Berndtson’s cottage

On the lands of Sörbacka in Hajom parish, municipality of Mark, a log cabin was built in the 1840s. It was permanently inhabited until the early 1930s. Then, the cottage was rented out during the years up to 1994. The cottage is owned by my nephew Pontus Johansson, Söderbacka. It is still preserved and maintained in its original condition.

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Berndtsson´s cottage in 2014

It started with an aunt to my grandfather, Christina Persdotter (born 1824). She met a soldier from the Royal Gota Artillery Regiment in Gothenburg, Berndt Johansson Lund. They married in 1843 and the following year Berndt went to Sörbacka where Christina lived. They were given a piece of land from Christina’s father Pehr Nilsson. There they built their log cabin where their family, which by now consisted of parents and two children, moved. Much work was done to cultivate the land around the cottage. They had five more children in the cottage but three of the children died at the age of ten by measles. Two of their children grew up, Anders (born 1854) and Hanna Lovisa (born 1860).

Anders Berndtsson Lund lived his entire life in the cottage and popularly given the cottage its name, Berndtssons cottage! Anders father died in 1870. In the cottage lived in the late 1870s, in addition to Anders, his mother Christina, and the younger sister Hanna Lovisa. The two older sisters Johanna and Anna had moved to Gothenburg.

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Berndtsson´s cottage in 2014

There are many stories about Anders. Some are probably true, some are certainly tall tales. Here are some of them:

Anders suffered as a young man of severe pain and came to the hospital in Boras for care. Since he was destitute, he received help with medical expenses of the parish meeting. According to the decision, he received help with outward journey and care in two months. Help with the journey home ”if would be necessary” was also included. At this time, you were buried at the hospital if you died there. But Anders recovered and was thus also help with the journey home!

Anders made his name as a hefty workers and hired around the countryside. But toiling hard so you eat well then, something that the farmers knew when the day’s manufacturer Anders helped them. Once arrived a fish salesman to the countryside and Anders bought fresh herring in greater quantity. Mother Christina boiled herring in large pot and Anders ate, by his own perhaps somewhat exaggerated admission, on this occasion, 70 herrings.

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The old entrance to the cottage area

Mother Christina died in the summer of 1899 and Hanna Lovisa married in 1902. Anders was thus alone in his cabin and felt the need of a companion.

There are several stories about how Anders tried to find a partner. He was not so beautiful and so it was not entirely problem-free. At one point, he made an attempt at Ida in Bonared, Hyssna, a few miles from the cottage. The cuffs were admittedly freshly washed but not ironed since in Berndt’s cabin lacked iron. And twine substituting cufflinks! This was probably too much for Ida and Anders was turned down.

Anders and Maria in front of their cottage late 1920´th

On another occasion, the tailor in Slätthult felt sorry for Anders and put an advertisement in the newspaper for ”Acquaintance Wanted”. A lady was curious and responded to the ad. Anders, now with the rose in his buttonhole, walked the mile-long road to Skene railway station to meet the intended. The lady in question, also with a rose, got off the train but Anders, with throbbing heart, never had time to introduce themselves. When their eyes met, she turned abruptly on the platform and boarded the train again. You can imagine that it was with heavy steps Anders walked back over the forest to the solitude of the croft.

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My wife at the fireplace in 2014

It is said that there were two neighbor girls who finally brokered in touch with 13 years younger Maria Josefina from Hillared outside Borås. Maria worked at a factory in Borås and maybe she saw in Anders something more than just appearance. There was a wedding in Borås December 8, 1907. Anders himself has said that wicked people told him that ”you will not get married in this King´s time”. But just the 8th died King Oscar II! So Anders could proudly state that these wicked people indeed got the right but ”if the king had lived until 6 p.m. it had been done”. Mary moved into Berndtson’s house with little furniture and other things, and Anders, with renewed vigor, continued to put up stone walls and cultivate the little land that surrounded the cabin.

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My wife and my brother outside the cottage 2014

In the spring of 1931 died Anders and his Maria Josefina lived alone in the cottage for another year before she came to the home for old people where she died in 1944. Then the genuine crofters ended but the cottage would remain. This is thanks to my father, and later my brother and his wife, as landlords maintained the cottage. It was Miss Brita Elmén, Liberal Party Parliamentary woman from Gothenburg, who in 1933 rented the cottage. After Brita’s death in 1983 the cottage was leased until 1994. After that ”Berndtsson´s cottage” were maintained and preserved by the owners, Gunnel and Lars-Olof Johansson Söderbacka. From 2013 the cottage owner is my nephew Pontus.