Generations at Murtorpet
Signild Håkansson 2011-01-05

The first church register available in Bo parish, listing the farms and torps and the families living there, is from the period 1773-1777. In this document we find the Andersson family at Fetsjöfallet. The family consists of Anders Andersson, born in Regna parish in 1726 and his wife Cherstin Olsdotter, born in Bo parish in 1732, and their children. The oldest son is our Olof, born in 1758. We do not know when they moved to Fetsjöfallet, but we know that the family lived there when Olof was born.

The torp Fetsjöfallet is mentioned for the first time in another church document from 1740 and is assumed to have been established not much earlier than so. Even if Fetsjöfallet is a torp, Anders Andersson is not registered as torpare (crofter). Instead he is named skogvaktare which means gamekeeper or woodward. With such large area of forest, the landowner, Boo estate, needed people who could watch out for illegal hunting and supervise the timber-cutting and charcoal production.

In 1782 Olof Andersson marries Cathrina Johansdotter (b 1760) from Kringsjötorp, also in Bo parish. Olof stays with his parents at Fetsjöfallet and his occupation is dräng (farm-hand) in the wedding book. His wife is piga (maid). She is a typicle example of the variation of names. In different documents she is also called Carin, Karin or Cajsa. Her last name can be written as Jansdotter.

The young family stays at Fetsjöfallet until 1794, when they move to Murtorpet after Anders Andersson’s death. They got several children at Fetsjöfallet, but our anscestor Petter (Peter, Pehr) is born at Murtorpet (1798).

Olof’s father Anders Andersson dies in January 1794. The death cause is convulsjoner (convulsions). During the same year the rest of the family moves to Murtorpet where Olof gets a contract as torpare. Anders’ widow dies at the new place before the year has come to end (death cause is bröstsjuka, breast disease, which could have been pneumonia or tbc).

Murtorpet is a place known from a document of 1703. It is also called Djurshult or Djurshulttorp. The origin of the name Murtorpet is not clear. Mur means wall, but there are not many stone walls around the fields there. Maybe it was earlier named Myrtorpet (the Mire Torp), because there are mires or swamps in the surroundings (this is only a theory).

During the decades before Olof came to Murtorpet, the crofters often shifted, but Olof starts a really uniqe line of tenants, father to son for five generations.

It is true that the families living at a torp often were extended families with old parents, widowed or unmarried siblings, other young relatives and so on. At periods it must have been quite crowded. But only one person could be contracted as a torpare. In our family history it is not always the oldest son who takes over the contract. Maybe it was too early for the father to retire, just when his oldest son had grown up. Instead the oldest son could go away to work at other farms or move because of marriage. It is not likely that two married brothers or sisters both lived at the same place, but it happened. Petter’s older brother Anders seems to have stayed unmarried and worked at Murtorpet as dräng until he died.

When Petter (Peter, Pehr) Olsson (Olofsson) marries Anna Maja Jansdotter (b 1800) from Kobäcken (another torp in the neibourhood) in 1825 he takes over the contract and becomes torpare. His parents stay with them at Murtorpet for about 20 years until they die.

Olof Andersson dies in 1843 at 85 and his wife Karin in 1848. Death cause for both is old age. Karin, a strong woman, has then lived for 87 years and has given birth to 8 children. Her youngest child, Christopher, was born when she was 48.

Their son Petter also lives a long life with many children (seven). His third child is Johan (b 1833) who will be the next torpare at Murtorpet from the early 1860´s.  Petter’s youngest son Aron was born in 1848 and is much younger than his siblings. He is the first member of the family to leave his home country for North America in 1871.

Petter’s wife Anna Maja dies in 1872 from stroke. She is then 71. Petter dies in 1882 at the age of 83 from old age weakness. He lives long enough to see both his son Aron and his grandson Carl-August emigrate to USA.

Johan Persson marries Johanna Olsdotter from Djursnäs (b 1830 at Bondkorptorp, Svennevad) in 1855, and their first son Carl-August is born the same year. They have seven children and five of them live until they are adult. Only one will remain in Sweden.

The 1880´s is a decade, when much changes at Murtorpet. Carl August Johansson leaves for America in 1880 and takes the name Hallberg. His grandfather Petter dies in 1882 and his brother Gustaf Adolf Johansson (b 1858) marries Anna Sofia Persdotter (b 1864 in Averviken, Regna) in 1884. Their first child, a boy, dies from whooping cough in 1885 and Johan’s wife dies the same year from tuberculosis, 54 years old (the same disease that took her father’s life at Djursnäs when he was 53).

In 1886 the next brother, Johan Axel, goes to North America to join Carl August in South Dakota. We know that he dies there the year after. In May 1890 their father Johan, 60, emigrates together with his youngest children, Frida Kristina, 22, and Malcolm Hugo, 19. Just one month later, another little boy is born at Murtorpet and is named Johan Axel (in honour of his deceased uncle?).

After Johan Persson’s emigration Gustaf Adolf Johansson is the torpare at Murtorpet. In 1893 Johan comes back from America and lives with his son and his family at Murtorpet until he dies in 1911.

Gustaf Adolf and his wife Anna Sofia have three daughters and three sons. Georg Gustafsson (b 1887), the oldest of the boys, stays at home and works together with his father at the little farm and in the forest. He marries Anna Maria Eriksson (b 1888 in Mörtsjö, Regna) in 1916 and takes over Murtorpet after their marriage.

Gustaf Adolf is 58 years old when Georg gets married. He and Anna Sofia moves from Murtorpet the same year to a farm which they have bought  more close to Örebro. That means that he is the first torpare from Murtorpet who could afford to buy a farm of his own in Sweden. His brother Carl August made it in South Dakota 30 years earlier.

Georg and Anna stays at Murtorpet until 1937, when they are able to buy the farm Domhagen in Stortorp, Örebro. They move from Murtorpet with their four children Birgit, Gösta, Rut and Stig. Gösta and Stig will later be farmers themselves with their own farms. None of Georg’s grandchildren (Lars, Signild, Per, Anders and Eva) will become farmers. We will choose other occupations.

After 143 years (1794-1937) there is none of our family left at Murtorpet. Two or three families rent the farm until the 1960´s, when the torp system is no longer in use. The Boo estate sells the houses as private property and plants spruce trees in the fields. The forest comes closer to the Murtorpet cottage.

Today, in 2011, Murtorpet is owned by a young woman, who is breeding hens, dogs and rabbits. Once again the old barns are used for animals.

When Murtorpet was a rented farm, they could have six cows, a sow and pigs, sheep, two horses (used for work in the fields and in the forest) and hens. The family could sell corn, milk, butter, small pigs and eggs for cash. It was also possible to work extra for the estate, in addition to what they had to do to pay the rent with day-works.

The system with torps at the land of larger farms or estates was established in the seventeenth century or even earlier. It meant that families without much money could rent a cottage with some land, which made it possible to grow corn and have some cattle. The rent was payed with a fixed number of days working for the landowner. In Bo parish with the dominating Boo estate, this was an important part of the economic structure.

Boo estate is one of Sweden’s largest private estates. It is situated 40 kilometres south of Örebro in the province Närke. The estate consists of 15,000 hectares, whereof 12,000 hectares of forest (2011). Murtorpet with its 10 hectares was a small, but for us important, part of this huge area.