Sunday, August 26, 2012

Paulson/Swenson Families Historic Photos

It is with GREAT pleasure that SweAme presents this next article.  It is a story about a special Swedish American immigrant family who was fascinated with photography. 

For the PaulPaulson and Anders Swenson families, it was necessary (as it was for the majority of the Swedish immigrants) to work hard on their farms and/or at their city jobs for survival.  But, photography MUST have been a very strong passion for this family. 

A great-granddaughter of Paul and Elina Paulson – Bet Ison - is herself not a stranger to passions.  She seems to tackle major projects that bring life back to everyday items via the older crafts and processes. 

Bet lives with her husband Cecil Ison in Eastern Kentucky.  For a hobby, she has completed many hand stitched quilts using the old fashioned wooden frames.  Her quilting designs are very unique and are very colorful. 

But, this story is not about Bet.  It is about the desire of her ancestors the Paul Paulson family and their Swenson cousins who took a significant number of photographs in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Texas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

We were delighted to receive an email to our SweAme website when Bet had noticed that we had on the website an image of one of her “glass plate” photos.  The photo that she found was taken in Olivia, Calhoun County, Texas.  It was first printed in the original Swedish language Svenskarne I Texas, I Ord Och Bild  book on page 1147, published in 1918.  This photo is of a young couple – Severin Swenson and Emma Wilson who are sitting patently on the seat of an oxen drawn wagon for the photographer.

Bet has uploaded an image of the original “glass plate” of this photo at: Severin Swenson and Emma Wilson.

Think about it, what Bet has here. Some of you can barely remember the cameras that required those little rolls of film that had to be sent off to be developed.   Much less remember or know about the process of taking pictures that were documented on large “glass plates”.  That was even before my time.

Bet Ison is still working hard to scan and document these glass plate photos.  But now that she has a good start and a good process of identifying and preserving these photos, she now wants to share them with the world via the Internet.

In Bet’s words:

Starting about 1893 -- during all those years, those travels, those metamorphosing from Swede to American --- the Paulson family took pictures!!!! And in the end the boxes of the glass plate negatives ended up in my cousin's basement in Minnesota where they lay until one day my cousin said -- "and there are all those negatives -- who knows whats on them -- and it would be too expensive to find out....." and I said -- "I think I can digitize those on my home scanner..." So here I am 450 negatives later with quite an interesting treasure. And the rest of my family is digging up the pictures that were originally made from the negatives and which were sometimes sent as postcards with messages and post dates (and sometimes not.) The glass plates end about 1917 -- about the time of the birth of my mother - when they switched to film negatives.
We truly recognize Bet as an outstanding member of our Swedish American Community.  She is someone who is proud of her past and strongly desires to share her wealth of history as documented in these photos with the remainder of us.  We really appreciate her generosity.

You can view her Blog presentation of the photos that were taken by her ancestors at:

To enjoy future Bet Ison Blog posts, submit your email address on her Blog to receive notification emails when she posts the next photos.

The most important part of this project is the feedback that you can provide.  Yes, I understand most of you will think that you have no chance of being able to offer any input on her historic photos.  But, you may know more than you think you do.  You might recognize and see similarities in some of your own historic photos.  Maybe not exact locations, but you might be able to offer a comment to Bet that will lead to a better understanding of what LIFE as protrayed in these photos was Really like.  How was it “down on the farm” 100 years ago for our Swedish immigrants?  I am sure that these photos will cause all of us to react in some way or another.   So, don’t be SHY.  Enlarge and study each photo and offer your comments and/or questions to Bet to help her work through this process of understanding the reasons that these particular images were so important to take in the first place.

Finest regards,
David Borg


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Texas Posten Newspaper Tweets

So, what is a “tweet” – now and then:
From Wikipedia:
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, as "tweets".

From Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter:
"...we came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'. And that's exactly what the product was."

AND, just how did an early Swedish American newspaper “tweet”?  That answer is yours to discover by taking a look at excerpts from the early Swedish printed issues. 

As you may know, the University Of North Texas (UNT) has digitized 214 issues from 1896 to 1902.  Our objective with this email is to encourage you to visit the UNT site at (Texas Posten at UNT  ) and learn how to browse or search the online Texas Posten issues for articles that you will find valuable and interesting.  Some of you will find articles that directly involve your ancestors or relatives.
For each of the excerpts, we have provided a Swedish to English translation (by Google) and a LINK to the SweAme website record for the individuals mentioned.

You can access and read these tweets in the SweAme “Histories” section at
(Histories - Texas Posten Tweets).

This LINK above jumps you a list of some of these “short burst of inconsequential information” newspaper articles. 
Of course, one big difference between today’s tweets and the Texas Postens tweets is “timing”.  Today they are near instantaneous.  Yesterday – Texas Posten era – they were delayed for a few days, if not weeks, or months.  Maybe we should call them “delayed tweets”.  Or then, maybe just “dweets”. J

David Borg

Friday, August 3, 2012

Almquist and Collin - Family Reports

Chester Johnson of Austin Texas has researched and documented two very significant historical reports about his great-grandparents in Central, Texas: 

Carl and Maria Almquist, and

Andrew and Augusta Collin.

These two historical reports are as much about the life of these two families as it is about the controlling impact of the surrounding area events.  They are stories that with very little imagination and stretch you could plug in the names of your own ancestors and you begin to understand more about your own ancestral family history.

The Almquist report is a LONG read, but it is worth the time and effort.  It is chock full of interesting details which illustrate the hardships and constraints of the time on the everyday lives of our Swedish ancestors.

Here is an introduction by Chester Johnson:

One of my reports is “History of The Almquist Farm; Manda, Travis County, Texas”. This report is 48 pages in length and begins with the general historical information about my great grandparents Carl Oscar Almquist and his wife Maria, who separately came to America from Sweden. They initially settled in New York and after spending a few years there, they met and then married in 1881. In 1883, they, along with their first child, who had been born in New York, as well as their second, yet unborn child, came to Texas. 5 years later, In 1888, they bought raw land at Manda, Texas which they had to clear for farming. Manda was first settled only 3 years before. 19 years after buying their land, Carl Almquist died in 1907 after most of the children were grown. He had brought the Almquist farm into prosperity and the Almquist family continued to operate the farm until Maria Almquists death and the farm was sold in 1933 after an existence of 45 years. The report contains some information from family history and my now deceased mother’s memory, although most specific data about the Almquist farm and the Almquist family was obtained through an investigation I conducted of official records on file. This report also contains various historical information regarding the nature and hardships of farm life during the early years of the Almquist farm; a time before electricity, indoor plumbing, cars or tractors; a time when farm work was done strictly by human and animal power.
My second report is “The Andrew Collin Family of Swede Hill”. This report is 7 pages in length and begins with Andrew and Augusta Collin, my great grandparents, who separately came to America from Sweden. They met and married in central Texas in 1895, and after a short period of farm life, they moved to the Swede Hill neighborhood of Austin, Texas; where they lived for most of the years from 1900 to the 1960’s. This report concerns the lives of Andrew and Augusta Collin and their children. It also has various information about the Swede Hill neighborhood; which began in the 1870’s (about 20 years before they moved there) as a suburb outside the northeast Austin city limit, and was transformed such that today, it is in the center of Austin, was bisected by an interstate highway, and is a fraction of its original size due to downtown and university expansion.”

You can view and read the Collin report at:

You can view and read the Almquist report at:

Comments can be made to this blog below and/or you can send your comments directly to: 

Enjoy the history,

David Borg

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The History of the Georgetown Evangelical Free Church, by Glynda Joy Nord, Trafford Publishing, 2012, 169 pages,  illustrated, or (softcover $14.50,  Kindle ebook $3.99)

A Swedish Evangelical Free Church in Williamson County, Texas

Very little information has been published on this Swedish immigrant founded church in Williamson County, Texas.  Originally named the Brushy Evangelical Free Church, the church served the Swedes who were living in the Bell Community a few miles Southeast of Georgetown, Texas.

Joy Nord has researched, collected and written an excellent reflection of the early difficulties and successes of a typical rural Swedish community church in Central Texas. 

The primary portion of Joy’s book documents the church’s simple beginning in 1884.  It all began with a small group of emigrants who exercised their right to practice their religious freedom in America by getting together in their homes.  This book documents the names of the individuals involved in organizing the formal church structure.  It records in detail the different pastors, their time frames of service and their accomplishments at the church. It covers the complete time line of the church historical events up to the present time.  You will find in this section many previously unpublished photos of the confirmation classes and church organizations.   

Another section contains a detail bio of the families of the early Swedish pioneers who lived in the Brushy area.  Families who supported and attended services at their local Free Church.  Some of this detail was sourced from the 1994 English version publication of the original Swedish book: Swedes In Texas in Words and Pictures (originally published by J.M. Ojerholm in 1918). 

In the final section you will find a very significant collection of Swedish family recipes.

I have found Joy’s book on the Brushy/Georgetown Free Church an excellent resource and reference book.  It is very strong on detail.  It has recorded some much needed history of the heritage of the Swedes who lived and farmed in the Brushy and/or Bell Community area of Williamson County, Texas.

David Borg

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swedish Hill - A Historic District, Austin, Texas

Submitted by Elisabeth Kihlberg

The Swedish Hill Historic District is a former Swedish enclave that originally covered a few blocks south of 19th street (today Martin Luther King Blvd) and a few blocks east of Red River St.
The development of this area began in the 1870s when a large number of Swedish immigrants erected homes near their downtown businesses. The first to build his home there was S. A. Lundell; soon thereafter Carl John Swahn built his house there, and many others followed. Eventually some sixty-seven Swedish immigrant families built homes in the vicinity and the neighborhood became known as Svenska Kullen (Swedish Hill).

These immigrants founded the first Swedish Methodist Church in Texas, and the first Swedish Lutheran Church, later named Gethsemane Lutheran Church at 1510 Congress Avenue built in 1882 and added to the National Register in 1970. The Swedes helped to establish Texas Wesleyan College, just north of the present-day University of Texas.  It is said that around year 1900, 25% of people living in Austin, spoke Swedish!

Over time, urban development, most notably the construction of I-35 and the Frank Erwin Center, has shrunk the size of the community dramatically. Today the community comprises an eclectic mix of students and urban dwellers.

In 1986, what remained of Swedish Hill, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Swedish Hill sits next to the Oakwood Cemetery and walking around you will find many Swedish names like Ekstrom, Sellstrom, Bergstrom, Holmberg, Rosengren, Kjallgren, Sandeen Swenson, Gustafson, Danielson, Carlson, Johnson, Anderson and of course Swante Palm.

It was Swante Palm together with his nephew S. M. Swenson started the large emigration of people from Småland, Sweden to Austin, Texas.

Swante Palm, was not only S. M. Swenson’s uncle and business manager, but also Austin’s first postmaster, justice of the peace, alderman and official meteorologist. He was also an immigration agent and Vice-Consul for Sweden and Norway. He was honored with a Vasa Order by King Oscar II so that the Texans mistakenly thought that he should be addressed “Sir Swante”. He served so many times on the Austin School Board that today there is a Swante Palm Elementary School (7601 Dixie Drive). The first Palm School was at 100 N. Interstate 35. The latter was one of Austin’s first schools (and now the Travis County Health and Human Services Building). Iinside the main entrance you will find photographs and plaques describing its early history. Most of all this “renaissance man of the southwest” is known as a bibliophile. He doubled the size of the University of Texas library, when he bequeathed 12 000 volumes from his library to UT.

Swedish Hill’s significance derives not only from the broad range of architectural styles, which is represented in the District, but also from the fact that each building is an excellent example of its own particular style. Architectural styles which are represented in the District are vernacular versions of the Victorian L plan, T plan, Cumberland plan, late Victorian corner-porch plan, Pyramidal plan, and Bungalow plan. All of the buildings are finely detailed; many display pleasing carpentry ornamentation in the forms of porch columns, balusters, railings, brackets, spindles, and a variety of siding and shingling types.

You find a list of some of the families who lived on Swede Hill at: 
David Borg

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Granat Family History

The SweAme organization is extremely pleased to present Online The Granat Family History. This family historical document was prepared and printed in 2010 by Virginia (Ginny) Granat Mapes of Portland, Oregon. We are very fortunate to be able to share it with our SweAme readers.

It is a large PDF file and it is - as deep as it is long. You will find many strikingly beautiful old black-and-white family and individual photos of members of this Granat family.  You will read in fine detail of some of the many life altering events of this family from Hova, Sweden. And upon finishing this excellent read, you will come away with a feeling that you actually know this family. 

I don’t want to give too much of the story away too soon, but this young couple (Per John Granat and his beloved Ellen Lindblad), to fulfill their American dream in 1909, had to decide to leave their young son at the grandparent’s home in Sweden as they both boarded different ships for North America.

You can access this family history story by first going to their SweAme website page at:

Look for the Histories LINK near the bottom of the page.
I am very sure that you will enjoy reading about the Granats. And, I am also sure that Virginia will enjoy hearing from you -  

Happy reading everyone,
David Borg

Monday, February 6, 2012

Swedes in Texas – Finder of Lost Cousins, et al.

Submitted by Pat DuBose

As a youngster growing up, I was not inquisitive, nor do I recall my cousins being curious, about where our Swedish grandparents came from or how they got to the small South Texas farming community of Kenedy in Karnes County.  I remember the slight mention that my mother was of English/Scottish descent when we were with her parents and siblings, but neither side of the family showed the slightest interest in genealogy.  My dad worked for a very large oil field services corporation that moved its employees around every few years as they were needed elsewhere, so there were 5 moves before I finished high school.  We visited Kenedy over the years, perhaps only yearly, so I didn’t learn all that my Kenedy cousins learned about either side of the family.

Fast forward, through my 53-year marriage to a South Carolina native and the rearing of our two sons, to a time recently when my husband began to write a book containing family stories he heard as he grew up.  Now, the DuBose family is very well documented, and the history in America began in 1686, when 4 brothers emigrated from Dieppe, Normandy, France, settling in what is now South Carolina. 

I learned from the Sumter branch of the DuBoses to be aware of and very interested in genealogy.  They are noted for seeing humor in life and for being good story tellers - my husband’s book will contain those stories heard at the dinner table, family picnics, and reunions over the years.

All that interest in ancestors and stories stirred in me an intense desire to look for my family.  I joined and, after dredging up long-forgotten bits and facts, began to collect family members.  I reconnected with first cousins in Texas, and through, found a young second cousin there who shares my interest in genealogy.  We exchanged information and facts we remembered about our Swedish and English/Scottish ancestry.  It was a beginning, but it was not much.

The most exciting and important accident I have experienced in my young genealogical life, however, was finding the Web edition of the book, Swedes in Texas, in Pictures and Words.  The person responsible for scanning and editing this treasure is David Borg, and through exchanging emails with him, I became acquainted with (subset of What a bonanza that website has been!  Through the site, I have exchanged information and photos with a heretofore unknown Swedish cousin in California and 2 more I never knew existed in Texas.  I now have stories, names and photographs of ancestors I never knew, and I would never have made such connections without this website and that book.  What a thrill!  What a satisfying and heartwarming experience this continues to be.  So many blanks have been filled.  I am so very grateful, and I’m excited to go on with the journey. 

Pat DuBose

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SweAme Organization Logo Announcement

The Swedish America Heritage Online (SweAme) organization has adopted a company logo.

This has led to a couple of changes to the SweAme website public home page -

Many thanks to the volunteer board of directors and in particular to Doug Anderson for making arrangements for the generation of this very striking and colorful company logo.

David Borg, Chairman