Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Johanna Carolina Hellsten, the Rest of the Story

If you've been reading the saga about Johanna Carolina Hellsten and Uno Kempff, you'll notice there are some time gaps that we do not know all the details. This post will fill in all of the details that we know about Johanna, after many posts on Uno Kempff and his shenanigans with the law.

What do we know about Johanna, the oldest daughter born to Carl (Kalle) Hellsten and Johanna Sparr on 25 February 1851 in Nikolai Parish, Örebro, Sweden?

What did she do with her life?

She was 16 when her family fell on hard times in Sweden.  She wrote to her uncle in America, describing her talent for handwork in her father's brewery and general store (which had gone bankrupt), appealing for funds to travel and help once she arrived.  Eric Adolf Helsten had immigrated to USA in 1845, his mother died in 1863. His brother Manne (Theodor Emanual) Hellsten had managed their mother's estate and there was a small amount of money due to Eric. Eric agreed to have his niece Johanna borrow those funds.  Eric knowing the "reduced circumstances" of his brother Carl's family, he has his brother Manne send the funds to their sister Lovis who lives nearby to Johanna's family and who will give the money to Johanna when she is ready to travel.

She was a young woman of 17 when she immigrated to Gaylordsville, Connecticut arriving in New York City on 22 April 1868.  Her uncle had alerted Castle Island of her upcoming arrival and they notifiied him of her arrival.  Eric finds a job for her working for the Bostwick family in Gaylordsville.  She agrees to a two year commitment to work as a domestic servant for them.
Bostwick family in 1870 US Census, New Milford (Gaylordsville),
Connecticut.  Johanna is listed as a domestic servant.

She was just 21 when she ran away from Gaylordsville to New York City  -- nary a goodbye or thank you to her helpful uncle.
The Bostwick family tells Eric how they liked her so much the first year, and Maria Bostwick's mother (probably the Eunice Sanford, age 71, above) liked  her so much that she gave her a tip at the end of her service in her final pay.

Her own family was very worried that Johanna connected with Uno Kempff, someone who was from the same town in Sweden, but who had a criminal past.  He had been writing her asking her to help him find work -- much to her family's dismay.
She ran off to New York City in 1871, and we have no record of her meeting up with Uno in 1871, but we have no proof that she didn't.  The next time we find Johanna is in 1874, coming back to NYC on a ship from Hull, England with Uno, pretending or actually being his wife.
Since Uno was married to another woman back in Sweden and living with yet another woman and possibly fathering that other woman's child, one wonders about the relationship between Uno and Johanna in 1874.  The family had heard a rumor in 1871, that Johanna had not only run off to NYC but had also married Uno.

I have not found Johanna Carolina Hellsten (Johanna, Hannah, Caroline, Carolina) in New York City in 1871, however, I did find her multiple times from 1875-1877 -- advertising her services as a dressmaker.
The first one was in the New York Herald on 31 August 1875:

In August 1875, she is a "Dressmaker" who can do all kinds of family sewing by the day at a reasonable price, in a couple of weeks (14 Sept.) she is a "Competent Dressmaker," who is available by the day or week at a moderate price, with references.  Sounds like she had some practice that first couple of weeks.  By 5 December, she is not only competent she can "make old dresses over equal to new."

By 24 September 1876, she is not only a competent had seamstress, she now advertises her ability to operated any machine.  She has also moved to 88 Clinton Street, from 27 Bond, of last year.

Then, the final listing I find for her as a dressmaker, is 24 April 1877, she is now at
to go out by the day, or will take work home; best ref-
erence.                                                  Miss HELSTEN.

So, maybe she went home to Sweden after she ran away to New York City for some reason and was never mentioned in any of the many family letters to Eric Helsten (that I had translated and put in the book, A Ring and a Bundle of Letters), came back to New York with Uno Kempff, and then stayed and worked as a dressmaker.

In each of these ads, she is Miss J. C. Helsten, or Miss Helsten, not "Mrs. anyone."
Was traveling as Uno's wife, a convenience to get from Europe to New York and not appear to anyone as a single woman, or maybe not?
Who knows, I don't.

So, did Johanna stay in NYC and live happily ever after?
We have one final clue about Johanna ....
The 1910 Census for Brooklyn, New York, 60 Gates Avenue, in a three-family building, lives
Caroline J Hellsten,

She is now called Caroline J Hellsten, 58, single, never had any children.
Go to the next page of the census and you'll find she had Albert F Faberstedt, 45, also from Sweden living there as a boarder.  He is listed as married for 20 years, naturalized having came to the USA in 1887.   Albert is working as a painter.

She came in 1892, but is not naturalized.  She is working as a cook, was employed on
15 April 1910, but was out of work for 24 weeks in 1909.  She rents her home.

Notice, she is not naturalized.  No surprise.
From 1855 to 1922, a woman took the citizenship of her husband, so in order to become a US citizen, Johanna would have had to have married someone who was a citizen (birthright or naturalized).

[I wrote a blog post about how a woman could lose her US citizenship.  Marian L Smith’s wrote two fascinating articles tracing women’s naturalization from 1802 through 1940. These are in Prologue Magazine. Read the first and click through to the second one.]

Neither Malin Klangeryd nor I have found anything more about Johanna Carolina Hellsten. No marriages, no deaths. No other census listing, no passages to and from Europe (should be something if "came in 1892").

I'll write again, if we find anything.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this post is

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Did Johanna Meet Up with Uno Kempff?

In this series of blog posts, we've been tracking the shenanigans of Uno Kempff, the man that Johanna Hellsten's family considers a scoundrel!  His criminal record in Sweden sure would raise concerns for a loving family for any daughter, not just one thousands of miles away in America.
He seems to have another woman other than Johanna Carolina Hellsten in his life besides his wife, and a possible child born out of wedlock (either his or possibly legitimized by his marrying her mother after years of living together).

Johanna ran away to NYC from Connecticut in 1871.  We found Uno's traveling to New York City in 1874, possibly following his woman friend, Anna Charlotta Carlsson.

I mentioned that Uno Kempff left for New York 17 April 1874.  Looking at the passenger list is revealing!

Look closer at who is traveling with Uno Kempff

A woman named Johanna and that is NOT his wife, Johanna, who is Uno's age.
Both Uno and Johanna's ages are a bit off in this record:
Uno, born in 1826, should be 48.
Our Johanna, born in 1851, should be 23.
What's a few years between friends and before the internet to instantly check!

This is traveling TO New York City from Hull, England, 3 years after our Johanna ran away to New York City from Connecticut.

This is the trip where Uno is traveling to New York City to possibly meet up with his friend Anna Charlotta Carlsson.

We have some missing passenger records:
We do not have Uno traveling to NYC when he "escaped from Sweden" about 1870 or 71.
We do not have Uno traveling back to Sweden after that.
We DO have him traveling to NYC in 1874 (above).
We do not have Uno and Anna traveling back to Sweden before the 27 March 1875 Household examination for Uno and Anna Charlotta in Stockholm.
We do not have Johanna traveling back to Sweden after she ran away to New York City, only to return with Uno 3 years later.
We do not have any mention in the family letters about Johanna returning to Sweden.

When searching the records we have looked for Carolina, Caroline, Hannah along with Johanna -- known names that she used.  When she originally came in 1868, she traveled under the name of Caroline Hellsten -- Eric had alerted the folks at Castle Garden that his niece Johanna Carolina was coming, so they notified him when she arrived, even though she left off that first name.  When home with her family she often just used Hannah.

We do have the mention in the letter from Aunt Lovis that the family has heard that Johanna has married Uno.

Did Johanna Hellsten marry Uno?
She seems to have connected with Uno and traveled with him, but did she marry him?
She wasn't with him back in Sweden when he and Anna Charlotta were living in various places in Stockholm until he died in 1884.
Maybe she pretended to be his wife, for travel purposes!?

What happened to Johanna, if she didn't go back to Sweden with Uno?

All the research for these blog posts was done by Malin Klangeryd in Swedish and by myself in English.  I'm authoring the blog posts, but Malin is contributing mightily to the research!

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this post is

Friday, June 19, 2015

Uno Kempff ... Yup There's Even More!

Johanna Hellsten's relationship with Uno Kempff was the concern of her family in their letters when she ran away to New York City in 1871.
Malin Klangeryd's research turned up conviction records and newspaper stories that verified the family concerns about their daughter's friendship with Uno.
At the time Uno was married to  Johanna (Sophia) Lovisa Juberg.  They had three children who all died young.

Oh, another small detail....
Uno has another woman in his life about the same time that Johanna was heading to New York City -- Anna Charlotta Carlsson.

Uno leaves for New York on 17 April 1874.  We haven't found him on a boat earlier that would have gotten him to NYC in 1871 as indicated in the family letters.  There isn't any evidence of Uno traveling with his wife.  Anna Charlotta already left for New York on 17 May 1872.  So if he was there in 1871, Anna Charlotta might have been on her way to be with Uno.

Fast forward a couple of years, back in Sweden in the Household Examination (a census taken by the local priest) for 27 March 1875 -18 April 1879:
Anna Charlotta lives on Västerlånggatan 69, City block Ulysses 36, Storkyrkoförsamlingen parish in Stockholm. 13 May 1877 Alma Maria Charlotta (the daugher) is born illegitimate. Father unknown. She becomes legitimate 6 May 1884 [source: Storkyrkoförsamlingen parish, Birth records 1872-1880, SE/SSA/0016/C I a 1/21, page 497]

Then the Household Examination for 21 April 1879 - 8 June 1880 has Uno Kempff, Anna Charlotta and her daughter Alma Maria living together at  Brogatan 25 in Klara parish, Stockholm.

8 June 1880: Anna Charlotta and daughter moves to Götgatan 24, city block Västergötland 5 in Maria Magdalena.
11 June 1880: Uno Kempff moves to Götgatan 24, city block Västergötland 5 in Maria Magdalena. He is working as shop assistant and later as a bookkeeper.

7 November 1881: Uno moves to Köpmansgatan 18 in Storkyrkoförsamlingen, Stockholm
10 November 1881: Anna Charlotta with her daughter moves to Köpmansgatan 18 in Storkyrkoförsamlingen, Stockholm.

6 May 1884, Anna Charlotta married (but it not clear who she actually married) and her daughter is no longer illegitimate.  Shortly thereafter, on 29 May 1884 Uno Kempff dies at Köpmanstorget 10 (Street block Europa) in  Storkyrkoförsamlingen, Stockholm.

By 1892, Anna Charlotta and her daughter Alma Maria are each using the last name Kempff.

So, I guess Johanna wasn't married to Uno as rumor had it.
What was Johanna doing in New York City when she ran away?
What happened to our Johanna?

There are some more gaps in Johanna's life to fill in.

©Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this page is

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wait! There’s More about Uno Kempff!

Johanna Carolina Hellsten leaves for North America to join her uncle Eric Helsten in April 1868.  She might not know anything of her friend Uno Kempff’s history when she departs, they’ve only lived in the same town for a few months, however, in her family’s previous home they were just 3.5 Km apart so maybe they had already met.   Once in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, Johanna clearly knows Uno Kempff, as he is corresponding with her in 1869, asking her to find him a job if and when he comes to America from Sweden.

Malin Klangeryd found not only all of the data for Kempff in “Uno Kempff … Family Scandal or Family Friend?”  and our traveler Johanna Carolina Hellsten, but also this revealing Household examination [a record of the Lutheran priest’s visitation with each family in the parish over the years]:

Household examination for 1866-1870 says: 
“By Gefle [Gävle] RR (The Supreme Administrative Court) sentenced for forgery and fraud. Submitted certificate from 10 January 1866 from Långholmen [jail] April 10, 1866. Knut Unio Kempff was by Örebro Hall right 9 January 1868 sentenced for first-degree theft to three months' hard labor and was earlier by Gefle Supreme Administrative Court sentenced to tarnish forever [he lost his honour which meant a reduction in his civil rights]. Appealed by Örebro Supreme Administrative Court”


Kempff was in trouble a 2nd time, just months before he and Johanna’s family were living in the same town.

Maybe Uno Kempff is planning to skip town soon when he starts writing Johanna (1868 - 1869), because shortly after contacting her in Gaylordsville, he is in trouble a third time! Sounds like quite the “con artist” at work, as this 23 September 1869 article describes how he conned those who trusted him.  

Jönköpingsbladet 1869-09-23 [Jönköping's Journal]
A nice-nice company. Several years ago, lived in Gevle an merchant named Knut Uno Kempff. for fraud in the trade, he was sentenced to hard labor on Långholmen [a prison]. 
While he was serving his sentence, he bought the property Almbro 1 mil from Örebro, and moved after the penalty period had expired there with a miller Sjöberg, a man named Em Paijtsaz and with a other released prisoners. On Almbro he established himself as a miller, but deceived even now his customers. Shortly thereafter, there was a major theft in Örebro, which was followed by that he and his companions, who were missing following the theft, again was sentenced to hard labor. During all this, Kempff had a meeting at Almbro, but sneaked away to Stockholm, where he narrowly escaped arrest. There he devoted himself to House business, resulting in yet a bankruptcy and yet a sentence at Långholmen. After the penalty he escaped to America with a ill-known woman, who he had worked for as a "bookkeeper" for some time. The earlier mentioned miller Sjöberg, who had been involved in the burglary theft in Örebro and also had received a sentence on Långholmen, was freed on July 28 this year [1869], and has again been taken into custody, as defenseless, reappearing in Örebro, after having being arrested for drunkenness, followed by a visitation at his house where there was found a letter from Kempff, whom imposes Sjöberg to take the life of his "good men", treasurer Ekmark and his son and juryman Lars Jonsson at Ökna. Sjöberg had also visited Kempff, but never met him at home. Sjöberg is now volunteering deserted to Carls and borg  [prison] and there recruited to emergency work. Before his departure to America, Kempff managed to deceive a gentleman in a House business of 3000 crowns, a down payment as security, why he left some completely useless promissory notes with 16,350 crowns, issued by the aforementioned prison companions. Mr Em-Paijtsaz is still at Långholmen, and Mr Kempff is well in America continuing his path toward the rope"

This might very well be the newspaper article that was shared with Johanna Hellsten by Mrs. Eriksson and upset her uncle Eric so much about Kempff having "escaped from Sweden!"

So, do we know what ever happened to Johanna?  Did she meet up with Uno Kempff as her family feared?  Did she marry him as was rumored?

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Uno Kempff … Family Scandal or Family Friend?

Back to the family scandal!

Johanna's Uncle Eric Helsten
who paid her way to USA and
found her work and was upset
with her sudden departure from
Gaylodsville for New York City.

So, who was Uno Kempff that the family was so concerned with?
With the great Swedish research skills of Malin Klangeryd, we know a little something about Kempff and his misdeeds.  There are some gaps, but here is what we know about him.

His full name was Knut Uno Kempff. He was born 8 September 1826 in Örebro. 
He was married 27 October 1854 to Johanna Lovisa Juberg (sometimes called Sophia Lovisa) (born 10 March 1827 in Saint Lars parish, Linköping county). They had three children who each died at a young age:
1. Anders Gustaf Uno (born 9 June 1855 in Nyköping – died 31 March of croup in Almbro, Gällersta)
2. Knut Frithiof (born 13 December 1856 in Vaksala – died 17 April 1863 of scarlet fever in Almbro, Gällersta)
3. Unus Alfred Louis (born 12 January 1861 in Gällersta parish – died 4 April 1863 of scarlet fever on Almbro, Gällersta).

Uno Kempff and his wife Sofia (Johanna) Lovisa Juberg are twenty-five years older than our Johanna Caroline Hellsten — they are old enough to be her parents!

How did they meet? Did they know each other in Sweden?

Malin has constructed a timeline of what she knows about Uno Kempff’s whereabouts from various official records:
•   1826 born in Örebro
•   1854-1855, living lat first city block farm nr 66-68 in Nyköping’s west parish. Uno works as a merchant. 
•   1854 Uno married Johanna/Sofia Lovisa Juberg
•   1855, son born in Nyköping
•   1856, son born in Vaksala
•   1860: living in Vaksala parish
•   1861, son born in Gällersta
•   1860-21 May1869: living in Almbro (Gällersta parish, Örebro County)
•   21 May 1869 – in Stockholm
•   17 April 1874-: departure from Göteborg to Hull, England on the ship Orlando. Destination New York
•   1880 -1882: living Västergötland 5 i Maria Magdalena parish in Stockholm, working as shop assistant. Living alone  
•   12 August 1882: Departure to America through Hull, England

There is a gap here in the above timeline from 1869 to 1874 when Uno Kempff leaves for New York City.  The family was worried that he was already in New York City. 
Uno Kempff leaves for NYC twice, once in 1874 and then in 1882.  When did he return?   What was he doing in NYC and Sweden that might concern Johanna C Hellsten’s family.

… and Johanna Hellsten's timeline while growing up with her parents:
•   1851, born in Nikolai parish, Örebro
•   1856 – 15 June 1863: living at plot no. 100 (Örebro, North Nikolai parish)
•   15 June 1863 – 15 November 1867: living at Norra Bro 6 (Gällersta parish)
•   15 November 1867 – 27 March 1868: living at Almbro (Gällersta parish)
•   22 April 1868, Johanna arrives in New York.

Johanna officially moves 3.5 Km with her family to Almbro (Gällersta parish, Örebro County) on 15 November 1867,  the day after she returned her travel document allowing her to go to North America.  She first got her travel paperwork a week before and had the travel money from Uncle Eric already there being held by aunt Lovis.  
Already living in Almbro when the Hellsten family arrived, was Uno Kempff and his wife.  It was close enough that the families might have known each other already. Her family ran a general store before her father went bankrupt, maybe Kempff's family had been customers.

Was her abrupt delay of travel because she had met Kempff when her family planned their move?  Was Kempff going to be the spring traveling companion she would have that her father Carl mentioned in his letter of February 1868?  I’m not sure we’ll ever know the answer to that question. 

Malin Klangeryd found this 1861 local newspaper coverage:

Tidning för Wenersborgs stad och län 1861-01-21 [Newspaper för Wenersborgs city and county]
"Severe sentence. Norrlands-Posten [Norrlands newspaper] from Gefle [Gävle] says: grain traider Uno Kempff, which prosecution by the court last year, for deceit and fraud in trade, aroused great attention, and whom by the Municipal Court was sentenced to compensate claimants and witnesses, and to one and a half years in prison, has recently got his sentence by the Court of Appeal; the verdict is not less than four months in prison - a true warning for those who feel tempted to walk in Kempff's footsteps”

We should add this to the Uno Kempff timeline above, 
• 1861,  a stay in prison at hard labor and also financial restitution for his deceit and fraud in trade as a grain trader.

When Carl and his wife Johanna Sparr moved to Almbro, did they know the history of Kempff from the early 1860s?  Or, did they just become friends with someone who was a friendly neighbor or colleague?

Kempff has served time for forgery and fraud!  
Our Johanna Hellsten would NOT have been in the same town as Kempff was when he got caught using deceit and fraud with his grain clients.  Besides, she would have been a young child at that time.  Her parents might not even have known what Kempff's 1861 history of what was probably a friendly neighbor or businessman.  

But there’s even more to tell about our charming Kempff.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Living up to Expectations … or Not!

Imagine a young woman in Sweden in 1867.  Her parents say they can’t keep all four kids because of reduced circumstances.  It was not unusual for her younger siblings to be living with various Hellsten aunts and uncles from time to time when life got tough.
Her father ran a store and a brewery before he went bankrupt. As the oldest child, clearly she worked in the family businesses when she says she was “used to brewing, commerce, and rough work.”
She is 17, the oldest, and decides to take charge of her life. She writes her “rich” uncle in “employer America” where “no one finds fault with one’s honest work” to loan her the money to go there where, as her father says, “hard work and frugality is a way to blessing.”
She is an adult in her mind, independent.
"America here I come!”

Johanna goes to Gaylordsville, where her uncle lives.  A rural town, about 85 miles from New York City.

Fast forward 2 years.
Johanna isn’t satisfied with the life of a domestic servant.
Uncle Eric tries to advise her, but she “just won’t listen.”
Just like a 20-year-old today who thinks she knows everything and won’t listen to her parents, she is not listening to the advice of her uncle who probably feels obligated to act like a parent for his young niece.

Our first hint of a problem was a draft of a letter that Eric wrote to his sister Lovis back in Sweden.
Eric didn’t leave drafts of his letters along with the letters that he saved from his siblings and mother that I used to put together my book, A Ring and a Bundle of Letters.  It would have been wonderful to have his letters with his news and responses to his mother and siblings, but only this one survived.

Gaylordsville  8 Jan 1871

Dear Sister Lovis,

I'm taking this moment to write to you to let you know that I am well and that all of mine have the health, and that we all wish you a good new  year.

Nothing has changed with us here except that Johanna has left the place where she has been for two  years.  But where she is now I do not know.  When her time was up the 13th of Dec. she went to New York unexpectedly to me.  She told Mrs Bostwick that I had found her a position in a factory in Danbury (a town 16 Engl. miles from here) which was a lie, and from others I heard later that she had told them different places that she was moving to.  The 8th of Dec. she told me, when I saw her the last time, that there were several good positions where they would like to have her and that she would stay with the Bostwicks 2 or 3 weeks after her time was up.
I know that she went to New York because a shopkeeper in New Milford went to New York the same day and he had seen her in the steam wagon when he disembarked there.  

The reason why she left her position in this manner I do not know.  I went to the Bostwicks later, after I heard that she was not longer there.  Mrs Bostwick told me that she liked Hanna very much the first year, but the second  year she did not like her as well, as she had made so many acquaintances with the other girls there.  

Hannah had received a letter from a Mr. Kemf in the first year that she was with the Bostwicks.  The first letter that he wrote to her came to me in an envelope.  I mailed it to Hannah, and he wanted Hannah to find him a job where she was.  But I told Hannah to write to him and tell him that there was no position for him, which she did.    Later I heard that he had written to her and she to him.  And then I was allowed to read a letter from you to Hannah about him, and at the same time a piece that was cut from a newspaper that had been sent to  Mrs. Ericson (I think that was the name) that she had company with her from Sweden,  she sent the clippings to Hannah -- I read this at the Bostwicks about his deeds, and more.  I admonished her in their presence not to write to Kemf any more, I said that if she wanted to have anything written to him, then I would like to write for her to let him know that we know everything about him.  Later Mr. Bostwick told me that they had told Hannah to send him the piece from the newspaper about his deeds and his portrait which she had, she said that she had some so, and she told me that she had done so, which pleased me.  If she later had a letter from him, or he from her, I do not know.   

Last February Hannah had earned almost 300 dollars since she came to America, but she had not saved any money, she liked pretty clothes, more expensive than she needed.  I talked to her about that several times.  About 2 months before she left she bought a large trunk, which cost about 7 dollars, which she has filled with her clothes.  I do hope she won't lose it when she came to New York and also doesn't lose herself, this has worried me right  much since there are all sorts of people in such a city.  She had paid me 40 dollars the 9th of July 1870, that is all that she has paid me.  --- when Mr. Bostwick had paid her 17 dollars that remained of her yearly pay, Mrs Bostwick's mother gave her 5 dollars as a present.  I expect that this is all she had.  It was not much to go to New York with.  But there is nothing to hinder her to do well if she wants to, it depends only on her, whether she does well or badly.  

There was a girl who lived on the next farm that she was acquainted with, who moved back to New York, maybe Hanna had agreed with her to meet her in New York and she did not want me to know about it.  She  probably knew I would not like it.  I hope that she will write to me, if she does not write I will not know what to think.  

If you should receive a letter from her so write to me so that I can write to her.  Let me know what Mrs. Ericson's address is if  you can find out, maybe she will go there when she has some money.  I thought it best to write to you to let you know how it is, maybe we will find her out.  Maybe it is better not to let her know I wrote you about her, but you can do as you like about that.

I remain your brother Eric

Almost 7 months later, Lovis replies to Eric’s concerns about Johanna, 29 July 1871:

Pålsboda .. Svennevad 29 July 1871

Dear Brother Eric,

Thank you for your letter, I should have answered it a long time ago.  It was sad to hear that Hannah could behave in such a bad manner especially towards you who has been so good to her.  We informed her parents as soon as I got your letter.  As I didn’t know Mrs. Ericksson or her relatives, I heard later from Kalle that he had answered you as he had promised me and left Mrs. Ericksson’s and Mr Kempfs’ address.  

I learned from a paper that Kempfs was made president in a society that he started to help Swedes who arrive in the US.  Could that be something good he’s doing since I have heard that Hanna is supposed to be married to Kempfs.  He brought Miss Bor with him when he escaped from Sweden. ...

Mr Uno Kempff
Nort America
Care of Kapten Jåsen
New York
No 2 Borsling grem [maybe Bowling Green]
Box 4,542.

Mr Erik Eriksson
Allamaka County
Box 19 jöwa
Nort America

Johanna, age 20, has been rebelling this past year.
Her practical-minded uncle, didn’t want her spending money on fancy clothes; but she did so anyway.
She borrowed money for her passage from her uncle, but she didn’t repay him most of it.
Johanna has run off to New York City without even saying goodbye to the family and lying about where she was going!

She’s been corresponding with a man, Uno Kempff, that she might have married once she got to New York!
A Swedish family friend, Mrs Eriksson in New York City tried to warn Johanna about Uno Kempff.
Uncle Eric tried to discourage her, practically forbid, this relationship after learning about this Swede — described in Swedish paper for his misdeeds.
Kempff “escaped from Sweden”

What did Kempff do that resulted in his need to escape?

Unfortunately the newspaper clippings didn’t get saved with all the letters!
Remember, they were shown and given to Johanna to convince her of Kempff’s misdeeds!


For  years, this is where the story ended, for me.  I couldn’t find any information about Kempff.  Then last November I received an email from a distant Swedish cousin, Malin Klangeryd, who is also descended from Eric Helsten’s parents, Eric Hellsten (1786-1839) and Lovisa Charlotta Robert (1795-1863).  She was also researching this Hellsten family.  Ironically, she is descended from Eric’s sister Erica.

Malin Klangeryd lives in Sweden and knows how to search the archives.  She has found our mystery man, Uno Kempff.

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this page is

Friday, May 22, 2015

Off to America, thank you dear uncle….

Johanna Carolina Hellsten was planning on traveling to USA and applied for a departure certificate from Sweden on 7 November 1867, right after her Uncle Manne Helsten said he would send the funds from her Uncle Eric to her Aunt Lovis when she was ready to travel. She then decided to delay her departure and returned her travel papers a week later, on 14 November.

By early November, the days are getting shorter as winter is approaching in Sweden and maybe Johanna thought that traveling in the spring might be a better idea.

Meanwhile, Uncle Eric is still awaiting Hannah’s (Johanna) arrival - he writes on 23 December 1867 to Carl and Hannah, it takes this letter at least a month to arrive in Sweden.  Then Carl writes back 3 weeks later saying that Hannah has delayed her trip.   Eric is patiently waiting in America for his niece, wondering where she is, maybe even concerned since he hasn't heard after getting the travel funds to her.  By the time Eric would find out her changed travel plans, it is probably close to March — about the time for her to actually come!

14 Feb. 1868

My dear brother Eric

I received your letter dated 23 Dec 3 weeks ago in which I find you are awaiting Hannah’s arrival.  We received the money from Uppsala last fall.  But since it was so late in the year they were sent back to Upsala again and the trip was started in the spring.  Wherefore she has decided to leave the coming April from Götteborg because she will then have travel company.  So God willing she will be in New York in 12 or 14 days.  If the trip will be somewhat postponed I will write you about it.

My dear brother, we will probably not see each other in this time [on earth] but how do you stand with God as well as your wife and children?  Please write to me about it.  Don’t forget to because it would be nice to know if we will meet up there in heaven.  Then we will see God and the lamb in the full glory.   It will be a blessed switch to be with an eternal glorious transfigured body there be allowed to see God face to face together with his holy angels and the blessed inhabitants of heaven.  That eternally be allowed to thank, praise and say his name that brought us here with his blood.  It will be blessed and glorified and precious there where the Lord God himself is.

Here in our Sweden the wind of the holy ghost has blown in all the counties so that many sinners have listened to the call and fled to the Lord Jesus.  But among our relatives has it unfortunately not been received. Only sister Marie has some inclination but she has not at all come to peace.  My wife and children and all the others seem to be dead in transgressions and sins.  Now you have heard dear brother how we have it in this most important matter; therefore please pray to the dear God for us if  you know Him the Christ reconciled Father -- because it is written in the Bible word in many places in John 16:24 it says “ask ye shall receive and  your joy shall be full.”

Greetings to your wife and children from us all.

You devoted brother Carl

Not sure who her traveling company was, but Caroline Hellsten is listed on a passenger list arriving in New York City on 22 April 1868.

Notice her father Carl wrote of a 12 or 14 day trip.  The transatlantic sailing trips when Eric came in 1845 and his wife Mary in 1848, took about 43 days.  The addition of steam ships definitely made the trip much faster, and most likely, safer.

Spring 1868, Eric was waiting for her Hannah.    He contacted the immigration folks alerting them of her pending arrival.

Office of the Commissioners of Emigration.
Castle Garden, New York, April 22nd, 1868
    5 oclock P.M.

E.A.Helsten Esq
  In answer to your letter 
I respectfully inform you that your
niece Johanna C. Helsten arrived this
Evening pm Steamer Minnesota from
Liverpool we shall detain her here 
until you come or send for her

  Respectfuly ce
   Bernard Casserly
   Gen. Agent & superintendent
    Per T.m.d

You might recall that Hannah had written her uncle:

I, as a big, strong, healthy seventeen  year old girl, used to brewing, commerce, and rough work and who longs for work in an unknown country where no one finds fault with one’s honest work or despises the virtuous for his poverty.
This in addition to the fact that many of my acquaintances have already left for, the employer America, which is why I, too, this fall intend to go there, if some noble person would help me with travel money and good advice at the arrival.

Since I have heard that Uncle is rich and happy in the country to which many long to go, I now set my hopes and prayers to Uncle for a kind answer to:

Could my dear Uncle please be so kind as to via a postal order to Upsala or a letter give, or, if need be, loan me 200 Kr for travel money?

Could my Uncle have use for, or know somebody, me as hired help for anything?

Could Uncle extend a helping and protecting hand to me at my arrival and until I have a position?

Does Uncle believe that a poor, but swift and untiring, girl can in an honest way earn a meager living through the work of her hands? 

Well, dear uncle has provided passage to America as requested.

Dear uncle has “extended a protecting hand” upon her arrival.

Does dear uncle find a job for her?

Lovis writes to Eric, 19 December 1868:
Thousands of thank yous for your dear letter that we received on May 19 and all goodness you proved Hannah in many different ways.  I would be a joy if Hannah always remembered this and is thankful towards you.  The gold ring was lost was sad they have not found it[.]  ... My man with me joins in hearty greetings to you yours and Hannah

Sounds like Eric provided not only for transportation all the way to Gaylordsville, Connecticut from Örebro, Sweden but also helped her find a job nearby.

Hannah goes to work for the Bostwick family in New Milford. Gaylordsville is part of New Milford, so it could be a couple miles away or next door.
In the 1870 US Census for New Milford, “Johanna Helston" age 20 is listed as a domestic servant.

This might not have been the kind of work that she was used to at home when she described herself as “used to brewing, commerce, and rough work.”
She probably has plenty of opportunity to "earn a meager living thru the work of her hands" working as a domestic servant.  She has agreed to work for the Bostwicks for two years.

So, did Johanna live happily ever after in America as she dreamed?
Stay tuned!

©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich
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