Our Swedish connection

Adapted from a contribution by Julie Benson to the August 19, 2015 edition of the Walpole Weekly:

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.

Benson's Swedish connection

(L-R) Charles, Peter, Dorothy, Margarette, Jack, Charles (Carl), & Owen

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.

Benson's Swedish connection

L-R) Maurice & Elizabeth Priest, Inga-Stina & her friend Anne-Marie

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.

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  1. Eric J Benson-Lidholm

    Hi Julie,
    I just found your article when going through images on the Internet.
    The genealogist I engaged to find our ancestors in Sweden and I discussed the name Benson. As Carl was the son of Bernt and the Family had taken on a new name of Lidholm, Carl initially went by the name of Carl Albert Berntsson Lidholm.
    As my Dad once told me people had difficulty pronouncing his name so he anglicised it to Charles Albert Benson Lidholm. Then went by Charlie Benson. His birth record has him born on 18th March 1871 and he was named Carl Albert Lidholm.
    Many Swedes who went to America and Canada with Berntsson or Bengtsson changed their name to Benson.
    The family name Johansson was the most common name in Sweden in the 19th Century. The Swedish Government encouraged families to take on new names as the patronymic naming was getting too confusing with too many similar names like Andersson, Eriksson and the like.
    Marie Louise Bratt and I reckon that Bernt Johansson derived the new family name from combining the shipbuilding yard where he worked Lindholmens and the Swedish Word for Little Island ‘Holm’. Both sides of Bernt’s family came from Orust which is the 3rd biggest island in Sweden.
    Walpole Online has Uncle Peter listed second from left but that is Uncle Jack.
    Eric Benson-Lidholm

  2. This is so interesting. I am trying go trace my Swedish great great grandfather. He was also known as Charles Benson in Australia, nth qld. I know this was Anglicised from Carl (and I think Bengtssen) and that he married here in 1889. Do you by chance know how to find out more and locate Swedish birth records?

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