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The Story of Soldier Anders Anderson Fasth

Victor's father, Anders, was a soldier in the Swedish army.  He enlisted under a system called the Allotment System, in use in Sweden since the mid 1500s.  In 1682, King Carl XI systematized and regularized the Allotment System by decreeing that every province in Sweden must raise an army regiment of 1200 men.  Under this decree, each province was to divide its area into 1200 "rotes" of roughly equal size and wealth, each rote usually being made up of from 2 to 15 farms or estates.  Each rote was responsible for providing one soldier to the regiment, and, as a part of that requirement, each rote was to provide a house for that soldier along with a few acres for a garden and a small barn for livestock.   Sometimes a cow, chickens and/or a few sheep were also included.  In addition, there was to be a small income paid by the members of the rote.  The soldier could come from any place in Sweden, not just from the local rote or province.  In compensation for providing a soldier, the owners and their sons would not be subject to a military draft.  Soldiers spent six weeks in training every summer, and otherwise were free to pursue civilian lives, although they must be available for service at any time the government should need them.  With this system, Sweden was able to maintain a standing army which could be mustered for duty on very short notice.

The soldiers were to be men of good character, tall, and with at least minimal beards.  They often had skills with which they could earn money (Anders, Victor tells us, was a woodworker and did a variety of jobs).  They often worked at the parish church, as caretakers or gravediggers, and sometimes as choir directors or liturgical assistants.  They were expected to be able to read and write, and sometimes were the only people in the parish, aside from the priest, who could read and write, and thus they were often teachers in the local schools.

Because of their character and skills, and because they had a house in which they could expect to live for 20 or 30 years, the local girls looked at them as excellent potential husbands.

Anders was given the last name, Fasth, when he joined the army.  Because there were so many Andersons, Petersons and Johnsons in the army, it was customary for them to be given more distinctive names when they became soldiers.  The names often reflected some quality the company commander hoped the recruit would display, so names like Ek (Oak) and Bjork (Birch), Modig (courageous) and Svård (sword) were given.  In Anders' case, he was given the name Fasth (pronounced Fah st), meaning sturdy, reliable.  All of Victor's brothers and sisters took Fasth as their last name.  Victor alone kept the more traditional last name, drawn from his father's first name.  Immigrants to the USA changed Fasth to Faust, and their descendants continue to use that name.

Victor's autobiography tells us little about Anders' life as a soldier.  He does tell us Anders was away for six weeks during the summer of 1866, which was a particularly difficult summer, but elsewhere in Victor's story of his youth the family seems to have lived close to poverty much of the time, and, from what I (Dwight) have read, that would seem to be unusual for the family of a soldier.  They did always have a place to live, in keeping with the rote's provisions for a soldier, and, after both Anders and Lovisa  died, Victor notes that they had the right to continue living in the house for a year.  That was probably a year reckoned from Anders' death, and was a benefit to the soldier and his family.  After a year, the house would be available to the soldier who replaced Anders.

                 Soldaten historic sign   
This sign was placed by a Swedish Historical Society
near the location of the Soldattorp in which Anders
and his family lived.  In English translation, the sign reads:  
The soldier house (Soldattorp)
for Area (Rote) 48, Ängarp.
The soldier was a member of
Norra Vedbo Company
which served 1686 - 1909

The last soldier here was   
Hjalmar Idén   
The house was torn down in 1920

         [Note: Norra Vedbo Company was an Infantry
         Company which saw service in Germany, Poland
         and Russia during the 17th and 18th Centuries] 


          This is a restored Soldier's House from another province.
          Anders' house probably looked much like this.                                                

For a more detailed description of the Swedish Military Allotment (Rote) System, click here.

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