My grandfather, Alfred Berg (born Adolf Bergman 1877 Goteborg) came to Australia from Sweden in the early 1900’s aboard a ship. 

In 1915 he and my grandmother (Edith) lived in the Tenterfield region of NSW. Grandfather was the postmaster at Yetman, a small town south of Tenterfield.

I have found information about his time in Tenterfield, but need more documents relating to when he arrived in Australia, and where he travelled to and from prior to 1912. 

Does anyone have any information about how to find crew-lists from the early part of the twentieth century?

Grandfather’s name changed from Adolf Bergman to Alfred Berg, but I have no clue as to when this occurred. The few crew-lists that I have found have him listed as A Bergman, with his occupation onboard ship as ‘carpenter’. 

Any help with this would be gratefully appreciated and I thank you in advance...

Maureen (Berg) Durney

Views: 405

Comment by Sylvia on June 11, 2019 at 16:06

Can I ask a different question first?

I found your website and read: “Adolf Wilhelm Bergman in Goteborg Sweden in 1877. His parents were Otto Wilhelm Bergman and Bertha Amelia Dahlberg

From this I conclude that he is the person b Apr 3 1877 Göteborgs Domkyrkoförsamling whom I was able to follow around the various household books.

The last available entry for a Adolf Wilhelm Bergman b 3 Apr 1877 is in the householdbooks 1916-1937!  His entry on this page starts in April 1919 and ends in 1938 when he seems to be moved to a different folio.

Question: Are there 2 guys with the same birth details, is there a case of mistaken identity or did “Alfred” go back to Sweden?

Comment by Maureen Durney on June 11, 2019 at 18:24

Hi Sylvia,

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to consider answers to my question. I did find similar information on a census at some stage, which made me question whether or not Grandfather actually went back to Sweden. There was never any mention of it from family. Having had 10 children here, I don’t think their would have been much chance of that happening. 

Is it possible that there could have been two people with the same identities? My mind is racing with possibilities as I try to digest this... 

My Aunty has a postcard that was sent from Grandfather’s brother, Axel, when Grandfather was in the Seaman’s Building in London, but I don’t know what year that was. 

My father told me about how Grandfather stowed away on a ship in Goteborg and travelled the world many times before settling in Australia. I remember my grandmother telling me that she had letters from Grandfather’s family in Sweden, but I was too young to appreciate it at the time. Which I guess kills any idea that he may have assumed his identity from someone else... which was the first thought I had when I read your findings from 1919-1938. 

When my grandparents married, Grandfather was almost twice Grandma’s age, which made me wonder if there were other ‘families’ around the world...

Where do I find the household books that you mentioned? I’ve only been searching within and have found some census forms, but there were a lot of gaps. Axel and Signe are listed with Bertha, but Adolf doesn’t appear with them. But I did find one where he was listed with a lot of other people of different names. My father said Grandfather and his siblings were raised in the Lutheran Orphanage... maybe only Adolf was in the Orphanage...

Thank you again for your help, and links to any sites I could follow would be gratefully accepted.


Comment by Sylvia on June 11, 2019 at 18:35

I think that you've got the wrong person, but how sure are you reg the names of his parents. Were they mentioned in his 1912 marriage or death (when/where?) certificates? Or were they passed down the family?

Comment by Sylvia on June 11, 2019 at 18:44

 I've found his death with his parents .. let me have a further look

Comment by Maureen Durney on June 11, 2019 at 21:47

I have found Grandfather’s Naturalisation papers from 1911. I also have a copy of a certificate that my late uncle sent me. The certificate is from a Pastor in Sweden, dated 1914, and simply states that Adolf Wilhelm (Bergman) Berg was born on 3 April 1877 in Goteborg Sweden. I am guessing my grandfather sent for the document in order to become a naturalised Australian, which he did in 1911. 

The interesting thing is, I’ve found a Statutory Declaration made by Grandfather in 1911 in which he states his birthday was 3 April 1878 - Gothenburg Sweden. But the documents I have found from Sweden state that his birth year was 1877. The only possible reason could be the age difference at marriage - Grandma was 19 and Grandfather states his age as 33, indicating he was born in 1879. Perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know he was really 35 - closer to double my grandmother’s age. With two discrepancies about his age, I’m leaning towards 1877 being the accurate date - as per the certificate from the Pastor. 

On his Marriage Certificate (4th May 1912), Grandfather noted his father as Otto Berg and his mother as Bertha Anderson, but neither of these names match the names on the Swedish documents. I found Axel and Adolf in Swedish documents, born to Otto Bergman (Konductor) and Bertha Dahlberg. My uncle told me that Otto worked on the Railway in Sweden and died when Grandfather was very young. This matches the information I have found from Sweden. 

It is all very confusing and I wonder why Grandfather put Anderson as his mother’s name. I can’t find any references to his mother being Bertha Anderson.

I will keep searching... and I will look for a death certificate for Adolf (Alfred Berg). He died in 1959 and I remember the day well, although I was only 9 years old. 

Thank you again for your interest and support. And I am in awe of your research skills!

Comment by Sylvia on June 11, 2019 at 22:12

As far as I can see, the following Swedish timeline is for one and the same person:

  • From Feb 1884 to Jan 1886 Adolf V/Wilhelm Bergman (b 3 Apr 1877) and his family reside in the parish Haga. Dad Otto dies in Nov 1884.
  • Adolf comes from Haga in Jan 1886 and resides in the “Göteborgs stads barnhus” (Stampgatan 20, Kristine) until Jan 1893 when he goes to “Masth” (bk1883-1889 and bk1890 -1897)
  • He’s in Masthuggets (Oscar Fredrik parish) from Jan 1893 till Nov 1896  with dest: “DK” (In bk1894-1899).
  • The next available entry (bk1891-1899) has Adolf coming from “Masth” in Dec 1896. He’s residing on Kyrkogatan 37 (Domkyrkoförsamling) and it is the first time he’s listed with the profession “Lagerbitr” (warehouse Assistant). He leaves in Feb 1898.
  • In Feb 1898 he’s come from “DK” and stays in the Oscar Fredrik parish until May 1917 and is still a “Lagerbitr” (various books especially bk1908 -1917). I can’t really read the destination, but it looks like “Amred” or “Armed”.
  • I lose him for a while, but in Apr 1919 he comes from “Armed” and is still here in Apr 1838 when he’s moved to another folio. He still a “Lagerbitr” ( bk1916 -1937).

As you can see, his Swedish registration history seems to be continuous and there are no obvious gaps where he could have spent enough time building a life in Australia. However, I had access to the Swedish death index and he’s not listed there. Note: there is a 1934 death for Bertha Amalia Alexandra Bergman nee Dalberg.

Another possible candidate popped up and he does seem to disappear from Sweden, but I need to have a better look first.

Comment by Maureen Durney on June 11, 2019 at 23:20

Wow! That is awesome!! I have a photo of Grandfather and Grandma taken in1915 with their daughter Alice and baby Norman. Norman died that same year in Tenterfield Australia. Then they had the rest of the family, including my father. There is only one child still living who is in her 80’s. Alice died at 101 years of age only a few years ago. 

I found the record for Bertha’s death in 1934 - apparently she died of heart disease, according to the certificate I found online. 

It sounds like the one who disappeared from Sweden might be my Grandfather. I can’t find him listed as crew on the Monowai, the ship he is supposed to have arrived into Sydney on in 1902, but I will keep searching.                                                                

I’m using an App called Duolingo to try to learn Swedish but words like brod, mojlk, Kvinna, pojkar and smorgas are not going to help me decipher the Swedish online records anytime soon :( 

Thank you again Sylvia for your hard work.            

Comment by Sylvia on June 12, 2019 at 4:21

And more:

In the "regular" 1899-1907 Household Evaluation Books or församlingsbok (the name after 1895) we have:

- Mum Bertha and 2 youngest kids are living in Masthuugets, Göteborgs Oscar Fredrik AIIa 7 (folio 528)

- Adolf is living in Masthuugets, Göteborgs Oscar Fredrik AIIa 13 (folio 1646)


But then there is another version (an “utdrag” or extract) of a 1900 Göteborg Masthuggets församling that seems to group families together. It doesn’t say explicitely that Adolf is a son although he seems to be recognised as a fourth family member. There isn’t a lot of info, but this Adolf is a “Lagerbitr”, so I’m pretty sure it is the same person that I’d discussed before and he doesn’t sound like a carpenter or mariner (You mentioned that your Adolf had gone to sea as a teenager)

Hopefully the following link works (it takes a little while to load):


Note: I realised that in the Household books after ca 1895 (i.e. the församlings books), Adolf and his family (and others) have a “stam”(?) =“6:39”. In the 1900 version the family is part of a bigger group #39 and when you go to image 132 of the given link, the the “6” will turn up as well.



And now I am stumped. According to the data available in Australia, that guy b 3 Apr 1877 has to be him (brother, parents etc). But according to the Swedish census/population registers/household examination books he can’t be the guy who spent so many years in Australia ...

This is real mystery ... I need some time to mull it over

Note: The Monowai seems to have been one of those coastal ships that visited various ports in Australia and New Zeeland.

Comment by Maureen Durney on June 12, 2019 at 10:59

Wow!, Sylvia... your research has opened up a lot of questions but also highlights where I have gone wrong. On some of the crew lists there was an A Bergman who kept coming up as a carpenter, so I guessed it must have been Grandfather. But one record I found a few days ago made me question that. It was like a discharge paper and it had A Bergman as 33 years old, which didn’t sound right to me. You’ve just confirmed that the A Bergman I had followed isn’t Grandfather. I know our A Bergman went to Kalgoorlie for a few years when he first came to Australia. He apparently went searching for gold, which was a big thing in Western Australia back then. I guess when he didn’t find any, he travelled out to Wellington in New South Wales and worked on the railway. 

I’m absolutely flabbergasted at all the information you have been able to find. I didn’t know where to start, other than with About a week ago I figured there had to be more information available somewhere else so I started looking closer to home. 

Do you know if it would be beneficial for me to go and spend a few days in the Archives (physically) searching for documents? I have family near Kingswood and reasonably close to Sydney. I could stay with family and just sit at the Archives for as long as it takes to find out more. 

I have started writing a story about Adolf so now I can go in and edit a few things and keep adding to it. I’d like the history to be preserved for the future generations of the Berg Family in Australia.

Thank you again for taking on this project. You have made the picture a lot clearer and hopefully will be able to answer more of the questions that are swimming around my head..

Comment by Sylvia on June 12, 2019 at 15:45

I would have picked the same guy with the information you've got. There would not be any doubt until you put all those population registers together and follow the continuous Swedish breadcrumbs. I have been doing this stuff for a long time now and even I can't fathom what is really going on here. Is something being overlooked, or is "Alfred Berg" a major reinvention for whatever reason?

Nothing amazes me anymore. Recently I researched a friend's "Swedish" ancestors who turned out to be from Finland (of course quite acceptable this area has been under Sweden, but the family took some convincing) and for someone else I found that his deceased dad had a totally different profile than expected (much older, different surname, another family etc). And these are only 2 recent examples ...

BTW is that 1911 naturalisation online on e.g. Ancestry? If not, I'd love to see a copy so I could scrutinise it.

Maybe we should take this offline as it is becoming a bit of a juggernaut search. I'll send you friend request so we can PM each other.


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