This week I had the pleasure of meeting a Swedish relative of the Benson family.
Carl (Charles) Albert Benson was a pioneer of Walpole & Districts after starting life in Gothenburg with his parents Bernard and Sofia Johansson-Lidholm and his three siblings.
At the age of 12 he left Sweden to come to Australia.
He jumped ship in the south-west and was an illegal immigrant.
After travelling around he got a job with Pierre Bellanger.
His family in Sweden had not heard from Carl Albert for many years and thought that he had been killed in an earthquake in Australia.
We are not sure where the name Benson comes from but our Swedish connection, Inga-Stina, thinks perhaps Carl decided that Johansson-Lidholm was too foreign for Australia and changed it to Benson-Lidholm.
Some of the family still have Lidholm in their surname, while others have had it taken off.
In 2010 Eric Benson-Lidholm set about the epic task of finding our Swedish connection and finally tracked down Inga-Stina.
They worked out that they were related.
Inga-Stina’s great grandmother, Ida-Carolina, was Carl Albert’s sister, while her grandmother Ingrid would have been our Charlie Benson’s cousin.
Inga-Stina and her good friend Anne-Marie are on a whirlwind trip of WA; brought here by Maurice and Elizabeth Priest.
Elizabeth is one of Carl Albert’s grand daughters.
I was fortunate to be able to borrow all the information on Carl Albert Benson from the Walpole, Nornalup & Districts Historical Society, which has proved invaluable to Inga-Stina.
Elizabeth, Maurice and I have been able to shown Inga-Stina around Walpole & Districts; including the bridges Carl helped build, where he lived, and Mandalay Beach, where he helped with the rescue and salvage of the “Mandalay”.
It has been a truly amazing experience, not just for Inga-Stina, but also for Maurice, Elizabeth and myself to be able to show her the area in which Carl settled, married, and lived out his days.