The Search for

a Great-Grandfather’s burial/headstone in Finland.

For me, a life in my Family Tree really isn’t complete if I don’t have the complete life — from birth til death and all the things in between.

And so, the search to confirm where my Great Grandfather, Johannes Johansson Snabb was buried began many, many years ago.

I had several things: a couple of photos, a few stories but what I did not have was confirmation of death and burial. My Aunt had said that they had never left his home town of Björköby, Finland, so I had hoped to find the information somewhere on a Finland Historical Site, but while there were only photos of my Great-Grandmother and other family members, including his parents and others in the Snabb/Forsman Line that are buried in the Björkö Cemetery, but no photo for him or his 2nd wife.

I had a complete records of my Great-Grandmother and all of their children, including my Grandma, Edit Amanda Snabb, here in Canada along with her sisters in the USA and her brother, who died in Australia. Their memorials had a photo of their final resting place.

I decided to try a facebook group I belong to and ask there if anyone was located near or knew of anyone that would be able to see if he was truly buried there and if he had a headstone.

The facebook group is part of Swedish-Finn Historical Society in Seattle, Washington. I had learned about them years and years ago. In fact, it was a member of the group, Hasse Nygård who originally got me in touch with my family still in Finland. He lives in Finland and runs a wonderful site with a huge database called TALKO.

On September 30th, I posted asking if there was anyone that knew where I could find a burial list or anything that would confirm his burial, and possibly get me a photo of his headstone. Well, there were many suggestions given and finally, one of the women, Syrene Forsman (sadly no relation) asked me to send his name and information to her at the SFHS office and she would see what she could find. She said she was stubborn and like to find things out.

First, a Per-Erik Berglund answered an inquiry that Syrene had left on a message board, but after emailing him, he sadly could not help, but gave me links to a website. Unfortunately, I had tried this website before and it was there that my Great-Grandmother as well as my Great-Great Grandmother had been photographed and posted.

I was then given an email for Torbjörn Nikus, who was actually the photographer of the other headstone photos. He lived about 250 kms away from the cemetery and would not be able to go back to see if it was possible that the headstone had been missed. He also said that there was a possibility that if he had only had a wooden cross or there was no one looking after his plot, that there might not be anything there to be photographed. That was a sad thought.

But what I didn’t know at the time, Per-Erik had forwarded my email to another person, someone that was living in the the town of Björköby, and her email would contain several surprises.

On October 21, I received an email that started out:

My name is Mona Britwin and I live i Björköby in Finland. I heard from Per-Erik Berglund in Bergö that you would like to know more about your ancester Johannes Johansson Snabb from Björkö.

It seems that her Mom kept track of people from the “village” over the years, and while the first part I knew she had a lot of information that I didn’t know, like my Great-Grandfather was a “Garvaren” which means ” garvare means tanner, he was tanning skins when he wasn´t fishing”. She was also wondering which of his children I was related to, and how.

She also sent me this:

It is my Great Grandfather’s house still standing although vacant. What I wouldn’t do to have the money to buy it and move there.

So, I emailed her back, explaining my relationship to him, along with a link to my website (see link on side). And then I waited. I was hoping that it would not be like many other times, I email, they email me, ask questions that I answer and then I never hear from them again. But then it came!!

She apologized for not getting back to me sooner but she works all week and she apologized for her poor English but I understood everything and it just makes me want to learn more how to speak the language (on bucket list for 2015). She explained how they had different names than what I had listed or at least they were called different names than the names I had for them.

She also told me how we are distantly related. If I have it right, it is through my 5th Great Uncle, Anders Mickelsson Snabb. This is wonderful as I do not have anything on this line for him. Or at least, I don’t have anything on my site, but must check my papers.

And right after this email came her 2nd email and IT WAS A PHOTO OF THE HEADSTONE!!!! For both my Great-Grandfather and his 2nd Wife!!!. And it isn’t a little cross but a very large headstone. I got to complete his memorial!!!

Great Grandfather Memorial

As Syrene said “One simply has to ask!”

Oh and Mona has asked me for help with a relative of hers, and if all goes as planned, I will be able to give her information in a week or so.

I love Genealogy and finding family!!!