Tragedy in Småland
Minutes of Sunnerbo District Court, Småland Province
On October 25, 1809 the bailiff Carl Herlin did arrest the farmhand Andreas Jansson from Romborna Skattegård in Annerstad parish in for having battered the farmer Jonas Johansson to death in the night between October 17 and 18. Andreas had confessed, in the presence of the vicar, the inn-keeper and the farmer Daniel Johansson, to having done this. He had also told that Jonas' wife Märta Andersdotter had talked him into doing this.
Upon hearing this, wife Märta, her mother Sara Månsdotter, Märta's halfbrothers Måns and Andreas Persson and the mother of Andreas Johansson, Catharina Persdotter, all of them living in the same cottage, were called into the court. They were all accused of having helped to try to hide this crime.
The medical inspection of the body of Jonas Johansson showed that Jonas had died alone, but that there was a large contusion over the left eye, his face was blue, he had also got a blow on the mouth, 2 scars on his forehead, 3 holes in his head, one on top of the head and one on each side, there were lots of bruises on his body, his back was blue and the legs blue or brown.
The people of the farm were asked if they had seen any loose people about, but no. Jonas had not had an enemy, but was not popular.
The soldier Patrull, living nearby, had in the night heard somebody say "Please, brother, do not kill me", but had not dared to investigate.
The widow Anna Israelsdotter, living in a cottage nearby, had heard somebody saying "Well, I hit him a little, but kicked him more".
Märta Andersdotter, Jonas' widow, said that she had been away, trying to get money owed to the family, and the children had been with her mother, so her husband had been alone when this happened.
Andreas Johansson, the confessed killer, a thin and weak-looking man, about 5 feet tall, dark hair and eye-brows, darkblue eyes and a pointed nose, said that he was just 22 years old, was born in Ryssby parish and had been farming on his own for two years since his father died. He also said that Märta had told him that she was going away and had asked him to beat Jonas, so he could not stand on his feet; her mother would give him the key to their cottage.
In the evening he took the key and went over to Jonas' house, on the road he met Märta's brother Måns, and asked him to join him, but Måns refused. Andreas then took a wooden flail and hit Jonas, who had gone to bed, several times. Jonas tried to defend himself, but Andreas hit him so he fell. Andreas' mother came and tried to stop this, but did not succeed. At last Jonas fled out of the house, but Andreas followed and beat him again. At last Jonas fainted, then Sara and her sons took him back into his house and put him on the floor and left him. In the morning he was dead, and they washed him and changed his clothes and put him to bed, and tried to make it look as if he had died naturally.
When Märta came home and found that her husband had died, she just said "that is not so bad, I can live with that". Her mother had said many times that she wished somebody would take care of Jonas, as he was a mean man and harsh with Märta and the children, and also known for pilfering. Andreas said that Jonas used to steal his fire-wood and used bad language.
Märta absolutely denied having asked Andreas to beat her husband, but Andreas said she had asked him several times to kill Jonas. She had not promised a reward for doing this, but had said that if her husband died, she would marry Andreas.
On October 30 Märta, after many talks with the pastor Lingh, confessed to having enticed Andreas, having had intercourse with him, and she had often wished her husband dead.
On November 3rd Andreas was sentenced to losing his right hand and be beheaded.
Märta was sentenced to the same punishment.
Her mother Sara was fined 25 dalers and her sons 15 dalers for having helped hiding the crime. If they could not pay, Sara was to be flogged by 13 pairs, and the sons to 12 days on water and bread in the prison.
Andreas' mother was released without punishment, as she could not be supposed to give evidence against her son.
The death sentences were then sent to Göta Court of Appeal for approval (those records not searched).
Märta was later found in the records of Norrköping female prison (rasp- och spinnhus) where she is still in 1821. She served there as some kind of nurse, but it is noted that she would have made a better nurse, if she had not been so fond of drinking hard liquor.
The children were placed as foster children in other families in their home village.
Research in original records in Vadstena Landsarkiv by Elisabeth Thorsell.