Josephine Brixen’s mother, Sofia Elizabet Larsdotter, was born on the island of Gotland, in the district of Lye, on a farm named Heffride.  All of her ancestors, as far back as we can trace, were farmers living on the southern half of this island.

Sofia moved to Stockholm as a young adult in 1880, and began using the name of Josephina Elizabet Larsson.  This is where she married and had 4 children prior to immigrating to the US in August of 1890.

The Island of Gotland lies 56 miles off the coast of Sweden.  On modern ferries, it's a 2 1/2 hour commute.  From top to bottom it measures only 70 miles long and 25 miles wide.

Because the island of Gotland was originally a separate nation from Sweden, the people born there, known as Gutar, tended to stay on the island.  In late Medeival times the inhabitants of Gotland spoke their own language, known as Gutnish. Today however, they have adapted a dialect of Swedish known as "Gotländska".  In  1634, Gotland became one of Sweden’s 21 counties.

Our family records go back to the late 1600’s on a few lines, but fires and wars destroyed earlier records. 

By decree of the King of Sweden, all citizens were Lutheran, and all births, confirmations, marriages, deaths and moving from one parish  to another were recorded by the local ministers.  The ministers kept a record called a Household Survey which was basically a census, but it also recorded the passing off of various religious memorization tasks.

Because the people were farmers, they were often not taught to read or write, so the recording and spelling of names varied from minister to minister.  A few of them had beautiful handwriting, but often their writing was extremely difficult to read. 


Lye, Gotland