Gone too soon

I was saddened this week to learn of the death of Carl Szabad, noted Swedish genealogist and author. To quote a friend who lives in Sweden, “He has done so much work for genealogists all over the world.”

Szabad is perhaps best-known for his efforts in digitizing Swedish death records, but – if you understand Swedish – you can read about his many genealogical accomplishments here: https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Szabad

While my husband Bill’s paternal ancestry is 100% Irish, his maternal grandparents emigrated from (different parts of) Sweden as young adults and married in Minnesota. In 2013 Bill and I traveled to Sweden to visit their birthplaces. I wrote about our “Genealogy Road Trip” in a blog posting dated 29 September 2013. Below I’m reprinting a portion of that story, recounting our search for the family of Bill’s grandmother, Erika Mähler, and our serendipitous meeting with Carl Szabad:

We drove on to Sollefteå, more than 500 miles further northeast. Carl Fredric Mähler, a master blacksmith, moved there from Solingen (Germany) in about 1748 and brought German forging methods to the Sollefteå bruk (mill). Several generations of Mählers would later work at the mill.

While we arrived there with no solid leads, we enjoyed driving around the beautiful area along the Ångerman River and viewing the locale around Resele where later Mähler ancestors lived (e.g., Norrtanflo, Höven, Rödsta). We talked to nearly everyone we saw – on the street, in the cemetery, at the store, by their homes along the road – and followed every piece of advice given to us (knock on this or that door and talk to this or that person). By an amazing set of circumstances, we came to tap on the door of “a man who lives in Stockholm but is here elk-hunting this week and who knows much about family history.”

Carl Szabad and (half-Irish, half-Swedish) Bill Hickey

Carl Szabad and (half-Irish, half-Swedish) Bill Hickey

Carl, “the man who knew about family history,” was understandably surprised to find us on his doorstep. But he graciously helped us – and yes, he had information about the Mähler family there on his computer. He took the time to answer our questions and even transferred a file from his laptop to our laptop. He was so very knowledgeable and helpful.

We sensed we’d met someone with more than a passing interest in genealogy. Imagine our surprise later when we googled and discovered we’d knocked on the door of Carl Szabad, one of the foremost genealogical researchers in Sweden! To say we had a memorable day is a huge understatement!

After we returned home from our trip, I communicated with Carl Szabad via email. He generously continued to share his time and expertise. May he rest in peace.

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