One of the amazing things that I found in Dad's basement stash a year ago was this letter written by my great-grandfather, Carl Johan Anderson. It is chock-full of the details of his early life that we all crave. It was written in Swedish and translated by his son, my great-uncle Elmer Carl Ragnar Anderson. Carl Johan wrote this letter about fifteen years before his death.
EARLY LIFE OF
CARL JOHN ANDERSON
Letter written in Swedish. Envelope marked "Only to be opened after my death"
Translation by Elmer C. Anderson.
To my wife and children or to those that outlive me to read after my death.
We have this day the 23rd of January 1941.
I have long thought to write this but never have until now. No man knows when his time come to leave. It is best that it be done now before it is too late.
I know that my children want to know something about their forefathers but as I myself do not know about them from further back than my own parents so I can not therefore give anything very enlightening.
I was born on a small "Torp" that was called "Lomåsen" which was part of a Gård (Farm) of an estate named "Algerstorp," Elfsbor Län, Tranemo församling (church congregation) the 14th of June 1866.
My Father's name was Anders Svenson and my Mother's name was Anna Katrina Månsdotter. My Father was born in "Algerstorp". My mother was from "Småland" but I do not know the name of her birthplace. Her father was a soldier and it seems that I remember hearing it told that he took part in the Finnish War in the years 1808-1809.
My Father was a "Smed" by occupation which means a Blacksmith and was also a "Jordbrukare" which means a Farmer.
As I was the youngest of five children my parents were already elderly when I was born. My Father died "Annandag Påsk" (which is the day before or the day after Easter) in 1873 at the age of 56 years. This left Mother with two children, one my sister 11 years old and I at the age of six.
In her poverty she accepted a job working for Patron Solomon Larson at "Limmareds Herregård", a large farm. Her duties were to take care of the barn, to feed and milk 50 cows and also care of the smaller animals on the farm. I remember she worked both day and night for 50 Kroner  for the years work. This sum was not enough to take care of her own expenses let alone that of her two children.
My sister Josephina was farmed out to work for a family for food and "keep" at the age of twelve.
I was sent to work at the "Limmareds Glasbruk" (Glass factory) at the age of 8 years and stayed there for 4 years. During these four years there was little or no schooling. Many bad habits were learned from the many young boys working and living there with no family supervision. He says in Swedish "så många barn some flick leva vild tutan tillsyn ."
The pay for the work that started at 3 o'clock in the morning until three in the afternoon was 6 kroner a month. My Mother had to supply and get my food to me. I Can't figure to this day how she did it for 6 Kroner.
When I was 12 years of age I was sent to an older brother who was "Torpare" under Katrinsberg in "Revesjö församling" (Congregation). There I went to school 3 days each week for two years time and this was about all of the schooling I had.
When I was 14 years old I started my shoemakers apprenticeship with by Brother-in-law Per Johan Bengtson who had married my sister Josephina. Here I was for 6 years. During this period I was confirmed in the Tranemo church the 23rd of October 1881. During these six years I worked for my food and clothes and when I was 20 years old I had clothes made of cotton but no money.
Then I moved to Svenljunga and worked for Carl Anderson at Carslund. Here I received 4 Kroner a week and board and in time I was able to buy Custom Clothes that I needed so badly.
When I was 21 years old I was taken for Military Service to "Frista Hed" in year 1887. Service lasted 21 days.
Between ages of 19 and 21 I realized that it would be difficult to get anywhere in Sweden. Then I began like many others to think about America. The process of accumulating money for travel was the hardest problem. It was finally accomplished thanks to the poor but true friends eight of whom signed notes at a Bank in Svenljungs for 150 Kroner.
This money paid for my passage from Göteborg Sweden to Portland, Conn. When I arrived at my destination I had slightly more than one dollar in American money left.
The journey started from home the 23rd of March 1888 and from Göteborg the 25th on the North Sea boat "Romeo" which brought us to Hull, England. From there a ride by train across England to Liverpool where we waited for 3 days before boarding the steamer "City of Chester" of the Inman Line. After a stormy passage landed in New York the 8th of April. We had to sleep on the floor in the old "Castle Garden" (Customs Clearance) until we were processed. The next move was to board a Connecticut River boat which brought me to Middletown, Conn. and then by ferry across the river to Portland, Conn. At that time there was no bridge across the river.
Sought work in Portland and New Britain with no success. Then I came here to Manchester the 30th of April the same year working first for Shoemaker Martinson. After a few weeks obtained work in the Silk Mills starting work near the end of May (date forgotten) but at the end of July I was laid off. Made my "keep" with Shoemakers work until the end of November when I started steady employment at Cheney Brothers Silk Mills which lasted until December 1938 when I due to old age and reduced physical state especially eyesight I retired from work having worked for this company for 50 years.
My life as Husband and Father is so well known that I will not write about that. Will only give some advice regarding my Funeral. I have always lived as a retiring type of individual and would like to have my Funeral held from my home but not from the church and also let it be private. No flowers except from Wife and Children. Also use the cheapest casket you can find as I feel that a cheap casket is good enough to rot in the ground. The above is not an order. I just want it to go the way as I myself would do if there to plan it.
I forgot to mention my Mother's age. She was born the 12th of May 1822 and died the 6th of May 1911, six days under age of 89 years.
I am writing this so that my descendants should have some information about their forefathers. I am using the Swedish language in writing this account as I know my children can understand it and if they wish to translate it to English. And last of all I ask forgiveness for all my faults and mistakes I made as a Husband and Father and lastly to thank my wife who has stood by my side all of these years. Also to thank my children who have made my old age free from sorrow and backed me financially.
There could be more to write about but this will be all. I hope what I have written stays in the family and not broadcast. I wish you all the best of luck and good future also that God be with you all during all of your days is hoped by your Husband and Father.
Carl J. Anderson
 I haven't yet been able to determine what that might be worth today, but from Carl's description, it seems like it was barely enough to live on.
 Per Google Translate: "so many children who were living wild without supervision"