Axel Bernhard was born in Rullbo cottage in Tillberga parish in the county of Västmanland, Sweden on April 18th 1888. His parents were cottager Erik Gustav Olsson and his wife Lovisa Pettersdotter. He was baptized on May 21st at Tillberga Church. His godparents were farm hand Anders Gustav Berg and his wife Maria Kristina Johansson in Skarpbo, Hubbo parish.

The church record of Axel's birth in Tillberga parish.

 Axel’s family was poor and lived in a cramped little cottage. His father had been married once before, with his current wife Lovisa’s older sister Maja Stina. With Maja Stina he had 4 children:

- Gustav Fredrik who died of encephalitis at the age of 1
- Anna Charlotta 18 (who got employment as a farm maiden the same year Axel was born)
- Erik Leonard 17
- Karl Viktor 16.

Maja Stina died at the age of 35 of pneumonia which meant that Axel’s father Erik Gustav was left on his own with 3 young children aged 4, 3 and 1. He then married his late wife’s younger sister Lovisa, 8 months after Maja Stina’s death. Only 5 months after their wedding their first daughter Klara Malmina was born, who at the time of Axel’s birth was 13 years old. Axel’s other older siblings with whom he shared the same mother were:

- Emma Kristina 11
- Gustav Fridolf 10
- Johanna Lovisa 8
- Maria Helena 5
- Ernst Oskar 3.

And yet more children were born in the years that followed. Axel had four younger siblings:

- Sofia Eugenia arrived when Axel was 2
- Johan Herbert when Axel was 5
- Frans Albert when Axel was 7
- Edit Julia was the youngest and arrived when Axel was 9.

Axel's parents Erik Gustav Olsson and Lovisa Pettersdotter.

The church records of the Olsson's household in Rullbo cottage between 1891-1900.

The life of a cottager was tough. The cottage itself usually only had 1 or 2 rooms. The family had to share beds and sleep head to foot to be able to fit everyone in. With the cottage came a plot of land where the family could sow some crops. A cottager usually had a couple of cows, some sheep, pigs and chickens. It was the wife’s job to milk the cows several times a day. The cottager took care of his own plot but also had to work a few days every week at the landlord’s fields. They made their own furniture and clothing and went to church every Sunday. A typical cottager had bread, potatoes and herring for breakfast, gruel and bread for lunch, potatoes and pork for dinner and porridge served in a big wooden bowl on the middle of the table for supper.

When Axel was 10 he moved with his parents and 11 of his 13 siblings to a plot on the parish vicarage grounds where his father became a tenant. Life remained pretty much the same as when he was a cottager. 6 years later they moved 7 miles to Hagaberg, Skädduga, Skultuna parish where his father continued being a tenant. And another 6 years later they moved 5 miles to Storgården, Vångsta, Dingtuna parish where his father became a tenant yet again.

In 1912, at the age of 24 and after helping his father farming the land for many years, it says in the parish book that he moved to Kungsholm parish in the capital of Stockholm. But he is nowhere to be found in the parish books of Kungsholm. Instead he travelled to North America to reunite with the love of his life Edla Elonora Hedin. She was expecting their first child and made the journey across the ocean the year before to Salt Lake City, Utah where two of her brothers had been for a few years. Axel and Edla married on June 1st 1912 and came to have 9 children whereof 7 survived. When he arrived in America his last name Olsson got changed to Olson and the family joined the Mormon Church. Axel died October 6th 1985 in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 97.

Axel Olson and his wife Edla Eleonora with their four eldest children Alice Linnéa, Axel Erling, Sylvia Eleonora and Virgil Bernhard.

Axel Olson’s immediate family

Father: Erik Gustav Olsson, born June 1st 1845 in Södra Höije, Varnum parish in the county of Värmland. Died July 29th 1942 in Skultuna Retirement home in Skultuna parish in the county of Västmanland.

Mother: Lovisa Pettersdotter, born March 23rd 1853 in Spjutbäcken, Varnum parish in the county of Värmland. Died June 28th 1934 in Västerås in Västerås cathedral parish in the county of Västmanland.

Siblings:

Gustav Fredrik                   1868-1869
Anna Charlotta                   1870-1949
Erik Leonard                       1871-1963
Karl Viktor                           1873-1955

Klara Malmina                     1875-1966
Emma Kristina                     1876-1973
Gustav Fridolf                     1878-1973
Johanna Lovisa                  1880-1978
Maria Helena                      1883-1968
Ernst Oskar                         1885-1942
Stillborn boy                        1887-1887
Sofia Eugenia                      1890-1975
Johan Herbert                     1893-1983
Frans Albert                        1895-1967
Edit Julia                             1897-1945

Wife: Edla Eleonora Hedin, born November 2nd 1891 in Johannisberg, Lundby parish in the county of Västmanland. Died April 6th 1990 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Children:

Alice Linnéa                        1912-2006
Axel Erling                           1916-
Sylvia Eleonora                   1918-
Virgil Bernhard                    1919-1999
June                                    1922-1922
Gordon                                1926-
Marilyn                                 1930-
Stillborn son                        1931-1931
Joanne                                1932-

References

1.  Tillberga parish “book of births” – Arkiv Digital Tillberga C:6 (1876-1894) Picture 53
2.  Picture from Ancestry.com
3.  T
illberga parish books – Arkiv Digital Tillberga AI:16 (1891-1900) Picture 105 / Page 9
4.  Picture from Ancestry.com