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