Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label CARLSON John. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CARLSON John. Show all posts

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts on the contents of the testimony in John CARLSON vs Eric HELSTEN

Back on 26 July, I posted on my G+ page that I was trying to transcribe the document that I have posted here in my last few blog posts.
On the 27th, I commented on the first part, based on Eric's testimony:

 Finished transcribing the document. There were whole chunks of it that I couldn’t make out. It sounds like John was an orphan from Sweden that Eric took in when he was 14 going on 15 in 1858. He was given clothes, shoes, boots and room and board in trade for work. I think he might have left after 2 years and gone to live with a different family. It sounds like Eric didn’t think he was always truthful. At some point he was injured and I suspect this suit was about the injury and his lameness. Did it happen in a sledding accident with William (Eric’s son) or did it happen at work? Fascinating. Now I wonder how the court suit was settled.

Once I sent Chris the document and she spent time trying to transcribe the testimony (her transcription was very close to mine), she had her own comments:  

    The intrigue of this "deposition" escalates as I finish - for now - the attempt at translating the 145 year-old handwritten in pencil faded pages into a coherent narrative.  Three of us have now tried our best to decipher the barely visible words on brittle paper.  There are still omissions and probably many errors, but the intent of the writer is becoming more understandable with each attempt at transcribing.
    My guess is that the sentences and words are choppy because of multiple factors.  English was a second language for both Eric Helsten and John Carlson.  Mrs. Helsten was Irish.  I believe Dr. St. John was quite old at this time, and William, son of Eric, was quite young when the accident in question happened.  In addition, it appears that much of the recorded dialogue is answers to questions - and the questions themselves are not written down.  There are many responses of "same as before" as if they are answering a question that had been previously asked in another session and they all respond "same as before".
    A final observation is that possibly there were two injuries or accidents or that John originally came to Eric lame to some extent.  I just get the feeling as I read and re-read that there is so much more missing than what we have here.
    If I had to say what I think happened I would probably say it went something like this.  John was a small orphaned boy who went to work for Eric.  He had nothing when he came to their door and they gave him clothing and shelter in exchange for John working in Eric's tannery on the river.  John had problems - he was not always truthful and he ran away on more than one occasion, but always went back.  When sledding on the hill, probably near Eric's dam on the river, John slipped and went over the dam hurting his ankle or foot.  Eric, also a shoemaker, had a special boot made for John with a brace of some sort which John did not want to wear.  There were arguments over John's visits to the doctor and his behavior about the injury.  Maybe he could work - maybe he could not.  At some point John goes to Rufus Beeman's house, a Gaylordsville neighbor, and lives there 4 years.  It is unclear whether or not John continued to work for Eric in the tannery, however my family records would indicate he did fulfill the 7 year apprenticeship with Eric Helsten.
    Why John is suing Eric is a major puzzle.  It would seem it would have been Eric suing John!  The search for answers continues!!

I would add a further comment.  I think Eric had sent to NY for an apprentice as he had done before; and I think he was expecting someone to arrive, but instead, or in addition, John arrived.  From the description of his arrived, it sounds like John was more of a child than someone ready to learn a trade.  He needed clean clothes immediately upon arrival, he wet his bed, he was reluctant to learn English, he wanted to play with Eric's son William.  Eric and Mary took him in, tried to provide for him, teach him the language and give him work.  

Who knows whether it was a successful apprenticeship.  We do know that they took in an orphan who probably had nowhere else to go and did give him work and a home.  If Eric was solely making the decision about taking in this person who arrived at his door as a business manner, looking at just who would be a good apprentice, John probably would not have gotten the job.

We do know John did become an adult, with a limp, who made his way in the world in Indiana after leaving Connecticut.   I don't think he worked as a tanner there.

John CARLSON vs Eric HELSTEN: Eric's testimony along with Mrs Helsten, son William and Dr St John

The box where Eric HELSTEN stored his important papers (including this document).
The "footprint" of the box is 11" by 5".

If you have been following the story of the deposition in this case, you know that we have a pencil copy of the depositions but don't actually know what the suit was or how it was resolved. The writing is VERY light, the handwriting inconsistent (sometimes abbreviated or close to scribble) and the paper fragile and so it is very hard to read.  This might have been a "scratch copy" and then recopied in ink for the court.  What you have below is the rest of the testimony after three of us have tried to transcribe the document (this is the best we can decipher!).  Why Eric HELSTEN even had this copy is another puzzle.

Reading this does not answer the question as to what the suit was about or how it was resolved.  It DOES give some real personalities to Eric and Mary HELSTEN and to John CARLSON.

Evidence taken Sept. 8th
Before Reynolds Justice
Deposition from John Carlson
                          Eric A. Helsten
     It was 1858, he came at my house.  He was a small boy came along and inquired for me.  He had been sent up by someone from New York.  He wanted to stay with me, my wife.  He came….of everything.  I did not make any bargain with him.  I made a bargain with him to give him his board and clothes.  I would finish him with way to go back to Sweden.  His father and mother were dead.  It appeared to me that he had been sent here to avoid when he came said was 15.  He called himself a year older than he was.  I clothed him right off – gave him clothes.  The first night we had a clean shirt put on him.  We had a good deal of trouble with him for the first year  he wet the bed.  He was a small poor boy.  I …. ….  Pictures have this clothes.  He runs.  He did not understand the English language.  I taught him many things and spelling and reading  I always avoided speaking Swedish  to him on this  I took special pains to try to learn him the language.  I thought I could give him better instruction myself as before.  He was well to understand English.  He start tell about the time he stolen himself.  One fault I had against him he sometimes would tell some wrong stories, always tell the truth anytime.  I did not consider no labor than over than his board and clothes.  I kept him at work as before as he could work as you can go.  I favored him because he was lame.  The first I ever heard of his leg hurt was my boy says John liked to get killed the other day  I got a story from both round and on Sunday he was hurt when he came to the top.  William went down the hill to hunt him  John said he was not hurt.  I spoke up said it is a great wonder you did not get killed did not you.  He use ax.  He said he had to let it go.  I got the story from both of them.  After that I forbid both of the boys to slide down hill.  Many evenings I find John sliding down hill.  I took the sled away from him and sent him into the house.  I think it was 6 weeks after that I heard him complain of his foot.  I did not believe at the time he got his foot out of joint and kept it concealed so long.  I asked him if he was hurt and he always denied it.  I went with him over to Dr. St. Johns office.  I went to Dr. St. John’s Office and he never owned up to Dr. that it was hurt,  to my knowledge, how it happened, Dr. was going to examine his foot.  John would not let him touch it.  Pulled it back.  He did not seem to know what it was.  His foot was swollen pretty bad.  John used up that linament and I told him to go and get more.  He went and got more and after that the doctor saw the foot inflamed and the swelling was down.  He said that foot is out of joint.  Run and get a supporter an Spig (some type of screw)  he wear our shirts   This spig was made and put on the boot and fixed for him.  John wore it and after awhile he broke it and I had another one made.  Dr. St. John said he must wear it.  I had another spig put on a new boot for him.  He did not like to wear it  But summer came on and he would rather go barefooted.  He went off but came back again.  I did not know what to think of it.  He always denied being hurt again.  I had seen before that his foot was hurt.  That has always been big influence.  I estimated it at about six weeks when he went off the wall  at this time   If I have know that his ankle was out of join I should have him in doctor right off.
Cross- examination
     He went to work as usual during this time.  I asked him many times if he was hurt.  He did what he could.  He went away the latter part of summer.
He grew very fast when he came.
William Helsten
     Son of Mr. Helsten
     When he went out out over of all of it.  That week on Saturday I think it was sometime after that he began.  I did not notice it that week nor the next.  I guess he did not (tan –maybe)  I don’t remember whether I did or not
Cross examination
     I am 14  I think it was 7 or eight.  I have heard father speak of it.  I think it was in the ….  One foot on each side  I did not see him go lame.  I could not tell whether he was the same as before.
Mrs. Mary Helsten
     He was a poor school boy and I take him  he was a little boy came in.  I want you to go home  ..shall freeze to death.  Said I we we will put up same as before.  I clothed him  I …. The same before run as you do us the same  Then says I intended to do well by him  I could not understand a word as before  Well says I wonder that he was not killed.  I did not notice that he was lame for sometime as before.  John would not let him touch it  we thought it was a swelling, as before then, as before you came
Dr. St. John
     I think its first time.  He came with an ankle badly swelled.  He was very hesitantly to how as this was.  He did not.  I inquired to know the cause of the trouble.  After I think Mr. Helsten told me what William said about him going over the wall.  Have the same as before.  He did not admit that very absolutely  I continue the same as before.  I think it could have been straightened with the support.  Boys sometimes as before you can make the worked as before.  I considered the injury.  I don’t know as this was anything said about this.
He might have the ….
Cross examination
     Ex. A. (Eric A. Helsten)?
     I thought it might be much nothing, but I don’t think be.  I don’t know when he might have done work.  He says he could not do a full days work.  He might have done some work.
Mr. Helsten
     He did not work while he was sick.  I kept him comfortable.
     I think is about 2 years ago he said his hip was out of joint.  He said Dr. ought to have seen it.  He said I always say no   I knew I didn’t   know as you will give me any the….
Know as the same as before

My next post will be Chris's summary of what she has learned from reading this document -- the first thing that has given her any information on her great grandfather John CARLSON when he came to the US.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Unexpected Discovery with the reading of John CARLSON's testimony!

Yesterday, I posted John CARLSON's deposition in the case of John Carlson vs Eric Helsten.  He mentioned that he ran away to Rufus BEEMAN or BERMAN (hard to read).  I checked and there was a Rufus BERMAN in New Milford CT in the 1840 census, but not after and there was a farm laborer Rufus BEEMAN in New Milford CT in the 1860 and 1870 census.  Unfortunately, John CARLSON was in the area between census taking so I couldn't confirm for sure, but I suspected that he went to Rufus BEEMAN.

Then I got some excited e-mails from Chris.  I'll let her finish today's post:

     As so often happens in my genealogy research, I go searching for one thing and find another.  It’s happened again!! My Swedish Great-grandfather, Carl Johan Augustinius Carlsson, aka John C. Carlson, somehow found his way as a 14 year-old boy to Gaylordsville, CT from Ödeshög, Sweden in the late fall of 1858. He knocks on the door of the tanner Eric Helsten, himself a Swede.  According to my family records John is then bonded to Eric for 7 years and learns tanning and shoemaking.

    After an unsuccessful attempt to find a family connection between young John and Eric, I posted the “tree” I had created on Eric’s family on and I was soon contacted by Eric’s great-great-granddaughter, Erica. This ultimately led to the most fascinating discovery to date as far as my genealogy.  Erica discovered deposition testimony of John and Eric over some as yet undetermined dispute between them.  The insight into my John’s 7 years in Connecticut is priceless!

    Now to the most unusual discovery of all.  At some point during the dispute between John and Eric, John runs away and ends up at the door of Rufus Beeman near Gaylordsville.  According to Beeman’s testimony in the deposition, John then stays with him for 4 years.

     In trying to determine what Rufus’s occupation was, I decided to research his family tree a little.  I ended up on Roots Web and printed out his ahnentafel.  I immediately began recognizing names!!  Turns out Rufus is my 4th cousin 4X removed!!  Good grief!!  Rufus and I are both descended from Nathaniel Parke and Sarah Geer.  This is through my dad’s mother’s side – the Quaker connection in my tree.  I amazingly report my unbelievable discovery to Erica – who then relates that she, too, is descended from the very same line of Parke’s!!  We are distant cousins!!!

     I just love genealogy!!!!
Christine Cross Finland
August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

John CARLSON vs Eric HELSTEN: John's testimony

As I mentioned in the earlier posts, John CARLSON came to Eric HELSTEN.  John's  Ggrand daughter had a picture of him in a suit.  Her family story was that John was apprenticed to Eric for 7 years and at the end got $100 and that suit.  Being a good family historian, "listen carefully to the stories and then check it out" led Chris to try to find evidence of John's apprenticeship with Eric.  She traveled to Gaylordsville CT, checked all the records she could find.  How did he end up in Gaylordsville all the way from Sweden?  Was he a distant relative?   Was he a family friend (Eric and John both came come Uppsala)?   She checked the records in Sweden.  No luck any where documenting him in Gaylordsville, in an apprenticeship or connected to Eric.  Then we connected and have been working both directions:  from my records and hers.

I found this deposition in a court case:  John Carlson vs Eric Helsten.  We have not found the court record, just this pencil copy of the deposition.  We don't even know what the case is about.

Here is John's testimony and that of Rufus Beeman:

John Carlson                                  Before Reynolds Justice
Eric A. Helsten                                    Sept. 8, 1866                                                                       
John Carlson
I came to this country in the fall of 1858.  I am a Swede.  I came here to work.  There was nothing said.  I want to be …….father for me.  No time mentioned  He said he would like have me stay till 21.  I did not make any bargain.  I was 14 going on 15 when I went there.  I worked 22 months.  I left there 27 Aug 1860, always worked in the tan yard.  When I was sick I did not work.  I had the scarlet fever.  I had Dr. St. John 2 or 3 times.  I had no other time.  I believed I worked all the time.  My foot got hit by falling over the stone wall.  I slipped.  It was in the winter.  I worked all the time.  It pained all the time.  It was a little time after that I told him I wanted a doctor.  I was sent over to see the doctor.  I worked all this time.  He said it let you so far.  It pained me ever since even or less.  He said if he had known he said he thought I run to because I did not want to work.  I could not work this Spring because I hurt my ankle.  He said he would see Dr. Benti.  He said he had not seen him.  I told him I did not wish to dy.  When I left he gave me 85 cents before that he had give 25 cents.  He furnished a pair of boots and one pair of shoes  2 new shirts, brand new mittens, wool hat.  There might have been some old clothes.  I told Helsten I did.  He said he did not know but he would give me something.  I was treated well up to this time.  Later at this time 8 or 10 dollars above the board as before.  I think for a couple of months.
Cross Examination
I think it must have been in the latter part of the winter.  I ……  I think I had the shoes on when I went to the doctor.  I believe the day I was hurt. … Helsten I … He said he would  go and see Dr. St. John when I was in the wood house.  It was the same as before.  It got out of joint when I got out of joint, but I did walk on it.  I went to see Dr. … … 2 times.  I think Helsten bought 2 bottles for me.  I might have more if … …   I told him it pained me the same as before.  We slip as before.  That is the always as before you even.  I was not as lame as when I left the same.  I did not tell Mr. Helsten why I wished to leave   I wore the tighter boots, as before the same you know that you owe but I did not owe him.  Helsten sew months before.  I think he asked me soon afterwards.  I told him I did not know what was the matter.  I came to Jonas H. McMahn soon after Election day.  As before… … …   he said if I would stay he would give me money to go to Sweden.  I may have had some clothing I don’t think of.
Direct Examination Record
He went over to see Dr. and I went that day or the next when we were in the wood house.
Rufus Berman (Beeman?)
 I should think John earns at work work faithful for 4-6 dollars per month.  I think the board
it was Mrs. Berman.  I can’t answer the question as to how much work was with his board.
… …  John came to my house in August 1860.  The boy came and wanted to stay all night.  He stayed with me for 4 years.  He was a good boy to work  12 or 15 dollars above his board.  I let him go to school.  Seemed to be very lame in the left leg and hip, as before this runs as you can go.  I called  Dr. Taylor.  He did not work for me in the tanning  He worked very well when he came thru  he could have worked.  I could have bound him from 15 and bound then boarded him.  It appeared he was a skilled workman.

There is more testimony to come in another post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: John CARSON

John Carlson
1842 - 1908
Anna wife of
John C Carlson
died Mar. 17, 1891
85 yrs. 10 mos. 21 ds.

After I posted the Tombstone Tuesday today for Eric Helsten and Mary Hearty, Chris sent me three pictures, this tombstone, his house (with family) and funeral card.

I've posted Chris's comments for  your reading pleasure.

The picture was taken in front of the Carlson family homestead in Clinton Township, Elkhart Indiana about 1900.  That's my great-grandmother, Lizzie - John's 2nd wife - and my grandmother, Anna - his only child - at about 3 years old.  Sitting down is John, of course (lame leg) with step-son Ora Weister and step-daughter Zulia Weister standing.  

I go to this farm frequently today to visit the Amish family who now owns it.  My grandma's bedroom is the same as it was 110 years!  I have the little oil lamp she carried up the stairs every night on her way to bed.

The John Carlson tombstone is also in Clinton Township just down the road from the farmhouse.  It is Eldridge Cemetery.  There are about 400 graves in the old cemetery and I'm probably related to most of the residents!!  I just love old cemeteries.  One day a year ago my friend and I photographed every grave!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


In July I was looking for some paperwork on Edward DAKIN.  I was looking through a notebook with old documents from the family.  I found something written in very light pencil.  It seemed to be evidence taken in a court case of "John Carlson vs Eric Helsten,  8 September 1866 before Reynolds Justice".
I e-mailed Chris and asked her if this was her John Carlson.

Chris:  "That's my John! Can you send me a copy?"

Next e-mail:  "So excited I can't think straight!!!!
Yes- he came to Conn. in 1858 and was bonded to your Eric for 7 years!
This would be the first solid evidence other than a handwritten note from his 2nd wife - my great -grandmother - telling about his indenture - but not naming Eric specifically.
This is what I looked for for so many years - solid evidence of where he was between 1858 and his 1867 1st marriage."

I wanted to share the document with Chris as quickly as I could.
I tried scanning it.  It was so light that the scanner didn't pick up the writing.  I did take a couple of photographs (above) but those were hardly readable.  The final solution was to photocopy it and enlarged it.  I sent Chris a copy of the enlargement to see if she could decipher any better than I can.

I spent the weekend trying to transcribe the multiple pages with the interviews of various people.  This was a court deposition! 

I'm not quite sure why Eric Helsten had this copy of the court deposition.

John Carlson had arrived from NY unexpectedly when Eric had asked for an apprentice and John came along with the worker.  Eric talked of his arrival without even a clean shirt to wear nor the ability to speak English. He fed, clothed him and tried to teach him English in addition to having him work.

By the end of the weekend I was convinced that John had been rather young, age 15, when he came to Eric and probably wanted to be treated more like a son than a worker.  There was some testimony of what I think might be sledding when they were told not to do it with Eric & Mary's son William and getting injured. This sledding injury might be the basis for his injured foot and limp.  Also, I'm not sure he stayed the full 7 years, if I read this document correctly.

My transcription of the document is 4 pages long and has lots of missing words and sentences.

Chris has the document now along with the photocopies.  She is spending this weekend with her daughter to try to improve on my transcription of the document.  I'm looking forward to reading it once they finish.  I figure two sets of eyes are better than one, you have someone to help guess what a word might be.

Stay tuned for the update on the translation of the transcription of the document.  

Also, this raises a whole new question:  what happened with the court case?

John CARLSON, his suit of clothes, and our hunt for information, part 2

Chris was disappointed that the letter that had offered her hope of finding SOMETHING about her great grandfather didn't turn out to be written by the correct person.    She had already traveled to Gaylordsville last year and had tracked down all the local records she could find for Eric HELSTEN (land records, vital records, historical society, etc).  What could we try next?

Chris made a generous suggestion.  What about translating the 6 letters from Sweden written to Eric during the years just before  John CARLSON came through the time he was in Gaylordsville?  Maybe someone would mention John and say something about his apprenticeship and Swedish family.  That would be from 1858 through 1863.

These letters are not the easiest things to read, even if my language was Swedish.  Eric was from a large family, he was one of 13 children.  As many family members who happened to be around in one part of Sweden at a time would take one piece of paper, fold in half, and each write to Eric.  So, the  letter pictured here was written in December 1863.

I scanned the 6 letters, she printed and mailed them to Sweden and over the next three months they were translated.

We learned a lot about how tough life was for those in Sweden.  We learned the everyday nitty gritty of life and trying to get by.  I learned more about each of the siblings. BUT we DIDN'T learn anything about John Carlson and his family!

Friday, August 19, 2011

John CARLSON, his suit of clothes, and our hunt for information, part 1

John Carlson in his suit
As I mentioned in my last post, John CARLSON was to get $100 and a suit of clothes when he finished his apprenticeship.  The family story with this picture is that it is the suit that he received.
John went to Chicago about 1866 or 7, so he must have come to the United States in the late 1850's.

My GGgrandfather Eric HELSTEN had saved all his letters from his family after he arrived in 1845 until he died in 1903.  When my grandmother died in 1974, I found all the letters tied together in a desk drawer.  She never told me about the letters (and what I've learned from them is another story) and I don't read Swedish, so I took the letters home and saved them.  A few years later I worked with a wonderful woman from Sweden, who translated a bunch of the letters.

I spent a weekend reading all of the translations that I had to see if any mentioned John Carlsson.   No luck.  Then I decided to look over the other letters to see if I could recognize the name John Carlsson in the body of any of the letters.  Chris suggested that I not only look for  John, but also look for Johan, Carl, Karl, or Charles.  Those were other names that he went by.

Then I found a letter dated 12 February 1856 from Jonas Augustus Carlsson written in Swedish from Brookfield, Connecticut.  Chris was ecstatic.  Carl Johan Augustus Carlsson was her great grandfather's name in Sweden!  This would put him in the the US two years earlier than she thought he came, but maybe he did come then.

Chris wished she might have some had writing to compare it to, but all she has is a signature from 40 years later.

I scanned the letter and e-mailed it to Chris [isn't modern technology great?] and she sent it to relatives in Sweden to be translated.

A couple days later Chris sent me the translation with a note.  His wasn't her great grandfather!  This Jonas Augustus Carlsson talks of missing his parents and siblings in Sweden, but does comment that life is tougher there so even though it isn't great here, it is better than there.

Eric HELSTEN, Mary HEARTY and his apprentice John CARLSON

Last February, I was checking to see if anything new could be found on my GGgrandparents Eric HELSTEN or his wife Mary HEARTY.  Eric came from Uppsala, Sweden in 1845.  Mary came from Dorsey, Parish Creggan, County Armagh, Ireland around the same time.  They were married in Patterson, NY 12 August 1849 and moved over the New York/Connecticut line to Gaylordsville, CT.  In 1842, Eric was apprenticed as a tanner in Sweden and so it was not surprising to discover that when he settled in Gaylordsville that he started a tannery in 1853.

I discovered someone else was searching for Eric and Mary.  I was pleased.  I am descended from their daughter Caroline Matilda HELSTEN who married Charles H EVANS. I don't know what happended to two of their four children, Mary Louisa HELSTEN and William HELSTEN.    Maybe one of their descendants was searching.

So I sent a message asking how she was related to Eric and Mary.

However, it was someone NOT descended from Eric and Mary.  It was Chris Finland who was searching her ancestor John CARLSON [Carl Johan Augustus CARLSSON].  John was an orphan who came from Sweden after his grandparents, who had been raising him, died.  John was apprenticed to Eric HELSTEN. Chis has a paper saying that John got a new suit of clothes and $100 for his 7 years of apprenticeship as a tanner and shoemaker.  Chris didn't know anything about John's early years but figured that maybe Eric was a distant relative or family friend who had taken him in -- how else might he have gotten here from Sweden?

John's mother was from just south of Uppsala and Eric came from Uppsala. Chris has been searching for years.  She has found relatives in Sweden, traveled there, and had been working on a family tree for Eric HELSTEN in hopes of finding a connection, anywhere.  No success.

This has led to our working together to see if we can find anything about  John CARLSON and to figure out his relationship to Eric HELSTEN.