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
111 WEST 11TH ST. -- FIRST-CLASS DRESSMAKER
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 http://genea-adventures.blogspot.com/2015/06/johanna-carolina-hellsten-rest-of-story.html