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During the Swedish emigration to America, nearly 1.5 million Swedes left their homeland in the hope of working their way to a better life in the great country to the west. An era in our history when the Swedish people were split into two branches, as the writer Vilhelm Moberg put it. What traces did they leave behind, these countless Swedes who emigrated? Their descendants are still alive, of course, but some of the answers can also be found in the names of today's American cities.
Bishop Hill, Illinois
The most talked-about Swedish colony in the mid-19th century was undoubtedly Bishop Hill, a collectivist community founded in 1846 by the "prophet" Erik Jansson (1808-1850) and his followers, the Erik Janssons. They were a Christian sect that came into conflict with the state church, and Jansson was imprisoned several times for his leading role. During a prison transport en route to the state prison in Gävle, Jansson escaped and subsequently he and 400 of his followers emigrated from Hälsingland to Illinois and founded Bishop Hill. The name comes from Erik Jansson's birthplace, Biskopkulla in Uppland. The founding of Bishop Hill is considered to be the start of the great Swedish emigration to North America of the 19th century, and coincided with the years of misguidance 1844-1845.
The first settlers arrived in 1869 in what is now Adolph, Minnesota. They were all Swedes. It was not until 1898 that a post office was established and the first postmaster was a Swede named Adolph Björlin, who also named the post office Adolph, which gave the town its name.
The town of Boxholm in Iowa was named in the 1870s by one of the first settlers, the Swede Anderson. This Swede was from Boxholm in Östergötland, and simply named his new home after his birthplace.
Braham was first built by Swedish settlers in 1870, when the emigrant D. Nordström and others came there and started trading new land. In 1896, the site was given a post office, which was named Braham after a Swede named Abraham. In 1898, the site also received a railway station, which was built on the farm of an Abraham Svenson, giving further justification to the name Braham.
Calmar, Alberta, Canada
Canadian Calmar was founded in 1895 by C. J. Blomquist and a few other families who had emigrated from North Dakota. They were followed by many Swedes. Blomquist named the place Calmar after his birthplace in Misterhult, Kalmar County.
The first settlers on the site were Carl P. Johnson from Loftahamn and Carl J. Peterson from Väversunda. The place got its name around 1896 when a post office was built. They named the place Carlslund, but someone in the post office must have misread the name and instead gave the post office the name Carlshend, which then also became the name of the place.
Fahlun is a township in Minnesota that was named in 1877 by the many Swedes from Dalarna who settled there. A petition was sent out with the following content: "The names of all those who wish the new town to be called Fahlun". 17 settlers, including 11 from Dalarna, signed the petition.
The first Swede to settle in the area around present-day Falun, Kansas, was Erik Sundgren from Svärdsjö in Dalarna. He arrived there in 1868 and was followed by many Swedes, including Major Erik Fors, who came with a large party from Bishop Hill and Galva in Illinois. The major was also born in Dalarna and became the first postmaster of the place in 1871, when both the post office and a new township were named after the capital of Dalarna, Falun.
A settlement that began to be mined around 1870 by the dalmatians Simon Anderson, Peter Anderson, P.O. Peterson, A.G. Anderson and Andrew Olson. They named their new home Falun.
Gothenburg in Dawson County, Nebraska, was first settled by Germans and Americans. It was not until 1883 that the first Swede, N. E. Axling, arrived and opened the first trading post in the entire county. He was followed by many Swedes, at least some of whom, given the name, must have had a heart for Gothenburg.
Jemtland, Maine, was founded by Swedish families, many of whom came from Jämtland. On July 23, 1870, the first Swedish settler families arrived, each promised a cabin and 100 acres (40 hectares) of forest per family by the state. By the autumn, the colony had grown to 114 Swedes and 26 log houses had been built. Before the first winter, 6.5 acres of winter rye had been planted.
The first Swedish settlers arrived in the area at the end of the 19th century, but it was in 1904, when a railway was built through the district, that the name Karlstad was given to the town. The land on which the community was built was then owned by the Swede C. A. Karlson and the place is therefore named after him and not after the Swedish city.
A new building constructed in 1868 by the First Swedish Agricultural Company. The company decided at a meeting on 9 January 1869 that the new building would be called Lindsborg. The originators of the name were S. P. Lindgren, S. A. Lindell and J. O Lind.
In 1868, Swedes began breaking new ground on this site in Saunders County. A contributing factor that drew Swedes to the area was the Swedish Lutheran pastor S. G. Larson. With the arrival of the railway in 1886, the city of Malmo began to grow. Most of the settlers were from Dalarna and Skåne, and it was the railway company that gave the station the name Malmo, which later became the name of the town.
In the middle of St. Paul and Duluth, Minnesota, you'll find the community of Mora. The place was named after M. R. Kent, an American postal clerk, when Great Northern Railway was built between St. Paul and Duluth in 1882. The construction of the railway involved several longshoremen from Mora who often wrote home, which was also noticed by the postman Kent. One day he asked them about Mora, and they explained that it was a beautiful town in Sweden. Then Kent replied that this railway station should also be called Mora.
New Sweden, Maine
The colony of New Sweden was founded in 1871 by W. W. Thomas, the American consul in Gothenburg at the time, who later became the United States Secretary of State in Stockholm. He gathered a group of emigrants in Gothenburg and accompanied them all the way to America, and over the next 15 years the colony grew with more Swedish emigrants. The neighbouring colonies of Stockholm, Jemtland and Vestmanland can be said to be part of the great Swedish New Sweden colony.
A community began to emerge in 1868 when the Scandinavian Agricultural Society of Chicago decided to build a new settlement and purchased a large tract of land divided into 350 lots of 20 acres (8 hectares) each. The 107 members of the society then drew lots for the lots. The site was first named New Scandinavia but was changed to Scandia in 1876. At that time the community had 605 inhabitants, 74 Swedes and 13 Norwegians.
Stockholm, South Dakota
This new construction in South Dakota is said to have begun in 1880 and 1881 when the first Swedes arrived, partly from Sweden and partly from the Swedish settlement of Minnesota. The name was given to the town a decade or two later by the many Swedes who came from the Swedish capital, Stockholm. For a long time the community was exclusively Swedish, but later many Norwegians and Danes moved in as well.
Swea City, Iowa
Settlement in the area began in 1875 through the Swedish Captain R. E. Jeanson from New York, one of the leading men among the Swedish Baptists of the time. In the autumn of 1875, a Swedish Lutheran congregation was founded, and through the Swedish immigrants, the township was named Swea. In the mid-1890s, a railway station was built four miles southeast of Swea town and named Swea City, a name that has survived to this day.
The town of Vestmanland can be said to be part of the larger Swedish settlement surrounding the New Sweden colony in Maine. Vestmanland was later settled and given its name by the many settlers who came from Västmanland in Sweden.
Source: Vilhelm Berger (1867-1939), journalist, Sweden, USA.
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