(Photo is John Olof Oberg at forge, possibly in Boone, Iowa, shortly after immigration in 1904)
Olof Olsson Åberg, my great great great grandfather, was co-founder of Urafors axe factory in Ullungsfors (later moved to Edsbyn), Sweden with his brother Per Stålberg.
These axes are well known in Scandinavia as being extremely high quality and desirable even though they were made MANY years ago, most of them approximately between 1860 to mid 1960s.
There are a number of photos at the Edsbyn museum of the Urafors axe factory and workers, most from the years 1900 and after. I’ll include some links below. When Olof Olsson passed away in 1900, his son Carl Olof (my 3rd great uncle) took over Urafors and moved it from it’s original location in Ullungsfors a short distance away to Edsbyn.
My family has been able to purchase a handful of axes with the stamp of Carl Olof Åberg.
Here is an example of a Urafors axe my family purchased: (photo courtesy Henrik Gustafsson, who we purchased the axe from)
Per Johan Åberg and son John Olof Oberg
I remember my great grandfather John Olof Oberg mostly in retirement age as a woodworker, and although he spent most of his life in the U.S. working as a mechanic and metals worker, he started out at age 14yr old in his grandfather’s (Olof Olsson Åberg) Urafors axe factory, “smithy” in Ullungsfors, Sweden. He then worked in his father’s (Per Johan Åberg) smithy in nearby Roteberg for two years before emigrating to the U.S. in 1904 (per his biography written by his young daughter Helen in 1940.)
Our family has only one confirmed photo of Olof’s father Per Johan (the first formal portrait photo), but we have another image that is definitely Olof as a young man and I think the other man is probably is father Johan. More than likely taken not long before John Olof emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 19 yr old in 1904.
Photo of John Olof Oberg on right, and possibly his father Per Johan Åberg on the left.
I have seen photos of Urafors style axes stamped “JÅ” which could have been made by Per Johan but I’ve yet to confirm that.
A friend Ola Andersson has researched Urafors blacksmiths in detail and has a great blog (with more information than mine!) here
I’ve been browsing an online photo archive managed by the Edsbyn museum and recently came across an image that is identified as the house and smithy (axe shop) of Per Johan Åberg in Roteberg, Sweden. I was thrilled to find this photo as it has the family in it also although they are too far away to really tell which of the children are included. But is the only known photo (so far) of their property. Big thanks to Torbjörn Lang from the Edsbyn museum, https://www.hembygd.se/ovanaker, and their digital archive, https://www.dibis.se .
The year of the photo is unknown but surely sometime between 1900 and 1908. When Olof Olsson died in 1900, Carl Olof moved Urafors to Edsbyn and Per Johan started his own smithy in Roteberg. When Johan died in 1908 his widow Ella and remaining 9 children (one died as an infant and John Olof and Hulda had already immigrated to the U.S.) moved off the property and into Edsbyn.
Photos of the location currently, graciously shared by Torbjörn Lang. The property is occupied, he says the smithy building still stands and in fact he states…
“Under the building you have a turbine house and the turbine has 1906 written on it so it should have been installed by Johan Åberg. That could be used for machines inside the shop. Today it is producing a little electricity only. But it is still working after 114 years, and they have never had any trouble with it.”
Dec 2020, Location of Per Johan Åberg’s former house and axe shop. Photos courtesy Torbjörn Lang:
More information on Urafors axes and history and the Edsbyn area:
I’ll add more entries as I find them…
Ola Andersson blog post re Urafors history – https://horgafela.com/category/yxa/
Ola’s very thorough blog post on Per Johan Åberg – https://horgafela.com/yxa/per-johan-aberg/
Edsbyn museum – https://www.hembygd.se/ovanaker
Edsbyn area photo archive – https://www.dibis.se
Urafors history at Traditional Tools website – https://www.traditional-tools.com/urafors-yxabrik-history/
Rasmus Pettersson Vik site –
Axe-related historical documents, videos, and photographs https://yxa.pettersson-vik.se/