Den 4 november 2014 damp det ned ett email på kommunalkontoret i Emmaboda adresserat till borgmästaren i Emmaboda. Mailet kom från en amerikanska, Brooke Harrington, som idag arbetar och forskar vid Handelshögskolan i Köpenhamn. Brooke berättade i mailet att hennes familj haft en nanny (barnflicka) som tagit hand om henne under sina första uppväxtår. Denna kvinnas namn var Margit Fredriksson Timan, systerdotter till Vilhelm Moberg.

Margit with Aunt Elsa Moberg Fransson, sister of Wilhelm, 10 June 1984

Margit hälsar på sin moster Elsa Fransson, Moshultamåla, 1984 (syster till Vilhelm Moberg).

I vuxen ålder började Brooke fundera på Margit som hade betytt väldigt mycket för henne och som i mångt och mycket hade format henne som person. Vem var hon? Under vilka omständigheter växte hon upp? Hur är människorna och landet hon kom ifrån? Detta resulterade i att Brooke beslutade sig för att resa till trakterna där Marigt vuxit upp och på något sätt hedra Margit och bevara hennes minne. Detta resulterade i en minnessten och planteringen av ett astrakanträd till Margits minne. Så här skriver Brooke själv:

The Margit Fredriksson Timan Memorial at the Vilhelm Moberg Old School Museum

A memorial stone and an Astrakhan apple tree have been placed on the grounds of Moshultamåla Old School Museum to honor the life of Margit Fredriksson Timan, the niece of Vilhelm Moberg. Like the great author, Margit was born and raised in Moshult, on the farm belonging to Karl and Ida Moberg – her grandparents, and Vilhelm’s parents. And like Vilhelm, Margit received her primary education in this one-room schoolhouse.

Elsa Margit Linnéa Fredriksson was born on 3 December 1914, the first child of Vilhelm Moberg’s older sister Signe and her husband Karl Fredriksson. Karl went to work in the United States shortly after Margit was born, as a result, Margit´s primary relationships were with her mother and maternal grandparents. As you can see from the photos of Karl and Ida elsewhere in the museum, they were very much people of the 19th century, well into the 1920s, they still spun and wove their own cloth, and used horse-drawn carriages for transportation. This is part of which made Margit so special, she was from a bygone world.

In 1926, at the age of 11, Margit left Moshult with her mother to join Karl in the United States. Recalling this trip almost 60 years later, Margit said:

”I think often of my childhood, the happy days with the Moberg family in Moshultamåla. I think of the village with the beautiful view where I grew up, and of my playmates. I remember my grandparents, Ida and Karl Moberg, were very sad that I had to leave them and travel to America… Grandfather Karl drove us to the Moshult train station in a horse-drawn carriage. He cried when he said goodbye and came up onto the train. In Alvesta we met up with uncle Ville (Vilhelm). He was working at the time as the local editor för the Växjö newspaper.”

Vilhelm Moberg was the last family member Margit saw before leaving Sweden, and the first person she visited when she returned to Sweden for the first time in 1966. In the intervening period, she met and married another American of Swedish descent, Ralph Timan, with whom she had three children. After her children were grown, Margit became a nanny to families in the Chicago area; in late 1968, she was employed by my family, and raised me from birth through age 5.

For me, Margit was the embodiment of unconditional love and goodness, with those qualities, along with boundless patience and gentleness, she gave me the best possible start in life. I adored her all my life, and visited her several times when I was in my teens and 20s, but it was only in my 30s that I truly began to recognize the profound impact she had had on my life, and what a priceless gift she had bestowed on me. She transmitted to me some of the values she had been raised with, infusing me with a bit of 19th century Sweden in my late 20th century American environment. Although Margit died in the US more than 20 years ago, I still think of her with love every day. And now that I live and work in Copenhagen, just three hours from her hometown, I wanted to take this opportunity to commemorate a life that brought so much love and happiness to others.

Brooke Harrington, 27 June 2015