From Sweden to Australia

And the Missing Years….

Grandfather Berg was born Adolf Wilhelm Bergman in Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden, on 3rd April, 1877 (the names Adolf and Alfred will be used interchangeably throughout this website).

Parents: Otto Wilhelm Bergman (1847-1884) and Bertha Amalia Alexandra Dahlberg (1851-1934). Otto was thirty, and Bertha twenty-six when Adolf was born.

Siblings: Axel, born 1878; Signe, 1881.

Tragedy struck the family on the 14th November 1884 when Otto was killed in a railway accident.

Notice in Sydsvenska Dagbladed 14th November 1884: Killed on the railway. About the accident previously mentioned in a telegram at Partilled, G. P writes: The conductor Otto Bergman from here in the city, about 37 years old, was run over at 9 o'clock on Tuesday evening at Partilled railway station, with the consequence that he suffered severe injuries. immediately diverted.
Bergman, who was on duty on the descending freight train, jumped off before it had completely stopped and fell between two carriages, whereby one carriage went over and crushed him before the train was completely stopped, which took a few seconds due to the slipperiness of the tracks. The one who died so sadly leaves a widow and 3 children. (Google translation from article in Swedish Newspaper 14th November 1884).

Bertha was left to raise their three young children on her own.

Berg family oral history suggests the children of Otto and Bertha were placed in a Lutheran orphanage when Otto died.

Census forms suggest that the two younger children were with Bertha in 1900, but Adolf’s name appears on the 1900 Census form of an orphanage.

  • What year did Alfred leave Göteborg?
  • When did he arrive in Australia (exact date)?
  • What happened to him in the in-between years?
  • Where did he go?
  • What did he do?
  • Did he ever go back to Sweden?

These are just some of the unanswered questions about Alfred.

My DNA test through Ancestry has led me to a number of Swedish matches to fourth and fifth cousins, and it is through these matches that I hope to find out where Adolf was in those missing years.

Fast forward to 1911

Adolf, then known as Alfred Berg, applied for Naturalisation as an Australian citizen. He was living in Wellington, New South Wales at the time.

On his application for naturalisation, Alfred stated he had arrived in Australia in about 1902 (he seemed unsure about the exact date), and that he arrived on the Monowai that sailed from Wellington New Zealand.

So, where did he go?

We know he was in London after leaving Sweden and prior to arriving in Australia because I have seen the postcard his brother Axel sent him, care of the Scandinavian Sailor’s Home in London.

The Missing Years

Given that he was in his late twenties or early thirties when he arrived in Australia, there are a lot of years in between his departure from Göteborg and arrival in Australia. Was he constantly travelling or did he stay in one or more countries?

These are the questions I hope to find answers for.

Death of Alfred Berg

On the 12 November 1959, Alfred seemingly suffered a heart attack and sadly passed away.

I have a transcript of the Death Certificate – I won’t add the certificate to the Documents section of this site but I am willing to provide information to family members who contact me, either personally, or through this site.

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