Born: 09 Nov 1837
Born Where: Getterum, Hjorted Socken, Kalmar, Sweden
Died: 19 Jun 1910
Died Where: Jamestown, NY
Father: Sven Henric Åberg
Mother: Lovisa Nilsdotter
Spouse (maiden name): Selma Charlotta Peterson
Marriage Date: 22 Nov 1860
Married Where: Hjorted, Kalmar, Sweden
Children: Althea Charlotta, Anna Lozica, John Ernest, Axel Stephanus, Jennie Elizabeth, Peter Henry, Charles Elmer, Selma Amelia, Emma Esther Victoria, Lillian May, Martin Luther, and Joseph Oscar.
We don't really know much about Nels Henrik's life as a boy in Sweden. FamilySearch.org (Mormon Church site) lists his christening as 12 Nov 1837. As a young man he lived in Getgölen just 3.6 Kilometers S-SW of Hjorted. We don't know where or if he went to school. We now know he had three brothers (Johan Peter, Sven Erik, and Karl Oscar) and one sister (Maria Lovisa). In 1856, as a witness to his brother Karl's birth, he was listed as a farmhand.
Nels was 23 and Selma was 18 when they were united in holy wedlock on Thursday, 22 Nov 1860 by Pastor Jakob Ostberg in the town of Hjorthed, Sweden with the entire congregation of the church as witnesses. Follow this link to see the Church in Hjorted. Here's an aerial view of Hjorted. The house they lived in from 1864 to 1872 was in Getterrum (Hjorted parish) and was called Nain.
In the years following, after much prayer and planning, they decided to come to America. It must have taken a great amount of courage to even contemplate such a move, much less making it.
The Pastor of the Lutheran church in Jamestown was C. O. Hultgren, who was also an agent for National Line Steamships. He did this to supplement his meager salary as Pastor. Peter Rubin (Selma C. Oberg's father) arranged with Pastor Hultgren to issue a passage ticket (No. 80,248) for Nels and Selma Åberg and four children, Althea, Anna, Johan, and Axel to make the long journey.
The total cost for their voyage was $157.50. The Lutheran Church in Jamestown loaned them the money at 7% interest. Nels made the final payment three years later.
For the trip they were advised to take Limpa rye bread, thin hardtack, dry cheese, dried meat and butter in a stone crock. Also a little herring, port wine and some Hoffmans Drops, whatever they were. There was also a question of there being able to eat anything because of seasickness.
Nels & Selma and their four children arrived in Jamestown on May 29, 1872. They had traveled from Hjorted near Vimmersby, Smaland by train to Gothenburg, where the ship had departed Sweden in early May. The name of the ship was the SS Italy which was owned by National Line Steamships. There was a stop over in Liverpool, Enlgand. According to the ships travel record they left Liverpool on May 15 and arrived in New York City on May 27, 1872.
At this time the nation was recovering from the ravages of the Civil War and the shock of the assasination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Nels was a tailor by trade (a skilled coatmaker), so his father-in-law was able to secure a job for him at Proudfit Clothing Company (206 North Main Street, Jamestown - is now on the left half of the lot occupied by the Key Bank building), where he worked until his death on 19 Jun 1910.
In those days, there were no ready made, off-the-rack clothes, everything was tailor made. He was paid at the rate of $2.25 for each coat he made. Soon after his arrival in Jamestown, he bought a two acre plot of land on Colfax Street (this location was known as Snuff Hill) and built a home to care for his expanding family.
Nels and Selma had twelve children. Their names and birth dates are in the family bible that Nels gave to Selma in 1890 (now in the possession of Robert S. Oberg, Jr.).
1880 Census: 126 (82) Colfax Street, Jamestown, NY
1900 Census: 126 (82) Colfax Street, Jamestown, NY
1910 Census: 82 Colfax Street, Jamestown, NY
1910 Death Record: 82 Colfax Street, Jamestown, NY
Nels Henrik Oberg (Picture courtesy of Rock Miller)
82 Colfax Street, Jamestown, NY (2005)
Proudfit Clothing Co - 206 Main Steet
(Picture courtesy of Darcy Crickard)