My lack of knowledge about the Westerlins (discussed in Family Discussion at Christmas, and Something on My Grandparents) extends to their religion or religious practices. I have no reason to believe they emigrated for anything other than economic reasons (and the religious reasons that existed at the time when Vilhelm Moberg’s The Emigrants* began would no longer have been a motivation by 1889, as it was legal to convert to Christian faiths other than the official Lutheran Church after 1860). Indeed, from the vague bits of evidence I have (not enough to get into now) it seems more likely than not that they were simply Lutherans.
As a companion to the last post on the location the Westerlins came from, then, here’s what I’ve discovered on the Broddarp and Öra parishes and related churches (as noted in that post, the specific birth parishes identified on the emigration records do not seem to match up to any listed parishes in Älvsborg, but the birth places themselves do).
The Öra parish church (photo by Bergsven (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons and found here) is pictured below. Based on the information I’ve found, it would have looked largely the same in 1889, as well as 1858, when August was born. The population of Öra (from the same Swedish wiki site already linked) was 358 in 1880, which seems to have been a peak, followed by a decline to 102 in 2000.
More information giving the Broddarp population as 314 in 1900, and down to 135 in 1995.
*An aside, but I read these years ago and enjoyed them quite a bit. Now that I’m looking into the subject of Swedish emigration/immigration and settlement in the US, I may go back to them. (Here’s a take from a French reader.) I only recently learned of the movies (1972 review from the NYT, there’s also a sequel), so this is yet another planned project and I hope to write more about both the books and the movies in a later post.