History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-04-17

Introduction

During the period beginning in 1850 and ending in 1930 about 1,249,800 Swedes emigrated from Sweden to North America. Roughly 200,000 of these emigrants returned back to Sweden. There was an early emigration from Sweden to North America too, beginning in the 1830s but this was modest one. The huge wave of emigrants from Sweden stared after the American Civil War, i.e. after 1865. Now began an organized mass emigration that led to slightly more than 1,200,000 emigrated Swedes until the end of the emigration period around 1930. The family was the core of the emigrant parties before 1850 and these types of emigrants lasted until the 1870s.In the 1870s there was a change; now the group of single emigrants grew fast, i.e. people emigrating alone. The first emigration had a special character; families left their farms and homesteads in Sweden and thereby they cut their ties to Sweden. In the USA, there were free homestead land to claim and the family now had their future in the new country. Later a kind of complementary emigration began, emigrants went to relatives already established in the USA. In the 1890s and after when there was no free homestead land available the emigrants either had to buy already farmed land or work in the industries. This favored emigration of singles but made it difficult for families. There has been three major peaks in the emigration from Sweden to the USA: 1868 – 1872 1880 – 1893 1901 – 1914 The immigration to the USA came to halt during World War I (1914 - 1918). The immigration began again after WWI with a peak just before 1924. From 1924 and forward the immigration to the USA was limited due to a quota act and a demand for visa. The emigration from Sweden to the USA drastic decreases at the end of the 1920s and more or less stops after 1930. The first colonists from Europe settled in the eastern parts of America and many colonies emerged with communities and cultivated land. As more and more immigrants arrived to America the farmed land expanded westward, i.e. the frontier moved westward.

The Birth of the United States of America, U.S.A.

The colonization of the North American continent began in the East. The origin of the United States of America was the 13 English colonies, which declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 (United States Declaration of Independence). Britain didn’t tolerate this declaration and the result was the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783). With the help of the enemies of Great Britain; France, The Netherlands and Spain, the colonies managed to defeat the Britons. In Paris, France, on September 3, 1783, Great Britain had to formally acknowledge the birth and independence of the USA. The first president of the United States of America was George Washington (1732-1799) who held the presidency between 1783 and 1797. Sweden was the first country, after Great Britain and the countries involved with the war, to acknowledge the USA. This was done in Paris when Benjamin Franklin, the representative of "The Thirteen United States in North America" and the Swedish Ambassador Count Gustaf Philip Creutz signed the first treaty (The Treaty of Amity and Commerce) on April 3, 1783, five months after the preliminary peace articles were signed in Paris at the end of November, 1782. The United States was not a matter of course for the highly liberty-loving individual colonies. However, in 1789, the former colonies, now called States, were able to agree on compromises. The U.S. Constitution, still in use today, was written and ratified. Around 1790 the USA was a union with about 3 million whites and about 750,000 Afro-Americans. It had fully 2.3 million km² (0.9 million sq mi) land at its disposal. The original 13 colonies on the east coast had the largest population in the young republic.

The Frontier

The Frontier, i.e. the land acreage cultivated by settlers, constantly expanded westwards. The immigrants came from different parts of the world during the westward expansion of the Frontier, settled areas were colored by different nationalities. The growth westward was slow in the beginning but later carried out with greater speed. By the 1850’s the colonists had reached the Pacific Coast but the cultivation of the land didn’t reach the West Coast until the end of the 1800’s. The image to the right shows the westward shifting of the Frontier during the 1800's in the US.

Peaks of US Immigration

The first major peak of immigration happened between 1847 and 1856. The Frontier had then reached the Mississippi River. The majority of immigrants who arrived during this 10 year period settled in the States on both sides of the Mississippi River, in the Central Midwest. They were primarily Irish and German immigrants. The Irish were forced to emigrate due to the immense failure of the crops in Ireland between 1845 and 1846 and the Germans by the unsuccessful German Revolution in 1848. The next peak of immigration took place between 1865 and 1873 and for the first time Scandinavian immigrants arrived in larger numbers. It was now the Upper Midwest that interested the immigrants and Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota now became a largely Scandinavian settled area. Even if the Swedish emigration to the United States (US) was large they were by no means heading the European emigration. Among the European emigration countries, Sweden was in the seventh place followed by Norway. The European nations were not the only nations with emigration to the US. Asian nations also had a large emigration to the USA. The north-western parts of Europe dominated the emigration during the latter parts of the 1800’s. However, from 1900 the South European nations top the emigration to the US. Also at this time the non-European emigration increased considerably. The Northwest Europeans emigrants cleared the land and worked at various methods of construction. The South and East Europeans emigrants came to a “finished” industry and service society. This is especially true for the East Asians.

The Emigration from Sweden to the USA (1)

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The chart shows the different emigration peaks to the US during the second half of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s. There are two peaks with about the same number of emigrants, about 3 million, between 1847 and 1856 and between 1865 and 1873. Between 1880 and 1893 we have a significantly larger peak of emigrants of about 7.3 million. The peak of 13.4 million emigrants lasted from 1900 to the beginning of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 . The chart is from Utvandrarnas Hus (House of Emigration), Växjö, Sweden.
Number of immigrants from Europe to USA per country 1821 - 1960. Chart Hans Högman.
The chart above shows the 8 Europeans counties with the largest emigration to the United States between 1821 and 1960. The emigration from Sweden is very large expressed as a percentage, if we consider the population of Sweden at the time, however it is low in total numbers. During this period 1,249,810 people emigrated from Sweden to the United States while the corresponding figure from Germany is 6,726,294. Of the fully 1.2 million Swedish emigrants to the US about 200,000 returned to Sweden. The chart was created by Hans Högman. The figures are from Utvandrarnas Hus (House of Emigration), Växjö, Sweden.

Sweden during the 1800's

There is a large increase in the population of Sweden during the 1800’s, especially during its first half. The increase had many reasons but three things are usually pointed out; “the period of peace, the vaccine and the potatoes”. Sweden’s latest war ended in 1814 and then came a long period of peace. Times of war brought about heavy losses and immense hardship to the population, not the least during the war with Russia 1808 – 1809 when Sweden lost its eastern half, Finland. The long period of peace after 1814 influenced the population increase in a very positive manner. Another great importance to the population increase was the vaccine. The smallpox vaccination began as early as in 1801. The result was a greatly reduced mortality rate. There were other epidemics which were a great problem during the 1800’s though; cholera for example. There was no vaccine for cholera. There were five cholera epidemics in Sweden between 1834 and 1873. A third reason for the reduced mortality rate was the improved diet. It is here the potato enters the picture. Of course the potato brought calories but more important were the addition of vitamins which created a power of resistance for many diseases. Yet another reason to the reduced mortality was the understanding of the importance good hygiene, not the least in connection to childbirth. This highly reduced the high infant mortality rate. The number of surviving newborn children who reached adulthood increased remarkably after a few decades in the beginning of the 1800’s. This considerably improved the population growth. The image to the right shows a croft (torp) in Torsås parish, Småland (Kalmar Län). The image is published with the consent of Morgan Emilsson. The chart below shows Sweden’s increase in population since the start of the censuses in the middle of the 18th century. The Swedish population practically doubled between 1750 and 1850.

Trade and Industry in Transformation

During the 1800’s there were a number of changes pertaining to the economic policies. Still in the middle of the 19th century about 80% of the Swedish population were occupied with farming and stock breeding and as many as 90% of the population lived in the countryside. This distribution was very much changed by the end of the emigration period in the beginning of the 1930’s. Now only a third of the population was occupied in farming. Another third was employed in industry. In 1800 about 10% of the population lived in cities while in 1900 about 22%. Not until 1957 were more than 50% resident in cities.

Agriculture Reforms

The arable land was increased in the 1800’s through land reclamation. Ditching and crop rotation raised the yield. During the same period there were great social changes, not the least within farming. The successive realization of the great redistribution of land holdings burst the old villages. The purpose of the redistribution was to gather each farmer’s fields into as few as possible — rather one large field than several small ones. The reform also involved the movement of many farmhouses from the villages into each farmer's farmland. However, the crofters (torpare) and “backstugesittare” were caught in between in the process. “Backstugesittare” was a term used for people living in small houses or shanties or dugouts etc. on a landowner’s land or on the village common land. The “backstugesittare were without any assets and were a motley crowd of people consisting of craftsmen, farm workers as well as old people and the very poor. Now, they no longer had access to the village common land. A crofter (British English term) was a tenant farmer who paid his tenancy with work force instead of cash. The tenancy was inheritable. The reform implied increased difficulties for this considerable group laborers within the major branch of business at the time – farming. The situation was further worsened by the population increase at the time combined with other changes like the redistribution of land holdings. This created a growing grouping of agricultural laborers. In 1850 about 40% of Sweden’s population belonged to a growing, poor rural proletariat, who weren’t welcomed anywhere. A hundred years earlier this group of people constituted only 20% of the population. We then also have to consider that the population doubled during those hundred years. Each village or town council (socken) was obligated to care for their alms relief. This, in its turn, implied that that no one that couldn’t provide for themselves were welcomed to the village and town. However, there was another change in the society that offered some relief to the agricultural difficulties and that was the growing industrialism. The image to the right shows a croft (torp) in Torsås parish, Småland (Kalmar Län). The image is published with the consent of Morgan Emilsson.

Reforms of the Society

The middle of the 1800’s was a period of many reforms. A new school reform, Folkskolestadgan, arrived in 1842, equal right of inheritance for man and woman in 1845, majority for unmarried women 1858 and the compulsory trade guilds were abolished in 1846. Sweden adopted a bicameral parliament (Riksdag) in 1865 instead of the old Riksdag of the Four Estates (Ståndsriksdagen). According to the school reform of 1842 (Folkskolestadgan) there had to be at least one school per socken (parish). This had to be a permanent school and had to have a graduated teacher. The demand was in other words one school per socken and one teacher per school. There was no division of the pupils per age. Instead pupils of different ages were in the same class. The schools were to be run locally, i.e. by the socken. The image to the left shows a classroom from around 1850 in Linköping City. Photo Hans Högman 2004, Old Linköping

The Rise of Industrialism

ÅThe steam engine made it possible to establish mills where it was most convenient. Earlier mills had to be built by streams to use water power. The industry now moved to the cities and with them the laborers. First out was the sawmill industry. Many sawmills were established along the Norrland Coast. New communities were founded and a class of industrial laborers grew up. The first steam sawmill in Sweden was erected in 1849 in Medelpad province. It was soon followed by so many similar establishments that the area around Sundsvall City, Medelpad, became one of Sweden’s most important industrial areas with connections to countries in different parts of the world. It was then a small step to move from steam sawmills to pulp industry and paper mills. The image shows the interior of a sawmill along the coast of Norrland, most likley the Sundsvall area.

New Means of Transportation

Steam power also brought new means of transportation. Railroads were being built both by the government and by private companies. The first line, The Western Trunk Line (Västra stambanan), between Stockholm City on the east coast and Gothenburg City on the west coast, was opened in 1862. Two years later, 1864, The Southern Trunk Line (Södra stambanan) to Malmö City in the south of Sweden was opened. Shipping was also developed. Steam ships could be built in iron and became both larger and faster. Freight and traveling time shrunk. The continents came closer to each other and the possibility of traveling increased. However, the number of steam ships didn’t match the number of sailing ships until 1900 within transportation. However, it was not only advantages with the growing industrialism. The city mills certainly absorbed a large deal of the unemployed agricultural laborers in the countryside but at times of recession there were no social security. At best the wages were reduced but normally recession brought unemployment. Unlike the countryside there was no possibility of growing crops that could be made to last longer and distributed while it lasted. Destitution was crueler in the cities than in the countryside. It was natural that when possibilities arose to move away from the difficulties an awakening of emigration arose. The interest for emigration becomes stronger after 1860. The social pressure had by then become so high that not only a few individuals or groups of individuals emigrated but now we saw the beginning of a mass emigration. With the technical developments at the time it was now possible to transport all these emigrants to their destination. The image shows steamships in the port of Sundsvall in the beginning of the 20th century. Hans Högman 2013, own collection.

Export of Iron

The Swedish export to the United States increased in the beginning of the 19th century and became by the time quite significant. This was especially true for Swedish iron. One reason was that the United States did not yet have any major production and that the young nation still was in a build-up era with a great need of iron and ironware. This was fortunate for Sweden since at the time the most important export market for Swedish iron, Great Britain, decreased. When Great Britain managed to produce iron out of pit coal through the so-called puddle process the Swedish export of iron had a major drawback. The US market rescued the Swedish iron industry and became a major market for Swedish iron. In 1806 Sweden exported more than 3,200 metric tons (3,500 US tons) of iron to the United States and in 1810 the amount was 14,500 metric tons (16,000 US tons). About a third of the Swedish iron export went to the USA. The Swedish iron export was now favored, not the least by the fact that Sweden’s principal competitor, Britain, was hit by high US customs duties, something Sweden was liberated from due to its trade agreement with the United States. The United States import of iron from Sweden diminished in the middle of the 1800’s, i.e. when the emigration from Sweden to the USA increased, but the United States was still, alongside with Britain, a major importer of Swedish iron.

Trade and Shipping

A side effect of the Swedish trade relations with the United States was the relatively vivid shipping traffic between the two countries. The port of Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast early became the major seaport in the US traffic. It has been estimated that during the 1830’s an average of 77 ships per year sailed to the United States from Gothenburg, in other words more than one ship a week. Before 1830 it was primarily American ships since the Swedish shipping companies couldn't normally compete with the American in getting freights home to Sweden or to Europe. The conditions changed in 1830 when more liberal terms were instituted between the different countries when it came to bringing cargo. Free trade about freights arose. Thereby were American ships able to get home freights already in Britain instead of turning to other European countries. This condition was also the basis for the early emigration of groups and individual people from Sweden, i.e. the emigration prior to 1860. However, these were ships made to carry cargo and not passengers, so the comfort wasn’t very good on board the ships. The image shows sailing ships in the port of Sundsvall in the 1870's. Between 1820 and 1850 about 103 Swedish ships from Stockholm, 95 from Gothenburg and 35 from Gävle sailed to New York with emigrants according to American sources. In August 1853 there was a notice in the Swedish newspaper Carlhamns Allehanda with information that the Amalia Maria sailed from Karlshamn, Blekinge, Sweden, to New York with 196 emigrants. The ship made three similar journeys the following year. The newspaper has no further notices about emigration directly from Karlshamn to the United States but mentions transfer traffic of emigrants to Copenhagen in Denmark, Lübeck in Germany and Gothenburg where they boarded the regular emigrant ships to the United States.

Popular National Movements

The social and economic changes were the basis of the popular national movements; the Working-class movement, Free Church movement and the Temperance movement. The goal was eight-hour working day, the abolishment of the Swedish State Church and alcohol prohibition. The demand for universal right to vote grew. The right to vote was at the time was based on income or private means and only 20% of the men of age had the right to vote. Universal right to vote for men was introduced in 1909 but not until 1919 did women receive the right to vote. The first Swedish general election when women could vote for the first time was held in 1921.

The Early Emigration

Swedish emigration to the United States has had several peaks and with time also changed in character. The early emigration began in the 1830’s. It was then primarily enterprising people, often from upper social classes, who made the journey to the United States. They traveled either alone or together with like-minded people. They were educated and had a good financial position. The laws which prevented emigration without the approval of the authorities held, at this time, back the larger groups of smaller means.

Gustaf Unonius

A representative of the early emigration was the Uppsala University graduate, Uppsala City, Uppland, Gustaf Unonius (1810 - 1902). A smaller group consisting of Gustaf Unonius, his wife and a maid, a few more students, emigrated in 1841 to the United States. The group departed Gävle in May 1841 aboard a brig carrying iron to New York. Their plan was to continue to some place around Lake Michigan or the Upper Midwest around the Mississippi River. First, they headed for Illinois, however during the travel they changed their minds and settled by Pike Lake, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, 50 km (30 miles) west of Milwaukee. The area was, at the time, practically a wilderness compared to the more colonized land in Illinois which they had been advised to settle in. They named the place Nya Uppsala (New Uppsala). During the following years more emigrants, like-minded to Unionius, arrived at the Pike Lake area. Unionius and these people were rather unskilled farmers and didn’t handle the strain to well and the colony was later dissolved. After moving to Chicago, Unonius soon became disillusioned with life in America. He and his family returned to Sweden in 1858. Back in Sweden, between 1861 and 1862, he wrote a memorial publication in two parts about his 17 years of experiences of North America. While he still was in the United States he published several stories about his travel and stay in the United States in the Swedish national newspaper Aftonbladet. The special about these articles was that they gave a highly idealized picture of America. Many Swedish emigrants were falsely tempted to emigrate by these articles. Unionius was, after his return, appointed a customs collector in the seaside town Grisslehamn, Uppland.

Peter Cassel

Another representative for the early emigration was Peter Cassel (1790 – 1857) from Kisa, Östergötland. Peter Cassel’s emigration had many causes. Cassel belonged to the liberal opposition, was a keen advocate of temperance and a member of the Free Church movement. However, he was not in conflict with the authorities. Instead he was tempted to emigrate by the higher degree of freedom in the United States which the travel articles in the papers often painted up. In 1845 he and 17 other Kisa villagers emigrated to North America with Wisconsin as the destination. Instead of Wisconsin the group did choose, together with another Swedish family to settle at the Skunk River about 70 km (44 miles) northwest of Burlington, Iowa where they in Jefferson County founded the colony New Sweden. Unlike Unonios, Peter Cassel was a practical man who in Sweden had been a farmer, a windmill handler and a master builder. Cassel also wrote many travel articles which were published in Sweden and brought many more Swedish emigrants to the colony. In 1858 there were 500 Swedes in the colony consisting of hundreds of families. Cassel himself died in the colony in 1857. Primarily it was Cassel who started the new mass emigration from Sweden.

Erik Jansson and the Bishop Hill Colony

A considerably larger group of emigrants was the preacher Erik Jansson (1808 – 1850) [Eric Janson] and his followers, the Ersk- Jansarna. Erik Jansson was the leader of a Swedish pietist sect. Jansson was born in Biskopskulla, Uppland, near Enköping and Uppsala. At first, Jansson was a traveling salesman of wheatflour. In 1844 he founded a separatist communion called Erik-Jansare or Ersk-Jansare (Erik Janssonists). In 1844 he settled down in Forsa, Hälsingland with his family. Jansson only recognized the bible as a pious authority, supremacy, and called himself a godsend prophet. He did forbid his followers to visit the common church services, and arranged on June 11, 1844, a book pyre in Alfta parish, Hälsingland where he had all Holy Scriptures he disapproved of burnt. Among his trusted followers he had two brothers, Olof and Jonas Olsson. In 1845 they were sent ahead to the United States to locate a suitable place to settle in and to prepare for an emigration for the rest of the sect. The place they did choose was Henry County, Illinois, about 230 km (143 mi) southwest of Chicago. Jansson was arrested several times but always managed to get around things and was released. In the fall of 1845 he was again arrested and was to be transported to the county jail in Gävle, Gästrikland. However, the convoy of prisoners was attacked by Jansson’s followers who liberated their prophet. Jansson now fled from Sweden via Norway and Denmark to Germany and Liverpool, Britain and arrived with his family to New York in June 1846. From here they traveled to the chosen place in Henry County, IL where they purchased land. They named the place Bishop Hill, which is a literal translation of Jansson’s place of birth, Biskopskulla. Erik Jansson’s motive for the emigration was only but one; to escape punishment and persecution for his rigid, peculiar unorthodox beliefs. The Jansson followers now sold their farms and through the joint traveling funds also followers without means got their chance to emigrate. Before the end of 1846 about 300 emigrants had joined Erik Jansson in Bishop Hill. During spring of 1847 another 400 arrived. Most emigrants in Bishop Hill came from Hälsingland province in Sweden, but a large group originated from Nora in northern Uppland. Others came from Gästrikland, Dalarna and a smaller part came from Erik Jansson’s home district in southwestern Uppland. Sweden was had a failure of the crop in 1844 as well as in 1845. This was for many of the Janssonists the final cause to follow the sect to America and Bishop Hill. Eleven ships of different sizes departed Gävle, Söderhamn and Stockholm with sect members. However, not all arrived safely to the United States. The Betty Catharina was lost on August 8, 1846, with 65 people aboard. All property in the colony was collectively owned. The first time in the colony was very difficult. Starvation and diseases stroke the colony and many died in the first winter. However, buildings were erected, land cultivated and the situation for the members of the colony stabilized after a few years. The villagers lived as a collective religious colony for 15 years, from 1846 to 1861, tilling the soil, tending their animals, and building their settlement with bricks that they made by hand. During the years up to 1854 about 1,500 followers arrived at the colony. Some local pioneers were amazed by their lifestyle and the relative success that it generated. Erik Jansson ruled his colony with a heavy hand. There were disputes and growing discontent since the promised benefits failed to come and that the economy was run badly. John Root, a Swedish emigrant who had married Jansson's cousin, Charlotta Louisa Root, had become disaffected with the commune and wanted to leave Bishop Hill, but the other colonists prevented him from taking his family along. On May 13, 1850, while Root and Jansson were dealing with unrelated legal matters at the courthouse in nearby Cambridge, IL, Root shot and killed Jansson. John Root was convicted of manslaughter, but was released after serving just one year in prison. The rule of the commune was taken over by 7 members after Jansson’s death. The village continued and prospered for several years, but suffered in the 1857 financial crisis. In 1858 the community owned 3,600 hectare (8,896 acres) land. It was dissolved in 1861, after the American Civil War broke out although court cases dealing with the division of the colony's property were not resolved until 1879. The village is now a state park. The surviving buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. About 4,000 Swedish emigrants to the United States participated in the American Civil War (1861 - 1865), almost all on the Union side. The Swedes in Bishop Hill raised their own company under the charge of the former sergeant in the Swedish Dal Regiment, Erik Forsse, who advanced to major in the war.

Hans Mattson

Another group emigration of importance was led by Hans Mattsson (1832 - 1893). Mattsson was from Önnestad near Kristianstad City in Skåne. In 1851 at the age of 19 he emigrated to the United States together with a friend. His plan was to work his way up. After a while his parents and siblings joined him in the US. Mattsson’s effort was not that he left with a large group of emigrants. Instead he gathered them in the United States. In 1853 he took charge of a group of Swedes in Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois and headed for Minnesota. They found a suitable place about 20 km (12 mi) west of Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota, by an outlet of a tributary to the Mississippi River. Minnesota thereby got the first Swedish settlers. Within two years there were over 100 Swedes in the colony. The congregation Vasa was founded (Vasa Township), a name they switched to instead of the first name: Mattson’s Settlement. Letters home and articles in Swedish newspapers attracted more Swedes to emigrate to the colony. However, Mattsson himself left the colony in 1856 and moved to Red Wing, but the colony continued to prosper. Mattsson was militarily trained in Sweden in the Wendes Artillery Regiment and when the American Civil War broke out in 1861 he raised a voluntary Union company of mostly Scandinavians. Mattsson was appointed Captain of the company and in 1863 he was promoted Colonel and served in the military until the end of the war. After returning to Minnesota, Mattson began his work as an immigration booster. First he worked for private railroad companies. He started with the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Co, where he worked as a protection agent to greet Swedish and Norwegian arrivals in Chicago. Between 1867 and 1869 Mattsson was the first secretary of the Minnesota Board of Immigration. The state was especially interested in recruiting Scandinavian immigrants, who were considered to have good moral character. Mattson returned to Sweden as representative of the Minnesota Immigration Board in 1867 and 1868 to recruit settlers, a successful undertaking. These visits are described in his memoirs Reminiscences, which were published in both English and Swedish in 1891. He was twice the Secretary of State in Minnesota, 1870 – 1872 and 1887-1891. In between his stints as Secretary of State, Mattson lived outside the US. He took his family to Sweden in the spring of 1871. He remained in Sweden for five years as a booster. Aside from these trips abroad, Mattson lived most of his later life in Minneapolis. That is where he died, on March 5, 1893 During the early emigration period it was primarily complete families that emigrated, i.e. husband, wife and children and often also their farmhands and maids

A New Type of Emigration

When many emigrants chose to move further west, other emigrants took over the land they left. This was typical for a certain type of emigration; capable pioneers constantly cleared new land during the migration westward. Others filled the gap they left by taking over the already cleared land. This early emigration in group or individually – while the emigration still was an adventure and took a large deal of individual planning – was about 1865 followed by another kind of emigration. This emigration needed some sort of organization, which could assist individuals or groups, who lacked own capability to carry out their decision to emigrate. This new wave of emigration became much more extensive. Furthermore, a prerequisite for this new type of emigration was the pioneering work carried out by the early emigrants. Another prerequisite for these new groups of emigrants was reasonable costs for the journey.

Related Links

The New Sweden Colony in North America My Swedish emigrants to the USA The subdivisions of Sweden Map, Swedish counties (Län) Map, Swedish provinces History and organization of the Church of Sweden The Johnson's - A Swedish Emigrant Family

Source References

Känn ditt land, Nr 8 Utvandringen, Ralph Scander, STF Ånga och Dynamit, Historien om Sverige, Herman Lindqvist, 1999 Emigrantforskning, Sveriges Släktforskarförbunds Handböcker 1, T Rosvall, A-L Hultman, 2012 Utvandrare till USA, Några förslag på hur du kan hitta dem, Elisabeth Thorsell, 2012 Swedes and the Dakota conflict in 1862 – creating a Swedish-American collective memory”, uppsats vid institutionen för kulturvetenskap, Historia, Linnéuniversitetet 2011 av Gabriel Ludolv. Wikipedia Nationalencyklopedin, NE Ellis Island United States Census Bureau Peter Broberg’s Biography, överlevande från West Lake massakern 1862, då 7 år gammal. The Story of the Massacre, Anna Stina Brobergs minnen från West Lake massakern 1862, då 16 år gammal. Gift Peterson. "Glimpses from the Activities of a Swedish Emigrant Agent" av Olof Thörn. University of Illinois. General Land Office, Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) New York Public Library, NYPL Library of Congress National Park Service Tack General! Den sagolika historien om hur en oäkta skånepåg blev en äkta brigadgeneral i det amerikanska inbördeskriget. Om Brigadier General Carlos J. Stolbrand. Av Tomas Risbecker, 2011. An Emigrant journey across the Atlantic in 1880. An article published in Sollentuna Genealogy Society’s paper An-tecknat, issue 1- 2019. The article was originally published in a Swedish newspaper, Härnösandsposten, on 27 October 1880 and transcribed by Agneta Berghem 2019. Top of page
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Släktforskning Hans Högman
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Introduction

During the period beginning in 1850 and ending in 1930 about 1,249,800 Swedes emigrated from Sweden to North America. Roughly 200,000 of these emigrants returned back to Sweden. There was an early emigration from Sweden to North America too, beginning in the 1830s but this was modest one. The huge wave of emigrants from Sweden stared after the American Civil War, i.e. after 1865. Now began an organized mass emigration that led to slightly more than 1,200,000 emigrated Swedes until the end of the emigration period around 1930. The family was the core of the emigrant parties before 1850 and these types of emigrants lasted until the 1870s.In the 1870s there was a change; now the group of single emigrants grew fast, i.e. people emigrating alone. The first emigration had a special character; families left their farms and homesteads in Sweden and thereby they cut their ties to Sweden. In the USA, there were free homestead land to claim and the family now had their future in the new country. Later a kind of complementary emigration began, emigrants went to relatives already established in the USA. In the 1890s and after when there was no free homestead land available the emigrants either had to buy already farmed land or work in the industries. This favored emigration of singles but made it difficult for families. There has been three major peaks in the emigration from Sweden to the USA: 1868 – 1872 1880 – 1893 1901 – 1914 The immigration to the USA came to halt during World War I (1914 - 1918). The immigration began again after WWI with a peak just before 1924. From 1924 and forward the immigration to the USA was limited due to a quota act and a demand for visa. The emigration from Sweden to the USA drastic decreases at the end of the 1920s and more or less stops after 1930. The first colonists from Europe settled in the eastern parts of America and many colonies emerged with communities and cultivated land. As more and more immigrants arrived to America the farmed land expanded westward, i.e. the frontier moved westward.

The Birth of the United States of

America, U.S.A.

The colonization of the North American continent began in the East. The origin of the United States of America was the 13 English colonies, which declared their independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776 (United States Declaration of Independence). Britain didn’t tolerate this declaration and the result was the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783). With the help of the enemies of Great Britain; France, The Netherlands and Spain, the colonies managed to defeat the Britons. In Paris, France, on September 3, 1783, Great Britain had to formally acknowledge the birth and independence of the USA. The first president of the United States of America was George Washington (1732-1799) who held the presidency between 1783 and 1797. Sweden was the first country, after Great Britain and the countries involved with the war, to acknowledge the USA. This was done in Paris when Benjamin Franklin, the representative of "The Thirteen United States in North America" and the Swedish Ambassador Count Gustaf Philip Creutz signed the first treaty (The Treaty of Amity and Commerce) on April 3, 1783, five months after the preliminary peace articles were signed in Paris at the end of November, 1782. The United States was not a matter of course for the highly liberty-loving individual colonies. However, in 1789, the former colonies, now called States, were able to agree on compromises. The U.S. Constitution, still in use today, was written and ratified. Around 1790 the USA was a union with about 3 million whites and about 750,000 Afro-Americans. It had fully 2.3 million km² (0.9 million sq mi) land at its disposal. The original 13 colonies on the east coast had the largest population in the young republic.

The Frontier

The Frontier, i.e. the land acreage cultivated by settlers, constantly expanded westwards. The immigrants came from different parts of the world during the westward expansion of the Frontier, settled areas were colored by different nationalities. The growth westward was slow in the beginning but later carried out with greater speed. By the 1850’s the colonists had reached the Pacific Coast but the cultivation of the land didn’t reach the West Coast until the end of the 1800’s. The image to the right shows the westward shifting of the Frontier during the 1800's in the US.

Peaks of US

Immigration

The first major peak of immigration happened between 1847 and 1856. The Frontier had then reached the Mississippi River. The majority of immigrants who arrived during this 10 year period settled in the States on both sides of the Mississippi River, in the Central Midwest. They were primarily Irish and German immigrants. The Irish were forced to emigrate due to the immense failure of the crops in Ireland between 1845 and 1846 and the Germans by the unsuccessful German Revolution in 1848. The next peak of immigration took place between 1865 and 1873 and for the first time Scandinavian immigrants arrived in larger numbers. It was now the Upper Midwest that interested the immigrants and Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota now became a largely Scandinavian settled area. Even if the Swedish emigration to the United States (US) was large they were by no means heading the European emigration. Among the European emigration countries, Sweden was in the seventh place followed by Norway. The European nations were not the only nations with emigration to the US. Asian nations also had a large emigration to the USA. The north-western parts of Europe dominated the emigration during the latter parts of the 1800’s. However, from 1900 the South European nations top the emigration to the US. Also at this time the non-European emigration increased considerably. The Northwest Europeans emigrants cleared the land and worked at various methods of construction. The South and East Europeans emigrants came to a “finished” industry and service society. This is especially true for the East Asians.

The Emigration from

Sweden to the USA (1)

The chart shows the different emigration peaks to the US during the second half of the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s. There are two peaks with about the same number of emigrants, about 3 million, between 1847 and 1856 and between 1865 and 1873. Between 1880 and 1893 we have a significantly larger peak of emigrants of about 7.3 million. The peak of 13.4 million emigrants lasted from 1900 to the beginning of the outbreak of World War I in 1914 . The chart is from Utvandrarnas Hus (House of Emigration), Växjö, Sweden.
Number of immigrants from Europe to USA per country 1821 - 1960. Chart Hans Högman.
The chart above shows the 8 Europeans counties with the largest emigration to the United States between 1821 and 1960. The emigration from Sweden is very large expressed as a percentage, if we consider the population of Sweden at the time, however it is low in total numbers. During this period 1,249,810 people emigrated from Sweden to the United States while the corresponding figure from Germany is 6,726,294. Of the fully 1.2 million Swedish emigrants to the US about 200,000 returned to Sweden. The chart was created by Hans Högman. The figures are from Utvandrarnas Hus (House of Emigration), Växjö, Sweden.

Sweden during the 1800's

There is a large increase in the population of Sweden during the 1800’s, especially during its first half. The increase had many reasons but three things are usually pointed out; “the period of peace, the vaccine and the potatoes”. Sweden’s latest war ended in 1814 and then came a long period of peace. Times of war brought about heavy losses and immense hardship to the population, not the least during the war with Russia 1808 – 1809 when Sweden lost its eastern half, Finland. The long period of peace after 1814 influenced the population increase in a very positive manner. Another great importance to the population increase was the vaccine. The smallpox vaccination began as early as in 1801. The result was a greatly reduced mortality rate. There were other epidemics which were a great problem during the 1800’s though; cholera for example. There was no vaccine for cholera. There were five cholera epidemics in Sweden between 1834 and 1873. A third reason for the reduced mortality rate was the improved diet. It is here the potato enters the picture. Of course the potato brought calories but more important were the addition of vitamins which created a power of resistance for many diseases. Yet another reason to the reduced mortality was the understanding of the importance good hygiene, not the least in connection to childbirth. This highly reduced the high infant mortality rate. The number of surviving newborn children who reached adulthood increased remarkably after a few decades in the beginning of the 1800’s. This considerably improved the population growth. The image to the right shows a croft (torp) in Torsås parish, Småland (Kalmar Län). The image is published with the consent of Morgan Emilsson. The chart below shows Sweden’s increase in population since the start of the censuses in the middle of the 18th century. The Swedish population practically doubled between 1750 and 1850.

Trade and Industry in Transformation

During the 1800’s there were a number of changes pertaining to the economic policies. Still in the middle of the 19th century about 80% of the Swedish population were occupied with farming and stock breeding and as many as 90% of the population lived in the countryside. This distribution was very much changed by the end of the emigration period in the beginning of the 1930’s. Now only a third of the population was occupied in farming. Another third was employed in industry. In 1800 about 10% of the population lived in cities while in 1900 about 22%. Not until 1957 were more than 50% resident in cities.

Agriculture Reforms

The arable land was increased in the 1800’s through land reclamation. Ditching and crop rotation raised the yield. During the same period there were great social changes, not the least within farming. The successive realization of the great redistribution of land holdings burst the old villages. The purpose of the redistribution was to gather each farmer’s fields into as few as possible — rather one large field than several small ones. The reform also involved the movement of many farmhouses from the villages into each farmer's farmland. However, the crofters (torpare) and “backstugesittare were caught in between in the process. Backstugesittare” was a term used for people living in small houses or shanties or dugouts etc. on a landowner’s land or on the village common land. The backstugesittare” were without any assets and were a motley crowd of people consisting of craftsmen, farm workers as well as old people and the very poor. Now, they no longer had access to the village common land. A crofter (British English term) was a tenant farmer who paid his tenancy with work force instead of cash. The tenancy was inheritable. The reform implied increased difficulties for this considerable group laborers within the major branch of business at the time – farming. The situation was further worsened by the population increase at the time combined with other changes like the redistribution of land holdings. This created a growing grouping of agricultural laborers. In 1850 about 40% of Sweden’s population belonged to a growing, poor rural proletariat, who weren’t welcomed anywhere. A hundred years earlier this group of people constituted only 20% of the population. We then also have to consider that the population doubled during those hundred years. Each village or town council (socken) was obligated to care for their alms relief. This, in its turn, implied that that no one that couldn’t provide for themselves were welcomed to the village and town. However, there was another change in the society that offered some relief to the agricultural difficulties and that was the growing industrialism. The image to the right shows a croft (torp) in Torsås parish, Småland (Kalmar Län). The image is published with the consent of Morgan Emilsson.

Reforms of the Society

The middle of the 1800’s was a period of many reforms. A new school reform, Folkskolestadgan, arrived in 1842, equal right of inheritance for man and woman in 1845, majority for unmarried women 1858 and the compulsory trade guilds were abolished in 1846. Sweden adopted a bicameral parliament (Riksdag) in 1865 instead of the old Riksdag of the Four Estates (Ståndsriksdagen). According to the school reform of 1842 (Folkskolestadgan) there had to be at least one school per socken (parish). This had to be a permanent school and had to have a graduated teacher. The demand was in other words one school per socken and one teacher per school. There was no division of the pupils per age. Instead pupils of different ages were in the same class. The schools were to be run locally, i.e. by the socken. The image to the left shows a classroom from around 1850 in Linköping City. Photo Hans Högman 2004, Old Linköping

The Rise of Industrialism

ÅThe steam engine made it possible to establish mills where it was most convenient. Earlier mills had to be built by streams to use water power. The industry now moved to the cities and with them the laborers. First out was the sawmill industry. Many sawmills were established along the Norrland Coast. New communities were founded and a class of industrial laborers grew up. The first steam sawmill in Sweden was erected in 1849 in Medelpad province. It was soon followed by so many similar establishments that the area around Sundsvall City, Medelpad, became one of Sweden’s most important industrial areas with connections to countries in different parts of the world. It was then a small step to move from steam sawmills to pulp industry and paper mills. The image shows the interior of a sawmill along the coast of Norrland, most likley the Sundsvall area.

New Means of Transportation

Steam power also brought new means of transportation. Railroads were being built both by the government and by private companies. The first line, The Western Trunk Line (Västra stambanan), between Stockholm City on the east coast and Gothenburg City on the west coast, was opened in 1862. Two years later, 1864, The Southern Trunk Line (Södra stambanan) to Malmö City in the south of Sweden was opened. Shipping was also developed. Steam ships could be built in iron and became both larger and faster. Freight and traveling time shrunk. The continents came closer to each other and the possibility of traveling increased. However, the number of steam ships didn’t match the number of sailing ships until 1900 within transportation. However, it was not only advantages with the growing industrialism. The city mills certainly absorbed a large deal of the unemployed agricultural laborers in the countryside but at times of recession there were no social security. At best the wages were reduced but normally recession brought unemployment. Unlike the countryside there was no possibility of growing crops that could be made to last longer and distributed while it lasted. Destitution was crueler in the cities than in the countryside. It was natural that when possibilities arose to move away from the difficulties an awakening of emigration arose. The interest for emigration becomes stronger after 1860. The social pressure had by then become so high that not only a few individuals or groups of individuals emigrated but now we saw the beginning of a mass emigration. With the technical developments at the time it was now possible to transport all these emigrants to their destination. The image shows steamships in the port of Sundsvall in the beginning of the 20th century. Hans Högman 2013, own collection.

Export of Iron

The Swedish export to the United States increased in the beginning of the 19th century and became by the time quite significant. This was especially true for Swedish iron. One reason was that the United States did not yet have any major production and that the young nation still was in a build-up era with a great need of iron and ironware. This was fortunate for Sweden since at the time the most important export market for Swedish iron, Great Britain, decreased. When Great Britain managed to produce iron out of pit coal through the so-called puddle process the Swedish export of iron had a major drawback. The US market rescued the Swedish iron industry and became a major market for Swedish iron. In 1806 Sweden exported more than 3,200 metric tons (3,500 US tons) of iron to the United States and in 1810 the amount was 14,500 metric tons (16,000 US tons). About a third of the Swedish iron export went to the USA. The Swedish iron export was now favored, not the least by the fact that Sweden’s principal competitor, Britain, was hit by high US customs duties, something Sweden was liberated from due to its trade agreement with the United States. The United States import of iron from Sweden diminished in the middle of the 1800’s, i.e. when the emigration from Sweden to the USA increased, but the United States was still, alongside with Britain, a major importer of Swedish iron.

Trade and Shipping

A side effect of the Swedish trade relations with the United States was the relatively vivid shipping traffic between the two countries. The port of Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast early became the major seaport in the US traffic. It has been estimated that during the 1830’s an average of 77 ships per year sailed to the United States from Gothenburg, in other words more than one ship a week. Before 1830 it was primarily American ships since the Swedish shipping companies couldn't normally compete with the American in getting freights home to Sweden or to Europe. The conditions changed in 1830 when more liberal terms were instituted between the different countries when it came to bringing cargo. Free trade about freights arose. Thereby were American ships able to get home freights already in Britain instead of turning to other European countries. This condition was also the basis for the early emigration of groups and individual people from Sweden, i.e. the emigration prior to 1860. However, these were ships made to carry cargo and not passengers, so the comfort wasn’t very good on board the ships. The image shows sailing ships in the port of Sundsvall in the 1870's. Between 1820 and 1850 about 103 Swedish ships from Stockholm, 95 from Gothenburg and 35 from Gävle sailed to New York with emigrants according to American sources. In August 1853 there was a notice in the Swedish newspaper Carlhamns Allehanda with information that the Amalia Maria sailed from Karlshamn, Blekinge, Sweden, to New York with 196 emigrants. The ship made three similar journeys the following year. The newspaper has no further notices about emigration directly from Karlshamn to the United States but mentions transfer traffic of emigrants to Copenhagen in Denmark, Lübeck in Germany and Gothenburg where they boarded the regular emigrant ships to the United States.

Popular National Movements

The social and economic changes were the basis of the popular national movements; the Working-class movement, Free Church movement and the Temperance movement. The goal was eight-hour working day, the abolishment of the Swedish State Church and alcohol prohibition. The demand for universal right to vote grew. The right to vote was at the time was based on income or private means and only 20% of the men of age had the right to vote. Universal right to vote for men was introduced in 1909 but not until 1919 did women receive the right to vote. The first Swedish general election when women could vote for the first time was held in 1921.

The Early Emigration

Swedish emigration to the United States has had several peaks and with time also changed in character. The early emigration began in the 1830’s. It was then primarily enterprising people, often from upper social classes, who made the journey to the United States. They traveled either alone or together with like-minded people. They were educated and had a good financial position. The laws which prevented emigration without the approval of the authorities held, at this time, back the larger groups of smaller means.

Gustaf Unonius

A representative of the early emigration was the Uppsala University graduate, Uppsala City, Uppland, Gustaf Unonius (1810 - 1902). A smaller group consisting of Gustaf Unonius, his wife and a maid, a few more students, emigrated in 1841 to the United States. The group departed Gävle in May 1841 aboard a brig carrying iron to New York. Their plan was to continue to some place around Lake Michigan or the Upper Midwest around the Mississippi River. First, they headed for Illinois, however during the travel they changed their minds and settled by Pike Lake, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, 50 km (30 miles) west of Milwaukee. The area was, at the time, practically a wilderness compared to the more colonized land in Illinois which they had been advised to settle in. They named the place Nya Uppsala (New Uppsala). During the following years more emigrants, like-minded to Unionius, arrived at the Pike Lake area. Unionius and these people were rather unskilled farmers and didn’t handle the strain to well and the colony was later dissolved. After moving to Chicago, Unonius soon became disillusioned with life in America. He and his family returned to Sweden in 1858. Back in Sweden, between 1861 and 1862, he wrote a memorial publication in two parts about his 17 years of experiences of North America. While he still was in the United States he published several stories about his travel and stay in the United States in the Swedish national newspaper Aftonbladet. The special about these articles was that they gave a highly idealized picture of America. Many Swedish emigrants were falsely tempted to emigrate by these articles. Unionius was, after his return, appointed a customs collector in the seaside town Grisslehamn, Uppland.

Peter Cassel

Another representative for the early emigration was Peter Cassel (1790 – 1857) from Kisa, Östergötland. Peter Cassel’s emigration had many causes. Cassel belonged to the liberal opposition, was a keen advocate of temperance and a member of the Free Church movement. However, he was not in conflict with the authorities. Instead he was tempted to emigrate by the higher degree of freedom in the United States which the travel articles in the papers often painted up. In 1845 he and 17 other Kisa villagers emigrated to North America with Wisconsin as the destination. Instead of Wisconsin the group did choose, together with another Swedish family to settle at the Skunk River about 70 km (44 miles) northwest of Burlington, Iowa where they in Jefferson County founded the colony New Sweden. Unlike Unonios, Peter Cassel was a practical man who in Sweden had been a farmer, a windmill handler and a master builder. Cassel also wrote many travel articles which were published in Sweden and brought many more Swedish emigrants to the colony. In 1858 there were 500 Swedes in the colony consisting of hundreds of families. Cassel himself died in the colony in 1857. Primarily it was Cassel who started the new mass emigration from Sweden.

Erik Jansson and the Bishop Hill Colony

A considerably larger group of emigrants was the preacher Erik Jansson (1808 – 1850) [Eric Janson] and his followers, the Ersk-Jansarna. Erik Jansson was the leader of a Swedish pietist sect. Jansson was born in Biskopskulla, Uppland, near Enköping and Uppsala. At first, Jansson was a traveling salesman of wheatflour. In 1844 he founded a separatist communion called Erik-Jansare or Ersk-Jansare (Erik Janssonists). In 1844 he settled down in Forsa, Hälsingland with his family. Jansson only recognized the bible as a pious authority, supremacy, and called himself a godsend prophet. He did forbid his followers to visit the common church services, and arranged on June 11, 1844, a book pyre in Alfta parish, Hälsingland where he had all Holy Scriptures he disapproved of burnt. Among his trusted followers he had two brothers, Olof and Jonas Olsson. In 1845 they were sent ahead to the United States to locate a suitable place to settle in and to prepare for an emigration for the rest of the sect. The place they did choose was Henry County, Illinois, about 230 km (143 mi) southwest of Chicago. Jansson was arrested several times but always managed to get around things and was released. In the fall of 1845 he was again arrested and was to be transported to the county jail in Gävle, Gästrikland. However, the convoy of prisoners was attacked by Jansson’s followers who liberated their prophet. Jansson now fled from Sweden via Norway and Denmark to Germany and Liverpool, Britain and arrived with his family to New York in June 1846. From here they traveled to the chosen place in Henry County, IL where they purchased land. They named the place Bishop Hill, which is a literal translation of Jansson’s place of birth, Biskopskulla. Erik Jansson’s motive for the emigration was only but one; to escape punishment and persecution for his rigid, peculiar unorthodox beliefs. The Jansson followers now sold their farms and through the joint traveling funds also followers without means got their chance to emigrate. Before the end of 1846 about 300 emigrants had joined Erik Jansson in Bishop Hill. During spring of 1847 another 400 arrived. Most emigrants in Bishop Hill came from Hälsingland province in Sweden, but a large group originated from Nora in northern Uppland. Others came from Gästrikland, Dalarna and a smaller part came from Erik Jansson’s home district in southwestern Uppland. Sweden was had a failure of the crop in 1844 as well as in 1845. This was for many of the Janssonists the final cause to follow the sect to America and Bishop Hill. Eleven ships of different sizes departed Gävle, Söderhamn and Stockholm with sect members. However, not all arrived safely to the United States. The Betty Catharina was lost on August 8, 1846, with 65 people aboard. All property in the colony was collectively owned. The first time in the colony was very difficult. Starvation and diseases stroke the colony and many died in the first winter. However, buildings were erected, land cultivated and the situation for the members of the colony stabilized after a few years. The villagers lived as a collective religious colony for 15 years, from 1846 to 1861, tilling the soil, tending their animals, and building their settlement with bricks that they made by hand. During the years up to 1854 about 1,500 followers arrived at the colony. Some local pioneers were amazed by their lifestyle and the relative success that it generated. Erik Jansson ruled his colony with a heavy hand. There were disputes and growing discontent since the promised benefits failed to come and that the economy was run badly. John Root, a Swedish emigrant who had married Jansson's cousin, Charlotta Louisa Root, had become disaffected with the commune and wanted to leave Bishop Hill, but the other colonists prevented him from taking his family along. On May 13, 1850, while Root and Jansson were dealing with unrelated legal matters at the courthouse in nearby Cambridge, IL, Root shot and killed Jansson. John Root was convicted of manslaughter, but was released after serving just one year in prison. The rule of the commune was taken over by 7 members after Jansson’s death. The village continued and prospered for several years, but suffered in the 1857 financial crisis. In 1858 the community owned 3,600 hectare (8,896 acres) land. It was dissolved in 1861, after the American Civil War broke out although court cases dealing with the division of the colony's property were not resolved until 1879. The village is now a state park. The surviving buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. About 4,000 Swedish emigrants to the United States participated in the American Civil War (1861 - 1865), almost all on the Union side. The Swedes in Bishop Hill raised their own company under the charge of the former sergeant in the Swedish Dal Regiment, Erik Forsse, who advanced to major in the war.

Hans Mattson

Another group emigration of importance was led by Hans Mattsson (1832 - 1893). Mattsson was from Önnestad near Kristianstad City in Skåne. In 1851 at the age of 19 he emigrated to the United States together with a friend. His plan was to work his way up. After a while his parents and siblings joined him in the US. Mattsson’s effort was not that he left with a large group of emigrants. Instead he gathered them in the United States. In 1853 he took charge of a group of Swedes in Moline, Rock Island County, Illinois and headed for Minnesota. They found a suitable place about 20 km (12 mi) west of Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota, by an outlet of a tributary to the Mississippi River. Minnesota thereby got the first Swedish settlers. Within two years there were over 100 Swedes in the colony. The congregation Vasa was founded (Vasa Township), a name they switched to instead of the first name: Mattson’s Settlement. Letters home and articles in Swedish newspapers attracted more Swedes to emigrate to the colony. However, Mattsson himself left the colony in 1856 and moved to Red Wing, but the colony continued to prosper. Mattsson was militarily trained in Sweden in the Wendes Artillery Regiment and when the American Civil War broke out in 1861 he raised a voluntary Union company of mostly Scandinavians. Mattsson was appointed Captain of the company and in 1863 he was promoted Colonel and served in the military until the end of the war. After returning to Minnesota, Mattson began his work as an immigration booster. First he worked for private railroad companies. He started with the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Co, where he worked as a protection agent to greet Swedish and Norwegian arrivals in Chicago. Between 1867 and 1869 Mattsson was the first secretary of the Minnesota Board of Immigration. The state was especially interested in recruiting Scandinavian immigrants, who were considered to have good moral character. Mattson returned to Sweden as representative of the Minnesota Immigration Board in 1867 and 1868 to recruit settlers, a successful undertaking. These visits are described in his memoirs Reminiscences, which were published in both English and Swedish in 1891. He was twice the Secretary of State in Minnesota, 1870 – 1872 and 1887-1891. In between his stints as Secretary of State, Mattson lived outside the US. He took his family to Sweden in the spring of 1871. He remained in Sweden for five years as a booster. Aside from these trips abroad, Mattson lived most of his later life in Minneapolis. That is where he died, on March 5, 1893 During the early emigration period it was primarily complete families that emigrated, i.e. husband, wife and children and often also their farmhands and maids

A New Type of Emigration

When many emigrants chose to move further west, other emigrants took over the land they left. This was typical for a certain type of emigration; capable pioneers constantly cleared new land during the migration westward. Others filled the gap they left by taking over the already cleared land. This early emigration in group or individually – while the emigration still was an adventure and took a large deal of individual planning – was about 1865 followed by another kind of emigration. This emigration needed some sort of organization, which could assist individuals or groups, who lacked own capability to carry out their decision to emigrate. This new wave of emigration became much more extensive. Furthermore, a prerequisite for this new type of emigration was the pioneering work carried out by the early emigrants. Another prerequisite for these new groups of emigrants was reasonable costs for the journey.

Related Links

The New Sweden Colony in North America My Swedish emigrants to the USA The subdivisions of Sweden Map, Swedish counties (Län) Map, Swedish provinces History and organization of the Church of Sweden The Johnson's - A Swedish Emigrant Family

Source References

Känn ditt land, Nr 8 Utvandringen, Ralph Scander, STF Ånga och Dynamit, Historien om Sverige, Herman Lindqvist, 1999 Emigrantforskning, Sveriges Släktforskarförbunds Handböcker 1, T Rosvall, A- L Hultman, 2012 Utvandrare till USA, Några förslag på hur du kan hitta dem, Elisabeth Thorsell, 2012 Swedes and the Dakota conflict in 1862 – creating a Swedish-American collective memory”, uppsats vid institutionen för kulturvetenskap, Historia, Linnéuniversitetet 2011 av Gabriel Ludolv. Wikipedia Nationalencyklopedin, NE Ellis Island United States Census Bureau Peter Broberg’s Biography, överlevande från West Lake massakern 1862, då 7 år gammal. The Story of the Massacre, Anna Stina Brobergs minnen från West Lake massakern 1862, då 16 år gammal. Gift Peterson. "Glimpses from the Activities of a Swedish Emigrant Agent" av Olof Thörn. University of Illinois. General Land Office, Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) New York Public Library, NYPL Library of Congress National Park Service Tack General! Den sagolika historien om hur en oäkta skånepåg blev en äkta brigadgeneral i det amerikanska inbördeskriget. Om Brigadier General Carlos J. Stolbrand. Av Tomas Risbecker, 2011. An Emigrant journey across the Atlantic in 1880. An article published in Sollentuna Genealogy Society’s paper An-tecknat, issue 1-2019. The article was originally published in a Swedish newspaper, Härnösandsposten, on 27 October 1880 and transcribed by Agneta Berghem 2019. Top of page