Thursday, November 14, 2013

An Incidental Meeting on Church Steps

Submitted by Betty Saenz

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 him.

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 there.

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” Eickmann.  Robert’s great-grandfather (mormor far), Rev. Carl August Widen was a pastor at the Gethsemane Lutheran Church.

For more and much more:

Robert Chip Eickmann’s Family Tree:


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Taking Stock of Stockholm

by Jeanne Rollberg

Greta Garbo. 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 Swedish City. 
Stockholm connections 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.
Stockholm cultural highlights
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 Scandinavia.
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 the world.
As we expand and enhance the family trees at SweAme,  we may remember with pride that it was only 18 years after the Mayflower arrived that the first documented Swedes came from Stockholm to set up a Swedish colony in Delaware. In many ways right from the beginning, Stockholm and America have always been one.  As Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjold said about the importance of taking chances, “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.
Jeanne Rollberg (


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Georgetown, Texas Evangelical Free Church Closing

By Joy Nord

The marquee no longer lights  words 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 official service. 

The 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.

For 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.

Although 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 Trafford Publishing.

Additional information is available at:
SweAme - Georgetown EFC Album

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Swedes in the Midwest: Chicago

By Jeanne Rollberg

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

If you’re curious, you may want to start with the overview entry about Swedes in the Encyclopedia of Chicago:  Encyclopedia of Chicago History  

Of course, you also will want to remember that there are numerous Chicago “categories” listed in the card catalog at 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 contributions.

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.
Jeanne Rollberg
April, 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013

All the (Swedish) Gold in California

Have 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 ?
Luckily, 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 and other Web sites. 

The 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.

Also, 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.

There is also a special night club there called Café Du Nord for meetings, and the architecture is Scandinavian.

San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake destroyed a lot of primary family history documents, but there’s a very helpful “work around” book titled Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research. It suggests helpful substitute documents that did survive.  You can learn more about it by clicking on the LINK above.

Another resource for missing information might be The Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley that contains information about Scandinavian Americans. 

Just 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. 

All 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!  


Jeanne Rollberg 

March, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

SweAme 2012 Annual Report

Swedish America Heritage Online (SweAme)
Special Feature:

 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 Shop Hours
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Monday – Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday
Also open by appointment.  Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas.
319 254-2317

SweAme Purpose:
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.
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 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 family branches.
SweAme Accomplishments:

Website Expansion

 The SweAme ( website (aka as 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:
                                               2012                                2011                  % Growth
Individuals:                   264,327                           124,473                112%
Families                            69,065                             32,526                 112%
Program Status
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.
Project Completions
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).
Process Revision
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 very unique.
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, Australia.

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”. J


Here is their Relationship Chart.
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.
Special Recognition
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 SweAme program.
You can browse some of Chuck’s work at:  Iowa Emigrants Report
  SweAme Summary Financials:
2011 Income held over:     $4,370.21
2012 Expenses - BOPSF:    $4,379.96
Net Income/(loss):              ($       9.75)
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:  SweAme Management )
Finest regards,
David Borg, Chairman
 Completed States/Territories:
Arizona Terr.
District of Columbia
Hawaii Terr.
Indian Terr.
New Mexico
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia
and, Minnesota (St. Louis County)