Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday's Obituary – What's Wrong with this Obituary?

Source: Collection of Richard Hanson.

Mrs. John Hanson Services Held Here
     After several years of failing health, Mrs. John Hanson of Minneapolis, formerly of Coin community, died November 28 at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Swan Bill, in Minneapolis, at the age of 72 years.
     Born in Högsätter Socken, Dalsland, Sweden, July 1, 1862, Mrs. Hanson, nee Anderson, was married to John Hanson in Sweden in 1880. Mr. Hanson left for the United States in 1881 and was joined at Trade Lakes, Wis., in 1883 by Mrs. Hanson and their one daughter. In 1889, the Hansons moved to St. Paul where they lived three years, in 1891 purchasing the farm in Brunswick township which was their home until 1929 except for three years, 1901 to 1904, spent in Minneapolis. Since 1929 the Hansons have lived in Minneapolis and Mr. Hanson passed away there last August 12.
     Surviving Mrs. Hanson are the eight children, Henry and Benhard of Maple Ridge, Algot of Minneapolis and Edmund of Sacremento [Sacramento], Calif., Mrs. Bill (Ida), Mrs. Lenus Stromberg (Edith) and Mrs. Sherman Morben (Gladys) of Minneapolis and Mrs. Oscar Swanson (Emily) of Webster, Wis., twenty-two grand-children, four great grandchildren, two brothers, Willie and Noah Abrahamson, of British Columbia, Canada. Two sons, Richard and Sexton, are deceased.
     Services were held Saturday at the Ebenezer Lutheran church in Minneapolis at 10:30 o'clock. The Rev. C. S. Renius officiated in the absence of the pastor, the Rev. A. P. Lawrence, who was ill at the time. At 2 o'clock rites took place at the Braham Ev. Lutheran church with Dr. A. T. Lundholm in charge and burial was made in the Rice Lake Lutheran cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Monson sang, accompanied by Miss Helma Bong. At the Minneapolis service Miss Myrtle Magnuson sang with Mrs. Andrew Johnson accompanying. The pallbearers were C. A. Monson, A. P. Johnson, Gust Peterson, Gust Johnson, Carl Bill and John Hultberg. The honorary escort at Braham were Miss Mathilda Bohn, Mrs. Albert Hallin, Mrs. Christine Hallin, Mrs. J. J. Gran, Mrs Axel Gilbertson, Mrs. L. M. Hesselroth, Mrs. Peter Hesselroth and Mrs. Andrew Hesselroth. The active bearers wee Albert Hallin, August Quarlund, Ed J. Anderson, Andrew, Peter and L. M. Hesselroth.
     The children with the exception of the son, Edmund, at Sacremento [Sacramento], and the grandchildren were all present at the funeral. From a distance were aslo John Hiltberg, Irving Hanson, Mrs. Roland Olson, Mr. and Mrs. Wally Williams and Mrs. Robert Reisberg of Minneapolis, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Swanson and Bessie of Webster, and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Hanson of Dalbo.
Nowhere in this 1934 Minneapolis, Minnesota, obituary is the full name of the woman mentioned! Her name was Betty Hanson. That Betty is the subject of this particular obituary is confirmed by the other information present such as dates, locations and names. As newspapers are digitized and we conduct keyword searches, this obituary illustrates that one must keep in mind historical writing styles and attitudes. If searching for name doesn’t work, try again with related information.

Another problem is an assumption made by the author about her maiden name being the Americanized surname of her father ("nee Anderson"). Her actual maiden name in Sweden was Abrahamsdotter. Surnames of children in Sweden were based on the father's first name with a son or daughter suffix. If she were a boy, the surname would have been Abrahamsson.

Do you see any other problems or incorrect assumptions? If yes, post a comment or email me at

Submitted and posted by Richard Hanson

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