My roots in Texas go deep on both
my Swedish and German sides. I have hired a marketing firm to help me in my
Real Estate business. We are planning to
use a General Land Office (GLO) Map of The Republic of Texas to tie in with my
German roots going back to when Texas was a Republic and even before, when it
was Coahuila y Tejas.
I was on my way to the GLO and was
having a hard time finding parking around the building in Austin, Texas, so, I
found a parking spot across from the Texas Historical Commission.The commission is housed in what was the old Swedish Gethsemane Lutheran Church,
built with stone from the Capital of Texas building which burned and the doors
from University of Texas's Old Main.
I was up on the church steps
taking photos when a gentleman below saw me. He said that if I was interested in knowing
more about the church that he would be happy to tell me.
I responded that if he was
interested in learning more about the church, that I would be happy to tell
So, we commenced to visiting,
sharing our family's histories with the old, historic church. It turns out he
was confirmed there at the old Gethsemane and his grandfather was a minister
We discussed the Round Rock Texas
Palm Valley Lutheran Church as well and the history there in Round Rock with
the old Trinity College where my grandfather attended and so forth. He did not
realize that the old Trinity College became Texas Lutheran in Seguin, Texas. I
found it fascinating. I learned from him and he learned from me. Turns out that
he was here visiting from Florida.
As I make my travels around Texas
I always seem to meet people who share their knowledge which puts a little bit
more light on Texas history!
SweAme Editor’s Note:The gentleman from Florida was Robert Eugene “Chip”
(mormor far), Rev. Carl August Widen was a pastor at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church.
Ingrid Bergman. Alfred Nobel. August Strindberg.If you know these names, then you may already
know a little something about historic Stockholm, Sweden.
Stockholm and Swedish-American immigration and culture have
always been intertwined closely because so many Swedes emigrated to America
from places like Gothenburg and Stockholm, the Swedish capital.
By about the 1900 era from which SweAme seeks to document
American Swedish families, beautiful Stockholm was the only place in the world
that had more Swedish inhabitants than Chicago, America’s largest-population
for your family?
Chances are that some of your Swedish relatives, even those
who grew up in rural areas of Sweden, lived there at one time before leaving for
the United States.Have you checked
Stockholm's Roteman database that features population records from 1878 to
1926? You can at least get some background and a start here, putting in as much
information as you know about your Swedish ancestors.
Since Stockholm has served as the capital of Sweden since
1436, the island city that still houses Swedish royalty has influenced all of
Swedish culture in various ways. That means that it affected Swedish-American
folkways of our ancestors, too. It is a highly walkable and clean city, and is
noted for the venue of the ceremonies connected to prizes established by Alfred
Nobel in 1901. You can visit the Nobel Museum.
Here, in steep Old Town (Gamla Stan), by walking in the
footsteps of generations of Swedes back to the 13th century, you can
begin to feel the essence of Swedishness. There is much beauty in the
well-preserved churches, and many of the buildings are originals from hundreds
of years ago when our ancestors lived in Sweden.
It was to Stockholm that many of our ancestors fled when
times got hard in the countryside. There they learned dressmaking, tailoring,
railroading, glass making, and some of them even became indentured servants as
they left Sweden to pursue farming in the citrus industry in Florida. Because
of similarities between Stockholm and San Francisco and New York City, many Swedes emigrated
to California and New York in addition to Chicago, enriching our cities.
Our Swedish history
for urban and rural Swedes in Stockholm
If you’re interested in Swedish culture and art, you will be
able to see the art and culture enjoyed by your ancestors at close to 100
museums in Stockholm.And if your
ancestors were seagoing Swedes, as many were, you can see the Vasa Museum there
in particular. It is described as the museum with the most visitors in all of
If your family’s Swedes hailed from the rambling
countryside, though, you can see the kinds of homes they lived in and what
their daily life was like by visiting Skansen – the oldest open-air museum in
marquee no longer lightswords of
inspiration or worship times. The parking lot is now empty and inside the walls
are bare.On Sunday, April 7, 2013, the
nearly 122 year-old Georgetown Evangelical Free Church (EFC) held its last
Georgetown Evangelical Free Church was established in 1891 by Swedish immigrants,
making it the first EFC in Texas. The EFC allows its members to play an
important role in the church's decision-making process. On February 17th,
during the congregational meeting, 26 members put the church's fate to a vote:
15 to 11 in favor of closing the church's doors permanently.
months this decision weighed heavily on the heart's of church members. The main
reason behind this vote was the chronic low attendance and the inability to
recruit new members to the congregation.
the church doors are closed, the life of GEFC has been recorded in The
History of the Georgetown Evangelical Free Church published last year
by Glynda Joy Nord. Within the book's pages, besides an historical sketch of
the church, are the confirmation pictures, a message from all of the pastors
who served, a biography of early members, Swedish traditions of yesteryear, and
Swedish recipes. The book is available through: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and
By 1900, no city in the world but
Stockholm could boast more Swedes than Chicago, Illinois!Ja! Chicago
was a growing gateway to the farming areas of the Midwest that were hospitable
to Scandinavians who sought their own piece of the American Dream. And the city
itself was attractive to urban Swedes, so Chicago presented a win/win
opportunity for Swedish immigration and entrepreneurship.
Finding our Swedes
Today, Chicago still has much to
offer related to Swedish research and sightseeing. If you know or believe that
your Swedish ancestors have Chicago connections, for research there is the
Swedish-American Historical Society at 3225 W. Foster Avenue.The Swedish American Archives of Greater
Chicago is located there, too. The e-mail address for the archives is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, you also will want to
remember that there are numerous Chicago “categories” listed in the card
catalog at Ancestry.com. These include the requisite census documents for the
State of Illinois as well as Chicago voter registrations, newspapers with
obituary indices, and a Chicago and Cook County Guide to Research. Some of
these documents may also be found elsewhere in books and on the Web.
The Andersonville Swedish Dala Horse
Experiencing Swedish culture
For a “taste of Sweden” and a
glimpse of what it may have been like when your ancestors were in Chicago,
there is the former suburb of Andersonville, where many Swedes who could not
afford to live in the city proper moved.History of Andersonville
The Swedish-American Museum there
is a “must see” for those of us who are either documenting our Swedes for
SweAme or who just want to understand Swedish influence on Chicago and the
Midwest. Located at 5211 N. Clark Street near Swedish bakeries and restaurants,
the museum gives us a delightful look at Swedish memorabilia, organizations,
businesses begun in Chicago such as Walgreens, and educational and cultural
The First Walgreen Drug Store
The museum poses the central question that our Swedes faced as they made the decision to come to America: “Would you leave home today in search of a better tomorrow?”
And speaking of that better
tomorrow, what would we do if we were faced with seeing everything we had
worked for and owned destroyed in the Chicago Fire of 1871?Books on the era describe the churches,
newspapers and other culturally important aspects of Chicago that the Swedes
who had built there lost. But they had great experience in construction, and
sought money from Sweden in some cases to rebuild parts of Chicago.
Whether we think our particular
Swedes came through Chicago or not, Chicago Swedish history tells us about
Swedes in the Midwest as we continue on our fascinating Scandinavian journey.
Some other branch of our Swedish family likely has Swedish connections to
Chicago that we just haven’t discovered yet.
you been able to document your Swedish ancestors who emigrated to San Francisco
and nearby areas in the post-Gold Rush era?Wouldn’t it be nice to know more about them
and to share your information about them on the SweAme Web site at www.sweame.org ?
there are some helpful and fascinating resources that make
the journey fun. Check out Muriel Nelson Beroza’s Golden Gate Swedes: The Bay Area and
Sveadal, updated in 2000
and available at Amazon.com and other Web sites.
book gives the history of Swedish immigration to an area that reminded
so many Swedes of Stockholm, describes the Swedish societies’
many functions, and has lists of many participants in those organizations. The
pictures are also fascinating for anyone who enjoys seeing photos of Swedes
from about the 1850s through the
1930s. You might find a long lost family member or two there.
the San Francisco Swedish Society owns the Swedish American Hall built in
1907 at 2174 Market Street, where there is an
archives. Swedish Hall Chair of the Library and Archives Committee Susan
Bianucci, herself of Swedish heritage, says Swedes have become the most well-documented
immigrant group in the Bay Area.
is also a special night club there called Café Du Nord for meetings, and the
architecture is Scandinavian.
resource for missing information might be The Bancroft Library at the University of
California at Berkeley that contains information
about Scandinavian Americans.
like your ancestors, you can “dig for gold” and mine these wonderful resources
that will provide context about family members after immigration. And then you
can valorize your family members by putting their family tree on the California
section of the
SweAme web site. SweAme California Swedes and their families.
that glitters isn’t gold, but if you put your family members on the web site,
some extended family members may find you, and the Swedish tree may grow!
To benchmark (so to speak) one of the SweAme
2012 accomplishments (the online documentation of the Iowa Swedish emigrants),
this year’s “Special Feature” is the
Swedish American Museum located in the community of Swedesburg, Iowa.
Swedish immigrants came to Southeast
Iowa as early as 1845, establishing the first Swedish settlements in the
Midwest.In the 1860s Swedish settlers
drained the marshy soil in northern Henry County to create a large new area of
fertile farmland.The village of
Swedesburg grew at the center of this Swedish Heritage area.Today, the Swedish American Museum preserves
and celebrates this story of those settlers and their descendants.
Museum & Gift
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Monday – Tuesday,
Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Also open by
appointment.Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving
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 second full year
as an incorporated entity and we are getting great start on accomplishing our
primary purpose and goals.
Our purpose as stated in our IRS 501(c)(3)
status request document and as contained in 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.
In particular, the purpose of SweAme is for educational and historical
·by thedigital 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 our
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
The SweAme (www.sweame.org) website (aka as swedesintexas.com) has been well positioned to
facilitate the growing interest in digitizing our past and present and
therefore this interest has exceeded our expectations. As of December 31, 2012, the data base
statistics have more than doubled over the previous reporting year:
In 2012 SweAme project teams have completed the
states of Maine, California, Iowa and Kansas.This brings the total emigrant count up to 88,176, which is 15% of
the Swedish emigrants who were living in America in the year 1900.The total completed state and territory count
is up to 28 (which includes Washington D.C. and St. Louis County, Minnesota).This leaves SweAme with 24 remaining states and
territories to capture and document online.
Hardware & Software Upgrades
This year’s significant
hardware/software accomplishment was the expansion of the host services platform
from one website data base onto three websites and three data bases.This was necessary in order to prepare for the
future data base storage and bandwidth requirements to support the growing number
of Registered Users, now over 1,100.
The three SweAme websites are:
·The original SweAme (aka Swedes In Texas) which includes most of the United
States geographic areas (view at SweAme) ,
·Swedes In Minnesota is planned for the immigrants who
lived in Minnesota (view at Swedes In Minnesota), and
·Swedes In ILNYMA is planned for the immigrants who
lived in the three states – Illinois, New York and Massachusetts (view at Swedes In IL, NY & MA.
This year’s major
project accomplishment was funded by the The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.This project was completed in August and included the Swedish
immigrants that were living in 1900 in the two states; Maine and California.It was executed by four contractors; Brenda
Dahlberg (Dallas, Texas), Kathie Pearson (Stamford, Texas), Melissa Loftus
(Grafton, Illinois) and Maria Sällemark (Hässelby, Sweden).
This year’s most
significant technical/process accomplishment was the development and
implementation of an Excel Macro developed by Norm Lundquist from Iowa.His Macro has dramatically changed the SweAme
execution process from keying data onto the website to a “copy and paste”
function.The “copy and paste” function
is followed by a Macro software execution that builds the data file that is imported
by the SweAme genealogy software onto the website data bases.We owe Norm (a volunteer) a huge debt of
thanks for his willingness to assist our SweAme program.This improvement in process decreases project
time and cost by a factor of 7 to 8 times – dependent upon the concentration of
Swedes in a particular township.
Personal Contacts Obtained
This year’s most
rewarding accomplishment was connecting a Swedish descendant born and
raised in Australia with a cousin born and raised in Texas. Cousin connections have occurred several
times over the past five years that SweAme has been Online. But, this event was
Brett Lynn from Orbost, Victoria, Australia (a down under
mate) got a SweAme website hit on a Swedish emigrant Charles Theodor Suderman
who was a brother to his great-grandfather Gustaf Elof Sederlan (previously
spelled as Suderman and Söderman in Sweden). Brett became our first user from Australia. The Swedish emigrant that he had found had
traveled the oceans and landed up for good in Galveston, Texas. Brett’s ancestor - Gustaf Elof Sederlan - had
also traveled the oceans.And, he had landed
and stayed in Sydney, New South Wales to settle in Trentham, Victoria,
Brett asked for some help in finding a living cousin in
America. In this case, we had a very short distance to look. Charles Theodor
Suderman had a grandson by the name of Charles Theodore Suderman - who just
happened to be one of our SweAme Registered Users. As they say “THAT’S WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT”.
We are very excited that the SweAme website can facilitate
such a rewarding event that brings Swedish descendants together – no matter
where in the world they live.
The SweAme management team would like to
recognize and sincerely thank two outstanding Registered Users for their significant
contribution in 2012.These two are David
Anderson and Charles Lundquist.
David, who lives in Portland,
Oregon, is just a history nerd. We say that with Great respect. He has spent
many many hours over the past two years in visits to the Oregon State Archives
in Salem - researching Swedish emigrant’s death certificates. David has found a
number of Swedish emigrants who were inhabitants at the Oregon State
Penitentiary around 1900. He considers that these prisoners do in fact deserve
at least an asterisk of recognition in our common heritage story. David
has also mentioned that the “booking photos” (that he has obtained and uploaded
to the website), may be the only identified photograph in existence of these
Swedes.You will really be amazed and
will enjoy viewing and reading his work.
David’s Oregon State Penitentiary
contribution can be viewed at:
Charles Lundquist (a brother to the Norm
Lundquist mentioned above) is from metro San Antonio, and he enjoys playing
golf in the Texas sun.But, he also
enjoys capturing and collecting genealogy data.So much in fact, that in March, 2012, he asked if he could help document
the Swedes in Iowa.Chuck was born and
raised in the Dayton, Iowa farming community.This past year he has spent tons of hours at his computer, capturing the
census data for more than half of the 30,000 plus emigrants who lived in Iowa
in 1900.He also contributed to a portion
of the work on the Swedes in Kansas project.We recognize Chuck and thank him for his tireless effort to assist the