Wednesday, July 13, 2011


One of the special stops we made in Sweden was to a small open-air museum at Åsle, which features a cluster of old homes which have been preserved and displayed with period furnishings. This particular museum is somewhat unique, because they have been able to buy the land and houses and keep the whole little neighborhood intact in its original site. For us, it was extra special, because the Professor's great-grandfather was born and raised in one of the houses that is still preserved.

Here are some excerpts from the material provided by the museum:

"During former centuries every village of farmers had a common pasture, where the cattle were watched by a shepherd. Very near the village there was a place where the cattle were collected every morning, and every evening they were brought to their owners by the shepherd. This place was generally situated near a water-course, while the farms were situated higher up.

"At this common place poor people were permitted to build their small log cabins and to cultivate small gardens. In this way, housing areas for poor people were founded beside the villages. Here different sorts of craftsmen, dismissed [retired] soldiers, and widows settled down. They had to earn their livings by working at the farms as long as they had strength and after that trust to the charity of other people.

"The poor people's housing area at Åsle is situated by the water course Kolaforsen, which once ran three small mills. The first log cabins were built in the 18th century. The village had its biggest extension in 1880 with 20 cottages and 85 inhabitants. After the village was empty in 1920, it was taken over by the local preservation society, which has repaired the cottages in order to preserve this unique settlement from destruction. . ."
Because it is right along the small river, and very lush with vegetation, it really is quite a charming area. The houses are close to each other, and one imagines that neighbors helped to look out for each other. But life here must have been difficult without land of their own and dependent on their own ability to work to sustain themselves.

This is the house Great-Grandpa lived in as a boy.
They were a family of seven, and used half of the house for living space, the other half was unfinished storage and workshop space when the children were at home. Hard for us to imagine that kind of life!

This is pretty much the entire interior of one cabin (a smaller one, there were some a little larger). There would have been a wood stove for heat and cooking behind me as I took the picture.

This was a communal building housing a larger wood oven, which was used for baking.
Our cousin and tour guide told us that his mother used to come here with some other women to make the old fashioned bread in an authentic wood oven several times a year.

Part of the mill that used the river for power and was an important part of the community.
This particular mill was in our cousin's family for many years on his mother's side.

No comments:

Post a Comment