The Nilsson family

Mathilda Magnusdotter

Mathilda Magnusdotter



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, New York.


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.



Nils Martin Nilsson som soldat, 1916

Niels Martin Nilsson as a soldier, 1916


The Garden House
Swedish emigrants