Opinion

Family ties

Olof Olsson Nylander was the youngest child born to Ola Larsson and Elisabeth Jonsdotter on June 14, 1864. He had two brothers, Jacob and Lars; one sister, Elna; and six other siblings who died in infancy. Ola worked as a shoemaker and had a plum orchard on the farm of Öremolla, in Skivarp, Malmöhus County, Sweden.

Growing up on this small farm about a half-mile from the Baltic Sea, Olof spent a lot of time playing along the shore and collecting shells. Olof’s love of learning from and observing nature was just beginning. Because he was a bright child, his parents taught him reading and math before he started school.

When Olof was about 16 years old he moved to Stockholm, Sweden, to learn to paint houses with a cousin. Evenings and weekends, Olof would be at one of the museums and libraries studying and learning what he could about their numerous collections.

Olof’s brothers immigrated to America in 1880; Jacob settled in Woodland, Maine and Lars worked in the Boston area. Olof soon followed them in 1883 and stayed in the Boston area for about three years, working at a paint shop, studying at the museums in the Boston area, and exploring the East Coast. Olof eventually settled in the town of Woodland, and in the spring of 1886 his parents and sister Elna emigrated from Sweden to live with him.

Olof married Wilhelmina Christina Johanson on Jan 1, 1902. Wilhelmina’s family had also emigrated from Sweden; her father, Carl J. Johanson, came in 1871 to begin building a home for his family. Wilhelmina came a year later with her mother, Maria, brother, Karl, and grandparents, Lars and Brita Björkdahl. Carl and Maria had seven more children, all born in Maine.

Olof and “Mina” had three children: Eldena, Henry and Gladia. Eldena married George Ketch of Woodland and they raised nine children. Henry had a serious head injury while skiing when he was about 21 and never fully recovered. He was 82 when he died at a nursing home in Dexter. Gladia was only 10 months old when she died from cholera infantum in 1908.

This column was written by a Nylander family member.

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