Carola Häggkvist Made History—and So Did Her Ancestors

Carola Häggkvist has been one of Sweden’s most popular singers since the 1980s. Sweden’s love for Carola is probably best illustrated by the fact that they chose her to represent them in Eurovision not once, not twice, but three times! Not only did she represent Sweden in 1983, 1991, and 2006, she placed in the top five every time: she won fifth place with “Invincible” in 2006, third place with “Främling” in 1983, and first place in 1991 with “Fångad av en stormvind.” These successful performances give her one of the best track records in the history of the contest.

Where does a legend like Carola come from? Carola took the MyHeritage DNA test to learn more about her past, and using her results, family tree, and other genealogical records from SuperSearch, MyHeritage was able to trace her family all the way back through 9 generations to the mid-18th century.

Check out her family history page on the One Big Family site!

Ancestors making history

It turns out, Carola Häggkvist was not the first person in her family to make history.

Magnus ”Vildhussen” Huss (8th great-uncle)

The earliest ancestor of Carola’s we found in the historical records is Hans Månsson Visslander. He’s her 7th great-grandfather — that’s 9 generations back!

Hans’s brother, Magnus Huss — Carola’s 8th great-uncle — was born in 1755 in Boda, in the Torps parish in Medelpad. He was also known as Vildhussen, or Wild Huss. When he was 38, King Gustav III of Sweden approved a project to dig a bypass canal from Lake Ragunda to create a smooth channel for transporting logs and lower the water level of the lake. Vildhussen was employed to manage the project.

Canal from Lake Ragunda [Credit: dödafallet.se]
Canal from Lake Ragunda [Credit: dödafallet.se]
The following year, Vildhussen drowned in the river Indalsälven, which used to flow into Lake Ragunda. His body was discovered in Liden Every year, local residents stage a play commemorating the events of 1796, and a statue to Magnus Huss stands on the dried-up bed of Lake Ragunda. Swedish myths and legends include many stories about Vildhussen that keep his name alive.

Nils Säverström (maternal ancestor, 6 generations back)

Another fascinating fact we found in Carola’s family tree was that a maternal ancestor of hers from 6 generations back, Nils Säverström, was a professional bell ringer. Bell ringing no longer exists as a profession, because bells are now set to ring automatically at the appointed times; back in the 18th century, when Nils lived, it had to be done manually. The bell ringer was in charge of caring for the church and its furniture as well.

The reason we find this fascinating and relevant to Carola’s story is that to be a bell ringer in her ancestor’s time meant having a strong musical sense. The bells were essentially a musical instrument, requiring careful timing and precision. Bell ringers often taught and led the singing in church, and played the organ in churches that had one.

Nils was appointed bell ringer when he moved with his parents to a new home in southern Sweden (“Klockarbolet”) in 1758. He had 9 children from 2 different mothers, and his sons and grandchildren inherited the profession and continued the tradition in the family.

So it appears that Carola’s musical talent goes back at least 6 generations.

Lars Häggkvist, (3rd great-grandfather, 5 generations)

Carola’s 3rd great-grandfather, Lars, is the first of her ancestors to take the name of Häggkvist. He was born in 1804 in the Säbrå parish. Lars was a juror and an innkeeper in Nässland, Säbrå parish, until he died in 1850.

This is the first record that shows he has taken the name Häggkvist; the book is dated 1830-1832.

Record showing the birth and death dates for Lars Häggkvist [Credit: Säbrå (Y) AI:6 1830-1832]
Record showing the birth and death dates for Lars Häggkvist [Credit: Säbrå (Y) AI:6 1830-1832]
Lars may not have made it into national myths and legends like his ancestor Magnus, nor do we have any evidence of a musical talent like Nils’s, but he certainly had an impact on the personal history of his friends and neighbors, whether by serving drinks or presiding over local trials to make sure that justice was served.

Lars had a daughter named Lydia Häggkvist. She gave birth to Abraham Häggkvist, and his daughter, Ruth Emilia Häggkvist, had a son named Jan Ove. Jan Ove is Carola’s father.

Lars Magnus Rask, great-grandfather

Carola’s great-grandfather, Lars Magnus Rusk, was born in the Karlstad country parish. He served as a soldier in the Alsters Company, Närke regiment. He wasn’t called upon to fight in any wars, since this was a peaceful era of Sweden’s history, but his 1856 enlistment at age 17 shows his commitment to serving his country—a commitment his great-granddaughter Carola inherited.

Enlistment Record of Lars Magnus Rask
Enlistment Record of Lars Magnus Rask

We can see here that he is 37 1/3 years old, served the army when he was 19 2/3 years old, and that he is 6 feet tall.

Jan Ove Häggkvist, 1939-2004 (father)

Jan Ove Häggkvist was born on April 2, 1939 in the Kungsholms parish, Stockholm.

We found reference to Jan Ove and his father, Böckertz, Nils Einar, a musician, and his mother, Häggkvist, Rut Emilia, in the church records from 1939.  They married on July 23, 1927.

Record of Jan Ove’s birth
Record of Jan Ove’s birth

Carola Häggkvist’s MyHeritage DNA test results

Unsurprisingly, Carola’s DNA is 100% Northern European: overwhelmingly Scandinavian (86.3%), and 13.7% Finnish.

Carola Häggkvist MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate
Carola Häggkvist MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate

Although we didn’t find any close family members, Carola has over 3,000 relatives from 30 different countries on our site that she can now reach out to directly from the MyHeritage platform.

These results are consistent with MyHeritage research into Carola’s family records, which reveal a deep connection to the history of her homeland. Carola’s genealogy and DNA results show deep ties going back more than 250 years not only to Sweden, but also to music. How appropriate that she made such an impressive contribution to her country in the 20th and 21st century through her Eurovision successes.