Nelson Benson and his son and daughter-in-law, Ray and Jennifer Benson, and daughter and son-in-law Rachel and Scott Gifford of Manila enjoyed playing host to their family from Almhult, Sweden. Bengt-Eric Ericsson, his wife, Ingrid, and their children Anna, Eric, Sofia, and Karin, left Arkansas on Thursday after a 10-day visit.
"I really had to know my family's history and was determined to find family members," Nelson said.
Nelson said he is happy to have found them. Nelson's family immigrated to the United States in 1881. They first moved to the Grubbs area before moving to Manila in 1910.
"If my family had stayed in Sweden, my name would have been Nils Bengtsson," Nelson said.
Nelson's son, Ray, said they have felt like family since they first met. They have shared a special bond watching their children grow.
Nelson and Rachel, and Ray, Jennifer and their children, Jenna and Neal, have had the opportunity to visit their relatives in Sweden. The Ericsson family lives in a house built in 1880 which has been in the family for generations. It was built with lumber bought from a church that was built in the 1300s.
Nelson and Bengt-Eric share an interest in their family genealogy and on one of Nelson's visits to Sweden they found the gravesite of their Great-great-grandfather.
Nelson, Ray, and Bengt-Eric have agriculture in common. The Benson s came to Manila to farm and started purchasing ground a little at a time. Bengt-Eric has a cattle operation, is a professional singer singing at church and playing the piano and organ, and is an attorney.
Among the sights of this trip, the family enjoyed visiting Memphis, a Red Birds' game, a fishing trip to Lake Norfolk, shopping trips, and lots of cookouts. They enjoyed their first visit to the Ozarks.
Anna, the oldest daughter has visited Manila when she was nine, 15, and now 22 and has enjoyed seeing new sites and meeting new people. She will be attending Lund University when she returns. After high school, she attended music school for three years. Eric will be going to the Agriculture University of Sweden to study landscape architecture. After high school he spent six months in Bible School and six months learning Swahili before teaching in Tanzania. Sofia will be attending Music High School. Karin, who is 11, will be returning to school.
The Ericssons left Memphis on Thursday for a nine hour flight to Amsterdam, on to Copenhagen and then a two hour drive home. They had plenty to talk about on their way home look forward to the next family gathering either in Manila or Almhult.