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.