Saturday, December 31, 2011

SweAme 2011 Annual Report

Swedish America Heritage Online (SweAme)
As 2011 comes to a quick conclusion, we the Board of Directors of the SweAme non-profit organization would like to thank ALL of you for your participation this past year. 
This year was our first year as an incorporated entity and we are getting started on accomplishing our primary purpose and goals.
Our purpose as stated in our IRS 501(c)(3) status request document and the SweAme By-Laws is:

A. SweAme is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, religious, or scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
B.  In particular, the purpose of SweAme is for educational and historical research; 
·        by the  digital preservation of genealogy data, records, documents, and images related to persons of Swedish ancestry,
·        by promoting public knowledge of and an interest in the history of persons of Scandinavian - and particularly Swedish – ancestry,
·        by presenting the contents of the Online Internet data base as a FREE and open resource for all public users,
·        by facilitating an environment of learning and participation by Swedish Emigrant’s Swedish and American descendants in the documentation of their own separate branches.

Our goals and objectives to accomplish this purpose are being met by a growing volume of Registered Users and the accumulation of multiple types of historical information.  This growth has been the result of a strong growth in the interest in family genealogy and historical documentation by Swedish American and Swedish descendants and, of course, the increased availability and functionality of the Internet.
The SweAme focus will continue to be the digitization of the Swedish immigrants who were living in America and documented in the 1900 census records.  This basic immigrant family information is being updated by Registered Users on both sides of the Atlantic with information on their own expanding family branches.

 Our SweAme ( website (aka as has been well positioned to facilitate this growing interest in digitizing our past and present and therefore has exceeded our expectation.  As of the end of December, 2011, the data base statistics are:
Individuals:                    124,473
Families                             32,526
Registered Users:                 684
Photos:                               15,154
Headstones:                         1,030

This year’s effort has also been high-lighted by the support and financial awards provided by two very prominent Swedish American organizations:  The Swedish Council of America (SCA) based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation (BOPSF) based in San Francisco, California.
With the SCA award received on 16 May, 2011, contracted Registered Users have completed the digitizing of the Swedish born individuals who were living in St. Louis County, Minnesota, in the year 1900.  This project added 8,734 immigrants (plus their families) to the SweAme data base. 
The SCA project brought our total emigrant counts on the data base up to 25,340.  This is 4.8% of the total of 591,969 emigrants that were documented in the 1900 U.S. census.  (See the end of this article for a complete list of the states that have been completed that resulted in the documentation of these 25,340 emigrants.)
With the BOPSF award received on 25 October, 2011, contracted Registered Users have initiated the effort to add an additional 17,424 immigrants to the data base who were living in the states of Maine and California in the year 1900.  This project will be completed by October 1, 2012.

2011 Summary Financials:
Income:                                                          $ 6,467.71
Expenses:                                                      $ 2,097.50
Committed to on-going projects:           $ 4,370.21

Board of Directors:
Doug Anderson, Richmond, Texas
Lissa Bengtson, San Antonio, Texas
Larry Blomquist, Mesa, Arizona
David Borg, Salem, Missouri
Elin Criswell, Georgetown, Texas
Jason Eckhardt, Jersey City, New Jersey
Pam Hicks, Tyler, Texas

Organization Advisor:
John Norton, Moline, Illinois
(For management team bios, go to: )

Management Request:
Since you have read this far in the annual report, please take a moment to Post a comment about this article and/or our SweAme website.  Submit a comment that we can utilize for future marketing efforts.  We would like to hear from you if our SweAme website has been of any benefit to you in your pursuit of documenting your family history or if our website has assisted in any manner with helping you identify and make contact with a living cousin on either side of the Atlantic.  Thank you again for your participation in the SweAme website project.

Finest regards,
David Borg, Chairman

 Completed States/Territories:

District of Columbia
Indian Territory
New Mexico
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia
Minnesota (St. Louis County)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SweAme User Recognition Award

As a wrap on the year 2011 SweAme User Recognition Awards, the SweAme Board of Directors issues a very special award to illustrate their sincere appreciation to Arnold Peterson, Round Rock, Texas for his major contribution to the Swedish America Heritage Online website.

This User Recognition Award is intended to recognize specific individuals such as Arnold, who has demonstrated a major desire to research, document, preserve and share our Swedish America heritage.  Arnold has accomplished this by submitting a significant amount of data and photos of Swedish Americans and their descendants, who primarily lived in the Stamford, Texas (Ericksdahl) and the Central Texas communities of Williamson and Travis counties.

If this were the Hollywood Oscars, this award would be called a “Life Time Achievement” award.   Within a month of our original Swedes-In-Texas (now SweAme, ) website going online in May, 2007, Arnold registered for a user account.  During these past 4 ½ years Arnold has submitted 2,464 images of individuals, families, headstones and obituaries.  One of his contributions is a special favorite of mine - a step by step process for making his famous Swedish cheesecake dessert - “ostakaka” (OOS-tah-kah-kah) .  See:  Arnold's Ostakaka.  Arnold uses a recipe by Mrs. Eric (Martha Olson) Rosenquist who lived in Jones County, Texas. 

Of course, Arnold did not take all those pictures himself, but besides being very capable on the computer and using a scanner, he is also an accomplished photographer.  You should see his picture of the famous “round rock” in the middle of Brushy Creek as the spring-fed waters meander through the city of Round Rock, Texas.  This same Brushy Creek also flows quietly past Arnold’s back yard.   In addition to enjoying being with family and friends, Arnold enjoys collecting stuff, in particular, antique oil lamps.  This passion has held his attention for many years and has now filled part of his basement with over 200 oil burners.

Arnold lives in Round Rock with his wife Wilma and they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on the 22nd of December, 2011.  Arnold is no “spring chicken” like most of us, well, some of us.  But, his desire and passion to help in the documentation of our Swedish American heritage is stronger than most of us.  Wilma has told me that she really appreciates the website as it gives Arnold something to do and keeps him out of her hair. 

Carl Arnold Peterson was born in Stamford, Jones County, Texas on March 20, 1927 to Carl Henry Peterson and Bernice (Swenson) Peterson. His parents were farmers, raising cotton, milo and cattle. He attended a rural elementary school, Pleasant Valley and graduated from Stamford High School in 1944.  

After high school he joined the U.S. Army on September 18, 1945 (just a couple weeks following the surrender of Japan), and was assigned to the 9th Army Signal Corps, stationed at Sendai, Honshu Island, Japan.  He served with the 62nd Signal Detachment, which included the time in Japan, as a radio repairman.  After his discharge from the military on February 6, 1947, he returned to Stamford where he helped his father with the farming operation for two years.  In the spring of 1949 he entered Texas Lutheran College at Seguin, Texas where he majored in physical education and minored in mathematics. While at Texas Lutheran College he met his future wife, Wilma Kaiser. They were married on December 22, 1951.  After graduation they moved to Round Rock, Texas in the fall of 1953, where they were employed to teach school.  Arnold taught high school mathematics for 17 years.  After two years as principal of Pond Springs Elementary School, he became assistant superintendent in charge of transportation and maintenance. The remainder of his tenure he served as Director of Transportation. He retired at the end of June, 1987.   Arnold earned his Master of ED degree at the University of Texas. He also studied one summer at the University of Maine and two summers at the University of Delaware.  

Arnold also served one term on the Round Rock City Council.  He has also served on the Palm Valley Lutheran Church Council, where he has been a member since 1953.

It has been a great honor to present this significant recognition to Arnold.  He has been a hard driver and has been very persistent in preserving online his large collection of family data and pictures.

Thank you very much Arnold for your outstanding effort in helping document our common Swedish American heritage in “Words and Pictures” for future generations.

You can offer your congratulations and comments to Arnold by sending a note:

Learn more about Arnold, his family and his Swedish ancestors at:   Carl Arnold Peterson

(Note:  You will need to be a SweAme website Registered User and logged in to view the information about a living person as provided by the above LINK.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Swedish Christmas and The Lawnmower Man and Cat

(Two short stories by Sheryl Arbuckle-Green)


Carl and Alice were married shortly after WWII and this was to be her first Christmas with my grandparents. The bride was of Irish descent and knew nothing of Swedish traditions. As they approached Elgin, she began to rub her nose. “I think there must be something dead on the road.”
Carl asked what she meant.
"The smell! What is that awful smell?”
He replied. “That’s your Christmas dinner. It’s called lutefisk.”
My grandparent’s, Hilding and Ruth Kylberg greeted her as she walked into the kitchen. Her husband said, “Welcome to my family.”
There was no need to let local Swedes know when Q&S and Red and White Grocery stores in Elgin received it’s shipment of the Christmas cod.
Everyone in town knew; the aroma announced its arrival. It could be smelled from miles away. Inside my grandmother's store room were fish drying inside her old nylon stockings. When I was a child, I ran to my grandfather crying hysterically. “Where is Maw Maw?” I sobbed! Being a man of few words, he pointed at the kitchen. I said, “But her legs are in the store room!”

Lutefisk is a Scandanavian white cod fish that is on every Swede’s table at Christmas. It is served with white gravy and white potatoes on a white table cloth with white napkins surrounded by white Swedes. If the women didn’t make their husbands wear their Sunday black dress socks, there would have been no color at the holiday table. The fish must be treated in lye or ashes to remove the salt, then soaked in water for several days to make it edible. Otherwise, it is caustic and if eaten will be your last Christmas to partake of the gelatinous white fish. My grandmother saved ashes in her potbelly stove to use for her lutefisk. When Mr. C.O. Fredrickson came to visit, he would open it and spit tobacco inside. As soon as he was out the door she would say, “Herra Gud! He ruined my ashes! Now I have to start over again!”

The origins of lutefisk are a subject of debate. Some accounts mention a fish accidentally dropped in a washing bowl containing lye, and because of family poverty, the fish had to be eaten.
Some claim that the dish has been consumed since the time of the Vikings. The first written mention of "lutefisk" is in a letter written by Swedish king Gustav I in 1540. In other words, lutefisk has been around for a very long time. I never cared for it although I was forced to take at least one bite when my grandmother cooked it.

Christmas Eve at Aunt Annie and Uncle Herbert Fredrickson’s was what I always looked forward to. On a huge table was a smorgasbord. Everyone brought a covered dish and we ate twice during the evening; once when we arrived and again before midnight church services. My brother Russell pointed to a dessert and asked me what it was.
I said, “Osta kaka”. He filled his bowl, put lingonberries on top and devoured it. The following Christmas, he was walking around the table, searching.“Russell, what are you looking for?”
“ Rooster caca!” he replied.

Christmas was a magical time of cousins playing hide and seek around the hen house and fireworks exploding in the cold, night sky; Santa making a surprise visit wearing a homemade costume, beard attached with a rubber band... staying up past bedtime to attend Julotta and of course, lutefisk and ‘rooster caca’.
Through the eyes of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, we revisit that special time and place.
The best gift under any Christmas tree is a family.

God Jul!  (Merry Christmas)


He wore his hearing aid every day but never turned it on. Maw Maw Ruth made him get it because he couldn’t hear her anymore.
She would yell, “Hilding! Hilding!” while he tinkered in the workshop; lawnmower parts, carburetors, transistor radios and Cat, his companions. I’m not sure if Maw Maw ever realized that the volume was always turned off on his hearing aid, but that’s probably why they stayed married. Paw Paw Hilding had a knack for taking nothing and turning it into something. He was the kind of man who knew how to do most everything. Cat watched him, never helped but it didn’t matter. She sat in his lap, silent.

He was a soft spoken Swede with a heart of gold but none in his pockets. He worked hard at every job he had and never complained about doing whatever it took to put food on the table, grateful for what he had. He lived in the same house with the same woman for fifty one years. It was a modest house and it suited him. Every door and baseboard was stripped, stained and finished with his own hands. He had a big garden and a small tool shed. He wore overalls stained with motor oil and his socks smelled like stale corn chips. He had no grand aspirations that I was aware of, but then I never asked. I wish I had.
Fixing lawnmowers on cool mornings and having luncheon meat with rat cheese at 4 o’clock in the afternoon was what made him happy. He was a man of few words, not demonstrative but his twinkling blue eyes spoke volumes. He may have hugged me, but I really don’t remember when. He sure did love me, though. His eyes lit up when I walked in the door.
Maw Maw Ruth passed away in spring and Paw Paw lost half of himself, cancer was taking the rest. Cat had to remind him at 4 o’clock every day that it was time for luncheon meat and rat cheese. He lost interest in tinkering with tools and retired his riding lawnmower inside the dark, sad workshop. He closed and locked the door.
Cat disappeared. Night after night he called for her. Night after night, she answered but he never heard her. One week turned into two.
The last time I saw him I said, “Paw Paw, why don’t we take the lawnmower out of the shed so you can work on it for a while? I think it would do you good.” We opened the workshop and Cat ran out. She had survived weeks on just rainwater and the occasional rat unlucky enough to be within paw’s reach. His blue eyes welled with tears as he placed her in his lap and started his lawnmower for the last time.

Paw Paw Hilding moved on one month and 3 days after Cat died. I wonder if they ever discussed the meaning of life when they were all alone in that workshop. I wonder if they ever spoke at all. I doubt it. They didn’t need to.
Sheryl Arbuckle-Green

More information about the Hilding and Ruth Kylberg family can be found at: