The Nilsson family
Swedish emigrant Mathilda Johansson Magnusdotter was 25 years
old when on 10 May 1885 she married her fellow countryman, Sven
Nilsson, in Godsted Church. After the wedding, the newlyweds moved
into Havehuset (the Garden House) in Godsted. The house
was used as staff accommodation on the Ulriksdal estate where Sven
worked as a farm foreman. Shortly after, on 30 June that same year,
Mathilda gave birth to the couple's first child, a little girl who
was named Emma Christine after Mathilda's older sister. Emma
Christine was never called anything but Christine.
Later on followed Ida Marie, who was born in 1888, Carl Ernst,
born in 1890, and in 1895, Mathilda gave birth to twins Karen and
Niels who, however, died the day after their birth. Finally, little
Niels Martin arrived in 1896. Niels Martin, who was always called
Martin, was named after his paternal grandfather - Nils Carlsson -
back home in Blekinge. According to family tradition, Martin was so
tiny when he was born that he could fit into a cigar box.
Martin's birth was not without complications, and just one week
later - on 3 April 1896 - Mathilda died. On 10 April, Martin was
christened, and Mathilda was burried at Godsted Church. Mathilda
was only 36 years old. While child mortality was decreasing towards
the end of the 1800s, giving birth was still associated with great
risks for the mother.
Sven was left alone with four children aged 0 to 10 years. This
unhappy situation was not unknown to Sven. When Sven was 14, his
own mother died, aged 35. She left Sven's father to take care of
five children aged 2 to 14 years.
Shortly after Mathilda's death, Sven allowed their daughter
Christine to emigrate to America in the company of her Swedish
relatives. Although Christine suffered from homesickness, she
remained in the USA. Here, she later married Gus Lang, an
electrician and firefighter in New York. The couple had three
children. Emma Christine Lang died in 1966 in Springfield Garden,
After Mathilda's death, the maid Dorthea Kristine Jensdatter,
called Dorthe, moved into Godstedhuset to help out. One
autumn morning in 1902, the now six-year-old Martin found Dorthe
dead in her bed. His memory of running as fast as his short legs
could carry him to fetch help from Ulriksdal stayed with him for
the rest of his life. Martin was friends with Egon Thye, the
youngest son of the tenant farmer at Ulriksdal, who was the same
age as Martin. Throughout his life, Martin remained close with the
Thye family who, among other things, later helped him find
employment within the railway service.
Shortly after Dorthe's death in 1902, Sven's daughter, Ida
Marie, also died, just 14 years old.
Sven was now alone with his two sons, Carl Ernst and Martin.
However, before long, Sven married again. This time his bride was
Elise Cathrine Hansen from Godsted. Elise was the widow of the
eight years younger Swedish labourer Peter August Magnusson. She
brought two sons into the marriage, Johan Arvid Theodor and Jens
Marius Petersen, who were of the same age as Sven's boys.
In 1914, Sven left his job as farm foreman at Ulriksdal, and the
family moved fromHavehusetin Godsted to Nysted Mark, where Sven
bought a farm and became a farmer.
Niels Martin Nilsson as a soldier, 1916