October 2002 I made e-mail contact with Per Karlsson, a current residentof Nykulla Norregård. He put us in contact with Ingemar Karlsson, the currentowner of Södergård and the great-grandson of Johannes. Johannes had sevenchildren, and his son, Erik Teodore Johansson, had thirteen children. Ingemar'sson, Kristoffer Karlsson, sent their relative tree for inclusion in thegenealogy data presented on this website. It listed approximately 50 livingrelatives. He implied that there are several hundred cousins living in Swedentoday, and many attended a family reunion in 2002.
In June 2004, Folke Ericsson, the grandson of Johannes and the familygenealogist in Sweden,sent a family album with Kristoffer to the Newquist family reunion in IL. It isan outstanding account of our Swedish relatives with text and photos. The vitalstatistics from that book have been included in this website. And we were ablerespond to his request to locate one of two living uncles who has immigrated toAmerica. Welocated a living relative and information on his uncle – Per (Johansson)Johnson’s family in America.In January 2006, Folke sent another book which included the Newquist brothers’family history.
In September 2006, my wife, Pat, our son, Eddie, and our granddaughter,Jessica, and Mike Newquist from Floridaattended a family reunion in Växjö, Sweden.A gathering of approximately eighty descendants of Peter & ChristinaJonasson enjoyed a reception, banquet, and presentation. A tour of the familyfarm at Nykulla-Södergård highlighted the visit. Ingemar Karlsson and hisfamily were very gracious hosts to the visitors. And Folke, Mike, and Harveycelebrated years of successful research on the family history in Swedenand the United States.
In October 2006, I contacted Aron Axelsson of the KronobergsGenealogiska Förening and he provided the data on the descendants of Johan andAnna Petersson that we have been researching for several years. Lars B.Hartzell provided the data for the descendants of Johan. In November, Haraldand Kerstin Nilsson provided the data for the descendants of Anna. Theirinformation added approximately seventy cousins living in Sweden.
In 2008, after years of searching and several dead ends, Ifound the death record for Folke’s other missing uncle, Gustaf Johansson. Heimmigrated in 1906, changed his surname to Johnson (as his brother Per had).The only mention of him was in a 1914 letter by Per to his sister that said he hada photo of him...nothing more. That finally led me to believe he might havedied previously. I found the February6, 1913Chicago deathcertificate. He was a carpenter in the building industry (possibly withAugust's firm where Per worked for thirty years), andat the time of his death he was living with Per. The cause of death was acutenephritis. He was buried 9 Feb 1913in OakHillCemetery, Chicago.
We expect that the Internet resources and e-mail contacts will continue toprovide information on our Newquist family history.