Elizabeth’s Background - request for article/texts
I am researching Liz Stride’s background, but struggle to find what has been already published about her in English. For example the article ”Elisabeth's Story: A Documentary Narrative of Long Liz Stride's Early Life in Sweden” in Ripperologist back in 2003 (?) and various book chapters. I would VERY much like help with that, if anyone could.
I’ve ordered a copy of Birgitta Leufstadius’ 1994 book ”Jack the Rippers tredje offer” (which as far as I can tell is a biography of Stride, in Swedish) to be sent to my university library to be loaned. If there is any interest in that, I could maybe scan it into pdf format and send it around.
I had seen the link, but thank you anyway for that.
I'm finding that although there's a lot of background info on her available, little to none of it is properly sourced, and there's some clear misconceptions to be found online, and I hope to rectify those in a slightly more scientific fashion.
This is from the St George in the East history site:
Elizabeth Stride, one of Jack the Ripper's victims, was Swedish, born in Torslanda, a small village near Gothenburg. At 1am on 30 September 1888 Louise Diemschutz, steward of the International Working Men's Educational Club, was driving his pony and cart into the yard at the junction of Fairclough and Berner [now Henriques] Streets - a site which is now part of the playground of Harry Gosling School. He stopped when his pony shied, and discovered a body by the gate. This was Elizabeth Stride ('Long Liz'). Her body was less mutilated than those of the Ripper's other victims, so perhaps he had been disturbed. It was brought to the mortuary at St George-in-the-East, and the inquest held in the Vestry Hall. Sven Olsson, the clerk of the Swedish church, who lived at 33 Prince's Square [left - later 6 Swedenborg Gardens], and ran a reading room for Swedish seamen, knew her and had provided her with refuge and financial support. Olsson was born in the village of Övraryd, and married Mathilda (Thilda) Amalia Jonasdotter in Aguannaryd in 1866 before they came to London. One of Thilda's half-brothers was Joel Gustaffson, later Wirling, who lived with them in Prince's Square and was the organist of the Swedish and Danish churches from about 1880-82. The Olssons later returned to Sweden, settling in Osby. Stefan Rantzow, a musician from that area, visited St George's in 2008 with descendants of Elizabeth Stride. Articles about their visit appeared in the Swedish press.
The pastor at that time (1887 until his retirement in 1903) was Johannes Palmér, and he wrote several letters back home about the events, and also published 'Reminiscences' of his time in London.
Stefan [left] has sent us several interesting reports of his ongoing researches, in Sweden, into the story of Elizabeth Stride's connections with the Swedish church in London. The first relates to two of the clerk Sven Olsson's daughters. Stefan has a distant family relationship with the Bengtsson family, and worked for a time in the Brio publicity department, so was given a tour of the now-empty building mentioned. The second is about documents relating to the priest and clerk of the Swedish church at that time.
Sven Olsson had four daughters, two of whom were Tekla Hilma Dagmar Olsson, born on 18 December 1879 in London, and Regina (Nina) Teresia Viktoria, born in London on 4 June 1882. In 1914 they started to work in a store, named 15-Öres-Bazaren (later named Ivar Bengtssons Slöjdaffär). The store was on the north side of a long red-painted wood building, founded by a man named Ivar Bengtsson who also was the founder of the famous toy factory Brio [best known for wooden train sets - right]. In 1920 Brio gave them each 100 Swedish crowns as a Christmas bonus. In February 1936 15-Öres-Bazaren started to sell out their goods because it was decided that the store should close. The store was demolished and a new Brio office block built on its spot. Tekla and Regina was transfered from 15-Öres-Bazaren to a new store, located at the bottom floor in Brio's office block, which first opened its doors in November 1936. (The rest of the 15-Öres-Bazaren house was destroyed in a fire in 1943). They worked in the Brio store until the early 1940s, and then as homeworkers for the firm. Regina died on 22 May 1950 and Tekla on 6 July 1966.The Brio store was closed in the late 1960´s but reopened in 2009. The Brio head office moved from Osby to Malmö in 2006; the Osby site is now a toy museum.
December 2014: I recently visited the archive of material from the Swedish Church in London, which was transferred to Uppsala in 2011. It contains items dating back to 1710, and includes all the material from 1866 when Elizabeth Stride moved to London until her murder in 1888. Some of this is previously unexplored, and I spent a good deal of time making copies.
From 1886 Elizabeth appears from time to time in the Fattigvårdsbok, in which the priest or clerk noted the names of poor Swedes in the East End and how much money they were given; and her last payment was ten days before her death. The archive also contains some of the private diaries of Johannes Palmér, the priest from 1887-1903, including a mention of her murder in his entry for 30 September 1888. There is also a letter written by Palmér to the clerk Sven Olsson, asking him to go down to the mortuary at St George-in-the-East to view the body and give information to the police. His diaries are written in old-style Swedish (with some expressions that have passed out of use), mixed in places with English – including roads, streets and buildings which have gone or were renamed. They give a good view of the life of the church and the poverty that surrounded it. In one letter he wrote to the chief of Scotland Yard saying that he must place more policemen around the church because the poor were stealing from it. He found the beggars irritating, and in another letter calls them 'parasites'. There are also notes of visits by several Swedish royals; preaching at the Crystal Palace; and at the end of 1888 a request to the clerk Sven Olsson to light all the candles and gas lamps in the church because the nights were very foggy. Palmér was frequently in contact with the famous Dr Thomas Barnardo, discussing the situation of poor and sick people in the East End.
In 1894 Johannes Palmér came into conflict (unspecified) with his clerk, and in a letter to Axel Welin, a Swedish inventor and industrialist, he said that he was going to leave the church. Several other letters were written by Sven Olsson, complaining that he had to use his own money to buy soap and cleaning materials for the church, the windows of which were very dirty. He was sometimes paid by the church in coal, used for heating both the church and the reading room located in his house at 33 Princes Square; his sense of frustration about this is very apparent! Another paper, containing many names, declared their support for him, and gave assurance that if he left the church they would provide a lifetime pension, because he had small children at home. But does this relate to the conflict with Palmér?
July 2015: Stefan arranged a meeting with the Jacobson brothers and Sally and John Edmonds – Sally is related to John Thomas Stride, the carpenter from Sheerness who married Elizabeth Stride in London in 1869. Joined by local historians and representatives of the newspaper Torslanda Tidningen, they visited sites in Gothenberg, starting at the church where Elizabeth was baptized (and her parents Gustaf Ericsson and Beata Carlsdotter were buried: their graves are gone, but the grave of the priest who baptized her, Carl Gustaf Schoug, is still there). They visited the house nearby in Stora Tumlehed where she was born – currently vacant but they had access to the keys – and then the Haga area in Gothenberg where she lived: in Pilgatan, where in 1865 she was registered by the police as 'Female Prostitute number 97', and Husargatan where she worked as a maid from November 1865 to February 1866, though this area was extensively redeveloped in the 1960s and 70s (despite protests), as was the Majorna area where she had previously worked. Stefan later visited this area and located the site of the house on which there is now a playground and pre-school.