Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Minnesota Day in Ljuder Church August 13, 2017

This years Minnesota day was held as usual in the church in Ljuder in Lessebo municipality  in honour of the writer Vilhelm Moberg and the emigrants from the Ljuder  area to Minnesota and other parts of the world.

Among the guests who faithfully have returned the recent years   were the former head of The Swedish Emigrant Institute' in Växjö former  Professor Ulf Beijbom. and  Monica Banaz from the University of Krakow in Poland.

A Swedish-American churchservice was held and the Swedish-American of the year the Swedish diplomat  Jan Eliasson  was also presented.

Angela Hoffman from the University of Uppsala  spoke about "Swedish meeting with Indians" in Kansas. The day before, she spoke to the Association of Friends to the Swedish Emigrant Institute on the subject "Swedish-American churches  Cookbooks"

Folkdancers from Vissefjärda  danced traditional swedish folkdances beside Ljuders Local Heritage
Museum and Park..

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ArkivDigital photographs Swedish-American church records .

When the Swedes emigrated to the United States and Canada, they often formed their own Swedish-speaking churches. The  oldest were founded in  the late 1840-thies and the beginning of the 1850-thies and the last in the 1920-thies  The largest congregation   was the lutheran Augustana synod . The most important of the others were the Evangelical  Covenant church  and ther were also Swedish baptist and Methodist congregations as well as the Evangelical Free church 

During the 1970-thies and 1980-thies, Lennart Setterdahl  was commissioned by the Swedish Emigrant Institute to microfilm much of the chrurchrecords . The microfilms  are currently available at the Swedish Emigrant Institute in Växjö and at the  Swenson Swedish Emigration Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois,
Last year, Arkivdigital began digitizing the Swedish-American church archives in several states to the delight of professsional and emigrant and family researchers. The digitization also includes material from some churches  that have not previously been filmed. In 2016, material from Kansas was digitized, This year,work on   digitizing materials from Minnesota and Nebraska has begun. ArkivDigital tells about the progress of their work at their blog

Warren Johnson and Sven Henning photographing
 Swedish-American church records
in Omaha Nebraska
 photo Arkivdigital

Friday, July 21, 2017

Murder on Christmas night! The shooting of Swan Nelson in Chicago 25 Dec 1893 Part 2

Swan Nelson was buried on December 28nd  at Oakwood Cemetery outside Chicago. The burial service was most likely performed by pastor Carl Granath of the swedish-speaking Zion Evangelical Lutheran church which Swan and his relatives attended. In its It is burial record he is listed as "shot December 25th 3 AM" 

note about  Swan Nelsons burial inthe burial records from
Zion Evangelical Lutheran church in Chicago microfilm SAKA 192
 Swedish Emigrant Institute, Växjö,Sweden.

 The news of his death spread fast  among the Swedish-Americans in Chicago and caused great anger . It increased the ethnic tensions between  Swedish-Americans and Irish-Americans.The Chicago Daily News described the shooting as unjustified and the Swedish-American newspapers raged. The Swedish-American organisations quickly organised The Swedish National League to raise money for an investigation and legal counsel to make sure the two policemen were tried and punished. The leaders of the  committee were  contractor August G Myhrman, lawyer Harry Olsson and William Wennerholm. Support also came from the Swedish-American newspapers , including Svenska Tribunen

(from :Swedish-American Historical Quaterly 2014 jan no. 1page .41)

Quick to join in wasthe 25-year-old entrepreneur Fred Lundin known for his "Juniper-Ade" he  was elected chairman of the committee. The first mass meeting was held on January 7th and gathered 400 participants.More than 20 mass meetings were held between january and October 1894 and around  8,000 were gathered (about $ 200,000 in today's money value) .Several Swedish-American churches and clubs became involved in the matter.  A private detective was hired to search for  witnesses and a well known lawyer  Luther Laflin Mills  was retained.  

The biggest event for collecting money was a big concert held on May 26 1894in the new Auditorium Theatre , featuring t 400 singers and musicians andan audience of  around 4500 listeners.
The trial against Healy and Moran opened  on January 7, 1895. The proceedingsoffered a lot of drama and was given extensive coverage  by the Chicago newspapers. A juror was removed for perjury and indicted,during the trial there were charges of jury tampering and witnessess being  influenced and allegations of a police cover-up. . The defense argued that there were no unlawful killing since Swan nelson had fled the policeand that anyone could have fired the bullet.
 In the end, Luther Laflin Mills adressed the jury and  held a long speech in which he depicted Swan Nelson as a innocent  young man brutally shot  by two corrupt police officers and he  concluded:

"Lying on the ground dying with his lefeblood flowing on that frost-coveredside-walk,Swan Nelson grasped" I treated them,they wanted more,I refused and the policemen shot me. I am dying,I have done no wrong.´Gentlemen of the jury,this was an awful crime;yours should be an awful verdict"

The jury sentenced the policemen to 14 years in prison for manslaughter . They were sent toThe  Illinois State Penitentiary in Joliet Illinois.. The sentence was however  not the end of the story.
The case was appealed and two more trials were  held in the following years.. In the 1897 trial, the sentence was reduced  to 4 years in prison. In 1899, the case was was again back in court, but  it was decided not to hold another trial and  Moran and Healy were returned  to prison . However, according to The 1900 Federal  Census they are not listed aong the prisoners at Illinois State Penitentiary.Perhaps they had been transferred to another prison or released .

                                    (Illinois state Penitentiary Joliet,Illinois ( )
The trial had consequences for all involved Josephine bjorkman died in 1901  Fred Lundin got contacts in politics served in the Illinois state senate and a  term in the House of Representatives congress before becomming the power behind  the corrupt Chicago mayor William Hale Thompson  l Luther Laflin Mills had a succesfull Career as lawyer before his death in 1909 Harry Olson later became first chief judge of the Juvenile Court of Chicago.

Even for Swans family life had to go on. His  brother  John Nelson married his fiancé Maria (Mary) Benson  in february1894 .they got two children Selma and Nels John Nelson became a Saloon keper the family settled in the Austin area of Chicago.John became a member of the of the Indipendent Order of Vikings and later of the Independent order of Svithiod.  .He died in 1938. His only grandchild died unmarried in2007. His sister Elna Neson  married Albert Stedman and died 1944 in San Fransisco,California..
Karna (Carrie) Nelson married John M Anderson  they first lived in Illinois but later moved to Washington near Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Swans youngest  sister Johanna (Hannah) Nelson 1874- married  Oscar Frederick Johnson. they moved from Illinois to  Flint River near   Burlington, Iowa, All sisters left descendants. During the following years the area were Swan Nelson was murdered became the home for many Sicilian immigrants .
The antagonism  between Swedish-Americans and Irish-Americans deacresed with time and they came to direct their prejudices towards newer immigrants and minority groups as East -Europeans and Afro-Americans.

More about the shooting of Swan Nelson can be read in  här i  i The Swedish American Historical Quaterly 2014 jan no. 1

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Murder on Christmas Night ! The shooting of Swan Nelson in Chicago Dec 25 1893 part 1

On  Chistmas Eve 1893 Swan Nelson a young Swedish Emigrant closed his little tobacco store on Archer Ave on Chicagos south side   at 4 pm and walked to his home close by near 32 Street .;
Swan was born as one of 7 surviving children  in 1871 in the village of Magletorp in Trolle- Ljungby in the province of  Skåne (Scania) in southern Sweden as the son of Nils Johnson 1820-1881 and Sissa Johnsdotter 1830-1891.
After the the death of their father, Nels two oldest sisters Elna and Karna emigrated to the USA in 1882.  after their mothers death Sven and his older brother Jöns and their youngest sister Johanna emigrated in march 1892. Sven and Jöns settled in Chicago where their maternal aunt Elna(Ella) Benson and her two children lived..

Trolle-Ljungby kyrka
Trolle-Ljungby church 

In Chicago Jöns and Sven Nilsson quickly became John and Swan Nelson .  Life apparently went well for the two brothers  Swan quickly learned a bit of english and manged to accuire a little tobacco store. He also took part in the social life of the Swedish-Americans in the city. In the summer of 1893 he became one of the charter members of the lodge Angantyr of The Independent order of Vikings. In  the summer and fall of 1893 Chicago also hosted The  Worlds Columbian Exposition .with visitors from allover the USA and the world visiting Chicago.
The city  was also plagued by crime and violence and political corruption  and shortly before  the Exposition closed Chicago mayor Carter Harrison was murdered .

Chicago World's Columbian Exposition 1893
"The White city" The Worlds comumbian Exibition in Chicago 1893

Swan had all reasons to be content with his life in Chicago and to look forward to a bright futute unfortunate his life was cut short all too soon. On Christmas evening  Swan went to a small Christmas party held by his neigbours Otto and Josephine  Bjorkman  . he and the bjorkman family and a few other friends celebrated Christmas Eve the Swedish way with some food and drink.

(Aproximate place where the shooting took place (the street numbers where changed in 1909)

About 2.30 AM  early on Christmas morning Swan left the Bjorkmans home. Despite being early in the mornng he decided to go to the Northelfer´s saloon nearby.  Outside the saloon he met two Irish-american policemen  Michael J Healy and Thomas  J Moran  who had had some drinks in another saloon earlier in the evening.
 They  insisted that Swan should buy them some drinks in the saloon. The three men went inside    where  there where  a few sleepy german-american customers and the bartender .The bartender gave the policemen cigars and Swan bought them each a drink. but when they insisted he should buy them more he refused.

 They then beat him with a club. and then  cleared the saloon. Outside the Saloon the quarell continued. They arrested Swan Nelson and while Mooran went to call the police-wagon Healy held him. Swan then brooke lose and ran towards his home .The two policemen fired 5 shoots (in the air) they later said.
Swan Nelson was hit in the back. Mrs.Bjorkman heard the shot and opened the door.  Mooran entered and said  he had fired at a robber and demanded more whiskey !.Swan Nelson had managed to crawl to his house where mrs Bjorkman found him dying.

 "Here is my watch,mrs Bjorkman"  he said " I am shoot and will die !. the two policemen returned.Healy treatened to shot mrs  Bjorkman if she left the dying man , he also hit her in the face she later testified. Swan Nelson was dragged to the sidewalk where he was heard saying "I die,I die ,I have done no wrong,Have I no friends here? help-I am dying."  The police-wagon arrived and took him  to the hospital where he died later on Christmas day .

Friday, November 11, 2016

Research tips for November

The Swedish digital provider of digitized Swedish church record Arkiv Digital announces free access to their records for the Weekend of 12-13 November.

Linda Kvist has started a new podcast about Swedish genealogy in English it is called
Cousin Linda 

The Minnesota Historical Society has opened a new website for showing digitized Swedish-American newspapers. 

Hundreds of Swedish-language newspapers were published in the United States from 1850 onward,
catering to America's Swedish immigrant communities. Use this online portal to learn more about these newspapers, and to search over 300,000 digitized newspaper pages from 28 different Swedish American newspaper titles published across the United States between 1859 and 2007. 

North Park University  in Chicago has digitized the records of the first Swedish church in  Chicago
the St. Ansgarius Protestant Episcopal Church

Founded in 1849, St. Ansgarius Episcopal Church was the first parish established for the growing community of Swedish immigrants in the city of Chicago. The church was formed jointly by the Swedish and Norwegian communities within the neighborhood of Swede Town (present-day River North). Gustaf Unonius (1810-1902), a Swedish pioneer and Episcopal priest, served as the church’s first pastor for 10 years.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Swede Hollow -The Swedish slums in Saint Paul, Part 1

In the swedish consiousness the typical Swedish Emigrants to USA are often symbolized by swedish author Vilhelm Moberg main characters in his novel series The Emigrants.
In the books the young hardworking farmer couple Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson  immigrates to Chisago county,Minnesota to create a better future in the 1850thies.

What few realise is that this image is only part of the thruth. Most swedish emigrants came to USA to settle in larger or smaller cities. The swedes also got their fair share of prejudices,racism,disease and slums. On of the slums that some of the swedish emigrants lived in was Swede Hollow on the East side of Saint Paul Minnesota. Situated between Payne Ave. and East 7nth Street on the border between Railroad island and Dayton's Bluff the area is now a park a green area but until 1956 it was one of the poorest parts of St. Paul.

 The area is located in the lower part of Phalen Creek Valley a narrow gorge about1,2 kilometers long surrounded by 20-30 meter high cliffs . in its bottom flows a stream Phalen Creek. The area has several springs and caves .The stream soon attracted industries to the surrounding area. Several breweries primarely the large Hamm Brewerey.its large buildings and its owners Theodore Hamms magnificent residence was right next to the ravine.  A railroad line to Duluth went through the valley.

 The area´s first inhabitants were non swedish trappers and ,loggers and odd job workers who lived there in the 1840-thies. the Swedes began to settle in the area in the 1850thies and came to dominate it for fifty years. They called the area Svenska Dalen (Swedish Valley) but it soon became known under its unofficial name Swede Hollow (Swedish hole)

Swede Hollow, looking north from East Seventh Street before creek was enclosed
1912-1915 courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society [1]

By the end of the 19th century Swede Hollow was an place where poor immigrants could find cheap accomodation when they began their life in USA It also was a stepping stone werethey  could reside for some time until they could  "move up" both socially and geographicly   to more more social-established areas in the city .it was also a refuge for those who went through hard times and needed a place to pull themself together . it was a slum and many remained poor diseases flourished and child mortality was high.

Swede Hollow was not devided into street,blocks and lots. The only street in Swede Hollow meandered along Phalen Creek. .The houses and shacks were self build  and build  close together were there were  place left . Some inhabitants  kept small animals as chicken out of necessity. The residents took their water from a well  and used the creek as their sewer. Some of the residents built their outhouses on piles over the brook

In 1881 the swedes got new neigbours when a group of Irish moved into the valley..The Irish area became known as Connemara Patch .The Irish lived downstreems Phalen Creek from the swedes and sometimes got the dirt from the swedish outhouses.the relationships between the groups was tense.

At the start of the 20tcentury as more of Swede Hollows swedish residents became more socially established.They bagan to move up from the valley and into more established neigbourhoods in St.Paul.new immigrant groups began to settle in Swede Hollow .First italians later poles and other East europeans.After World War one the area became home to newly arrived Mexicans.

After word War two the city authorities began to see the area as a burden.In 1956 it "discovered" that the sanitary conditions in Swede Hollow was unfit without access to municipal water and sewers.
Despite protest from local residents,they were evicted . On november 2 1956  the Saint Paul Firedepartment set the remaining empty houses on fire. in 1978 the area begame inagurated as a park Swede Hollow Park.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Minnesota Day in Ljuder Church August 14, 2016

 This year's Minnesota day celebration was held on August 14  and took place as usual in Ljuder Church in in Lessebo municipality in Småland .The area is known for being the home area of swedish author Vilhelm Moberg's and the setting for his novel series (The Emigrants) about the  of the first significant wave of immigration to the United States in the 1840thies and 1850thies.
The opening speach was held by  the municipality manager in Lessebo Christina Nyquist.

photo: Gunilla Grügiel

This year's Honorary speaker was retired bishop of Växjö Jan-Olof Johansson, He spoke on the subject "Always on the run" which he compared the migration flows past and present.

The Swedish-American of the Year Nils Lofgren with roots in  the province of Värmland was  presented by the Grand Lodge Deputy of the Vasa Order of America   Catherine Bringselius-Nilsson.
Nils Lofgren has become known as an outstanding musician and guitarist of  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

Guests were sounding the  handbell ensemble Strikepoint from from  Duluth in northern Minnesota.They  have  toured worldwide and now they entertained the  the audience in Ljuders church with several beautiful melodies with their bells of different sizes.

Gunilla Grügiel (left) Monika Banas(right)
One of the  most popular features  on the program each year is  "Greetings from near and far away " Among the greatings this year was Swedish Emigrant Institute Fellow of  2000 Monica Banas from the University of Krakow  

Another faithful visitor to  to the Minnesotaday and other Swedish-American events was Carl Boberg who brougt greetings  from his hometown Nisswa in nothern Minnesota .

Last but not least was the Swedish Emigrant Institute's first director Professor Ulf Beijbom present along with his wife, textileartist Viola Kristiansson.