View Full Version : Matts. Sundberg From Nykarleby to Australia

20-01-04, 16:58
Being only a quarter Swedish-Finn I probably will not be able to contribute much to the Forum, but would like to share the following story about my grandfather, Matts. Sundberg. If anyone thinks they have read it before, they probably have, because I sent it to Finlander when it was a mailing list.

Matts was born in 1865, the second son of Israel and Anna Sundberg of Smedsbacca, Nykarleby. ln the famine of 1877, he left home with a piece of bread in his pocket and walked to Vaasa. There he found employment with a locksmith and stayed in this job for 2 years. He was not fond of girls and the locksmith had 6 of differing ages, so he found employment on a sailing ship bound for London. He continued trips on sailing ships for several years. London was the home base, but he did visit Finland when his sister`s baby was Christened. He sailed to New York, East Atlantic ports, South American Atlantic ports, to Marseilles for a load of oranges, to Mandalay for teak and to New Zealand. He was in Napier, NZ when a terrible earthquake struck.

His trip to Australia was a bad one - poor food and a mixed crew of men of different languages who could not understand each other. He feared for his life, so when the ship reached Pt. Germain, he donned his clean clothes after he had been paid and walked ashore. He kept on walking until he reached the Flinders Ranges where a German farmer befriended him. Neither could speak or understand the other`s language but Matts. understood the farmer to say that he could give him food and shelter so that he would not be deported, but he could not pay him wages. After a few weeks he put Matts. on a train to Adelaide. Various employment followed, on the River Murray and Wentworth in New South Wales. Eventually he became a cod fisherman in South Australia and whilst fishing on a "cutter", a fish fin poisoned his finger. A doctor in Adelaide said it must be bathed in hot water every two hours, which was impossible on a cutter. Mary Louisa Spence, who worked for the doctor, took pity on him and took him home to her mother for help. The finger did not improve and had to be amptuated. But that was the start of a friendship which led to Matts. and Mary Louisa marrying in 1902. They had 7 children, of which my mother was one. They lived at Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide, until 1910, then moved to Kangaroo Island where they stayed, Matts. buying and captaining the "Anna". As he got older the Anna became too much for him, so he purchased another smaller boat and renamed it the "Alma" (Anna and Alma were two of his daughters). The Alma eventually became a feature of a children`s play area on Kangaroo Island.

Gita Wiklund
20-01-04, 18:14
Hi Gwenda!

Thank you for sharing a very interesting story. Talk about adventure!