Gärdserum Valley
Gärdserum Valley

The Svanströms were soldiers, crofters and tailors in and around Gärdserum and Ukna in the county of Kalmar in Småland, Sweden. The earliest known ancestor of the family is Petter Jönsson Cavat, an infantry soldier who was taken prisoner by the Prussians at the Battle of Demmin and never returned to Sweden. He was probably put to death by the Prussians, who hated the Swedes.

Jonas Pettersson, the first Svanström, was son of Petter Cavat. He was living in 1780 in the seaport town of Västervik, where he was a carpenter. He adopted the surname Svanström, which means “river of the swans.” He later joined the army as a grenadier. Jonas’ descendants retained his surname.

The immigrant to America was Adolf Svanström, a deeply religious man, a scholar who loved music, and an ardent pacifist. Adolf and his wife Josefina came to America in 1891 so that their young sons would not some day be drafted. They settled at Chetek, Wisconsin. Adolf died there in 1904. Josefina moved to Burlingame, Kansas. She later homesteaded at Marbleton, Wyoming, where she opened a hotel. In later life she moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where she had the honor making a welcoming speech when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Sweden stopped there during their American tour. According to newspaper accounts, she told the prince that she was being presented to him as she had been presented to his father many years earlier in Sweden. Josefina later retired to Fresno, California, where she died.

My Swanstrom research is currently focused on finding descendants of Adolf’s cousins, who came to America about the same time he did. At least one of them settled in Burlingame, Kansas.

Lineal Genealogy

  1. Petter Jönsson Cavat (1734-1759), Grenadier at Komdalen, Gärdserum. He married Cajsa Ingrid Johansdotter.
  2. Jonas Pedersson Svanström (1754-1811+), Grenadier at Rytt Torp, Åkerhagen, Gärdserum. He married 1779 Maria Månsdotter Holmström, daughter of Magnus “Måns” Holmström and Catharina “Cajsa” Skog.
  3. Jonas Svanström (1794-1881), Tailor at Gärdserum. He married Inga Honnet, daughter of Peter “Per” Jönsson Honnet and Anna Ingrid Wåhlstrand.
  4. Carl Johan Svanström (1823-1885+), Grenadier at Sundet, Ekevik, Ukna, and later of Strömsborg. He married Anna Sofia Jaensdotter, daughter of Johan “Jaen” Andersson and Anna Helena Hultsberg.
  5. Adolf Ferdinand Svanström (1862-1904), Farmer at Chetek, Wisconsin. He married Carolina Josefina Fyrstén, daughter of Johanna Carolina Fyrstén. They came to America in 1891.
  6. Harry William Swanström (1903-1957), Rancher (H Lazy S) at Farson, Wyoming. He married Vivian Luce, daughter of Wilford Woodruff and Esseneth (Wilson) Luce.

Origin of the Name

The surname Svanström was first adopted by the Jonas. As usual at the time, it alludes to his place of birth, Svenserum. It was common to take the stem (in this case Sven-) and add a different ending (-ström). The connection is not immediately apparent in English. However, it is clearer in older spellings. A 1690 map of Tjust shows the farm Svensrum in the parish ofGierdsrum (now Gärdserum). A military roll calls the farm Swansrum. In short, the surname Svanström derives from the farm name Svansrum.

Prominent Svanströms

Gärdserum Church
Gärdserum Church

Sven Johan Ögrim (né Svanström) (1853-1938) was successively head of the Salvation Army in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany (1888-1925). He was Adolf’s cousin and Josefina’s foster brother. His granddaughter Ruth is married to Brynjulf Bull, head of Norway’s Labor Party and Mayor of Oslo. Tron Ögrim is a member of this family.

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