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A most serendipitous encounter

Updated: Feb 13, 2022

A couple of years ago I went on a very funny and interesting road trip with a wonderful family from Iowa, who had traveled to Sweden to meet their Swedish relatives and visit places where their ancestors had lived more than 200 years ago.

After a warm and welcoming gathering with Swedish relatives they had never met before, we continued our journey to visit villages and churches that had appeared in the genealogy research. One of the older relatives suggested a short detour from our route, to visit a house where she believed that family ancestors had lived. We gladly accepted, and followed them on small country roads, past yellow fields and curious cows, until we arrived at a red and white house at the end of the road.

The relatives who had guided us did not know the people who currently lived in the house, so it fell on my lot to investigate if we had found the right place.

I walked up to the door and knocked, not knowing what to expect. This was not part of the plan, but I loved it. A man in his sixties opened the door and I explained that I had an American family in the car parked in front of his house, and that they would love to find out if their ancestors had lived in this house 150 years earlier.

The man nodded and asked us to wait just a minute. I remember thinking it was odd that he didn't even seem surprised. A few minutes later he came out again, with a book in his hand. This was the House book, a book listing all the families that had lived at this place. This made us all very excited, and when the man suggested that we go to his barn to have a look at the book we followed him without hesitation.

The red barn was four times larger than the house, maybe more. As we entered through the enormous doors our host turned the lights on, and we all stared in disbelief, mouths open. The huge open room was filled with... things! But old and interesting things, like mopeds, motorcycles, sewing machines, tape recorders, old TVs etc etc. Like a museum of old things. There was even a drum set set up at the front, on a stage. But what really blew us away was the wall at the end of the barn, which had a large American flag and a large Swedish flag, with a screen in the middle!

So, just to sum it up. We arrive, totally unannounced, on a Wednesday afternoon, following a hunch from an older lady, to this house at the end of a dirt road, and suddenly we step into this American-Swedish hall of friendship and memorabilia. It was too good to be true.

We stayed for an hour or so. The family from Iowa had a wonderful lively conversation with the Swedish host, and they actually did find their ancestors in the House book. They also hooked up a computer to the screen and showed the host where they came from on Google maps, on a street level. Wonderful connection.

As we walked back to the car I wondered how on earth I was going to top this. But I needed not worry, there were quite a few more serendipitous incidents during our road trip.


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