A few weeks ago, a sweet, older sister in our ward asked if she could come visit our house and teach me about family history. I’ve done a decent share of family history and quite a bit of indexing. (When I was unable to work after my knee surgery a couple of years ago, I figured that as a pharmacist, I read difficult handwriting and then type what it says and indexing is pretty much the same thing so it would help my skills stay fresh.)
When she arrived, we got working on Familysearch. It always seems so “random” the person that you choose to work on but then, circumstances lead you to believe that it wasn’t random at all. We were trying to find my great-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother’s side. Both of my grandfathers had strong, unique German names that made some things in family history pretty easy. There aren’t a whole lot of Grenzebachs out there. But, with my grandmothers, that was a different story. Their last names were Clark and Johnson. We were trying to find out the name of John Johnson’s wife. Ha! That is nearly impossible in Minnesota!
As we were looking, a Johan Jansson kept showing up and I just had a feeling I needed to pursue him. But, I committed too late and like a friend’s Facebook post you try to go back and read later, his information had disappeared to the caverns of the internet before I could confirm that Johan Jansson was in fact, the Swedish version of my John Johnson. We called it a night without an answer to that mystery. But, within a few days, I called my mom asking her questions about it. She said she thought she had some of that stuff written down somewhere and that she’d look for it.
Prior to explaining what she found, we need a little backstory. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I remember sitting at dinner at my grandmother’s house and her talking about a cousin, Eric Roberts, who had been in a few movies and how his sister, Julia, was also starting to act. I haven’t met Julia Roberts and haven’t sought her out at all but it definitely was helpful when playing “2 Truths and a Lie.” (A quick fun fact – the same grandmother is related to Greta Garbo.)
Little did I know just how helpful it would be to have a couple of famous cousins. Since Greta is dead, it was easy to find some of her lineage and attach it to mine. My mom sent me a bunch of information and pictures but the picture above was definitely the one I was most excited about. Back in 2002, my grandmother had gotten a letter from a relative in Sweden that explained all the connections Julia Roberts had with Sweden and had figured out this whole section of the family tree (with Julia at the top). In the middle of the page you can see my great-great-grandfather Johan Jansson and his, (long sought after), wife Emma Kristina Carlsdotter. Now I can match them up like a missing sock. The Spirit of Elijah is awesome!