The Ogren Name
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THE OGREN NAME-By Robert E. Ogren

There is a long history behind the name of Ogren. The derivation is Swedish, but it is not regularly used in that country . The spelling is related to the English language. In Swedish the O vowel sound is spelled with the letter Å which does not occur in English and is defined near the end of the Swedish dictionary. The name is spelled: Ågren in Swedish (Ogren in English) and is pronounced Ogren in the native land and in America. However, it is possible that some who spell the name Ogren here may have different pronunciations. There are also various perverted spellings of the name: Ogrin, O’Gren, Olgren, Ogreen etc.

This name has two parts: prefix and suffix. The prefix Å is for the Oh sound and means river. The suffix part "-gren" means branch. Thus, the two parts together mean-branching river or by inference the family branch by the river- and there is actually a small river near the family farm in Småland. There are many persons in Sweden with the surname of Ågren. Many others with this name came to America. However, at the immigration customs they spelled their name-Agren. Today in U.S.A both names occur. But, while the names show a common ethnic source, the persons with Ogren or Agren spellings are probably not related.

The young, eager Jonas Peter Jonasson Ågren came to America in 1870 hoping for a better life and employment as a carpenter.  He left Sweden using the name of Ågren, according to the emigration records we examined. He was 28 years old and his wife Maria Christina Andersdotter was 30, their only son, Johan Alfred, was 2 years old. On 22 March 1870 the family said goodbye to relatives and friends and headed for the western coastal port of Göteborg for departure. By 25 March they were on the good ship "Albion" bound for Hull, England. From England they would take another ship to America. In his diary began 15 years later, Jonas says: "The Lord was with us and brought us safely all the way so that we landed in New York the 13th of April and two days later here in Jamestown." When he entered the USA he used the name of Jonas Peter Johnson, the family name used for the next 20 years. However, in 1891, after the birth of 8 children (the oldest were 21-23 and others were 2-16), Jonas Peter changed his surname to "Ogren". In his diary for May, 1891 he explains "...because there were too many Johnsons." Since that date we have used the name of Ogren. The family has always wondered why he selected the name of Ogren.  Through genealogical studies we have learned that his father was "Jonas Petterson Ågren". Thus, my grandfather Jonas was going back to his old family surname and the name under which he emigrated from Sweden. However, since he was living in English-speaking America where the Swedish spelling of Ågren would be confusing, his selection of Ogren was logical and allowed him to express his recently acquired American citizenship.



This page was last updated on 02/09/03