Alexander Olsson Family
The Alexander Olsson family is one of the most prominent families in the San Francisco Bay Area Swedish community. Three generations of this family spanning over 100 years have been enhancing and promoting Swedish culture in the new homeland.

The first generation
Alexander Olsson was born on February 27, 1868 in Norre Lund, Onsala Parish, Halland. As a young man he learned typesetting and was employed by the local newspaper, Nordhalland, in Kungsbacka. At the age of 21 he traveled to San Francisco and eventually secured employment as a typesetter at Vestkusten, the local Swedish newspaper in 1891.
This paper had begun as a church publication, but soon the church found itself unable to continue. Ernst Skarstedt became the editor in 1891 and purchased the paper in 1894. With Olsson’s arrival they shared editorial duties and ownership until 1897, when Skarstedt left the area and sold his interest in the paper to Olsson. He was now the sole editor/owner of Vestkusten and remained so until his death in 1952. He complemented the newspaper with his West Coast Printers, which often bore the cost of the newspaper.
Olsson was an enormously influential member of the San Francisco Swedish community. He served as founder and president of the Swedish American Patriotic League (SAPL) from 1903 to 1907. Eight days after the 1906 earthquake destroyed his business, he published an edition of Vestkusten and that summer celebrated Midsummer, both of which helped people reunite with friends and learn of others. Because of Sweden’s financial support for Swedes in San Francisco during the 1906 disaster, Olsson was one of three delegates who traveled to Sweden with an engraved loving cup for His Majesty the King as a token of appreciation. Arriving on the king’s birthday, they were invited to the royal birthday banquet that night.
Olsson was SAPL secretary for more than 50 years, followed by various members of his family. He was a member of the group of founders of Sveadal, and he founded and belonged to many Swedish organizations, including The Swedish Society, and was instrumental in keeping all the local Swedes aware of what was going on in this new community.
For all of Olsson's service to the greater Swedish community and to Sveadal, the magnificent 400-year-old oak tree there was named the Olsson Oak, until it burned with disease and was felled. Olsson received three medals from three Swedish kings: Knight of the Order of Vasa, 1st Class, Order of the North Star and the Pioneer Medal.


Second generation
Olsson married Augusta Grahn in 1897. For her husband, their children and descendants, Augusta built one of the first family Swedish cabins in Sveadal. They had two children—Martha in 1901 and Hugo in 1909.
Martha Olsson (Kuhnle) became president of the Swedish Relief Society, which provided financial help during times of bereavement or illness. She was an active member of the Swedish Ladies Society, Utile Dulci, and served as SAPL secretary and on their Board of Directors. Martha also served for many years as the chair of the Midsummer Queen’s Court selection process. The queen was chosen from the responsible lodge and she made sure all of the girls knew their part and presented themselves in regal fashion. This responsibility is still retained by the family. Martha was briefly married to Frank Kuhnle 1926 and had a daughter, Ramona, in 1927.
Since his childhood, Hugo worked for his father at the paper/printshop, located a block away from the family home. He became the editor and publisher of Vestkusten and owner of the printing company when his father died in 1952. Often the whole family would gather at the family home to fold and staple print jobs, and Hugo would work through Wednesday night at the linotype creating the newspaper’s heavy printing forms to make the Thursday deadline. He ran the paper and printing business until 1965, when they were sold to editor Karin Person and printer Per Hellerström, respectively.
Throughout his life, Hugo was often the master of ceremonies at large local Swedish events. He married Evelyn Ramberg, the girl across the street. Her father, Charles Ramberg, was the first and life-long superintendent of the Swedish American Hall; her mother, Hulda, was similarly very active at events, in the Swedish Ladies Society and Utile Dulci. Evelyn was an accomplished musician and played the piano at many Swedish gatherings. She was a liberated woman before the term was invented: married, had a daughter, Karin and a son, Ted, taught piano, played as a concert pianist featured at major celebrations. Together Hugo and Evelyn received the Royal Order of Vasa, each for their own contributions. It was a unique presentation to both husband and wife in 1956 by King Gustaf VI Adolph. Hugo also received the Gold Medal from the king.

Third generation
Alexander’s granddaughter Ramona continued the family tradition of being very active in numerous clubs. She served as president of the Utile Dulci Jrs., president of the SAPL 1956-57, the first female president of the Sveadal Club 1966, and on the Board of Directors of the Swedish Club. Ramona was involved in the Midsummer Queen and Court process, following her mother’s service there. She received the SAPL Medal in 1995. In 1955 she married Harry Talbot, who became the president of the Sveadal Club in 1959, and served two terms as president of the SAPL 1997-78 and 1995-96. Together they had two children, Kurt and Carol.
Grandson Ted spent several years in Central and South America teaching before entering the business world. His main work was in education and computer technology, and at IBM in government affairs and community relations. He served as president of the SAPL in 1984-85 and as chairman of New Sweden ’88. At Sveadal he chaired building the new clubhouse and he created the Swedish marknad of vendors and the maypole for dancing around for Sveadal’s Midsummer.
Ted is a member of Fylgia, Sveadal Club, Cabin Owners, is on the boards of the Swedish Society, the SAPL and Sveadal Governors, and has served as a member of the Midsummer Committee for many years. Like his father, Ted too is frequently MC or speaker at many Swedish celebrations. He is currently involved in a variety of San Francisco civic and historical activities and is vice chairman and secretary of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce, where he has served on the board for more than a quarter century.
With printer’s ink in his blood, Ted has also been a journalist for more than 50 years, first for Vestkusten and now frequently for Nordstjernan. He received the Polar Star Medal from the Swedish king in 1988, the third member of his family to be so decorated. This year he received the Gold Medal from the SAPL for his many activities and services for the Sveadal community.
Ted married Astrid Yperman in 1984. They have two children, Alexander (Zander) and Juliana, who are both graduates of UC Berkeley. Zander is at Hastings Law School and Juliana works for the Smithsonian. Astrid served as secretary for many of the Swedish organizations and created the website, to keep track of the various club activities in the area. Together with Susan Bianucci, Muriel Beroza and the late Ulla Sabelström, Astrid is on the Swedish Library and Archives Committee preserving Vestkusten and the community’s history.
Olsson's granddaughter Karin was born in 1945. She followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an accomplished musician and teacher. She married Byron Jack Massey, who was president of the Sveadal Club in 1977 and SAPL president in 1982. Thanks to Jack's legal acumen, Sveadal recovered enough money from insurance to rebuild the new clubhouse after arson destroyed the original. Karin herself was president of SAPL in 2000-2001 and has remained active on the board and at Sveadal. She has been an active member of the Oakland branch of the SAPL and served as their president from 2005-2008. And just as her grandfather presented a token of appreciation to the king from his countymen abroad, so in 2001 Karin presented to Crown Princess Victoria, on the occasion of her rededicating the Swedish-American Hall here, a memento from local Swedish-Americans.
Karin and Jack had five children: Andrea, Brendan, Conor, Darren and Ryan. Years after Jack died, Karin married Mike Sayegh, who, with his children Nicole, Michelle and Rob, is active in Sveadal.

Fourth generation
Alexander Olsson's great-grandson Kurt, following his parents’ example, was president of the Sveadal Club in 1987 and president of the SAPL in 1994, the centennial of the League. Kurt and his wife Marilyn have three children, Christopher, Alexandra and Erika.
Great-granddaughter Carol served as president of the Sveadal Club in 1990. She continues her mother’s and grandmother’s role directing the Midsummer Queen and Court.
Great-grandson Ryan is the current president of SAPL. For many years he has managed and donated sound equipment for the clubhouse, Midsummer and the Old Dance Floor.
It is abundantly obvious that the devotion of the Olsson family to the Swedish community is unparalleled. They have been honored by the Swedish government many times and also by the Swedish American community for their enthusiastic commitment to Swedish culture. Our Swedish American families of the San Francisco Bay Area are very proud to have this fantastic family in our midst.