Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland (1846-1901)

Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland (1846-1901)Axel Wilhelm Eriksson of Hereroland by Ione Rudner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Axel Wilhelm Eriksson (1846-1901) was a nineteenth-century Swedish hunter and trader in south-west Africa, and this “life and letters” book gives a picture of his life, and what life was like for others there at that time.

All agree that everyone who knew him liked A.W. Eriksson, and he was well-known and widely-respected in what are now Namibia and Angola. That did not stop them from abusing his hospitality, taking advantage of his kind and generous nature, and cheating him on every possible occasion.

It took me nearly three months to read this book, mainly because I interrupted it by reading some of the sources on which it was based.

Axel Wilhelm was born in Vänersborg, Sweden (then spelt Wenersborg) on 24 August 1846, and in 1865, at the age of 18, he travelled to Damaraland (Hereroland), now part of Namibia to help his fellow-Swede, Charles John Andersson, to collect and mount specimens of the animals and birds of southern Africa for Swedish museums. Within 18 months of Eriksson’s arrival Andersson had died and Eriksson buried him in what is now southern Angola.

Eriksson then carried on hunting and trading on his own account, and became the biggest businessman in Damaraland, though he had to face setbacks caused by wars, droughts and, in 1897, the Rinderpest, the cattle plague that killed off most of the cattle in sub-Saharan Aftica.

My interest in him is twofold: having lived in Namibia for a couple of years I am interested in its history, and Axel Wilhelm Eriksson married a relative of my wife, Frances (Fanny) Stewardson, so their children are related. You can see more about that on our blig here: Elusive Namibian families.

The marriage was not a happy one, and ended i n divorce ten years later, when Axel Eriksson found that Fanny had committed adultery with his clerk, Clement Stephen Stonier. In one of his letters he described his marriage as “ten years of hell”. After the divorce, in 1883, he took his three oldest children, Sara (nearly 10), Andrew (6) and Axel (nearly 5) to Sweden to go to school there, and to be cared for by his elder sister Mathilda Olsen, who had herself been deserted by her husband. The youngest daughter, Maud, was brought up by cousins in Cape Town, where she married James Kirby, and later lived in England.

Axel Wilhelm Eriksson was joined in Damaraland by several of his brothers and a number of other Swedes, some of whom also became related by marriage by marrying into the Stewardson family, namely Oskar Theodore Lindholm and Charles Reinhold Carlsson.

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Frances Stewardson Eriksson

Check out this website I found at findagrave.com
Frances Stewardson Eriksson
Birth: Dec. 23, 1848 Walvis Bay Erongo, Namibia
Death: Aug. 8, 1924 Omaruru Erongo, Namibia
Fanny was born in Schepmansdorf, South West Africa near Walvis Bay. Her parent were Francis and Fanny (Morris) Stewardson. Francis was born in Scotland. Her mother’s father was Thomas Morris also a trader in South West Africa
Fanny Eriksson sisters Elizabeth Stewardson married (1863)to Oscar Lindholm (Swedish trader)
Catherine Stewardson married (1865)to Frederick Thomas Green (Canadian trader)
Charlotte Stewardson married (1875) John Gunning (trader)
Fanny Ericksson brothers William Stewardson Charles Stewardson
Married to Axle Eriksson 18 September 1871 in the first Christian wedding in Omaruru at the Mission House (married by Missionary Gottlieb Viehe and divorce around 1886.
They had six children Annie (Anna)Elizabeth (1871-1877) Broder Karl, (1872-1872) Sara Frances(1873-1928) Andreas(Andrew)Albert (1876-1955) Axel Francis Zerawa (1878-1924) Maud Alice (1880-19??) Fanny Ericksson had other children while still married to Axel but in the church records show only Fanny is listed as parent Emily Eriksson (6 Oct 1882) whose father was one of Axel Erickson’s clerks C. S. Stoner during the time she was married to Axel These next children were fathered by Johnathon the Herero cook also while she was married to Axel Elizabeth Johannah Eriksson(25 May 1885) Catherine Isabella Eriksson (26 Mar 1887-19 Feb 1889)It solves a long-standing mystery, of where Emily Stewardson came from
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