On July 24th, 2018, I was privileged to attend a family reunion in Wheeler Park near the west banks of the Fox River in Geneva, Illinois. This was no ordinary reunion for me, however, as it was actually for the Olson family instead of the Thorins. As it turns out, the Olsons are the descendants of Erik Gabriel Thorin, who immigrated to America shortly after Joseph Arvid Thorin and stayed in Batavia, Illinois (just south of Geneva), while Joseph went further west to Iowa. The two families had not made direct contact in some 80 or 90 years.
The last time the families had made contact was recounted to me by Dorothy Thorin who said she faintly recalled cousins visiting from Chicago when she was a young child. Photographic evidence of such visits seemed to manifest at the reunion where pictures of my great-grandfather appeared with inscriptions possibly written by the visiting cousins on one of their visits. These cousins would have been Erik’s daughters, Mary Erika Thorin and Louise Thorin.
Most of the people there were descended from Louise, who married a man named Elmer Olson. Interestingly I found that some of the family had taken Thorin as a middle name, but they all pronounced it differently than I did! They said the Americanized “thor-in” where I say it in the Swedish “thor-een.” There were even some Swedes at the reunion who confirmed that my family’s pronunciation was the Swedish way! It was confirmed by one of Louise’s daughters that her grandmother, Erik Thorin’s wife, insisted on Americanizing the family and went so far as to pronounce the name as an American would.
Following are some photos highlighting some of the discoveries from the wonderful reunion. I hope to make it back to another Olson family reunion soon!