This week’s challenge is “How Do You Spell That?”, with suggestions of writing about what ancestor do you imagine was frequently asked that, or which ancestor did you have a hard time finding because of an unusual name. That was a simple choice for me. I spent about fifteen years trying to find out the real surname of my great-grandfather. As it turned out, that was only one of many mysteries about him!
My great-grandfather was Charles Oscar Seeber. Charles had always told his wife and children that his last name was Von Sagerborg and that he was born to Swedish parents in 1875 in Liverpool England. He reported that his parents sent him to the United States when he was nine years old. And he told his wife and children that he did not speak any Swedish.
I searched and searched for the Von Sagerborg surname, but never found anyone close to being him (or his family). I even sent a search request to the magazine Heritage Quest and they did a search, but nothing was found. I sent about $100 dollars for a search and copy of his birth records in England. Nothing found. I had Swedish researchers searching for him and his family…with nothing ever found.
One day as I was reviewing all the information that I had from family, I realized that the one consistent thing that Charles always reported was the name of his mother…Matilda Hertel. Once I shared that with a researcher in Sweden, she was able to quickly find the family. Matilda Hertel was married to August Segh.
1890 census in Sweden:
Seg, August Ferdinand 1847 Fivelstad (Östergötlands län, Östergötland)
Hertel, Matilda 1843 Herrestad (Östergötlands län, Östergötland)
Gustaf Adolf Emil 1873 Sankt Per (Östergötlands län, Östergötland)
Karl Oscar Fromhold 1873 Sankt Per (Östergötlands län, Östergötland)
Johan August 1875 Sankt Per (Östergötlands län, Östergötland)
Charles Oscar Seeber was Karl Oscar Fromhold Segh, born in 1873 in Ostergotland, Sweden (and was a twin, unknown to the family). From there, the researcher was able to provide me with a great deal of information about his family. And in my own research, I found that Charles came to the United States in 1892 when he was twenty years old. None of the rest of his family ever came here to live.
All of Charles’ children had died by the time I learned the truth about him. His wife, Ingrid Olausson, lived to be 101 years old and never knew the true facts about him.
Why was his life such a mystery? I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never learn that. One can only speculate!