Week #3 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge – Serendipity

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

I spent some time at the Boston Public Library this summer looking through microfilmed copies of the Malden Evening News on the hunt for information about my Hall ancestors, Malden residents for 5 generations.  I was scrolling through, when a name caught my eye – Miss Sigrid C. Bjorklund. Why so familiar I thought?



Miss Sigrid C. Bjorklund of Lynn St., Taking Special Course at BU Prepatory to Sailing for Orient for Methodist Church.

Miss Sigrid C. Bjorklund, 255 Lynn St., will upon completion of a course in the School of Religious Education of Boston University , sail for China to take up missionary work under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal church.

She was born in Linden, graduated from the Linden grammer school, Malden High, class of 1905 and the Salem Normal school. She taught in North Attleboro three years and then in Revere. The past few years she has spent in business life, working in the offices of two Boston firms. She attended the Malden School of Religious Education, graduating in its first class in 1919, and is a firm believer in the good work that the school is doing for Malden.

She is a member of the Linden Methodist church and has been interested in the work of the Epworth League and of the Sunday school where she has had charge of the junior department.

For several years she has been interested in China and its needs and this past year it became possible for her to enroll for educational work there. She plans to go to Hinghwa in the Fukien province sometime this summer.

This spring she will take a special course at Boston University school of Religious Education and will live in Harris hall in Brookline.

Then it hit me!

As a teenager, I started a “club” with the neighborhood children. I was the eldest and thus group leader of the “The Robins”. We handmade May baskets for the elderly using old strawberry containers,  filling them with candies and flowers made from tissues and pipe cleaners. We collected canned goods for the needy and organized the neighborhood spring clean up. Our biggest “project” was writing and distributing a monthly newspaper for the elderly population.


It lasted just a year (at almost 16, my job and boyfriend got in the way).  We included recipes, comics, an advice column, horoscopes and puzzles. Being the era before computers,  I used my mother’s typewriter.  My dad would take the completed document, usually 6 pages, and “sneakily” use the copier at Honeywell, where he was an engineer, to make 60 copies.  The club members collated and stapled the pages then hand delivered them door to door at the local “Old Age” home on the corner of Oliver and Springdale Streets.

Initially these folks were leery of opening the door. By month three they were inviting us inside for tea and cookies, some of them chatting with us for an hour or more, others sending letters to the editor or asking for an interview in a future issue.

Sigrid was one of those women. We featured her in our February issue.



I think Sigrid wants to be found and remembered.  First she asks to be interviewed back in 1977, then I remember her through serendipity in 2013.

Sigrid’s parents were Olaf Nelson Bjorklund and Matilda Enarson/Emerson who married in Boston on 06 Mar 1884 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FHDP-HZH). Her paternal grandparents were Nilson/Nils Hanson and Christi/Christine Lawson, maternal grandfather was Enar.

Olaf & Matilda’s first child, Emma Amalia was born 12 Dec 1884 in Boston (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FXDN-QMV & https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FH33-4QJ).

Sigrid was born 11 Mar 1888 in Malden, Massachusetts (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FX68-M9Y)

The couple’s third child, a girl born on 17 Feb 1899 in Malden, was stillborn (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N71N-9ZB). She was buried at Forestdale Cemetery.

In 1900 & 1910, the Bjorklund’s were living at 355 Lynn Street in Malden.  Head of household was Olaf Bjorklund, a tailor (Merchant Tailors) born in Sweden. His wife, Matilda was also from Sweden.  She had given birth to three children, two living. They had been married at the ages of 26, a first marriage for both. In 1910 daughters Emma Amalia, 25 had become a tailoress and Sigrid 23, a school teacher. In 1910, Sigrid was enumerated twice; the second time in North Attleborough as a teacher. She was a boarder with the William Robert’s family.

On 17 March 1911 Sigrid’s mom Matilda died from gangrene and a related operation with a contributing factor being her diabetes, she was 52 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N4DW-JZG)

On 30 Jan 1915 sister Emma married Richard Towers, son of Joseph Towers and Jennie Blackie in Malden (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N4XD-9R2).

On 20 April 1919, a 58 year old Olaf married second Anna Charlotte Anderson, also 58, a housekeeper from Everett, born in Sweden, daughter of Anders Anderson and Anna Peterson (http://tinyurl.com/kuu443h).

In 1920, Sigrid who still resided on Lynn Street was enumerated with her father and step-mother.

Sigrid’s passport was issued 30 Jun 1920, it tells us her father immigrated from Malmo, Sweden on 1 May 1882 and Naturalized on 25 Oct 1892.  Sigrid intends to sail for China Aug 1920 from the port of Vancouver or San Francisco. She is 32, 5’10”, with a high forehead, blue eyes, broad nose, straight mouth, medium chin, light brown hair, fair complexion and an oval face.

sigrid ship passport

sigrid ship passport2Ancestry.com

On 21 Sep 1931 she arrived at Ellis Island in New York, returning after almost 11 years in China.

sigrid ship manifestAncestry.com

Her step mother Anna died in 1938 in Malden (vol 54, pg 281). Her father passed away in 1955, in Malden (vol 64, pg 405).

Sigrid died 1 Dec 1982 in Malden about 4 years after we recorded her story and spent many wonderful afternoons in her home.  Sadly, I didn’t know when she passed, until I started gathering information for this blog post (my self absorbed teen age years).

I don’t believe that Sigrid married or had children, but she had a niece and two nephews with descendants.  Perhaps one of them will find her through this blog post.

In 1930 & 1940, Sigrid’s sister Emma was living in Berlin, NH, still married to Richard with three children: Richard,  Ernest and Sigrid (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X7NC-9XC &  https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VTMT-9SS).

Sigrid’s nephew, Ernest passed away a few years ago. He was a genealogist!!!!!!  More serendipity.  I wish I reached him years ago with the story of his Aunt Sigrid.

ernest towers

Sigrid’s nephew, Richard is also deceased.

richard towersgooglenews

Sigrid’s niece, Sigrid Towers married Walter George Tillson and may possibly be living today in Groveland, MA.


Sigrid wasn’t the only Linden citizen the Robin’s wrote about – other articles are posted here: https://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/remembering-linden/


7 responses to this post.

  1. […] « Week #3 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge – Serendipity […]



  2. Posted by Jeff Boldi on January 17, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    This is my grandfather’s aunt. I have several of the thing she brought back from China displayed in my home. Thank you so much. I was missing several details that you have here. An amazing woman. Jeff Boldi



    • Jeff – thanks for posting! She was an amazing woman and I am ecstatic that you found my post!



    • Posted by Ola Hansson on March 11, 2016 at 4:15 PM

      Greetings from Sweden. Sigrid Björklunds father Olaf (baptized Ola) Nilsson Bjorklund was brother to my father´s father´s father Hans Nilsson. Their parents were Nils Hansson (1822-1905) and Kersti Larsdotter (1824-1912). Please Jeff Boldi, contact me at my mail address: dinkys.box@telia.com
      //Ola Hansson, Sweden



  3. […] – “Week #3 Serendipity” (Sigrid C. Bjorklund” on Passage to the Past’s […]



  4. Posted by Chris Puda on January 11, 2016 at 12:02 AM

    Thank you for posting this blog post as I am also doing some genealogical research for my parents, grandparents, and other family members. It is interesting to see all of the people that have gone to the University of New Hampshire because I am currently attending UNH! Instead of being a descendant of Olaf Nilsson Bjorklund in my family tree, I am a descendant of his brother, Andrew R. Nilsson. If you continue down that side of the tree, you will find Charles Maurer Jr., who is my grandfather on my mom’s side of the family. If you find any other information about the Nilssons or Towers descendants, feel free to share it with me!



    • Posted by Jeff Boldi on January 21, 2016 at 6:56 PM

      Berlin, NH Moffett Genealogical has a ton of information. My family (Towers) has donated an number of item/documents. My grandfather, Maj. Ernest Towers (UNH ’42) was an amateur genealogist and worked with them for years. We have also reached back to Sweden and our cousin Ingrid came over to visit a few years ago.




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