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TKe Linne Monument, Lincoln ParK, Chicago 









The Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company 


Copyright 1908 
by The Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company 


, 'r;> 




Introduction . 7 

Chapter I. Summary of the History of Illinois 9 

Chapter II. The City of Chicago 86 

Chapter III. The First Swedes in Illinois 172 

Chapter IV. The Bishop Hill Colony 197 

Chapter V. Other Karly Settlements 271 

Chapter VI. The Swedish Methodist-Episcopal Church . . . 356 

Chapter VII. The Swedish Episcopal Church 412 

Chapter VIII. The Swedish Lutheran Church 423 

Chapter IX. The Swedish Baptist Church 544 

Chapter X. The Swedish Mission Church 583 

Chapter XI. The Swedes in the Civil War 625 

Chapter XII. Music and Musicians 705 

Chapter XIII. Press and Literature 760 

Chapter XIV. Art and Artists 843 

Chapter XV. Organizations 888 

Bibliographical References 916 

Acknowledgments 918 

Index 919 


Biographical sketches, Chicago 7 

Index 409 


Biographical sketches, Counties at Large 5 

Index 264 

\ 1 7882 



HEN in the forties of the last century the great influx 
of Swedish immigrants to the United States began, by 
far the largest number settled in Illinois. Even at that 
early period Swedes had begun to form sporadic settle- 
ments in the territory to the north and west, but these 
were of little consequence as compared to the populous Swedish com- 
munities that sprang up in the soil of the Prairie State. 

The Swedes of Illinois, therefore, rank as the pioneers of this 
great migratory movement. In later years they have been out- 
numbered by the Swedes of Minnesota, and* nearly all the western 
and many of the eastern states now have each a very considerable 
Swedish population, yet the Illinois Swedes retain pre-eminence from 
a historical point of view. 

Illinois was the central point from which the Swedish population 
spread in various directions, chiefly to the west and the northwest. 
The Swedish settlements in the eastern states and on the Pacific 
slope are of more recent date and have no direct connection with the 
pioneer history of Illinois. 

In intellectual culture as well as in material development the 
Swedes of this state led the way for their countrymen in other parts. 
In Illinois we meet with the first properly organized Swedish churches 
the mother churches of no less than five distinct denominations. 
In Illinois was founded the first Swedish-American newspaper of 
permanence, and the great bulk of the Swedish publishing business 
in this country has always been done here. In Illinois was founded 
the first Swedish-American institution of learning, followed in later 
years by a score of others, but still remaining the foremost educational 
institution among the Swedish people of the United States. In Illinois 
were put forth their first endeavors in the literary field, which, 
although modest, yet formed the nucleus of a distinct literature. In 
the cultivation of the fine arts of music and painting as well as in 
manufacture, craftsmanship, invention and industrial art, the Swedes 
of Illinois also led, and in the succeeding pages will be found the 
names of Swedish pioneers in a variety of fields. 

In public life Swedes have been active in this state principally 
after the close of the Civil War. In that conflict large numbers of 
them fought as volunteers, contributing skillful commanders and 
brilliant tacticians as well as gallant soldiers in the ranks. Their 


military history goes back not only to the Civil and Mexican Wars, 
for there were Swedes also among the Illinois troops in the War 
of 1812. In the politics of this state a Swede made his mark while 
Illinois was still a territory. 

Chicago being one of the first points settled by the Swedes and 
having gradually grown to be their greatest center of population, 
also became the center of culture, and this city is, in a figurative sense, 
the Swedish-American capital. 

Illinois having thus become, from the first, the seat of culture as 
well as the fountain-head of material development among the Swedish- 
Americans in general, it is fair to assume that the Swedes of this state 
in the past sixty years have exerted an appreciable influence not alone 
upon their fellow-countrymen elsewhere, but also upon the civic life 
of the state and the nation. 

The story of the Swedes of Illinois, showing the part they have 
played in the making of this commonwealth, is here told for the first 
time in the English language and thus placed within ready access of 
the general*public. 


Summary of the History of Illinois 

Early French Explorations in North America 

OT long after the discovery of the West Indies by 
Christopher Columbus, in 1492, and the successive dis- 
coveries of Central and South America, those regions 
were explored and settled by Europeans, while the 
colonization of the North American continent was accom- 
plished only by slow degrees. Although re-discovered in 1497 by John 
Cabot, after having been found originally by Leif Eriksson and his 
Norse followers about five hundred years earlier, and explored during 
the first half of the sixteenth century by parties landing here and there 
on the southern, eastern and western coasts and penetrating into the 
interior, it was not until ;he early part of the seventeenth century that 
the European nations obtained a firm foothold in this part of the New 
World. So slow was their westward progress that the discovery of the 
Pacific coast was practically without results up to the latter part of the 
eighteenth century, when finally the first successful colonies were 

The Spanish, the French, the English, and to a slight extent, the 
Dutch share the credit for the discovery and exploration of the various 
parts of the North American Continent. The Spaniards directed their 
energies principally to the South, the Southwest and the West, the 
French traversed and colonized the extreme eastern part, the region of 
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, the English settled the eastern 
coast from Maine to South Carolina and the Dutch a limited area on 
the Hudson River. 

Sweden also claims a chapter in the colonial history of this 
country. Through the colony of New Sweden, founded in 1638, extend- 
ing over part of the present territory of Delaware, Pennsylvania and 
New Jersey, and conquered by the Dutch in 1655, Sweden contributed 


a noteworthy share toward the earliest development of North American 

The discovery and primary colonization of the territory now 
forming the state of Illinois was the work of the French explorers and 
pioneers. Before narrating these events, let us view, in retrospect, 
their causes and the historical factors leading up to them. 

As early as 1504 the French began to frequent the banks of New 
Foundland, attracted by the abundance of fish in these waters. These 
fishing expeditions have continued to this day, and but for them the 
French government might never have had its attention directed to this 
part of America. King Francis I., in 1524, sent an Italian traveler, 
John Verrazani, to explore these regions. He sailed along the coast 
from the present site of Wilmington, North Carolina, to Nova Scotia 
and, without founding any colonies, took possession, in the name of the 
French crown, of the entire territory termed New France. 

Ten years later, in 1534, a Frenchman by the name of John Cartier, 
discovered the St. Lawrence Eiver and on his second expedition sailed 
up the river as far as the present city of Montreal. On his third 
expedition, in 1541, he founded Quebec, a fort which formed the center 
of a penal colony, recruited from the French prisons. In 1541 a French 
nobleman by the name of Francois de la Roque had been appointed 
viceroy of New France. He arrived and took up his duties two years 
later, but finding his province a wilderness and his subjects deported 
criminals, he returned to France within a year. 

During the next fifty years the public mind of France was entirely 
engrossed with the strife between the nobility and the royal house on 
the one hand and the equally bitter conflict between the Calvinists and 
the Catholics on the other ; meanwhile the colonial interests in the New 
World were well-nigh forgotten. Not until the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century the project was revived. Samuel Champlain, a noted 
naval officer, having explored anew the shores of the St. Lawrence 
(1603), Sieur de Monts, a Calvinist, received a large portion of this 
territory as a grant from the government. Two years later he founded 
Port Royal, which rapidly grew to be a large and flourishing 

In the meantime the cause of converting the Indians of New France 
to the Christian faith was taken up in the mother country, and numer- 
ous missionaries, many of them Jesuits, were sent among the natives, 
gaining great prestige among them in a short time, owing to their 
judicious methods. Missionaries, fur traders, settlers and soldiers soon 
found a basis of operation in the settlement of Quebec (1608) and that 
of Montreal (1641), from which points they gradually pushed on along 
the St. Lawrence River, into the region of the Great Lakes, and through 


the Mississippi basin, planting the Catholic standard of the Cross and 
the flag of the fleur .de lis in the Indian villages as far down as the 
Mississippi delta. In a short time France laid claim not only to all of 
Canada, but to Maine, Vermont, New York, the two Carolinas, as well 
as the entire territory between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi. 

It was during this gradual conquest of the West and the South 
that Illinois was first seen and traversed by white men. As early as 
1641 French missionaries had penetrated to the outlet of Lake Superior, 
and in 1658 traders had visited the western end of the lake. Among 
French missions founded in these distant regions after the year 1660 
was one at Green Bay, Wis., established in 1669, and named after St. 
Francis Xavier. 

The French learned through the Indians at this and other missions 
that a journey of several days would bring them to the banks of a great 
river, known among the natives, on account of its size, as the Missis- 
sippi, the Father of Waters. This fact was reported to the French 
governor at Quebec, who determined to take possession of the river 
and adjacent regions. In order to carry out this enterprise without 
molestation, it was necessary to obtain the friendship and co-operation 
of the tribes dwelling along its banks. For this purpose Nicholas Perrot 
was dispatched westward in 1671, with instructions to assemble the 
surrounding tribes in council at Green Bay. After this meeting Perrot 
set out with an escort of Pottawatomie Indians on his journey south- 
ward, traversing what is now Illinois and visiting, among other points, 
the present site of Chicago, then included in the territory of the Miami 
Indians. Perrot is said to have been the first European to have set foot 
on Illinois soil. 

In the following year two Jesuit fathers, Claude Allouez and 
Claude Dablon, left the Green Bay mission on a journey to western and 
northern Illinois, visiting the Fox Indians along the Fox River and the 
Masquotin tribe that dwelt at the mouth of the Milwaukee River. These 
missionaries claimed to have extended their explorations as far as Lake 

E-xplorations of Marquette and Joliet 

Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, a fur trader, were 
subsequently commissioned to continue the exploration of the Missis- 
sippi and the territory through which it flows. In the spring of 1673 
they entered upon their task, accompanied by five other Frenchmen and 
two Indian guides, and supplied with two canoes. Starting from the 
St. Ignace mission, opposite Mackinaw Island, they followed the north 
shore of Lake Michigan. They soon reached Green Bay and the St. 
Francis Xavier mission, the uttermost outpost of French civilization 



The Departure of Marquette and Joliet on Their First Voyage to Illinois 

westward and southward. Here the party rested until June, and then 
pressed on into the wilderness. They traveled up the Fox River as far 
as the ridge forming the Wisconsin watershed, and, carrying their 
canoes across, proceeded down the Wisconsin River to their sought-for 
goal, arriving the 17th of June on the banks of the majestic Mississippi. 
Enraptured by its grandeur, and mindful of the divine protection of 

Jacques Marquette 

Louis Joliet 

the Virgin throughout his perilous journey, Father Marquette in her 
honor named it Conception River. 

The exploring party took a short rest on the banks of the great 
river, but soon embarked, more eager than ever. Floating down with 
the current, they had on either hand vast stretches of prairie, where 
the bison roamed in countless herds, but not a human being did they 
see. It was like traveling through a mysterious land whose inhabitants 


" We are Illini" 

some strange power had spirited away. The mouth o the Des Moines 
River was reached June 25th. On these shores human footprints were 
discovered at last. Following up the tracks for about two leagues, the 
party came upon three Indian villages, beautifully located on the banks 
of the Des Moines, belonging to the Peoria tribe. 

As soon as the natives noticed the strangers, four chiefs set out to 
meet them. ''Who are you?" demanded Father Marquette, in the 
Algonquin dialect. "We are Illini," one of the chiefs replied. The 
Peorias belonged to a coalition of tribes, including also the Moingwenas, 
the Kaskaskias, the Tamaroas and the Cahokias. The name Illini meant 
simply men, and had been adopted by these tribes to distinguish them 
from their hereditary foes to the eastward, the Iroquois, whom they 
abhorred on account of their cruel and bloodthirsty disposition, deem- 
ing them no better than brutes. In course of time the name Illini was 
altered by means of the French suffix -ois, and finally this name was 
applied not only to the Indian tribes but to all the newly discovered 
region. When in recent years this tract was made a territory of the 
United States, this name was made official, and later on naturally passed 
to one of the states parcelled out of the territory. 

The fearless little band still pressed on, arriving in July at the 
junction of the Missouri and Mississippi. They shortly passed the 
mouth of the Ohio River, reaching the confluence of the Arkansas River 
and the Mississippi a few days later, and found there several Indian 
villages. From that point the mouth of the great river was to be 
reached in a short time, yet Marquette and his party hesitated to pro- 
ceed farther, fearing a conflict with the Spaniards, who laid claim to all 
the surrounding territory by right of discovery by Ferdinand de Soto 
in 1541. Geographically, further progress was unnecessary, Marquette 
being already convinced that the Mississippi emptied neither into the 
Atlantic, nor the Pacific, but into the Gulf of Mexico. On July 19th, 
therefore, he turned back, retracing his course as far as the mouth of 
the Illinois River, which he entered and continued up this waterway. 


The Death of Marquette 

At one of the villages of the Kaskaskia Indians, near the present site 
Utica, La Salle county, the party halted. The French named the village 
La Vantum, and before departing, Marquette baptized the village chief 
Cassagoac, together with several leading tribesmen. Continuing up the 
entire length of the Illinois, the party entered its tributary, the Des 
Plaines River, carried their canoes across the watershed between this 
and the Chicago River, and finally by way of the south branch of the 
latter reached Lake Michigan. Here they rested for several days, then 
pursued their way along the west shore northward to Green Bay, 
returning thither before the end of September the same year. Thus was 
the Illinois River traversed for the first time by whites, and the sur- 
rounding territory brought within the sphere of civilizing influences. 

Joliet immediately returned to Quebec in order to report to Fron- 
tenac, then governor of New France, the results of the expedition, while 
Marquette was compelled by illness to remain at the Green Bay mission. 

In spite of ill health Marquette a year later, on the 25th of October, 
1674, revisited the Kaskaskia village, accompanied by two young 
Frenchmen, Pierre and Jacques, together with a number of Indians. 
Retracing the course of the journey northward, they reached the mouth 
of the Chicago River December 4th. Here Marquette 's condition 
suddenly grew worse, forcing the party to tarry. Near the head of the 
south branch of the river his companions erected a block-house, which 
sheltered them until early spring, when Marquette was so far restored 
that they could continue their journey, arriving at their destination on 
the 8th of April. 

In this wilderness, with no sanctuary but the primeval forest, no 
choristers but the winged songsters, Father Marquette, with all the 
solemnity that the occasion afforded, performed the Catholic mass and 
subsequently proclaimed the sovereignty of France ever the explored 
territory in the name of the Savior, the Holy Virgin and all the saints. 
In the same year he made another tour along the Illinois, exploring 
thoroughly its banks and adjacent regions. 

Divining that his end was near, Marquette with his companions 


started on his way back to Canada, following the east shore of Lake 
Michigan, but was overtaken by death in the vicinity of present Sleep- 
ing Bear Point, in the state of Michigan, and was buried on the shore 
by his companions. The next year, however, Indians exhumed his 
remains, which were brought thence to the St. Ignace mission and 
solemnly interred in the mission chapel. After death, Marquette was 
long revered almost as a saint, to whom the sailors on Lake Michigan 
would pray for deliverance in the hour of danger. 

Journeys of La Salle French Forts Ejected in Illinois 

At this time there lived at Fort Frontenac (now Kingston), located 
at the point where the St. Lawrence River forms the outlet of Lake 
Ontario, a former Jesuit named Robert de La Salle, who had emigrated 
to New France in 1667. Devoting himself to fur trading, his vessels 
visited almost all the bays of Lakes Ontario and Erie. In 1675 he was 
knighted and received Frontenac as a grant from the crown on con- 
dition that he erect a fort there. He was rapidly accumulating wealth 
through agriculture, cattle raising and a lucrative Indian trade, when 
Joliet on his visit to Quebec brought him the first report of the dis- 
covery of the Mississippi. This enterprising man immediately conceived 
the idea of founding French settlements in the Southwest and opening 
up mercantile communications between France and the Mississippi 

In pursuance of this purpose he returned to France without delay, 
submitted his plan to the government, and was authorized to continue 
the exploration begun by Marquette and Joliet, obtaining also the 
exclusive right to the trade in buffalo hides. He returned to New 
France in 1678, together with an Italian veteran by the name of Tonti, 
a Franciscan monk, Louis Hennepin, and carried with him a number of 
artisans and sailors and a large cargo of chandlers' supplies and mer- 
chandise for the Indian trade. In the fall of the year a small vessel 
with a capacity of ten tons was built near Fort Frontenac. In this ship 
La Salle and his followers soon sailed across the Ontario to the mouth 
of the Niagara River where a small fort was erected as a protection for 
a trading post. Above the falls, on the shores of the Erie, he built a 
sailing vessel with a tonnage of 120,000 pounds, named it the Griffin 
and freighted it with chandlery and ironware, designed for the fitting 
out of another vessel to be 1 built on the Illinois River. The Griffin was 
launched August 7, 1679, with the firing of cannon and the singing of 
songs. This was the first sailing vessel to plow the waves of Lake Erie. 
With it La Salle and his crew crossed the lake, passed the straits into 
Lake St. Claire, sailed thence across Lake Huron and through the 
straits of Mackinaw, where another trading post was established, and 



finally down Lake Michigan to Green Bay. Here the cargo was trans- 
ferred to smaller boats for further transportation down the Illinois 

Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle 

River, while the Griffin took a cargo of furs and returned to the starting 

La Salle and his crew navigated Lake Michigan as far as St. 
Joseph, Mich., where a trading post was established, protected by 


palisades and known as Fort Miami. They waited until December for 
the return of the Griffin, but were disappointed, the vessel having gone 
ashore on its way back to Niagara. Then they prepared to continue 
their voyage. There were two routes between Lake Michigan and the 
Illinois Kiver, used by the Indians from time out of mind, the one being 
that taken by Marquette and Joliet on their return, the other leading 
up the St. Joseph River to the turning-point near South Bend, Ind., and 
thence across the watershed to the Kankakee and down that river to 
the Illinois. La Salle chose the latter. His company consisted of Tonti, 
Hennepin, two Franciscan monks, besides thirty sailors and colonists. 
Reaching the aforesaid Kaskaskia Indian village, and finding it aban- 
doned, they continued the journey -.down the Illinois, not stopping until 
they reached, on January 1, 1680$ that expansion of the river called 
Lake Peoria. Here they found Illini Indians, with whom La Salle en- 
tered into a treaty of friendship, obtaining also permission to build a 
fort, which was located on the east shore of the river, near the south 
end of Lake Peoria. 

The situation of La Salle was, however, far from enviable. Fifteen 
hundred miles from the nearest French outpost, his followers despair.- 
ing of a successful issue of the enterprise and anxious to return, he was 
doubtless himself in deep distress, as evidenced by the name given to 
this stronghold, viz., Fort Crevecreur, meaning Broken Heart. 

In spite of untoward circumstances, La Salle did not lose heart, but 
set about building the intended vessel. The work had not advanced 
far when several of his men deserted him, forcing a temporary delay 
and necessitating his return to Fort Frontenac to secure other work- 
men. With three companions he started March 1st, reaching the 
objective point May 6th, after many hardships and perils. 

Meanwhile Hennepin and two other Frenchmen, Du Guy and 
Michael d'Accault, journeyed down the Illinois to the point where it 
empties into the Mississippi, and then started on a new exploring tour 
up that river. They pressed on as far as the present site of Minneapolis 
and discovered the great falls, named from St. Anthony of Padua, 
their patron saint, the St. Anthony Falls. A cross having been erected 
here, a mass was held and possession claimed in the name of France. 
All that summer they tarried in this delightful region, returning in the 
fall, not to Illinois, but to Green Bay. 

Tonti, who had been requested 'to build a stronghold on a high cliff 
on the south shore of the Illinois, which is now known as Starved Rock, 
had left Fort Crevecoeur simultaneously and started for that point. 
The fort was completed and received the appropriate name of Rockfort. 
While Tonti was engaged in this work nearly all the remaining French- 
men fled, after having razed Fort Crevecoaur and thrown all its supplies 




into the river. Only six men of the garrison, including two priests, 
remained faithfully at their post. To complete the disaster, a band of 
Iroquois Indians arrived Sept. 10th, threatening the fortress with anni- 
hilation. The remaining French- 
men fled. At Rockfort Tonti was 
taken prisoner and upon his re- 
lease returned to Mackinaw. 

Upon his return the following 
year with the advance guard of 
his newly recruited force of men, 
La Salle, to his dismay, found both 
fortresses deserted. He returned 
with his men to Fort Miami, where 
he met the main body of the new 
expedition, and quartered it there 
for the winter. 

In furtherance of his plans, La 
Salle promoted a defensive alli- 
ance between the Miami and the 
Illinois Indians against their old 
enemies the Iroquois. In December 
he called a council of tribesmen at 

Fort Miami, choosing eighteen out of their number who, together with 
his twenty-three Frenchmen, were to accompany him to the mouth of 
the Mississippi. In the meantime Tonti 's whereabouts had been 
revealed, he was sent for and put at the head of the expedition, which 
started southward Dec. 21st. The supplies were carried on sleds to 
the Illinois and there stowed into canoes, in which the expedition 
embarked for the desolated Fort Crevecceur. 

The half finished vessel was found almost intact. It was quickly 
completed, whereupon the expedition set sail for its destination. The 
mouth of the Mississippi was reached April 6, 1682. At length, La 
Salle had thus reached the goal for which he had strived untiringly for 
several years. The French possessions in America, which had been 
bounded by the Great Lakes, were now extended to the Gulf of Mexico. 
Nor was La Salle slow in taking possession of this vast territory with 
the customary ceremonies, consisting of the erection of a cross, the 
holding of a mass, and the planting of a standard, bearing the royal 
arms of France. All of this new territory was named Louisiana, in 
honor of Louis XIV. 

The expedition returned, doubling on its former course, and at the 
mouth of the Illinois, Tonti, with a few men, remained to establish the 
claims of France by actual possession. His first work was to erect a 
fort as a protection against the Iroquois tribes and a nucleus for the 


contemplated settlements in these parts. In December, 1682, Starved 
Rock was for the second time selected as the site of a fort, and the new 
stronghold was named Fort St. Louis. The necessity for protection 
against the Iroquois was all the more urgent, as these savage tribes 
were furnished with arms and ammunition by the English colonial 
governor at Albany, on the Hudson River, and sent westward to harass 
the French and destroy their lucrative Indian trade in the region of 
the Great Lakes. 

La Salle now returned to Quebec in order to obtain authority to 
colonize the newly explored territory. Unfortunately, he found that 
Gbvernor Frontenac had been recalled and replaced by La Barre, who 
was his personal enemy and antagonistic to his plans. In vain he 
pleaded with La Barre to co-operate with him in realizing the coloniza- 
tion plans. Where he had expected to find sympathy, he was met with 
derision. La Salle then resolved to return to France in order to obtain 
the privileges denied him by the governor, and embarked in the autumn 
of 1683. In the meantime, La Barre sent a man named De Baugis to 
Illinois to assume the command at Fort St. Louis, which was cheerfully 
relinquished by Tonti. Although deprived of the command, Tonti soon 
afterwards bravely beat back a savage attack by the Iroquois. 

A better location than Starved Rock the experienced frontiersman 
could scarcely have found for the building of a fort. It consists of an 
isolated and almost inaccessible rock 130 to 140 feet in height. The 
side facing north toward the Illinois River is almost perpendicular, the 
opposite side forming a steep slope. The rounded top has an area of 
three-fourths of an acre. About a mile to the southward was the main 
village of the friendly Illinois Indians, called La Vantum and number- 
ing at that time 6,000 or 7,000 inhabitants. With these he expected to 
carry on a profitable trade, while depending upon them to assist in 
repelling the attacks of their mutual enemies, the Iroquois. Further- 
more, a fort at this point would form the strategic key to this part of 
the lower Illinois valley as well as the Mississippi valley. 

Fort St. Louis consisted of earthworks and palisades, surrounding 
a storehouse and also a blockhouse, serving the double purpose of trad- 
ing station and barracks for the garrison. By means of a windlass 
water was hoisted from the river. Two small brass cannon, mounted 
on the breastworks in such a position as easily to dominate both the 
river on the north and the plain on the south, completed the armament. 
The fort was solemnly dedicated by one Father Membre and soon 
became the favorite rendezvous of the natives of La Vantum and the 
surrounding country. 

Although anticipating subsequent events, the history of Starved 
Rock may as well at this point be told to the end. Fort St. Louis was 



garrisoned until 1702, when the garrison was withdrawn. As a trading 
post the fort was still maintained until 1718, when it was captured and 
burned, supposedly by the common enemy, the Iroquois Indians. The 
Illinois were thenceforth left in peace until 1722, when the Foxes made 
an unsuccessful attack. In order to avoid further molestation the 

The La Salle Monument in Lincoln Park 

remainder of the dwellers about the fort removed to their tribesmen 
that dwelled along the Mississippi. The few that stayed behind fell an 
easy prey to their enemies. In the year 1769 they were attacked by 
tribes from the north, and, being severely pressed, sought refuge on the 
high rock formerly covered by Fort St. Louis. Here they were besieged 
by the enemy for twelve days, and then, exhausted from lack of food and 
water, made a desperate night attack with the hope of breaking through 
the lines. The attempt failed totally, all but one, an Indian half-breed, 


being slaughtered and scalped. Long afterwards, when the whites 
again began to settle here, human bones lay thickly scattered on and 
about the rock, as grewsome evidences of that savage battle, and to 
this day bones are said to be found here and there in the accumulated 
soil. It was this siege and the starving out of the captives that gave the 
name to the historic landmark, known ever afterwards as Starved Rock. 

Having thus briefly sketched the history of Fort St. Louis and its 
famous site, we return to the story of La Salle and his colonization of 

La Salle had better success with the king of France than with his 
obstinate representative at Quebec. The government set aside a suitable 
sum to defray the expenses of colonizing the western territory, and in 
July, 1684, La Salle was able to return to America with a flotilla of four 
ships, laden with all the necessaries of the prospective settlements and 
carrying 280 colonists. Of this number one hundred were soldiers, the 
remainder farmers and their families, sailors, and members of monastic 
orders. The bulk of these emigrants, however, had been picked up hap- 
hazard in the cities and proved to be poor material for colony building. 

After a long stay on the island of San Domingo, the expedition at 
length entered the Gulf and arrived in the first part of January, 1685, 
off the Mississippi delta, where Tonti with twenty Frenchmen and thirty 
Indians awaited his arrival. The expedition, however, by some miscal- 
culation, sailed past the mouth of the river, and when La Salle dis- 
covered the mistake, he was unable to persuade Beaujeu, the command- 
ing officer of the fleet, to turn back. He obstinately held to westward 
until they reached the Matagorda Bay, where they landed in boats. 
When the vessels subsequently entered the bay, the supply ship struck 
a shoal. Part of the cargo was landed during the day, but the following 
night a severe gale wrecked the vessel and scattered the great bulk of 
its cargo over the waves. To add to the disaster, the Indians of the 
surrounding region flocked to the shore, intent on plundering the stores 
saved from the wreck. A fight ensued in which several natives were 
killed. Two of the remaining ships immediately set sail for France, 
leaving La Salle and 230 Frenchmen behind, "to shift for themselves as 
best they might," according to the obstinate Beaujeu. 

After having searched the region in all directions without finding 
any of the channels of the Mississippi delta, La Salle determined to 
found a colony with fortifications on an eminence west of Matagorda 
Bay. The purpose was accomplished and the settlement named St. 
Louis. The stores landed would have sufficed for several years, had 
the colonists been industrious, provident and peaceful among them- 
selves. Being quite the reverse, the colonizing scheme thus forced 
upon La Salle by circumstances proved a complete failure. 


In December, 1685, La Salle undertook another expedition in search 
of the Mississippi, but failed again. In April of the following year, 
accompanied by twenty men, he made an expedition to New Mexico 
in search of gold, but again Fortune frowned upon his undertaking. 
On his return the discouraging news awaited him that the colonists 
had been reduced to the number of forty, the remaining ship lost, and 
the last of the provisions consumed. 

Still undaunted, La Salle determined to bring recruits and pro- 
visions from Canada. On January 12, 1687, with a company of sixteen, 
he started on a march northeast through the boundless wilderness. In 
this party he had a stanch friend in a relative of his, a young man by 
the name of Moranget, but also two secret enemies, Duhaut and 
L'Archeveque, who held La Salle responsible for the loss of all their 
property, which they had risked in his enterprise. At one of the tribu- 
taries of the Trinity River these men killed Moranget in a quarrel, and 
then lay in ambush for La Salle himself, who on his arrival at the spot 
was shot down by Duhaut. The slayer and his accomplice then plun- 
dered the corpse and left it on the prairie, a prey to the wild beasts. 
Thus ended the strenuous career of a brave and illustrious explorer. 

Shortly after the foul deed the murderers and the rest of the party 
became involved in a fight among themselves, in which Duhaut fell, 
whereupon his sympathizers joined an Indian tribe. The remnant of 
the expedition, a small group, numbering seven men, reached Canada 
after an arduous journey, replete with privation and peril. 

The colony thus founded by La Salle in Texas, though originally 
intended for Illinois, was destroyed soon afterward by Spaniards from 
Mexico, who invaded this region and established their claim on Texas 

French Missions and Colonies in Illinois 

Marquette's visit to the Kaskaskia Indian village, near the present 
site of Utica, and the baptism of Chief Cassagoac was the first step 
towards christianizing Illinois. During his second visit in 1675, this 
zealous missionary of the church established the mission of the Im- 
maculate Conception and built a chapel of logs and bark, the first house 
of worship in Illinois. This missionary work was resumed April 27, 
1677, by the aforesaid Jesuit priest, Father Claude Allouez, who in 1686 
took up permanent residence at the mission. He died in 1690 and was 
succeeded by Father James Gravier who in 1693 succeeded in establish- 
ing the mission post on a more permanent basis. A small French settle- 
ment grew up gradually on the outskirts of the Indian village. 

When the French in 1699 founded a settlement at Biloxi in the 
present state of Mississippi, several Indian tribes of Illinois prepared 


to move there and locate in the neighborhood of the colony. Among 
those that actually broke camp were the Kaskaskias who, however, 
traveled southward only as far as the river that bears their name. Here 
they settled down, about six miles above its confluence with the Missis- 
sippi, and built a village, to which the old Kaskaskia mission also was 
removed, both retaining the old name. At the head of the mission at 
this time was a priest named Francis Pinet. A -French colony was 
gradually formed, which as early as 1721 had attained such develop- 
ment and importance that the Jesuits deemed it expedient to found a 
convent and a school at that point. Four years later the village was 
incorporated as a town by permission of King Louis XV. of France. 

The reason why the French colonies were attracted to southwestern 
Illinois is supposed to be a desire to locate near the thoroughfare 
between the French settlements in Canada and those at the mouth of 
the Mississippi. Travelers and traders alike had now practically 
abandoned the route via Lake Michigan and the Chicago River for the 
one along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi. Kaskaskia, 
in its most prosperous days, about the middle of the eighteenth century, 
numbered 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants. Toward the end of the century 
this number gradually lessened, amounting in 1765, when the town was 
taken by the English, to only 450. Of the fate of this town we will 
have occasion to speak in subsequent pages. 

A few months prior to the founding of the new Kaskaskia, certain 
French Jesuits established nearby, at or near the present location of 
Cahokia, St. Clair county, a mission, around which there sprang up a 
settlement which has the distinction of being the earliest permanent 
French colony in Illinois. In 1701 the mission work here was left in the 
hands of priests educated at the French seminary in Quebec. These 
eventually limited their endeavors to the French settlers, leaving the 
spiritual care of the natives to the Jesuits. They continued their work 
at Cahokia until that point was surrendered to the English. After 
that event this old town also began to decrease in population and im- 
portance. Farther on in the course of the narrative it will again claim 
our attention. 

After the destruction of Fort Crevecceur, friars of the Recollect 
Order began a mission on the same site, but the work was soon aban- 
doned. In 1711 we find, however, a French missionary station located 
on the western bank of the river and surrounded by French settlers. 
These were the first inhabitants of the present city of Peoria. It is 
positively know that there was a colony at this point in 1725. 

Other French colonies grew up around the original three heretofore 
mentioned, such as St. Philip, forty-five miles south of Cahokia, Prairie 
du Rocher, northwest from Kaskaskia, and west of the Mississippi, in 





the present state of Missouri, St. Louis and St. Genevieve. As early as 
the second decade of the eighteenth century France thus possessed a 
considerable colony in the Mississippi valley, midway between its 
Canadian settlements and those founded, also in the early part of the 
same century, near the Gulf of Mexico. About the year 1730 these 
Mississippi settlers numbered 140 French families and about 600 con- 
verted Indians, together with quite a number of traders. For the pro- 
tection of their midland possessions the French in 1718-20 erected Fort 
Chartres, sixteen miles northwest from Kaskaskia. The fort was built 
of limestone from an adjacent hill on a very low site, near the river 
bank. The ground plan was an irregular rectangle formed on three 
sides by stone walls of a thickness of 2 feet and 2 inches and on the 
fourth by a ravine which the spring freshets filled with water. This 


was the seat of government in Illinois during the French colonial 
period. At the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1756, the 
fort was rebuilt at a cost of a million French crowns and was then 
considered the strongest fortress on the North American continent. 
Its story will be continued in succeeding pages. 

The Fox tribe of Indians vacillated between the English and the 
French in disposing of their peltries. They had control of the portages 
of the St. Joseph and Des Plaines rivers to Lake Michigan and exacted 
toll from the French traders. To remove this barrier to commerce, 
the French determined their destruction, and one branch of the Foxes 
was exterminated in 1712 by the French and their Indian allies. 
Massacres followed in 1716 on the Wisconsin River, and the Foxes were 
driven away in 1728. In 1730 they were on their way east to seek 
protection from the Wea Miamis in northern Indiana. They were over- 
taken by the French under the command of St. Ange, the commandant 
at Fort Chartres, and by the Kickapoo, Mascoutin and Illinois tribes. 
The Foxes took refuge at the Big Creek of the Rock River, in Kendall 
county, and built a fort. But they and their enemies were both starved, 
and a part of the besieging force deserted. On September 8, 1730, a 
violent storm arose, during which the Foxes made their escape. The 
next day they were overtaken and 300 warriors were killed or taken 
prisoners, their women and children, numbering one thousand, also 
falling into the hands of their enemies. The facts about this massacre 
were until recently buried in the archives of France 

To the history of the French in Illinois may be added that slavery 
was introduced by them at this time. The first slave trader was Pierre 
F. Renault, who about 1722 sold a number of slaves to settlers at 
Kaskaskia. Henceforth, slavery continued in Illinois for 120 years. 
The constitution of 1818, when Illinois was granted statehood, forbade 
the bringing of slaves into the state, yet such were found up to the year 
1840, when they disappeared, at least from the census records. 

Illinois Under English Rule 

With envious eye England watched the extension of the French 
possessions toward the west and the south, while its own were limited to 
a comparatively narrow tract along the Atlantic coast. Before long, 
disputes arose over the boundary lines between the English and the 
French possessions, resulting in a war which materially reduced the 
French dominion in America. The territory thus ceded to England 
included the present state of Illinois. 

The first cause of dispute was the chartering of a colonizing syn- 
dicate, entitled The Ohio Company, consisting of eight members, among 
whom George Washington, the man who was to play such a decisive 


part in the shaping of the civic destinies of the North American con- 
tinent. The charter gave this company the right to colonize a large 
tract of land in the present state of Ohio. In order to obtain possession, 
the company began erecting a fort on the present site of Pittsburg, 
but the men engaged in building it were driven away by a large force 
of Frenchmen and Indians. This was the beginning of the French and 
Indian War, one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of our country. 

The war lasted from 1754 to 1759, simultaneously and in connec- 
tion with the Seven Year's War in Europe. In the colonial war the 
Indian tribes of Canada, the region of the Great Lakes and the Ohio 
basin fought on the side of the French, while the Iroquois, the Dela- 
wares, the Shawnees, the Miamis, the Wyandottes and various other 
Indian tribes took up the cause of the English. The French colonists 
who fell into the hands of the English or their savage allies were treated 
with the utmost cruelty. The war was carried on with ever changing 
fortunes, until the English finally gained the upper hand. The last 
decisive battle was fought on the Plains of Abraham, south of Quebec, 
Sept. 12, 1759, where the English commander, General Wolfe, with a 
well trained army corps of 5,000 men utterly defeated the French army 
under General Montcalm, which, though numerically equal, consisted 
chiefly of militiamen. Of these 500 fell and 1,000 were taken prisoners. 
The English loss was, however, almost as great, 600 men being killed or 
wounded. Both generals fell. Five days after the battle Quebec, the 
main stronghold of New France, capitulated, whereby the key to the 
French possessions in America fell into the hands of Great Britain. 

The preliminary peace protocol was signed at Montreal, Sept. 8, 
1760, by General Amherst, the British commander-in-chief, and 
Governor de Vaudreuil of New France. Thereupon the English im- 
mediately began to take possession of the conquered domains. This, 
however, proved no easy task. From generation to generation the 
Indians had become warmly attached to the French and had fought side 
by side with them in the war just ended. No Englishman had hereto- 
fore settled northwest of the Ohio River; the Indians still held posses- 
sion without the slightest fear of being dispossessed by the English. 
They were willing, as before, to carry on commerce with English 
traders, but this was the extent of their courtesies. 

On Nov. 29, 1760, the British under Major Robert Rogers captured 
Detroit. The following summer they took possession of Michilimackinac, 
at the outlet of Lake Superior, also Green Bay, St. Joseph and San- 
dusky, which with their fortifications had remained intact during the 
war. This was true also of Forts Vincennes and Ouatanon on the 
Wabash River, as well as of the French villages and forts in Illinois. 
Far distant as these were from the arena of war, they had not been 


threatened with attack. But before any steps had been taken to sub- 
jugate these points, the western tribes determined to drive out the 
English from the strongholds already captured. The brave Chief 
Pontiac, their leader, headed a secret conspiracy to attack and re- 
capture at a preconcerted moment all the strongholds lost to the 
English. The plan was carried out and all the forts recaptured, with 
the exception of Detroit and Fort Pitt (Pittsburg). The Indians were 
again undisputed masters of the entire Northwest. They kept up the 
siege of Detroit until August 26, 1763, when General Bradstreet with 
a large force of Englishmen came to the relief of the garrison and dis- 
persed the Indians, who for one whole year kept the place so completely 
blockaded that no provisions could be smuggled in. Fort Pitt was 
similarly besieged until General Bouquet, about the time of the relief 
of Detroit by Bradstreet, came to the rescue. Nothing more remained 
for the English to do to fulfill the terms of the protocol but to capture 
Forts Vincennes and Ouatanon and subdue Illinois. 

Four years had elapsed since the signing of the protocol, and still 
the English made no show of penetrating into the wilderness, hesitating, 
no doubt, on account of the vast areas of forest and plain which 
stretched between the English colonies in the East and the French 
settlements in Illinois. Their first attempt was the sending of a numer- 
ous expedition by boat up the Mississippi in order to preclude attacks 
by Indians with French sympathies. The expedition, numbering 300 
men, was led by Major Loftus. In flat-bottomed boats they left the 
English fort, Bayou Manchae, on the Gulf, and proceeded up the river. 
They were, nevertheless, soon attacked by natives of the Tonica tribe, 
encamped on both sides of the river, and Major Loftus had no recourse 
but to return. 

Meanwhile, peace had been declared between France and England, 
also other participants in the Seven Year's War, and the treaty of 
Paris, signed in 1763, advanced the frontier of the English dominion in 
America from the Ohio to the Mississippi, thereby subjecting Illinois, 
nominally at least, to British rule. 

While waiting for the final treaty of peace, French traders in 
Illinois, as heretofore, carried on their commerce in hides and furs with 
the Indians, disposing of their stock in St. Louis and New Orleans at 
high prices. This put new obstacles in the way of the final ratification 
of the peace treaty, for as soon as this was done the English traders 
would supersede the French and the commerce would seek a channel 
over the Great Lakes instead of the Mississippi, and England deemed 
the Indian trade of Illinois of so great importance that Sir William 
Johnson, superintendent of the British Indian Bureau, was authorized 
to secure control of it at once. To gain this end, Sir William Johnson 


appointed George Crogan, an accomplished officer and a man of ex- 
perience in similar matters, as his special commissioner. Crogan set 
out from Fort Pitt for Illinois in May, 1765. After various Indian 
skirmishes, a delegation of natives under the leadership of the haughty 
Chief Pontiac met him in council in the month of July, this being the 
first time the Indians would meet the British in peaceful negotiations. 
After Pontiac had agreed to cease hostilities, to use his influence for 
peace with kindred tribes, and in their behalf to guarantee the British 
undisputed possession of Illinois, Crogan had no further purpose in 
proceeding westward, but turned back and visited Detroit, where 
another council with the Indians was held. Thence he returned to 
Sir William Johnson, whose headquarters were on th^, Mohawk River, 
and reported the successful outcome of his mission. 

In accordance with the original plan, the British military forces 
started from Fort Pitt in the fall of the same year to take formal 
possession of Illinois. It consisted of 120 men of the Forty-second 
Highlanders under Captain Stirling. The company arrived at Fort 
Chartres near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers on 
October 10th. The same day the French flag was hauled down and 
the British colors hoisted in its stead. Henceforth Illinois was British 
territory in fact as well as in name. 

The first official act after the occupation of ^Fort Chartres was 
the issuance of a proclamation guaranteeing to the inhabitants civil 
and religious liberty. The latter was all that these Frenchmen coveted, 
holding, as they did, that hardly anything could bo done to extend 
their political freedom. But the idea of reorganizing their communities 
along British lines, with various office holders, did not enter their 
mind. They continued their patriarchal form of village government, 
with the priest as chief advisor in worldly as well as spiritual affairs. 

Three months after his arrival at Fort Chartres, Captain Stirling 
died and Major Frazier succeeded him as governor of Illinois. Though 
under British rule, the French pioneers continued so peaceful and law- 
abiding that the British troops in the spring of 1766 were sent away 
as superfluous. The soldiers departed by way of th^ Mississippi, des- 
tined for Pensacola, Florida, whence they sailed for Philadelphia, 
arriving June 15th. 

One Colonel Reed succeeded Frazier as governor, but his despotic 
manner brought him into such disfavor with the people, that he was 
soon in turn succeeded by Colonel Wilkins, who arrived at Kaskaskia 
Sept. 5, 1768. The 21st of that month the new governor was ordered by 
General Gage, his superior, to establish a court at Fort Chartres. Seven 
judges were consequently appointed and on Dec. 9th of that year the 
first English court of law in Illinois opened its sessions. After existing 


for a century without a court of law, the French had established such 
a court in 1722. 

The principles of British territorial government were clearly set 
forth in the proclamation of Oct. 24, 1765, by King George the Third, 
and in the successive proclamation of 1772. In these acts private 
ownership of realty was forbidden, which fact leads one to believe that 
the government purposed to divide the land in large estates to be 
granted to favorites by the crown. Fortunately, British supremacy 
in Illinois did not last long enough to bring about a system so dangerous 
to the future development of the territory. 

June 2, 1774, the British parliament adopted an act, known as the 
Quebec Bill, by which the boundaries of Canada were extended so as to 
embrace all of the territory north of the Ohio River. This was the first 
action of parliament that aroused actual dissatisfaction among the 
colonists, principally those of Virginia. It encroached upon the terri- 
tory of that colony, whose original grant stretched across the Ohio, and 
was particularly odious to the private colonizing companies which at 
that time planned to direct emigration into the valley of the Ohio. 
Certain acts of Lord Dunmore, the last colonial governor of Virginia, 
angered the people on the frontier, and they made their displeasure 
known in a way that unmistakably presaged a coming uprising, long 
before any revolutionary tendencies could be discerned in Boston and 

Captain Hugh Lord seems to have been the last of the English 
governors of Illinois, and no more troops were sent there. The popu- 
lation, now made up of half-breeds as well as French and Indians, was 
left to govern itself under the direction of Philippe Francois de Rastel, 
Chevalier de Rocheblave, in the capacity of military commander, terri- 
torial governor and judge of the provincial council. Rocheblave was 
the last commander in Illinois under British sovereignty, continuing in 
that capacity until the Americans claimed possession. 

Fort Chartres remained the seat of government until 1772, when 
one side of the fort was destroyed by a Mississippi flood. On a hill 
near the Kaskaskia River, opposite the town of the same name, the 
English erected Fort Gage the same year, making this the administra- 
tive headquarters. Fort Gage was built entirely of wood, being in- 
ferior to the former stronghold now left to fall into ruin. The river 
floods have long since completed the work of demolition, leaving no 
vestige of this whilom proud and forbidding citadel. 

The American Occupation 

The Continental Congress, made up of representatives of the 
thirteen colonies, assembled in Philadelphia Sept. 5, 1774. This con- 


gress soon set about forming an American home government to take 
the place of the British, which had became oppressive and odious. 
On June 13th of the following year three Indian departments were 
instituted, viz., the Southern, the Northern and the Central, the last 
named embracing Illinois. As its officers were chosen Benjamin Frank- 

Brigadier General George Rogers Clark 

lin and James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and Patrick Henry of Virginia. 
Owing to the remoteness of the territory under their supervision no 
practical benefits accrued to it, the plan simply denoting the first 
official act in the acquirement of the western territory. 

On April 10, 1776, Col. George Morgan, a former trader at Kas- 
kaskia, was appointed Indian Agent for this department to succeed 


Franklin and Wilson. He resided at Fort Pitt, but his office required 
him to visit the Indian tribes of the West for the purpose of befriend- 
ing them. The British agents, however, had already obtained their 
friendship, and Morgan's efforts proved needless. 

In the meantime the revolutionary movement made great strides. 
Among its most enthusiastic promoters, and those who made the 
greatest sacrifices in its support, were the people on the Virginia 
frontier. Prominent among them was Col. George Rogers Clark, 
himself a Virginian. He was one of a number of men who had founded 
settlements in Kentucky, but had returned Oct. 1, 1777, to submit to 
Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia a plan for the occupation of Illi- 
nois. After repeated representations the governor finally approved the 
plan, and Col. Clark prepared to carry it out. 

The utmost precaution was needed, for had the British learned 
of the enterprise, they would have immediately sent troops from 
Detroit to interrupt the Clark expedition and prevent further progress, 
and in all likelihood would have reinforced Fort Gage with a strong 
garrison. The expedition embarked at Pittsburg, following the Ohio 
River down to a point near its junction with the Mississippi, whence 
it proceeded overland to Kaskaskia, then a town of about 1,000 in- 

In the evening of July 4, 1778, Clark and his men arrived at Fort 
Gage. No English were found there, only a handful of French doing 
garrison duty under the command of Rocheblave. The inhabitants of 
Kaskaskia were completely taken by surprise by the Americans, and 
no resistance was offered. A Pennsylvanian who chanced to be among 
the occupants of the fort secretly admitted the Americans at night. 
So complete was the surprise that the commandant himself was found 
by the entering enemy soundly asleep by his wife's side, and was 
rudely awakened only to be put in irons, as were also a number of his 
men, while the remainder of the population were forbidden to leave 
their houses, on penalty of being shot without mercy. To add to the 
alarm of the peaceful citizens, the Americans patrolling the streets 
marched back and forth, making night hideous by noise and shouting. 

Rumor had portrayed the American soldiers as a band of rowdies. 
Clark, knowing this, determined to take advantage of the fact. His 
purpose was at first to strike terror into the inhabitants by stern, 
relentless severity, and afterwards gain their friendship and confidence 
by merciful and considerate treatment. He succeeded admirably. 
Before they had any inkling of his purpose, the inhabitants sent a 
delegation headed by their priest, Father Gibault, with a humble 
request that they be permitted to assemble once more at church to bid 
each other a last farewell before being scattered in various directions, 
as they feared. Their request was granted on the specific condition 





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that no one leave the town. After the meeting in the church Father 
Gibault and a committee again called on Clark, praying that, as they 
were about to be exiled from their homes, they might be permitted to 
take with them provisions and other necessities, and that mothers might 
not be separated from their children. Clark listened to their supplica- 
tions with visible surprise and then exclaimed: "What! Do you take 
us for savages?" 

It were needless to say that the reverend father and his com- 
panions were equally surprised and elated at this good-natured retort. 
Then this fierce colonel and his band of Americans had not come to 
drive them from their abodes and deprive them of their property and 
religious freedom ! On the contrary, they had come merely to institute 
the new government and place Illinois under its protection, the settlers 
learning now for the first time and to their satisfaction that this 
government had been officially recognized by France. Cahokia and the 
other French villages in Illinois willingly recognized the authority of 
Clark, and Illinois had thereby all but nominally ceased to be a British 

Clark's position was, however, rather precarious. Fort Pitt, the 
only point from which he could obtain reinforcements in an emergency, 
was situated five hundred miles away, with the French village of 
Vincennes and Fort Sackville, still held by the British, intervening 
between him and his military base of supplies. It was, therefore, of 
the utmost importance that this point be taken and that the British be 
prevented from sending reinforcements from Detroit. Father Gibault 
and one Captain Helm, together with a small number of men, offered 
to go to Vincennes and persuade the French to take up the American 
cause. Their mission succeeded, and Captain Helm was made com- 
mandant at Fort Sackville, but all too soon the fears of Col. Clark 
were realized. On Dec. 15th, Henry Hamilton, the English governor 
at Detroit, appeared outside of Vincennes with a force of thirty British 
soldiers, fifty French volunteers and four hundred Indian warriors. 
At the fort Captain Helm stood ready to fire what appears to have been 
the only cannon of the fort. When Hamilton and his soldiers had 
arrived within hearing distance, Helm shouted a thundering "Halt!" 
To this Hamilton replied with a demand on Helm to capitulate. This 
Helm agreed to do, on condition that he might depart without the 
customary military honors. Hamilton consented, and out marched the 
commandant and the entire garrison one lone soldier. 

This made Clark's position more perilous than ever, but he proved 
himself master of the situation. Having been informed in January, 
1779, that Hamilton had somewhat reduced the garrison at Fort 
Sackville by sending a small force to blockade the Ohio River in order 
to cut off the retreat of the Americans, the fearless Col. Clark deter- 




mined to take the fort by surprise. Forming a company of French 
volunteers, which raised his fighting strength to 170 men, he marched 
on Fort Sackville, while a vessel under John Rogers' command, with 
a crew of 46 and a cargo of supplies, was dispatched down the Missis- 
sippi and up the Ohio and Wabash rivers to co-operate with the land 
forces. It was only with the greatest difficulty that Clark and his men 
succeeded in crossing the swollen Wabash. The vessel failing to arrive 
on time, he temporarily provisioned his forces at an Indian village and 
advanced bravely on Fort Sackville. They arrived Feb. 24th, and 
after a hard-fought battle of twenty-four hours, the fort surrendered. 
This was practically the only battle incident to the conquest of Illinois 
by the Americans. 

Previous to this battle, the Americans had made preparations for 
a system of government for the territory. The legislative assembly of 
Virginia in October, 1778, resolved to institute a temporary govern- 
ment, and on this act Col. John Todd, second in command under Clark, 
based a proclamation, issued June 15, 1779, declaring the entire 
territory a county of Virginia, to be known as the county of Illinois. 
The same year a fort was erected on the east bank of the Mississippi, 
a short distance below the mouth of the Ohio, designed to protect the 
territory against the Spanish, who, besides other extensive possessions 
in the New World, since 1762 claimed the entire territory west of the 
Mississippi. Col. Todd fell in the battle of Blue Licks, Kentucky, 
August 18, 1782, and was succeeded by Timothy Montbrun, a French- 
man, as commandant of Illinois. 

An old trading post named Fort Massac was established about 1700 
by the French in southern Illinois, on the Ohio River. In 1758 they 
rebuilt it as a bulwark against the English during the French and 
Indian War. After having been ceded to the British in 1765, the fort 
was left unoccupied. This made it possible for Gen. Clark to float down 
the Ohio River unmolested. The fort was rebuilt in 1794 and was 
occupied by an American garrison until after the War of 1812, when it 
was abandoned. As late as 1843 it was decided to build an arsenal 
here, but this was instead established at Rock Island. Earthworks still 
mark the site of the fort, which is now a state park. 

In 1782 the first American settlement in Illinois was founded 
in present Monroe county and significantly named New Design. The 
settlers were James Moore, Shadrach Bond, James Garrison, Robert 
Kidd and Larken Rutherford, the last two having served in Clark's 
little band of soldiers. In the summer of 1781 these men came with 
their families across the Alleghany Mountains, boarded a river vessel 
in Pittsburg, and were carried down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and 
up this river to the point selected for the settlement. 

By the treaty of Paris, Sept. 3, 1783, England recognized the inde- 



pendence of the United States. The territory thereby ceded to the 
new republic included Illinois, and after the ratification of the treaty 
of peace by the congress at Philadelphia, on Jan. 14, 1784, Illinois 
became an integral part of the United States and passed into a new 
d,nd important epoch of development. 

Illinois as a Territory and a State in the Union 

On July 13, 1787, congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, by 
which all the region north of the Ohio River was organized as the 
Northwest Territory. October 5th of the same year Arthur St. Glair, 

The Old Cahokia Court House (1795) 

an officer of prominence in the Revolutionary War, was appointed 
governor. July 9th of the following year he arrived at Marietta, a 
newly founded settlement on the Muskingum River, designated as the 
seat of government. The first county in Ohio was organized under 
the name of Washington. In June, 1790, Hamilton county was or- 
ganized, and a few weeks later the governor together with Winthrop 
Sargeant, the territorial secretary, made a journey to Kaskaskia and 
organized the settled portions of Illinois as a county, named St. Clair 
in honor of the governor. A court was established at Cahokia, and & 
justice of the peace appointed in each village. Five years later the 


increase in population necessitated the organization of another county, 
which was named Randolph. 

By an act of congress May 7, 1800, the Northwest Territory was 
divided in two, the one comprising Ohio, the other Indiana, Illinois, 
Wisconsin and portions of Michigan and Minnesota. Simultaneously, 
William Henry Harrison was appointed governor and John Gibson 
secretary of the latter, called Indiana Territory. Vincennes was chosen 

Ninian Edwards, Territorial Governor 1 809-1 8. "-'i United States Senator 1818-24. 

Third Governor 1827-30. 

capital and the new governor arrived Jan. 10, 1801. By order of the 
governor a territorial legislature was elected Jan. 3, 1805, and assem- 
bled at Vincennes. Shadrach Bond and William Biggs were elected 
representatives of St. Clair county and George Fisher representative 
of Randolph county. These three men,, the first members of a legisla- 
tive body in Illinois, met for their first session July 29th of the same 


Previously, however, Indiana Territory had already been divided 
by an act of congress, passed Jan. 11, 1805, the lower Michigan penin- 
sula forming a separate territory. Four years later, in February, 
1809, a second division took place, making a new territory, named 
Illinois, out of the present states of Illinois and Wisconsin and the upper 
peninsula of Michigan. Kaskaskia was made its capital and Edwards, 
the first governor, entered upon his administration the following llth 
of June. The census of 1810 showed a population of 12,282 in the 

Old Kaskaskia house, in which the first Territorial Legislature 
is said to have met in 1812 

territory. Three new counties, Madison, Gallatin and Johnson, were 
organized, and the territorial privileges were gradually enhanced. 
Thus it was given a seat in congress in 1812, Shadrach Bond being the 
first territorial delegate. 

In January, 1818, Nathaniel Pope being the delegate, the territorial 
assembly petitioned congress for statehood. The petition was granted, 
and out of the aggregation of small and widely scattered settlements 
was formed a state of the Union with all the rights and privileges 
thereunto appertaining. The boundaries then fixed have remained 
intact. The following summer a constitutional convention was held 
at Kaskaskia, with attending delegates from all the counties then 
existing, viz., St. Clair, Kandolph, Madison, Gallatin, Johnson, Ed- 
wards, White, Monroe, Pope, Jackson, Crawford, Bond, Union, Wash- 


ington and Franklin. The constitution was adopted in August and 
the first state election took place in September, resulting in the unan- 
imous election of Shadrach Bond, the only candidate, as governor, 
Pierre Menard as lieutenant governor, and Elias Kent Kane as secre- 

Shadrach Bond, First Governor of Illinois 

tary of state. These entered upon their duties the 6th of October 

In 1820 Vandalia became the capital of the new state, and Kaskas- 
kia from that time began to fall off in population and importance. 
Today only a small group of dilapidated buildings bear evidence of 
its former dignity. 

A similar fate befell the still older community of Cahokia. Both 
places having for a time shared the functions of county seat in St. 
Clair county, Cahokia, after the organization of Randolph county, held 


that distinction alone until 1814, when Belleville became the adminis- 
trative center. This meant the passing of Cahokia. In 1890 the place 
had but 100 inhabitants, a considerable number of whom were descend- 
ants of the early French settlers at that point. 

Vandalia became, as stated, the capital of the new commonwealth. 
The first capitol building was a plain two-story frame structure. The 
first story contained a single room, used as the assembly hall of the 
House of Eepresentatives. The upper story was divided into two 
rooms, the one occupied by the Senate, the other by the Council of 
Revision. For the use of the secretary of state, the treasurer and the 
state auditor individual offices were rented in the vicinity of the capitol. 
The state archives at the time of removal from Kaskaskia to Vandalia 
comprised a single wagonload of documents. The legislature at its 
first session in Vandalia resolved that this city be the seat of govern- 
ment for twenty years, beginning Dec. 1, 1820. 

This modest capitol building was destroyed by fire Dec. 9, 1823, 
whereupon a larger and more commodious brick edifice was erected at 
a cost of $15,000, the citizens of Vandalia contributing $3,000 towards 
this amount. Regardless of the resolution pertaining to the location 
of the capitol, agitation was begun the very same year in favor of 
selecting another capital city, owing to the fact that the northern part 
of the state had become so densely populated that Vandalia was no 
longer the central point. At the legislative election in August, 1834, 
the question was submitted to a popular vote, the city of Alton receiv- 
ing the largest number of votes, with Springfield second. One of the 
reasons urged in favor of a removal was that the capitol building, 
though little over ten years old, did not meet the growing requirements. 
The enterprising mayor of the capital was opposed to the plan, and to 
stop all talk of removal on account of the inadequacy of the structure, 
in the summer of 1836 set about tearing down the old building without 
reference to the will of the legislature, and subsequently put up a new 
building, utilizing the old and adding new material at a cost of $16,000. 
This coup proved of no avail, however, for on Feb. 28, 1837, the legis- 
lature, disregarding the popular vote of 1834, resolved to make Spring- 
field the capital city. The legislature assembled in the state house at 
Vandalia in December, 1838, for the last time, thereupon 'turning the 
rebuilt structure over to Fayette county for a courthouse and school 
building. Remodeled in 1858-9, this same structure today serves as the 
county courthouse. 

For the capitol building in Springfield the legislature appropriated 
the sum of $50,000 and the city contributed an equivalent amount, 
whereupon the cornerstone was laid with appropriate ceremonies July 
4, 1837. On the same day two years later the administration moved 
into the new statehouse, which, however, was not completed until 


1853, when it had cost the state $260,000 or more than double the 
original estimate of $120,000. The building was considered a master- 
piece of architecture as well as a structure of extravagant magnitude, 
yet fifteen years after its completion the enormous growth of the state 
had shrunk it into inadequacy. The legislature, therefore, on Feb. 
25, 1867, resolved to sell it to the city of Springfield and the county 
of Sangamon at a price of $200,000 and to erect a new capitol, the 

The State Capitol at Springfield 

fifth in the history of the young state. The cost was fixed at a max- 
imum of three million dollars. The cornerstone was laid Oct. 5, 1868, 
and twenty years were required to complete the building. It then 
represented an expenditure of about $4,500,000. During this long 
period the tax payers had repeatedly found fault with the extreme 
laxity in building operations as well as the unwarranted waste of the 
funds of the state. At all events, a capitol worthy of the state was 
erected. It is a worthy monument to the enterprise of a commonwealth 
that had so suddenly sprung from an isolated territory to become one 
of the most flourishing and influential states of the Union. 

Among the early problems that pressed for a solution was the 
question of improved transportation facilities. The state had a number 
of navigable waterways, such as the Mississippi, the Ohio, the W abash, 



the Illinois and the Rock rivers, yet the vast stretches of prairie that 
intervened were traversed only with great difficulty. The old commer- 
cial route, leading from Lake Michigan along the Desplaines and 
Illinois rivers to the Mississippi, again came into extensive use as the 
white population increased, but carrying merchandise in canoes and on 
horseback was now considered too slow a mode of transportation. The 
idea of connecting the Mississippi with Lake Michigan by means of a 
canal suggested itself, and the first step in the realization of the plan 
was the organization of the Illinois and Michigan Canal Association 
in 1825. The following year a memorial was sent to congress by the 
legislature, requesting a grant of land by the government toward de- 
fraying the expense to be incurred by the project. In 1827 congress 
appropriated 224,322 acres of land for this purpose. In 1836, nine 
years later, the work of digging was begun, and twelve years later the 
canal was completed. This waterway remained for many years one o'f 
the principal transportation routes in the state. 

During the construction of the canal, an epidemic of speculation 
raged throughout the state. Villages, towns arid cities sprang up on 
paper, and lots sold rapidly at exhorbitant prices. It proved the golden 
age of the real estate agents and promoters. Finally, in 1836, the fever 
spread to the legislature itself. The lawmakers devised a plan for the 
improvement of transportation facilities which, in point of extensive- 
ness, challenges comparison. Bills were passed looking to the building 
of no less than 1,300 miles of railways crossing one another in every 
direction. Large amounts were set aside for the improvement of rivers 
and the building of canals. Counties not affected by these public 
enterprises were set at rest by means of an appropriation of $200,000 
to be parcelled out among them. The legislature was in such a state 
of excitement that it gave orders for beginning work at both ends of 
the projected railroads simultaneously. The appropriations for the 
enormous enterprises amounted to a grand total of $12,000,000 and 
commissioners were sent out to negotiate loans to that amount. Con- 
sidering that the railway was still in its infancy and was locked upon 
as the greatest of luxuries, that there were entire counties that could 
scarcely boast a single settler's cabin, and that the entire population 
of the state numbered less than 400,000, the legislature of the young 
state certainly expended a tremendous amount of energy in its efforts 
to develop the resources of the commonwealth. Meanwhile the legis- 
lature established new state banks, the earnings of which were to be 
used to defray part of the expense for the new lines of transportation. 
This forced and abnormal development was soon followed by the 
inevitable crash. This came in the form of the great financial panic 
of 1837 which, while it affected the entire country, yet caused the most 
serious disturbance in this state. Business was practically stagnant and 



all public enterprises had to be abandoned for the time being. The 
state banks discontinued cash payments, and the credit of the state was 
still further impaired during the next few years by a vigorous 
propaganda in favor of repudiating the public debt. So great was the 
financial embarrassment that state bonds offered at 14 cents on the 
dollar went begging in the money markets. Taxes and state revenues 
narrowly sufficed to defray current expenditures. After August, 1841, 
no further efforts were made to pay the interest on the state debt, and 
in the early part of the following year the state banks went out of bus- 
iness entirely. The state debt at this time amounted to $14,000,000, an 
enormous sum for a young state with a small population and with its 
natural resources still undeveloped. 

In 1842 Illinois thus stood on the verge of bankruptcy. From such 
a catastrophe it was saved by Governor Thomas Ford, an energetic 
man, through whose endeavors a plan for the payment of the state 
indebtedness was formed and successfully carried out. This marked 
the beginning of a gradual improvement in the finances of the state. 

Long before the Illinois and Michigan Canal was opened for 
traffic, the first steamboat had appeared on the Illinois River. This 
was in 1826, but several years elapsed before steamboats came into 
general use for river traffic. In the late thirties railway building was 
begun in Illinois as well as in the eastern states. The first railway in 
the state was the Northern Cross, with Jacksonville and Meredosia as 
its terminal points. This stretch of road, which proved the beginning 
of the great Wabash Railway system, was completed in 1839, the first 
locomotive having been imported the foregoing year. This railway was 
built at state expense. 

In 1847 work was begun on the first railway out of Chicago, 
namely, the Galena and Chicago Union, which had been chartered 
eleven years before. This was the beginning of the great North- 
Western Railway system, which has contributed so largely to the 
material development of the state. The Chicago and Rock Island 
Railway was built in the early fifties, opening an important thorough- 
fare from Chicago to the Mississippi and the West. 

In the financial crisis of 1837, Illinois was one of the states which 
suffered the greatest loss. Business was at a standstill and all public 
enterprises were indefinitely postponed. Business operations were 
resumed by slow degrees, however, and Illinois swung again into the 
path of progress. A new period of prosperity was inaugurated in 1850 
by an act of Congress appropriating extensive land grants for the 
completion of the Illinois Central Railway. Immigrants came in great 
numbers, and towns and villages sprang up quickly along this railroad 
as it neared its completion in 1856. The public debt of the state had 


increased enormously during the panic of 1837 and grew continually, 
reaching its highest point, $16,724,177, in 1853. 

Another great stride in the development of the state was taken in 
1848, when the telegraph system, established a few years prior, was 
extended into Illinois. 

At this point we may fitly mention an event in the early history 
of Illinois which at the time was considered very noteworthy. In the 
spring of 1825, at the initiative of Governor Coles, the renowned 

General Lafayette 

General Lafayette of revolutionary fame paid a visit to Illinois. The 
governor had formed the general's acquaintance in Paris, and when 
the latter was about to visit the young republic which he had so mater- 
ially helped to establish, the governor insisted that the journey ought 
to be extended to what was at that time known as the far West. 
Lafayette's visit to Illinois was hailed with the utmost enthusiasm by 
the Americans and not least by the descendants of the old French 
settlers. The expenses of the trip were paid out of the state treasury, 
amounting to $6,743, or one third of the tax revenue for the year. 

While long and bloody conflicts were raging between the whites 
and the Indians in Ohio and Indiana, Illinois was spared the ravages 
of Indian warfare, owing largely to the French element, which had 
early gained the confidence of the redskins and long exercised a dom- 

4 6 


mating and wholesome influence over the Indians and the population 
in general. During the war of 1812 between England and the United 
States, the Indians as allies of the British committed certain outrages, 
which were, however, of small significance as against the cruelties 
perpetrated before and after in other western territories. 

The most serious conflict of this kind in Illinois was the Black 
Hawk War of 1832. Black Hawk, who in 1788 had succeeded his father 
as chief of the Sac Indians, sedulously guarded the interests of his tribe 
against the inroads of the whites. 
Bitter rage filled the chieftain's 
heart, when certain other chiefs 
of the Sacs and Foxes in 1804 
disposed of their lands, comprising 
a stretch of 700 miles along the 
Mississippi, to the whites for an 
indefinite amount payable in an- 
nual instalments of $1,000. He 
held that his fellow chiefs must 
have been drunk when signing 
such an agreement. Nevertheless, 
Black Hawk himself renewed the 
agreement in 1816. Having thus 
become homeless on their former 
domains east of the Mississippi, 
the tribesmen were compelled to 
withdraw in great numbers to the 
government reservation opened 

to them in 1823 in Iowa, near the present site of Des Moines. Black 
Hawk and a number of others, however, remained on their native soil.* 
In 1831 the last tract occupied by the Indians was sold to white settlers. 
When these began to plow up the little patches already planted by the 
Indians, the anger of the savage chief and his followers knew no 
bounds and they swore bloody vengeance. To prevent an outbreak, 
the state militia was called out, and Black Hawk and his warriors were 
forced to retreat beyond the Mississippi under promise not to return 
to Illinois without permission. He soon broke his promise and invaded 
the state in the spring of 1832, at the head of a band of fifty warriors, 
but was met and repulsed by the militia. The band was broken up into 
small groups that attacked the white settlers wherever found, killing, 
scalping and devastating. General Scott was sent with a small force 
to put a stop to the savagery, but his operations were hampered by an 
outbreak of cholera among the soldiers. The Indians were at last 
driven up to the Wisconsin Eiver where General Dodge dealt them a 
telling blow on July 21st and General Atkinson, on August 2nd, totally 



defeated them. Chief Black Hawk was taken prisoner, and a treaty 
was made by which the remainder of the lands claimed by his tribe 
were sold and the remaining tribesmen, about 3,000 in number, were 
transferred to the aforesaid reservation in Iowa. The chief himself, 
two of his sons and seven warriors who were held as hostages by the 
government for some time, were taken through a number of the larger 
cities in the East and finally imprisoned at Fort Monroe. They were 
liberated June 5, 1833, and permitted to rejoin their tribe. This 
famous chief of a dwindling tribe died at the reservation on the Des 
Moines Kiver on Oct. 3, 1838, at the ripe age of seventy. 

The Mormons at Nauvoo 

Peace had scarcely been restored, when a new disturbance aroused 
the inhabitants. This time the Mormons were the disturbing element. 
In the state of New York Joseph Smith had proclaimed the alleged 
revelation of the hidden tablets of gold, by the aid of which he had 
written a book embodying a new religion. In April, 1830, he had 
organized a small band of followers who were called Mormons after 
that weird fabric of truth and falsehood, the Book of Mormons. Joseph 
Smith and his faithful settled in Kirtland, Ohio, where the sect grew 
so rapidly that Smith and his assistant, Sidney Rigdon, soon were 
obliged to select a larger tract farther west for the accommodation of 
the colony. A suitable location was found at Independence, Jackson 
county, Missouri, and here they determined to found a New Jerusalem 
and build their temple. Smith and Rigdon returned to Kirtland and 
set about raising the funds needed for the removal. They decided to 
establish a bank as the easiest means to that end, but omitted, as use- 
less, the formality of obtaining banking privileges from the govern- 
ment. While issuing bank notes of highly questionable value, they 
provided for the numerical growth of the sect by sending out mission- 
aries to various parts of the country. In January, 1838, the bank was 
forced to close, while Smith and Rigdon escaped being imprisoned as 
swindlers by leaving the city by night and making their way toward 
Missouri with numerous creditors on their tracks. 

In the meantime, large numbers of Mormons assembled there, the 
influx being marked by sharp friction with the inhabitants, who, with 
or without cause, charged the strangers with robbery, incendiarism 
and murder. After numerous conflicts with enraged mobs, they were 
driven from one county to another and settled at last in the town of 
Far West, in Caldwell county, where Smith and Rigdon rejoined them. 
The conflicts with the Missourians continued, while an internal feud 
threatened disintegration among the Mormons themselves. This strife 
was quickly settled, whereupon the colony again presented a united 


front to their neighbors. Toward the close of 1838 the conflict had 
assumed the proportions of a rebellion. The Mormons armed themselves 
and assembled in large numbers in fortified villages, openly challenging 
the authorities. Finally the governor was forced to call out the militia, 
and Smith and Rigdon were arrested, charged with fomenting a revolt. 

Realizing the fruitlessness of armed opposition to the people of 
the entire state, the Mormons now submitted to the authorities and 
agreed to leave the state. To a number of 15,000 they crossed over 
into Illinois in 1839, receiving a friendly welcome in spite of reports 
of the trouble they had caused in the neighboring state. Smith mean- 
while fled from prison and here reunited with his flock and his 
comrade Rigdon, who had been released through habeas corpus pro- 
ceedings. On a tract of .land in Hancock county, placed at their 
disposal on speculation by one Doctor Isaac Gralland, the Mormons 
began to build the town of Nauvoo. By sharp transactions in real 
estate Smith amassed a fortune in a few years. 

On the strength of an alleged new revelation, Joseph Smith issued 
a decree to his followers in various parts of the world, commanding 
them to assemble in Nauvoo, whereby the population of the town in- 
creased by thousands in a short time. A charter was issued by the 
legislature, entitling the city to certain exceptional privileges, which 
placed Smith and Rigdon, together with other leaders, in a position to 
assume almost unlimited power over the community. Among other 
privileges was that of organizing a military force. This resulted in the 
forming of the Nauvoo Legion, comprising nearly all ablebodied men 
in the town. Smith assumed the chief command with the title of 
Lieutenant General. Besides this, he was mayor of the city and 
president of the Mormon denomination. Having thus united in his 
own person the civil, the military, and the ecclesiastical power, he was 
not slow to exercise the prerogatives voted him by his own followers 
and a short-sighted state legislature. He had purposely so worded the 
Nauvoo city charter as to deprive the state authorities of almost every 
vestige of jurisdiction within its limits. It was a proud moment for 
Joseph Smith, when on April 6, 1841, at the head of the Nauvoo Legion 
and surrounded by a glittering military staff, he performed the pomp- 
ous ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the temple, designed to be 
the civil and religious shrine of the dreamed-of Mormon empire. 

Up to this time the Mormons had sustained fairly peaceful rela- 
tions with the people of the state, but when Smith in 1843 announced a 
new revelation instituting polygamy, the situation was at once changed. 
The leaders publicly disclaimed and denounced the doctrine but to no 
avail, for it was generally known that Smith himself had lived in plural 
marriage since 1838. Certain men, whose wives Smith had approached 
seeking to induce them to enter into illegal relations with him, estab- 



lished a newspaper, the "Expositor," which mercilessly exposed the 
immoral life of the prophet. The result was that on May 6, 1844, a 
number of Smith's faithful attempted to destroy the office and property 
of the paper. The perpetrators were ordered arrested but refused to 
follow the officer of the law who read the warrant, fortifying them- 
selves by the charter of special privileges, and the officer was driven 

The Mormon Temple at Nauvoo 

out of town by force. The county authorities called for military aid 
in preserving law and order; the Mormons also took up arms and 
bloodshed seemed imminent. This was prevented by the governor, 
who persuaded Smith and his brother Hyrum to submit to a trial. They 
were taken to the prison in Carthage where guards were posted for 
their protection. In the evening of June 27th the prison was attacked 


by a mob; the guards were overpowered, shots were fired at the 
prisoners through doors and windows, and Hyrum Smith fell dead 
on the spot. The prophet returned the fire, defending his own life 
with a revolver until his ammunition was spent, then made a dash for 
safety through a window, but was hit by a bullet and fell dead in his 
tracks. This ended the career of Joseph Smith, the religious 

Profiting by past experience, the legislature annulled the charter 
of the city of Nauvoo the following year, and the Mormons were forced 
to seek new quarters. A considerable number broke camp in Febru- 
ary, 1846, and gathered in Council Bluffs, whence they travelled afoot 
across the plains and mountains to Utah. The remaining Mormons 
had a second conflict with their neighbors. In September, 1846, the 
city was fired into for three consecutive days and the inhabitants were 
finally driven out at the point of the bayonet. In the year following 
there was another exodus to Utah, but not until May, 1848, did the 
main body of the Mormons break up from Nauvoo and follow in the 
path of the advance guards. In the fall of the same year their destina- 
tion was reached. In Utah the Mormons soon founded the city of 
Salt Lake and various other important communities. Judging from 
the continued history of the Mormons, particularly that of the fifties, 
the state of Illinois is to be felicitated upon its fortunate riddance, 
after but a few years, of this lawless and obstinate element. 

The Icarian Community 

When the Mormons evacuated Nauvoo in 1846, the place was im- 
mediately occupied by a party of French settlers, known as Icarians, 
who formed a community, the story of which has a peculiar interest. 

Etienne Cabet, born at Dijon, France, the son of a cooper, became 
in the time of Louis Philippe one of the leading French jurists and 
ultimately attorney-general during the Second Republic. He was a 
novelist of some note, his best known works being entitled, respectively, 
"Voyage to Icaria" and "The True Christianity." Having lived 
through the horrors of the revolution, Cabet founded the Icarian Com- 
munity, based on ideas advanced by Victor Hugo in a novel called 
"Icaria." A number of his adherents preceded him to America, landed 
at New Orleans and planted a colony in Texas, on the Red River, 
opposite Shreveport. La. Finding the climate unfavorable, they re- 
turned to New Orleans, where they were joined by Cabet, who ap- 
pointed a committee of three to sail up the Mississippi to select a site 
for final settlement. This committee visited Nauvoo and agreed to 
purchase about twelve acres of the Mormons' property, on which the 
party subsequently located. 


On leaving, the Mormons tried to burn their temple, a handsome 
structure built largely of massive stone, with the upper portion and 
steeple of frame. The fire destroyed only the upper parts, which the 
Icarians set about reconstructing. A terrific storm undid their work 
and also tore down part of the masonry, whereupon they used what 
was left of the temple in erecting other buildings. The principal ones 
were a large structure, the lower part of which contained one vast 
hall, which served the double purpose of dining room and auditorium, 
the upper story containing living rooms. The hall accommodated 1,200 
diners, who were all served almost at the same time. The next largest 
building in Icaria was a schoolhouse. 

The administration consisted of president, secretary, treasurer and 
seven directors, styled ministers, all elected yearly by the members 
of the community, females of eighteen and males of twenty-one being 
entitled to vote. They also elected a General Assembly, a legislative 
body which held session every Saturday evening. Pere Cabet, the 
founder of the community, was its president for many successive terms. 
Admission into the community was conditioned by the payment of 300 
francs. The applicant was put on probation for three months, then 
voted on and, failing of election, his money was returned. If elected, 
the applicant was required to turn over all his property to the com- 
munity. The colony was strictly communistic in every detail. 

There was a general director of work, with special foremen 
appointed monthly for each line of employment, and each man or 
woman could select the work desired, with the privilege of changing 
occupation at times to relieve the monotony. The children were put 
in school at seven and kept there until adjudged competent. In the 
highest classes the sciences, astronomy, geometry, etc., were taught to 
both sexes. The instruction was liberal in the extreme. So good was 
the school considered that outsiders went there to receive their educa- 
tion. In religion they were also liberal, most of them being free 
thinkers; but church affiliation was no bar to membership. Sundays 
were generally set aside for recreation. After dinner the great hall 
was cleared and given over to discussion or to music, an excellent 
orchestra of fifty pieces being maintained. On Sunday evenings in 
winter the colonists were usually regaled with some play, there being 
several actors of talent and a stage at one end of the hall. After the 
show, adults and children indulged in dancing. There were hospitals 
for the sick, an athletic field for public sports and playgrounds for the 
children. Civil cases and cases of misdemeanor were tried by the assem- 
bly. Criminal cases, if any, were turned over to the municipal author- 
ities, for the colonists were loyal subjects of the United States. They 
had a periodical, the "Icarian,," issued more for proselyting purposes 
than for the news it contained. Copies circulated in France from time 



to time won new members, particularly from the communistic party. 
When Napoleon III. ordered the arrest of the communists, many fled 
to America and a number joined the Icarians at Nauvoo. 

The Icarians were largely skilled workmen, such as mechanics, 
tailors and shoemakers. To dispose of the overproduction by the latter 
two crafts, a store was opened in St. Louis for the sale of clothing and 
shoes. Other surplus products were sold in Keokuk, la. The colony 
had flour mills, sawmills, a cooper shop, a wagon factory and a 
distillery. Much of their textile goods was manufactured at home. 

All told, there were about 1,800 Icarians during their sojourn in 
Nauvoo, but never more than 1,200 at one time. Most of the members 
were French, with a sprinkling of other nationalities. Early in the 
fifties, forty-eight of the colonists were sent to pre-empt government 
lands near Council Bluffs, la., and acquired some 8,000 acres, the com- 
munity apparently foreseeing the day when its present quarters might 
become too cramped. In the course of time the serpent of disruption 
entered the Icarian Eden. Though most economically managed, the 
maintenance being but iy 2 cents daily, per capita, the colony was going 
slowly but surely to the wall. To reduce the constantly growing 
indebtedness, the more practical members urged that the plan of keep- 
ing skilled workmen on a plane with common laborers should be 
abolished and the former set to work in manufacturing goods on a 
larger scale for the general market, enabling the colony to liquidate 
the debt. This clashed with the theory of "Father Cabet," who held 
that commerce and intercourse with the outside world would spoil 
community life. He also claimed the position of supreme dictator for 
life. When at the next election he was defeated for president, he 
withdrew in disappointment, going to Cheltenham, near St. Louis, with 
his minority of about 200 colonists. He did not long survive the 
defeat; his adherents disbanded or joined the settlement in Iowa; the 
community property was sold to pay the debts. Today the only trace 
left of the Icarian community is a group of some forty members, 
engaged in fruit farming in California. 

Having in the foregoing pages followed the material development 
of Illinois through its successive stages, we turn now to a brief review 
of its constitutional history. The successive territorial governments 
were similarly organized, consisting of governor, secretary and judge, 
appointed by the president. This same organization was retained 
when in 1809 Illinois was separated from Indiana and became a distinct 
territory. The governor was clothed with almost unlimited power in 
the matter of appointments, the only official not appointed by him 
being the secretary. The legislative power lay in the hands of the 
governor and three judges appointed by the president. This tribunal 



met June 16, 1809, and framed a code, embodying the principal laws 
in force up to that time. , 

This administrative system obtained until 1812, when congress 
entitled the territory of Illinois to local self-government, implying the 
right of the people to elect their own county and town officials, mem- 
bers of the legislature, and the territorial representative in congress. 
The franchise was granted every citizen who paid taxes to the territory. 
The legislature comprised two houses, called the Legislative Council 
and the House of Representatives, and made up o.? five and seven 
members respectively. The governor had absolute veto power, en- 
abling him to set at naught every act of the legislature at his own 
discretion. The first members elected to the assembly met in Kaskaskia 
Nov. 25, 1812, and ratified, during their first session, all the laws passed 
to date by the Indiana legislature and the governor and judges of 

In the year 1818, as we have seen, Illinois was raised to the dignity 
of statehood. The state constitution then adopted was a brief docu- 
ment, patterned after the constitutions of Kentucky, Ohio, New York 
and Indiana. A proper distinction was drawn between the legislative, 
the executive and the judicial authorities, the maximum of power being 
lodged in the first-named branch of government, while to the second 
was allotted a comparatively small share. The governor, the lieutenant 
governor, the sheriffs, the coroners, the county commissioners and, as 
a matter of course, the members of the legislature and the state 
representatives in congress, were elected by the people. The secretary 
of state was appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of 
the legislature. Almost all other officials were directly or indirectly 
chosen by the legislature, which designated them either for appointment 
by the governor or election by the citizens of the various counties. The 
governor's veto was replaced by a Council of Revision, consisting of 
the governor and the members of the state supreme court. This tribunal 
was empowered to examine all acts of the legislature and resubmit 
all disapproved legislation for further action. An absolute majority 
was required for the passage of any bill or act over the veto of the 
Council of Revision. 

The ever growing demand for local self-government soon forced 
the legislature to surrender part of its appointive power to the people. 
Thus the offices of justice of the peace and of constable were filled by 
election after Dec. 12, 1826, and that of probate justice of the peace in 
a similar manner after March 4, 1847. 

The right to vote was the prerogative of every white male citizen 
having attained to the age of twenty-one years and resided six months 
in the state. General elections were held every four years. All voting 



was done viva voce. It is a remarkable fact that this, the first consti- 
tution of the state, was never submitted to the people for ratification. 

As the commonwealth grew and developed apace and new exigen- 
cies arose, the need of a new constitution became imperative. This was 
spoken of as early as 1824 and again in 1842, but not until April, 1847, 
were delegates to a constitutional convention chosen. The convention 
met in June of that year and completed its work in August. The new 
constitution was submitted to a vote at the next election, March 6, 
1848, was then ratified, and went into effect on the first day of April 
the same year. The idea of local self-government which had steadily 
gained ground throughout the country since 1818, was asserted in the 
new constitution through a curtailment of the extensive appointive 
power of the legislature. This power was transferred to the people, 
who were given the right to fill the great majority of offices at the 
general elections, while the right of local self-government was made 
almost absolute. The ballot was given to all white males who had 
attained their majority and had resided one year in the state. To 
the governor was given the right of veto, formerly exercised by the 
Council of Revision. Even in other respects the prerogatives of the 
legislature were curtailed. The financial experiences of the last decade 
which had cost the state dearly, caused the insertion of a clause strictly 
forbidding the legislature to use the credit of the state to further 
building operations or for other purposes. Henceforth, such public 
works devolved upon the various communities singly or in common. 
Every county was granted the right to subdivide itself into townships, 
this in deference to the wishes of the people of the northern part of 
the state, who had come largely from New York and the New England 

During the rapid industrial development from 1850 to 1860 new 
problems arose, which could not be solved under the constitution of 
1848. The increasing number and power of the corporations was gen- 
erally considered a serious public menace, in the absence of restrictive 
legislation on that point. It was feared that these would abuse their 
power in an effort to procure special legislation in their behalf, hence 
the desire to place them under state control. A proposed constitution, 
formulated by the constitutional convention of 1862, was deemed 
inadequate and failed of ratification at the subsequent election; but 
the need of a new constitution remained and caused the calling of a 
fourth constitutional convention in 1869. This convention labored 
with better success than its predecessor, and on May 13, 1870, sub- 
mitted the draft of a new constitution, which was accepted at an 
election held on the second day of July following, and went into effect 
August 8th of that year. It augmented the veto power of the governor, 
prohibited special legislation in favor of corporations, limited the 


bonded debt of state, county and municipality to amounts not to over- 
burden the taxpayers, enlarged the influence of the people on legisla- 
tion, while limiting in a measure the authority of the legislature, 
added to the responsibility of the judicial executives, and placed 
restrictions upon the operations of railroads and other business cor- 

The Slavery Q\iestion 

A remarkable chapter in the history of Illinois is that dealing with 
slavery and the attitude of its people toward that question from time 
to time. 

To the French the credit is due for the discovery and exploration 
of Illinois and the founding of its earliest colonies ; theirs is the blame 
for the introduction of slavery into its territory. Shortly after the 
establishment of the first French settlements, certain Frenchmen, 
acting on the supposition that all kinds of valuable ores were to be 
found here, organized two companies with a view to exploiting the 
ore fields. The second established headquarters in the St. Phillips 
settlement, with a Frenchman by the name of Philip Francis Renault 
as its representative. 

In 1720 Renault purchased 500 negroes in San Domingo and 
brought them here to work in the prospective mines. No ore beds could 
be found, however, and part of the slaves were put to work in the 
lead mines discovered near the present city of Galena, as early as the 
year 1700, also near the site of Dubuque, Iowa, and in similar mines 
in present Missouri, while the remainder were sold to French settlers 
in Illinois. This event marked the beginning of the slave trade in the 
state. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, when the English 
and the Americans in turn invaded Illinois, protection of life, liberty 
and property was guaranteed to the French settlers and their rights 
and privileges were safeguarded. The slaves were naturally classed 
as property. In the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, by which all the 
tract northwest of the Ohio River was made one territory, slavery 
was expressly forbidden within its borders, yet the inhabitants, par- 
ticularly the French and Canadian settlers, by exemption were per- 
mitted to follow their established customs. This stipulation was 
commonly interpreted to mean that, while the statutes prohibited 
traffic in slaves and the extension of slavery in the territory, they 
implied that the slaves already in the territory, and their descendants, 
were to remain in bondage forever. However, protests were raised, 
questioning the validity of this stipulation in the ordinance on the 
ground that congress, in passing it, had exceeded its authority. Others 
maintained that all children born to slaves after 1787 were free. Still 


another group insisted that no material prosperity would be possible 
without slavery. In the course of time a considerable number of 
inhabitants inclined to this view. After the division of the Northwest 
Territory in 1800, the slave question grew more serious than ever, the 
adherents of slavery obtaining strong support in William Henry 
Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory. A convention to discuss the 
question was called by him at Vincennes in 1804. Then and there a 
petition to congress was drawn up, demanding that the section in the 
ordinance of 1787 prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory be 
rescinded or modified. The congressional committee to which this 
petition was first referred, reported adversely, but a second committee 
recommended that the slavery clause be suspended for a period of ten 
years. Congress, however, took no action in the matter. In 1807 a 
counterpetition with a great number of signatures was sent to congress, 
where it met the same fate. In the meantime the advocates of slavery 
kept up a vigorous agitation and succeeded in having a territorial 
law passed which, under certain limitations, authorized the bringing 
in and enslavement of negroes and mulattoes over fifteen years of age. 
According to the same law, slaves under fifteen years of age could be 
procured and held in bondage, males to the age of 35 and females to 
the age of 30 years. Descendants of registered slaves were to serve 
the owner of the mother up to the 'age of 30 and 28 years, respectively, 
according to sex. As a result of this law, which was ratified in 1812, 
the number of slaves increased rapidly in the territory. 

The first state constitution of Illinois, adopted in 1818, prohibited 
all form of slave traffic in the future, causing great dissatisfaction 
among the slaveholders. An agitation was set on foot in 1822 to force 
a change in the statutes, making Illinois a slave state. Their first 
effort was directed toward securing a new constitutional convention. 
For a year and a half a bitter fight was waged between the so-called 
Conventionists and their opponents. At a general election August 2, 
1824, the Conventionists were defeated by a heavy majority, this being 
the final settlement of the slavery question in Illinois. 

The negroes and mulattoes already in servitude remained slaves 
during the term stipulated. The census of 1820 thus showed 917 slaves 
in the state. Ten years later their number had been reduced to 747 
and in 1840, when they last figured in the census report, their number 
was 331. Before 1850 the last trace of slavery had been wiped out in 
the state. 

Edward Coles, who had just become the second governor of Illinois, 
had been private secretary to President Madison and was an intimate 
friend of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. He had inherited a 
plantation and a number of slaves in Virginia. Disliking the institution 
of slavery, he had removed in 1820 w r ith his slaves to Illinois and set 



them free, giving to each head of a family 160 acres of land. In his 
inaugural address in 1822 he recommended that the legislature revise 
the laws so as to prevent the kidnaping of free negroes, a crime then 

Edward Coles, Second Governor of Illinois 

committed with impunity. He devoted his four years' salary, amount- 
ing to $4,000, to the anti-slavery cause. Coles was a forerunner of 
Lincoln and his influence was paramount at a critical period in the 
preservation of Illinois as a free-soil state. 

The champions of slavery continued their efforts, in spite of their 
defeat in 1824, fighting the abolitionists at every point and with all the 
means at their command. Two eminent leaders in the anti-slavery 
movement were Elijah Parish Lovejoy, a Presbyterian minister, and his 
brother Owen Lovejoy, a clergyman of the Congregational Church. In 
the early '30s Elijah Lovejoy published from St. Louis a religious 
weekly, the "Observer," condemning the slave traffic in unsparing 




terms. His life being threatened by enraged slaveholders, he removed 
to Alton, 111., in July, 1836, continuing the publication from that point. 
He waged a fearless campaign for the noble cause which he had 
espoused, and a year later he and a number of sympathizers organized 
a secret league for the abolition of slavery. But not even on Illinois 
soil was he permitted to carry on his work unmolested. In the course 

Owen Lovej oy 

of one year his printing shop was attacked three different times by 
violent mobs, which destroyed his presses and other property. After 
he had purchased his fourth press, a number of his friends offered to 
protect it from the assaults of the rabble. In the evening of Nov. 7, 
1837. a mob surrounded the building where it was kept and, to make 
short shrift with it, one of their number climbed to the roof for the 
purpose of setting the building on fire. Stepping outside, together with 
two of his friends, to see what was going on, Love joy was shot from 
ambush and died in a few moments. His fellow abolitionists considered 
him a martyr to the cause, and his death formed the theme of many a 
bitter invective against the slave power. His example became an 
inspiration to every friend of the downtrodden serfs and his violent 


death aided materially in strengthening the anti-slavery sentiment at 
the North. 

Owen Lovejoy lived to take a distinguished part in the great final 
struggle for abolition and the preservation of the Union. He was 
elected to congress in 1856, and Lincoln had no more faithful and loyal 
supporter of his policy in congress than was Owen Lovejoy. It was the 
consciousness of this fact, which, after the anti-slavery champion's 
death in 1864, called forth from Lincoln the warmest tribute to his 

Abraham Lincoln, the Greatest Illinoisan 

At this juncture, there passed from a humble pioneer home out in 
public life a man foreordained by Providence to become in due time 
the deliverer of the slaves, the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. 
A review of the history of Illinois would be incomplete and lacking in 
value without the name and achievements of him, the noblest of its 

Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and came as a young man 
of 21 to this state, to the progress of which he gave the best efforts of 
his mature manhood. Scarcely two years had passed from the day he 
began splitting rails for the enclosure of the homestead the family 
selected in Menard county, when, after serving both as a private and 
an officer in the Black Hawk War, he appeared as a candidate for the 
state legislature. He was defeated, but two years later he reached the 
goal of his first political ambitions, having in the meantime successfully 
completed a course in law and also worked as a surveyor, showing 
skill and aptness for the vocation. In the legislature he was made a 
member of the committee on appropriations and accounts. After 
re-election in 1836 he was appointed on the committee on finances ; and, 
being re-elected again in 1838 and 1840, he was twice the Whig 
candidate for the speakership. Recognizing the wants of the state, he 
advocated a uniform system of public improvements. In March, 1837, 
the Democratic majority in the legislature passed several resolutions 
favorable to the slave power ; against these Lincoln went on record by 
registering a forcible protest. According to the best information at 
hand, this was Lincoln's first public pronouncement on the slavery 

The same year Lincoln was admitted to the bar, and henceforth 
we often find him in court, defending those charged with assisting 
runaway slaves from the South. Owing to the steady growth of his 
law practice, he was obliged to decline renomination for the legislature 
in 1842. As a candidate for presidential elector in 1840 and 1844, he 
electioneered with great energy for the Whig candidate for president. 
His debates with Stephen A. Douglas on the burning question of the 


times, held before great audiences in a later campaign, are a matter of 
history. Lincoln was a warm admirer of Henry Clay, whose defeat 
caused him deep regret. 

Having up to that time devoted himself to Illinois politics, Lincoln 
in 1846 was elected to congress and became a national figure. His Dem- 

Abraham Lincoln 

ocratic opponent in this campaign was Peter Cartwright, the famous 
Methodist clergyman. In congress Lincoln strenuously opposed the 
policy of President Polk, and pronounced the war with Mexico a 
national infamy. He voted for the anti-slavery petitions laid before 
congress, urged an investigation as to the constitutionality of slavery 
in the District of Columbia, and in 1849 moved its abolition. He might 


have had the renomination, but declined. In the Whig national con- 
vention in 1848 he furthered Taylor's nomination to the presidency 
and made a campaigning tour in New England during the subsequent 
campaign. In 1849 he stood for election to the senate, but was defeated 
by General Shields. President Fillmore offered him the governorship 
of Oregon Territory, which was declined. 

The repudiation of the Missouri Compromise caused Lincoln again 
to enter the political arena, and in a short time he became the 
recognized leader of the Republican party, then in process of formation. 
At the national convention of that party in 1856 he was by the delega- 
tion from his state put in nomination for the vice presidency, but 
failed to get the requisite number of votes to confirm the nomination. 
In June, 1858, the Republican convention held at Springfield nominated 
Lincoln for United States Senator to succeed his old antagonist, 
Stephen A. Douglas, who sought reelection. During the campaign the 
two held seven public debates, principally on the leading issue whether 
Kansas should be admitted to the Union free or slave. It was generally 
admitted that Lincoln was the superior of his astute political opponent 
in argument. He received a majority of 4,000 votes over him in the 
following election, but the legislative districts were so gerrymandered, 
that the Democrats succeeded in getting a majority of eight on a joint 
vote in the legislature, and Douglas was seated. 

Lincoln, however, continued his crusade against the slave power in 
forceful speeches, delivered in various parts of the country, including 
Kansas and the New England states. Not only his own opinion, but 
the prevailing sentiment of the Republican party was thus voiced. 

The strain between the North and the South, owing to the slave 
question, was ever on the increase. Slavery was, or was claimed to be, 
an essential factor in the economy of the South, and the slave owners 
looked upon the anti-slavery movement as a danger to be warded off 
at all hazards. Fear of economic collapse was the ultimate cause of the 
desperate tenacity with which they held fast to the slave system and 
fought the abolitionists. The theory of state sovereignty was urged in 
behalf of the slave states, and the secessionist movement began in 
earnest, aiming toward the establishment of a new confederacy of 
states all for the purpose of preserving to the South this institution 
on the plea that it was indispensable. 

The slavery question was brought to an issue when the Republican 
party at its national convention in Chicago in May, 1860, adopted a 
platform emphatically declaring that neither congress, nor the state 
legislatures, nor any individuals were empowered to legalize slavery in 
any part of the United States, and at the same time nominated Lincoln 
for the presidency. When he was elected in November of that year, 


thereby defeating his intrepid opponent Douglas, who was one of the 
three presidential candidates of the disintegrated Democratic party, 
the slaveholders took this as a sure sign of the impending destruction 
of their cherished system of economy, although it was well known that 
Lincoln was by no means disposed to precipitate the change. 

In- order to prevent the abolition of slavery, the slave states 
determined to withdraw from the Union and set up a government of 
their own. South Carolina, whence originated the principle of state 
sovereignty, led the way by calling a convention, which on the 20th of 

6 4 


December, the same year, voted in favor of secession. Within six 
weeks the states of Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana 
and Texas took similar action. These states subsequently united under 
the name of the Confederate States of America, and, on the 8th day of 
February, 1861, elected Jefferson Davis president. Lincoln thus 
entered upon his duties as president in March, 1861, under the most 
trying circumstances. He realized from the first that a peaceful settle- 
ment af the contest was impossible ; that the Union could be saved 
only by an appeal to arms. On March 13th two commissioners of the 
Confederacy appeared at Washington offering to treat with the govern- 
ment regarding the questions arising out of the secession. The govern- 

The Lincoln Family 

ment, however, refused to recognize them on the ground that the 
secession was illegal and without the consent of the people of the 
United States. This reply was made public April 8th, and on the 12th 
the rebels fired on Fort Sumter. This was the opening gun of the 
Civil War. 

The account of that great conflict does not enter into the plan of 
this work. Attention may, however, be called to the enormous task that 
was thereby thrown upon the shoulders of President Lincoln, as well 
as to the tireless perseverance, the lofty statesmanship and the glowing 
patriotism he evinced throughout ; how he, with the great goal of 
human freedom ever before him, issued, on Sept. 22, 1862, his Eman- 
cipation Proclamation, by which slavery was abolished in the United 
States; how he was again elected, with an overwhelming majority, 
in 1864; how he, with the faithful aid and support of the people, 
brought the war to a close, with honor to the North, benevolence to the 


entire country, and the restoration of the Union, one and inseparable ; 
and, finally, how he, after his life had often been placed in jeopardy 
by persons seeking revenge for the alleged losses sustained by his great 
work of emancipation, died by the hand of an assassin. 

The people of Illinois will ever point with pride to the fact that 
this man, the peer of Washington in our history, was one of their 

Richard Yates, War Governor of Illinois 

number. And as long as the human heart cherishes the deeds of the 
great, they will visit, with a reverence akin to worship, the mausoleum 
at Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln lies entombed. 

Among the earnest supporters of the national administration in its 
measures for the suppression of the rebellion was Kichard Yates, 
governor of Illinois, 1861-4, who was later styled "the Illinois War 


Governor." He served as United States senator 1865-71, and died 
in 1873. 

One of the military heroes produced by Illinois was John A. Logan, 
a member of congress at the outbreak of hostilities. Leaving his seat, 
he fought in the ranks at Bull Run. Commissioned colonel of the 31st 

John A. Logan 

Regiment Illinois Infantry by Governor Yates, he went to the front and 
was rapidly promoted to major-general. He was in 1884 an unsuccess- 
ful candidate for the vice-presidency with James G. Elaine. Logan 
died in 1886 as a United States senator. 

The greatest military figure brought out by the Civil War was 
furnished by Illinois in the person of Ulysses S. Grant, who was in 


1861 a tanner in Galena. After serving as clerk and drill-master he 
was commissioned colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers. As brigadier-, 
general he captured Forts Donelson and Henry in 1862. He soon had 
charge of all western operations and his capture of Vicksburg after a 
siege was the chief Union victory of 1863. He became major-general 

Ulysses S. Grant 

and then lieutenant-general in 1864, taking command of all the North- 
ern armies. Grant personally directed the campaign against Richmond 
which resulted in the surrender of Lee at Appomattox on April 8, 1865, 
and the downfall of the Confederacy. The rank of general was created 
for him in 1866. after which the nation chose him president in 1868 and 


again in 1872. During the years 1877-9 he made a tour of the world 
and was received everywhere with the highest honors. General Grant 
died July 23, 1885. 

Illinois during the Civil War contributed to the Union army 
214,133 men, 34,834 of whom fell in battle or died of disease during 
service in the field or as war prisoners in the South. 

In spite of the Civil War of 1861-1865 the economic development 
of the state progressed almost unimpeded. In 1860 Illinois already 
took first rank among agricultural states, and its industrial progress 
was rapid. During twenty years, 1850-1870, Illinois advanced from 
fifteenth to fifth place as a manufacturing state. At the present time 
it stands third in rank with reference to manufactures and varied 
industries. This phenomenal growth was principally due to the rapid 
extension of the railroad system, that work going forward at such a 
pace that Illinois in 1870 had more miles of railway than any other 
state in the Union, a distinction which it still enjoys. 

Up to 1870 agriculture was the chief occupation of its people, the 
farmers outnumbering those of all other occupations combined. Since 
then, however, this condition has changed, and in 1900 those engaged 
in manufactures and varied industries outnumbered the agricultural 
population. The number engaged in commerce and transportation was 
almost as large as the industrial class, there being, however, no material 
difference in the numerical strength of the three groups. 

With respect to the value of the crops, Illinois in 1900 ranked first 

among the states, and in coal production it had second place. Its 

banking business gives it a place among the leading commercial states. 

No better exponent of the development is found than the census 

records, which give the increase in population by decades as follows: 

Year No. of Inhabitants Year No. of Inhabitants 

1820 .. 55,162 1870 2,539,891 

1830 -. .. 157,445 1880 3,077,871 

1840 476,183 1890 3,826,351 

1850 851,470 1900 4,821,550 

I860.... 1,711,951 

The Educational System 

The first step in establishing free public schools in the part of the 
country now comprising the state of Illinois was taken by congress 
May 20th, 1785, in adopting "An Ordinance for Ascertaining the Mode 
of Disposing Lands in the Western Territory." By this act the 
system of survey still in force was introduced into the United States. 
The system was the work of Captain Thomas Hutchins, who at the same 
time was appointed surveyor-general. The act stipulated that section 



16 of every township was to be reserved for the maintenance of public 
schools within the township. The same provision was made in all 
subsequent ordinances pertaining to the disposal of public lands. In 

University of Illinois Library Building 


the Northwest Ordinance, adopted in 1787, this declaration was made : 
"Whereas religion, morals and education are necessary to human 
happiness, the establishment of schools and other means of education 
should be constantly encouraged." The stipulations regarding land 
grants for the support of schools were renewed in an act of congress 
April 18, 1818, giving to the people of the Illinois Territory the right 
of self-government, and they were formally adopted by the first 
constitutional convention. This act also included a provision that, 
besides the lands set aside for school purposes in the act of 1804, an 
entire township was to be reserved for the maintenance of a seminary 
of learning and that three per cent, of the proceeds of the sale of 
public lands in the state should be devoted to the promotion of 
education as directed by the legislature. One-sixth of this fund was 
to be used for establishing and endowing a college or university. These 
acts and resolutions form the foundation of the educational system of 
the 'state. 

Prior to their adoption, however, primary schools had been 
established. One John Seeley is said to have begun teaching school in 
a blockhouse in present Monroe county as early as 1783, thus being the 
first known public school teacher in Illinois. Seeley was followed by 
Francis Clark and a man named Halfpenny. Among the early 
educators during a later period we note John Boyle, a soldier in the 
little army commanded by Col. George Rogers Clark, who taught in 
Randolph county some time during 1790-1800; John Atwater, who 
taught near Edwardsville in 1807, and John Messinger, a surveyor, 
who was a member of the constitutional convention of 1818 and speaker 
of the first general assembly. The last named taught in the vicinity of 
Shiloh, St. Clair county, at the point where Rev. John M. Peck's Rock 
Spring Seminary was subsequently erected. These schools, all of a 
primitive nature, were supported privately by the parents of the pupils. 

The first effort to establish a general school system for the entire 
state was made in January, 1825, when Joseph Duncan, who was after- 
wards elected congressman and governor, submitted to the legislature 
a bill to appropriate two dollars out of every $100 of state revenue for 
distribution among those paying taxes or otherwise contributing to the 
support of schools. The revenues of the state at this time were, how- 
ever, so insignificant (a trifle over $60,000 per annum), that the sum 
thus realized for school purposes would have amounted to about $1,200 
annually, if the act had been enforced. It remained a dead letter until 
1829, when it was nullified, and the state authorities began to dispose of 
the seminary lands and use the proceeds of the sale for defraying 
current expenditures. In this manner 43,200 acres were sold, leaving 
only four and one-half sections, and the sum realized was less than 


$60,000. The first sale of township school land took place in Greene 
county in 1831, and two years later the greater part of the school lands 

in the heart of present Chicago were sold for about $39,000. These 
sales continued until 1882 and brought an average of $3.78 per acre. 
Certain lands were sold as low as 70 cents per acre. These meager 
results were not chargeable to the system, but to the administration of 
it. Had the authorities exercised foresight, the school fund doubtless 


would have grown vastly greater. The first free public school in the 
state was opened at Chicago in 1834, the second at Alton in 1837, the 
third at Springfield in 1840, and the fourth at Jacksonville the same 

The present school system dates from 1855, when a law was 
passed creating a permanent school fund by general taxation. Since 
then the school law has been frequently amended, yet the fundamental 
principle that every child is entitled to the advantage of an elementary 
education has always been carefully guarded. It may be said without 
exaggeration, that the Illinois school system in the last forty years has 
been developed into one of the best in the country. The following 
figures will convey a fair idea of this remarkable development : 

In 1902 the state had 12,855 free public schools with 27,186 
teachers, 6,800 male and 20,386 female, and 971,841 pupils. The cost 
of maintenance was $19,899,624.54, including teachers' salaries to the 
amount of $12,075,000.14. In the same year the private schools in the 
state numbered 3,961 teachers and 144,471 pupils. 

There are, furthermore, 350 high or continuation schools, supple- 
menting the public schools. These are the natural results of the devel- 
opment of the educational system, not the creation of any legislative 
statute. Eighty-eight of the 350 high schools own buildings valued at 
$4,000,000, and one has a permanent endowment fund, while the others 
are maintained by local taxation. They were attended in 1902 by 41,951 
pupils, 5,230 of whom were graduated. 

Higher education in Illinois dates from the time when it was 
still a part of the Indiana Territory. In November, 1806, the territorial 
legislature, assembled at Vincennes, resolved to establish at that point 
an institution to be known as the University of Indiana Territory. The 
necessary funds, estimated at $20,000, were to be raised by means of a 
lottery. A board of regents was at once selected, with General William 
Henry Harrison as chairman. This enterprise advanced as far as the 
erection of a building and then collapsed. 

Twenty-one years later, in 1827, the first successful effort at 
establishing a higher institution of learning in Illinois was made. The 
credit belongs to Rev. John M. Peck, a minister of the Baptist denomi- 
nation. Peck was born in Litchfield, Conn., in 1789, settled in Greene 
county, N. Y., in 1811 ; took charge of a congregation in Amenia, N. Y., 
in 1814, and was sent in 1817 as a missionary to St. Louis, Mo. During 
the following nine years he made extensive journeys in Missouri and 
Illinois, and finally settled in Rock Spring, St. Clair county, where he 
founded in 1826 the Rock Spring Seminary and High School for the 
education of clergymen and school teachers. This was the predecessor 
of Shurtleff College, established by the Baptists in 1835 at Upper Alton, 



being subsequently merged with that institution. In promoting his 
enterprise Peck traveled thousands of miles, collecting meanwhile the 
sum of $20,000, a considerable amount in that day. For many years he 
continued a member of the board of directors of the school. This 
educational pioneer of Illinois was awarded the honorary degree of 


Doctor of Divinity by Harvard University in 1852. He died at Rock 

Spring March 15, 1858. 

In 1828 a Methodist seminary was established at Lebanon under 

the name of Lebanon Seminary. After two years it was made a college 

and named after Bishop McKendree. Illinois College was founded in 

December, 1829, at Jackson- 
ville with the support of the 
Presbyterians, and from this 
institution the first graduates 
in the history of Illinois 
schools were sent out in 1835. 
These schools of learning 
were legally recognized by 
the state the same year. Next 
in order came Knox College, 
founded by Presbyterians in 
1838, at Galesburg, and the 
Episcopalian Jubilee College, 

University of Illinois Campus Scene . . 

established in 1847, at Peoria. 

Fjor the promotion of general education there were held, during 
the thirties and forties, a series of educational conventions, attended 
not only by teachers but also by legislators and others devoted to the 
cause. The first convention was held in the then capital city of 
Vandalia, in 1833. In 1854 these conventions resulted in the organiza- 
tion, of the State Teachers' Institute, its name being changed three 
years later to the State Teachers' Association. The question of electing 
a state superintendent of public instruction had been raised as early as 
1837 and debated at the educational conventions, in the educational 
journals, and in the state legislature, but not until 1854 did the proposi- 
tion materialize in the establishment of that office. 

It was during this progressive period that the idea of founding a 
state university was conceived. At a farmers' convention, held Nov. 18, 
1854, at Granville, Putnam county, one Prof. Jonathan B. Turner from 
Jacksonville, 111., proposed the plan for a uniform system of polytechnic 
schools throughout the United States, with one scientific school in each 
state and territory, and a national institute of science in the federal 
capital. The same plan was received with favor elsewhere, especially 
in New York and New England, and not without interest in Illinois. 
The meeting at Granville was followed by others, and at one of these 
conventions, held at Springfield in January, 1852, was organized the 
Industrial League of the State of Illinois to further the project and 
arouse popular interest by means of lectures throughout the state. 
It was decided at this meeting to petition congress for land grants out 



of the proceeds of which to support these institutes. In 1853 Illinois, 
through its legislature, unanimously recommended the plan and 


requested its senators and representatives in congress to promote its 
adoption. The matter was taken up in congress and a bill authorizing 
such institutions was passed, but annulled in February, 1859, by the 

7 6 


veto of President Buchanan. The matter was again taken up and a bill 
passed, which received the approval of President Lincoln July 2, 1862. 

Thus a great movement in the Prairie State, advocated by an 
Illinois man, supported by Illinois people, was confirmed by an Illinois 

By this act the national government donated to each state in the 
Union public land scrip in quantity equal to 30,000 acres for each 
senator and representative in congress "for the endowment, support, 

University of Illinois Auditorium 

and maintenance of at least one college, whose leading object shall be, 
without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including 
military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to 
agriculture and the mechanical arts * * in order to promote the 
liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several 
pursuits and professions of life." 

On account of this grant, amounting to 480,000 acres in Illinois, the 
state pays the university, semi- annually, interest at the rate of five per 
cent, on about $610,000; and deferred payments on land contracts 
amount, approximately, to $35,000. 

To secure the location of the university several counties entered 
into competition by proposing to donate to its use specified sums of 
money, or their equivalent. Champaign county offered a large brick 
building in the suburbs of Urbana, erected for a seminary and nearly 
completed, about 1,000 acres of land, and $100,000 in county bonds. 
To this the Illinois Central railroad added $50,000 in freight. 

The state has from time to time appropriated various sums for 
permanent improvements, as well as for maintenance. For 1907 1908 



it appropriated $305,000 for the College of Agriculture, $900,000 for 
ordinary operating expenses, and $502,790 for various extensions, be- 
sides which $100,000 was set aside for the Graduate School, $250,000 for 
a physics laboratory, and $150,000 for an addition to the Natural 
History Hall. The present value of the entire property and assets is 
estimated at $3,250,000. 

The institution was incorporated February 28, 1867, under the 
name of the Illinois Industrial University, and placed under the control 
of a board of trustees, constituted of the governor, the superintendent 
of public instruction and the president of the state board of agriculture, 
as e x-o f f i c i o members, 
and twenty-eight citizens ap- 
pointed by the governor. 
The chief executive officer 
was called Regent, and was 
made an ex-officio member 
of the board and presid- 
ing officer both of the 
board of trustees and of the 

In 1873 the board of 
trustees was reorganized, the 
number of appointed mem- 
bers being reduced to nine 
and of ex-officio members to 

two the governor and the president of the state board of agriculture. 
In 1887 a law was passed making membership elective at a general state 
election and restoring the superintendent of public instruction as an 
ex-officio member. There are, therefore, now three ex-officio members 
and nine by public suffrage. Since 1873 the president of the board has 
been chosen by the members from among their own number for a 
term of one year. 

The university was opened to students March 2, 1868, when there 
were present, beside the Regent , three professors and about fifty 
students all young men. 

During the first term instruction was given in algebra, geometry, 
physics, history, rhetoric and Latin. Work on the farm and gardens 
or about the buildings was at first compulsory for all students, but in 
March of the next year compulsory labor was discontinued, save when 
it was made to serve as a part of class instruction. A chemical labora- 
tory was fitted up during the autumn of 1868. Botanical laboratory 
work began the following year. In January, 1870, a mechanical shop 
was fitted up with tools and machinery, and here was begun the first 

University of Illinois Woman's Building 


shop instruction given in any American university. During the summer 
of 1871 the present engineering laboratory was erected and equipped 
for students' shop work in both wood and iron. 

By vote, March 9, 1870, the trustees admitted women as students. 
During the year 1870-1871 twenty-four availed themselves of the 
privilege. Since that time they have constituted from one-sixth to one- 
fifth of the total number of students. 

In 1890 the congress of the United States made further appropria- 
tions for the endowment of the institutions founded under the act of 
1862. Under this enactment each such college or university received 
the first year $15,000, and thereafter $1,000 per annum additional to 
the amount of the preceding year, until the amount reached $25,000, 
which sum was to be paid yearly thereafter. 

On May 1, 1896, the Chicago College of Pharmacy founded in 1859, 
became the School of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois. Its build- 
ing is located at Michigan ave. and 12th st. in Chicago. 

Pursuant to action of the board of trustees, taken Dec. 8, 1896, the 
School of Law was organized, and opened Sept. 13, 1897. The course 
of study covered two years, in conformity with the existing require- 
ments, for admission to the bar of Illinois. In the following November, 
however, the supreme court of the state announced rules relating to 
examinations for admission to the bar which made three years of study 
necessary, and the course of study in the law school was immediately 
rearranged on that basis. On Feb. 9, 1900, the name of the School of 
Law was changed to College of Law. 

Negotiations looking to the affiliation of the College of Physicians 
and Surgeons, of Chicago, with the university, which had been going 
on for several years, were concluded by the board of trustees in March, 
1897. According to the agreement made, the College of Physicians and 
Surgeons became in April, 1897, the College of Medicine of the Univer- 
sity of Illinois. The college is located at Congress and Honore streets, 

In 1897, the matter of the reorganization of the University Library 
was considered by the board of trustees, with the result that the School 
of Library Economy, which had been established in 1893 at the Armour 
Institute of Technology, in Chicago, was transferred to the university, 
and the director of that school was appointed librarian of the Univer- 
sity Library. In accordance with these plans the State Library School 
was opened at the university in September, 1897. 

Pursuant to action taken by the board of trustees in March, 1901, 
a School of Dentistry was organized as a department of the College of 
Medicine. The school was opened October 3, 1901. The name was 
changed to College of Dentistry in 1905. 


The land occupied by the university and its several departments 
embraces 220 acres, exclusive of the stock farm, experimental farm, and 
forest plantation, which embrace some 400 acres additional. The 
principal buildings are: the university hall, agricultural building, 
armory, library building, astronomical observatory, chemical labora- 
tory, engineering hall, laboratory of applied mechanics, mechanical 
engineering laboratory, metal shops, wood shop and foundry, natural 
history hall, men's gymnasium, woman's building and auditorium. The 
general university library contains 90,400 volumes and pamphlets, and 
has a subscription list of 1,100 periodicals. To this is added the library 
of the state laboratory of natural history, 6,000 volumes and 16,500 
pamphlets, and those of the college of medicine and dentistry, and the 
school of pharmacy, in Chicago, and the college of law. The depart- 
ment of education has a special collection of 1,500 books and 3,000 
pamphlets. An art gallery was established in 1874, the gift of citizens 
of Champaign and Urbana. 

The appropriations made by the congressional act of March 2, 1887, 
were for the purpose of establishing and maintaining, in connection 
with the colleges founded upon the congressional act of 1862, agricul- 
tural experiment stations, "to aid in acquiring and diffusing among the 
people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects 
connected with agriculture, and to promote scientific investigation and 
experiment respecting the principles and applications of agricultural 
science." Under this provision the Agricultural Experiment Station 
for Illinois was founded in 1888 and placed under the direction of the 
trustees of the university, and a part of the university farm, with 
buildings, was assigned for its use. 

The federal grants to the station have been liberally supplemented 
with state appropriations, until its revenues have become the largest 
of those of similar institutions throughout the world. 

Investigations are conducted in the growing and marketing of 
orchard fruits, the methods of production of meats and of dairy goods, 
the principles of animal breeding and nutrition, and in the improve- 
ment and the economic production of crops. All the principal types of 
soil of the state are being studied in the laboratory under glass and in 
the field. A soil survey is in progress which when finished will map 
and describe the soil of every farm of the state down to an area of ten 
acres. Twenty to thirty fields and orchards are rented in different 
portions of the state for the study of local problems, and assistants are 
constantly on the road for the conduct of experiments or to give instruc- 
tion to producer or consumer. The results of investigation are pub- 
lished in bulletins, which are issued in editions of 40,000, and distrib- 
uted free rf charge. 



The Engineering Experiment Station was established by action of 
the board of trustees, in December, 1903. It is the first and, so far as 

known, the only experiment station connected with any college of 
engineering in this country. Its purposes are the stimulation and 


elevation of engineering education, and the study of problems of special 
importance to professional engineers, and to the manufacturing, rail- 
way, mining, industrial and other interests of importance to the public 
welfare of the state and the country. 

Up to the present time, eleven bulletins, of value to engineering 
science, have been published. The experiments have related chiefly to 
tests of concrete, reinforced concrete beams, tests of high speed tool 
steels, the resistance of tubes to collapse, fuel tests, and the holding 
power of railroad spikes. 

In 1885 the legislature passed a bill transferring the State Labora- 
tory of Natural History to the University of Illinois from the Illinois 
State Normal University, where it was founded in 1877 by the present 
director, Dr. Stephen Alfred Forbes, a noted scientist, who is also state 
entomologist. This laboratory was created for the purpose of making a 
natural history survey of the state, the results of which should be 
published in a series of bulletins and reports, and for the allied purpose 
of furnishing specimens illustrative of the flora and fauna of the state 
to the public schools and to the state museum. 

The herbarium contains about 50,000 mounted specimens of plants. 
The flora of North America is fairly well represented, the collection of 
species of flowering plants indigenous to Illinois is particularly com- 
plete, and a considerable collection of foreign species has been made. 
The collections of fungi amount to 32,000 named specimens and include 
a full set of those most injurious to other plants, causing rusts, smuts, 
moulds, etc. There are specimens of wood from 200 species of native 
trees and shrubs, which well illustrate the varieties of native wood. 

The work of the state entomologist's office has been done at the 
University of Illinois since January, 1885; and by legislative enact- 
ment in 1899 it was permanently established at the university. It is 
the function of the entomologist to investigate the entomology of 
Illinois, and particularly to study the insects injurious to the horti- 
culture and agriculture of the state, and to prepare reports of his 
researches and discoveries in entomology for publication by the state. 
Over 700 pages of reports have been issued from this office. He also 
inspects and certifies annually all Illinois nurseries, and maintains a 
general supervision of the horticultural property of the state as respects 
its infectation by dangerous insects and its infection with contagious 
plant diseases. 

The chemical survey of the waters of the state was begun in 
September, 1895, by Dr. Arthur W. Palmer. In 1897 the legislature 
authorized the continuance of the work, and directed the board of 
trustees to establish a chemical and biological survey of the waters of 
the state. Its purpose is to collect facts and data concerning the water 
supplies of the state; to demonstrate their sanitary condition by 



examination and analysis ; to determine standard of purity of drinking 
waters in the various sections, and publish the results of these investiga- 
tions. Analyses of water for citizens of the state are made on request. 
An act of the general assembly on July 1, 1905, provided for the 
establishment of a bureau to be known as the state geological survey. 

University of Illinois Electrical and Mechanical Laboratory 
and Laboratory of Applied Mechanics 

Its purpose is primarily the study and exploitation of the mineral 
resources of Illinois. Field parties are organized for the investigation 
of clay, coal, stone, artesian water, cement materials, road materials 
and general scientific investigations. The bureau is charged also with 
the duty of making a complete topographical and geological survey of 
the state. The topographical work will lead to the publication of a 
series of bulletins and of maps, eventually covering the entire state. 


The attendance at the state university increased very slowly year 
by year, until the nineties, when an exceptional increase set in. In 
1889-90 there were but 469 students. In 1891-2 the number of 
students was 583, but six years later it reached 1,582, and in the school 
year of 1901-2 the 3,000 mark was passed. Four years later the 
number exceeded 4,000, and the summer of 1906-7 showed 4,316 students 
in attendance. In 1907-8 the attendance was over 4,700 students. 

John Milton Gregory, the first president, came to the university in 
1867 and laid the plans for the new type of college whose appropriate 
motto was chosen as, "Learning and Labor." His life-work was 
fostering the idea of laboratory education. His faith and earnestness 
of purpose made the present university possible. He resigned in 1880, 
died in 1898, and is buried on the university grounds. 

Selim Hobart Peabody, the second president, had been professor ol! 
mechanical engineering and consequently was well acquainted with 
Gregory's plans. It was in 1885, the sixth year of his presidency, that 
the legislature was persuaded to change the name of the institution to 
University of Illinois. It was perhaps this as much as any other fact 
that awoke the people of Illinois to the splendid opportunities of their 
own institution. Dr. Peabody resigned in 1891. 

From 1891 to 1894 Vice President Thomas Jonathan Burrill admin- 
istered the affairs of the university. He declined the presidency, pre- 
ferring to devote his entire time to botany. During this period the 
natural history hall and the engineering building were erected. 

Andrew Sloan Draper became the third president in September, 
1894. The university grew phenomenally, not only in numbers, bui; in 
material equipment. Eighteen buildings were erected on the campus 
during his term of office. He resigned in 1904 to resume the position of 
commissioner of education in New York state, which he had held 

Edmund Janes James, the fourth president of the university, was 
born May 21, 1855, at Jacksonville, 111. He prepared at Illinois State 
Normal School and continued his studies at Northwestern University 
in 1873, at Harvard in 1874, and at University of Halle 1875-7, 
receiving the degrees of M. A. and Ph. D. Returning to this country, 
he was principal of the Evanston. 111., high school 1878-9, then trans- 
ferring his activities to the Illinois State Normal School, at Normal, 
where he was professor of Latin and Greek, and principal of the high 
school department until 1883. After a year of research in Europe Dr. 
James was called to the professorship in public administration at the 
University of Pennsylvania. He organized the graduate school and was 
director of the Wharton School of Finance and Economy at that 
university. Owing largely to his efforts similar departments have been 

8 4 


established in the Universities of California, Chicago, Michigan and 
Columbia University. His report on commercial education to business 
men in Europe, made in 1892, has become a standard authority on this 
subject. Dr. James is the author of more than one hundred papers and 
monographs on various economic, legal, educational and historical 
topics. He is president of the Illinois State Historical Society, and is a 
member of various patriotic, historical, scientific and educational so- 
cieties. Dr. James is a man of broad attainments and the University 
of Illinois is, under his guidance, rapidly advancing by leaps and 

bounds toward its probable 
position as the greatest of 
the American state universi- 

The development of the 
school system necessitated 
provision for the education 
of competent teachers. The 
initiative was taken by the 
legislature Feb. 18, 1857, in 
authorizing the establish- 
ment of the Illinois State 
Normal University, at Nor- 
mal, which was opened 
October 5th of the same 

year. This was the first teachers' seminary in the Mississippi 
valley, and it has furnished teachers to the majority of the normal 
schools since established in various states. At the same time the 
legislature established the State Board of Education, comprising a state 
superintendent of public instruction and fourteen other members. 

The normal school soon proved inadequate to meet the demand for 
teachers, and on March 9, 1869, the legislature resolved to found a 
second institution of the same order, which was located at Carbondale, 
being completed June 30, 1874, and known as the Southern Illinois 
Normal University. During the nineties three other normal schools 
were established, namely, the Eastern Illinois Normal School at Charles- 
ton, and the Northern Illinois Normal School at DeKalb, by act of the 
legislature May 22, 1895, both being opened in September, 1899, and 
last the Western Illinois Normal School at Macomb, authorized by the 
legislature April 24, 1899, and opened before completion in September, 

In addition to the aforesaid institutions, the state maintains four 
special schools, viz., the Institution for the Education of the Deaf and 
Dumb, and the Institution for the Blind, both at Jacksonville, the 

University of Illinois Men's Gymnasium 


Asylum for the Feebleminded, at Lincoln, and the Soldiers' Orphans 
Home at Normal. 

The religious denominations maintain a great number of educa- 
tional institutions, the mere enumeration of which would require pages. 
The most prominent ones are the Chicago and the Northwestern Univer- 
sities, which will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter on the City of 

With this synopsis of the educational system this outline of the 
history of the state of Illinois may fitly end. 


The City of Chicago 

Early History 

HICAGO, as a city, date from the year 1837, but its 
early history stretches back into the latter part of the 
sixteenth century. The name Chicago or Chikagou first 
occurs on a map of Illinois drawn by the Frenchman 
Franquelin in 1684. It was applied both to a river emp- 
tying into the Desplaines just above the mouth of the Kankakee and 
to a point on the shore of Lake Michigan identical with the present 
site of Chicago. Some years later the French explorers used the name 
Chekagou to denote the present Desplaines River. 

The next recurrence of the name was in the memoirs left by the 
aforementioned Tonti. This explorer, who in 1685 made a journey 
from Canada to Illinois, writes: "October 30, 1685. I embarked for 
Illinois, but on account of the ice I left my canoe and proceeded by land. 
Having traveled 120 leagues, I arrived at Fort Chicagou where M. de 
la Durantaye was commandant." There is no doubt that Fort Chicagou 
was one of the strongholds erected by the French to secure their 
possession of the newly discovered territory, nor is it questioned that 
the fort was situated on ground now a part of the great metropolis. 
The time and circumstances of its founding are unknown. From the 
memoirs of Tonti we learn that in 1699 there was a mission, where the 
gospel was preached to the neighboring Miami Indians. It appears 
from contemporary reports that adjacent to the mission and the fort 
was a French village of modest size, but we find no information as to 
how long this settlement was maintained. 

The name Chicago is an Indian word, concerning whose original 
meaning philologists are not agreed. Some hold that it meant onion or 
garlic, others skunk, still others derive it from two Indian words mean- 
ing "wood gone." The first interpretation is based on the prolific 
growth of garlic along the Chicago River in early days ; the second on 
the supposition that skunks were plentiful in the neighborhood; while 
the third presupposes that the place at one time had been covered with 


woods which were afterwards cut down. In the absence of definite 
knowledge on this point one explanation may be as acceptable as 

About 1730 the name was also borne by a chief of the Indian tribes 
of Illinois. When these tribes in 1736, through a treaty with the 
French, had reached the acme of their power, D 'Artaguette, a French- 
Canadian, asked their aid against the Chickasaw Indians of Mississippi, 
who were making war upon the French at New Orleans. At the 

head of a force of 500 braves 
Chief Chicagou accompanied him 
to the land of the Chickasaws, 
where they were to join a French 
force under Bienville. The latter 
did not arrive at the time and 
place appointed, and the Illinois 
warriors together with the fifty 
French soldiers proceeded, under 
the command of D 'Artaguette, to 
capture and occupy two of the 
Chickasaw strongholds. In a third 
attack D 'Artaguette was wounded 
and made prisoner. Chief Chica- 
gou then returned with his men to 
Illinois, while the Chickasaws, with 
the enemies' scalps at their belts, 
marched in triumph to Georgia on 
a visit to Governor Oglethorpe, with whom they had made a friendly 

Certain historians claim that the name Chicagou was applied to a 
long line of subsequent chiefs of the Illinois tribes. Whether or not 
these chieftains had any connection with the place bearing that name 
is not established. 

Not until a hundred years after Tonti's visit at Chicago, do we 
find the place again mentioned in the early accounts. In 1796, we are 
told, a mulatto named Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable, who was born 
in San Domingo, settled on the north bank of the Chicago River, near 
its mouth, built a hut and began trading with the Indians. A short 
time afterwards, he sought to become their chief, which would indicate 
very friendly relations. His effort failed, however, and in his chagrin 
he sold the hut with the surrounding patch of cultivated soil to a 
French fur trader, named Le Mai, and moved to Peoria. 




Fort Dearborn 

After the purchase of the Louisiana tract from Napoleon Bonaparte 
in 1803, it became necessary for the United States to establish a fort 
for its protection. A commission was sent from the war department 
at Washington to select a suitable site, and on its recommendation it 
was decided to build a fort at the mouth of the St. Joseph River, on 
the east shore of Lake Michigan. Preparations for building had al- 

S ^^x^ 


Barly Map of Illinois River Basin 

ready been made when the Michigan Indians refused to grant the 
necessary site. To force their consent was deemed unwise and hazar- 
dous, therefore the government chose the alternative of erecting the 
fort at the mouth of the Chicago River, where it owned a tract com- 
prising six square miles of ground ceded by the Indians as early 
as 1795. 

To build a fort so far out in the wilderness was a risky under- 
taking, but no other site being available, the building orders were 
issued in the early summer of 1803. At that time Detroit and Michili- 
mackinac were the farthest western outposts of the United States on the 
Great Lakes. A military company was in garrison at Detroit under 
command of Captain John Whistler, and to him was given the duty 
of supervising the erection of the fort as well as the command at the 
new outpost. The other officers at Detroit were two lieutenants, his 


oldest son, William Whistler, and James S. Swearingen from Chilli- 
cothe, Ohio. The latter was ordered to head the soldiers afoot through 
the forests to Chicago, while Captain Whistler himself, together with 
his wife and their son, the lieutenant, with his young bride, embarked 
in the government schooner Tracy for the same destination. 

Chicago at this time consisted of three little huts occupied by as 
many French fur traders with their Indian wives and half-breed 
children. One of these traders was the aforesaid Le Mai, the others 
Ouilmette (after whom the town of Wilmette has been named) and 
Pettell. The schooner arrived off the mouth of the Chicago River July 
4th and anchored at a sand bank just opposite. Here its cargo of arms, 
ammunition and provisions was loaded into small boats and brought 
ashore at the point on the river bank selected as the site of the fort to 
be erected. 

Two thousand Indians were assembled on the shore to witness the 
landing. The schooner itself was the object of their especial interest 
and admiration, and was styled "the great winged canoe." After 
debarking, Captain Whistler ordered the crew to return with the vessel 
to Detroit, and soon its sails disappeared at the eastern horizon. 
The total force left at Chicago, aside from the three commissioned 
officers, consisted of four sergeants, three corporals, four musicians, 
a surgeon and fifty-four privates, numbering altogether 69 men. 

Their first duty was to build a blockhouse for shelter. This would 
have been an easy task, except for the fact that the logs had to be 
brought from a considerable distance. For lack of horses or oxen the 
soldiers themselves were obliged to drag the required timbers from 
the nearest woods to the point selected for the blockhouse. This point 
was on the south side of the river, on rising ground near present 
Rush street. The river did not, as at present, flow directly east, but 
curved southward and emptied into the lake at the foot of Madison 
street. On the ground within this bend the fort was subsequently 
erected. The whole summer and part of the fall had passed before the 
building was so far advanced that it afforded shelter for the men, and 
the fort was not completed until the following year. The fort then 
consisted of two blockhouses, one in the southeastern, the other in the 
northwestern corner of a palisaded area sufficiently ?.arge to serve as 
military drill grounds. From the palisades a subterranean passage 
led to the river's edge. The armament consisted of three small cannon. 
West of the palisades was built a loghouse two stories high, with 
shingled roof and walls. This was to serve as the warehouse of the 
Indian agency which was established simultaneously and served as a 
distributing center for large quantities of goods sent by the govern- 
ment as gifts to the Indians by way of winning their confidence and 
good will. The Indian agent also served as the quartermaster of the 


The First and the Second Fort Dearborn 


garrison. The post was named Fort Dearborn after General Henry 
Dearborn, then secretary of war under President Thomas Jefferson. 
Life at Fort Dearborn during that first winter was a dreary 
monotony, which must 'have seemed like exile or imprisonment, par- 
ticularly to Lieutenant Whistler's girl wife of sixteen, formerly Miss 
Julia Fenson of Salem, Mass. There was practically no opportunity 
to associate with people outside the stockade, there being no whites, 
with the exception of the three French fur traders with Indian wives. 
The monotony was somewhat relieved by a .number of Americans 
settling in the vicinity of the fort in the next few years. In the 
following pages we will introduce a few of these Chicago pioneers. 

John Kinzie and His Contemporaries 

In 1804 John Kinzie, a fur trader, arrived at Fort Dearborn and 
purchased from Le Mai the house built by Du Sable and changed by 
its second proprietor into a general store. This house was situated on 
the north bank of the river, directly opposite the fort. Kinzie enlarged 
and improved the building, which may thus be considered the first 
American private residence in Chicago. 

John Kinzie was born in Quebec in 1763, of Scotch parents, and 
came with his mother and stepfather to New York at an early age. 
There he was sent to a school on Long Island at the age of twelve, but 
he soon ran away from home and returned to Quebec where he went 
to work as a jeweler's apprentice. Later Kinzie rejoined his parents 
who, meanwhile, had removed to Detroit. Here he established himself 
as a jeweler and began trading with the Indians. He wedded a young 
girl, Margaret McKenzie, from Virginia, who together with her younger 
sister, Elizabeth, had been carried off by an Indian Chief and held 
prisoner for years. After McKenzie 's return to Virginia together 
with his two daughters, Kinzie removed in 1800 to the St. Joseph River. 
No sooner had he heard of the establishment of Fort Dearborn than 
he decided to move there with his second wife, Mrs. Eleanor McKillip, 
widow of an English officer. He arrived in 1804, as stated, and estab- 
lished himself as an Indian trader, gaining and retaining the confidence 
of the natives. On account of his craft, they called him Shaw-nee-aw- 
kee, the silver man. 

Already in 1805 Kinzie had established auxiliary trading posts 
in Milwaukee, on the Rock, the Illinois and the Kankakee rivers, and 
in the region now named Sangamon county. Every post had its repre- 
sentative, its French servants, called voyageurs or engages, and horses, 
boats and canoes for the transportation of merchandise. From the 
majority of posts furs were carried on horseback to Chicago and goods 
for trading purposes brought back in the same manner. Ordinarily, 
two sailing vessels arrived at Chicago annually, in the spring and fall. 

9 2 


In these the furs were shipped to Mackinaw where the depots of the 
great fur companies were located. In other seasons of the year, the 
furs were sent in open boats to the same destination. With the excep- 
tion of the garrison at Fort Dearborn, everybody at the fort was 
directly or indirectly interested in fur trading, and the percentage of 
servants in proportion to the total population was exceptionally high. 
But the masters themselves- were mostly subordinates of the large fur 

There were two of these companies that early established com- 
mercial relations with Chicago. These were the Hudson Bay Company 
and the Northwest Fur Company, and a third competitor was the 
Mackinaw Company, until John Jacob Astor formed the American 
Fur Company, and in conjunction with the Northwest Company pur- 
chased the stock of the Mackinaw Company, forming the Southwest 
Company, its stockholders being largely English capitalists. In 1815, 
however, Congress prohibited foreigners from engaging in the Amer- 
ican fur trade, whereupon Astor purchased the stock held by English- 
men and two years later formed a new concern named the American 
Fur Company. 

John Kinzie was doubtless one of the shrewdest fur traders of his 
time. Though a frontiersman, he had killed but one man and that an 
Indian interpreter, Lalime, whom he. killed in self-defense, in 1812. 
Kinzie had several children with each of his two wives, one of his 
daughters, Ellen Marion, being the first white child born in Chicago, 
and some of these settled at Fort Dearborn, whither other members of 
the Kinzie family were gradually attracted, so that in a decade or two 
the place had a considerable white population. They dwelt principally 
on the north side of the river, near the fort, but in the course of time 
huts began to dot the plan at some distance from it. 

The first Indian agent at the fort was a Virginian, named Charles 
Jouett. He retained the position until 1811 when he was succeeded by 
one Captain Nathanael Heald. Jouett was also the superintendent of a 
so-called factory established there by the government. The circum- 
stances were as follows : When the government learned of the enor- 
mous sums earned by the great fur companies in the fur trade with 
the Indians, it was deemed expedient, by way of improving the financial 
condition of the young republic, to establish factories or trading sta- 
tions at the frontier forts with a view to sharing the prosperity of the 
private enterprises. The government purposed to make honest pay- 
ment for all furs bought of the Indians in the form of necessaries of 
life. The presumption was that the natives would rather deal with the 
government representative than with traders who usually made them 
drunk and then cheated them shamefully. But the government agents 
proved vastly inferior to the private traders in shrewdness and ex- 



M**d A. i : } - s-t-*- /4ft^fc 

~&j-.. * J ! ( ^ .5 / 

v-vEf- </z?_!-l*-J \ H rfflbasm_. 

SUP-ILLINOIS IN 1811-181*. 

perience, this resulting in the total failure of the factory system. The 
American Fur Company, after its reorganization in 1817, swept away 
the government factories as well as all the individual traders and for 


a time enjoyed a practical monopoly of the fur trade in the Northwest. 
The government withdrew from the field none the richer but much the 
wiser from its experiment in trafficking with the Indians. 

The second, and presumably the last, Indian agent at Fort Dear- 
born was one Matthew Irwin of Philadelphia, who occupied that 
position from the year 1811 until the destruction of the fort in the 
following year. 

TKe Fort Dearborn Massacre 

Although the relations between the savages and the Americans 
were less cordial than the friendship that had existed between them 
and the French, yet the Fort Dearborn garrison had nothing to fear 
from them during the first few years, and could go about their peaceful 
pursuits in and about the fort in comparative safety. Soon, however, 
lowering clouds threatened the settlement, its fort and garrison with 
the storm and stress of warfare. 

During the winter of 1804-5, Tecumseh, the brave, sagacious and 
eloquent Shawnee chief, and his brother Elskwatawa, called the Proph- 
et, started on a tour from tribe to tribe in the Northwest, persuading 
the tribesmen to form a federation for the purpose of driving out the 
Americans. In spite of Tecumseh 's glowing eloquence and his brother's 
auguries, based on revelations from the Great Spirit, that the campaign 
would be successful, the Illinois redskins remained peaceful. In IfJIO, 
a council of the Pottawatomies, Ottawas, and Chippewas was held at 
St. Joseph, Mich., resulting in a compact not to join the Tecumseh 
federation. General Harrison's victory over the Shawnees and other 
tribes in the battle of Tippecanoe, Ind., Nov. 7, 1811, highly enraged 
even the Illinois Indians against the encroachers, and in April, 1812, 
unfriendly hordes of Winnebagoes appeared in the neighborhood of 
the fort, terrorizing the settlers, many of whom sought refuge within 
the palisades. 

After the United States declared war against England in 1812, 
numerous Indian tribes allied themselves with the English, hoping 
with their aid to drive the hated Americans from their territory. The 
fortunes of war at first favored the British. On the 9th of August the 
friendly Pottawatomie chief, Winnemeg, came to Fort Dearborn as a 
courier from General Hull at Detroit, bearing the message that on July 
16th the formidable Fort Michilimackinac, the headquarters of the 
fur traders, had fallen into the hands of Indians. He also brought 
orders for Captain Nathanael Heald, who a year before had succeeded 
Captain Whistler in command at Fort Dearborn, to abandon the fort 
and retreat with the garrison to Detroit. Almost simultaneously the 
Indian swarmed around the fort, demanding the distribution among 
them of supplies stipulated, as they claimed, in previous treaties. 



The Fort Dearborn garrison consisted of only 54 regulars, 12 mi- 
litiaraent and besides the commander, 2 officers, namely Lieutenant L. 
T. Helm and Ensign K. Ronan. Of the men a number were ill, reduc- 
ing the available fighting strength to about forty. Besides, there were 
about a dozen women and twenty children under their protection. 
Captain Heald knew only too well that under such unfavorable cir- 
cumstances it would be difficult, if not impossible, to defend the fort, 
and equally precarious to hazard a retreat. Contrary to the advice of 
John Kinzie, Winnemeg and other friends, to evacuate the fort before 

Site of Fort Dearborn Massacre 

the Indians had time to complete a plan of attack, he delayed action 
for six days, faintly hoping that the formerly friendly Pottawatomies, 
through whose territory he planned to march away, would permit him 
to depart without annoyance. Meanwhile, 500 or 600 Indian warriors 
gathered near the fort. "With these Captain Heald held a parley on 
August 12th, promising them all the supplies and other property found 
at the fort and the agency in return for safe escort to Fort Wayne, 
Ind. The Pottawatomies agreed, knowing that the fort held large 
quantities of ammunition and whisky. At this juncture (August 13th) 
Captain Wells, the Indian agent at Fort Wayne, arrived with an escort 
of 30 friendly Miamis. Captain Wells, who was an uncle of Mrs. Heald, 
decried as senseless the idea of abandoning these supplies to the 
savages, Kinzie and the officers and men of the garrison joining' in 
support of his view. Heeding the advice, the commander had all the 
arms and ammunition he was unable to take with him destroyed and 
the casks of whisky emptied into the river. 

The news reached the ears of the Indian chiefs, who charged 
Captain Heald with gross deception and treachery and disclaimed 

9 6 


ability to keep their warriors from attacking the Americans. A council 
of war was held, resulting in a decision to massacre the garrison and 
settlers in the vicinity of the fort just after their departure. At 9 
o'clock in the morning of August 15th the gates swung open and the 
garrison marched out. At the head rode Captain Wells, followed by 15 
of the Miami escort, the remaining 15 bringing up the rear. A number 

The Fort Dearborn Massacre Monument, Chicago Black Partridge 
Saving Mrs. Helm 

of Pottawatomies also joined the party, explaining that they desired to 
reinforce the escort. Kinzie, however, having heard that the Potta- 
watomies intended to ambuscade the retreating garrison, joined the 
soldiers, thinking his influence with the Indians might dissuade them 
from carrying out their savage plan. Before starting he left in the 
care of two trusty Indians a boat containing Mrs. Kinzie, her younger 
children, Grutte, the nurse, a bookkeeper, two servants, two other 



Indians and two oarsmen. The soldiers marched slowly southward 
along the Michigan shore. Their wives and children followed in 
wagons and on horseback. The Pottawatomies soon separated from 
the escort and hurried away beyond the sand dunes to lie in wait for 
the company. 

Captain Wells at once suspected their purpose and rode back to 
the main body apprising the soldiers of the treachery and telling them 
to prepare for a fight. They did not wait long for the expected attack. 
Officers and men resisted the onslaught with great bravery, but what 
did a handful of men, however courageous, avail against hundreds of 
savages? The provisions soon fell into the enemy's hands; many 
women and children were butchered. The Miamis fled in consternation 
at the first attack. Of the whites, Captain Wells, Ensign Ronan, and 
Surgeon Isaac Van Voorhis fell dead; Captain Heald and his wife, 
Lieutenant Helm and his wife, a stepdaughter of John Kinzie, and 
many others were wounded. The killed were scalped, and the heart 
of Captain Wells was cut out and distributed in small pieces among the 
tribes. In a few moments the Fort Dearborn garrison and population 
had been reduced to 25 men and 11 women, who were spared through 
the magnanimity of Black Partridge, a friendly chief, on condition 
that they lay down their arms. The prisoners were subsequently sent 
to the British commander at Detroit. The battle here described is 
known in the annals of Illinois and Chicago as the Fort Dearborn 

On the day after the massacre the Indians, having looted the fort 
and the agency during the night, set fire to the buildings, which soon 
burned to the ground. The same day General Hull surrendered not 
only the fort with its garrison and supplies at Detroit but all Michigan 
into the hands of the British and their Indian allies. 

While the Fort Dearborn garrison fought the Indians among the 
sand dunes, John Kinzie 's craft with its passengers still lay moored 
at the mouth of the Chicago Eiver. The purpose had been to depart 
at once for St. Joseph across the lake, but the trip was interrupted by 
the battle. After the massacre the boat was brought back to the fort, 
and the members of the Kinzie family, Mrs. Heald and the rest re- 
turned to the Kinzie home under the protection of friendly and faith- 
ful Indians. Here they were threatened with destruction by a horde 
of Wabash Indians that had arrived for the purpose of participating 
with the Pottawatomies in the plunder, but found to their exasperation 
that they were too late. The Pottawatomie warriors and their sons 
were already disporting themselves in the articles of feminine apparel 
left behind at the evacuation. 

Through the intervention of several chiefs, and particularly 
through the efforts of one Billy Caldwell, a brave and sagacious half- 


breed, the little company was saved from annihilation, whereupon the 
Kinzie family, under the guidance and protection of an Indian escort, 
was brought to St. Joseph, thence in November to Detroit, where they 
were delivered up as prisoners of war to Col. McKee, the British 
commander. During the winter John Kinzie himself also was brought 
as a prisoner to Detroit. He was at once set at liberty on parole, but 
was again arrested some time afterwards under suspicion of corre- 
sponding with General Harrison of the American army, and was then 
separated from his family and sent to Canada. Four years later he 
returned, together with his family, to the desolated homestead on the 

Wolf's Point, Chicago, in 1832. A Trading Post Conducted by Wolf 

at the Fork of the North and the South Branch of the 

Chicago River 

Chicago River. One by one the scattered settlers returned and settled 
once more on Chicago's banks. 

The second war with England was ended by a treaty signed Dec. 
24, 1814. This also put an end to the Indian wars, it being stipulated 
in the articles of peace that thenceforth neither power should arouse 
the Indians against the other. The American government was now left 
to arrange matters peaceably with the western tribes. In 1816, by 
a treaty signed at St. Louis, Mo., it purchased from the Ottawas and 
Chippewas a tract along Lake Michigan, extending ten miles north 
and ten miles south from the Chicago River and back as far as the 
Kankakee, Illinois and Fox rivers. In order to keep up communications 
with the vast territory purchased thirteen years before from France 
and to protect the fur trade and other mercantile interests, a fort on 
Lake Michigan was deemed necessary. The following year, therefore, 


the government issued orders for the erection of a new Fort Dearborn 
on the ruins of the old. The commission was given to Captain Heze- 
kiah Bradley, who arrived on the site July 4th of that year, just 
thirteen years after Captain Whistler, the builder and first commander 
of the first Fort Dearborn, landed with his men. 

The new fort was built on a larger scale than the old. To the 
administration building and barracks were added magazines and a 
supply storehouse, and the buildings were protected by a square of 
palisades and two bastions in opposite corners. This fort was evacu- 
ated in 1823, reoccupied in 3828, and again abandoned in 1831, only to 
be taken possession of by a new garrison the following year, at the out- 
break of the Black Hawk War. The final evacuation occurred in 1836, 
after the Indians had withdrawn west of the Mississippi. The fort 
shared the fate of many other historic structures, being left to gradual 
decay and final annihilation at the hands of vandals. Thus one Judge 
Fuller, some time in the forties or fifties, had part of the administration 
building and one other structure torn down and rebuilt on sites owned 
by him on the south side. In 1857, one A. J. Cross, a city employee, 
had the remaining buildings torn down, except one, and the sandhill 
on which the fort had been located, graded to a level with the sur- 
rounding grounds. The remaining structure was moved to another 
part of the Fort Dearborn site. The great Chicago fire of 1871 re- 
moved this last trace of Fort Dearborn. 

The development of Chicago in its early stages was very slow. 
In 1823 Major Long wrote: "This village offers no promise for the 
future, in view of the fact that, although quite old, the place numbers 
only a few huts, inhabited by a lot of miserable creatures, little better 
than the Indians whose descendants they are. Their loghouses are 
low, dirty and uninviting, lacking every requirement of home comfort. 
In a business sense, it holds out no inducement to strangers, the busi- 
ness of the village being limited to the disposal of the cargoes brought 
here by five or six schooners annually." As late as 1825 the village 
numbered only 75 or 100 inhabitants, 14 of whom owned taxable prop- 
erty. Keal estate being non-assessable, the total value of taxable 
property amounted to $9,047. The most well-to-do settlers were, John 
Crofts, agent of the American Fur Company, with property worth 
$5,000, John B. Beaubien, worth $1,000, Archibald Clybourn, worth 
$625, Alexander Wolcott, worth $572, John Kinzie, worth $500. From 
the last item it appears that Kinzie, who is improperly called "the 
father of Chicago," at this time was a man in very moderate circum- 
stances. Kinzie died Jan. 6, 1828, at the age of 65 years. 

The village site was first surveyed in 1829 and divided into lots, 
a plat of which was made the following year. This survey embraced 
three-eights of a square mile. A post office was established in 1831. 


It was a primitive affair, according to the report that Jonathan Bailey, 
the postmaster, nailed up old bootlegs on the wall as receptacles for 
incoming and outgoing mails. 

Chicago as a Town and City 

In the year 1833 the former Indian village and trading station 
entered upon a new stage of development. On August 10th of that 
year it was incorporated as a town, and a town council of five members 
was elected, with John V. Owen as its president. The town comprised 
an area of 560 acres, 175 buildings and 550 inhabitants, 29 of whom 
were entitled to vote. The property value was $60,000, with an 
assessed value of $19,560, and the taxes for the first year amounted 
to $48.90. 

Nov. 6th of that year the first newspaper was issued, being the first 
issue of "The Chicago Democrat;" and the following year the first 
public school was established in Chicago, being also the first in the 
state. Several brick buildings were erected, and a bridge was built 
across the river, which since 1831 had been crossed by means of a 
ferry. In 1835 were added a courthouse and a school. 

In four years the town of Chicago grew to be a point of no small 
importance commercially, as the following figures will show: In 1833 
four vessels with a total tonnage of 700 arrived at Chicago ; in 1834 one 
hundred and seventy-six vessels with a tonnage of 5,000, entered this 
port; in 1835 two hundred and fifty, with a tonnage of 22,500, and in 
1836 four hundred and fifty, with a tonnage of 60,000. A shipyard was 
established, and on May 18th of the last named year, Chicago's first 
vessel, the sloop Clarissa, went down the ways. On July 4th the entire 
population witnessed the turning of the first sod in the work of ("Urging 
the Illinois and Michigan canal, a waterway which, completed, became 
an important line of transportation for Chicago's commerce and for 
general traffic. 

The great financial panic of 1837 naturally affected Chicago, but 
it could not stop the development so recently begun. Even at this 
early date Chicago seemed to possess a goodly amount of that spirit 
of enterprise for which it has since become famous. In the midst of the 
general crisis, the town sought and obtained a city charter, dated 
March 4, 1837. On the 1st of May following the first city election was 
held, at which W. B. Ogden, a wealthy and influential citizen, was 
elected Chicago's first mayor. The first census was taken July 1st, 
when the city was found to number 4,179 inhabitants. 

To give a detail account of the city's further development would 
require volumes, but a brief outline will answer our present purpose. 

In its second year as a city, the foundation was laid for that 
enormous line of commerce, the wheat trade, for which Chicago becam 



known in the markets of the world. The first cargo of wheat, 100 
bushels, was now shipped east from Chicago. Before that time, grain 
and flour had been shipped to Chicago from the East. When the 
farmers in the vicinity of Chicago learned that there was a market for 
their grain, they hauled their wheat to the city by the wagonloads, 
and the buyers and sellers made their deals in the street. The im- 
practicability of this method led to the establishment of the Chicago 

Chicago in 1858. Northeast View, Taken from the Old Court House 

Board of Trade, which in a short time did an enormous business. As 
early as 1854 Chicago exported more grain than New York. 

Other steps in the making of Chicago followed in quick succession. 
Its first railroad, The Chicago and Galena Union, was begun in 1847. 
The following year telegraphic connection was established, first with 
Milwaukee, then with the Atlantic coast cities. The same year (1848) 
the Illinois and Michigan Canal was opened for traffic, giving Chicago 
through the Illinois and Mississippi rivers a waterway to St. Louis 
and the Gulf cities. In another two years a gas lighting plant was 
established. Steamer routes between Chicago and other points on 
Lake Michigan were established in 1852. During the fifties several 
railroad lines radiated from Chicago, viz., the Michigan Southern and 


the Michigan Central in 1852, the Chicago and Rock Island in 1854, 
the Chicago and Alton in 1855, and the Illinois Central in 1856. A 
waterworks system was established in 1854, and in 1859 the first fire 
engine was purchased, marking the initial step in introducing a modern 
fire-fighting system. The same year the first street railway was built 
in Chicago. 

The growth of the system of transportation was followed by a 
phenomenal business development. The volume of business in 1852 
was $20,000,000, in 1856, $85,000,000, and in 1860 $97,000,000. 

The manufacturing industry increased correspondingly. In 1850 
the value of Chicago manufactures was $2,562,583 ; ten years later it 
had increased to $13,555,671. The banking business naturally kept 
pace with the increase in other lines of business. 

A powerful factor in the speedy development of Chicago was the 
influx of immigrants to the West. This began in the early forties and 
increased steadily for each succeeding decade. Labor and capital met 
in Chicago, making that city, in the course of a few decades, a center of 
business enterprise and human activity without a parallel. 

Intellectual and spiritual development went hand in hand with 
the material growth. Congregations of various denominations were 
early established, increasing rapidly in numbers. Imposing church 
edifices were erected at short intervals. The public school system was 
carefully nurtured and improved; many higher institutions of learn- 
ing were founded, among which several medical schools. Various 
kinds of charitable institutions sprang into existence. The Chicago 
Historical Society was organized in 1856 and the Academy of Sciences 
the next year. 

The press has been not the least essential factor in the upbuilding 
of Chicago. ''The Chicago Daily American," its first daily newspaper, 
was established in 1839. During the following two decades several 
large newspaper enterprises were launched, such as "The Evening 
Chicago Tribune" in 1847, and "The Chicago Times" in 1854. 

This progress along all lines continued throughout the sixties. 
Figures to show this progress would prove a bewildering array, suffice, 
therefore, the bare mention of the principal enterprises of that decade. 
First in importance beyond compare was the establishment of the Union 
Stock Yards. The packing industry of Chicago dates back to the 
forties, but not until the founding of the Stock Yards did it assume 
the proportions of a giant industry. The Stock Yards proved a power- 
ful stimulus to the stockraising industry of the West and Southwest, 
and in a few years Chicago was the leading live stock market in the 
United States. The exports of the packing plants increased year by 
year, making Chicago a household word abroad as well as at home. The 



shipments of cattle to Chicago shows the following increase: in 1857, 
48,524 heads, in 1866, 384,251, in 1870, 532,964 ; the corresponding ex- 
ports were, 25,502, 268,723 and 391,709 heads. The hog shipments to 
Chicago were, in 1857, 244,345, in 1866, 1,286,326, and in 1870, 1,953,372 
heads ; the corresponding exports were, 123,568, 576,099 and 1,095,671 

In the iron industry Chicago also made a name for itself. At the 
Illinois Steel Works North Chicago plant was rolled in 1865 the first 


Built by Mark Beaubien on the S.-E. Corner of L,ake and Market 
Streets, Previous to the Black Hawk War 

iron rail manufactured in America. This marked the new birth of the 
railway system in the United States. 

The constant increase in population made new demands on the 
sanitary drainage system. The sewerage, emptied into the Chicago 
River and carried by its current out into the lake, made the city's 
water supply a source of danger to the health of the inhabitants. To 
circumvent this peril, the city in 1864 began the construction of a two- 
mile water tunnel, terminating in a crib or intake. This tunnel was 
completed in 1866 and opened for use in March the following year. 

The bridges spanning the river soon became inadequate for the 
lively traffic between the various portions of the city. This led to the 
construction of tunnels under the river for the transportation of pas- 
sengers. The Washington street tunnel, the first of its kind in the 
United States, was built in 1868, and the La Salle street tunnel two 
years later. A third street railway tunnel was constructed at Van 
Buren street. 


During the same decade the laying out of Chicago's extensive 
park system was begun. Three park boards, authorized in 1869 by the 
state legislature, were appointed and charged with this work on the 
north side, the west side and the south side respectively. 

In 1866-70 a considerable stretch of the Illinois and Michigan Canal 
was deepened and improved at a total expense to the city of $3,251,621. 

The Great Chicag6 Fire 

As described in the preceding outline, such was Chicago in the 
beginning of the seventies. In some thirty odd years it had grown from 
an insignificant village with three or four thousand inhabitants to a 
great metropolis with a population of 300,000. In point of rapid growth 
it had outstripped almost every other city in the world. There yet 
seemed to be no limit to its development. 

Then came that great catastrophe which with one fell swoop 
reduced to charred ruins the structure of three fruitful decades. 
Chicago, the young, the undaunted, was vanquished by the fiery fiend. 
In a few hours the conflagration completed its work of destruction, 
swept over an area of 2,100 acres, or nearly 3% square miles, reduced 
17,500 buildings to ashes, made 98,500 people homeless, and destroyed 
property to the value of $190,000,000. 

Great in its prosperity, Chicago proved itself grander still in ad- 
versity. What seemed like a crushing blow only served to spur it on to 
greater exertions towards a new and greater development. Ere the 
ashes had cooled, preparations were made for rebuilding the city, and 
out of the ruins there rose, in less than a year after the fire, a new 
Chicago, great in wealth and power, compelling the admiration of the 

The Chicago fire was the worst disaster of its kind in history up to 
that time, being more destructive than the great London fire in 1666, 
those of New York, 1835, Hamburg, 1842, Constantinople, 1852, and 
is only surpassed by one similar calamity the burning of San Francisco 
in April, 1906. 

This terrible disaster occurred on the 8th and 9th of October, 1871. 
The main conflagration was preceded by a smaller fire which broke out 
in the evening of Saturday the 7th, on Clinton street, near Van Buren, 
on the west side, and, fanned by a strong wind, destroyed buildings on 
an area of twenty acres, causing a property loss of a.bout $700,000 on 
dwellings, lumber yards and coal supplies, and leaving several hundred 
families without shelter. 

The following Sunday was a bright autumn day. Tens of thou- 
sands visited the churches while other tens of thousands preferred to 
pace the streets, viewing the splendid decorations in honor of the 
expected visitor, Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. Many a devout church- 


goer doubtless breathed silent thanksgivings to the Almighty for hav- 
ing averted the visitation that had threatened the city the night before. 
The great mass, on the contrary, seemed to have no thought of the 
disaster, oblivious as ever of the misfortunes of others, and intent only 
on their pleasures. 

In the evening the city presented, if possible, a still more animated 
aspect. The devout again thronged toward the houses of worship, 
while the frivolous in still greater numbers surged to the theaters and 
other places of entertainment, how to find the greatest possible enjoy- 
ment being the question uppermost in every mind. The inhabitants 
of Pompeii and Herculaneum were probably no more light of heart the 
evening before they were buried in a rain of ashes and a stream of 
glowing lava than were the people of Chicago in the evening of the 
fated 8th of October. 

At half past nine o'clock in the evening, just as the people were 
leaving the churches at the conclusion of the evening services, while 
the theatrical performances were nearing the acme of interest and 
dancing was in full swing in the halls of social pleasure, the fire alarm 
was given anew. The fire fighters, exhausted by the exertions of the 
previous day, again hurried with engines, hose carts and ladders to 
the field of battle on the west side. This time a fire had broken out at 
the corner of Jefferson and DeKoven streets, a point far to the south of 
the area devastated the night before. Following is the generally ac- 
cepted story of how the fire started. An old Irishwoman, Mrs. 'Leary 
by name, who during the day had entertained a crowd of merrymakers, 
went out to the stable in the back yard at this late hour to milk her 
cow. A lamp which she placed beside her was kicked over by 'the 
animal, the litter of the stall was saturated with the oil and set on fire ; 
the flames soon reached the fodder supply, and in a few seconds the 
stable was ablaze. The flames spread rapidly to neighboring frame 

During the entire fall no rain had fallen ; the frame structures with 
their shingled roofs were very dry and burned like tinder. To add to 
the disaster, the strong wind of the previous day had increased almost 
to a hurricane, adding to the fury of the rapidly spreading flames. 
In vain the firemen tried to stop the spread of the fire northward ; step 
by step they were driven back. The fire soon divided its forces into 
two mighty columns which raced northward with incredible speed. 
The storm flung masses of sparks toward the northeast, and these 
advance scouts made independent attacks, setting buildings on fire 
far in advance of the main column of the fire-fiend. In this manner the 
firemen were repeatedly surrounded and forced to beat a hasty retreat 
or perish. 

The public as well as the firemen hoped that the fire would die 



out from lack of sustenance upon reaching the burnt area from the 
night before. This hope, however, proved a delusion. That point was 


reached at half past eleven in the evening, but the flames leaped quickly 
over -the charred district, at once attacking the planing mills and fac- 



tories on the west bank of the south branch of the river, which fur- 
nished ample nourishment. A sudden shift of the wind now hurled 
firebrands across the river to the main business district. 

While the fire was limited to the west side, the inhabitants of the 
south and north sides felt comparatively safe, trusting to the skill and 
perseverance of the fire brigade. Besides, the river was depended upon 
to stop the onrushing element. But this last hope fled when they saw 
the firemen rushing their engines at top speed across the bridges to 
the business district, and flames began to shoot up from the roofs of 
buildings in the heart of the city. It was now apparent that this dis- 
trict also was doomed, and the work of saving portable property here 
was at once begun amid the stampede of the panic-stricken thousands. 

Meanwhile the fire grew in extent and fury, being now absolutely 
beyond control. As it raged through the business district it afforded a 
spectacle well-nigh indescribable in its terrible grandeur. Great six 
and seven story buildings of brick and stone melted down like tapers 
before the fire. So intense was the heat that an ordinary building 
would be leveled with the ground in the brief space of five minutes. 
The moment the flames penetrated into a structure the windows would 
glow as though reflecting a sunset ; in an 'instant the flames would leap 
skyward, forming a colossal pillar of fire which, erect but for a second 
or two, would waver in the wind and then be hurled down to ignite 
adjoining structures. This process was repeated again and again. A 
sea of fire rolled its gigantic waves over the city with nothing to im- 
pede their course. Now and then, when the flames reached a shop or 
storehouse containing explosives or highly inflammable liquids a series 
of explosions would hurl firebrands and redhot rocks high in the air, 
as from the crater of a volcano in action. The flames would take 
different colors according to the materials consumed, thus producing 
a play of color, remarkable for its varied splendor. Like varicolored 
snakes flames crept along cornices of copper or zinc, until they mingled 
in the fiery blast as the walls fell in. The spectacle was reflected in the 
heavens, which for miles around were glowing red, while the darkness 
beyond hung as a dark pall about the awful picture. 

The noises produced by the fire were infinite in variety and made 
a weird concert that no hearer can ever forget. "Writhing flames 
hissed, firebrands crackled. When the limestone walls of the buildings 
were exposed to the extreme heat, the masonry would scale off, particles 
flying in all directions with a sound as of a discharge of musketry. 
The roar of the storm and the incessant thunder of falling walls con- 
stituted the bass in this infernal orchestra. Through the terrific din 
came now and then the mournful sound of a bell. It was the bell in the 
courthouse tower, which up to 2 o'clock in the morning kept sounding 
the death-knell of the passing city. 



The people of the doomed city became frenzied. Judging alone 
from their appearance and actions, one would have been led to the con- 
clusion that the entire population had gone mad. The jam and panic 
in the streets beggared description. Crowds of men, women and chil- 
dren rushed along, howling and gesticulating like maniacs, stumbling 
over one another and colliding in great numbers at the street corners. 
Not all, however, lost their senses. Some cool heads there were who 
took the matter philosophically, some even who looked on the ludicrous 
side of it all. Such stoical characters shrugged their shoulders and 
drew their faces to a grim smile while witnessing the process of anni- 
hilation that plunged them in a moment from opulence to poverty. 
Others gnashed their teeth in helpless rage to see the results of years 
of toil shattered thus beyond repair. Still others, apparently hale and 
strong men, wept like children. 

Sidewalks and yards to the south of the burning district were 
heaped with furniture and household articles of every description. 
The gilded trappings from the mansions of the rich were thrown 
belter skelter among the modest belongings of the pauper. Among 
these scattered fragments, rescued from a thousand homes, the owners, 
men or women, had generally stationed themselves so as to keep a 
watchful eye on their chattels. Proud ladies, who ordinarily would 
not stoop to the menial duty of lifting a chair, were seen staggering 
under the weight of trunks or heavy loads of books, pictures, and other 
articles of value. Some decked themselves out in all their jewels and 
finery, only to be relieved of their valuables by the first robber they 

encountered. Young girls strained 
their tender frames in carrying 
away pieces of furniture or heavy 
burdens of clothing and household 
goods, while aged women tottered 
along with armfuls of personal 
effects. Here and there groups of 
children stood guard over the 
property of their parents; other 
groups were bitterly bewailing the 
loss of parents or guardians in the 
crush of humanity. At one point 
a bareheaded woman would be 
kneeling on the ground before her 
crucifix, telling her beads with 
nervous fingers and mumbling 

silent prayers ; at another a man, crazed by misfortune, would shake his 
clinched fists in the face of heaven as if challenging the Almighty. 
Again a rather peaceful and bucolic scene might be witnessed in the 

Ruins after the Great Fire. Clark 
St., North from Washington 



midst of the havoc, for instance, a family, having saved little or nothing 
besides the coffee pot and the necessary ingredients, settling down in 
the open to enjoy the popular beverage cooked over a heap of glowing 
embers in the street. 

Numbers, however, sought comfort in far more stimulating bever- 
ages than coffee during that grewsome night. The lower elements were 
afforded the most ample opportunities to indulge their taste for liquor. 
Saloons were recklessly plundered, casks of whisky and wine were 
rolled out in the street, the heads were knocked out, and men and boys 
crowded about, draining the contents till they staggered and fell, many 

The Great Fire. Map of the Burned District 

perishing where they lay when the flames reached them. Others suc- 
ceeded in crawling out of harm's way, and dropped into sobering 
sleep in yards and alleys. 

When the fire threatened the jail, the prisoners were set free. 
These immediately joined the criminals at large in a riot of loot and 
plunder. Without the slightest hesitation they would enter the mer- 
chant's shops, hurl articles of value to their accomplices at the door, 
and depart with their plunder, with the air of having saved their own 
property, not a hand being raised to prevent their escape through the 
crowds. However great the losses by theft that night, they were prob- 
ably insignificant as compared with the amount of goods and chattels 
destroyed in the streets or consumed by the flames. Many purposely 
destroyed their own property rather than have it stolen or burned. 

With the aid of draymen many succeeded in having their goods 
hauled to places of safety far from the burning area, but these men, 
who were often unscrupulous, charged a rate of cartage amounting 


to a high percentage of the actual value of the goods saved. Thus, 
a hundred dollars might be demanded for hauling a load of goods only 
a few blocks. Early in the evening the bridges leading to the north 
side became so crowded with people and vehicles that many were 
severely injured in the crush. Many businessmen on the south side had 
goods worth millions brought to the river bank, where loads upon 
loads of valuable merchandise was destroyed by fire before morning. 

At 3 o'clock in the. morning, the fire had practically finished its 
triumphal march through the business district, leaving nothing but 
smoking ruins behind, and prepared to cross the river to the north side, 
having previously sent scouts ahead in the form of sparks and fire- 
brands hurled across by the wind. It was also fearel that the flames 
would again be directed toward the west side, the main portion of which 
was still intact, but the danger was averted by a systematic protection 
of the buildings nearest the river. The people of the north side, many 
of whom had retired for the night, were in turn, like the inhabitants 
of the west and south- sides, routed out of bed and forced too flee for 
their lives. It was high time they did, for the flames were already 
hovering over their roofs. The gas plant soon caught fire and was 
shattered by a tremendous explosion, instantly followed by the ex- 
tinction of the street lamps, leaving the district in darkness but for the 
reflection from the blazing buildings to the south. In a short time the 
flames reached the water works at the foot of Chicago avenue, nearly 
a mile north of the river. With that, the fire department was com- 
pletely disarmed, all hope of resistance was gone, and the phalanxes 
of the fiery conqueror marched on undeterred. 

Here was repetition of the scenes already enacted on the south 
side, while the terrorstricken inhabitants were engaged in precipitous 
flight for safety. Thousands took refuge westward across the north 
branch of the river, while other thousands fled to the lake front. The 
latter soon discovered their mistake. As the fire approached, they were 
enveloped in dense clouds of smoke and exposed to a shower of sparks 
and flying embers that ignited the personal property deposited there. 
The heat grew more suffocating for every passing minute and finally 
became unendurable, forcing those who had not fled north along the 
lake front to wade into the water for protection and remain there until 
they could be taken away in boats. The flames spared not even the city 
of the dead. The Catholic cemetery near Lincoln Park was ravaged, 
charred wooden crosses and cracked marble shafts bearing evidence of 
the destruction wrought. 

Not until 4 o'clock on Monday afternoon had the fire run its 
course. Its spread southward had been checked by volunteer fire 
fighters, assisted by a military troop in command of General Philip 
Sheridan. On the north side, however, the fire raged as long as any 



houses remained. At Fullerton avenue, where lay a stretch of open 
prairie, the flames died out at last. 

A host of people were left homeless, penniless, without clothes or 
shelter against the cold autumn night. Many camped on the prairies 
outside the city or among the mounds of the dead in the cemeteries, 
not a few doubtless heartbroken, 
and wishing that they too were 
asleep under the sod. Their fu- 
ture seemed as black and cheer- 
less as the area strewn with the 
ruins of the Chicago of yesterday. 

The one bright spot in the 
desolate picture was the energetic 
assistance and succor furnished by 
city authorities and the people of 
the intact portion of the city. 
Churches, schoolhouses, station- 
houses and other public buildings 
were thrown open and turned into 
asylums for the distressed, while 
tents were furnished to thousands 
of other sufferers. The railways 
offered free transportation to all 
who desired to seek shelter with 
relatives and friends elsewhere or simply wanted to leave the stricken 
city for anywhere. It is claimed that about 15,000 people availed them- 
selves of the opportunity and left on outgoing trains the same day. 

While the fire still raged on the north side, the mayor, jointly 
with the department chiefs of the city administration, issued a procla- 
mation to the effect that the City of Chicago assumed the liability for all 
expenses incurred in rendering aid to the fire sufferers, and promised 
protection for all exposed personal property. As soon as the disaster 
had been telegraphed abroad, money and supplies began to pour in 
from all parts of the country, and later from almost every part of the 
civilized world. The first outside aid was in the form of provisions, 
sent from Indianapolis, reaching Chicago by express at 3 o'clock 
Tuesday afternoon. This was followed in a few hours by another 
train from St. Louis, bringing clothing and provisions, and a delegation 
of citizens bearing this greeting: "Brethren, be of good cheer! All 
that we have is at your disposal until you get on your feet again. We 
have come to stay and help you." Similar messages were received 
from other points. Troops were called in from Fort Leaven worth, 
Kansas, to assist a volunteer corps in patrolling the burned district, 
and the better to preserve order General Sheridan placed the city under 

Ruins after the Great Fire. Honore 

Block, N.-W. Corner of Adams 

and Dearborn Streets 


military rule. The Chicago Relief and Aid Society was organized 
and took charge of the distribution of incoming supplies. On Nov. 7th, 
one month after the fire, there had been subscribed for the relief fund 
$3,500,000, $2,050,000 of which had been paid in. Sixty thousand peo- 
ple were then receiving assistance. 

Shortly after the fire, the state legislature was called in extra 
session and appropriated a generous sum to the relief work. The 
relief funds in cash already amounted to $4,820,148.16, out of which 
$973,897.80 had been contributed from foreign countries. The total 
value of all funds and supplies aggregated almost seven millions 
of dollars. 

To the figures given in the foregoing, the following are subjoined 
to show the full extent of the disaster. Among the buildings destroyed 
were 69 church edifices and convents, 32 hotels, 29 bank buildings, 15 
academies and seminaries, 11 public schools, 10 theaters and other 
places of amusement, 9 offices of daily newspapers, 7 orphan asylums, 
5 hospitals, 5 telegraph offices, 5 grain elevators, 3 railway stations, 
besides the courthouse, the customhouse, the postoffice, the board of 
trade building, the gas plant and the water works. 

The fire loss was estimated at $190,000,000, including $50,000,000 
on buildings and $140,000,000 on other property. If the loss by shrink- 
age in realty values and reduced incomes be included, the sum total 
would pass $200,000,000. All city property, real and personal, was 
valued at $620,000,000 just before the fire. Thus about one-third of 
this had been wiped out. The loss was partly covered by insurance 
totaling $96,533,721, of which $6,000,000 had been written by foreign 
companies. The insurance paid amounted to only $44,000,000, owing 
principally to the fact that not less than 57 fire insurance companies 
were bankrupted by the enormous losses sustained. 

The exact loss of life was never determined, the approximate num- 
ber of people who perished being set at three hundred. 

The setback given to the commercial development of the city was 
of short duration. Before winter set in, many businessmen were estab- 
lished in temporary quarters in various parts of the city. The home- 
less, who could not be otherwise provided for, were sheltered in tem- 
porary wooden barracks. Free coal, free provisions and free lumber 
was distributed to the most unfortunate victims. Within a year a 
large portion of the burned district had been rebuilt at a total cost of 
$40,500,000, while the increase in the volume of business and manu- 
factures had surpassed all previous records. With remarkable energy, 
equalled nowhere, the work was pursued night and day. Wages were 
high and laborers were plentiful. In two years the population was 
increased by 68,419. 

Three years after the fire, almost every trace of the catastrophe 


had been erased. A remarkable chapter in the annals of Chicago 
closed with the great fire of 1871, and another, equally wonderful, 
opened with the rebuilding of the city. 

Later Development of Chicago 

During the thirty-six years that have elapsed since the great 
fire, Chicago has developed into one of the great cities of the world, 
with the evil as well as the good features of a metropolis. Following 
are a few of the important facts in its latter history. 

Lincoln Monument Lincoln Park 

Less than three years after the fire the city was again threatened 
with destruction. July 14, 1874, another extensive conflagration de- 
stroyed property valued at four million dollars before the flames could 
be subdued. 


As has been shown, Chicago early attained importance as a 
business center and shipping port. Its industrial phase next added 
new activity, giving the city high rank as an industrial community. 
Besides the great stock yards and slaughter houses, immense steel 
mills, farm implement factories and other similar establishments were 
founded. The year 1880 marks a new epoch in the industrial history 
of Chicago. Then the Pullman Palace Car Company, organized in 1867. 
founded the town of Pullman, twelve miles south of the heart of 
Chicago. The new community, comprising the extensive car factories 
and cottages for its thousands of workmen and their families, grew 
rapidly and soon became, in many respects, a model town. 

Workmen from all parts of the civilized world nocked into Chi- 
cago, making it pre-eminently a city of labor and of laborers. Here, 
as elsewhere in industrial communities, the war between capital and 
labor was soon raging. The fight waxed all the more fierce on the 
labor side, owing to the fact that the labor movement had been taken 
in charge by German socialists in the early seventies, a few years after 
the fire, they having emigrated from their native land on account of 
the iron rule of Bismarck. Thus Chicago soon became famous for her 
labor organizations and their incessant struggle for what they held to 
be their rights. Shorter hours, increased wages and legislation favor- 
ing the working classes were the demands made by the socialists and 
supported by them on the rostrum and in the press. The ballot, they 
declared, was their most powerful ally. 

Unfortunately, this agitation soon sunk to the level of anarchistic 
propaganda. In the late seventies and the early eighties there arrived 
from Europe a number persons intimate with the leaders and the 
principles of anarchy and nihilism, and these succeeded in acquiring 
a controlling influence over the labor organizations. These held the 
ballot to be altogether too ineffectual a weapon with which to fight the 
capitalists and their hirelings, the civic authorities as well as the un- 
organized workingmen being classed with the latter. Guns, revolvers, 
bombs, these were the great emancipators of the workers, the means 
of overturning the effete social order of the present. 

The first great strike in Chicago occurred in 1877, when the rail- 
way employees struck work here as in Baltimore, Pittsburg and other 
eastern centers. The dragon's teeth sown by anarchy gave its harvest 
on July 25th, in the form of a skirmish between the strikers and the 
police, the former being worsted in the fight. This had a cooling effect 
on the hotheaded leaders, causing all violence to subside and gradually 
bringing the strike to a close. 

The anarchistic propaganda, however, being carried on unchecked, 
brought about conspiracies among labor organizations, designed to 
make short shrift with the capitalistic class and every other form of 


opposition in the next conflict. The German anarchist papers in par- 
ticular openly urged force and bloodshed. In February, 1886, an event 
occurred which caused renewed activity in the anarchistic camp. At 
the great McCormick Harvester Works a strike of the workmen was 
promptly met by a lockout. When the strikers found that their former 
employers had arranged to supplant them with non-union workers, 
their rage knew no bounds. Two organizations, the Metal Workers 
Union and the Carpenters Union No. 1, agreed to arm themselves with 
guns, revolvers, and bombs in order to prevent the strike breakers from 


The Ottawa Indian Monument Lincoln Park 

taking their places. For reasons unknown, the fight never took place, 
and on March 1st the new men, protected by a squad of police, went to 
work unmolested. Before and after noon of the same day, however, 
fighting occurred between the strikers and the police guarding the 
factories, resulting in the arrest of several strikers and the discovery 
of bombs and other weapons in their possession. 

It was believed that the anarchists, after having made such a 
lame showing, would take a new tack, but this hope proved illusive. 
They operated in secret and were biding their time. The crisis came 
on May 1st, when from 40,000 to 50,000 workmen in various trades 
struck for an eight hour day. The McCormick works were now running 
almost full force, thanks to the strike breakers or so-called scabs. In 


the vicinity of the factory was held a mass meeting attended by about 
8,000 strikers, 3,000 of whom were Germans and an equal number Bo- 
hemians belonging to the Lumber Shovers Union. August Spies, the 
editor of the radical "Arbeiter Zeitung, " and one of the foremost 
leaders of the anarchists, climbed into a dray and made a speech to the 
crowd, characterizing capitalists and employers as oppressors and 
vampires, and the laborers as their slaves. His words struck fire in the 
minds of the assemblage, and the speaker had scarcely finished when a 
mass of strikers stormed in the direction of the factory, breaking the 
windows of the gatekeeper's house and maltreating the workmen first 
encountered. The crowd soon forced its way into the factory yards, 
with the evident purpose of wreaking bloody vengeance on the "scabs" 
and destroying the works. This plan was defeated by the police who 
hurried to the scene and, after a brief but sharp encounter, cleared the 
grounds and put the strikers to flight. Although firearms and missiles 
were freely used, no one was killed. The leaders of the raid were 
arrested the same day. 

At this sorry outcome of the onslaught on the powers that be, the 
anarchists were still more enraged, and swore terrible vengeance. 
Spies hurried to his editorial room and wrote a circular in English and 
German, urging the strikers to arm themselves and take remorseless 
revenge upon the police. Immediately thereupon, he published in his 
paper an incendiary article, relating to the disturbance his words had 
caused. In this he charged that four strikers had been shot to death by 
the police, despite the fact that not a man had been seriously wounded. 

In the afternoon of May 3rd, representatives of all the anarchist 
organizations in the city held a secret meeting, at which it was resolved 
that at the next encounter with the authorities the anarchists at a 
given signal would simultaneously blow up the police stations with 
dynamite and shoot all surviving policemen. Then they would march 
to the heart of the city, where the principal struggle was to take place. 
The main buildings were to be burned, the jails stormed and the 
prisoners set free, to make common cause with the revolutionists. In 
order to arouse the populace to a high spirit of vengeance against the 
police a mass meeting was called at Haymarket Square, at Desplaines 
and Randolph streets, the following evening. The anarchist delegates 
separated after agreeing that the word "Ruhe" (peace) inserted in 
the "Letter Box" in the columns of the "Arbeiter-Zeitung" was to be 
the signal for a general uprising. 

During Tuesday, May 4th, a number of anarchists were busily at 
work manufacturing bombs of every description, while others dis- 
tributed circulars announcing the great mass meeting. In the evening 
"Zeitung" the ominous word appeared, advising every anarchist in the 
city that the hour of vengeance had come. The fact that the city had 


a powerful militia at its disposal and that well disciplined United 
States troops were at hand, ready to step in at once, should the Chicago 
police be unable to cope with their antagonists, evidently had not 
entered the minds of the revolutionists. 

The HaymarKet Tragedy 

It was the evening of May 4th, a memorable date in the history of 
Chicago. At 8 o'clock about 3,000 people had gathered at the ap- 
pointed place. Editor Spies and the other anarchist agitators were 
promptly on hand. A few moments later, Spies mounted the speaker's 
stand and entered upon a severe criticism of the McCormick Company 's 
treatment of the strikers. This, the speaker maintained, ought to 
teach the workingmen to arm for their own protection against the 
capitalists and their hirelings. The next speaker was Albert R. 
Parsons, editor of the American anarchist paper, "The Alarm." His 
speech was also of an inflammable character. Next in order came 
Samuel Fielden, a teamster, whose untutored eloquence seemed to 
impress the crowd more strongly than the polished harangues of his 
predecessors. ' ' The advance guard skirmish with the capitalists forces 
has taken place; the main battle is yet to be fought," said he. 

Fearing an outbreak, the authorities had detailed a force of 176 
policemen to the Desplaines street police station, under command of 
Inspector John Bonfield. When he learned through detectives at the 
meeting that the speakers were growing extremely bold in their expres- 
sions, and the masses showed signs of threatening disorder, he marched 
his forces to the square. From his elevated position in a dray wagon, 
Fielden saw the police approaching and shouted : 

"The bloodhounds are upon us! Do you duty! I will do mine." 

A minute later, the front line of police halted a few feet from the 
wagon, and Police Captain Ward stepped up, saying : 

"In the name of the people of the state, I order you to disperse 
peaceably at once." 

Fielden, who had meanwhile jumped from the wagon, shouted 
aloud: "We are peaceable!" This seemed the secret signal of attack 
(compare the watchword, "Ruhe"), for the next instant an object 
resembling a lighted cigar was hurled through the air and fell between 
the lines of the second platoon of police. One second more, and the im- 
pact of an explosion shook the air far around. Numbers of policemen 
were hurled in all directions, some dangerously, others slightly injured. 

The exploding bomb, thrown by some anarchist, was taken as a 
signal for general fighting with revolvers and pistols between the 
revolutionists and the police. In a moment the latter force had re- 
gained its presence of mind and made a concerted sortie upon the 


masses, which, though armed, were unable to withstand the attack, 
and were soon dispersed. 

The three agitators were among the first to seek safety in flight. 
The projected slaughter at Haymarket Square, the destruction of the 
police stations, and the incendiary raid of the business district had been 
set at naught. The anarchists, comparatively few and undoubtedly 
cowardly as they were, had lost their first and, one may well hope, last 
battle in Chicago. 

The bloodshed at this encounter was considerable. One policeman 
fell dead and seven others were fatally wounded. Besides these, sixty- 
seven of the police were injured more or less seriously in the affray. A 
number of the rioters were shot and seriously wounded by the police. 
The number who died from their injuries never became known, for 
their relatives, prompted by fear or shame, refused to make known 
their exact loss. It leaked out, nevertheless, that several anarchists 
were secretly buried at night shortly after the riot. Of the wounded 
policemen two died May 6th, one May 8th, one May 14th, one May 16th. 
and the seventh and last on June 13, 1888. 

A great number of suspects were at once taken into custody, 
among others almost the entire working force of the "Arbeiter-Zeit- 
ung. " Other arrests were made later at short intervals. The police 
investigations soon revealed the fact that the principal conspirators, 
besides Spies, Parsons and Fielden, were Adolph Fischer, foreman of 
the printing office, Michael Schwab, assistant editor, Balthasar Ran, 
an agent of the paper, Louis Lingg, a carpenter, George En gel, a 
painter, Oscar W. Neebe, a yeast dealer, and others. Lingg was found 
to be the most energetic manufacturer of bombs, and the one causing 
the destruction on Haymarket Square was doubtless his handiwork. 
The man who hurled it at the police platoon was Rudolph Schnaubelt, 
who was also arrested but again set free on the strength of an impres- 
sion made on the police authorities that he was innocent. Schnaubelt 
lost no time in leaving Chicago for parts unknown. Thus it happened 
that the actual perpetrator of the crime escaped trial and punishment, 
while most of the conspirators who had planned the foul deed paid the 
penalty with their lives. 

Thanks to the thorough work of the police, a mass of evidence 
against the prisoners was gathered, and on May 17th they were indicted 
by the grand jury. The trial was begun June 21st, and the selection of 
a trial jury consumed four weeks, the actual trial of the prisoners 
opening July loth, and lasting until the 19th, when the case went to 
the jury. The following day they brought in a verdict of guilty and 
fixed the penalty at death on the gallows for Spies,' Schwab, Fielden. 
Parsons, Fischer, Engel and Lingg as the instigators of the Haymarket 
bloodshed, and fifteen years' imprisonment for Xeebe for complicity in 



the crime. The counsel for the defense immediately asked for a new 
trial, but on Oct. 7th the motion was denied. The only recourse was 
an appeal to the state supreme court. The appeal was taken in March, 
1887, and on Sept. 14th this tribunal struck dismay to the hearts of the 
anarchists and their sympathizers by sustaining the verdict of the lower 
court. But even then the culprits clung to a faint hope, and took an 
appeal to the court of last resort, the Supreme Courfc at Washington. 


The Schiller Monument Lincoln Park 

The appeal was taken up for consideration Oct. 27th, resulting on the 
second of November in a decree sustaining the former verdict. Par- 
sons, Engel, Fischer and Lingg, still headstrong, then petitioned 
Richard J. Oglesby, governor of Illinois, for unconditional pardon, 
while Spies, Fielden and Schwab made the more humble request that 
the death penalty be commuted to life imprisonment. The governor's 
answer, given Nov. 10th, granted the petition of Fielden and Schwab 
but denied the request of the other four. 

Before the governor's reply came, Lingg seemed to have a pre- 
monition that all hope was gone. To go to the gallows and submit to 


the authority of law and social order was revolting to this sworn 
enemy of the law, and he found another way. In some mysterious way 
he had a bomb, consisting of a piece of loaded gaspipe, smuggled into 
his cell by a friend, and on the morning of Nov. 10th, he placed this in 
his mouth, lay down on his bed and lit the fuse with a candle. The 
explosion tore away half of the face. At 2.45 o'clock in the afternoon 
of the same day death relieved him from his sufferings. 

The remaining four were executed the following day, Nov. llth, 

Newberry Library 

at the county jail. They were unrepentant to the last, giving vent to 
anarchistic sentiments on the very scaffold. On the same day, Fielden 
and Schwab were committed to the penitentiary at Joliet. 

The general insurrection threatened by the culprits as a sequel 
to the execution failed to materialize. Not a sign of a revolutionary 
movement could be discerned. The energy and promptness with which 
the authorities had acted deprived the lawless league of all inclination 
toward a renewal of violence, and in a short time the anarchist prop- 
aganda had been silenced in Chicago. The labor movement was again 
directed into its normal course. 

After six years, Fielden, Schwab and Neebe were pardoned out 
of prison on June 26th, 1893. Since that time they have not been 
known to plan any new social order to be brought about by means of 
bombs and bloodshed. 

In the same year that witnessed the anarchist uprising, a strike 
was declared on November 7th among the packinghouse workers in 
Chicago. Two regiments of the national guards were ordered out to 
preserve order. No disturbances occurred and the troops were with- 


drawn on the 15th of the same month. The next great strike was 
enacted April 7th, 1890, when seven thousand carpenters threw down 
their tools to enforce their demand for an eight hour day. Four years 
later there came a new conflict between capital and labor, when, on the 
12th of April, 1894, a general lockout of workmen in all the building 
trades was declared, throwing 10,000 workmen out of employment. 
The llth of May following, 2,000 employees of the Pullman Car Com- 
pany went on strike, and to make this more effective all other labor 
organizations were called upon, June 28th, to boycott all railway lines 
using Pullman cars. 

This move resulted in violence, for the quelling of which President 
Cleveland ordered out government troops. This was done July 3rd. 
Two days later, Governor Altgeld demanded the withdrawal of the 
troops on the ground that their presence was not needed. The Pres- 
ident replied to this on July 8th by declaring Chicago under martial 
law. This action, together with that of the federal grand jury, in- 
dicting Eugene V. Debs, President of the American Railway Union, 
for declaring a boycott interfering with the United States mail service, 
hastened the settlement of the difficulties. On July 19th both the strike 
and the boycott were declared off, and quiet was restored. Since that 
time a number of strikes have occurred in Chicago, resulting favorably 
to one side or the other, but none has been attended by disorder 
necessitating military interference. 

Facts and Figures of the CKicag'o of To-day 

In the course of time, the city has grown rapidly to the north, 
south and west, while new suburbs have sprung up on every hand, in 
turn merging with the metropolis according as their interests dictated. 
Not less than sixteen annexations have thus been effected. The largest 
addition of territory was acquired in 1889, when the towns of Lake 
View, Hyde Park, Lake, Jefferson and part of Cicero were absorbed. 
Since then considerable areas have been added from time to time, 
bringing the total area of the city of Chicago up to 190.6 square miles. 

The Chicago River divides the city into three sections known as 
the south side, the west side and the north side. These sections are 
connected by means of 60 bridges, mostly of the swinging type, which 
are gradually being replaced by the more modern bascule bridges. 

The total street mileage is 3,946. The longest street is Western 
avenue, extending 22 miles, and Halsted street extends nearly the 
same distance north and south. The city has fifteen parks, the largest 
being Lincoln, Humboldt, Garfield, Douglas, Washington and Jackson 
parks. These are connected by wide and attractive boulevards and 
thus form as extensive and fine a park system as any city can boast of. 
The entire system, including boulevards, has an area of about 3,300 


acres, the latter having a total length of 48 miles. Under the streets 
extends a system of sewers measuring about 1,600 miles in length. The 
city's water mains have a combined length of approximately 2,000 
miles. By means of enormous pumps the water is forced into the city 
from a series of cribs located far out in the lake, through water tunnels 
running under the lake and underground a total distance of 38 miles, 
and emptying into an extensive network of watermains and smaller 
pipes. The pumping stations have a combined capacity of 529,500,000 
gallons daily. The lighting system is equally extensive. Numberless 
gas mains and electric conduits form an underground mesh extending 

Franklin Monument Lincoln Park 

far out to the most distant suburbs. There were in 1905 37,000 gas 
and electric street lamps. 

The preservation of law and order is entrusted to a police force of 
3,300 men, distributed among 45 police stations. The fire department 
comprises 1,200 men, divided into 92 larger and 27 smaller companies. 
About 15,000 people are variously employed in the service of the city. 

From Chicago radiate 20 lines of railroad, several of which extend 
to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Lake Superior, and the Gulf of 
Mexico. There are six great railway terminals having a system of 
common track connections. The incoming and outgoing trains, through 
and suburban, number 1,600 per day and carry, on a rough estimate, 
several hundred thousand passengers. 

The street railway system is one of the most extensive in the world, 
comprising about 120 separate lines with a total of 1,000 miles of track. 
Including the suburban and elevated system, the trackage is 1,360 miles. 



The principal motive power is electricity. The daily average number 
of street car passengers exceeds half a million, but the full capacity 
of the system is claimed to be one million and a half. Equally im- 
portant as a system of passenger transportation are the four elevated 
railway lines, with their branches. One of these, the Northwestern 
Elevated, has four tracks, runs express as well as local trains, and is 
claimed to have the only complete traction system of the kind. The 
elevated railroads have a combined trackage of about 150 miles. In 
1905 the daily average number of passengers on surface and elevated 
lines was 1,354,450. 

Chicago has 235 large and a great number of small hotels, capable 
of accommodating 200,000 guests. There are over 1,000 restaurants and 
cafes, with a daily capacity of several hundred thousand guests. Many 
of the hotels are palatial, famous at home and abroad for the comfort 
and luxury they afford. From twenty to thirty thousand people daily 
visit the city's theaters, which are 40 in number. Besides these public 
entertainment is furnished at a number of other places of amusement. 
In the history of Chicago theaters there must be recorded that appal- 
ling catastrophe, the fire in the newly built Iroquois Theater, at Ran- 
dolph st., on the 30th day of December, 1903, the flames starting in the 
scenery and sweeping out over the auditorium, throwing the audience 
into a panic, and causing the death of 588 persons by burning, crushing 
and suffocation. 

There are. fifty clubs of different kinds, many of which having their 
own club houses. The sick are being cared for in not less than 68 
hospitals. To these must be added fifty other charitable institutions, 
such as asylums and homes for the feeble-minded, the crippled and the 
aged. For the care of the poor and indigent there are eighteen large 
and a number of smaller benevolent associations. Sick benefit societies 
and others for mutual assistance in emergencies are too numerous to 
be counted, as are also the organizations for social pleasure. 

The educational system of Chicago is world-renowned, and rightly 
so. The number of public schools in 1906 was 250, with 5,900 teachers 
and 287,000 pupils. Higher courses of study are pursued in fifteen 
high schools. For the education of teachers there is a normal school, 
besides two training schools. The schools founded by religious denom- 
inations and public spirited individuals number twenty-two. Principal 
among these are the Armour Institute and the Lewis Institute, both 
technological schools of a high order. The well-known Chicago Musical 
College leads a number of excellent musical schools conducted here. 
Higher education is represented by two great universities, the North- 
western University of Evanston and the University of Chicago. 

Libraries and museums are not lacking. Of the former there are 
thirteen, the largest being the Chicago Public Library, 'which on June 



1, 1906, contained 323,610 volumes, the Newberry Library, with 218,525 
books and pamphlets on Oct. 1, 1906, and the John Crerar Library, with 
194,000 volumes and 50,000 pamphlets on Oct. 1, 1906. The museums 



are, the Academy of Sciences, containing natural history collections, 
the museum of the Chicago Historical Society, with a large historical 
collection pertaining to the early history of the city, the Field Colum- 



bian Museum, with extensive ethnological collections, and the Chicago 
Art Institute, comprising a considerable collection of paintings, 
sculptures and art objects from the remotest to the most recent 
times. The Art Institute includes a school of art with a large annual 

The Chicago Historical Society was founded in 1856 for the pur- 
pose of collecting and preserving the materials of history and to spread 
historical information concerning the Mississippi valley. The great 
fire of 1871 destroyed the priceless collection of 100,000 volumes and 
manuscripts, among them being the original draft of the emancipation 
proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. The nucleus of a new collection 
was consumed in 1874. A third collection was started which now 
numbers more than 140,000 volumes, manuscripts and pamphlets. 
Among the manuscripts are the James Madison papers, James Wilkin- 
son papers, Ninian Edwards papers and Pierre Menard papers. There 
are letters in the handwriting of Joliet, Allouez, Tonti, Frontenac and 
La Salle. The collections comprise also many oil paintings, bronzes 
and antiquities. A fire-proof granite building was erected 1892-6 at 
Dearborn ave. and Ontario st., at a cost of $190,000. Historical lectures 
are maintained each winter. Some forty papers on subjects presented 
at its meetings have been published, besides which four large volumes 
of historical collections have been issued. The library and museum are 
open daily to visitors. 

Almost every church denomination in the United States is repre- 
sented in Chicago. The number of church edifices is about 800. In this 
connection may be added that there are forty cemeteries, a number 
of which are maintained by church organizations. 

About 600 newspapers and periodicals are published in Chicago, 
a large number being in foreign languages. The leading daily news- 
papers are, "The Chicago Daily Tribune," "The Chicago Kecord- 
Herald," "The Inter Ocean," "The Chicago Daily News," and "The 
Chicago American." Several of these are issued in enormous editions. 

The book publishing business has likewise attained gigantic pro- 
portions. A great number of houses are annually putting out immense 
editions of original and reprinted works of every description. One 
result of this is a high development of the publisher's art and all its 
auxiliary branches. 

The mail service of the city is excellent. At the central post 
office and the 47 district stations, 2,600 persons are employed in hand- 
ling the enormous mass of incoming and outgoing mail. The collection 
of mail from letter and parcel boxes and the distribution of incoming 
mail matter requires the service of 1,650 collectors and carriers. The 
free delivery system prevails. In addition to the district post offices 
there are 246 sub-stations distributed throughout the city for the 



accommodation of the public in the matter of stamps, postals cards, 
money orders and the registry of letters. The volume of the Chicago 
postal business is shown by these figures : during the year ending June 
30. 1906, 1,139,084,480 pieces of mail were handled, the total weight 
being 126,542,509 pounds. The total income for the department for 
the same year was $12,885,149. 

The building and real estate interests are extremely active. Dur- 
ing 1905, not less than 8,442 buildings were erected at a total cost of 
$63,970,950. The dealings in realty are equally brisk. The year 1902 

The Grant Monument Lincoln Park 

showed 18,063 real estate transfers aggregating $111,441,112 in value, 
those figures having since been materially increased. 

The taxable value of realty in Chicago in 1905 was estimated at 
$295,514,443 and that of personal property at $112,477,182, Waking 
a total valuation of $407,991,625. The tax levy was $27,959,908. 

Enormous progress in manufactures and varied industries has been 
made since the great fire. In 1900 Chicago had within its limits 19,203 
manufacturing establishments with a combined capitalization of $534,- 
000,689. These employed 262,621 persons, who were paid $131,065,337. 
The cost of materials used amounted to $538,401,562 and that of the 
finished product to $888,945,311. For comparison, the value of manu- 
factured products in the entire state in 1905 was $955,036,277, and in 
Chicago alone about $500,000,000, or more than half of the total. 

The greatest of Chicago industries is the slaughtering and packing 
industry. During the year named, it embraced thirty-eight packing 
plants, with a capital of $67,137,569, 25,345 workers, with wages aggre- 



gating $12,875,676, a consumption of live stock and other materials 
amounting to $218,241,331 and an output valued at $256,527,949, this 
latter sum representing 35.6 per cent, of the product of the entire 
packing industry of the country. 

Second in order of importance is the foundry and machine manu- 
facturing industry, represented by 441 separate establishments, capi- 
talized at $36,356,168, employing 20,641 workers, paying $11,264,544 
in wages, consuming $20,070,516 worth of raw material and showing 
an annual production valued at $44,561,071. 

The manufacturing of agricultural implements stands third, with 
six plants, a capitalization of $36,025,355, 10,245 workers, and an 
annual expenditure of $5,180,958 for labor. The materials used cost 
$10,842,299 and the finished products sold at $24,848,649. 

The tailoring industry ranked fourth with 874 shops, $12,991,669 
of capital involved, 13,855 workers employed, $5,551,561 in wages, and 
a production of $36,094,310, at a cost of $17,547,665. 

In the fifth place comes the iron and steel industry, with nine 
plants, a total capital of $24,271,764, 6,112 workers, $4,329,342 paid 
in wages, $22,448,511 as the cost of production and an output estimated 
at $31,461,174. 

Other large industries are, the building of railway coaches and 
street cars, with an annual output of $19,108,085, printing and binding, 
with $18,536,364, and brewing and distilling, with $14,956,865 as the 
value of their respective output. 

Chicago is the headquarters for the grain market of the great West. 
There are in the city twenty-six immense grain elevators with a total 
capacity of 32,550,000 bushels. The grain market shows no steady 
increase but fluctuates according to the crops and other trade con- 
ditions dependent thereon. For instance, in 1886, 192,778,757 bushels 
of grain was inspected here, in 1890, 290,251,109 bushels, in 1895, 
265,737,585 bushels, in 1900, 462,758,523 bushels, in 1902, 287,337,599 
bushels, in 1903, 237,532,024 bushels, and in 1905, 260,675,693 bushels. 

Although not a seaport, Chicago is the greatest shipping point in 
the United States, a fact not generally known. Its shipping will doubt- 
less acquire still greater proportions when the new waterways in 
process of construction shall be completed, giving access to the Mis- 
sissippi and the Gulf. During 1897, 9,156 vessels, with a combined ton- 
nage of 7,209,444, entered, and 9,201 vessels, with a tonnage of 7,185,- 
324, left this port. In 1903, 7,456 vessels, with a combined capacity of 
7,603,278 tons cleared out of the Chicago port, and in 1905 the arrivals 
and clearances were, respectively, 6,949 vessels, of 7,218,641 tons, and 
7,014 vessels, of 7,281,259 tons. The decrease in shipping in later years 
is mainly chargeable to the obstructed condition of the river. 

These figures regarding Chicago's grain trade and shipping show 


the city to be one of the foremost commercial centers of the country. 
Some additional figures will serve to substantiate the statement. The 
value of goods sold by Chicago's wholesale and jobbing houses during 
1903 was more than $1,058,000,000. This includes dry goods and 
carpets, $162,500,000, groceries, $115,500,000, iron and steel wares, $70,- 
500,000, lumber, $70,500,000, men's ready-made clothing, $66,000,000, 
goods sold through mail order houses, $55,000,000, boots and shoes, 
$48,000,000, coal, $47,000,000, diamonds and jewelry, $40,000,000, metal 
wares, $34,000,000, furniture, $34,000,000, books and music, $20,500,000, 
paper, $20,000,000, leather, $17,500,000, tobacco and cigars, $16,500,000, 
medicines and chemicals, $16,000,000, musical instruments, $15,500,000, 
hats and caps, $15,000,000, furs, $15,000,000, women's clothing, $12,- 
500,000, baskets and wickerwork, $12,000,000, millinery, $11,000,000, 
china and glassware, $11,000,000, wool, $10,000,000, etc. 

During the last-named year the following packing house products 
were shipped from Chicago : cured meats, 580,282,643 pounds ; pre- 
served meats, 1,835,035 pounds; dressed meats, 1,252,233,792 pounds, 
tallow, 373,000,959 pounds; beef, 82,010 barrels; pork, 175,795 barrels. 

Farm products were received and shipped as follows : cheese, re- 
ceived, 82,129,852 pounds, shipped, 57,277,361 pounds ; butter, received, 
232,031,484 pounds, shipped 197,620,859 pounds ; eggs, received, 3,279,- 
248 cases, shipped, 1,699,302 cases. 

During 1902 imports from foreign countries to Chicago reached 
$18,329,390, duties on same amounting to $9,565,452.96. 

In that year Chicago paid internal revenue on spirituous liquors, 
tobacco, oleomargarine, playing cards, etc., amounting to $8,839,042.06. 

It is but natural that a city with so extensive manufacturing and 
commercial interests should develop a banking business of great mag- 
nitude. In June, 1904, the number of banks was 44, with a total capital 
of $50,875,000 and deposits amounting to $550,068,287. The bank 
clearings of the year 1902 were $8,395,872,351.59. 

The Population of Chicago 

In previous pages we have endeavored to show how Chicago grew 
from an insignificant Indian village to a trading station, from trading 
station to town, from town to city, and from city to metropolis. The 
rapidity of this development is best exemplified by figures giving the 
population by decades, as follows : 

Year Total Pop'n Year Total Pop'n 

1837 4,179 1870 298,977 

180 4,470 1880 503, 185 

1850 28,269 1890 1,099,850 

1860 112,162 1900 1,698,575 



Chicago is a cosmopolitan city, nearly every nation in the world 
being here represented. More than three-fourths of the inhabitants are 
foreign born or descendants of foreigners. 

According to the school census of 1902, the city had 2,007,695 
inhabitants, as follows: 

Nationalities Population. Nationalities Population. 

German 534,083 Dutch 18,555 

Irish 254,914 French Canadian 13, 533 

Polish 167,383 Hungarian 11,658 

Swedish 144,719 Swiss 7,922 

Bohemian 109,224 French 7,493 

English 72,876 Welsh 4,863 

Russian 61 ,976 Greek i ,493 

Norwegian 59,898 Chinese ii?9 

British Canadian 48,304 Belgian 1,160 

Italian 42,054 Finnish 416 

Austrian 29,760 Miscellaneous 3, 132 

Scotch 28,529 

Danish 25,355 Total 1,651,079 

Subtracting this from the grand total of population, 2,007,695, the 
remainder, 356,580, indicates the number of native born Chicagoans. 
This, however, includes all descendants of foreign born parents after 
the first generation, all persons of mixed foreign and native parentage 
and some 35,000 colored. Should their number in turn be substracted, 
there would be a very small remainder, denoting the number of Ameri- 
cans in the limited sense of the word. 

It may be added that the most recent estimates of Chicago 's popu- 
lation vary from 2,049,185, the figures given by the health department, 
to 2,300,500, the more sanguine estimate based on the city directory. 

North-western University 

May 31, 1850, three clergymen, three lawyers, two businessmen 
and one physician, all members of the Methodist Church, met in the 
little office of Attorney Grant Goodrich, on Lake st., near La Salle st., 
in Chicago, to lay plans for the establishment in that city of a univer- 
sity, under the patronage of that church. At that time there was not 
one higher institution of learning in Chicago, and in the entire state of 
Illinois only a few, including McKendree, Illinois, Knox and 
Shurtleff colleges. At this meeting three committees were appointed, 
one to procure a charter for the projected institution, a second 
to enlist the interest and moral support of the various Methodist 
conferences, and a third to canvass the field for possible pecuniary 

After three weeks the first named committee had the proposed 
charter drafted. Northwestern University was the name suggested, 



and the charter, being granted by the legislature, was signed by Gover- 
nor French on Jan. 28, 1851. The first trustees were a number of 
Chicago residents, besides representatives of the Rock River, Wisconsin, 
Northern Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan conferences of the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. 

These held their first meeting June 14th the same year and or- 
ganized for the great task before them. A college was first determined 
upon, its president to serve as professor of philosophy. Other pro- 
fessors were suggested for the chairs of mathematics, natural sciences, 
and ancient and modern languages. Another resolution was passed to 
establish a preparatory department in the city and to purchase ground 
for the necessary buildings. A lot was purchased at the corner of La 
Salle and Jackson sts., at a cost of $9,000. September 22, 1852, the 

Northwestern University Building, Chicago 

board of trustees decided to erect a building accommodating three hun- 
dred students, and also appointed a committee to select a site for the 
proposed college building. Simultaneously, a request was issued to the 
members of all the aforesaid conferences that no other higher institu- 
tions of learning be established, but that all energies be concentrated 
upon this one, to the end that the university plan might be realized. 
At this time, also, the board decided to petition the legislature for 
authority to establish branch preparatory schools in various parts of 
the Northwest and to merge already existing schools with the proposed 

The decision to erect a building in Chicago for the preparatory 
school was never carried out. The ground purchased for that purpose 
is now occupied by the Illinois Trust and Savings Bank which pays a 
large rental to the Northwestern University. At a meeting of the 
trustees June 23, 1853, Dr. Clark T. Hinman was unanimously elected 
its first president. Being a man of unusual energy, he at once took up 
the work with great vigor. A plan to raise funds through the sale 


of scholarships was inaugurated. These scholarships were of different 
kinds. One kind was a permanent scholarship of one hundred dollars, 
entitling the holder, his son, or grandson, to free tuition at the institu- 
tion for a fixed term. Another form was the transferable scholarship, 
which could be bought and sold, always entitling its holder to the privi- 
leges therein set down. The one hundred dollar scholarship entitled 
the holder to $500 in tuition, while one quoted at fifty dollars guaran- 
teed $200 in tuition. One-half of the income from scholarships was to 
be used for paying teachers' salaries, the other half to go to a fund 
for the purchase of a tract of land, not exceeding 1,200 acres, partly 
to be used as a site for the university buildings, partly to be sold in 
lots for the benefit of the building fund. Dr. Hinman filled his grip- 
sack with scholarship certificates and started out to peddle them among 
the people. So great was his power of persuasion and such the enthu- 

Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago 

siasm for the prospective university that he succeeded in disposing of 
$64,600 worth of scholarships in Chicago and elsewhere in a very short 
time. In the meantime, other persons raised $37,000 in the same 

The committee appointed to select a site recommended the purchase 
from John H. Foster of a tract of 280 acres situated on the lake shore 
eleven miles north of the city hall. The price asked was $25,000, one 
thousand to be paid in cash and the balance in partial payments during 
the next ten years. The offer was accepted and the deal closed in 
August, 1853. The following October the trustees offered for sale 
thirteen acres of this tract at a price of $200 per acre. February 3, 
1854, the site of the projected university was named Evanston, in honor 
of John Evans, M. D., then president of the university corporation. 
Soon after, other portions of the tract were platted and put on the real 
estate market. 

One Eliza Garrett had founded a Methodist theological seminary 
called the Garrett Biblical Institute. Upon invitation extended in 
February, 1854, by the university trustees, this institution was removed 
to Evanston, where it occupies ground leased from the university. It 
has always been in close co-operation and has served as the theological 
department of the university, but is an independent institution finan- 
cially and in other respects. 



In June of the same year, the resources of the university, including 
real estate, notes and subscriptions, amounted to $281,915, while the 
liabilities stopped at $32,255.04. 

When the board of trustees met in March, 1855, Dr. Hinman, the 
president of the university, was no more. His successful career in the 
service of the institution had been ended by death. His last effort had 
been to increase the fund accumulated by disposing of scholarships to 
$25,000 and the building fund to $100,000, and if death had not claimed 
him, he doubtless would have attained the goal. Meanwhile, one build- 

Northwestern University University Hall, 

ing had been erected, being a wooden structure, with suites of rooms 
for six professors, a chapel, a small museum, meeting halls for several 
literary societies, and a few student's rooms in the attic. 

In this building, the college department of the university began 
work November 5th of that year. It was a modest beginning : only two 
teachers and a small group of students. A year later, in 1856, R. S. 
Foster, D. D., was elected president at a salary of $2,000 per year. At 
his suggestion, the board proceeded to plan permanent university 
halls and a library building. 

The same year (1856) steps were taken to incorporate the Garrett 
Biblical Institute and the Rush Medical College in Chicago with the 
university in order that they might issue diplomas. A girl's school, 



the Northwestern Female College, had also been founded in Evanston, 
but the similarity between its name and that of the university caused 
the latter so much annoyance that the board requested the girl's sem- 
inary to change its corporate name. The request was not granted, the 
institute continuing under that name and later under the name of 
Evanston College for Ladies until 1873, when it was absorbed by the 
university. The proposed absorption of Rush Medical College did not 

In 1857 the board made arrangements to establish a department of 
law, a preparatory department and a chair of science. At this time 

Northwestern University Orrington 1/unt Library, Evanston 

the library contained 2,000 volumes, and a museum of natural history 
had been established. In April, 1859, the proposed law school began 
its sessions, not, however, as a part of the Northwestern University, 
but of the old University of Chicago. In June of the same year the 
college department held its first graduation. 

The following year Dr. Foster resigned the presidencj^. Dr. 
Erastus 0. Haven, who was chosen his successor, declined the position. 

During the Civil War, the activity of the new university was 
greatly impeded, several of its professors and many of its students 
enrolling in the Union army. 

Through wise administration, the university, during this same 
period, freed itself of debt, whereupon the board devoted all its ener- 



gies to the erection of necessary buildings. The first of these was a 
dormitory. In 1865, the sum of $25,000 was set aside for the erection of 
a main building to cost, when completed, $100,000. This building, 
called University Hall, was begun in 1866 and completed in three years. 

Charles H. Fowler was called to the presidency in 1866, but re- 
signed the following year before entering upon his duties. 

The university now comprised a divinity school, a college and 
an academic department, and next was added a medical school in the 
following manner. Since 1859 there had existed in Chicago a medical 
institution, connected with the Lind (now Lake Forest) University. In 
1864, this connection was severed, and the school became independent, 

Northwestern University Fayerweather Hall of Science, Evanston 

under the name of the Chicago Medical College. This same school in 
1869 was merged with the Northwestern University, but retained its 
name until 1891, when it was changed to the Northwestern University 
Medical School. This branch of the university occupies buildings 
specially erected for that purpose at Dearborn street, between 24th 
and 25th streets, in Chicago, in close proximity to the Wesley, the 
Mercy and the St. Luke's hospitals, where its students obtain their 
clinical training. 

The same year that the medical school was incorporated with the 
university, the library received a valuable addition in the form of a 
collection of 20,000 volumes, purchased for the institution by one 
Luther Greenleaf. That year also, Erastus 0. Haven was a second time 
called to the president's chair, which he occupied till 1872, when he was 



succeeded by the aforesaid Charles H. Fowler, who served with great 
credit for four years. 

The aforesaid school of law also became a department of the North- 
western University in 1873 and then assumed the name of Union 
College of Law. It continued in connection with both universities until 
1886, when it became an independent institution. In 1891, it was 
reorganized and again became a part of the Northwestern University, 
being named Northwestern University Law School. 

In 1881 Joseph Cummings, senior of the Methodist Episcopal 
university professors and for many years president of the Wesleyan 
University, was made the head of the Northwestern. During a period 

Northwestern University Dearborn Observatory, Evanston 

of ten years, he filled this responsible position, gaming, meanwhile, the 
highest respect of teachers and students alike. During his presidency, 
in 1886, the Illinois College of Pharmacy, just established, was made a 
part of the university. In 1891 its name was changed to the North- 
western University School of Pharmacy. The Dental School, estab- 
lished in 1887, three years later was added to the university. This 
department in 1896 absorbed a similar school, the American Dental 

A donation of $25,000 by James B. Hobbs in 1888 enabled the 
university to erect the Dearborn Observatory, where the valuable in- 
struments of the old observatory of the same name, located in Chicago, 
were moved and set up. 

After the demise of Dr. Cummings, Dr. Henry Wade Rogers was 
elected his successor in 1890. He also served for ten years, and like 


his predecessor, accomplished much useful work for the institution. 
During his term of office, in 1891, the Woman's Medical College, con- 
nected with the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children, was added ; 
this department, however, was discontinued in 1902 on account of the 
great expense to the university. 

In 1893, the Orrington Lunt Library, an imposing structure, was 
erected, with funds raised by the platting and sale of 157 acres of land 
near Wilmette, donated to the university in 1865 by Orrington Lunt, 
one of its founders. A musical school was established in 1895, and 
two years later a building was erected for its special use. 

In the summer of 1899, Dr. Rogers resigned the presidency. He 
was succeeded in 1902 by Dr. Edmund James, formerly a member of 
the faculties of the Universities of Pennsylvania and Chicago. This 
election was satisfactory to all the friends of the university, who 
knew Dr. James as a man of erudition and power, of whom much 
energetic work might be expected. Dr. James, in 1904, accepted the 
presidency of the University of Illinois, the next choice for president 
being Dr. Abram W. Harris, who entered upon his duties in July, 1906. 
Dr. Harris was born and educated in Philadelphia, studied at the Wes- 
leyan University at Middletown, Conn., and in the Universities of 
Munich and Berlin. President Harris organized for the Department of 
Agriculture the Bureau of Experiment Stations. He spent some years 
in teaching and in 1892 was called to the presidency of the Maine State 
College. Under his direction it expanded and became the University of 
Maine. In 1901 he resigned to become the Director of the Jacob Tome 
Institute at Port Dupont, Md., which in five years assumed a high place 
among secondary schools. 

One of the greatest acquisitions of property of the Northwestern 
University was the purchase in 1901 of the old Tremont hotel building, 
located at the corner of Dearborn and Lake sts., in Chicago. For this 
property the institution paid half a million dollars and expended an 
additional $275,000 for changes and repairs. This structure, known 
as the Northwestern University Building, now contains the Law school, 
the Dental school and the school of Pharmacy. In 1907 the university 
property was valued at $9,034,212, and the current expenditures for 
educational purposes alone in 1906 amounted to $606,189. 

From its college department about 2,000 students have been grad- 
uated, from the medical 2,200, from the woman's medical school 559, 
from the law school 1,800, from the school of pharmacy 1,500, from 
the dental school 1,600, and from the school of music 300, making a 
total of 10,000 graduates. 

During the year 1905-6 the total number of students attending the 
university was 3,863. 


Tine University of Chicago 

This institution, planned, as it is, on a large scale, has a history 
dating back to the fifties. Stephen A. Douglas, the renowned states- 
man, whose home was in Chicago, in 1854 offered to donate ten acres 
of ground at the southern limits of the city as a site for an institution 
of learning, on condition that a building costing $100,000 would be 
erected for this purpose within a specified time. The cornerstone of the 
future university building was laid July 4, 1857, but the general busi- 
ness depression then prevailing caused a long delay in completing the 
building. The liberal donor, therefore, granted additional time, but 
even this did not hurry the work, and finally he concluded to donate 
the site without any conditions. 

Under the name of the Douglas University and with Rev. John C. 
Burroughs as president, the university was opened in 1858. According 
to the plan, it was to comprise a preparatory, a college, a law and a 
theological department. The university was started under the auspices 
of the Baptist denomination. The law department was added the 
following year. 

The theological department was not added until the following 
decade. Its early history reads as follows : 

At a meeting of Baptists in Chicago in 1860 a society, called the 
Theological Society of the Northwest, was formed. This was followed 
by the organization of another society, termed the Baptist Theological 
Union, which was incorporated Aug. 27th of that year. February 16, 
1865, it was granted a charter to found and maintain a theological 
seminary. A beginning was made the same year, when Rev. N. Colver, 
D. D., began giving theological instruction to a limited number of 
students. The following year this instruction was given at the uni- 
versity, where Prof. J. C. C. Clarke was made assistant instructor in 
theology. These arrangements were merely temporary. The theolog- 
ical department, however, soon was permanently organized, for in 
1866 two professors of theology were called, followed, one year later, 
by a third, whereupon the regular theological department was opened 
in the fall of 1867. Two years later it was provided with its own build- 
ing, located at the corner of Rhodes ave. and 34th st. This building, 
costing $60,000, had accommodations for sixty students, besides the 
lecture halls. The department, having no permanent funds to draw 
on, was maintained by private contributions. During the first five 
years the Baptist Union Theological Seminary, as it was called, was 
attended by 97 students, of whom 37 were graduated. 

During the seventies, the school was on the verge of collapse. The 
great fire of 1871 made it impossible for its friends to contribute as 



generously as before, and the second fire in 1874 still further demor- 
alized it financially. The trustees were forced to look about for an- 
other location. One was found in Morgan Park, where the Blue Island 
Land and Building Company in 1876 donated to the seminary fifty 
acres of ground and a large brick building, into which the seminary 
moved in the fall of 1877. 

During this decade a Scandinavian department was added to the 
seminary, designed to equip pastors for the Scandinavian Baptist con- 
gregations in America. The history of this department will be told in 

The University of Chicago Across the Campus 

a succeeding chapter on educational institutions of the Swedes of 

Now the seminary owned its own site and its own buildurg, had a 
faculty and students, but still funds were lacking. Up to this time all 
efforts at establishing endowments had failed. The trustees were 
driven to extremes in their efforts to provide the requisite means for 
its support from year to year. They had to draw continually upon 
the liberality of the congregations. Evidently, this could not go on 
indefinitely. The seminary must have permanent funds or cease to 
exist. A wealthy Chicagoan, E. Nelson Blake, at this juncture came to 
the assistance of the trustees by donating to the institution the sum of 
$30,000. With great exertions, they succeeded in raising $70,000 from 
other sources, thus creating an endowment of $100,000. But this 
proved inadequate, and an equal amount had to be raised in order to 



continue the work of the institution with any degree of success. To- 
ward this amount John D. Kockefeller, the oil magnate, contributed 
$40,000 and other persons $11,000, whereupon the subscription work 
was at a standstill for a long period, threatening failure. Finally, 
after nearly ten years' effort, the second one hundred thousand dollar 
fund was completed. 

Still the requirements of the institution were not fully met. New 
buildings were needed. The building donated by the land company had 
up to this time housed every department of the institution, containing, 
as it did, library, chapel, lecture hall, students' rooms and dining hall. 
Owing to the cramped quarters, the library, which then contained 
25,000 volumes, was partly arranged on shelves along the walls of the 
lecture hall, partly packed down in boxes and thus inaccessible for use. 
For the same reason only about half of the students could be housed 
at the seminary. In 1886 a call was issued with a request for $50,000 
to be used partly for the erection of a building containing lecture halls 
and chapel, partly for a library building. Mr. Rockefeller at once 
donated $10,000, and promised $10,000 more, provided the remaining 
$30,000 were raised before May 1, 1887. The condition was success- 
fully met, and the same year the first named building was erected at 
a cost of $30,000. It was named Blake Hall, in honor of the aforesaid 
E. Nelson Blake, who had given one-third of the required sum. Later 
the library building was also erected. 

During all these years the inner development of the institution 
kept pace with its outward progress. The faculty was reinforced time 
and again and the number of students increased until in 1891-92 it 
reached nearly 200. During the twenty-five years of its existence, the 
seminary had graduated several hundred Baptist ministers, of whom 
a large number had gone to distant lands, while the remainder were 
scattered throughout the Union. In the new library building the 
books were systematically arranged and catalogued, available for use 
by students and teachers. 

The Baptist Union Seminary was, as stated, a part of the Douglas 
University, or, as it was soon called, the University of Chicago. Each 
had its own administration, and if the finances of the seminary were in 
a bad way, those of the university were still worse. While the former 
gradually improved, the latter deteriorated year by year, until the 
university found itself in a precarious position. In 1885 its mortgages 
amounted to $320,000, and the board could no longer pay the interest 
accruing and make payments as they fell due. In these straits the 
board turned to the Baptist clergymen of Chicago for advice, and the 
matter was taken up at one of the weekly meetings, held Feb. 8, 1886. 
President George W. Northrop of the theological seminary then ex- 
pressed as his opinion that any attempt to maintain the university 



would prove futile. Better, then, rent a few rooms, retain the faculty, 
and look about for a suitable president. Further, the sum of $10,000 
ought to be raised annually for three years to defray current expenses, 
while efforts were made to raise a fund of $250,000. The financial 
difficulties experienced by the board would, in his opinion, urge well- 
to-do Baptists to come to the rescue of the institution with liberal dona- 
tions, so that within ten years an excellent institution might be firmly 
established. Dr. Thomas W. Goodspeed spoke to the same purport. 
He recommended that ground be purchased ten miles south of the 
southern limits of the city, a new charter procured and a new board 
of regents elected. Now, said he, is the time to act. 

The University of Chicago The i Tower Group 

After a lengthy discussion those present gave formal expression 
to the prevailing opinion to the effect that it was practically impos- 
sible to raise the funds wherewith to lift the mortgages on the univer- 
sity property, and recommended that a committee of fifteen, appointed 
the previous year at the educational convention held in Farwell Hall, 
Chicago, be empowered to plan a new university. The result of these 
resolutions was the conveyance of the university property to the mort- 
gagees, the Mutual Union Life Insurance Company, the. same year and 
the closing of the university. 

Thus the old University of Chicago disappeared after an existence 
of 29 years of pecuniary embarrassment. Its patrons, however, desired 
that it be supplanted by a new institution, and this view was shared by 
prominent Baptists in other parts of the country. During the next 
two years the project was discussed extensively at meetings and 
through correspondence. The first move towards realizing the plan 


was made in May, 1888, when a society, called the American Baptist 
Education Society, was organized in Washington, D. C., for the pur- 
pose of establishing a college in Chicago a university they dared not 
think of and to raise funds for the support of Baptist institutions of 
learning in other parts of the country. 

These initiative steps were followed with great interest by Mr. 
Rockefeller, who, as already shown, had contributed to the maintenance 
of the theological school. He conferred with Professor Willam R. 
Harper, of Yale University, a man who then already had attained a 
reputation as a scholar and a man of exceptional executive ability. 
These two men soon agreed that the Baptist Church should again take 
up its educational work in Chicago and on an enlarged scale. Mr. 
Rockefeller declared his willingness to contribute several hundred 
thousand dollars to such an institution. 

In December, 1888, the preliminary work had advanced to a stage, 
where the plan could be laid before the directors of the American 
Baptist Education Society. The plans were approved, and they pledged 
their hearty support in carrying the enterprise forward, instructing 
their secretary, Rev. Fred T. Gates,- to do everything in his power to 
insure its success. Early the following year Rev. Gates opened nego- 
tiations with Mr. Rockefeller, and, after numerous conferences between 
them, a committee of nine was appointed to draft a plan for the new 
institution, propose a site, estimate the amount of money required for 
safeguarding the enterprise financially, and to learn to what extent the 
support of the Education Society might be counted upon. Prof. Harper 
was the first man appointed on that committee. 

After thorough inquiries this committee submitted a full report 
on the basis of which the Education Society, at its annual meeting in 
Boston, in May, 1889, passed a formal resolution to establish the pro- 
posed college in Chicago. Immediately, a letter from Mr. Rockefeller 
was read, wherein he pledged himself to give $600,000 as a fund for the 
institution, on condition that others contributed $400,000, before June 
1, 1890, to be used for the purchase of a site and the erection of build- 
ings. Shortly after this meeting, another one was held in Chicago, 
attended by fifteen Baptist clergymen, and fifty-five businessmen. At 
this meeting a college committee of thirty-six members was chosen to 
issue a call for subscriptions toward the $400,000 fund. Before this 
meeting was adjourned, one quarter of the amount required had been 
subscribed by those in attendance. 

In January, 1890, Mr. Marshall Field, the Chicago millionaire 
merchant, announced his willingness to donate a tract of land, situated 
between Washington and Jackson parks, to the proposed college, pro- 
vided the conditions set up by Mr. Rockefeller were met. At the 
meeting of the board of the Education Society in the spring of that 


year it was announced that the aggregate sum of $402,000 had been 
subscribed, books and scientific apparatus valued at $15,000 promised, 
and that subscriptions were still coming in at the rate of $1,000 a day. 
These numerous and generous responses to the call for funds made 
it clear to the committee that the previous plan to establish a college, 
which was to be gradually enlarged to a university, had to be aban- 
doned and the institution laid out on university lines from the start. 
This line of action was subsequently followed. To begin with, ground 
was purchased adjoining the tract comprising one and one-half blocks, 
donated by Mr. Field. The Education Society board for the sum of 
$132,000 bought of Mr. Field an equal tract, making a total of 20 acres, 

The University of Chicago The Walker Museum 

bounded on the north and south by 56th and 59th streets and on the 
east and west by Greenwood and Ellis avenues. Shortly afterwards, 
the block located farthest north was traded for one bounded by 57th 
and 58th streets, and Greenwood and Lexington avenues, whereupon 
still another block was purchased, completing a quadrangle two blocks 
square in a beautiful and rapidly developing part of the city. A better 
location for a university would be difficult to find. 

In order to prevent possible complications, arising from the fact 



that an institution named the University of Chicago had existed before, 
the directors of that institution met June 14, 1890, and formally author- 
ized the use of that name for the new university. At another meeting 
September 8th the same board decided to call their institution The Old 
University of Chicago and to turn over all its books and records to the 
new university corporation. This was done partly to distinguish the 
graduates of the old institution, partly to enable them, if they so 
desired, to be recognized as graduates of the new university. 

These and other preliminaries having been disposed of, the new 
university was chartered September 10, 1890, under the name of the 
University of Chicago, the incorporators being John D. Rockefeller, 
E. Nelson Blake, Marshall Field, Francis E. Hinckley, Fred T. Gates, 
and Thomas W. Goodspeed. The charter stipulated that the university 
regents should be twenty-one in number, two-thirds, as also the presi- 
dent, to be members of the Baptist Church. On the contrary, church 
affiliations were to play no part in the selection of professors and in- 

Scarcely had the institution been incorporated when Mr. Rocke- 
feller, on the 16th of September, made an additional donation of one 
million dollars, one of the conditions being that the Baptist Union 
Theological Seminary should be moved from Morgan Park to the 
university grounds, be made its theological department, and furnished 
with a special building. These terms were gratefully accepted by the 
Baptist Theological Union. 

At their second meeting, held September 18th, the trustees elected 
as president of the university Dr. W. R. Harper, who after six months 
accepted the call and shaped the destinies of this great university with 
superior energy and ability. 

The working plan of the university had already been prepared 
and submitted to the boards of more than fifty different universities 
and colleges for approval. Having been thus criticised, the plan was 
made public Jan. 1, 1891. According to this plan, the work of the 
institution was to be arranged under the following three heads, the 
university proper, the university extension work and the university 
publication work. 

The first-named department was to comprise the following sub- 
divisions: (a) Academies, or preparatory departments, the first to be 
established at Morgan Park and other branch institutions to be either 
formed from existing schools or erected anew, as opportunity offered; 
(b) Colleges, as follows, (1) the College of Liberal Arts, with a course 
leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, (2) the College of Science, 
leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science, (3) the College of Liter- 
ature, giving also the degree of Bachelor of Science, (4) the College of 
Practical Arts, with comprehensive courses in practical subjects, lead- 


ing to the degree of Bachelor of Science; (c) affiliated colleges, the 
nature of whose relations to the university was to be determined by 
the conditions in each individual case; (d) schools, as follows: (1) The 
Graduate School, to comprise all non-professional post-graduate work, 
(2) the Divinity School, with the customary theological courses, (3) 
the Law School, (4) the Medical School, (5) the School of Engineering, 
(6) the School of Pedagogy, (7) the School of Fine Arts, (8) the School 
of Music. The two first-named were to be established at once, the 
remaining six in due order, as financial conditions would permit. 

The university extension work was to comprise, (a) regular courses 
of lectures, to be given in Chicago and elsewhere, according to the 
best plans for university extension; (b) evening courses in college 
and university subjects in and outside of Chicago; (c) correspondence 
courses in college and university subjects for students all over the 
country; (d) special courses in biblical subjects, studied from the 
original texts and translations; (e) library extension. 

The university publication work was to embrace, (a) university 
bulletins, catalogues and other official documents; (b) special news- 
papers, journals and reviews of a scientific nature, written and edited 
by instructors in the various departments: (c) books written and 
edited by instructors of the university; (d) collection by exchange of 
newspapers, journals and reviews, similar to those published; (e) 
purchase of books and disposal of same to students, professors and to 
the university library. 

In connection herewith the inner organization of the institution 
in the matter of faculties, officers, the division of the school year, etc., 
was mapped out. In these respects the University of Chicago was to 
differ materially from other universities and colleges in the United 
States. For instance, while most of these divide the scholastic year 
into three terms, viz., the fall, the winter and the spring term, with a 
long "vacation following the latter, its year was to be divided into 
quarters, beginning with the first day of July, October, January and 
April, respectively, each quarter to comprise twelve weeks, with 
intervals of one week's vacation. In order to accommodate those 
desiring to spend a still shorter period at the university each quarter 
was subdivided into two terms of six weeks. 

The advantages of this new arrangement were apparent. In the 
first place the waste of time under the old system was precluded; in 
the second, it enabled students to attend one or two quarters and 
spend the remainder of the year in some profitable occupation, earning 
the means to continue their studies ; in the third, it was made possible 
to prepare for examinations in shorter time ; in the fourth, the courses 
of instruction could be arranged more conveniently for the professors 
and instructors. While their term of service was nine months out of 


the year, they might be granted permission, at any time suiting their 
purpose, to pursue special studies or take a vacation for their health. 
By serving longer than the prescribed periods, they might earn either 
longer vacations or an extra income. 

Another result of this division of the university calendar was the 
abolition of classes and their names, such as Freshman, Sophomore, 
Junior and Senior, and with that the class spirit. The result of the 
quarter system was that a student might begin his studies any time of 

The University of Chicago The Women's Dormitories 

the year and take his examinations at the end of any of the four 

The University of Chicago held its first convocation October 1, 
1892. An imposing corps of professors and instructors had already 
been selected, comprising men who had served at American and Euro- 
pean universities, and no less than five hundred students had then been 
enrolled. Adding to this the fact that the financial position of the 
institution had been further strengthened by new donations by Mr. 
Rockefeller and others, it will appear that the future of the new uni- 
versity was exceptionally bright. The rich promises given at the start 
have been most handsomely realized. 

The development of the University of Chicago has been phenom- 
enal in every respect, and at its present pace the university inspires 
the confidence that it will in a short time become one of the best organ- 
ized and most largely attended universities in the world. A few 


figures may be quoted as showing most clearly the rapid progress 
already made during the first decade of its existence. The enrollment 
increased during the decade of 1892-02 from 698 to 4,450 and the 
endowment funds during the same period from $1,539,561 to $9,165,126, 
the value of the real estate, building, etc., from $1,618,778 to $6,000,000 
and the total value of all the property of the university to $15,128,375 ; 
the number of professors and instructors grew from 135 to 323, and the 
current annual expenditures from $109,496 to $944,348. 

This magnificent material growth was made possible by continued 
donations, aggregating over $18,000,000 for the same period. The prin- 
cipal donor is Mr. Rockefeller, whose gifts during this same decade 
amounted to more than $10,000,000. Since then he has donated millions 
more. Other wealthy men and women, especially Chicagoans, have con- 
tributed munificently to the university, such as, Miss Helen Culver, who 
gave one million to the department of biology; Mrs. Emmons Blaine, 
who donated over a million to the School of Education for the training 
of expert teachers; Martin A. Ryerson, who founded the Ryerson 
Physical Laboratory in memory of his father and gave large sums 
towards its equipment ; Sydney A. Kent, who founded the Kent Chemi- 
cal Laboratory; Charles T. Yerkes, who gave to the university the 
world's largest telescope and besides contributed liberally toward the 
equipment of the university observatory at Lake Geneva, Wis., which 
bears the donor's name; Marshall Field, who made large donations to 
the general funds; Silas B. Cobb, founder of Cobb Hall; George C. 
Walker, who donated the Walker Museum and has shown his generosity 
in other ways; Mrs. Charles Hitchcock, who erected the dormitory for 
boys as a memorial to her husband, Mr. Charles N. Hitchcock; Mrs. 
Caroline E. Haskell, who donated a building and established a lecture- 
ship in memory of her husband, Mr. Frederick Haskeil, Mrs. Elizabeth 
G. Kelly, who founded Kelly and Green halls for female students ; 
Mrs. Mary Beecher, Mrs. Henrietta Snell and Mrs. Nancy S. Foster, 
who have each had university halls erected, bearing their names; 
Adolphus C. Bartlett, who equipped the Bartlett Gymnasium in mem- 
ory of his son, Frank Dickinson Bartlett ; Leon Mandel, who founded 
the Assembly Hall; the William B. Ogden estate, which has donated 
property, the income from which was used in founding the Ogden 
Graduate School of Science; John J. Mitchell and Charles L. Hutchin- 
son, who have also remembered the university with substantial 

The university buildings in 1902 numbered 20 and the grounds 
comprised 75 acres in Chicago and 65 acres at Williams Bay, Wisconsin. 

By an agreement between the directors of the Rush Medical 
College, established in Chicago in 1837, and the regents of the Univer- 
sity of Chicago, that renowned medical institution in April, 1901, 



became identified with the university to the extent that the medical 
students during the first two years of the course pursued their studies 
at the university proper. A year later the directors of the medical 
school proposed a complete merger which, however, has not yet been 
effected, owing chiefly to economic obstacles. 

On March 11, 1902, the university regents appropriated $50,000 
towards the purchase of a law library and the establishment of the 
law school already decided upon. Other professional and technical 
schools are to be established as the exigencies will permit. 

The splendid progress made by this university is proof positive of 
the wisdom and care with which the broad and practical plans were 
mapped out. 

The total attendance for the year ending July 1, 1907, compiled on 
the basis of three quarters or nine months to the school year, was 
5,070. Of these 2,629 were men and 2,441 women. Since 1893 the 
number of grauates has been 4,131. 

On Jan. 10, 1906, the university suffered an incalculable loss in the 
death of President William Rainey Harper, who had served through 
fourteen and one-half years. On the death of Harper, Harry Pratt 
Judson was appointed acting president of the university, and on Feb. 
20, 1907, he was elected to the presidency. Judson prepared at Williams 
College, from which he graduated in 1870 and received the degree of 
A. M. in 1883 ; was principal of the high school in Troy, N. Y. ; pro- 
fessor at the University of Minnesota 1885-92 ; received the degree of 
LL. D. from his alma mater 1893, and has the same title from the 
Queen's University, Ontario, the State University of Iowa and the 
Washington University, St. Louis; was co-editor of the "American 
Historical Review" 1895-1902; became professor of political science 
and head dean of the colleges of the University of Chicago 1892 ; after 
two years he was made head of the department of political science 
and dean of the faculties of arts, literature and science, a position held 
until 1907, when elected president of the university. 

The World's Fair at Chicago 

As the four hundreth anniversary of the discovery of America by 
Columbus drew near, suggestions were made from various directions 
that the event be celebrated by means of a world's exposition, just as in 
1876 the one hundreth anniversary of the independence of the United 
States was celebrated. The first step toward the 400th anniversary 
celebration was taken in November, 1885, when the directors of the 
Chicago Inter-States Exposition Company passed a resolution declaring 
in favor of such a plan. The second step was taken July 6th of the 
following year, when the Iroquois Club of Chicago invited six other 
clubs of the city to co-operate with it in arranging for "an international 



celebration, in Chicago, of the four hundreth anniversary of the dis- 
covery of America by Columbus." With that the matter rested for 
some time. 

The newspapers of the country, however, began to discuss the 
project and cast about for the most suitable location for a new world's 
exposition, Washington, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis being stren- 
uously advocated by their respective papers. Then the citizens of 
Chicago no longer confined themselves to a discussion in the abstract, 
but took action long before the other three proposed cities had closed 

World's Fair Administration Building 

the debate. Thus Chicago again went on record as a most energetic 
and progressive community. 

After having advised with men of prominence, such as J. W. Scott, 
the editor of the "Chicago Herald," Thomas B. Bryan, the lawyer and 
politician, and others, Mayor Dewitt C. Cregier on July 22, 1889, laid 
the matter before the city council, which at once requested the mayor 
to appoint a committee of one hundred (later increased to 250) citizens 
to further the exposition project among the people and hold forth the 
advantages of Chicago for that purpose. Pursuant to this resolution, a 
large meeting was held August 1st, at which a set of resolutions, framed 
by Thomas B. Bryan, were adopted and subsequently published 
throughout the United States. An executive committee also was 
appointed, consisting of 51 persons, to take active charge of the pre- 



liminary preparations for the exposition. Its first act was to form an 
exposition company with a capital stock of $5,000,000 in shares of $10 
each. So rapid was the progress made that the company, whose cor- 
porate name was The World's Exposition of 1892, was legally incor- 
porated on the 14th of the same month, and at once proceeded to sell 

The competition among the four cities bidding for the exposition 
now grew extremely brisk. From New York and Washington it was 
urged that Chicago was situated entirely too far inland to attract 
foreign participation. These and other objections were successfully 
combated by the Chicago committee, which was ably assisted by the 
influential men of Illinois and neighboring states. 

On Jan. 12, 1890, the committees of the four cities had a hearing 
in Washington before a special committee appointed by the senate. 
New York was represented by more than one hundred of its foremost 
citizens, whose combined wealth aggregated several hundred millions, 
and who lost no opportunity to press the claims of their city. But 
the Chicago representatives proved conclusively thai their city had a 
greater volume of trade in portion to its population than New York and 
had a far more suitable site to offer. 

While congress had the matter under consideration its decision 
was awaited with the greatest interest. Along towards spring the 
question was passed on, and Chicago was the choice. 

On April 25, 1890, President Harrison signed the congressional 
act by which the quadri-centennial exposition was located at Chicago. 
According to the terms of said act, the president named eight com- 
missioners-at-large together with two commissioners and two alternates 
from each state and territory in the Union and the District of Columbia. 
This commission chose as Director-General of the exposition Col. 
George R. Davis of Chicago, as President ex-senator Thomas W. Palmer 
of Michigan, and as Secretary John T. Dickinson of Texas. The corn- 
commission delegated part of its authority to a Board of Reference 
and Control, half of its members being appointed by the exposition 

Pending the act of congress, stock had been liberally subscribed, 
so that at the time congress took action the number of stockholders 
had reached about 30,000. These were called to meet in Battery D, on 
April 10th, when the organization was completed by the election of 
forty-five directors, picked from among the wealthiest citizens. Two 
days later the board of directors met at the Sherman House and chose 
a committee on finance and a committee to draft by-laws. At the next 
meeting April 30th, Lyman J. Gage was elected president of the board, 
Thomas B. Bryan first and Potter Palmer second vice-president. On 
May 6th the board elected William J. Ackerman auditor and Anthony 


F. Seeberger treasurer, and finally on July llth Benjamin Butterworth 
secretary. The president of the board appointed a number of auxiliary 
committees to have charge of various departments of work. 

June 12th the stockholders at an extra meeting changed the name 
to The World's Columbian Exposition Company, in accordance with 
the congressional act, and also decided to increase the capital stock 
from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000, to comply with another condition named 
by congress, that the time and place of the exposition should be fixed, 
the grounds and buildings assured and ten million dollars subscribed 

World's Fair Government Building 

for the enterprise before the President of the United States would issue 
to foreign nations the official invitation to take part. 

Besides these two boards there was still another, the Board of 
Lady Managers, consisting of two lady representatives and alternates 
from each state and territory and nine for the city of Chicago. Mrs. 
Potter Palmer of Chicago, a woman of prominence no less for her high 
intellectual attainments than for her great wealth and social position, 
was chosen as its president. To this board was entrusted the manage- 
ment of everything pertaining to the participation of women in the 
exposition and to the woman 's department of exhibits. 

In the matter of choosing a site a diversity of opinions arose. Some 
of the directors suggested Jackson Park, in the southern part of the 
city, while others favored a more central location. The former opinion 
prevailed, and building operations were begun as soon as a construction 


department had been formed, with Daniel H. Burnham as chief, John 
W. Root as architect, Abram Gottlieb as engineer, and the firm of 
Olmstead & Co. as landscape architects. In order to have the buildings 
constructed with a view to artistic beauty as well as practical uses, 
a board of consulting architects was picked from among the most 
skillful men of the craft in Chicago. Besides, architects from New 
York, Boston, and other cities were called in to assist in making the 
drawings. The expenditures for the grading of the site and the erec- 
tion of the buildings were estimated at $16,075,453. 

World's Fair Illinois Building 

Ground was broken for the exposition on Feb. 11, 1891. Swamps 
were drained, depressions filled, old lagoons and ponds dredged and 
new ones scooped out, walks and drives constructed and extensive im- 
provements in the landscape planned. Piles were driven, foundations 
were laid, and soon the "White City" began to rise in splendor. In 
spite of changes that had to be made in the plans from time to time, 
the work progressed without interruption, thanks to efficient manage- 
ment both of the finances and the actual operations. 

It was not an easy matter to raise the necessary ten millions, but 
the leaders of the enterprise were equal to the task, Through their 
influence, the state legislature was prevailed upon to grant Chicago the 
privilege of issuing bonds to the amount of five millions in order to 
invest said amount in exposition stock. But besides this amount and 



the aggregate amount subscribed by individuals, six or seven millions 
were still needed. Numerous plans to raise money were devised, but 
none was found altogether satisfactory. Finally, it was proposed to 
issue souvenir coins to be sold at an advanced price as a means of 
raising the additional amount required. The plan was laid before 
congress, which with some reluctance resolved that souvenir half 
dollars should be struck to the amount of $2,500,000 and sold at one 
dollar each, thus netting the exposition $5,000,000. Furthermore, the 

World's Fair Agricultural Building 

exposition company issued bonds to the amount of $5,000,000 more, 
payable Jan. 1, 1894. 

Neither plan brought the desired results, and new exertions were 
made. To the railway companies were sold $850,000 worth of bonds 
and several Chicago banks made loans to the exposition company tak- 
ing unsold souvenir coins as security. 

At the annual meeting in April, 1891, Lyman J. Gage resigned the 
presidency and was succeeded by William J. Baker. 

Despite all preparations, there prevailed in the East and especially 
throughout Europe a lack of confidence in Chicago 's ability to manage 
a universal exposition. The notion was general that Chicago was 
located on the outskirts of civilization and therefore incapable of 



producing a world's fair such as had been seen in London, Paris and 
Vienna. The exposition management resolved to overcome this preju- 
dice and to that end appointed a special commission to visit the nations 

of northern Europe and their governments. This commission, con- 
sisting of five members, started for Europe in July, 1891, and per- 
formed its arduous work systematically and with marked success. As 
a result of its efforts, coupled with those of the government in the same 
direction, favorable responses to the invitation extended to the nations 
were received from a great number of governments and private cor- 
porations. To represent the exposition in a similar manner in southern 
Europe, Thomas B. Bryan and Harlow N. Higinbotham were ap- 
pointed. The first gained an audience with the Pope himself and 



succeeded in gaining his co-operation and good will. The Holy Father 
with his own hand wrote a cordial endorsement of the enterprise, which 

was subsequently translated into a number of languages and published 
far and wide. Its reassuming effect on the Catholic nations was un- 
questionable. The efforts of the two commissioners were crowned 
with success throughout. In recognition of his services, Mr. Higin- 


botham, upon his return to Chicago in February, 1892, was chosen vice- 
president of the exposition. 

While this work was in progress abroad the exposition buildings 
were rapidly nearing completion and the time for the opening of the 
fair was not far off. Up to this time the board of directors and the 
board of commissioners had borne the entire responsibility for the 
financial administration. The number of members being equal in the two 
boards, a tie might easily result in important decisions. In order to 
preclude deadlocks and resultant delays a council of administration 
was created, consisting of members from both boards. As representa- 
tives of the directors were chosen Harlow N. Higinbotham and Charles 
H. Schwab and for the commissioners George G. Massey of Delaware 
and J. W. St. Clair of West Virginia. These elected Mr. Higinbotham 
their chairman, and he was about the same time chosen president of 
the exposition. This council had absolute authority to determine 'all 
questions of administrative policy, but were not empowered to pass 
appropriations beyond those made by the directors. One of the first 
acts of the council was to postpone the date of the dedication of the 
exposition from October 12th, the day fixed by congress, to October 
21st. This was done partly because the city of New York had fixed 
on the former date for the holding of a grand naval review in com- 
memoration of the 400th anniversary, partly from a desire to bring the 
celebration as near as possible to the date of the landing of Columbus 
on American soil. 

The dedicatory exercises six months prior to the opening were held 
in order to publish to the world the extent of the preparation and the 
magnitude of the undertaking. The exercises opened with a salute of 
cannon at sunrise. In the forenoon the directors, commissioners, lady 
managers and specially invited guests assembled in Michigan avenue, 
in front of the Auditorium hotel, where they formed in line, the parade 
passing, with flags flying and music playing, down the avenue and on 
to the World's Fair grounds. Here they were joined by Vice-President 
Levi P. Morton, representing the President of the United States, and 
President Thomas W. Palmer of the board of commissioners. In Wash- 
ington Park 15,000 national troops from various points passed in re- 
view before the guests of honor, the procession then passing along 
Midway Plaisance to the entrance to the grounds. The place of assem- 
blage was the gigantic Manufacturers' Building, where luncheon was 
served to 70,000 people. At the time set for the dedicatory ceremonies 
an immense mass of people crowded about the gateways to the ex- 
position grounds, and at the command of President Higinbotham the 
gates were thrown open and the public given free admittance for that 

The order of ceremonies was as follows : Columbian March, com- 



posed for the occasion by Prof. J. H. Paine of Cambridge, was ren- 
dered by the Columbian Orchestra and chorus. Following a prayer, 
offered by Bishop Fowler, an introductory address was made by 

Director-General GTeorge R. Davis. Mayor Hempstead Washburne next 
welcomed Vice-President Morton and the foreign representatives, offer- 
ing them the freedom of the city. Mrs. Sarah Le Moyne then read the 
World's Fair Ode, written by Miss Harriet Monroe, portions of the 



poem, set to music by George W. Chadwick, being subsequently ren- 
dered by the Columbian Chorus. Director of Works Daniel H. Burn- 
ham now presented the buildings to President Higinbotham and in- 
troduced to him the engineers, architects and artists who had con- 
structed and decorated them. President Higinbotham responded, pre- 
senting to each of these a special medal in recognition of their work in 
behalf of the exposition. During this presentation the chorus rendered 
Mendelssohn's "To the Sons of Art." 

Mrs. Potter Palmer, president of the Board of Lady Managers, 
then followed with an address on the work accomplished by that body, 
whereupon President Higinbotham presented the exposition buildings 
to President Palmer of the World's Columbian Exposition Commis- 
sioners, he in turn presenting them to Vice-President Morton, who 
dedicated them to their various uses. The Columbian Chorus sang 
the "Alleluiah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah; Col. Henry Watter- 
son of Kentucky made an address, followed by another song, "The 
Star-Spangled Banner," by the chorus; another address was made by 
Mr. Chauncey M. Depew of New York, and the ceremonies were con- 
cluded with a prayer by Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, the singing of 
Beethoven's "In Praise of God" by the chorus and the benediction, 
pronounced by Rev. Henry C. McCook of Philadelphia. Immediately 
following the conclusion of the dedicatory ceremonies, the artillery 
post stationed in the park fired the national salute. 

The opening of the World's Fair was set for May 1, 1893, and an 
enormous amount of work still remained to be accomplished during the 
intervening six months. Thanks to the energy and push of the directors 
almost all exterior work was finished in the time fixed. The arrange- 
ment of exhibits, however, required additional time, and the exposition, 
therefore, was not in proper order until the first of June. 

The festivities in connection with the formal opening were held in 
that part of the grounds called the Court of Honor. Here gathered, in 
the forenoon of May 1st, the following guests of honor and officiating 
personages, namely, the Duke of Veragua, specially invited as the 
direct descendant of Columbus, together with his family ; Grover Cleve- 
land, President of the United States; Adlai Stevenson, Vice President 
of the United States ; members of the cabinet, of the diplomatic corps 
and of congress; the three departments of the exposition management, 
namely, the Board of Directors, the Board of Commissioners and the 
Board of Lady Managers ; foreign commissioners, members of the 
different state commissions and chiefs and other officials of the various 
exposition departments. 

The opening of the exposition took place according to the following 
order of ceremonies: Music, Columbian March (John H. Paine), by the 
orchestra ; prayer by Rev. W. H. Milburn of Washington, D. C. ; poem. 



"the Prophecy," by W. A. Croffut of Washington; music, "Overture 
to Rienzi" (Wagner), by the orchestra; address by the Director- 
General of the exposition; address by the President of the United 

States; starting of the machinery in Machinery Hall, while Handel's 
"Alleluiah Chorus" was sung; official reception in the Manufacturers' 
Building, by President Cleveland and the World's Fair directors, of 
the foreign commissioners. 


Immediately after the close of the President's address, the chief 
magistrate pressed the button of an electric line connecting with a 
great steam engine of 2,000 horse powers, starting the engine and this 
in turn bringing the fountains and cascades of the Court of Honor into 
play. At the same instant the flags of all the Fair buildings were 
unfurled to the breeze, and amid the roar of steam whistles throughout 
the city and harbor, the firing of cannon and the thundering huzzas of 
the sea of humanity assembled in the grounds, the Columbian Exposi- 
tion was opened the the world. Chicago, Queen of the West, had 
reached the goal of her ambition: the World's Fair was an accom- 
plished fact. 

Before describing the further progress of the exposition and the 
manner in which the directors managed to carry the enormous financial 
burdens laid upon their shoulders, a comparison may properly be 
drawn between this and previous world's expositions with reference to 
area, number of exhibitors, and visitors, appropriations, etc. This is 
given in the following table : 

No. of No. of No. of 

Year. Place. exhibitors. visitors. Acres, days open. 

1851 London 15,500 6,039,195 13. 144 

1855 Paris 23,954 6,162,330 22.1 200 

1862 London 28,653 6,225,000 25.6 171 

1867 Paris 52,200 9,238,967 31. 217 

1873 Vienna 42,584 7,254,687 56.5 186 

1876 Philadelphia 60,000 9,910,966 236. 159 

1878 Paris 40,366 16,032,725 loo. 191 

1889 Paris 55,000 28,149,353 173. 183 

1893 Chicago '. 27,539,521 645. 183 

The capacity of the various buildings of the Chicago exposition is 
shown in the following table : 

Buildings. Square feet. Acres. 

Administration 51,456 1.18 

Agriculture 589,416 13.53 

Art 261,073 5-99 

Electricity 265,500 6.09 

Fisheries 104,504 2.39 

Government 155,896 3.57 

Horticulture 237,956 5.46 

Machinery 796,686 18.28 

Manufactures 1,345,462 30.88 

Mines 246,181 5.65 

Transportation 704,066 16.16 

Woman's 82,698 1.89 

Minor 1,630,514 37.43 

State 450,886 10.35 

Foreign 135,663 3.11 

Concessions (Midway Plaisance buildings, booths, etc.) 801,238 18.39 

Miscellaneous 317,699 7.29 

Total 8,176,894 187.69 


Midway Plaisance was the name of the narrow stretch of open 
space extending from Jackson to Washington parks. This was at the 
disposal of the commissioners and was utilized for the extra attractions 
or side shows to the exposition. Here various semi- and uncivilized 
nations were assigned space for their exhibits and performances, show- 
ing the life and customs of various races. Great panoramas of natural 
sceneries from foreign lands were exhibited. Products and curios from 
every clime were sold, and in numerous variety theaters the plays and 
pastimes of the nations were more or less correctly presented. Also a 
great number of restaurants and cafes of various kinds were located 
there. One of the most original attractions of the Midway was the so- 
called Ferris Wheel, constructed by Engineer Ferris and named after 
him. It was the Chicago counterpart of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris 
Exposition of 1889. From the hanging cars of this gigantic wheel was 
afforded a charming birds-eye view of the White City and its environ- 

Thirty-seven states of the Union had their own buildings at the 
Fair. The majority of these were a combination of exposition building 
for products of a state and meeting place for its citizens. Forty-seven 
foreign nations had made appropriations to the exposition and of these 
eighteen had their own buildings, besides being represented in one or 
more of the seventeen main departments. Exhibitors from no less than 
eighty-six countries were present. 

Among exhibiting nations was the United Kingdom of Sweden and 
Norway, the Swedish riksdag having made an appropriation of 350,000 
crowns for the purpose. A national pavilion of a distinct type, capped 
by an antiquated steeple, was built in Sweden, the material shipped 
over and the building reconstructed on its site at the exposition 
grounds. Portions of the Swedish exhibits were arranged in this 
pavilion, while the remainder were apportioned among the proper 
departments. The royal commissioner of the Swedish exhibit was 
Arthur Leffler, the secretary, Axel Welin. Tom Bergendal represented 
the Swedish Iron Institute, embracing fourteen industrial establish- 
ments, and a large number of manufacturers and institutions and 
organizations in Sweden had sent personal representatives to the 

Besides the $2,500,000 appropriated by the United States in the 
form of souvenir coins, the national government set aside the amount 
needed for the erection of a splendid government building and $500,000 
for a suitable exhibit therein. The total amount appropriated by the 
individual states was $6,120,000, Illinois alone expending $800,000. The 
total foreign appropriations were approximately $6,500,000. Private 
citizens of Chicago signed for shares $5,608,206, and the city of Chicago 
purchased shares for the sum of $5,000,000, raised by an issue of bonds. 


In order to heighten the interest in the exposition a series of inter- 
national congresses was arranged by a special board, established Oct. 
30, 1890, as the World's Congress Auxiliary of the World's Columbian 
Exposition, headed by Charles Carroll Bonney, the originator of the 
idea. This work was divided into twenty departments, each of which 
was subdivided into various divisions, numbering altogether 224. The 
congresses held 1,283 sessions, making a total of 753 days. According to 
the printed announcements, there were 5,978 addresses and papers by 
5,822 speakers and authors. The most noteworthy one was doubtless 
the Parliament of Religions, in which many prominent representatives 
of the principal religions of the world in addresses, treatises and discus- 
sions endeavored to show their relative positions. 

Swedish Day a.t the World's Fair 

A great number of festivals, special days set aside for various 
nationalities or occupations, memorial days, etc., furnished the addi- 
tional events of the Fair. Among the national festivals, Swedish Day, 
July 20th, may be mentioned as one of the most successful and pictur- 
esque celebrations during the entire exposition. 

Swedish Day at the World's Fair was a gala day for the Swedish 
nationality in Chicago. The celebration began early in the day with a 
street parade in the down-town district, participated in by 10,000 
people, according to estimate. On the exposition grounds there was a 
second parade, followed by an afternoon concert at Festival Hall, 
exercises at the Swedish pavilion at sunset and a pyrotechnic display in 
the evening. 

Early in the morning Swedish organizations of the north and west 
sides began to assemble on Chicago avenue. Marshalled by Dr. S'ven 
Windrow and Mr. L. F. Hussander, they marched to Lake Front Park, 
to join the south side organizations and other participants. Forming 
in Michigan avenue, the parade wound its way through the city, on the 
following line of march: Michigan ave., Monroe st., State st., Lake St., 
Fifth ave., Madison st., Market st., Monroe st., Fifth ave., Jackson st.., 
Wabash ave., Congress st., Michigan ave. 

The parade, headed by Robert Lindblom as chief marshal, with 
N. N. Cronholm as adjutant, was made up of three divisions, in the 
following order : First division platoon of police ; band ; American 
Union of Swedish Singers; distinguished guests and ladies in carriages. 
Second division marshals ; band ; John Ericsson Legion, Select Knights 
of America; Belmont Legion of the same; First Swedish Uniformed 
Ranks. Knights of Pythias ; Svea Society in carriages ; Swedish Glee 
Club members in carriages ; First Swedish Lodge of Odd Fellows ; North 
Star Lodge, Knights of Honor; band; Svithiod Club members in car- 
riages ; Linnaeus Club members on horseback and in carriages ; publish- 



ers and personnel of Swedish- American newspapers, "Svenska Ameri- 
kanaren," "Svenska Tribunen" and "Humoristen," in carriages; 
band; Gustaf Adolf Society; Court Vega Pleasure Club; Monitor 
Council, Eoyal Arcanum, in carriages; Nordenskjold Lodge, Knights 
and Ladies of Honor; Gotha Lodge of the same; Thor Society; Led- 
stjernan Lodge, Sons of Temperance; Court Stockholm, Independent 
Order of Foresters; band; Independent Order of Vikings. Third 
division marshals; band; Svenska Gardet, preceded by their band; 
Uniformed Ranks, Knights of Pythias, South Chicago; Swedish Gym- 

World's Fair Swedish Building 

nastic and Fencing Club; ladies in Swedish provincial costumes; Nord- 
stjernan Society, preceded by their band; United Brotherhood of Car- 
penters and Joiners; Iduna Society; Verdandi Lodge, K. of P., Burn- 
side ; Balder Society ; Linnea Society ; Svenska Understodsf oreningen ; 
Pullman Band; Harmony Lodge, K. of P., Pullman; Lyran Singing 
Club, Pullman ; Phoenix Lodge, No. 7, W. S. A., Englewood ; citizens in 
carriages. Scattered through the parade were a number of picturesque 
and characteristic floats and groups, as follows : John Ericsson 's ' ' Mon- 
itor," furnished by John Ericsson Lodge; "A Feast in Valhall," by the 
Svithiod Club; "Svea, Columbia and Fama, " by the Svea Society; 
' ' The Bellman Room, ' ' by Mr. Colliander ; group of Laplanders, exhibit- 
ing at Midway Plaisance ; groups of ladies in provincial costumes ; 


''Old Time Swedish Iron Smelter"; "Swedes of Delaware in 1638' ; ; 
"Swedes and Indians", by Iduna Society. 

From the piers on the lake front the paraders boarded the boats 
waiting to carry them to the exposition grounds. Upon arrival they 
were met by a procession from the Swedish pavilion, headed by the 
Swedish commissioner, Arthur Leffler, and his suite, escorted by a detail 
of Columbian Guards. At the Casino the paraders again formed m 
line and marched through the Court of Honor, past the principal build 
ings to the Swedish pavilion where they disbanded and scattered 
through the grounds. 

Thousands repaired to Festival Hall, which was crowded long 
before four o 'clock, the hour set for the grand concert, given under the 
auspices of the American Union of Swedish Singers. For this occasion 
no less than three celebrated artists from the Royal Opera at Stockholm 
had been engaged, namely, Caroline Ostberg, soprano; C. F. Lundquist, 
tenor, and Conrad Behrens, basso. Adding to this the Theodore 
Thomas Orchestra and the United Singers, led by John R. Ortengren, 
a grand chorus of four hundred male voices, and the array of talent 
was such as to make this a notable Swedish musical event in Chicago, 
rivaled only by the appearance of Christina Nilsson twenty years prior. 

Following the concert and after a medley of Swedish melodies had 
been played on the chimes in Machinery Hall by A. E. Bredberg of St. 
James' Cathedral, the people gathered for a folkfest at the Swedish 
pavilion. Addresses were made by Arthur Leffler, Swedish commis- 
sioner, T. B. Bryan, of the exposition directors, and Dr. J. A. Enander ; 
songs were rendered by Mr. Lundquist and the A. U. S. S. chorus, and 
"greetings from fifty thousand Swedish-Americans" were telegraphed 
to his majesty, King Oscar II. 

All day the flag of yellow and blue was everywhere in evidence, 
floating over the parading hosts, draping the interior of Festival Hall 
and waving beside the stars and stripes on many a pinnacle in the 
White City. The days' celebration added about 50,000 to the average 
daily attendance at the fair, raising the total to more than 126,000. It 
was a day of national inspiration to all Swedish- Americans participat- 
ing and in every way a splendid success, fully comparable to the 
celebrations of other nationalities. 

The principal historical celebrations were Patriotic Day, Inde- 
pendence Day and Chicago Day, the last-named in commemoration of 
the great Chicago fire in 1871. This celebration occurred October 9th 
and was marked by an enormous attendance from the city and the state 
at large. The number of visitors to the Fair that day was 716,880, this 
being undoubtedly the greatest concourse of people in the United States 
at any one time and place. During the summer the exposition manage- 
ment gave several banquets, the most brilliant affair being the reception 


given to the foreign commissioners October llth. This was held at the 
Music Hall and was very largely attended. 

During the month of May the total receipts amounted to $583,031, 
and during June to $1,256,180. The promise implied in these figures 
was made good. Thus the month of August showed the remarkable 
total of $2,337,856.25. The receipts of the exposition from all sources, 
including city, state and national appropriations, were $28,151,168.75. 
The gate receipts amounted to $10,626,330.76 and the special concessions 
realized $3,699,581.43. 

The expenditures of the Exposition Company, including cost of 
organization, construction, and administration, were summed up March 
31, 1894, at $27,151,800. If the expenses of the various states and the 
foreign nations are added, the total outlay for the Columbian Exposi- 
tion will be found to reach almost forty-five million dollars. 

Extensive preparations were made to close the Fair October 30th 
in a manner befitting its grandeur, but a lamentable event threw a pall 
over the city and made it expedient to simplify the closing celebration 
to a degree. On October 28th, Carter H. Harrison, the mayor of the 
city, fell by the hand of an assassin, an Irish fanatic, named Patrick 
Prendergast. In consequence the events of the closing day were 
marked by gloom rather than gayety. Festival Hall was packed with 
humanity. President Palmer of the Board of Commissioners stepped 
forward with the announcement that owing to the sad circumstances 
most of the numbers of the proposed program had been eliminated, 
whereupon he pronounced the exposition officially closed. After a few 
brief remarks, Dr. Barrows pronounced the benediction over the 
assembled hosts, which then regretfully departed from the hall to the 
strains of Beethoven's "Funeral March." The flags on the pinnacles 
of the exposition halls were lowered, the doors were closed, and the 
echo of the final artillery salute died as daylight waned on the domes 
of the exposition city. A strong sense of the vanity of all things created 
by the hand of man pressed home to every thoughtful spectator as he 
bade the fabulous beauty and splendor of the White City a last fare- 
well. Thus the World's Columbian Exposition, the pride of Chicago 
and of the nation, passed into history. 

The Chicago Drainage Canal 

The growth of Chicago made it apparent to the municipal author- 
ities that something had to be done to lead the flow from the extensive 
sewer system of the city into some other channel than the Chicago 
River, which empties into the lake, or the water supply from this last 
named source would eventually become entirely unfit for use. At first 
they tried to remedy the matter by deepening the Illinois and Michigan 
Canal so as to cause the river to run west instead of east, i. e.. from the 


lake instead of into it. This work was carried out in 1865-1871. 
Although a pumping station was established at the juncture of the river 
and the canal at Bridgeport, calculated to assist in the reversal of the 
current of the river and force it into the canal, yet this experiment 
proved unsuccessful. 

The intakes of the water works were then located several miles out 
in the lake, but even that arrangement was inadequate. Spring floods, 
storms and heavy rainfalls would at frequent intervals carry great 
volumes of impure water out as far as the cribs, where it would be ab- 
sorbed at the intakes and carried back through the mains and be dis- 

The Drainage Canal Gates at Controlling Works, Lockport 

tributed throughout the city, imperiling the health of its inhabitants. 
This condition was not to be tolerated, and other remedies were sug- 
gested from time to time, yet no plan, however plausible, pointed out a 
way of surmounting the chief obstacle, a lack of funds. 

Toward the close of the year 1885, H. B. Hurd, who had served on 
the Board of Drainage Commissioners in 1855, was urged by a number 
of leading men to make a careful study of the problem. After he had 
convinced himself and others that the question offered no legal difficul- 
ties, provided the legislature would pass the necessary measures, the 
city council on Jan. 27, 1886, passed a resolution authorizing the mayor 
to name a commission, consisting of one engineer with a knowledge 
of sanitary affairs, and two assistant engineers, to investigate the water 
and sewer systems and submit a report on the result. The elder Mayor 
Harrison appointed as expert engineer Rudolph Hering of Philadelphia 
and as his assistants two Chicago engineers, Benezette Williams and 
S. G. Artingstall. At the next session of the legislature, in 1887, two 
bills on this subject were submitted. The one, the so-called Hurd bill, 


proposed that the necessary funds for sanitary improvements be raised 
by general taxation and by an issue of bonds ; the other, known as the 
Winston bill, proposed special taxation, or assessment, for the same 
purpose. When it became evident that neither bill had any chance of 
passage, a new and simpler one, called the Roche-Winston bill, was 
submitted and passed toward the end of the session. This provided for 
a commission, consisting of two senators, two representatives and 
Mayor Roche of Chicago, to investigate the drainage question still 
further, and also proposed a canal running from the Desplaines River 
north of the city to Lake Michigan, to carry off the waters of that river 

The Drainage Canal The Bear Trap Dam, from Downstream 

and the north branch of the Chicago River. Nothing, however, was 
accomplished to this end. 

In the next legislature (1889) the commission made a favorable 
report, and a new drainage bill was submitted, essentially providing 
for the organization of a so-called Sanitary District, the digging of a 
drainage canal of suitable width and depth through the watershed 
between the basin of Lake Michigan and the Desplaines river valley, 
the appointment of a drainage board of nine members and the raising 
of the requisite funds by general assessment on all taxable property in 
the district created. The bill met with strong opposition, principally 
from the people dwelling along the Illinois River, who feared, partly 
that Chicago's sewage would permanently impair the wholesomeness 
of the river water, partly that the volumes of water from the canal 
would flood the bottomlands along the river. The friends of the bill 
urged to the contrary that if the canal were built and the Desplaines 
and Illinois rivers were dredged between Joliet and LaSalle, an excel- 
lent waterway between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi would be 


opened. During the eighteen months that this bill hung in the balance, 
largely attended conventions were held in Peoria, Memphis and other 
cities, at which the bill was warmly endorsed. The fear that the canal 
would lower the watermark in the lake was dispelled by experts, who 
explained that even with a flow of 600,000 cubic feet per minute, this 
being the maximum estimate, the surface of the lake would be lowered 
at most three inches. 

This bill, so highly important to the city of Chicago, was passed by 
the legislature May 29, 1889. At the general election in Chicago Nov. 
5th following, the proposition to organize the aforesaid sanitary district 
was carried by a large majority. This district comprises all that part of 

The Drainage Canal Seventeen Miles of the Canal are Sawed Out 
of the Solid Rock 

Chicago north of 87th street, together with an area of about 47 square 
miles in Cook county, outside of the city limits. It measures 18 miles 
north and south, has a maximum width of 15 miles, its area being 185 
square miles, with a population of 1,800,000. At a special election Dec. 
12th the same year the members of the drainage board were chosen. 
Their first important duty was to make the authorized assessment, 
amounting to one-half per cent, of the tax value of all property found 
in the district. When later it became apparent that the amount thus 
realized was inadequate, the board was authorized to raise the assess- 
ment to one and one-half per cent, for a period of five years from 1895, 
at the expiration of which the former rate was to prevail. In addition, 
the board was empowered to raise funds by issuing bonds. 

The financing of the entire enterprise was thus assured. But owing 
to differences arising among the trustees, actual work on the canal was 
delayed almost two years. Four trustees having resigned and other 


men elected to fill their places, the work was begun. The first sod was 
turned near Lemont Sept. 3, 1892, by Frank Wenter, president of the 
board. Necessary gradings, surveys, condemnations and letting of 
contracts had previ6usly been made. The work was now pushed with 
vigor towards completion, despite obstacles of one kind or another. 
The route was divided into sections, each being let to one or more 
contractors according to the nature of the work to be done. For long 
stretches the bedrock was being blasted by means of dynamite, fired 
night and day by electric contacts, in other localities laborers, busy as 
ants, were digging through soil and clay, while still others were work- 
ing like beavers constructing costly dams. The work progressed 

The Drainage Canal Walls of Solid Stone Artificially Laid 

steadily, and seven years after ground was broken the canal was 

The drainage canal starts in the southwestern part of the city, at 
the point were Robey street crosses the south branch of the river, and 
runs parallel with the Illinois and Michigan Canal in a straight line 
southwest to Summit, a distance of eight miles. This stretch of canal 
has a width of 110 feet at the bottom and 198 feet at the waterline, and 
a minimum depth of 22 feet. At Summit the canal turns southward and 
a little farther down takes a westward course to Willow Springs, five 
miles from Summit. This section is 202 feet wide at the bottom and 
290 at the water's edge, the depth being uniform throughout. From 
Willow Springs it runs west past Sag and Lemont to Romeo where it 
makes a sharp curve southward towards Lockport, the western ter- 
minus, located about fifteen miles from Willow Springs. This stretch 
is cut through solid rock and the corresponding measurements are 160 
and 162 feet. The entire length of the canal is 28 miles. 



The total excavations comprised 41,410,000 cubic yards, 28,500,000 
being earth, clay and gravel and 12,910,000, rock. But other work was 
also necessary. The Desplaines River, which was cut or touched by 
the canal route at a number of points, had to be led into other channels, 
and for this purpose an extra canal, 13 miles in length, was dug and a 
levee built for a distance of 19 miles. The new river-bed is 200 feet 
wide at the bottom and represents an excavation of 2,068,659 cubic 
yards, bringing the total excavations up to 43,478,659 cubic yards. If 
all this material had been dumped into the lake it would have formed 
an island one square mile in area and 12 feet high above water level. 
The total cost of digging the canal was $33,525,691.20. 

The Drainage Canal Two Mile Curve at Romeo, 111. 

For the regulation of the current costly locks were constructed at 
the western terminal of the canal at Lockport. There are seven smaller 
locks 20 by 30 feet and one large one, the so-called Bear Trap Dam 
with a width of 160 feet and a vertical play of 17 feet. The latter 
consists of two huge sheet iron plates joined by means of hinges, the 
lower one being firmly fastened to a substantial substructure, while 
the upper one is so placed as to obstruct the current. This mechanism 
is operated by the power of the current itself, the water being let into 
special conduits and regulated by a set of valves placed directly under 
the iron dam. This is claimed to be the most ingenious piece of mechan- 
ism of its kind in the world. Near the locks there is a basin large 
enough to permit vessels of maximum draft to turn. 

This gigantic piece of engineering work was completed in seven 
years. On Jan. 2, 1900, the current was turned into the canal, and on 
Jan. 17th, when this had been filled, the great locks were opened, 
causing the interesting spectacle of the Chicago River reversing its 


current. Its waters, thick with filth and sewage, foul-smelling and 
almost stagnant, yet sluggishly moving in the direction of Lake Michi- 
gan, now suddenly changed their course and began to move with a 
speed of a mile and a half per hour in the opposite direction, away from 
the river's mouth toward its source. Its color quickly changed from 
its traditional mud color to a light greenish tint, lent by the pure waters 
drawn from the lake. Thus the constant danger to the purity of 
Chicago's water supply was practically averted by reversing the cur- 
rent of a navigable stream. At the same time, a portion of waterway 
between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, planned years before, had 
been completed. 

The Hennepin. Canal 

For the sake of completeness, a brief sketch of this latter project 
is here subjoined. The old Illinois and Michigan Canal soon was found 
too narrow and too shallow for large deep draft vessels, and in the 
early seventies the question of building a new canal across the state 
was raised. A canal bill was presented in congress and in 1871 
government engineers made a preliminary survey. In 1890 an appro- 
priation bill, based on said survey, was submitted, and Sept. 19th the 
needed appropriation was granted. Work was begun at the western 
canal terminus in July, 1892, and at the eastern end in 1894, and has 
been in progress ever since. 

The Illinois and Mississippi Canal, also termed the Hennepin Canal, 
starts at the Illinois River one and three-quarters of a mile above the 
city of Hennepin, at the point where the river changes its course from 
west to south. Passing the Bureau Creek valley it cuts the watershed 
between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and empties into the Rock 
River at the point where the Green River empties into that stream, 
thence following the Rock its entire navigable length and reaching 
the Mississippi after flanking the rapids at the village of Milan. This 
the main line of the canal is 75 miles in length. A branch, or feeder, 
constructed at its highest altitude, extends from a point near Sheffield, 
located 28 miles from its eastern terminus, in a northerly direction to 
Sterling, where it taps the Rock Falls. A dam built at that point to 
force the current into the canal makes the Rock River navigable to 
Dixon, several miles northeast of Sterling. This feeder has a length 
of 29 miles, which, added to the main channel, makes a total of 104 
miles of waterway, or seven miles more than the Illinois and Michigan 
Canal. From the Illinois River to the highest point there is a rise of 
196 feet, and this section has 21 locks, varying in height from six to 
fourteen feet. From that point to the Mississippi the incline is 93 feet 
which is overcome by means of ten similar locks. The canal is 80 feet 
wide and 7 feet deep throughout. Along its entire length the banks 



are reinforced with solid masonry. The sluices are 170 feet in length 
and 35 feet in width, admitting vessels 140 feet long, 32 feet wide and 
with a tonnage of 600. The locks, bridges and aqueducts are all built 
of cement and steel, the smaller culverts of steel mains. 

This canal shortens the route by water from Chicago to the Missis- 
sippi by no less than 400 miles by cutting across from the great bend 
of the Illinois River almost directly westward to the Mississippi. The 
extension of the old canal was the Illinois River which, after meander- 
ing through the state, empties into the Mississippi not far from the 
confluence of the Missouri. But in order to open a deep waterway 
all the way from the lakes to the Mississippi it will be necessary to 
deepen the old Illinois and Michigan Canal between the terminus of 
the drainage canal at Lockport and the city of La Salle, where the 
Illinois becomes navigable. The first steamer passed through the Hen- 
nepin Canal in November, 1907. 

The cost of the Hennepin Canal was estimated at $6,926,000, in- 
cluding $1,858,000 for the feeder, but through certain changes in the 
course and reduced cost of material, a substantial saving was made. 


The First Swedes in Illinois 

Raphael Widen, the First Swedish Pioneer in the State 

HE first Swede in Illinois was, so far as known to a cer- 
tainty, one Kaphael Widen. The year and place of his 
birth are unknown, but it is a matter of record that at 
the age of eight he was brought from Sweden to France 
where he was educated for the Catholic priesthood. It is 
not known when he emigrated to the United States. It is noted in the 
Territorial Records of Illinois that Raphael Widen was appointed 
justice of the peace of St. Clair county on Jan. 12, 1814, by the terri- 
torial governor, Ninian Edwards. He lived at Cahokia, the county seat,, 
where he married, in 1818, into a French family of that place. Remov- 
ing to Kaskaskia, Randolph county, he was one of the fourteen terri- 
torial justices who conducted the affairs of Randolph county during 
the interregnum from December, 1818, to May, 1819, the last meeting 
being held April, 19, 1819. Widen continued to act as justice of the 
peace as late as 1831 and presumably still longer. 

Eleven manuscripts in Widen 's hand are preserved in the Menard 
collection of manuscripts at the Chicago Historical Society. The earliest 
is a contract for the rent of a piece of land. It is written in French, is 
dated May 24, 1819, and covers two pages. The signatures of the con- 
tracting parties are made in Widen 's hand, they each marking a cross. 
A photograph of a promissory note written in French is repro- 
duced on the opposite page. There are four notes in English, two 
executions and two summons papers. The latest date on the papers is 
Oct. 24, 1831. There is also a trust deed for $409.97 to secure a loan 
from Pierre Menard, first lieutenant governor of Illinois, to Maurice 
D. Smith and wife, Raphael Widen and Felix St. Vrains being named 
as trustees. 

Widen became a man of more than local prominence. He was the 
representative of Randolph county in the second and third General 



Assemblies of the young state (1820-24), and a member of the senate 
in the fourth and fifth General Assemblies (1824-28). During the second 










session of the fourth General Assembly in 1826, he was president of 
the senate. 

His career as legislator of the new frontier state was coincident 
with the period of heated debate over the question whether the state 
was to be slave or free. Widen took a stand by which he deserves 



lasting honor and respect. He was the sworn enemy of slavery and 
expressed his views freely and fearlessly in the legislature. When on 
the llth day of February, 1823, while he was serving his second term 
as representative, a motion was made in the house to submit to a 
popular vote the question of calling a convention for the revision of 
the constitution in the interest of slavery, Widen was among those 
who voted resolutely against it. This is all the more notable when it 
is considered that he was one of the only two anti-convention repre- 
sentatives from the middle or southern portion of the state to oppose 
the bill. The motion carried with a majority of one vote in the house, 
after having passed the senate by a majority of two-thirds, and as told 
in foregoing pages, the question was submitted to the people at the 
election of August 2, 1824. The pro-slavery convention proposition 
was lost by a vote of 6,640 against it to 4,972 in its favor, settling the 
slavery question for all time in the state. 

Widen lived in Kaskaskia when Lafayette made his visit at that 
place April 30, 1825. A reference has been found to "Edward Widen, 
the polished gentleman and enterprising merchant," as having been 
one of those present at the reception to the French hero. This un- 
doubtedly refers to Raphael Widen in spite of the inaccuracy. Widen 
died in Kaskaskia from cholera in 1833. 

That there were a number of Swedes among those who settled in 
Illinois in its territorial period admits of no doubt. Though Widen is 
the first of whom we have definite information, most likely there were 
others of whom we will never know. In the annals of early Illinois 
names characteristically Swedish are not infrequent. One Paul Haral- 
son (also written Harrolson and Harelston), is said to have settled 
on the west side of the Kaskaskia River, near the mouth of Camp's 
Creek, in Randolph county, in 1802. He became a man of prominence 
in those early days and is said to have held the office of sheriff for a 
short time. In the period of 1803-09 he served as county commissioner, 
and also as county clerk of Randolph county, being the third man to 
hold that office. The public records make no mention of him as 
sheriff, but in the official list of surveyors the name of Paul Harrolson 
is third in order. His appointment by Gov. Edwards to the latter 
office was dated April 7, 1814. In the absence of proofs of his Swedish 
origin, we can merely suppose that he was a Swedish descendant, 
whose name was originally written Haraldson. 

In looking over the lists of members of the Illinois militia in the 
War of 1812, several names instantly impress one as being Swedish. 
One is that of Bankson an Americanized form of Bengtson, common 
among the Delaware colonists. One of the eminent personages among 
the Delaware Swedes was Andrew Bankson. And here we find the 
same name, borne by a man who was a lieutenant in the Second Regi- 


ment, from St. Clair county, before the war and during the war a 
private in a company of mounted riflemen. He was subsequently 
promoted second lieutenant under the name of Bankston, manifestly 
a misspelling. 

On April 5, 1817, Andrew Bankson was appointed major of the 
second militia regiment by Ninian Edwards, the territorial governor, 
and on March 3, 1818, promoted colonel of the tenth militia. He 
resigned his colonelcy Sept. 9th following but the name of Col. Andrew 
Bankson reappears in the old records ten years later, in the list of 
thirty-three men chosen managers of McKendree College in 1828. 

In the military lists are mentioned two other men of the same 
surname James Bankson, sergeant of Capt. Nathan Chambers' com- 
pany of infantry, and Patton Bankson, private in the same company. 
One Elijah Bankson was a brother of Andrew and Patton Bankson. 
Not unnaturally the inference may be drawn that these were descend- 
ants of Delaware families of the same name, but the probability, 
admittedly slight, is not strengthened by the known fact that the 
Banksons here encountered came to Illinois from Tennessee. 

Among the comrades of Andrew Bankson was one David Eckman. 
That he was a Swede or of Swedish descent cannot be doubted. Of 
him we know nothing more than this, that he voluntarily shouldered 
the musket and risked his life to protect the community against its 
foes. Again, in the list of privates in the Fourth Regiment we find 
two names with a decidedly Swedish ring John and Andrew Hallin. 
These men, presumably brothers, were members of Capt. Dudley 
Williams' company of the Fourth Illinois Militia. 

Jacob Falstrom, Frontiersman and Missionary 

In the Northwest Territory there lived among the Indians for 
about forty years, dating from the early part of the nineteenth century, 
a Swede by the name of Jacob Falstrom. He seems to have come to 
the West contemporaneously with Raphael Widen and is said to have 
arrived in Minnesota prior to the year 1819. Falstrom was born in 
Stockholm, July 25th in the year 1793 or 1795. He left home at twelve 
or fourteen years of age and went to sea with his uncle. Stories differ 
as to how he came to emigrate. One version has it that he lost his way 
in London and, unable to find his way back to his uncle's ship, took 
passage to America ; another that he ran away from his uncle, who was 
cruel to him, both agreeing that he landed, in Canada. Col. Hans 
Mattson, who met Falstrom at St. Paul in 1854, says that the boy 
deserted a Swedish ship in the port of Quebec and, picking his way 
through the wilderness, sought refuge among the Indians. He was 
content to stay among the redskins and ultimately became more closely 


allied with the natives by marrying into one of their tribes. He was 
a man well-known to the Hudson Bay Company, and to the early 
settlers in the upper Mississippi valley. 

Falstrom, who spoke French and several Indian languages, was 
employed by the American Fur Company to trade with the natives 
around Lake Superior. With his Indian wife he had several children. 
Some of his descendants are still living in Washington county, Minn., 
where Falstrom staked a claim in 1837. In relating his experience to 
Col. Mattson, he stated that for about thirty-five years, or until he met 
the first Swedish settlers in the St. Croix valley, he had not heard a 
word of Swedish spoken and as a consequence had almost completely 
lost command of his native tongue. During his later years Falstrom 
was very religious and for a long time acted as a missionary among 
the Indians, apparently affiliating with Methodism. As a missionary 
he probably antedated all other Swedish pioneer preachers in the West. 
Falstrom passed away in the year 1859. He exerted but little of a 
civilizing influence, and his descendants are said to live in semi- 
savagery to this day. 

Christian Benson, the First Swedish Farmer in Illinois 

In the year 1835 a Swedish pioneer of Illinois arrived in the person 
of Christian Benson, who, however, made no mark in public life, but 
lived quietly as a farmer. 

He was born in Goteborg in 1805, went to sea at the age of seven 
and followed that occupation until his thirtieth year. He first came to 
America in 1819. In 1827 he married Maria Bantherson at Providence, 
R. I. Later he returned to his seafaring life, coming to America for the 
third time in 1835. That year he settled in Portland township, White- 
side county, Illinois, not far from the present city of Rock Island, and 
went to farming. In his old age he was cared for by his two children. 
Benson was the first known Swedish farmer in the state. He was 
still living in 1880 and was spoken of as a stanch adherent of the Re- 
publican party. 

Jonas Hedstrom, the First Swedish Clergyman in Illinois 

Among the first Swedes to set foot on Illinois soil was Jonas 
Hedstrom. As Widen had acquired prominence in the field of politics, 
so Hedstrom became renowned as a pioneer in church work. He was 
the first man to preach the gospel in the Swedish language here and 
became the founder and pioneer of Swedish Methodism in the West. 

An elder brother, Olof Gustaf Hedstrom, persuaded Jonas to emi- 
grate to America. The elder Hedstrom was born in Tvinnesheda, Notte- 
back parish. Smaland, May 11, 1803. The parents were Corporal Hed- 



strom and his wife Karin, who had four sons besides Olof Gustaf, and 
two daughters. The eldest son was put to work as a tailor's apprentice 
at an early age, but in 1825, at the age of twenty-two, he left the old 
country and came to the United States the following year. His trip 
across the Atlantic was made under remarkable circumstances. He 
became secretary to the commander of a frigate named "af Chapman," 
one of the Swedish war vessels sold to the republic of Colombia, to be 
used by that and other South American colonies in their war for inde- 
pendence against Spain. This transaction, as every one familiar with 
Swedish history knows, caused international complications and came 

Olof Gustaf Heclstrom 

near involving Sweden in war. This, however, was averted when a 
later sale of three other warships was annulled. The frigate ' ' af Chap- 
man," which departed from Karlskrona in the summer of 1825 arrived 
safely at Cartagena, Colombia, but orders awaited Commodore C. R. 
Nordenskiold, its commander, not to transfer the ship to the Colombian 
government. In March, 1826, the frigate was ordered from Cartagena 
to New York, where the expedition disbanded after numerous diffi- 
culties and complications, and the vessel was sold. Having been fully 
paid, the crew were granted passage back to Sweden, but young Hed- 
strom and several others chose to remain in New York. 

Hedstrom had no intention of remaining permanently, but a mis- 
fortune forced him to do so. The same day that the crew was paid and 
mustered out of service, Hedstrom and a number of comrades went 

I 7 8 


ashore to see the city, and at night they took lodging at a hotel for 
seamen. When he woke up in the morning he found to his chagrin 
that he had been robbed of everything, even to his clothes. He told 
Iris hostess, an Irishwoman, of his misfortune and she kindly procured 

Jonas Hedstrom 

a suit of clothes for him. Destitute as he was, a journey to Sweden was 

out of the question, so he submitted to fate and remained where he was. 

The trade he had learned in Sweden now proved very useful to 

him. He was employed by an American tailor, Townsend by name, 


and after a year or two he secured employment as cutter, earning good 
wages. In the same shop was employed a young woman, Caroline 
Pinckney, a cousin of Townsend, to whom Hedstrom was married June 
11, 1829. She was of the Methodist faith, and through her influence 
Hedstrom a few weeks later joined that denomination, becoming at 
once an ardent worker in the church. Later he removed to Pittsville, 
Pa., where he opened a tailor shop of his own. The venture proved 
rather unsuccessful, causing him to sell out his stock. He returned to 
Sweden in 1833 apparently with a view to awakening his parents to 
their spiritual wants, a mission in which he seemed to have been 

On the return voyage the same year Hedstrom brought with him 
his younger brother Jonas, born Aug. 13, 1813, and at that time a 
youth of twenty. The trip was a perilous one. One awful night, when 
death seemed to lurk on every side, the younger Hedstrom underwent 
a total change spiritually, to the great joy of the elder brother. On 
their arrival in America, Olof Gustaf Hedstrom began to preach ; in 
1835 he was received, on probation, into the New York Conference of 
the Methodist-Episcopal Church ; for ten years he labored as itinerant 
preacher among the American Methodists in the Catskill region. By 
dint of his fiery and convincing eloquence, equalled by few, he met 
with great success. It was, however, not among the American popula- 
tion, but among his own countrymen and other Scandinavians, that he 
was to perform his life-work. In 1844 he entered into earnest corre- 
spondence with friends in New York with referenc.e to the opening of 
a new Methodist mission among the large numbers of Scandinavian 
seamen who annually visit that port and among the immigrants and 
the few Swedes that had already settled in New York City. The ship 
"Henry Leeds" was purchased with money subscribed for that pur- 
pose, the vessel remodeled as a mission ship with chapel and Sunday 
school rooms, re-named the "John Wesley" and anchored at suitable 
points in the North River. In this mission ship, better known as the 
Bethel ship, Hedstrom conducted the first services on Whitsunday, 
May 25, 1845. He was ably assisted by several others, among whom 
Peter Bergner, a former sailor and ship's carpenter. In 1857 a -new 
Bethel ship took the place of the old one, but Hedstrom remained at his 
post. Pie made occasional trips to other ports, and founded the Swedish 
Methodist-Episcopal churches at Jamestown, N. Y., and Chandler's 
Valley, Pa., in 1851, and at Chicago the following year. In the sum- 
mer of 1863 he re-visited Sweden, preaching in many places to large 
concourses of interested listeners. He labored without interruption 
until 1875 when he was forced to retire owing to failing health, but 
still retained much of his former fire and vigor even in old age. Hed- 
strom died in New York City May 5, 1877, at the age of 74. A hand- 


some monument in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, marks his last 
resting place. By his side reposes his beloved wife, who died in 1890 
at the ripe age of eighty-six years. They had three children, one being 
Dr. Wilbur Hedstrom, who is still living. 

We have traced the life of the elder Hedstrom thus minutely by 
reason of its intimate connection with that of the younger brother, to 
whose career we now turn. 

Jonas Hedstrom remained for a short time in New York, then 
spent some years in Pennsylvania, where he earned his living in the 
blacksmith's trade, and a very good blacksmith was he. At this time 
he formed the acquaintance of a family by the name of Sornberger 
which soon afterward removed to Knox county, 111. The young 
Swedish artisan had formed an attachment for Diantha Sornberger, a 
daughter in the family, and in 1837 or 1838 Hedstrom followed. After 
marrying his affianced, he removed to the little village of Farmington, 
in Fulton county, where he opened a blacksmith shop. Shortly after- 
wards he began preaching, having been duly licensed by the local 
authorities of the Methodist Church. His license was renewed the next 
year. Later he removed to Knox county and became one of the found- 
ers of the town of Victoria, where he lived at the time of the first 
Swedish immigration to Illinois, and continued to reside until his death. 
By diligent and skillful application to his trade, he there acquired a 
sufficient income to build a rather comfortable home, where many a 
poor immigrant and weary wayfarer enjoyed hospitable entertainment. 
And he preached as energetically as he sledged. During the years fol- 
lowing, he preached in the English language to the Americans in the 
various school-houses round about Victoria as well as in the neighbor- 
ing towns of Lafayette, Knoxville and others. There being no Swedish 
settlers in that region or in any other part of the state at this time, he 
had no occasion to preach the Gospel in his mother tongue. By con- 
stant disuse, the Swedish language was gradually forgotten by him; 
but when in the early summer of 1845 he received a letter from his 
brother saying that he had been appointed missionary to the Scandi- 
navian seamen and had already begun preaching in the Swedish lang- 
uage* it occurred to the younger brother that he also ought to revive 
his mother tongue, in order that he might expound the Gospel to the 
Swedish immigrants which his brother predicted soon would begin to 
arrive and settle in those parts. He, therefore, procured first a copy of 
the New Testament in Swedish and English, then a Swedish Bible com- 
plete, and fell to study his forgotten native tongue with great assiduity. 
His brother's predictions were soon fulfilled. Group after group of 
Swedish immigrants arrived at New York, where they were first met 
by the elder Hedstrom, who took a keen interest in their temporal as 
well as their spiritual welfare. With his knowledge of conditions in 


Illinois, acquired through his brother, he was in a position to recom- 
mend that region as a desirable place of settlement. Many were they 
who followed his advice, journeying westward to Victoria where the 
younger Hedstrom stood ever ready to assist. By renewed use, in the 
next few years he again acquired the ability to speak the Swedish 
tongue fluently. 

Although great tracts of good agricultural land were to be had 
much nearer, large numbers of Swedish immigrants came all the way 
to Illinois, owing to the activity of the brothers Hedstrom. To them is 
due also no small share of credit for the continued influx of Swedes 
into this state. But there is a third Swedish pioneer who, as we will 
presently see, played an important part in directing Swedish immi- 
grants to Illinois. 

Hedstrom preached his first sermon in the Swedish language Dec. 
15, 1846, in a little blockhouse in the woods, about three miles south- 
east of the present town of Victoria, the occasion being the organiza- 
tion of the first Swedish Methodist Church. This congregation, started 
with five members, was also the first church organization of Swedish 
nationality in this country since the time of the Delaware settlements. 
The Erik Janssonists of Bishop Hill, who will be dealt with in the 
following chapter, had begun to arrive in July of the same year and 
constituted a sort of religious band, but could not as yet be said to 
exist as a church in the strict sense of the word. The Methodist prop- 
aganda among the Swedish settlers grew apace under the direction of 
Hedstrom, several new churches being founded in the course of the 
next few years. This growth will be more fully shown in the chapter 
dealing especially with Swedish Methodism in Illinois. 

Owing to his restless endeavors and the great privations attending 
his constant travels in the service of his cause, Hedstrom 's health 
broke down, compelling his retirement in the fall of 1857. His powers 
continued to wane, and on May 11, 1859, he ended his useful career, 
dying at the age of nearly 46 years. His body was buried in the Vic- 
toria cemetery, where a monument was placed upon his grave. His 
wife died in 1874 and was buried at his side. The pair had five chil- 
dren, two of whom are thought to be still living, viz., Luther Hedstrom 
and Mrs. Becker. 

Hedstrom has been very differently judged according to the sec- 
tarian viewpoints of those making the estimate. By his adversaries he 
has been made out a lying, cheating, deceitful, fanatical and selfish 
person, while his close friends and brethren in the faith, on the other 
hand, ascribe to him every virtue and set him up as a model of per- 
fection. Both sides, however, appear to have exaggerated his personal 
traits. During this early and formative period in our history, 
the lines were sharply drawn between the different religious groups. 


To respect the opinions of others these early settlers had not yet 
learned, and intolerance reigned supreme. Hedstrom was fanatically 
devoted to Methodism and did everything in his power to disseminate 
its teachings among his countrymen. Possessing a greater proportion 
of zeal and enthusiasm than of erudition and good judgment, he fre- 
quently, by a lack of deference and tact, gave rise to serious contro- 
versies with representatives of other denominations, themselves devoid 
of spiritual moderation. That he acted from pure motives and with a 
sincere purpose of benefiting his fellowmen, no one, however bigoted, 
can deny. 

As his elder brother, 0. G. Hedstrom, may be styled the father of 
Swedish Methodism, and the Bethel ship in New York harbor its cradle, 
so Jonas Hedstrom may with equal justice be called the founder and 
pioneer of Methodism among the Swedes of the West, and the rude 
blockhouse near Victoria the starting-point of his endeavors. Jonas 
Hedstrom was not only the first Swedish preacher in Illinois, but the 
first Swedish exponent of material progress in these regions. For these 
reasons his name will always have a prominent place in the history of 
the Swedes in the state and in the entire country. 

O. G. Lang'e, tKe First Swede in Chicago 

O. G. Lange was another early Swedish pioneer of Illinois, and 
he also had the distinction of being the first known Swede in Chicago 
and Cook county. 

Olof Gottfrid Lange was born July 4, 1811, in the city of Goteborg. 
July 27, 1824, he hired as cabin watch on an American brig, bound for 
Boston, where he landed Sept. 30th. He remained a sailor for more 
than ten years, serving in the American and the British navies. 

In 1838 he abandoned the sea for the great West and arrived on 
Sept 18th at Chicago, which had received its city charter one year ago. 
If there had been any of his countrymen ahead of him, he would have 
had no difficulty in finding them, for at that time the city had a popu- 
lation of only 4,179. Several Norwegians, however, had settled here, 
and these he gave lessons in the English language, meeting his pupils 
at Fort Dearborn. 

Later he opened a drug store near Chicago, at a point on the 
Illinois and Michigan Canal, which was then being dug. A severe 
attack of the ague soon caused him to give up the business, whereupon 
he went to Milwaukee and became, as in Chicago, the first Swedish 
settler in the community. It was his privilege to receive Gustaf 
Unonius and his companions, when they arrived in Wisconsin in the 
fall of 1841. In Milwaukee Lange became the manager of a hardware 
store, owned by a man who later became governor of Wisconsin. After 
a short time, Lange went into business for himself in co-partnership 



with one Hulbert Reed. It was at this time Fredrika Bremer. the 
Swedish authoress, visited the United States. When she left Chicago 
for Milwaukee in September, 1850, Lange received her into his home, 
entertained her for several days, and then accompanied her on a visit 
to the Pine Lake settlement founded by Gustaf Unonius. 

Afterwards Lange became traveling representative of the Rath- 
bone & Corning stove manufacturing company of Albany, N. Y. Hav- 
ing lived a short time in Charleston, S. C., he settled in Watertown, 

?-r#..*, > 

Olof Gottfrid Lange 

Wis., and became passenger agent for a section of the Chicago 
and Northwestern Railway. Not content with this occupation, 
Lange, who had cultivated a taste for change and variety, moved to 
Kenosha, Wis., in 1856 and there started a foundry which four years 
later was removed to the corner of Kingsbury and Michigan streets, 
Chicago. Thus Lange became a Chicagoan for the second time. 

In 1866 he made a trip to Sweden for his health. On his return 
he brought a library of 500 volumes together with a number of art 
portfolios, for the Svea Society, a Swedish association already 
existing in Chicago. A large part of the collection was donated by 


King Charles XV. of Sweden and his family. For this service to the 
society Lange was made an honorary member and presented with a 
valuable badge. The library of this society was totally destroyed in 
the great fire of 1871. 

Lange is said to have tried his fortune at one time on the board of 
trade. The fact that he did not continue to trade on the board would 
seem to indicate that his venture was not successful. The last twenty- 
five years of his life he devoted to soliciting life insurance for various 
companies. With reference to the 250th anniversary of the landing of 
the Swedes on the Delaware, commemorated in the fall of 1888, Lange, 
in the issue of "The Swedish- American " for April 18, 1889, proposed 
that his countrymen in America annually celebrate "Forefathers' 
Day, ' ' and in many localities the suggestion was carried out during the 
next few years. 

In July, 1893, the venerable pioneer had an attack of pneumonia 
and was prostrated at his home, 292 Irving ave., Chicago. During his 
illness he was visited by Rt. Rev. K. H. G. von Scheele, Bishop of Got- 
land, who, on his first tour of the United States, took the opportunity 
to bring cordial greetings from Lange 's old schoolmates in the old 
country. July 13th, two days after this visit, Lange breathed his last. 
He reached the ripe age of 82 years. Having taken a deep interest in 
the Swedish fraternities, Nordstjernan, Balder and many others had, 
like Svea, conferred upon him honorary membership, and now showed 
their appreciation by sending large delegations to attend the obsequies. 
A bronze bust in memory of him may be seen in the lodge hall of the 
Svea Society. 

Lange, commonly called "Captain" Lange, presumably on account 
of his early career as a sailor, was one of those Swedes who are not 
ashamed of their nationality. Although having spent the greater part 
of his life away from his native country, he never forgot or concealed 
his Swedish ^nativity, but took every occasion to glory in the fact and 
extol all that is best in Swedish character and culture. The best proof 
of the genuineness of his Swedish patriotism is found in his proposal 
of a Swedish "Forefathers' Day" celebration. Being kind-hearted 
and generous, he gave freely, but without ostentation, to his less fort- 
unate fellows. He was twice married, his first wife dying early. With 
his second wife, Catharine O'Brien from Ireland, he was united April 
23, 1843, the golden anniversary of that occasion occurring a few 
months before his demise. Mrs. Lange was a lady of refinement. Fred- 
rika Bremer describes her as "a kindly little Irishwoman." They had 
five children, one son and four daughters. The eldest daughter was the 
wife of B. A. E. Landergren, deceased, who was for many years chief 
deputy in the Internal Revenue office at Chicago. 


Sven Nelson., tine Recluse of Andover 

The next Swede to arrive in Illinois, following Lange, was doubt- 
less Sven Nelson, like two of his predecessors a sailor. He came to the 
state in 1840 and settled in Andover, Henry county, a settlement found- 
ed five years before by Americans from the East. There he dwelt in 
peace and almost perfect seclusion for almost forty years, dying in the 
late seventies. 

Nelson in the latter forties married a woman known by the name 
of Stigs Lena, who in 1849 came over from Hassela, Helsingland, with a 
party of Erik Janssonists. 

Gustaf FlacR., the First Swedish Merchant in Chioag'o 

Following Sven Nelson, the next Swedish immigrant to Illinois 
was Gustaf Flack from Alfta parish, Helsingland. The year of his 
arrival is unknown, as also his early life here. In the early forties 
we find him in Victoria, 111., and in 1843 in Chicago, where he owned a 
small store near the ferry landing at Clark st. His stay in Chicago 
and America was cut short by his return in 1846, to Sweden, where he 
suddenly died on the way from the city of Gefle to his native home. 
During his sojourn in Illinois, Flack wrote letters to his friends at 
home freely lauding this state and predicting for it great future pros- 
perity. His glowing descriptions primarily caused the Erik Janssonists 
to emigrate and settle here. Flack thus shares with the Hedstrom 
brothers the credit for directing the main current of early Swedish 
immigration to the Prairie State. 

The Pine LaKe Settlement in Relation to Swedish 
Immigration to Illinois 

While only individual Swedes kept moving into Illinois, Gustaf 
Unonius and others in the early forties founded at Pine Lake, in the 
neighboring state of Wisconsin, the first Swedish settlement in America 
since the time of the Delaware Swedes. The history of this settlement 
and of its founder sustain so intimate a relation to that of the Illinois 
settlements as to merit a brief sketch in this connection. 

Gustaf Elias Marius Unonius was born Aug. 25, 1810, in Helsing- 
fors, the son of Israel Unonius, a barrister, and Maria Gardberg, his 
wife. The father came of an old Swedish family in Finland, and re- 
moved to SAveden when Finland was ceded to Russia. He became post- 
master and revenue collector at Grisslehamn. A military career was 
mapped out for the son, who at thirteen became a cadet at the Karlberg 
military school. Among his comrades were C. F. Ridderstad, Georg 
Adlersparre, and Wilhelm von Braun, whom he joined in literary pur- 



suits, the results of which appeared in the literary periodicals of that 

Young Unonius soon left the military academy for Upsala, where 
he finished his college course in 1830 and the course in law three years 
later. He subsequently entered upon a course fitting him for practice 
before the highest courts of the realm, but when in 1834 a cholera 
epidemic caused the closing of the sessions at the university, he took a 
position as assistant physician at one of the pest houses of Stockholm 
and became interested in that profession. When the epidemic subsided, 
he returned to Upsala to take up medical studies, but shortly after- 

Gustaf Unonius 

wards he again left the university to take a position in the provincial 
government offices at Upsala. 

In 1841 he was married to Charlotta Margareta Ohrstromer, and 
soon afterwards, for reasons known only to himself, he decided to 
emigrate. On May llth of that year the couple left Upsala for Gefle to 
embark for America together with a small company of friends and 
acquaintances. In the party were, an old maid-servant from the home 
of Mrs. Unonius, Christine by name, Ivar Hagberg, a young student of 
twenty-one, and a relative of Unonius by the name of Carl Groth. 
According to the statement of Unonius himself, he and his company 
were the first to take advantage of a recent decree granting the right 
to leave the country without obtaining a special permit from the crown. 


For some reason the vessel did not get ready to weigh anchor until, 
June 3rd. The vessel was named "Minnet," and its captain was C. J. 
Bohlin, with whom Unonius had contracted for passage for the entire 
party to the port of New York for a total sum of five hundred Swedish 
crowns, the passengers to supply their own provisions. Before they got 
ready to sail, still another person joined them, viz., one Vilhelm Pol- 
man, a former university student. The ship carried a cargo of iron. 
Having made the ports of Elsinore (Helsingor) and Portsmouth, the 
vessel finally reached its destination Sept. 10th, three months and 
seven days after weighing anchor. The emigrants stopped for a week 

Unonius' Cabin at Pine Lake 

in New York, where a Swedish merchant, named Brodell, together with 
the captain, who spoke English, rendered them every assistance. In- 
quiries were made as to the most suitable location for a Swedish settle- 
ment, and upon learning that large tracts of cheap land were to be had 
in Illinois, it was decided to settle there, whereupon arrangements were 
made for transportation to Chicago at $12 a person. 

They started on their journey inland Sept. 17th, going by steam- 
boat up the Hudson to Albany, thence via the Erie oanal to Buffalo. 
Here they encountered fresh difficulties, the captains of the lake steam- 
ers refusing to recognize the validity of their tickets. Finally, through 
the good offices of one Morell, a Swedish jeweler who had spent many 
years in America, they were able to continue on their way, and went 
by boat to Detroit. Here Hagberg separated from the company and 
went to Cleveland, while the others proceeded across lakes "St. Clair, 
Huron and Michigan, past Fort Mackinaw, to Milwaukee. Being now 
weary of travel, and having been told that Wisconsin was preferable. 


to Illinois for agricultural purposes, they determined to stop here, after 
having spent two weeks on the way from New York. They took lodg- 
ing at the principal hotel, where they found, first a Norwegian servant 
girl with whom they were able to communicate, and later met their 
countryman, Captain 0. G. Lange, who had emigrated several years 

After several days of rest, Unonius left the women in charge of a 
German family and, accompanied by Lange, set out to inspect the 
country. The date was Oct. 7, 1841. At that time Wisconsin was still 
a territory, with a population estimated at 45,000. The prospectors 
traveled afoot westward through forests and over prairies a distance 
of thirty miles, eventually reaching the dwellingplace of a man named 
Pearmain, for whom they had letters from the land office at Milwaukee. 
He lived in a log cabin, the first of its kind seen by the prospective 
settlers. With Pearmain as guide they traversed the surrounding 
country and, after a long and wearisome journey on foot, reached the 
shores of a picturesque little lake, called Pine Lake, from the fact that 
its shores were fringed with pine. 

The lake was about two miles in length, with sloping, well- 
drained shores. .Finding the region fertile and picturesque, the travel- 
ers determined to search no farther. The soil was found to be a deep 
black loam, mixed with clay; near the shores of the lake, the surface 
was rolling, gradually changing to a level and easily cultivated prairie. 

Here the settlers determined to found their long wished for home. 
They selected a tract of land owned by a canal company which, having 
discontinued work on the canal, was likely to forfeit its title to the 
property, and on the advice of Pearmain and Lange they staked as 
their claim the west half of Section 33, Township 8, Range 18, expect- 
ing to get full possession under the pre-emption law, when after two or 
three years the title should revert to the government. 

They now returned to Milwaukee and, having procured provisions, 
the pioneers, accompanied by Mrs. Unonius and the maid-servant, 
traveled back to the chosen site in a wagon, drawn by a yoke o? oxen. 
The women got temporary lodging in the simple home of Pearmain, 
located on the present site of the city of Delafield, and the men began 
to open a road to the new homestead and to erect a loghouse. For tem- 
porary shelter they built a hut of logs, piled on one another in a square, 
and with a covering of dried grass. After Unonius had made another 
trip to Milwaukee and purchased a stove and other indispensable 
household articles, the family moved into their new home Nov. llth, 
exactly six months after their departure from Upsala. Of the toil and 
the trials of pioneer life these people got their full share. Although 
coming from the so-called better class in the old country and being as 
such unaccustomed to hard work and privations, they never lost heart. 


but labored arduously on, breaking ground, cutting down trees, build- 
ing fences, patching up their dwelling, and building a shed for their 
yoke of oxen and one cow. The settlers celebrated their first Christmas 
in America with joy and contentment over the things already accom- 
plished but with tender memories of the old home and those left behind. 

The winter was bitterly cold, with severe storms and much snow, 
and the cultivation of the soil could not begin until late in April. That 
spring Polman, who had shared the cabin with the others, left them to 
begin the practice of medicine in a more populous neighborhood a few 
miles away. He had studied medicine in Sweden and proved quite 
successful, possessing, as he did, a far greater knowledge of the pro- 
fession than the average doctor in the West at that time. 

The Swedes at Pine Lake gradually formed the acquaintance of 
surrounding settlers, and in the late spring they had a visit from an 
American clergyman of the Episcopal Church who had started a mission 
a few miles distant. 

True, these early settlers did not always have food in plenty, nor 
of the most nourishing kind, but they never suffered actual want. 
Game was plentiful in the surrounding forests, and occasional hunting 
trips were made with good results. Fishing in the lake also proved 
profitable to the family larder. The cow supplied all the milk needed, 
and through barter and trade with the neighbors several pigs, a quan- 
tity of corn, potatoes, rutabagas and other necessaries were procured. 

One day the settlers were surprised by some very distinguished 
visitors viz., Baron Thott from Skane, Mr. E. Bergvall from Goteborg, 
and one Wadman, a retired merchant from Norrkoping. The baron 
and Mr. Bergvall each purchased a piece of land in the neighborhood, 
while Mr. Wadman returned to Milwaukee to seek employment in some 
line of business. About the same time one B. Peterson, a shoemaker, 
arrived, obtained lodging with TJnonius, and began to ply his trade in 
the settlement. 

New settlers thus kept coming, but the main influx began when 
Unonius in correspondences to Swedish newspapers described the con- 
ditions in Wisconsin, and especially the facilities offered emigrants to 
acquire their own homes. Not only Swedes, but Norwegians and Danes 
emigrated and settled there. Among the first to arrive from Sweden 
was a lieutenant in the army, a good singer, who often cheered the 
hearts of the colonists by singing the songs and ditties of their father- 
land. Ivar Hagberg, his traveling companion, came there for a visit, 
bought a piece of land, but for some reason was compelled to return to 
Sweden, and never came back. Among other Swedish visitors to the 
settlement about this time were one Ihrmark, a man of sixty, who had 
settled in Illinois, and a man from Goteborg, by the name of 0. E. 
Dreutzer. The latter lived for many years in Wisconsin, attaining a 

i go 


respected position in his community. Another Swede, named Erick 
Wester, a veritable adventurer, whose true name was supposed to be 
Westergren, visited the colony in the alleged capacity of a Methodist 
minister, preaching here and there in the homes, but without note- 
worthy success. Entirely destitute, he left Wisconsin in 1850 for Illi- 
nois, settling in Princeton, where he fell into bad repute among his 
fellow countrymen on account of repeated acts of fraud and dishonesty 
in business. From Princeton he went to Dallas, Texas, and his career 
is little known from that time on. This adventurer will reappear in 
another part of this history. 

Some time later, a student from Vestergotland, Bjorkander by 
name, and a number of others arrived from Sweden and settled at Pine 
Lake. Simultaneously, many Norwegians, hardy, industrious folk, but 
mostly without means, came there directly from their native land. The 
Swedes settled east and the Norwegians west of the lake, around whose 
wooded shores thus sprang up a miniature Scandinavia. The two na- 
tionalities here, as at home, had their petty differences, resulting in 
frequent disputes and neighborhood quarrels. The Norwegians sur- 
passed the Swedes both numercially and in point of industry and enter- 

As previously indicated, the Swedish settlers were mostly of the 
bourgeoisie class, such as army officers, college men, and decadent 
noblemen, all of whom were unaccustomed to work in the old country 
and, when driven to it by necessity in the new land, soon tired of a 
task that seemed to them both odius and barren of immediate returns. 
For these reasons many remained in the colony only a short time, leav- 
ing for other parts in the hope of better prospects or a change of luck. 
Carl Groth went to New Orleans, where he established himself as a 
cigar and news dealer. The old maid-servant Christine became the wife 
of a Norwegian settler and left the Unonius home to found her own 
household. In this manner the settlers were dispersed ; in a short time 
the founder of the settlement stood alone with his faithful wife and the 
children who had grown up in the course of years. Not long after- 
wards, Unonius himself deserted the colony, and the lands formerly 
owned by the Swedes came into the possession of Norwegians and 

To complete the story of this historic Swedish settlement, we take 
pleasure in appending some excerpts from the description given by 
Fredrika Bremer, the Swedish authoress, of her visit to Pine Lake. 

It was on a bright, warm Sunday morning, Sept. 29, 1850, that the 
authoress arrived, accompanied by Captain Lange. The little Swedish 
colony was already broken up, but a half dozen families still remained, 
earning their livelihood by farming. During the one day she spent in 
the settlement, several Swedish families were visited. All seemed to 



be in limited circumstances, most of them living in log cabins. Among 
the more fortunate ones was a blacksmith and "one Mr. Bergvall, who 
had belonged to the genteel class in Sweden, but turned out an excellent 
farmer on American soil." He had, continues the authoress, "the 
prettiest, most charming and amiable young wife, with cheeks of a 
fresh ruddiness, such as one seldom sees in America. This was a happy 

Fredrika Brenier 

and cheerful home, a good Swedish home in the midst of the American 
wilderness. The dinner of which I partook was delicious in all its 
simplicity, better than any I had eaten in the big, pretentious American 
hotels. Delicious milk, excellent bread and butter, the most toothsome 
seafowl, fine cakes, the hearty hospitality, the bright good cheer, and 
the Swedish language well spoken by everyone, all these things com- 
bined to make the simple meal a veritable feast." The widowed Mrs. 
Petterson, mother of Mrs. Bergvall, lived in the oldest house in the Pine 
Lake settlement. There Fredrika Bremer passed the evening and the 
following night. There were gathered "one and twenty Swedes who 
spent the evening with games, songs and dances, in genuine Swedish 



fashion. I felt happy to be with these my countrymen, happy to find 
them true Swedish folk still, although strangers in a strange land. And 
then I read to the assembled company that pretty little Norse 'Tale 
of the Pinetree, ' by H. C. Andersen, at the conclusion of which I re- 
quested them to sing some Swedish folksongs. The fresh Northern 
voices had lost nothing in clearness in the atmosphere of the New 
World. My heart filled with tenderness as the men, with strong, clear 
voices, sang: 'Upp, svear, for konung och f adernesland, ' and followed 
it up with several other old patriotic anthems. Swedish hospitality I 
found here as genuine, Swedish mirth and song rang as true as ever in 
our native land. Finally all joined in singing the old hymn : ' Nu hvilar 
hela jorden, ' whereupon all broke up, bidding each other goodbye with 
firm clasping of hands and hearty good wishes. ' ' 

The first Swedish Lutheran clergyman in America since the time of 
the Delaware colony for a time lived and labored in the Pine Lake 
settlement. His name was Peter Vilhelm Bockman. He was born 
Dec. 5, 1806, and was the son of a clergyman in the parish of Soder- 
Hviddinge, in the province of Skane. He was graduated from college 
in 1824 and entered the ministry several years later. With the aid of 
private persons in Sweden, he came to this country, presumably in 
1844, to minister to the spiritual wants of the Scandinavian emigrants, 
and eventually drifted to the settlement at Pine Lake. Without suc- 
cess, he sought to unite the settlers into one congregation, thereby caus- 
ing a conflict with Unonius. After having vainly sought admission to 
the American Episcopal Church, he visited various Swedish settlements 
as a traveling physician, having studied medicine in his youth. Finally 
he returned to Sweden, where he died in Goteborg, Oct. 3, 1850. 
Bockman seems to have been a man actuated by pure motives but lack- 
ing in energy and the genius of organization, qualities indispensable to 
a clergyman, especially in the days of the pioneers. 

Before concluding this sketch, we are constrained to add that the 
letters of Unonius, which appeared in Swedish newspapers, besides 
inducing emigration by members of the Swedish bourgeoisie, caused a 
company of fifty persons to emigrate from Haurida, in Smaland. The 
voyage was made in the sailing vessel "Superior" which landed them 
at Boston after ten weeks. All but one traveled from Boston to She- 
boygan, Wis., and thence scattered to various parts of the state. Next 
to that of Unonius, this was the earliest company of Swedish emigrants 
during the eighteenth century. 

Unonius and his family at length removed to Chicago. His further 
career will be recounted later in connection with the history of the 
Swedish Episcopal Church in Illinois. We now proceed to tell the 
story of another member of the Pine Lake colony, one who, like 


Unonius, was destined to play a prominent part among the earliest 
Swedes in Illinois. 

P. von Schneidau, First Swedish Vice-Consul in Chicago 

Polycarpus von Schneidau was born in 1812, being the son of 
Major von Schneidau of Kisa, Ostergotland. While still a very young 
man, he was enrolled in the Svea Artillery, and was soon made lieuten- 
ant. As such, he served at Fort Vaxholm during the summer of 1833, 
when he became one of the chief actors in an episode which attracted 
much attention at the time. 

That summer certain naval surveys were carried on in the Baltic 
sea by the mutual agreement between the Swedish and the Russian 
governments. The chief of the Russian section, M. Schubert, when the 
operations brought them near Stockholm, expressed a desire to visit 
the Swedish capital. King Charles XIV. John granted the request and 
sent orders to Col. Anders Israel Pancheen, the commander at Fort 
Vaxholm, to permit the Russian flagship "Hercules" to pass the fort 
unmolested. The royal orders, however, did not relieve the ship of the 
ordinary duties of warcraft, such as laying to under the walls of a 
fort in order to report to its commander and show its papers. 

So one day a warship hove in sight in the channel and approached 
Vaxholm with a full head of steam. The Russian flag designated it?. 
nationality, but nothing served to indicate that it was the "Hercules." 
When the steamer got within reach of the guns of the fort, still going 
with full speed, it was signaled to stop, but paid no attention to the 
warning. This was a breach of international naval law and a gratui- 
tous insult to the flag that waved above the ramparts of the Swedish 
fort. Consequently, the commander ordered Lieutenant von Schneidau 
to open fire on the foreigner. Two shots were fired as a warning, but 
without the desired effect. The man of war steamed ahead undis- 
turbed. Then the commander ordered the lieutenant to aim at the 
wheelhouse of the intruder and fire. The order was carried out to the 
letter. Lieutenant von Schneidau himself fired the shot, which shat- 
tered the wheelhouse of the "Hercules" into smithereens. Consterna- 
tion reigned on deck, and a few moments later a boat shot out from the 
side of the damaged ship and made directly for shore under the walls 
of the fort. An officers stepped ashore, hurried to the commander and 
explained indignantly that the vessel was the "Hercules," which had 
permission to pass. Col. Pancheen shrugged his shoulders and ex- 
pressed regret at not being informed of the fact in the regular way. A 
quarter of an hour after the Russian officer had returned on board, two 
boats, one from the fort, the other from the "Hercules," started in a 
race for Stockholm. In the former was Lieutenant von Schneidau, in 
the latter the same officer who had carried the message to the fort. The 



Swedish lieutenant urged his men to the utmost exertion, and won the 
race. Arriving in Stockholm, he hastened to Count Magnus Brahe, 
the king's interpreter and confidential adviser, told his story, and 
requested the count to repeat it to the king. Count Brahe, greatly 
excited, at once sought the presence of his majesty. A few moments 
later. Lieutenant von Schneidau was called in and asked to give a 
minute account of what had transpired. When he told of the effective 
shot at the foreigner's wheelhouse, the old monarch showed signs of 

Polycarpus von Schneidau 

pleasure and requested the narrator to carry back a royal greeting to 
Col. Pancheen and tell him that he had acted like a man and that the 
king was entirely satisfied with the affair. When von Schneidau left 
the royal palace, he met the Russian minister, accompanied by the 
officer from the " Hercules," hurrying to lodge their complaints with 
the same high tribunal. 

Lieutenant von Schneidau was a gallant officer, eminently fitted for 
his calling, nevertheless, his military career was soon interrupted. He 
was compelled to resign and leave his country almost a fugitive, not on 
account of any crime, but for the mere act of marrying a Jewess below 



his station in life, and thereby, as it was held, putting a blot on the 
honor of the military corps. It Avill be remembered that at this time 
the Jews did not enjoy the rights and the social position and privileges 
in Sweden since accorded them. Lieutenant von Schneidau had an 
early acquaintance with Unonius, and in 1842 joined his little colony, 
purchasing a piece of land at the south end of the lake. His wife and 
her mother arrived later and for a time all found a home in the log 
cabin of Unonius. 

The young officer's prospects of success here were scant. He was 
not fitted for farming, an old injury to one of his legs incapacitating 
him for physical labor. Circumstances conspired against him, and in 
1845 he removed to Chicago, where he hoped more easily to earn a 
living. His presumption proved correct. Being a skillful civil engi- 
neer, he soon obtained profitable employment. When in 1848 work be- 
gan on the first railroad out of Chicago, the Chicago and Galena Rail- 
way, now a branch of the Northwestern system, von Schneidau was 
made superintendent of construction. On her American tour under 
the management of P. T. Barnum, in 1850. Jenny Lind, the great 
singer, furnished von Schneidau the money wherewith to purchase a 
French daguerreotype apparatus with supplies, and he then established 
a daguerreotype studio, the first of its kind in Chicago and, doubtless, 
in the entire West. He thus became the pioneer photographer in this 
part of the country. 

After Swedish and Norwegian immigration to Chicago and vicinity 
had acquired greater proportions in the early fifties, von Schneidau 
was appointed Swedish and Norwegian vice consul here in 1854, being 
the first to hold that office. His official duties he discharged with the 
greatest efficiency. The numerous immigrants, many of whom were 
poor or afflicted with sickness, found in him a friend and benefactor. 
In his work for the welfare of his countrymen he had in his faithful 
wife an able assistant, who has been described as a loveable and noble- 
hearted woman. 

Von Schneidau 's illness was gradually aggravated, and soon he was 
unable to attend to his consular duties. He consequently resigned the 
office, to which his old friend Unonius succeeded. On Dec. 28, 1859, 
von Schneidau died, not quite forty-eight years of age. His wife had 
passed away the year before. This venerable pair is still cherished in 
loving remembrance by the early Swedish citizens of Chicago. 

As the letters of Unonius, published in the newspapers of the old 
country, had caused the exodus of a company of emigrants from 
Smaland, so von Schneidau 's letters to his father in Kisa, Ostergotland, 
early induced emigration from that part of Sweden. The contents of 
these letters were reported far and wide throughout the neighborhood, 
giving rise to much speculation as to the great West and the promises 


it held out to settlers. Discussion soon ripened into decision with some 
of the most determined ones, who emigrated under the leadership of 
one Peter Hassel, a miller. Besides Hassel, the company consisted of 
Peter Andersson, his brother-in-law, one John Danielson, a Mr. Berg, 
and an old sailor by the name of Dahlberg, the last two from Stock- 
holm, and one Akerman, who had served in the American army, making 
five families ail told. They made the voyage in 1845 in the brig 
"Superb," embarking at Goteborg and landing at New York. Their 
original intention was to go to Wisconsin, presumably to Pine Lake, 
but in New York they were told that they could find more suitable soil 
in Iowa, so they changed their destination. They traveled first to 
Philadelphia, thence to Pittsburg, where they took passage on a steamer 
down the Ohio River, and then proceeded up the Mississippi as far as 
Burlington, Iowa. From that point they journeyed forty-two miles 
over the country and founded New Sweden, in Jefferson county, the 
first Swedish settlement in Iowa. During the following years new 
groups of immigrants from the same part of Sweden kept continually 
coming; soon there sprang up neighboring settlements known as Swede 
Point, in Boone county, and Bergholm, in Wapello county. This opened 
the way to the influx of Swedes into Iowa during the subsequent dec- 
ades, both directly from the old country and from the earlier settle- 
ments in Illinois. 


The Bishop Hill Colony 

ILarly History of EriH. Janssonism 

BOUT 1840, there arose in Helsingland, Sweden, a 
peculiar religious sect, named Erik Janssonists from the 
founder, a farmer by the name of Erik Jansson. In 
order that the reader may fully understand the origin of 
the sect, it is necessary to describe briefly the religious 
conditions in that province just before and at the time of Erik Jans- 
son's public appearance. 

At that time spiritual decadence was general throughout Helsing- 
land. Whisky distilling, as yet a lawful business for the peasantry, 
was carried on at almost every farmhouse, and drunkenness aided in 
brutalizing the minds and destroying domestic happiness. Particularly 
were the young people notorious for their unlicensed behavior. Brawls, 
thefts, and nocturnal orgies were common occurrences. The sturdiness 
and immutability characteristic of the Helsingland peasantry by no 
means served to mollify their brutality. Indeed, there were many 
outwardly pious folk, but their piety consisted primarily in observing 
certain religious customs, such as attending divine worship and par- 
taking of the Lord's Supper. Many of the ministers were persons who 
made light of their duties as keepers of the flock. The majority of 
them lived a life of outward decency, but others showed even in their 
manners by what spirit they were governed, and not a few were steeped 
in drunkenness; others were so absorbed in political and municipal 
affairs or in agricultural pursuits that they neglected the duties of 
their calling. 

In all this spiritual darkness, however, there were certain glimpses 
of light. For half a century the province had been the field of religious 
movements of various kinds, and although these had resulted in strife 
and disruption in many places, yet in a part of the population here and 
there in the villages they had awakened and sustained a true Christian 
life. The better class of ministers took an intelligent view of these 


movements and encouraged them so far as seemed permissible. Here 
as elsewhere the pietistic movement, or revivalism, resulted in religious 
gatherings, called conventicles. People began to gather in private 
houses for mutual edification, devoting themselves to singing and pray- 
ing, studying the Word of God, and discoursing on religious subjects. 
These gatherings were styled "samlingar" (meetings), and the par- 
ticipants were nicknamed "lasare" (readers), for their zealous study 
of religious books. The same name was soon applied to the follow- 
ers of any revivalist movement in Sweden, no matter what was its 

While several of the more earnest and devoted clergymen allied 
themselves with the "readers," watched over their meetings, and 
guided them in their Bible studies and their worship, the worldly- 
minded portion of the clergy took either an indifferent or an inimical 
position anent the movement. Instead of endeavoring, through instruc- 
tion and a kindly disposition, to lead aright the souls .that felt spiritual 
hunger and thirst, they looked upon the conventicles as dangerous 
manifestations of dissension which ought to be suppressed by the aid of 
the law. In many instances the so-called Conventicle Placard* of 1726 
was used as a means to this end. These attempts to assuage by injunc- 
tions and fines the thirst for spiritual enlightenment, which the people 
sought to quench at the fountain of Holy Writ and other religious 
writings, since the average clergyman offered them no other spiritual 
nourishment than the ordinary sermons, which the common people 
found dry and incomprehensible, seemed to the "readers" harsh and 
unreasonable ; and there was justice in their complaint over the fact 
that while gatherings in private houses for the purpose of gambling, 
dancing, and other worldly pleasures were left unmolested, it was 
considered a crime to hold private meetings to praise and worship God. 

In defiance of the letter of the law, the "readers" held their 
private religious meetings, taking the ground that so long as they were 
not guilty of heresy, the law did not apply. Holding as they did that 
the preaching of an unregenerate clergy could bear no good fruit, they 
recognized ministers of proven piety only. Although the conventicle 
law charged the clergy with the duty of conducting meetings in private 
houses, yet devout ministers who took the conventicles in their own 
hands would frequently incur the disfavor of the consistories, and 
worldly-minded or bigoted clergymen usually led in the persecution 
of the ' ' readers. ' ' 

It is not surprising that members of congregations having such 
ministers sought to satisfy their spiritual cravings by reading such 

* A law designed to prevent the spread of heresy by forbidding all religious 
gatherings not conducted by the clergy, or by parents, employers or heads of 
households exclusively for their own families and subordinates. Infractions were 
punishable by fines, imprisonment and banishment. 


religious books as they had and by listening to preachers who arose 
from among the common people and claimed to give that which the 
clergy was unable to bestow. The bitter attacks made by some of the 
pietist writers ofttimes begot a fanatical hatred of the established 
church forms, and their criticisms of the conduct of the clergy 
frequently gave rise to wholesale denunciations of the state church. 

The consequences of these religious movements were not slow to 
manifest themselves. In the parishes where the clergy had taken active 
part in the revival and gained the confidence of the "readers" by 
superintending and participating in the meetings, a considerable portion 
of the population soon became well versed in the Scriptures and capable 
of successfully combating any false teachings that self-appointed 
preachers might attempt to spread ; but in many places the peasantry 
had been left entirely to themselves and had become accustomed to 
listen to revivalist preachers of various kinds, men of the working class, 
often without culture or experience, but endoAved with a certain readi- 
ness of speech and an ample measure of self-assertiveness, who claimed 
to have become regenerated and to be under the direct guidance of the 
Holy Spirit. By their hideous depictions of hell and the sufferings of the 
condemned, and by scathing denunciations of all those whose views 
differed from their own, they contrived to hold their followers 
completely in their .power, and masses of people followed them untir- 
ingly from place to place, from parish to parish. The "readers" 
possessed a certain amount of scriptural knowledge, but their reading 
was generally limited to modern religious writings; the Bible, being 
considered too difficult a book for the unlettered, was read only in 
exceptional cases or brought out as authority, when, in the meetings, 
some one sought to clinch some particular assertion or give added force 
to an admonition. For these reasons the revivalism of the Helsingland 
parishes was misdirected and became one-sided. It was not always 
characterized by that spiritual soundness, vitality, self-sacrificing love, 
kindness and forbearance, inseparable from the true life of faith, but 
frequently bred bigotry, intolerance, hypocrisy and self-righteousness. 

These conditions had paved the way for a lay preacher of extra- 
ordinary power, who at first taught in full accord with the doctrines, 
though not the practices, of the state church and the beliefs of the 
"readers," but soon departed from the tenets of both, headed a new 
sect, was charged with heresy and presently found himself in open 
warfare with the authorities of church and state. This religious leader. 
a rather remarkable character in Swedish church history, was Erik 
Jansson farmer, preacher, self-styled prophet, ambassador of God 
and restorer of the true Christian faith. 


EriK Jansson's Yo\itK and First Public Appearance 

Erik Jansson was born December 19, 1808, in the village of Lands- 
berga, in Biskopskulla parish, Upland. His parents, Jan Mattsson, a 
farmer, and his wife Sara Eriksson, lived in Thorstuna, but after their 
marriage in 1802 they rented a small farm in Landsberga. To them 
were born four sons, Johan, Erik, Peter and Karl, and one daughter, 
Anna Katarina. In 1820 they moved back to Thorstuna, and lived there 
until 1838, when Jan Mattsson, who had improved his condition materi- 
ally by diligent application, purchased a farm, called Klockaregarden, 
in Osterunda parish of the same province, where he lived with his 
family until his death in November, 1843, the estate then passing to his 
children. His boyhood and youth Erik Jansson spent at home. As a 
boy of eight, he was one day engaged in doing some hauling, when the 
horse took fright and ran away, overturning the wagon and throwing 
the boy violently to the ground, at which he received so hard a blow 
on the head that for several weeks he hovered between life and death. 
For many years after his recovery the boy suffered from severe head- 
aches. This accident seemed to have had a marked effect on his mind. 
After that he was different from other children of his age, he avoided 
his former companions, and sought out some secluded spot where he 
would spend hours in tearful prayer. He claimed to be the most 
unhappy of children, for he could not, like them, join with zest in games 
and amusements. At the age of seventeen, he was prepared for admit- 
tance to the holy communion. To him this was a period of comparative 
peace of mind; the youth sought spiritual solace in the reading of the 
Bible and other religious books. However, he soon ceased, and when 
his old fears returned he vainly endeavored to dissipate them by joining 
the young people in dancing parties and similar amusements. 

The parents resented the "silly notions" of their son and kept him 
hard at work, thinking that this would cure him. But the remedy had 
quite the contrary effect. He continued his melancholy ponderings and, 
besides, was taken physically ill with a severe attack of rheumatism. 
Things went on in this way until the summer of 1830, when Erik 
Jansson experienced his conversion proper. While on his way to the 
field one day with his father's horse, he had an acute attack of his com- 
plaint. Dismounting, he fell to the ground and lay for a while 
helpless. Then, according to his own assertion, he heard a voice, 
saying: "It is written, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, that 
ye shall receive, for all is possible to him that believeth ; and when ye 
cry, I shall answer, saith the Lord." At that he arose to his knees 
and prayed long and fervently ; and from that moment he was entirely 
rid of his malady. 

In another sense, that moment was of still greater significance to 
Erik Jansson, for then and there his spiritual conversion was accom- 


plished, according to the narrative found in his autobiography. Sorely 
oppressed by his burden of sin, here in the solitude, he fled to Christ 
and felt that he had obtained remission of his sins and mental peace. 

It is impossible to ascertain how complete was this regeneration, 
but that it was not a mere sham seems evident from the discourses on 
divine themes written by him about this time. However, Erik Jansson 
was not satisfied with the fact that he himself was awakened to 
spiritual life; he wanted others to be similarly awakened and, there- 
fore, began the very next day after his conversion to preach the gospel 
to those about him. He continued preaching thus for four years. 
Meanwhile he sought, by home study, to add to his stock of knowledge, 
particularly as regards religious topics. Although Erik Jansson spent 
much time in reading, still he did not neglect his work, since he pur- 
sued his studies mostly at night. His favorite studies, aside from the 
Bible, were the works of Luther, Arndt, Nohrborg, Murbeck and other 
religious writers, with whom he thus became thoroughly familiar. 

These studies, however, imbued Erik Jansson with a true sense of 
his own insignificance in the field of Lutheran teaching, so he deter- 
mined to discontinue preaching altogether. It was especially from 
reading "True Christianity," by Johan Arndt, that he was, at least 
for a time, cured of his desire to preach, for he found a passage 
in that work admonishing people to stick to their calling instead of 
seeking to become the teachers of others. 

About this time, Erik Jansson married Maria Kristina Larsson, a 
servant to his parents, who, like himself, was a devoted student of the 
Bible. The parents obstinately opposed the match for a long time, 
until circumstances forced them to permit the union. At this they 
took still greater offense, and when the son set up his own household 
they dismissed him curtly, a cow and a pig being the only dower. 
He was not discouraged, but began life on his own account by renting 
part of a farm in Vappeby, also going into business in a small way as a 
grain dealer in company with his oldest brother. He soon earned the 
reputation of being the best farmer in the neighborhood, and in spite 
of several crop failures he had done so well that in 1838 he was able to 
purchase the Lotorp estate, near Sankarby, in Osterunda parish, for 
one thousand crowns in cash. Here he is said to have lived in quiet 
seclusion for a time, working diligently on the farm, and trying to 
live the life of a humble Christian. At times, however, his former 
desire to preach returned, when he would publicly expound the 
Scriptures with power and ability, acquired doubtless through his 
extensive reading. 

The ILriH. Jansson Dissenters 

In the year 1840 occurred what Erik Jansson himself has termed 
his second conversion. Together with his youngest brother, Karl, he 



went to the October fair in Upsala to sell cattle. The rowdy and 
ungodly conduct of the people attending the fair impressed him in a 
manner to awaken anew his desire to preach. Upon his return home, 
he consulted his pastor, Rev. J. J. Risberg, in the matter and from him 
received the advice to follow the inner call. About this time he 
deserted Luther, Arndt, as well as all other religious authors, for 
which he conceived an intense hatred, and kept to the Bible alone. 
Then he noted the overwhelming power and simplicity of Holy Writ, 
as compared with other writings, and he soon acquired the fixed con- 
viction that the Bible alone ought to be read.* In the community where 

<W ^^^^^^(Jla^u^ja, . W&r-i; 7/tu L*Ja^ <ya/ 

r_ '^W + x V / / '/ /0 

< duast^^&^??^0ft?+e^ (i / tjb^%&&tv 

Fac-Simile of Page from Erik Jansson's Church Prayers 

he lived were held meetings at which Erik Jansson often appeared 
together with Risberg. This man as w T ell as C. C. Estenberg, the 
adjunct clergyman of the parish, publicly lauded Erik Jansson in the 
most cordial terms, giving him every encouragement to continue his 

* It will be noticed that he soon changed his mind on this point, by publish- 
ing books of his own From wholesale condemnation of other printed interpreta- 
tions of the Bible to the publication of his own, the step was easy for Erik Jans- 
son, on the ground that his was the divine and only true interpretation. 


Erik Jansson's religious discourses soon began to show marked 
divergences from the doctrines of the Church of Sweden. He taught 
complete freedom from sin on the part of the true believer, maintained 
the full and complete sanctification of the Christian once and for all, 
his inability to do wrong and still remain a Christian, and held that 
the trespasses spoken of in the Lord's Prayer have reference only to 
the unregenerate. This was Erik Jansson's first serious departure in 
doctrine. He defended his view by means of an ingenious combination 
of scriptural passages, an art which he had completely mastered. He 
further aroused the opposition of the clergy by claiming to be sent as 
the special messenger of God to restore the true faith.* 

By these contentions he aroused much adverse sentiment in 
(Jsterunda. The rumor that the "readers" were very numerous 
in Helsingland gave him the idea that there he might find 
a more receptive field of operation than at home. For the 
alleged purpose of selling wheat flour, but really to gain a better 
knowledge of the religious movements in those parts, he made a trip to 
Helsingland in January, 1843,f accompanied by a hired man. Arriving 
at Soderala socken, at that time one of the hotbeds of revivalism, he 
first made inquiries whether there were any prominent religious teachers 
in that locality and was promptly referred to the peasant Jonas Olsson 
of Ina, who, together with his brother Olof Olsson of Kingsta, was 
a revivalist leader in the parish. Erik Jansson and his companion 
obtained lodging at the house of the former over night. They arrived 
on a Saturday evening. Erik Jansson at once declared himself one of 
the faithful, receiving, nevertheless, a somewhat cool reception at the 
hands of the devout Jonas Olsson. The following morning the married 
sister of the host came to purchase some flour, but Erik Jansson refused 
to do business on the Sabbath. This Jonas Olsson accepted as proof 
positive that the visitor was a true "reader," and adopted a more 
amiable manner toward the stranger. Such was the first meeting 
between these two men, who soon were to have so many weighty 
interests in common. 

That Sunday morning Erik Jansson accompanied the host and his 
family to church, and in the evening they attended a meeting held in 
the neighborhood. Although requested by Jonas Olsson to rise and 
speak to the assemblage, Erik Jansson sat quiet in his seat. After their 
return home, the two men had a conversation regarding the meeting, 
which the stranger said was not at all to his liking, because he had 

* His usual public declarations on this point were these: "The new doctrine 
I teach is of God; I am sent by God; since the time of the Apostles there has been 
no true preacher before me." 

f This accords with all writers consulted, except Eric Johnson and C. F. 
Peterson, who say, "in the spring of 1842." If a trip was made prior to 1843, it 
was of no apparent consequence. 


detected that the participants did not hold themselves to the Bible 
alone. At the meeting a portion had been read out of a postil and 
subsequently expounded. "What kind of Christianity is this you 
have?" Erik Jansson inquired sternly. The next morning he repri- 
manded Jonas Olsson for not conducting household worship. Hereby 
Erik Jansson made a profound impression on his host, and from that 
time the latter and his brother Olof became stanch supporters of Erik 
Jansson and pillars of his sect. From his own diary it appears that 
Erik Jansson felt great inner satisfaction at having got even with Jonas 
Olsson for the haughty manner in which he was received at his first 
meeting with the peasant preacher. 

Erik Jansson now continued his journey northward. In the next 
parish, Norrala, he met Per Norin, a blacksmith, who was the virtual 
leader of the "readers" in that locality. His first conversation with 
Erik Jansson convinced him that the latter was an impostor. When 
they parted he exacted a promise from him never to return. This 
exasperated Erik Jansson to such an extent that he broke forth in 
execrations over the community of Norrala. Erik Jansson now 
journeyed on through Enanger, Njutanger, Hudiksvall and Helsing- 
tuna, preaching everywhere and generally winning large numbers over 
to his views. This may be accounted for partly by the fact that he 
deviated only slightly from the tenets held by the "readers" in these 
parts, but what mostly impressed the multitudes was his ability to 
speak for four or five hours without signs of exhaustion, his abnormal 
memory, enabling him to quote almost any passage of the Bible at will, 
and his forcible advocacy of the Bible as the only source from which 
truth may be derived. For the time being, he shrewdly concealed his 
antipathy to the writings of Luther, Arndt, Nohrborg and others. 
After visiting Helsingtuna he returned home, Jonas Olsson accompany- 
ing him as far as Gefle. Here several meetings were held, at which 
Jonas Olsson invariably was loud in his praise of Erik Jansson. When 
in the middle of February he arrived home to Osterunda, he was 
warmly received by ' Risberg, who, however, warned him against 
spiritual arrogance. 

Erik Jansson 's impressions of conditions in Helsingland were so 
favorable that he returned there in the latter part of February the 
same year. From Soderala he journeyed northward together with 
Jonas Olsson to Enanger, Njutanger and Hudiksvall, but did not meet 
with the same degree of success as on his former visit. His explanation 
of this was that the "readers" in Norrala were opposing him, but the 
real reason was found in his more open departures from the teachings 
of the state church and his bitter attacks upon the revivalism of 
the "readers" and the clergymen who upheld it. Disgusted with his 
meager success, he determined to seek other fields for his labors, and, 



with a girl from Delsbo, Karin Ersson of Nyaker, acting as his guide, 
he went to Forssa. From there he went to Bjuraker, where at first he 
was well received by A. G. Sefstrom, the parson. But this friendship 
did not last, so Erik Jansson soon returned to Forssa, where he was 
carrying on a vigorous propaganda during the latter part of March. 

Jonas Olson, Trustee and Preacher, in his Later Years 

Accompanied by the girl Karin and a few other women followers 
he went from place to place, preaching many times a day. The audi- 
ences grew apace. His fiery invectives against the general indiffer- 
ence on the part of the spiritual guardians of the people mightily 
increased his popularity. Yet there were those who opposed him, the 
principal opponent being a woman, Karin Jonsson from Utnas, who 
traveled from village to village antagonizing and disproving Erik Jans- 
son's statements. As a result there arose a vast amount of controversy 
over the question of Erik Jansson 's divine mission. His vindictiveness 


gained the day, however, convincing the majority of the zealots that 
he was the special messenger of God. 

Late in March Erik Jansson left Forssa. After a brief stay in 
Soderala, which brought him many converts, he reached Osterunda at 
the end of April. During his absence the "readers" had gained so 
great accessions that the king's bailiff of the district was moved to have 
an announcement read in the Osterunda church threatening the in- 
stigators of the movement with arrest and fines, did they not discon- 
tinue their meetings. Risberg, who had encouraged these gatherings, 
was warned to desist and urged to counteract the movement by means 
of special biblical exegeses in church and the introduction of private 
worship in the homes. These warnings were not given without cause, 
for tumults had actually occurred in connection with the numerous 
meetings. Erik Jansson was also met by the news that in his absence 
part of his personal property had been carried away by thieves and 
that his wife had been harshly treated by his parents. To add to his 
misfortunes, Risberg, in consequence of warnings received, had now 
turned against him. 

Erik Jansson now staid at home for two months, attending to the 
spring work on his farm. About midsummer, he claimed to have 
received the same kind of a revelation that King Solomon had, accord- 
ing to I. Kings 3 : 5. Like King Solomon, Erik Jansson then prayed for 
"an understanding heart to judge thy (God's) people, that I may 
distinguish good from bad," and claimed to have been given, like 
Solomon of old, an understanding heart in response to his prayer. 

Shortly after midsummer, Erik Jansson made another journey to 
Helsin gland. This time he traveled through Hanebo, Bollnas and 
Jerfso to Delsbo and Forssa, in which latter locality he went about 
holding meetings in the pasture fields. In these parishes he spoke with 
great assurance, claiming, as a result of the new revelation, ' ' greater 
light than ever before." At a meeting in Delsbo he announced that he 
and Rev. Estenberg from Osterunda were collaborating on a new trans- 
lation of the Bible, for which he was now taking subscriptions. 

He had unbounded confidence in himself. In order to command still 
greater respect among his followers, he attempted to imitate the Savior 
and his apostles by performing miracles. In Svedja. Delsbo parish, 
there was an old maid-servant who had been bedridden for years. When 
Erik Jansson learned of this he at once went to her bedside in order to 
cure her. Standing close to the sickbed he commanded the woman to 
take him by the hand and repeat the words, "I believe," when she 
would be instantly cured. She did as she was told, but without any 
effect whatever; nevertheless Erik Jansson turned to the bystanders 
praising God for what had been done, saying he had driven out the 


devil and quoting the words, "Today hath salvation come unto this 

In Kalkbo, Forssa parish, there was a young man aged twenty- 
nine, a cripple who had been bedridden from his childhood. After 
having made the house his headquarters for some time, Erik Jansson 
attempted to heal him in a. miraculous manner. He predicted that on 
midsummer day (1844) the young man, suddenly cured of the malady, 
would "leap like a young deer." The invalid and his family firmly 
believed this, and clothes were ordered for him, but when the day 
arrived, there was no perceptible change in his condition. The failure 
cost Erik Jansson a number of adherents, and the house was closed to 
him from that day.* 

During a drouth in the early summer of 1845 Erik Jansson gave it 
out that there would be no rain for three years and six months, as a 
result of his prayers to that effect. When in July the drouth was 
broken by rain, Erik Jansson attempted to save his reputation as a 
prophet by explaining that out of pity for the people he had averted 
the wrath of God with a new prayer. 

On his return to Osterunda, he was met by opposition in many 
quarters. Then he determined to sell his farm and remove to Helsing- 
land to remain permanently among his followers there. He sacrificed 
Lotorp for 900 crowns for that purpose, but his father having died, he 
went to live on the paternal estate until April, 1844, before removing 
permanently to Helsingland. On this journey he went to Bollnas 
and thence to Delsbo and Forssa. About this time Erik Jansson 
began his so-called "apostolic pilgrimages." At first he was 
followed only by women, but soon men also joined him at the meetings, 
sitting in a semi-circle around him as a kind of jury, testifying to the 
truth of everything he said. Urged by several of his followers, Erik 
Jansson now extended his operations to Alfta parish, in western Hel- 
singland. Here he discovered a very grateful field for his labors, it 
having been prepared beforehand by traveling evangelists, who had 
held meetings of a Methodist character, so that Erik Jansson 's doctrine 
of freedom from sin was not entirely new to the people. Besides, 
license and contempt for the clergy were prevalent in the localities 
where the so-called "readers" were numerous. 

Under such circumstances it was but natural that the inhabitants 
of Alfta would be impressed by Erik Jansson 's spirited antagonism of 
the established church. They were influenced all the more easily by his 
strong insistence on their reading the Bible to the exclusion of all other 
religious books. Step by step marked his departure from the estab- 
lished faith. Gradually he began to pose among them as being especially 

* This and the following instance are cited by Landgren. 


inspired by the Holy Spirit and set up his claim as the restorer of the 
pure Christian faith. 

Having gained the greatest number of followers in northern Hel- 
singland, he decided to make his home there. With his wife and two 
children, Erik and Mathilda, he moved to Forssa in April, 1844, shortly 
afterward purchasing from Jon Olsson of Stenbo the right of home- 
stead at Lumnas, a torp, or tenancy, subject to Stenbo. This marked 
a new epoch in the career of Erik Jansson. Prior to this, he had 
merely been preaching to his followers, who were scattered throughout 
the different parishes. Now these began to form a party or sect of 
their own, known as the Erik Janssonists, their leader simultaneously 
adopting the title of Prophet and assuming the authority of dictator 
and lawmaker for his faithful. One of his first mandates was to 
prohibit them from attending the regular church services, commanding 
them, instead, to be present at the meetings now regularly conducted 
by him. 

The clergy and the civil authorities, considering the attitude now 
assumed by Erik Jansson all too defiant, called a meeting of the parish- 
ioners of Forssa. It was resolved to petition the provincial govern- 
men to have him arrested as a vagrant and brought back to 
his home parish. Meanwhile, Erik Jansson went to the southern part 
of the province, operating mostly in Alfta, with brief excursions to 
Ofvanaker, Bollnas and Soderala. He held meetings everywhere, 
posing as the "God-sent prophet," "the greatest light since the time 
of the Apostles," "the restorer of the true faith," etc. Almost every- 
where he was received with high enthusiasm, and great masses, 
especially the "readers," believed him blindly. He had now entirely 
abandoned the caution observed earlier in his career, and when charged 
with preaching doctrines different from his earlier teachings, he 
replied in the words of St. Paul, that he had "desired to win them 
over by cunning." The theory of sinlessness was all along the central 
theme in his doctrine. To anyone who ventured to protest against the 
teaching or to dispute the divine mission of the teacher, he had the set 
retort: "Thou art of the devil," or, "Thy faith is of the devil," 
proving the statement by the assertion : "It is written in the Scriptures, 
the devils believe likewise, with fear." The way of salvation as pointed 
out by Erik Jansson grew the more free and easy according as the 
number of proselytes increased. Reduced to its simplest terms it was 
to confess one's belief in the prophet. Hardened sinners, who showed 
no sign of repentance, are said to have been shriven in this manner: 
at the meetings he embraced the new converts, with the query, 
"Wouldst thou be saved?" If the answer was, "Yes," he gave the 
immediate assurance, "Thou art saved," and Avrote the name of the 
convert in a book. 


The suppressive measures of the authorities were like an at- 
tempt to fight fire with oil. They served to increase the ardor of his 
adherents and caused them to gather all the closer around their leader, 
declaring that no evil should ever befall him. They loudly protested 
that he was sent by God and threatened blodshed, should the authori- 
ties violate his person. So far did they go in their devotion that they 
promised to follow him in death and even into hell, should that be his 
ultimate goal. 

The alleged sinless state of the believers gave them great latitude 
in the matter of behavior. The prophet permitted himself the ut- 
most freedom of conduct, and his relations with his women followers 
were not always above reproach. In the spring and summer of 1843 
the aforesaid Karin Ersson traveled about with him, moved by religious 
infatuation. She had implicit confidence in this "man of God" until he 
began to pay her such attentions as seemed to her improper in a married 
man. When she upbraided him, he would own to being tempted and 
pray for deliverance from temptation, only to repeat the indecency 
with growing boldness. When at length he made her a shameless 
proposition outright and was promptly repulsed, he made the insidious 
reply: "Yes, but as a true believer in my Savior, Jesus Christ, I might 
do this without sinning." He adjured her not to say a word about 
the incident, as that would be committing a grievous sin, and the girl 
kept the matter secret for some time. When she finally made known 
his conduct, the prophet broke into a towering wrath and publicly 
denounced her as a liar and a vixen, praying that God might "add 
iniquity unto her iniquity." Some time in the winter of 1844, in the 
presence of one Isak Rudolphi and five women, one a follower of the 
prophet, Erik Jansson admitted the truth of the charge made by Karin 
Ersson, as attested by the six witnesses in a signed document dated at 
Delsbo, May 6, 1844.* Subsequently the prophet alternately denied 
the confession, charged that the girl had been the guilty party, that he 
had merely wished to put her to a test, or that his own evil desire had 
been sent as a punishment from God. 

In March, 1844, Erik Jansson visited Alfta at the invitation of 
certain women, including an unmarried woman of Broddlagret, Bollnas, 
who also had been his traveling companion. During his sojourn here 
the prophet, his former companion and another woman from Bollnas 
shared the same room at night. The villagers led a simple life and 
were no sticklers on decorum, but this could not pass without comment. 
One woman, who with her husband was then devoted to the prophet, 

* Landgren: Erik-Jansismen, p. 29. 


afterwards said of Erik Jansson and the Bollnas girl: "Their wanton 
and unchaste behavior made me blush on behalf of our sex." 

At Hamre, Forssa parish, Erik Jansson one morning just before 
opening a meeting had a frolic with two or three girls, who had 
accompanied him from Alfta. His wife, who was present, took offense 
and a disagreement ensued, witnessed by a number of the worshipers. 
Before these the prophet justified himself in this wise, "Because ye 
lack faith, all this befalls me ; faith is not in you, therefore Satan hath 
been empowered to winnow her like wheat." 

Erik Jansson 's moral character once stained, his enemies sought to 
paint the man entirely black. Other rumors were set afloat impeaching 
his private and public conduct, but they are branded as false by the 
same authority upon which the above incidents have been quoted. 
The latter were enough to bring the prophet into ill repute with the 
general public, but the faith of his adherents remained unshaken. He 
declared himself perfect and holy, like God himself, and they took him 
at his word. Even granting the truth of the damaging evidence, some 
still held him blameless, maintaining that the heart had no part in the 
doings of the flesh. 

Many iniquities were committed against the prophet and his 
adherents in the name of the law. One of the most flagrant outrages 
was perpetrated in August, 1844, at Klockaregarden, Osterunda, by 
the parish vicar, N. A. Arenander, one of Erik Jansson 's bitterest 
enemies. Shortly after the return of the latter from his fourth apostolic 
pilgrimage to Helsin gland, his adherents in Osterunda met one night in 
Klockaregarden, the house of Olof Stenberg. Sophia Sjon, an ardent 
believer in the prophet, was staying there. At midnight Arenander 
arrived, with a number of men, and demanded entry. This being 
refused, the door was forced. On the pretense of searching for Erik 
Jansson the minister, who is said to have been drunk at the time, 
entered the bedchamber, where Sofia Sjon and Anna Maria Strale slept. 
He pulled the former out of bed, tore handfuls of hair from her head, 
pushed her out to the men in her night garment, and after finishing his 
vain search through the house, brought the woman half dressed as a 
prisoner to the sheriff's house in Thorstuna, a neighboring village. 
To justify his action, the parson charged the woman with vagrancy, 
but the officer promptly ordered her release. The injured woman 
brought suit against the vicar for disturbing the peace, assault and 
battery, false arrest, and sundry minor offenses, for all of which crimes 
and misdemeanors she sought damages and urged one year's imprison- 
ment and fines. At the preliminary hearing the charges were fully 
substantiated by five witnesses. The defendant impeached the wit- 
nesses on the ground that they belonged to the "readers" and were 
not church members in good standing, and accordingly the court 


declared two of the witnesses incompetent. The case was continued, 
and during preparation for the exodus to America it seems to have 
been dropped. This same Arenander was a tireless prosecutor of the 
"readers" and Erik Janssonists, but according to an official report of 
the magistracy the cases in that district were all dismissed 'for want 
of equity. 

One explanation of the great influence Erik Jansson wielded over 
his followers lay in the hypnotism of his eye, which few were able to 
withstand. Thereby he controlled his people with a power and per- 
sonal influence that was irresistible. In personal appearance, Erik 
Jansson was of medium stature, with brown hair, blue eyes, pale, thin 
face, with high cheek-bones, and thin lips, uncommonly long and broad 
teeth, especially in the upper jaw; the last joint of the right index 
finger was lacking, having been severed with an ax by his elder 
brother, Johan, in their boyhood. His voice was harsh and disagree- 
able in tone, and his speech rather indistinct, as though he had some- 
thing in his mouth while speaking. In meeting he habitually over- 
exerted himself, when his voice was transformed to a piercing shriek. 
A constant grin, which may have been the result of involuntary 
muscular contraction, gave him a repulsive look. Furthermore, he had 
frequent recourse to .tears, the abundant flow of which did not tend 
to make his appearance more attractive. A portrait of Erik Jansson 
cannot be given, he having never sat for his picture, either in photo- 
graph or on canvas. 

BooK Pyres and Consequent Arrest of EriK Jansson 
As we have seen, Erik Jansson ever since his so-called "second 
conversion" had a bitter aversion to the writings of Luther and Arndt. 
By and by, he conceived a plan to rid himself, once and for all, of these 
hated authorities which were continually quoted in rebuttal of his 
views by both prospective proselytes and outright antagonists. He 
would have liked to make short shrift with the Lutheran catechism 
and psalmbook, but these were still held in so high esteem among his 
own followers that he dared not as yet do violence to them directly, 
but confined himself to scathing denunciations in his sermons, applying 
to them such terms as, "an empty barrel with both ends closed" and 
the "wails of Satan." The beasts of the Book of Kevelation, he 
claimed, were the prototypes of these "false and devilish teachers, 
Luther, the demigod, an'd Arndt, the murderer of souls." The follow- 
ing excerpt is quoted to give some idea of the tone of the sermons 
preached by Erik Jansson at this time : 

"The Word of God has lain fallow from generation to generation. 
There is no salvation in the sermons usually preached in times past. If 
ye believe my words, ye shall be saved ; if ye mistrust me, ye also mis- 


trust God. Once a man set himself up against my teachings, but what 
happened? Within three days he was taken hence and thrust into 
eternity. Ye would read the idolatrous books of the accursed Luther 
and the devilish Arndt. But hear ye ! Mark well my words ! It was 
not the Gospel of the Lord, but of the devil ; it was with the waters of 
hell that he deluged the whole world. Hear ye! Since ye will not 
believe the pure gospel that I preach unto you, the Lord shall pour out 
his cups of burning wrath over you, and ye shall be thrust into nether- 
most hell!" 

These rantings soon took effect. All that was necessary to set his 
followers to destroying their Lutheran books was for the prophet to 
point to the words of the 19th verse of the 19th chapter of Acts : "And 
not a few of them that practiced magical arts brought their books 
together and burned them in the sight of all." A like scene was 
enacted on the llth of June, 1844, in the village of Tranberg, in Alfta 
parish. People in great numbers from Alfta, Soderala, Ofvanaker and 
Bollnas for several days had been engaged in lugging sacks filled with 
books down to the banks of the lake where they were piled into a great 
pyre near Fiskragarden. Erik Jansson was present in person, encour- 
aging the people in this wise: "Satan celebrated a jubilee, when the 
works of Luther were first published ; when we now burn them, it will 
be his turn to grieve " ; or, " Those who take part shall feel a heavenly 
joy when they see the smoke rise." A person who warned them of the 
consequence of their act was told by Olof Olsson of Kingsta that so 
fixed were they in their determination that blood would flow, ere a 
single book would be exempt from the pyre. Some would save the 
covers of their books, but Erik Jansson declared in a loud voice, "Who- 
soever saves the coverings of his idols shall be damned!" 

The pyre was lighted, and books to the value of about 975 crowns, 
including the postils of Luther, Nohrborg, Linderoth, Pettersson and 
others, "True Christianity," by Arndt, and great masses of temperance 
tracts, were consumed by the flames. 

"Behold, how Satan opens his jaws!" the fanatics exclaimed when 
the books would open from the heat and draft. To the vast assemblage 
Erik Jansson read the 18th chapter of Revelations, whereupon two 
hired men chanted: "Give thanks and praise unto the Lord," to which 
the crowd sang the response : "Glory be unto the Lord." 

The heavenly joy predicted by the prophet did not materialize, 
however; instead, evil forebodings seemed to haunt the minds of the 
spectators as the last flicker of the pyre died out. 

The cup of fanaticism was now brimming over and the authorities 
could no longer watch Erik Jansson 's operations with indifference. 
Two days after the burning of the books, he was arrested after a bloody 
encounter between the deputies and the followers of the prophet. Erik 


Jansson himself was near being killed in the fray. He was imprisoned 
first at Gefle, then at Vesteras, until July 12th, when he was released 
after a hearing before the provincial governor in the latter city. To- 
gether with some of his friends, Erik Jansson then went to Stockholm 
and obtained an audience before the king. From the capital he wrote 
letters to his disciples in Helsingland, admonishing some of their 
number to go out and proclaim his doctrines, which they did. After a 
second hearing before the governor at Vesteras Sept. 21st, when Erik 
Jansson put up a clever defense, he was entirely cleared of the charges 
and at once returned to Helsingland. 

If he had heretofore been a prophet in the eyes of his followers, his 
arrest and the mistreatment to which they thought him subjected, 
crowned him with the halo of martyrdom. He went so far 
as to liken his sufferings to those of the Savior himself. Sur- 
rounded by eleven men, corresponding to the apostles of Christ, and 
a great number of women, he went from village to village, holding 
meetings at which "the Passion of Erik Jansson" was recited, includ- 
ing all his acts and sufferings from the time of his arrest. He claimed 
to be in high favor with the king after his visit to the royal palace; 
and all things contributed towards making his fame greater than ever 
before. In the height of his arrogance, he now began to grant forgive- 
ness of sin to all who at the meetings announced themselves as believers 
in him. 

On Oct. 28th of that year, at Lynas, Soderala parish, he arranged a 
second pyre of theological books, this time including the catechism and 
the Lutheran hymnal, with the promise that a new catechism and 
hymnal, written by himself, would soon be published. Following the 
ceremony of burning, a thanksgiving service was held in a neighboring 

Not quite a month afterwards, Erik Jansson had intended to 
arrange still another auto-da-fe, especially for the Forssa and Delsbo 
parishes, but he was again arrested, this time by order of a royal letter, 
instructing the Upsala chapter to administer a warning. The provincial 
authorities at Gefle, where he was again brought, placed him under med- 
ical surveillance, on the supposition that he was demented. In the mean- 
time, Erik Jansson was writing hymns, founded largely on the books of 
Ezra and Nehemiah ; he also sent his wife instructions to have his early 
writings copied and prepared for publication. Having been found of 
sound mind, he was sent to Upsala, where on December 18th he was 
officially warned by the chapter against propagating false doctrines, 
and then set free. 

Three days later he was back in Soderala, conducting meetings as 
before. A meeting was held Sunday, December 22nd, during the time 

2I 4 


of high mass, but the audience was dispersed by the king's bailiff, who 
appeared on the scene with a number of deputies. A great tumult arose 
in which several persons, among whom the wife of Erik Jansson. 
received bodily injuries. He was now taken back to the Gefle prison 
and kept there till April 18th the following year. 

EriR. Jansson's Flig'Kt to Dalarne and Norway 

While Erik Jansson was in prison, his disciples carried on his work. 
Their meetings were now generally held simultaneously with the regular 
services in the churches. In expectation of the new catechism and 
hymnal promised by Erik Jansson, his followers refused to send their 
children to the common schools. Wherever Erik Janssonism gained a 
foothold it created more or less disturbance in the parishes. Disagree- 
ments were provoked between husband and wife, parents and children, 
masters and servants, and naturally those who suffered persecution 
had nothing but contempt for the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. 

At Forssa occurred a third burning of books in the early morning 
of Dec. 7, 1844, when the perpetrators had the audacity to include a 
copy of "Sveriges Hikes Lag," the code of the realm. This, however, 
was saved in the last moment, as were a number of the other books 
doomed to destruction. A trial followed, resulting in the conviction 
and fining of the fifteen participants. To illustrate the feeling 
towards the clergy: an Erik Janssonist peasant of Delsbo is 
said to have offered to have all his timber cut down and made 
into headsman's blocks and gallows for the men of the cloth. Equally 
fanatical were they in their adoration of the new religious leader. For 
instance, a subscription was started in Ofvanaker for the purpose of 
purchasing his liberty, his deluded friends believing that the authorities 
could be bribed to release him from prison. In Alfta his followers went 
from village to village, holding meetings at which the established 
church and the clergy were roundly abused, the tenor of the denuncia- 
tions being that all churches ought to be burned and all clergymen 
hanged, or, leastwise, their tongues cut out. They appropriated two 
per cent, of their property "for the restoration of the crumbling church 
of Christ." In other Helsingland parishes where the movement had 
gained a foothold similar operations were carried on, extending also 
into Osterunda and Thorstuna parishes in Upland, everywhere resulting 
in more or less violent clashes with the civil authorities. 

Immediately after his arrest, Erik Jansson lodged a plea with 
the provincial governor's office demanding his release, which was 
denied. He appealed to the king's court, which on March 17th found 
the charges insufficient to warrant his detention in prison, whereupon 
the prison authorities returned him to Forssa on April 23rd. 


Having been enjoined from leaving Forssa parish, "the Savior 
at Stenbo, " as Erik Jansson was nicknamed by the local population, 
continued his work there more aggressively than before, and the people 
flocked in ever increasing numbers to listen to this "voice in the wilder- 
ness." He also proceeded to ordain and send out apostles, to whom 
he solemnly delivered the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. 

On midsummer day he conducted a largely attended meeting at 
Stenbo. J. M. Astrom, the king's bailiff, determined to arrest Erik 
Jansson and break up the meeting, ordered out a number of parish- 
ioners to assist him. They were told to provide themselves with clubs. 
Thus armed, they moved on to Stenbo, where they found the prophet 
preaching from the doorstep to the crowd outside. In the act of 
making the arrest, the officer was pulled down from the doorstep by a 
woman, and Erik Jansson escaped through the crowd and fled, but 
those of his believers who remained were terribly beaten and otherwise 
mistreated, while defending themselves as best they could. The next day 
the bailiff again appeared, now accompanied by the parson and a 
large crowd of people, and again ordered the assemblage at Stenbo to 
disperse. As soon as the king's officer had left, a desperate fight ensued 
between the Erik Janssonists and their antagonists, in which knives 
were flourished, windows and doors broken, and much household goods 
destroyed. Erik Jansson 's wife, who had taken refuge in the cow-barn, 
was discovered by some young fellows just in the act of disappearing 
through a dung-trap in the floor and was then and there treated to a 
thorough bastinado. 

Erik Jansson sought refuge in the home of Jonas Olsson in Ina, 
Soderala, then escaped to Osterunda and Thorstuna, and lay in hiding 
for five weeks under the floor of a cow-barn in Thorstuna and then for 
several weeks more in an attic in the same parish. 

These disturbances could not pass unnoticed. A royal decree of 
Feb. 17, 1845, had ordered a legal investigation and definite charges 
preferred. July 21st, the day set for the trial, came, but the accused 
was nowhere to be found. Summons for his capture were again issued, 
and in September he voluntarily made known his whereabouts. Service 
was at once had, citing him to appear at the county court at Forssa, 
Oct. llth. Erik Jansson then pleaded that, having been driven into 
hiding by threats against his life, he had received no summons and 
consequently had failed to appear in court on the day aforesaid. This 
trial was not concerned with the recent disturbances, but dealt with 
certain heterodox statements made by Erik Jansson at a meeting in 
Hamre, Forssa parish, on Nov. 3rd, the year before. On this as on 
prior occasions Erik Jansson 's friends and sympathizers were barred 
from testifying, being declared incompetent and untrustworthy on 


account of their faith, and the witnesses for the prosecution only were 
heard. From this resolution of the jury the judge dissented. After an 
order for Erik Jansson's detention in prison pending a verdict had 
been denied by the court, the case was continued until Oct. 30th and 
change of venue then taken to the county court at Delsbo, which 
convened in extra session Nov. 18th. The disposition of the case was 
that Erik Jansson be sent to the Gefle prison pending a new trial. The 
jury rendered this verdict, overriding the judge, who was for acquittal 
and is said to have imposed a fine on each of the jurors for contempt. 

His followers had begun to suspect that there was a secret plan 
to put him out of the way during imprisonment; for that reason they 
decided to deliver him from jail at all hazards. Therefore, when the 
transport reached the road to Lynas, in Soderala, four men rushed 
from ambush, halted the conveyance, cut the reins and, overpowering 
the guard, set the prisoner free. This happened Nov. 21st. A rumor 
was at once circulated that Erik Jansson had been murdered, and for 
the evident purpose of lending credibility to the story, his wife 
appeared in widow's weeds at Gefle, making inquiries for her dead 
husband. In addition, a woman at Lynas had poured the blood of a 
kid in the road, in further support of the rumor. It soon became 
evident, however, that this was a pure fabrication to aid in keeping 
the prophet in concealment. 

After the rescue, Erik Jansson was in hiding at various points in 
western Helsingland, or went about in the guise of a woman. This 
incognito gave his apostles occasion to liken him to Christ after the 
resurrection. His first hiding place was in the house of Peter Kallman 
at the Voxna Mills. After having been discovered holding a 
secret meeting there one night, when he narrowly escaped 
being taken, he was transferred to Ofvanaker, where he was hid 
for seven weeks under a barn-floor. Threatened with discovery, he 
was soon after brought to the home of one of his followers, Sven 
Olsson, in Alfta. While under the influence of liquor, this man divulged 
the whereabouts of the prophet, who, being warned, fled to Dalarne. 
There he found refuge among his believers, principally in the home of 
a well to do peasant, Lin jo Gabriel Larsson in Ostra Fors, Making 
parish. In the meantime, his teachings spread quite extensively 
in Dalarne, particularly in Mailing and Mora parishes, but 
also to Lima parish and the city of Falun. In Herjedalen 
Erik Jansson also succeeded in gaining a few proselytes, among 
whom Olof Jonsson and Sven Jonsson, two peasants in the 
village of Langa, Hede parish. These arranged book pyres 
patterned after those in Helsingland. At one of these occasions a copy 
of the Bible was included in the mass of books consigned to the flames, 



but it was snatched from the fire in the last minute by a female relative 
of the man who arranged the auto-da-fe. Long after the prophet had 
deserted his own country, his disciples continued to spread his 

doctrines and gain proselytes in the provinces of Helsingland, Gestrik- 
land and Upland. 

This same winter and spring the promised catechism and hymnal 
were published, entitled, "Commentaries to the Holy Scriptures, 
or Catechism, Arranged in Questions and Answers, by Erik Jansson," 


and, ' ' Sundry Songs and Prayers, Composed by Erik Jansson. ' ' These 
books were printed at a shop established in violation of the law by a 
pay-sergeant, named C. G. Blombergsson, in the village of Ina, Soderala 
parish, just outside of Soderhamn. The language used in this catechism, 
like that of his other writings, is verbose and incongruous. The ever- 
recurring theme is the divine mission of Erik Jansson and the spiritual 
perfection of his faithful followers, claims which he seeks to establish 
by references to Old Testament narratives and prophecies. In point 
of diction and rhythm, his hymns are faulty in the extreme.* Besides 
these works, several other writings of Erik Jansson were issued in 
print, such as his "Farewell Address," "A Glorious Description of the 
Growth of Man," "A Few Words to God's People," "Timely Words," 
and "Farewell Speech to all the Inhabitants of Sweden, who have 
despised me, whom Jesus hath sent; or rejected the name of Erik 

From Erik Jansson 's catechism, embodying his principal teachings, 
a few excerpts may properly be made by way of denning this religious 
movement in the words of the founder himself. We translate literally 
from a reprint published at Galva, 111., in 1903. 

In the foreword we read this authoritative declaration: "Thou, 
who taketh this precious treasure in thy hand in order to accept every 
word of it as if spoken by God, or as though God himself stood before 
thee in visible form and spake to thee all that is herein written -and 
everything is written as the Word of God I pray thee to consider 
well the import of certain expressions." 

On page 22 we find his views on education thus expressed: "It is 
not unbeknown to us that all the schools of the times are founded by the 
devil, yet they are of some use in teaching that which pertains to a 
knowledge, sanctioned by God, of those figures (things) from which 
the prophets drew their parables, etc. ' ' 

On page 24 the author speaks of himself in this wise : 

"Question. But how canst thou know that God now shall send 
a certain person, when we have God's word in abundance amongst us, 
without (need of) any more teachings, by untutored laymen? 

"Answer. As regards this, that the canonical books of the Bible 
are sufficient to instruct us about the way of salvation, it has already 
been said that all other writings and books are needless and devilish 
and cannot be considered (in ascertaining) whether the Word of God, 
without the faulty interpretations of others, is and shall ever be the 
only foundation, on which the one sent by God shall build. But in 
regard to this, that Jesus will send some one, who shall restore that 

* "So tedious, repugnant and impious a collection of songs no other religious 
body has ever had foisted upon it. Among the rudest products of versification in 
any literature one will search in vain for anything to match it." (WIESELGREN. ) 


which long hath lain fallow, we know by all the signs of the times that 
he hath already been sent, for everyone who believeth, may see that 
the same miracles that Jesus wrought are also being performed by him 
whom God has sent. Further, we find that the signs of Jonah, the 
Prophet, have come to pass in all lands and are being fulfilled in all 
the nations under the sun. Therefore I may be sure that Jesus has sent 
the one who gives his life for that which is right, or alone for the 
salvation of his brethren." 

The first commandment is commented thus on page 35 : 

"Q. Mayst thou have other gods besides God, when thou dis- 
believest him whom God hath sent as the light of the world ? 

"A. Not to believe in him whom God has sent is the worst 
idolatry of which the Bible speaks; for whosoever toucheth him 
toucheth the apple of God's eye." 

The eighth (ninth) commandment is thus interpreted (p. 75) : 

"Q. Since thy brethren in the faith alone are thy neighbors, 
mayst thou bear false witness against the unbelievers ? 

"A. Whenever it is required to bear such witness as to promote 
the eternal welfare of my neighbor, I cannot but bear witness free from 
falsehood. But should I, like Judas, be asked where he, whom I am 
sure God has sent, is (hidden), then I cannot testify truthfully, being 
convinced that I would thereby bear false witness against my neigh- 
bor." The next two pages are devoted to proving that lying is not 
only permissible but praiseworthy; quoting Scripture to show that 
the Lord's servants often have lied to the glory of God. We are told 
(p. 77) that "when the faithful speak falsely and lie before men for 
the sake of truth and right, they do so in order to destroy falsehood 
and eradicate the tares." 

On page 103 Erik Jansson gets down to the bedrock of his 
doctrine in these words : 

"Q. You believe, then, that the coming of Christ has not been 
fulfilled until Erik Jansson came with the true light, just as God in the 
beginning created light in the midst of darkness? 

"A. It is to be remarked that all prophecies have reference, first, 
to Christ, the first-born, secondly, to his believers or those of whom 
Jesus says that they shall perform the same miracles that He wrought, 
etc. 2. It follows, that we must consider the words of Jesus Christ him- 
self on this point, namely, that according to the Prophets the last house 
shall surpass the first, i. e., as the second glory (of the) Temple of 
Jerusalem surpassed the glory built by the son of David and placed in 
said temple a sorry tangle of words for a prophet so also it now 
shall come to pass that the glory restored by Erik Jansson in Christ's 
stead shall surpass that of Jesus and his Apostles in all lands ; for now 
Jesus Christ hath been made manifest in the flesh to all those who 


believe in the name of the Son of God, and hence it is plain that the 
coming of Christ is fully realized through Erik Jansson's obedience 

to God." There is much more of this, with frequent repetition of 

the name Erik Jansson, which we forbear to quote. 

The above excerpts are given as characteristic of Erik Jansson's 
mode of thought and literary style as well as of his teachings, but they 
do not by far cover all the points on which he was charged with 
heresy by the state church. 

Emigration of the ILriK Janssonists to America 

In his arrogance Erik Jansson had prophesied that within two 
years the world would be converted and all his antagonists annihilated. 
The prediction seemed all the more unlikely to come true now that the 
prophet himself was in dire peril. He had fled to escape punishment 
and, when reached by the arm of the law, would face conviction and 
banishment for heresy and repeated attempts at proselyting in violation 
of the law. When it became manifest that the Erik Janssonists could 
no longer operate without constant clashes with the authorities . and 
the populace, and when the novelty of religious martyrdom had worn 
off, they began to look about for a place of refuge, and their eyes and 
hopes were directed to the United States. Gustaf Flack, mentioned 
in the foregoing chapter, had highly commended America in 
letters to his relatives in Alfta parish, especially dwelling on the 
religious liberty enjoyed in the new world. Hence the Erik Janssonists 
resolved to transplant the whole movement to this country, or, in their 
own phrase, "to turn to the heathen, inasmuch as the inhabitants of 
their own country refused to accept the truth and believe in it." 

In order to make needed preparations for their coming, Olof Olsson 
of Kingsta turned his property into ready money at public auction and 
left for America in the summer of 1845, accompanied by his wife, their 
two children and a couple of other persons. He and all the other 
leaders, including Erik Jansson himself, who from his hidingplaces 
sent numerous letters to his faithful, were untiring in their efforts to 
paint in the most glowing colors the future that the promised land had 
in store for the chosen people. One of the promises held out to them 
was that there they would have their fill of "figs, white bread and 
pork, hogs being so plentiful that one only had to shoot, butcher and 
eat them." They need have no fear for the language, it was claimed, for 
upon their arrival it would be given unto them to speak with tongues. 
Furthermore, the heathen were to build for them walls and cities. All 
the glories of the millennium were to be realized; all were to be as 
one large family ; snakes and dragons would be powerless to injure any 
of God's chosen seed; the lions were to graze together with the cattle 


of the fields, these were some of the alluring pictures held up to the 
prospective emigrants. 

Upon his arrival in New York, Olof Olsson encountered Rev. O. G. 
Hedstrom, the founder of Swedish Methodism in America, who received 
him with the utmost cordiality. Rev. Hedstrom endeavored to win 
his guest over to Methodism, and had no difficulty in so doing, owing 
partly to the similarity between that creed and the teachings of Erik 
Jansson, partly to Olof Olsson 's previous acquaintance with Methodist 
doctrines, acquired through the visit in Helsingland of Rev. George 
Scott, a Methodist preacher stationed at Stockholm. To Rev. Hedstrom 
Olof Olsson confided the purpose of his trip, stating that he had come 
to find a suitable place of settlement for the oppressed Erik Jans- 
sonists; and the former was not slow to recommend Victoria, 111., the 
home of his younger brother Jonas Hedstrom. After a short stay in 
New York, Olof Olsson came on to Illinois in the fall, provided with a 
letter of recommendation from Rev. Hedstrom to his brother, looked 
him up and enjoyed the same cordial reception accorded him by the 
elder brother. From Victoria Olof Olsson early in the spring of 1846, 
after having made a prospecting tour of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minne- 
sota, wrote back to Sweden, recommending settlement in Illinois. 

Among the Erik 'Janssonists at home this aroused great eagerness 
for an early start for the new land of Canaan, the sentiment being in 
every way encouraged by the prophet and his apostles. At this 
juncture Erik Janssonism might have had a backset but for the 
proposed exodus which, as an adjunct to their religious fanaticism, 
aroused the spirit of adventure and held out the most alluring prospects 
of the blessed land beyond the Atlantic. But it was not easy to get 
from Sweden to America in those days. In the first place, the Erik 
Janssonists had some difficulty in obtaining the necessary passports. 
In the second place, vessels suited to the purpose of the emigrants 
were scarce. The few Swedish vessels engaged in American trade 
carried cargoes of iron and lacked accommodations for passengers. 
Some of these were remodeled for the convenience of the emigrants, 
but proved very inconvenient at best. Besides, several of the ships 
were old and hardly seaworthy. 

Erik Jansson had made up his own plan of emigration and decided 
to adopt absolute communism.* Accordingly, the members of the sect 
sold their real and personal property and formed a general treasury 
out of which the expenses of the passage were to be defrayed for all 

* On this point authorities differ. "In this plan did not enter *** those 
socialistic or communistic principles of society, which were enforced after the 

colony was well established. Upon leaving Sweden necessity prompted the 

emigrants to put their money into a common fund and to have everything in 
common. This community of property they chose to maintain after their arrival 
but there was no intention of founding the colony on a socialistic basis. Erik 


alike. As preparations were going forward, many difficulties arose. 
Thus many were in debt, and their affairs had to be cleared up ; others 
were soldiers and had to pay large sums for their release from military 
service; still others had difficulty in finding buyers and were forced to 
sell their property at great sacrifice. Nevertheless, the common fund 
grew quite large. Linjo Gabriel Larsson of Ostra Fors, Malung parish, 
one of Erik Jansson's chief followers in Dalarne, made the very 
substantial contribution of 24,000 crowns; others added twelve, nine, 
five or one thousand crowns to the general fund. Even the clothing 
not needed for daily use was sold, for all were to be dressed alike. The 
prophet appointed four persons as so-called "princes," who were to 
keep and administer the general fund, viz., Jonas Olsson and Olof Jans- 
son (afterwards known as Johnson) from Soderala, Olof Jonssoa (in 
America he changed his name to Stenberg or Stoneberg) from Forssa, 
and Anders Berglund from Alfta.* Anyone who wavered in his allegi- 
ance to the prophet was expelled without getting back his contribution 
to the general fund or any share of it. 

While his faithful followers were preparing for the general exodus, 
Erik Jansson left the country, f Equipped with the passport of another 
family, he set out with his wife and two children and several other 
persons. He himself, being a fugitive, traveled secretly at night, 
remaining hid by day at the homes of his believers. When he had left 
the parts where these lived, he traveled on skis, generally ahead of his 
party, and slept in vacant woodchopper's huts or wherever he could 
find shelter. After crossing the fjelds into Norway he traveled openly 
with the party to Christiania. 

Other members of the party were, Olof Norlund, who. to make the 
passport tally in Sweden, traveled as Mrs. Jansson 's husband, and three 

Jansson spoke of it as a temporary arrangement and it was his purpose, as also 
that of the other leading men, to make a change as soon as conditions permitted." 

"It is safe to say, that into his colonization plan did not enter any of those 
communistic or socialistic principles, which afterwards found a practical applica- 
tion in the colony. These were the fruits of necessity." (SWAINSON.) 

"That communism in the Bishop Hill colony originated in this way is quite 
likely; but even if no distinctly communistic plan was framed prior to emigration, 
yet I recollect that the doctrine of Christian communism was at the time strongly 
urged by the Janssonists, and therein lay the seed of the communism that sub- 
sequently sprung up at Bishop Hill." (NORELJUS.) 

Hiram Bigelow's assumption that Erik Jansson had come under the influence 
of the French socialists and adopted their communistic views is not supported by 
any known facts. 

So much is certain, that the plan was patterned after that of the earlier 
Christians, and there is nothing to show that it was to apply only during emigra- 

* The number is sometimes given as seven, but the names of the other three 
are nowhere recorded. 

f The statement that he left Sweden in January, 1846, does not tally with 
other data, which seem to place the event well toward the spring. Capt. Johnson, 
who avers that his father "left for America before Christmas, 1845," counts from 
his start from Helsingland. 



women. When Norlund was no longer needed, he returned, as did 
also Linjo Lars Gabrielson, who saw Erik Jansson safely out of the 
country and is said to have paid the passage to America for the entire 
party. From Christiania the party crossed over to Copenhagen and 
proceeded via Kiel, Hamburg, Hull and Liverpool to New York. 

The rest of the Erik Janssonists took passage on vessels in the 
ports of Stockholm, Soderhamn, Goteborg, Christiania, but principally 
Gefle. In the latter city they gathered in large numbers and held 
public meetings. They likened themselves to the children of Israel 
departing from Egypt. As Moses had destroyed the Egyptians in the 
Red Sea, so the prophet and messenger Erik Jansson would by the 
power of God lay waste all Sweden, that "accursed hell-hole, with fire 
and sword. In their eagerness to join in the exodus, wives deserted 
their husbands and infants, children their parents, and servants their 
employers. The journey was one of severe hardships to most of the 
emigrants. The lords of the exchequer, appointed by Erik Jansson, 
were to supply provisions and other necessaries, but their inexperience 
entailed much illness and suffering. To this was added seasickness. 
True, Erik Jansson had assured them of immunity from that nauseous 
affliction if they were steadfast in the faith, but subsequent events 
showed that either they were misled on that point or else there was a 
very general wavering among the faithful. 

Many of the emigrants were exposed to great peril. One ship, 
which set sail .from Soderhamn in October, 1845, and was the first to 
carry any considerable number of Erik Janssonists, was wrecked off 
Oregrund, but all the passengers there were sixteen or seventeen in the 
Janssonist party were saved and returned to their homes. They re- 
embarked on a ship which left Gefle in March the following year. An- 
other of the emigrant vessels, commanded by one Captain Eonning, 
went down with fifty emigrants on board, not one of whom was saved. 
A third ship foundered off New Foundland, the passengers saving their 
lives but losing all their property. When the ship "Vilhelmina" 
reached New York, in September, 1846, twenty-two children had died 
on the voyage. In this and subsequent years altogether one hundred 
and seventy Erik Janssonists perished on the way. 

Founding' of the Bishop Hill Colony, the First Swedish, Settle- 
ment in Illinois 

Erik Jansson and his family reached New York in June, 1846. His 
wife having just given birth to a son, they were delayed in that city 
several weeks. In the interval, Erik Jansson preached to the Methodists 
on board their Bethel ship. As soon as his wife was restored to 
health, they started for Illinois, accompanied by an American family 



named Pollock of New York and two Swedish women. In the early 
part of July they reached Victoria, where Erik Jansson met Olof Olsson. 
who had gone to America the year before. The latter lived on a 
forty acre farm in section 22, Copley township, and made a home 
for himself and family in a log cabin. In this same cabin the first 
Swedish Methodist congregation in America was afterwards organized 
on December 15, 1846. The shelter was far from satisfactory, but in the 
absence of better accommodations it had to do. Eain poured through 
the leaky roof, and snakes crawled in through the holes in the walls, 
subjecting the inhabitants to discomfort and danger. 

The first meeting in America between Erik Jansson and Olof Olsson 
was not a pleasant affair. As before stated, the latter had been con- 
verted to Methodism by Rev. 0. G. Hedstrom of New York, and when 
Erik Jansson learned of this, there was a hot encounter between the 
two men. 

Eric Jansson and family shared the log cabin occupied by Olof 
Olsson. They had no more than become fairly settled when this same 
log cabin was transformed into a theological forum, says Capt. Eric 
Johnson, in relating this reminiscence of his early boyhood. Theological 
discussions were served up for breakfast, dinner and supper. Between 
meals the combatants would sit in the shade of a tree, continuing the 
debate, and worst of all for the non-combatants, the wordy battle raged 
long after all had gone to bed. The only truce was during morning and 
evening prayers. This religious combat had been going on for days, 
if not weeks, when one night after retiring the war grew fiercer than 
ever. After a rapid exchange of redhot religious broadsides, Olsson 
finally lost his temper and threatened to get out of bed and throw Erik 
Jansson and his family out of the house. This proved the turning point 
in the affray, for next morning the two men were friends and looked at 
religion from the same point of view Olof Olsson had become a Jans- 
sonist again. 

A few days after the arrival of Erik Jansson came the first party 
of his followers. They were people from Dalecarlia province who. 
under the leadership of Linjo Gabriel Larsson, had left Malung April 
9th and 10th for America, via Christiania. From New York they had 
taken the route which was used by the great mass of Swedish and other 
immigrants for almost a decade before the first railroad was built to 
Chicago, viz., up the Hudson to Albany by steamer, thence by canal to 
Buffalo, and again by steamer over the Great Lakes from that point to 
Chicago. From the latter point, most of the adults traveled on foot to 
Victoria, while children and invalids rode on pack horses and in wagons 
purchased for transportation purposes. Later parties took the canal 
route to Henry or Peru, whence they walked or rode. The very last 
comers traveled by railroad the entire distance from New York to 



Galva. This was in 1854 after the completion of the C. B. & Q. road 
to the latter point. 

For the sum of $250 out of the common treasury Olof Olsson pur- 
chased a sixty acre farm at Bed Oak Grove, in sections 9 and 17, 
with a loghouse and a few acres of ground under cultivation. 
On August 21st, after the first party of immigrants had arrived, 156 
acres of section 8, in the same township, was purchased for $1,100. 
The party at once moved upon the land, managing as best they could. 
There was a log cabin, a piece of cultivated ground, and some timber. 
They now began to plan a small town or colony for those that were to 
follow, and after looking over the neighborhood they decided to locate 
at Hoop Pole Grove, comprising the southwest corner of section 14, 
Weller township. Here Erik Jansson bought 160 acres directly from 
the government on Sept. 26th, for $200. The same day a tract of 320 
acres in sections 23 and 24 was purchased for $400. It was a fine 
locality, with a small bluff, a spring of water, clumps of oak-trees and a 
small stream, known as South Edward's Creek. The place was named 
Bishop Hill, after Biskopskulla, the birthplace of Erik Jansson. Olof 
Olsson had accompanied the others to Red Oak Grove, and before the 
end of the year he and his wife, together with two of their children, 
were claimed by death; 

In readiness for a numerous party that was expected soon, two log 
houses were hurriedly put up, also four large tents and one so-called 
church tent, built of logs in the form of a cross and covered with 
canvas. The entrance and the pulpit were at the north end, while the 
south end was occupied by a fireplace and a gallery. This tabernacle 
had a capacity of 800 to 1,000 persons. A laudable trait of the colonists 
was this, that immediately upon their arrival they built a house in 
which to give praise and thanks to God, whom they would serve and for 
whose sake they believed themselves persecuted and martyred. 

On Oct. 28th Jonas Olsson arrived with a large party, including 
Erik Jansson 's two brothers, Johan, or Jan, and Peter. His mother, 
who was in the party, died during the voyage.' Many members of this 
as well as subsequent parties deserted in New York, the hardships 
endured on the voyage creating in their minds a doubt as to the divine 
mission of the alleged prophet. There is good ground for the belief, 
however, that many of the deserters probably had never professed an 
abiding faith in him, having merely taken advantage of the movement 
to get rid of their debts and obtain free passage to America. Many 
stopped in Chicago, among whom Jan Jansson, one of Erik Jansson 's 
own brothers. 

At the approach of cold weather, another party arrived, raising the 
total number of colonists to three hundred. The existing buildings now 
proved entirely inadequate, and many additional loghouses were hastily 


built, also a large sodhouse which served as kitchen and dining hall, 
or, according to the recollection of some, three sod kitchens were built, 
one by one, as needed, and later replaced by one large adobe kitchen in 
three sections. But even at that, the demand for shelter was not fully 
met. In addition no less than twelve so-called dugouts were constructed, 
by the process of digging holes, or cellars, in the side of the hill, the 
partial earthen walls being completed by a superstructure of logs. The 
hut was covered with a layer of thin boards on which was placed a 
thatch of sod. The door was at the front end, flanked by a couple of 
small windows, and the fireplace at the back wall. These unsanitary 
dwellings were 25 to 30 feet long and 18 feet wide and housed from 
twenty-five io thirty persons each. These slept in berths built in two 
tiers along the side walls, each berth with a capacity of three persons. 
During the first winter no less than fifty-two unmarried women are said 
to have lived together in a rude wooden structure. 

Late in the fall still another company of Erik Janssonists arrived, 
swelling the total number to four hundred. Of these seventy lived at 
Red Oak Grove. Fortunately the winter proved exceptionally mild, the 
ground being frozen for a period of only eight weeks. At times, how- 
ever, the cold was so bitter as to prevent outdoor work. 

Before undertaking a more detailed description of the Bishop Hill 
Colony, some account must be given of subsequent parties of Erik Jans- 
sonists that kept coming from time to time. In June, 1847, there were 
added to the settlement four hundred men and women and a large 
number of children. One hundred and eighty were brought over from 
Gefle on the ship "New York." The voyage had taken five months, 
the ship having been delayed by storms and laid up for repairs in an 
English port for six weeks. Not until March 12th did the passengers 
reach New York, much fatigued by sickness and famine. There they 
found another party of Erik Janssonists who had set sail from Gote- 
borg. Even after reaching New York the members of these two parties 
were subjected to indescribable hardships. The effects of their subsist- 
ing for so long a time on unwholesome food now became apparent, and 
conditions were still further aggravated Toy the necessity of crowding 
the emigrants together like cattle into small and unsanitary quarters. 
They were attacked by scurvy in its most loathsome form; in many 
instances the flesh rotted from the bones and joint was severed from 
joint, the poor victims writhing with pain at the slightest touch or 
movement. Within a fortnight thirty persons died. The dead were 
placed by twos or threes into rough boxes and buried without ceremony. 
The most afflicted ones were sorted out and placed in a subterranean 
room where scant beds were prepared on the floor. Instead of provid- 
ing suitable food and medical attention for the patients, the leaders 
prescribed fasting, while they went out in the city and provided them- 



selves amply with food and drink, maintaining that such a course could 
be taken without prejudice to their faith. Instead of giving comfort 
and solace to the sick and dying, they preached to them for two hours 
every morning and night, harshly denouncing them for their unbelief, 
which they declared was the chief cause of their sufferings. The leaders 
made daily attempts at performing miracles in the way of healing the 
sick ; they compelled the patients to arise and ordered them to believe 
that they were healed, invoking dire punishment upon them, when they 
fell back powerless on their beds. 

Several of the healthy members of the party, moved to compassion 
by the sufferings witnessed on every, hand and revolting at the ignor- 
ance, hypocrisy and hardheartedness of the leaders, bade their com- 
panions farewell, declaring they could no longer endure the sight of 
the misery. These deserters the leaders took care to deprive of every- 
thing of value that they possessed.* 

On April 26th, when the spring sun had melted the ice from the 
waterways, the survivors of the two parties were finally able to leave 
New York on their way to Illinois, taking the same route as their pre- 
decessors. The leaders of the combined parties were Anders Anders- 
son from Thorstuna and a blacksmith by the name of Hammarback. All 
who were able had to'travel on foot from Chicago to Bishop Hill. This 
slow mode of travel consumed ten days. To house the newcomers five 
new dugouts were built for the people, and additional ones for the 
horses and cattle, while to shut out the rain, the house of worship was 
provided with a solid roof of oak shingling. 

The sixth party of emigrants reached Bishop Hill in the summer of 
1849 under the leadership of Jonas Nylund from Delsbo, a paperrnaker's 
apprentice. He had gone to Norway and there induced a number 
of people to emigrate and join the new colony. Between Chicago and 
La Salle cholera broke oat in this party, which the aforesaid Anders 


Andersson found on his return from a business trip to Chicago in a 
deplorable condition and, with good intent but lack of forethought, 
brought them to Bishop Hill, where the dreaded pest broke out forth- 

A seventh party came over in 1850, under the joint leadership of 
Olof Johnson and Olof Stoneberg, who had returned to Sweden in order 
to collect moneys due and inheritances of minors, as also to gather up 
the remainder of the sect. The sum they brought back is said to have 
amounted to $6,000. The emigrant party was composed of 160 persons, 
who under Stoneberg 's supervision embarked at Soderhamn. On the 
ocean ten persons died. At Buffalo the whole company was taken on 
board an old propeller steamer bound for Milwaukee. Owing to bad 
weather and breakage in the machinery, the trip took two weeks, 

* The accuracy of this narrative is doubted or denied by certain survivors. 


and their provisions gave out. In Michigan, where the steamer 
touched, cholera added to their miseries, carrying off fifty to sixty of 
the party before Milwaukee was reached. A Swedish-American of that 
city, C. Blanxius by name, learning by chance that a party of his 
countrymen had arrived, at once provided care and medical service for 
the sick. Upon learning afterwards that Stoneberghad several thousand 
dollars in his possession, he compelled him to pay the bills. 

Later in the autumn of that year one Jons Andersson brought over 
the eighth party, numbering eighty colonists who sailed from Gefle on 
the ship "Condor." They had one loss by death during the passage. 
In 1854 the ninth and last party of Erik Janssonists arrived, numbering 
seventy. This ended the actual exodus of the sect. 

According to the ecclesiastical records, the Erik Janssonists in the 
provinces of Gestrikland and Helsingland numbered 913, all but 36 of 
whom lived in the last named province. Of the total number 649 were 
adults and 264 children; 409 were recruited from the so-called "read- 
ers." The greatest exodus of Erik Janssonists occurred in 1846, when 
823 persons emigrated from the two provinces, Alfta alone furnishing 
346, Ofvanaker 44, Voxna 40, etc. From the province of Dalarne 99 
people emigrated, from Upland an equal number, and from Herjedalen 
10 to 15. 

Individual immigration to Bishop Hill continued throughout the 
period, 1846 1854, swelling the total to about 1,500. While the early 
emigrants were actuated solely by a desire for freedom of worship, the 
latter presumably were led by mercenary motives, awakened by the 
rumored prosperity of the colony. 

In Sweden, Erik Janssonism was thus almost entirely eradicated, 
those of his converts who did not follow him to America returning to 
the established church or going over to other sects almost to a man. 
But even to this day persons in these parts have been known to 
persevere in their belief in Erik Jansson as "the new light sent by 
God." Erik Janssonism was also transplanted to Denmark, but gained 
only a mere handful of converts in that country. 

Daily Life in the Colony 

The daily life in the colony offered many peculiarities, the religious 
phase being the most pronounced. That the Erik Janssonists, who 
had emigrated in order to gain freedom to worship according to their 
own dictates, made sedulous use of their newfound liberty was but 
natural. During their first fall and winter in the new land, they held 
religious services twice every week-day and thrice on Sundays. Erik 
Jansson arose every morning at five and roused his people for matins. 
Half an hour later he made a second round, when all were required to 
gather immediately in the tabernacle for the morning services, consist- 



ing of a sermon and prayers, often consuming two hours' time. At 
Christmas, 1846, a church bell was procured, which served the double 
purpose of calling the people to worship and to their meals. The second 
religious service of each day was held in the evening. Along in the 
spring of 1847, when work in the fields began, the morning and evening 
services were replaced by a short noon meeting, held in a shady spot in 
the woods adjoining Bishop Hill on the north. These meetings were 
generally conducted by Erik Jansson in person, sometimes by the 
assistance of Jonas Olsson, Anders Berglund, Nils Hedin or some other 
leader. Erik Jansson 's own hymnbook was used, and in his sermons 

Bishop Hill The Old Colony Church 

he dwelt incessantly on his God-given mission , the sinless state of his 
faithful followers, and similar doctrines. 

For the propagation and perpetuation of Erik Janssonism twelve 
of the most gifted young men of the colony were selected in 1847 and 
given special instruction in the doctrines of the sect by the prophet 
himself and the most enlightened of his assistants. The prophet's 
prediction about the gift of speaking with tongues still remaining un- 
fulfilled, the English language was made one of the studies. The 
classes generally met in the shadow of a great oaktree, but a dugout 
was also used for school purposes. 

In the summer of 1848 the tabernacle, or church tent, was 
destroyed by fire, and the colonists at once began to build the edifice 
now known as the Old Colony Church, which is still one of the land- 
marks of Bishop Hill. It was completed in 1849, being built in three 
stories, the third forming the sanctuary while the first and second were 



partitioned off into dwelling rooms, there being also a couple of such 
rooms in the third story. 

Erik Jansson continued preaching to his faithful flock as long as 
he lived, though with some difficulty in his later years, owing to the 
loss of his teeth. The set of false teeth used by him after that formed 
such an impediment in his speech that his hearers had to strain them- 
selves to the utmost in order to catch his meaning. 

Provision was also made for the education of the young. During 
the first winter, Mrs. Margareta Hebbe instructed the illiterate elders 
in reading and writing, the school sessions being held in the tabernacle. 
After Mrs. Hebbe left the colony, Peter Hellstrom succeeded her as 
instructor. A similar school was opened at Red Oak Grove, where 
Karin Pettersson and a Mrs. Ronnquist acted as teachers. In January. 
1847, an English kindergarden was established in one of the dugouts, 
and conducted by an American clergyman by the name of Talbot. 
assisted by Mrs. Sophia Pollock. 

It was with the utmost difficulty that the colonists could procure 
flour for bread. The nearest flour mill was at Green River, twenty- 
eight miles away, the second nearest at Camden, the present village of 
Milan, a short distance from where the Rock River empties into the 
Mississippi. To these two points they sent their grain from time to 
time, but frequently the mills would be out of repair, necessitating 
still longer trips. In the meantime, the supply at home would give 
out, a real calamity in those days, when there were no neighbors from 
whom to borrow in an emergency. Then some substitute for bread 
had to be produced, and a couple of primitive hand mills were 
procured in which corn was ground into a coarse meal requiring 10 to 
12 hours of cooking to make it palatable. The colonists were many 
and the capacity of the mills was small, so they had to grind by shifts 
all night in order to- produce meal sufficient for the next day. 
In the large common refectory all dined together on food which 
was often insufficient and generally unpalatable. The situation was 
relieved to a great extent, when in 1847 a flour mill was built on 
Edward's Creek, but this stream would sometimes run dry, closing 
down the mill. In these emergencies the colonists would be called 
into requisition to tread the mill wheel, this arduous task falling prin- 
cipally to the lot of the twelve apostles to be. This method, however, 
proved too laborious, and man power was soon replaced by horse power. 
When this mill nevertheless proved unable to supply the demand, a 
windmill with two pairs of mill stones was built in January, 1848. 
The following year preparations were made for the erection of a steam 
power flour mill, which was completed in July, 1851. This establish- 
ment at once proved highly profitable, the farmers from near and far 



bringing their grain, while all the surplus grain of the colony was 
made into flour for the market. 



In the spring of 1847 the colony began to manufacture sun-dried 
brick, and several buildings of that material were put up; about the 


same time a saw-mill was built at Red Oak Grove, where there was a 
tract of oak timber. The saw-mill was later traded for a parcel of 
land and another saw-mill, located on a small stream in Clover town- 
ship. This mill was moved to Bishop Hill and located on Edward's 
Creek in 1848. In May the same year, eighty acres of timber land, 
with a saw-mill, in Weller township, was purchased from Cramer and 
Wilsey for $1,500. Thenceforth the colony was well supplied with 
lumber. Limestone was found in a ravine within the domain of the 
colony, and a man by the name of Philip Mauk taught the settlers the 
art of burning lime, yet large quantities of lime had to be bought. Brick 
kilns were also constructed, and gradually large and comfortable 
dwelling houses began to supplant the stuffy and unsanitary dugouts. 

The rapid increase in- population by immigration made the pur- 
chase of more land peremptory. Nov. 18, 1847, a quarter of section 17, 
in Weller township, was purchased of W. H. Griffin for $380, and 
before the end of the year other purchases were made as follows : 80 
acres in section 17, 240 acres in section 16, and 39 acres additionally. 
Moreover, pieces of land were rented here and there in the neighbor- 
hood, some as far away as present Woodhull. Farming was carried on 
with great energy. Part of the lands bought were already planted to 
corn; other portions were turned into wheat fields. After the last- 
named land purchases no less than 350 acres were under cultivation. 
During that and the following years the colonists surrounded their 
domain on three sides with an earthen wall or fence. 

The grain crop of the first year (1847) was cut with scythes in 
Swedish fashion; the next year so-called cradles came into use. In 
1849, during harvest time, thirty cradles were kept working night and 
day, but on finding the dews injurious to the health of the harvest hands 
night work was discontinued. Each cradle had a capacity of six acres 
per day. Women generally worked in the field binding the grain, while 
young boys and girls were employed to gather the sheaves 
and the aged to do the shocking. The last named year a reaper 
was procured from La Grange, but it was sent back as unsatisfactory 
and the cradles again brought into use, several of the men having 
acquired great skill in handling this implement. Anders Kilstrom and 
Hans Dahlgren, for instance, each cradled 14 acres of wheat from sun- 
rise to sundown. 

The harvest over for the season, a pleasant spectacle was enacted. 
The two hundred laborers formed in a double line, with the men in 
the lead, the women following, and the children bringing up the rear, 
and marched ba'ck to the village to the tune of merry folksongs. 
Arriving home, the reapers arranged themselves around the long tables 
in the largest dining hall, where a feast was spread, and thus was 



celebrated their first harvest festival with merrymaking and thanks- 

In the year 1852 improved reapers were introduced, replacing 
the inferior cradle and giving a different character to the work of 
harvesting the crops. 

The threshing of the crop of 1847 was left to one Broderick, who 
used a very simple and imperfect threshing contrivance. The machine 
afterwards became the property of the colonists who proceeded to 
build a new one of the same type but with many improvements. 

The colonists did not, however, confine themselves to the cultiva- 
tion of wheat and corn. Flax was raised, especially at first, with 
still greater success, owing to the fact that this was one of the staple 
products of Helsingland from time out of mind, and the emigrants 
from that province were experts in flax culture. The flax was prepared 
and woven by the colonists themselves and the linen products found 
a ready sale in the neighborhood. From the flax crop of 1847 12,473 
yards of linen was woven and sold. The production increased 
yearly, reaching 28,322 yards of linen cloth and 3,257 yards of carpets 
in 1851. The linen industry was continued until 1860, but it was 
reduced in 1857 on account of competition with the eastern factories, 
who dominated the western market as soon as shipping facilities were 
improved. Up to that time the colony had produced for the general 
market a total of 130,309 yards of linen goods and 22,569 yards of 
carpets, together with all goods needed for domestic use. From these 
figures it appears that this industry was an important source of income 
to the colony during its first decade. After 1857 flax was raised only 
for home consumption. The total, including 1860, was 169,386 yards. 

To the women and children, as well as to the men, belonged the 
credit for this flourishing industry. The latter cultivated the flax and 
prepared it, but the women did the spinning and weaving, while chil- 
dren were employed in the spooling and other minor processes. The 
first few years, while the number of looms was very limited, the weavers 
were divided into shifts who kept the looms going day and night. Thus 
the women were employed during the winter months. In summer the 
women, as they were accustomed from the old country, took part in 
the outdoor work with an endurance equal to that of the men. 

Though zealots in the matter of religion, the colonists were no 
temperance fanatics. Whisky was used to some extent among them, 
and in order to supply the growing demand a still was established. 
Their indulgence in liquor, however, was repugnant to the neighbors 
and brought the colonists into ill repute. 

For the sake of greater variety in the matter of food, and possibly 
with an eye to extra profit. Erik Jansson in 1848 established a fishing 



camp on Rock Island, in the Mississippi, near the present site of the 
city of Rock Island, and placed it in charge of N. J. Hollander and 
a half dozen other colonists. Fish was also obtained from the Illinois 

The lack of wholesome food, especially during the first year, com- 
bined with the unhealthy conditions in the overcrowded dugouts, 
caused a very high death rate. Fevers, ague and diarrhea, the most 
prevalent diseases, claimed many victims. In Red Oak alone 50 per- 
sons died during the winter of 1846 and the winter months of 1847 
claimed no less than 96 lives in Bishop Hill. The dead bodies were 
loaded into wagons and buried without any ritual or ceremony what- 
ever. Many corpses were not even provided with coffins. These grew- 
some conditions drove many of the healthy colonists from Bishop Hill 
in spite of Erik Jansson 's efforts to prevent desertions by posting 
armed pickets at night. The sick were not permitted to call in a 
physician : they were to be healed by faith alone. Those who did not 
believe, the prophet condemned to "the stones of hell." Jonas Hed- 
strom of Victoria was so shocked by the brutality and stolidity of Erik 
Jansson towards his people that he threatened legal proceedings, unless 
medical attendance was provided. Thereby Erik Jansson was ultimate- 
ly induced to engage an American physician, whom he also consulted 
in his own behalf. When the people were famished from lack of 
nourishment, the prophet evinced the same stolid indifference to their 
wants and sufferings. He sought to relieve their hunger not by 
supplying food, but by imposing repeated fasts. To their prayers and 
complaints he replied that if they had faith they could very well 
subsist on an eighth less than the rations they had been accustomed 
to in the old country, arguing that their lack of faith was the primary 
cause of their maladies. 

The continued misery of the colonists again moved Jonas Hed- 
strom to protest. He called the attention of the colonists, and rightly 
so, to the fact that there was absolutely no necessity for all the suffer- 
ing and privation to which they were subjected at the behest of Erik 
Jansson. The country was large, he argued, land was to be had almost 
for nothing; settlers in other localities were prospering on their well- 
kept farms, and the same opportunity was open to all. In the fall of 
1848 these representations resulted in probably two hundred persons 
leaving the colony, mostly joining the Methodists, a step which led to 
long and bitter religious warfare between the Erik Janssonists and the 
Methodists. The deserters settled at Victoria, Galesburg, and neigh- 
boring localities. The great majority of the colonists, however, were 
not to be shaken in their faith, but continued under the harsh rule of 
the prophet with remarkable patience and forbearance. 



Another decree of Erik Jansson in the early stages of the colony, 
causing much adverse comment, was one forbidding marriage.* This 
interdict soon had very damaging results, many young persons who 
desired to get married simply leaving the colony for other parts, where 
they were free to establish a home and family. When the prophet saw 
how his ban on matrimony worked, he declared that it had been 
dictated by "present need," meaning the lack of individual dwellings 
and other untoward conditions. He now alleged that he had received 
a new revelation to the effect "that the sons and daughters of Israel 
should marry and take in marriage, multiply and fill the earth. ' ' Now. 
therefore, all those that God had given a desire to marry should enter 
wedlock without delay, on peril of being condemned to "the stones 
of hell." Erik Jansson himself and all the subordinate leaders became 
extremely active as matchmakers among the young people, causing a 
veritable marriage epidemic throughout the colony. On several suc- 
cessive Sundays between 20 and 30 marriages were solemnized, but 
the fever ultimately subsided and normal conditions were restored. 

The material as well as the spiritual interests of the colony were 
looked after by Erik Jansson personally. He exercised the same 
arbitrary despotism in the one field as in the other. This man 's chief 
ambition was to rule and govern, no matter how. In the administration 
of the colonial affairs he was supremely arbitrary, his incompetence 
and recklessness bringing the community to the verge of ruin, as will 
be presently shown. 

When it had been decided to call in a physician, an Englishman 
by the name of Kobert D. Foster made application for the place and 
was accepted, but afterwards discharged by the colonists. Erik Jans- 
son then made a secret agreement with Foster to this effect : he was to 
be the body physician of the prophet at a compensation of $2,000 per 
annum, with the privilege of extra charges for services rendered other 
members of the colony. 

Foster, who seems to have been a sharp and crafty fellow, in a 
short time won the unlimited confidence of Erik Jansson. At La 
Grange, in Western township, 18 miles from Bishop Hill, he owned a 
tract of 1,116 acres of land, only a small part of which was under 
cultivation. This he desired to dispose of to Erik Jansson, but at first 
offered for sale only the growing wheat crop. Without making a 
thorough investigation Erik Jansson closed the deal at all too high a 
price. The harvesting and threshing of the wheat had to be done by 
the colonists without compensation. But Erik Jansson did not stop 
at this. Before he knew whether he had gained or lost by the deal, 
he bought the land itself for $3,000. These transactions as well as the 

* Landgren quotes testimony to the effect that Erik Jansson from the outset 
urged strict sexual abstinence in wedlock. 


previous agreement with Foster were made without a word to the 
colonists, and the same secrecy was observed in the matter of payments. 
The money in the treasury not sufficing, Erik Jansson turned over to 
Foster much of the property of the colony, consisting of horses, 
oxen, cows, hogs and calves, together with wagons, implements, cloth- 
ing, bedding, grain, provisions, etc., leaving the people almost destitute 
of what they needed for their subsistence and by which to cultivate 
the soil. Actual want resulted for all but Erik Jansson, who maintained 
his own household and took about all that was left for his own use. 

This disastrous deal was made, and its consequences were felt, in 
the summer of 1849. About the same time the colony was visited with 
another and greater affliction, but not even that could touch the im- 
pervious heart and shake' the imperturbable self assurance of Erik 
Jansson. The sixth immigrant party, under the leadership of Jonas 
Nylund, had just arrived. Cholera had broken out among them en 
route, and they brought the contagion to the colony. The pest began 
to spread July 22nd and raged till the middle of September, sometimes 
craving as high as twelve victims per day. Dr. Foster was totally 
helpless. This man, who had boasted his ability to cure ninety-nine out 
of a hundred cholera patients, failed to save a single life. The prophet 
himself now proved lacking in that firm faith which he had demanded 
of others by fleeing with his family to La Grange. After a short stay, 
he ordered those colonists still immune from the pest to follow him 
thither, but these brought the contagion, resulting in the death here of 
seventy cholera victims. 

No longer safe in La Grange, Erik Jansson took his family and 
several women to the fishery camp he had established on Rock Island, 
in the Mississippi, but even here the plague pursued him, carrying off 
his wife and two children. In spite of his incompetence, Dr. Foster 
still enjoyed the full confidence of Erik Jansson and was permitted to 
accompany him to Rock Island. As an instance of the blind faith he 
reposed in this impostor and his cool indifference in the midst of dire 
misfortune, it may be stated that while his wife lay in the death-throes 
which a few hours later put an end to her untold sufferings, Erik 
Jansson offered to wager $10,000 with certain physicians of the city of 
Rock Island that Dr. Foster would save her. 

Just after his wife's death, Erik Jansson began to plan a new 
marital union, ' ' in order to give a new spiritual mother to the children 
of Israel, " as he put it. On a Sunday some three weeks after her demise, 
the prophet in his sermon made known his purpose without reserve. 
The inner testimony of all the faithful, said he, was to determine the 
choice of this new "spiritual mother," and she also was to receive such 
assurance within her own heart. After services, all should come to 



him and make known what the inner voice had spoken. The general 
verdict is not known, but this much is true, that two women appeared 
as claimants for the vacant place. Sophia Pollock, who had accom- 
panied Erik Jansson and his family from New York, was the successful 
candidate, and the same day she assumed the management of the 
domestic work of the colony. She also acted as Erik Jansson 's secre- 
tary. A week later the wedding was solemnized with joy and hilarity 
on the part of the prophet but with a feeling of uneasiness among the 
guests, who were unable to forget that only a month had elapsed since 
his first wife died. 

Sophia Pollock, the second wife of Erik Jansson, was the daughter 
of a merchant of Goteborg and was born in that city. Her father 
having become bankrupt, she was adopted by a well to do family that 
moved to New York, where she was married at an early age to a sailor, 
who soon after went to sea and never returned. She was remarried 
to one Pollock of New York, principal of a private school, who after 
giving her an education, engaged her as his assistant. When Erik 
Jansson arrived in New York the couple made his acquaintance and 
afterwards accompanied him to Victoria. The Pollocks were prominent 
in Kev. Hedstrom's flock in New York and her going over to Erik 
Jansson was no small triumph for the latter. At the founding of Bishop 
Hill Mrs. Pollock joined the colony against the wishes of her husband.* 
Being widowed for the second time shortly afterwards, she subsequently 
married Linjo Lars Gabrielsson, who after a brief union succumbed to 
the cholera. She is said to have been a personable and gifted woman, 
and proved an invaluable helpmeet to Erik Jansson during the 
remainder of his life. 

In the meantime, the straits to which Erik Jansson 's rash business 
transactions had brought the colonists opened the eyes of the prudent, 
who contemplated with fears and misgivings the desperate state of 
affairs. The day after his wedding, Erik Jansson had a visit from 
three persons, Jonas Olsson, Nils Hedin, and E. U. Norberg, the latter 
remonstrating with him on his reckless extravagance in the manage- 
ment of their common property. The people, said he, had toiled beyond 
their power of endurance in order to accumulate wealth for the common 
good, but their wishes and opinions as to the disposal of it had not 
once been consulted. Instead of being treated as friends and brothers, 
they were held as slaves, bound to obey blindly his every beck and nod, 
Norberg concluded. 

The lecture, however, had not the slightest effect on the despotic 

* Her husband, who loved her as he did his life, went with her and tried to 
persuade her to return. But for the sake of her soul she dared not, for Jansson 
preached that there was no salvation outside of his New Jerusalem, and her 
husband died in Victoria, of a broken heart. Mrs. Pollock lost her reason over her 
husband's death, but shortly recovered. (MIKKELSEN.) 

2 3 8 





prophet. He replied briefly that he simply acted in accordance with 
his "inner testimony," meaning the dictates of his conscience, and that 
all who complained of his actions were the dupes of the devil. 

Norberg was from Ullervad, Vestergotland, where he had held the 
office of king's bailiff, and had preceded Erik Jansson to America. 
Being a just and clearsighted man, he appeared time and again as the 
spokesman of the oppressed colonists and the defender of their rights 
as against the tyranny of those in power. Had they taken his advice, 
the colony doubtless would have met a better fate. 

John Ruth, the Adventurer, and the Assassination of 
EriH. Jansson 

In the autumn of 1848 there came to the colony a trio af adventur- 
ers, viz., the aforementioned Erik Wester, one Zimmerman and John 
Ruth, alias Root, the latter destined to figure prominently in a tragic 
episode in the history of Bishop Hill. 

John Ruth was born in Stockholm, supposedly of a family from 
Norrland, and served there as sergeant in the army. He emigrated to 
America, presumably on account of some crime or breach of discipline, 
enlisted in the United States army and served in the Mexican War. 
When Ruth and his confreres arrived at Bishop Hill the aforesaid 
"marriage epidemic" was at its height, and he took advantage of the 
situation by marrying Charlotta Lovisa Jansson, a cousin of the 
prophet. Being of a rowdyish disposition and an unruly temperament, 
he presently had a disagreement with Dr. Foster. Erik Jansson sided 
with the latter, giving rise to a feud between himself and Ruth, which 
brought disaster to both. Not more than a month after his marriage, 
Ruth wished to leave and take his wife with him, but Erik Jansson 
would not permit it, basing his prohibition on a written agreement, 
drawn up and signed by the contracting parties at their marriage, 
requiring the husband to obtain a divorce and let his wife remain, 
should he ever desire to leave the colony. She dared not desert the 
colony contrary to the prophet's wishes, fearing thereby to incur the 
wrath of God, for so Erik Jansson had taught. When all his per- 
suasions proved in vain, Ruth went his way alone, but remained for 
several months in the neighborhood in the hoj>e of ultimately inducing 
his wife to accompany him. 

At the end of that time he returned to his wife, who had given 
birth to a son in the interval. When at the prophet's behest she still 
refused to come away with him, Ruth became enraged, making dire 
threats against them both, and resolved to force his wife into obedience. 
In order to give the act an appearance of legality he engaged a couple 
of county officers and, accompanied by a fourth person, a man from 



Cambridge by the name of Stanley, he appeared one Sunday in the fall 
of 1849 to claim his wife, who agreed to follow him, fearing to offer 
resistance. Kuth departed at once, with his wife and child, Stanley 
accompanying them, while the two county officers went another way. 
He left Bishop Hill just as the people came from church and sat down 
to their common meal. He had been detected, however, and less than 
two miles off a number of armed pursuers caught up with him, barred 
further progress, and commanded him to give up the woman and child 
to be returned to the colony. Ruth drew his revolver and threatened 
to shoot, but Stanley dissuaded him, deeming it the part of discretion 
to bow to a superior force.* In a special conveyance, which soon 
reached the spot, the wife and child were brought back to Bishop Hill. 

Thus thwarted in his, attempt to carry off his wife, Ruth on the 
very next day swore out warrants for the arrest of Erik Jansson and 
others and had his wife summoned as a witness at the trial, which was 
to take place at Cambridge. She was brought there by a county officer 
who had a secret understanding with Ruth, and confined in a room 
in the hotel, where she was not permitted to see any of her friends. 
Neither Erik Jansson nor Ruth were present at the trial. The latter 
was represented by his counsel. That night Ruth took his wife away 
to the home of some friends in the Rock River settlement. Several 
Erik Janssonists stated under oath that Ruth had violated the right 
of domicile during the hour of worship and secured a warrant for 
his arrest. When this was to be served, the friends of Ruth interfered 
in his behalf, preventing the arrest. 

At Bishop Hill various plans for the rescue of the abducted woman 
were evolved. Erik Jansson asserted that this must be done, even 
though half of Bishop Hill should be sacrificed. Not to be taken by 
surprise, Ruth secretly left Rock River with his wife and went first to 
Davenport and from there to Chicago, where they arrived on March 
15th, 1850, the woman finding asylum for herself and child in the home 
of a married sister. By stealth, Erik Jansson succeeded in discovering 
her whereabouts and sent five trusty henchmen to bring her back. The 
scheme succeeded: the woman and child were returned to Bishop Hill 
and so carefully concealed that few knew her hidingplace. 

Deprived of his wife a second time, Ruth broke into a furious 
rage and swore to wreak bloody vengeance on Erik Jansson and his 
colony. He proceeded to Green River, and, by describing the Erik 
Janssonists as a band of criminals that ought to be annihilated, he 

* Another version of the story has it that while Ruth was holding down 
his wife in the bottom of the rig, his revolver, which he had placed beside him, 
was snatched by one of the colonists (who were unarmed) and leveled at his head, 
when Ruth surrendered the woman, "who, upon being given her choice, accom- 
panied her rescuers back to Bishop Hill. 



succeeded in raising an armed posse of about 70 men, with which he 
advanced on Bishop Hill in order to capture Erik Jansson and rescue 
his wife. A thorough search was instituted, yet neither was to be 
found. The posse then gave the colonists one week in which to deliver 
the wife of Ruth to them, under penalty of having Bishop Hill burned 
to the ground. Frightened by this threat, Erik Jansson did not dare 
to remain at Bishop Hill, where he had been in hiding, but went to 
St. Louis with his family, Mrs. Ruth and several others. 

The economic state of Bishop Hill continuing desperate, the 
colonists conceived the idea of relieving the situation at one stroke 
by fitting out an expedition of goldseekers for California, where rich 
gold fields had been discovered two years before. As members of the 
expedition the following nine men were selected : Jonas Olson,* P. O. 
Blomberg, P. N. Blom, Peter Jansson, E. 0. Lind, C. M. Myrtengren. 
C. G. Blombergson, Sven Norlin and Lars Stalberg. A number of 
these having taken part in the rescue expedition to Chicago, and 
fearing the revenge of that dangerous man Ruth, they arranged to 
leave the colony simultaneously with Erik Jansson, starting for Cali- 
fornia on March 28th. f After a journey replete with perils and hard- 
ships, they reached Hanktown, Cal., Aug. 12th, hale and hearty, except 
Blombergson, who died after two weeks. Of the other eight, all but 
Stalberg, who remained in California, returned home in the course of 
the year 1851, having found barely enough of the precious metal to pay 
the cost of the expedition. The plan to put the colony on its feet again 
by means of Californian gold thus fell through. Nothing now remained 
for the colonists to do but to continue work in the fields, in house and 
yard, at sawmill and brickyard, and by redoubled energy repair the 

About this time Jon Olsson Stenberg of Stenbo removed from 
Moline to Bishop Hill and upon joining the colony is said to have con- 
tributed a substantial amount of money to the community.! 

Late in the evening of April 1st, Ruth returned at the head of the 
same armed posse and demanded the surrender of his wife. Her 
absence making that impossible, a respite of several days was again 
given, coupled with a renewed threat of burning the village, should the 
colonists fail to fulfill the condition. When the time was up, the crowd 

* This and similar names are henceforth given in the form their bearers 
wrote them in this country. 

t According to the diary of Jonas Olson, three of the men set out March 
23rd, going via Rock Island, through Iowa, etc., the others apparently on March 
29th, going by way of St. Louis. The two parties joined bn the way and reached 
Hanktown (Placerville), Cal., Aug. 12th, according to Olson. 

J In "Sverige i Amerika" Peterson, writing about Jonas Olson, illustrates 
that man's great persuasive powers with a story of how he "discovered" Sten- 
berg and "dug up" $50,000 in gold, while the California party were in the gold 
fields and found nothing. Stenberg's fortune, it is safe to say, could not have 
reached such a figure. Besides, the author apparently forgets that Jonas Olson 
himself was the leader of the party of goldseekers. 


again appeared, with reinforcements, evidently with a grim determina- 
tion to carry out the threat. The Mormon colony at Nauvoo had been 
wiped out by fire three and a half years earlier, and that event was still 
fresh in the memory of all. The passions of the incendiaries were keyed 
to a high pitch, but fortunately the catastrophe was averted just as they 
were about to throw out the firebrands. Norberg, who had been driven 
from the colony by the odium heaped upon him by Erik Jansson, got 
word of the intended outrage and the day set for it, and, quickly 
mustering another posse of well armed men, he marched to Bishop Hill 
and in a parley with the mob dissuaded them from violence. 

Again thwarted in his plans, Ruth swore vengeance on Erik Jans- 
son personally and sent him word that he would shoot him down at the 
first opportunity. . The prophet was living high at St. Louis while his 
deluded followers at Bishop Hill were haggard from hunger and priva- 
tion. Erik Jansson succeeded in obtaining considerable loans on the 
strength of ingenious newspaper articles setting forth the flourishing 
condition of his colony and putting himself in the most favorable light. 
For the evident purpose of strengthening his credit, he subscribed 
for $50,000 worth of railway stock at this juncture. 

His fear of Euth was somewhat allayed on hearing that the attack 
on Bishop Hill, planned by that desperado, had failed, so he returned 
home on May llth. He arrived on a Saturday, and while preaching 
his sermon the following day in the colonial church, he seemed agitated 
by fear, as evidenced by his quoting II. Timothy 4: 6-8 and at the 
subsequent communion service Matthew 26 : 29 in reference to himself. 
A large number of law suits had been entered against him in the 
county circuit court during his absence, and in order to defend his 
interests he went to Cambridge the following Monday, May 13th.* 
That morning he seems to have had a definite presentiment of danger, 
for on starting from home he is said to have asked his driver, one 
Mr. Mascall, "Well, will you stop the bullet for me today?" 
About one o'clock p. m., during the noon recess of the court, Erik 
Jansson stood near a window in the court room, conversing with At- 
torney Samuel P. Brainerd. Suddenly Ruth appeared outside the win- 
dow and put the question to Erik Jansson, whether he would give him 
back his wife and child, t The prophet retorted that a sow would be a 
more fit companion for Ruth than a woman. Maddened by the insult, 
Ruth rushed into the building and the next instant stood in the door- 
way leading to the courtroom, loudly calling Erik Jansson by name. 
When the prophet turned to look, Ruth fired a pistol shot directly at 

* An examination of the clerk's record disproves the assertion made by 
almost every writer on this subject that the case of Ruth vs. Jansson was before 
the court on that day. 

t According to Mikkelsen, friends of Erik Jansson claim no words were 
exchanged between the slayer and his victim prior to the firing of the shot. 



him, the bullet piercing the chest of Erik Jansson, who fell backwards 
and expired in a few minutes. As his victim fell, Ruth fired a second 
shot, which only tore a hole in the wounded man's clothing. Such was 
the tragic end of the checkered and peculiar career of Erik Jansson, 
the Prophet. 

His death created a tremendous sensation and deep sorrow in the 
colony. Nils Hedin and Jacob Jacobson, who had witnessed the 
tragedy in the courtroom, brought the dead body to Bishop Hill, where 
it was interred several days later. Many of the simple-minded colonists 
could scarcely believe that their master was really dead, some even 
hoped that he would rise forthwith from the grave. A simple wooden 
cross at first marked the last restingplace of Erik Jansson, the self- 
appointed ambassador of God on earth. This was replaced later by 
a handsome monument of white marble. 

At the time of the assassination, the courtroom was filled with 
people, who had no difficulty in catching the assassin. He was arrested 
and, after a trial pending two years, convicted and sentenced to three 
years in the penitentiary. After having served half of his term he 
was released in response to the numerous petitions for his pardon that 
were sent to Governor Joel A. Matteson. Kuth then went to Chicago 
where he spent the remainder of his life among the scum of the city. 
His stormy life ended in a revolting tragedy. While engaged in a 
drunken brawl with two other ruffians in a saloon, he was badly bruised 
and finally knocked to the floor, when one of his assailants jumped 
upon his chest and broke several ribs, the injuries causing his death 
shortly afterwards. Among the few Erik Janssonists in the old country 
the belief was general, however, that the murderer of the prophet was 
"consumed by worms" while in prison. 

The Incorporation of Bishop Hill and the Administration of 
Jonas Olson and Olof Johnson 

After the murder of Erik Jansson the property of the colony, which 
was all in the leader's name, devolved upon his widow. Mrs. Sophia 
Pollock Jansson knew more about the colony's affairs than any other 
person and took the reins of government into her own hands. But 
women were not allowed to speak in public, therefore Andrew Berg- 
lund, one of the assistant preachers, was appointed the spiritual leader, 
as also guardian of Erik Jansson 's son, who, according to the expressed 
wish of the prophet, was to become his successor. At the funeral Mrs. 
Jansson stepped forward and placed her hand on Berglund's bowed 
head, creating him guardian of the heir to the leadership of God's 
chosen people until the boy should have attained his majority. Berg- 
lund thus became nominally both the temporal and spiritual head of 



the community, but in matters of business no important step was taken 
without the knowledge and consent of Mrs. Jansson. The affairs of the 
colony were very much involved, and the creditors caused the new 
management much worry. The situation was somewhat relieved when 
Olof Johnson and Olof Stoneberg returned from Sweden with the afore- 
said $6,000 in inheritances collected. Then the farming and industries 
of Bishop Hill were pursued with renewed vigor. 

Berglund was not permitted long to exercise leadership. A rival 
soon appeared in the person of Jonas Olson, who was on his way to 

Andrew Berglund 

Preacher and Leader 

Jacob Jacobson 

Colony Trustee 

the gold country at the time, and did not learn of the death of Erik 
Jansson till after his arrival in California. Actuated by a desire to 
succeed to the leadership he decided to return forthwith. He abandoned 
the expedition, having had no faith in it from the outset, and started 
back home with a couple of the men, leaving the rest to follow at their 
leisure. Arriving in Bishop Hill in February, 1851, he at once began 
to set matters right. He persuaded several of his friends that Erik 
Jansson 's prophetic dignity was not to be handed down as a heritage, 
for the reason that no other man could receive the Holy Spirit in like 
measure; consequently, he argued, the present leadership ought to be 
abolished for a complete equality of rights. His friends were easily 



won over, and his views gained ground, being disseminated guardedly 
at first, but soon without any pretense of secrecy. 

The guardians of Erik Jansson's son could not claim infallibility 
of judgment, and many were dissatisfied to be governed by a woman. 
A respectable minority, while admitting Jansson's other claims, were 
not disposed to recognize those in behalf of his heir. It was this 
growing sentiment of dissatisfaction, which Jonas Olson voiced w r hen 
he denounced Berglund as a usurper and demanded his abdication. 
Jonas Olson's standing added weight to his words, and ere long the 
democratic spirit which he represented prevailed. The movement also 
gained strength from the operation of another circumstance. The 
affairs of the community were in such a condition that a strong and 
able man was needed to conduct it through the pending crisis. Jonas 
Olson was such a man, and to him the people instinctively looked for 
guidance. Thus it happened that, although no formal election or 
transfer of power took place, the leadership passed from the guardians 
of Erik Jansson's son into the hands of Jonas Olson. With his advent 
into power the claims of the family of Jansson retreat into the back- 
ground until, upon the' adoption of the charter in 1853, they practically 
disappear. In the struggle between autocracy and democracy the latter 
prevailed, but it carried with it the supremacy of Jonas Olson in 
spiritual and temporal affairs for years to come. This man's ambition 
to rule was probably as great as that of Erik Jansson, but it must be 
said to his credit that in general he made more discreet use of his 

During the troublous times of religious persecution in Sweden 
Jonas Olson's knowledge of men and affairs had more than once 
rescued the sinking cause of the Erik Janssonists. After the flight of 
their leader he had been the chief agent in bringing about their emigra- 
tion. Now his gifts and attainments, which latter were not inconsider- 
able in an untutored farmer, once more came to be of service to the 
people and to himself. 

A democratic form of government was now established, quite 
different from that to which the Erik Janssonists had been accustomed. 
Special superintendents or foremen were appointed for the various 
departments of work, these to be discharged at the discretion of the 
colonists themselves. These foremen, who also constituted the govern- 
ing body, met at brief intervals to deliberate and act on matters of 
common concern. Important questions were referred to the people for 
their decision. This form of government proved beneficial in every 
respect. Agriculture and manufacture flourished, the most pressing 
debts were paid, want was followed by plenty, and the future looked 
bright and full of promise. The cultivation of broomcorn, begun in 


1851, under the direction of an American named Davenport, proved 
particularly profitable. One large brick structure after another was 
built, and maples and other shade trees were planted to beautify the 
landscape. Many of the colonists were expert artisans, whose products 
found a ready sale. 

Although the colony was governed by the will of the majority, 
Jonas Olson was the controlling spirit. This man did not flaunt his 
ambition, but gained favor with the people by showing great zeal 
for the common welfare. 

From the first the colonists had owned all property in common ; 
not even the arbitrary conduct of Erik Jansson had suggested the 
necessity of a change in that respect. But the more the wealth of the 
community increased, the more evident was the need of specific 
regulations governing the ownership of property. The only way to 
obtain a satisfactory basis seemed to be to incorporate the community 
under the laws of the state. Under the existing order, the colony 
could not legally own property in its own name; in every instance 
property was acquired through purchase made in the name of some 
individual, at whose death the transfer to the community would meet 
with legal obstacles and entail trouble and expense. This fact Jonas 
Olson made to serve his ends. In conjunction with a few intimates, 
he drafter a charter for the Bishop Hill Colony, for passage by the 
state legislature. Signatures to this document were obtained from 
the majority of the adult members of the colony without any explana- 
tion save that the list of names was to be appended to a petition asking 
the legislature to grant the charter. 

Two of the colonists, the aforementioned E. U. Norberg and 
August Bandholtz, a German, who had married into the colony, being 
more prudent than the others, asked to see the proposed charter before 
affixing their signatures. After some hesitation, the draft was shown 
to Norberg, who made the pertinent objection that the trustees therein 
nominated had not been duly elected by the colonists but had 
arbitrarily placed themselves at the head ; furthermore, a number of 
them were interrelated by blood or marriage, a circumstance presaging 
the rise of a family autocracy prejudicial to the rights of the individual. 
These objections, publicly made, caused the colonists to rise in protest 
against the proposed charter, which for the moment seemed doomed 
to defeat. 

Jonas Olson, however, was master of the situation. After being 
closeted with Olof Johnson for several hours of secret deliberation, 
he declared to the assembled colonists that the proposed charter ought 
by no means to be changed. He insisted that the trustees would need 



all the power it conveyed, but suggested that the colonists might 
restrict this power and control their acts by passing special rules. 
Norberg protested that no special rules could be enforced at variance 
with a constitution once ratified. Jonas Olson maintained his point, 
adding that, after all, the charter would be a mere formality, inasmuch 
as the colonists were God's people, with the divine precepts inscribed 
in their hearts and consciences and with the Holy Writ for their 
fundamental law, making all temporal laws superfluous. So convincing 
arguments by the foremost leader silenced the opposition all but the 
obstreperous and heretical Norberg, who continued to object. 

Olof Stoneberg 

Peter Johnson 

Trustees of the Bishop Hill Colony 

The proposed charter, together with a petition for its passage, 
was sent to the legislature, and, after some pressure from the trustees 
to be, it was granted on Jan. 17, 1853. The seven self-appointed trustees, 
who were named in the articles of incorporation and whose appoint- 
ment was thus ratified by the legislature, were the following: Jonas 
Olson, Olof Johnson, Jonas Erickson, Jacob Jacobson, Swan Swanson, 
Peter Johnson, a brother of the prophet, and Jonas Kronberg. The 
first five were from Soderala and were all related by blood ; Kronberg 
was from Alfta. Peter Johnson was succeeded in 1859 by Olof Stone- 
berg, one of the colony preachers. According to the wording of the 
charter, they were to hold their positions for life, or during good 
behavior. They were removable by a majority vote of the male 
members of the colony. 


The conduct of affairs by the seven trustees for the first few years 
offered no ground for complaint. They seemed desirous of convincing 
the colonists that their mistrust had been entirely groundless, and the 
people were thus led to repose the fullest confidence in the trustees. 
The danger of arbitrary action, implied in the charter, was entirely 
forgotten, being obscured by incessant preaching of the theocratic 
doctrine. The members of the community were persuaded to adopt, on 
May 6, 1854, a set of by-laws, providing for the holding of an annual 
business meeting, when the trustees were to submit a full and complete 
report of the past year's business, but in no sense limiting the authority 
of the trustees or extending the privileges of the colonists. A draft 
previously submitted by Norberg and Jonas Olson had been rejected 
by the trustees for the good and sufficient reason that it would have 
had the opposite effect. The principal necessity for the early adoption 
of by-laws lay in the fact that the charter contained no provision for 
the admittance and expulsion of members of the colony. On this point 
the by-laws stipulated that insubordination in faith, teaching or living 
was punishable by expulsion with no compensation to banished mem- 
bers, except as the trustees might see fit to make. By this time it could 
be easily perceived that the popularization of the form of government 
had been more apparent than real. The colonists were unaccustomed 
to self-government. Their leaders hardly looked upon themselves as 
servants of the people, but rather as authoritative interpreters of the 
will of God. The seven self-constituted trustees were all persons who 
had been appointed to positions of trust under Erik Jansson and who 
considered that they had a perfect right to formal recognition of the 
power which they already virtually enjoyed. In reality the distribution 
of authority remained very much the same as before. Through the 
tireless industry of the colonists, the wealth of the community was 
materially increased during the first years of the administration of the 
trustees. All realty (except the Foster tract) owned by the colony in 
the time of Erik Jansson, but subsequently sold, was re-purchased and 
new extensive tracts of land were added to the colony's holdings. The 
reputation of the colony and its financial credit also improved. 

According to the annual report submitted by the trustees on Jan. 
21, 1855, the colony owned 8,028 acres of land, improved and un- 
improved, 50 building lots in Galva, valued at $10,000, and ten shares 
of stock in the Central Military Tract Railroad, valued at $1,000. The 
live stock numbered 109 horses and mules, 586 head of cattle, and 1,000 
hogs. All other assets such as wheat, flax, broom corn, provisions and 
general merchandise, were valued at $49,570. 

While the colony enjoyed marked material progress, it suffered 
spiritual decadence. The former religious zeal had apparently cooled. 



while the material interests pressed to the fore and engrossed the minds 
of the people. The Erik Janssonists formerly had sharply criticised 
the state church for its formalism and lack of spiritual ardor. Now that 
their own zeal had subsided, they were guilty of the same faults. Never- 
theless, regular divine services were held, the principal preachers being 
Jonas Olson, Anders Berglund, Nils Hedin, Olof Osberg and Olof 
Stoneberg. Yet, any member who so desired had the right to preach. 
The services consisted of prayers, singing and the reading and expound- 
ing of passages from the Scriptures. 

Olof Johnson Swan Swanson 

Trustees of the Bishop Hill Colony 

Under Jonas Olson 's leadership the religious tendency was in some 
measure one of conservative retrogression. He eliminated some of the 
excesses of the Janssonist theology and effected a partial return to 
the devotionalism of the Pietists and Readers, abolishing Erik Jansson 's 
catechism by degrees and thoroughly revising his hymnbook in 1857. 
As modified, the religion of the colony had a close resemblance to 
Methodism. The singing at divine service was particularly beautiful 
and inspiring, owing to the fervor evinced by the young people. The 
spoken language used, in the sermons, however, was not always the best, 
being sometimes a mixture of provincial Swedish and bad English. 
Many colonists had learned to speak the latter language fluently, and 
a school was maintained, where instruction was given in the subjects 



of reading, writing, ciphering, and other branches.* Higher education 
was odious to the colonists; they feared that "learning might tend to 
vanity." Several of the trustees and spiritual leaders, however, 
realizing their ignorance, began to acquire knowledge on their own 
account. A large schoolhouse was built in 1860, that being the last 
structure erected by the colony as such. From principle, the trustees 
were opposed to newspapers, yet a weekly Swedish paper called "The 
Swedish Republican" was started by them at Galva, in July, 1856, 
with S. Cronsioe as editor. The paper ceased publication after a 
short period. 

Success and prosperity made Jonas Olson and Olof Johnson vain 
and led them to believe and to proclaim openly that the material wel- 
fare of the colony was the result of the wise administration and success- 
ful speculations of the board of trustees, rather than the fruit of the 
labors of the people themselves. As their ambition grew, so did their 
independence. Great enterprises would be started and large contracts 
entered into without previous notice to the colonists, often, it is claimed, 
without the knowledge of any one besides Jonas Olson and Olof John- 
son. Should any one inquire into the common affairs, he would be 
sharply rebuked for his mistrust of the administration. 

The despotism of the trustees, like that of Erik Jansson, showed 
itself in a proclamation forbidding marriages for a certain period. 
This prohibition provoked constant irritation and eventually proved 
one of the chief factors of disintegration. The edict was brought 
about in the following manner: Nils Hedin, the only one of Erik 
Jansson 's twelve apostles who possessed the ability of propagating 
his master's teachings, had made missionary journeys to Hopedale. 
N. Y., 'to the Perfectionists in Oneida, N. Y., and to the Rappists in 
Economy, Pa., and persuaded 25 or 30 persons in Hopedale to move 
to Bishop Hill. In 1854 he made a trip to the Shaker Colony at Pleasant 
Hill, Ky., and there also succeeded in gaining many converts. His visit 
to the latter settlement had convinced Hedin of the advantages of 
celibacy. This conviction he succeeded in imparting to Jonas Olson, 
who thereupon issued a marriage interdict on alleged moral grounds 
and on the further plea that if all young women became wives much 
of the outdoor work performed by them would be left undone to the 
detriment of economic progress. After the edict had been in force 
for about a year, arousing strong resentment, Jonas Olson began to 
preach against the marriage institution as belonging solely to the Old 

* Mikkelsen states that Swedish was not one of the subjects taught in the 
school, its study being limited to the meager instruction given in the home. 
In the early fifties Capt. Wickstrum is said to have plugged the keyhole so as not 
to be detected burning the midnight oil over his English books. 



Testament period. It is a union, based entirely on the lust of the flesh, 
he held, therefore, those who already were married ought to abstain 
from connubial intercourse. 

Before the promulgation of the celibacy edict, ten members, among 
whom the widow of Eric Jansson, had left the colony and joined the 
Shakers. When it became a law without being submitted to a general 
vote, many others deserted Bishop Hill to settle elsewhere. Discontent 
was general among those who remained; but should any one dare to 
give vent to his disapproval, he would be summarily dismissed from 
the colony, according to the fifth article of the by-laws. On this ground 
eleven persons were expelled on May 7, 1855. Of the remaining 
colonists a number formed a secret league under the leadership of 
Norberg with a view to oppose the new doctrine and, whenever the 
organization should become sufficiently strong, to depose the adminis- 
tration. Certain ones weakened and betrayed the movement, and a 
rigorous investigation followed. Many of the conspirators were in- 
duced by threats again to accept the views of the leaders. Only 
Norberg himself remained steadfast in his opposition. For the leaders 
Norberg had long been a thorn in the flesh, and by continued vigorous 
opposition to their measures, he was largely instrumental in under- 
mining their power. 

In the meantime, the temporal and spiritual leaders sought to 
conceal from outsiders both the doctrines of the sect and the conditions 
obtaining in the colony. At the annual meeting held in 1856, it was 
resolved on motion of Jonas Olson that all persons visiting relatives or 
friends at Bishop Hill should put up at the hotel. In case of over- 
crowding, lodging was to be provided by the trustees, no member being 
permitted to house an outsider except by their permission. In spite 
of all this secrecy, the true condition became known to the neighboring 
American population, many of whom spoke their mind to the leaders 
without reserve. - One of the points of comment was the fact that the 
women whose husbands, willingly or by expulsion, left the colony, 
neither dared nor desired to accompany them, having been persuaded 
that to leave Bishop Hill, the only place where religion was being 
preached pure and unalloyed, were to commit a mortal sin. In order 
to clear themselves, Jonas Olson and Olof Johnson invited their 
American neighbors to appoint a committee to institute a thorough 
investigation. This was done, but the report of that committee, was 
far from complimentary to the leaders. Besides substantiating the 
charges made, it laid bare the prevailing social conditions. Not even 
by these disclosures could the leaders be persuaded to change their 
policy. On the contrary, they renewed their efforts still further to 
alienate the wives from their banished husbands. 





T're draslL' m^r: i ige ii terdict. which not only prohibited new 
marriages but forbade conjugal relations between man and wife, 
created much strife and caused irreparable damage to the reputation 
of the colony. Scandal followed upon scandal, heaping opprobrium 
on the Erik Janssonists and Bishop Hill. In sheer exasperation, a 
number of colonists determined to come out in open warfare against 
the leaders and their tenets. These persons^ were Sven Johan Nordin, 
Olof Molin, and Hans Nordstrom, headed by the intrepid Erik U. 
Norberg. Fearing that their antagonists might eventually bring about 
a dissolution of the colony, the leaders decided to call a public meeting 
at which the boldest of the disturbers were to be publicly excom- 
municated for their own punishment and as an example to other mal- 
contents. This meeting was held October 31, 1856. In direct violation 
of the express stipulation in the by-laws, it was resolved, on motion 
of Olof Johnson, to give every woman and child a vote. Then a resolu- 
tion was passed directing members desiring to marry to obtain per- 
mission from the board of trustees. That being granted, the contracting 
parties were to leave the colony for other parts before consummating 
their union. Persons entering wedlock without asking permission in 
due order were to be summarily expelled. Norberg and three others 
positively refused to submit, and in consequence were banished from 
the colony. Furthermore, all members were strictly forbidden to have 
any intercourse whatever with them. No one of those expelled had 
any part of his property returned to him, although they had toiled from 
eight to ten years for the common good. 

The actions of the leaders were sharply attacked in the public 
press ; a number of Americans took the part of Norberg and his friends 
and proposed to get justice for them by force if no other means availed. 
It was proposed to invade Bishop Hill with an armed posse and force 
the trustees at the point of the musket to grant restitution to the men 
they had banished. Norberg, however, objected to this method and 
proposed a settlement by legal process. His plan was to petition the 
legislature for the revocation of the charter of the Bishop Hill Colony 
and the appointment of a committee to distribute its property equitably 
among the colonists. Thereby the dissatisfied members would receive 
their just portion, and be left free to leave the colony, while those who 
so desired might remain loyal to the leaders, reorganize the corporation 
and change its laws to suit themselves. The Americans approved this 
as a wise and equitable solution of the mooted question. A petition 
was drawn up and circulated, receiving no less than 1,500 signatures, 
and was then submitted to the legislature. Norberg appeared in person 
and by the assistance of Senator Graham urged the granting of the 
petition. The Bishop Hill leaders were represented by Attorney Ram- 



say and Senator Henderson. After three weeks the matter had been 
brought to the point where the fate of the Bishop Hill charter hung on 
the vote of a single senator. That senator had the matter postponed 
from time to time, demanding more time for consideration. Meanwhile 
Senator Graham began to waver. One day he inquired in guarded terms 
whether Norberg would withdraw his petition for a consideration of 
one thousand dollars. Suspecting foul play, Norberg refused the money 

-Jonas Kronberg 

Jonas Erickson 

Trustees of the Bishop Hill Colony 

point-blank. A few days after, Graham stated that urgent private busi- 
ness made a trip home necessary, adding the assurance that he would 
soon return to push the matter through. The same day Graham left the 
capital, Olof Johnson arrived in response to a telegram, and the matter 
was hurriedly disposed of in the legislature to the entire satisfaction of 
the trustees. That bribery had been resorted to was patent to all.* 

This victory, though a rather costly one, raised the courage and 
enterprising spirit of the leaders to a high pitch. They persuaded the 
colonists that, God being on their side, all opposition was doomed to 
failure. The one man who was not to be imposed upon by these fine 
phrases was Norberg. Assisted by the dissatisfied element, he strove 
energetically for a division of the property. This was a thing worth 
while, for in the year 1857 the property held in common doubtless 
aggregated over $700,000 in value. The individualizatioii of the 
property, however, did not take place until great losses had been 

* It is reported that the thing- was done by judicious use of the sum of $8,000. 



sustained in the panic of 1857 and through unfortunate business 

Olof Johnson's Business Ventures and the Downfall 
of the Colony 

As has been shown, Jonas Olson was the dominant spirit in the 
council of seven, but at his side stood Olof Johnson, whose power and 
influence was ever on the increase, undoubtedly with the approval of 
his chief. These two men were each the complement of the other. 
Jonas Olson was shrewd, but conservative, and cautious in the extreme ; 
Olof Johnson, on the other hand, bold and enterprising. The admin- 
istrative work they divided between them in accordance with natural 
gifts and capabilities. All matters pertaining to worship and the 
administration of domestic affairs were in the hands of Jonas Olson, 
who laid particular stress on the development of the extensive agri- 
cultural pursuits, while Plof Johnson looked after the business affairs 
of the colony, his activities in this line dating back to about the time 
of the change in the administrative system. 

The opportunities for speculative enterprise were very favorable. 
In 1854 the town of Galva was founded five miles from Bishop Hill. 
When the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railway was completed in 
1855, giving Galva a railway station, the little town had a great boom, 
which Olof Johnson took advantage of. He started a number of 
business enterprises there, under the auspices of the Bishop Hill 
Colony, calculated to bring sure and abundant profit. In a short time 
he sat in his office at Galva and directed practically the whole economic 
machinery of the colony, all the more easily done since he controlled 
four of the seven votes in the board of trustees. At first he had the 
most pronounced success. The Crimean War had caused a sharp rise 
in the price of such commodities as wheat, corn, and other produce. 
But his reckless passion for speculation grew even more rapidly than 
his successful business enterprises. Overspeculation was epidemic at 
this time, and Johnson was soon drawn into a veritable whirl of diverse 
ventures, such as dealing in grain, lumber and general merchandise, 
meat packing, coal mining, banking, railroad building, etc. Together 
with several other persons he signed a contract to grade the roadbed 
for the Western Air Line Railroad for the sum of five million dollars, 
and pledged the Bishop Hill Colony to take stock for one million in 
the road. This was his most extensive undertaking. Ere long, Olof 
Johnson found himself in too deep water, and when the panic of 1857 
came, the colony suffered loss upon loss, rapidly reducing the wealth 
which the colonists had produced in the sweat of their brow and 


sweeping away the earnings of the successful business ventures. The 
period was marked by great financial disasters, and the Bishop Hill 
Colony was early drawn into the vortex, heavy losses compelling the 
colonists to submit to some sacrifice in order to raise money to stand 
off the creditors. Attempts made to start new enterprises invariably 
failed, owing to the prevailing hard times. 

All too late, the colonists now began to realize whither the specula- 
tions of Olof Johnson had carried them, and they urged measures 
wherewith to control the actions of the board. That body obstinately 
refused to surrender a single prerogative. The only man on the board 
who was willing to admit the justice of the demand was Peter Johnson, 
who resigned as trustee in 1859 and was succeeded by Olof .Stoneberg. 
The involved financial affairs added to the general discontent, and all 
things conspired to bring about the collapse of the whole system of 
religious and economic communism. Conditions grew still worse in 
the latter half of the year 1859, when it leaked out that the trustees 
had negotiated large loans to cover business losses. Questioned on this 
point at a public assemblage, the trustees laid the blame on Olof 
Johnson, who had sole charge of the finances. He finally admitted that 
he had borrowed $40,000 from one Mr. Studwell of New York, but 
protested that this was a private transaction of his, not in the least 
affecting the interests of the other colonists.* 

Under the circumstances, the division of the property proposed by 
Norberg in 1857 naturally came to be favored by many. Evidently 
the only avenue of escape from complete ruin was to be found in 
amending the by-laws and repealing the communist pact. At the 
annual meeting held in January, 1860, a resolution to this effect was 
passed. The annual report rendered showed that the colony owned 
between 13,000 and 14,000 acres of land, partly improved, real estate in 
Galva. stocks and credits in various enterprises, and other resources, 
making a total of $846,270, while the liabilities amounted to $75,644 
all told. This report aroused suspicion, and the colonists demanded 
that the books be audited. The trustees refused to show their accounts, 
and a storm of indignation was about to break, when Jonas Olson 
quieted the murmur of the people by declaring that their demand was 
just, whereupon he had an auditing committee appointed, with the 
proviso that the accounts of the lasts two years were to be submitted 
to them after a period of three weeks. 

On the 7th day of February, new by-laws were adopted at a 

* The official statement of colony debts in 1861, included in the "Answer of 
the Defendants," recognized as a corporate .liability a mortgage loan of $40,000 obtained 
from Alexander Studwell in February, 1858. When in 1861 the loan was renewed, this debt 
exceeded $5O,OOO. This fact seems to account for a statement that at about that time 
Johnson borrowed such a sum from Studwell. 



meeting, the legality of which the trustees denied. These by-laws 
deprived them of the right to buy and sell realty, make contracts or 
incur debts on the general account, except upon formal resolution 
of the colonists and \vith their express sanction. After much strife 
and discord, a resolution to divide the property was carried into 
effect on Feb. 14th, each of the 415 colonists receiving one share of 
stock in approximately two-thirds of the total resources. This portion 

of the property consisted of near- 
ly 10,000 acres of land, valued at 
$400,000, buildings and realty in 
Bishop Hill, worth $123,208, and 
personal property, worth $69,585, 
making a total of $592,793. The 
undivided property was estimated 
at $248,861. The stockholders split 
up into two groups, the Olson and 
Johnson parties, the former repre- 
senting 265, the latter 150 shares. 
But Olof Johnson managed to get 
control of the stock of Olson's 
friends as well as of his own, and 
soon directed the entire business. 
The audit of the accounts of the 
corporation had a disheartening 
effect. Among the disclosures made 
was the fact that the trustees, 
during the three weeks' respite 
given them, had opened an entire 
new set of books, and that, according to the " corrected" accounts, the 
colony owed $42,759 over and above the reported indebtedness of 
$75,647, or a total of $118,403. The discoveries made shook the con- 
fidence of the colonists in their trustees and hastened the end. Olof 
Johnson was in a sorry plight. By a resolution of Nov. 13, 1860, he 
was deposed from the office of trustee for arrogating to himself the 
management and control of the colony's affairs, violating the by- 
laws and betraying his trust. By intrigue he managed to get himself 
reinstated as trustee on May 24, 1861, and proved himself almost 
indispensable to the board in the work of clearing up the muddle. 
In a short time he was again almost solely in charge of affairs. He was 
clothed with power of attorney to make the best bargains possible with 
the creditors of the corporation and served as attorney in fact 
until 1870. 

Shortly after the division of property had taken place, the 

Mrs. Mary (Malmgren) Olson, 
First Child Born in Bishop Hill 

2 5 8 


remainder of the common estate, valued at $248,861, was placed in 
the hands of the trustees with instructions to use it to clear the colony 
of debt. They were given five years in which to clear up the affairs, 
with instructions to report annually. Part of the assets being found 
valueless the amount proved inadequate and a lot of cattle, broomcorn, 
etc., to the value of $52,762 was subsequently set aside to make up for 
the deficit. 

In the spring of 1861 the Johnson party divided up their holdings 
so that each got his or her share of the property. To every person, 

Major Eric Bergland Capt. Eric Johnson 

Well-known Descendants of Bishop Hill Leaders 

male or female, who had attained the age of thirty-five years, was 
given one full share, comprising 22 acres of farm land, one timber lot 
of nearly two acres, one town lot and an equitable share of all barns, 
horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and other domestic animals and of all farm 
implements and household furniture and utensils. All under this age- 
received a share corresponding to the age of the individual, the 
smallest being 8 acres of land and other property in proportion. After 
another year's trial the Olson party, now split up into three groups, 
known respectively as the Olson, Stoneberg and Martin Johnson 
groups, took similar action, the shares received by their members 
being somewhat smaller. Thereby all economic community of interest 
had ceased, and each colonist could dispose of his property as he saw 
fit. This new order of things for a time made Bishop Hill flourish 


as never before. Handsome residences and other buildings sprang up 
in rapid succession, and the colonists seemed hopeful and confident of 
the future. If not now relieved of the debt, for the payment of which 
they had already made so great sacrifices, they firmly hoped to be 
rid of the burden inside of five years. But their hopes were to be 
rudely shattered. At the end of the period, the trustees came in with 
a request for an additional $100,000 to satisfy the creditors. An assess- 
ment was levied. The majority being prosperous, they decided to pay 
rather than go to law, but about half refused or neglected to pay. 
The sum of $54,858, or $56,163, was raised and turned over to the 
trustees. Those who refused to pay their assessments held the former 
appropriation ample. That, however, had been decreased about 
$100,000 by assets found worthless, making the total appropriation for 
debt-paying purposes, inclusive of the receipts from the last levy, 
about $260,000. 

The years passed by; the people toiled on as before, and their 
labors were blessed with rich returns. The trustees also labored on 
in a way, but as no reports were forthcoming, the people were left in 
the dark as to what progress they made in paying off the debt. 
Finally, when in 1868 the trustees again requested a large sum of 
money $123,835 the sorely tried patience of the people gave out. 
At a public meeting on May llth, the malcontents appointed a com- 
mittee, composed of Norberg and five others, to bring the trustees to 
an accounting, and on July 27th, legal proceedings were instituted. 
A special master in chancery was appointed who, after due examination 
of the books, certified that the trustees since 1860 had received money 
and property to the value of $249,763 and paid out on account of the 
colony $140,144, the sum of $109,619 remaining to be accounted for. 

The Bishop Hill Colony Case 

In this famous lawsuit, renowned among the legal fraternity of 
Illinois as the "Colony Case," there were many facts brought out, 
favorable to the defendants, which are usually ignored by writers who 
have dealt with the history of Bishop Hill. While the trustees as a 
body cannot be exonerated from blame for th sins of commission and 
omission charged to their executive head, Olof Johnson, printer's ink 
has tended to make them out rather blacker than they deserve. It is 
only common fairness to assume that the truth in this case was not 
all on one side. 

When the Erik Jansson family ceased to dominate the colony's 
affairs, it naturally went over to the opposition, and thus we find 
Erik Jansson 's son making common cause with Norberg, his father's 
old antagonist, against those in control. The suit against the trustees 


was filed by Erik U. Norberg, Eric Johnson, Olof Olson, Andrew 
Norberg, Lars Lindbeck and Andrew Johnson, complainants, acting 
for themselves and in behalf of other persons dissatisfied with the 
manner in which the trustees were winding up the common affairs. 
Being a party to the suit and one who thereby sought redress for old 
grievances, Eric Johnson was not free from bias, and his published 
account of the case, though quite generally accepted without question, 
cannot be considered impartial. 

The bill of complaint charged the trustees with malfeasance on 
a large number of counts, such as, exercising undue and improper 
influence over the legislature in securing the passage of the charter 
and coercing the colonists into joining the corporation ; illegal con- 
struction of the charter and by-laws; diverting colony property to 
their own use ; violating the revised by-laws ; sinister purposes in sub- 
dividing the property ; failure to make the required reports ; collusion 
in fraudulent lawsuits to waive just defense, procure judgment and 
decree against the colony and deprive it of money and property under 
color of judicial proceedings; gross neglect of duty; misuse, waste and 
unlawful disposition of corporate funds ; concealment of the true state 
of the colony 's pecuniary affairs ; unlawful use of the corporate funds 
for private speculation; mortgaging property without good and 
sufficient consideration on all of which and other grounds the com- 
plainants asked for a writ enjoining the trustees from further exercise 
of their authority. 

In answer, the trustees urged a formidable array of facts, allega- 
tions and denials, many of them well-grounded. Without this admis- 
sion, the progress of the case can hardly be understood. In fairness 
to the memory of those of the trustees who did act in good faith and 
whose principal fault was lack of vigilance, the chief points in their 
defense, touching the various charges of maladministration, are here 
outlined. As to the diversion of real estate to private uses, reference 
was had to the county records to show that all colony lands, formerly 
vested in individuals, had been duly conveyed to the colony upon its 
incorporation, no real estate being illegally retained by or conveyed to 
any trustee individually for his private use and enjoyment prior to 
or after the general subdivision ; and it does not appear from available 
accounts that this specific charge was substantiated. 

The individualization of the property was stated to have been 
planned and carried out on a just and fair basis, without any other 
motive than a desire to meet the wishes and subserve the interests of 
all concerned, the express condition being that the corporation should 
not be dissolved until after the payment of all corporate debts. The 
debt was understood at the time to be $100,000 and upward, and the 
individuals were to remain charged with the lien of this debt, the deeds 


to their respective pieces of land not to be given until they had paid 
their proportionate share of the same. 

After the sub-division had been made, and certain property had 
been exempted to apply on the payment of the debt, part of this 
property, to the value of $40,000 or thereabouts, was destroyed by fire 
in September, 1861, the available capital being thereby reduced so 
much, that, too, at a time of pressing want to meet corporate obligations 
and to equip the colonists for individual farming the next year. 

From the year 1861 on the colonists cultivated their respective 
tracts, enjoying the issues and profits therefrom. As they needed all 
the fruits of their labors, the corporation determined to procure 
extensions from the creditors until the members should be better able 
to contribute their share toward the payment of the debt. In August, 
1865, the trustees levied an assessment of $200 per share, and deeds 
were made out and placed in escrow, to be delivered to the shareholders 
upon completing payment of the assessment. The trustees stated that 
if those assessments had been promptly met, it would have enabled 
them to avoid costs, save the sacrifice of property and nearly or quite 
discharge the colony debt. But only a part of the required amount 
was realized, namely the sum of $54,858, which was disbursed by Olof 
Johnson, as attorney in fact, in part payment of debt. 

The defendants, further answering, stated that since the chartering 
of the colony, it had been engaged in many lawsuits and was especially 
so involved after proceedings were inaugurated for a sub-division of 
the property; creditors then became restive and outsiders sought by 
legal strategy to take advantage of the corporation and speculate upon 
its misfortune. The rights of the colonists, they averred, had been 
defended to the utmost, and against the charge of collusive and 
fraudulent lawsuits, defaults, combinations to waive just defense and 
other legal strategies, entailing losses to the colony, they entered 
positive denial. A schedule of some 120 lawsuits was given, not 
including many suits before justices of the peace and other inferior 
courts, nor all of the cases brought before courts in Chicago and it is 
a safe inference that these suits cost the corporation a large amount 
of money. 

The loans negotiated are stated to have been solely for the benefit 
of the colony, in time of pressing need ; the mortgages in every instance 
having been given for good and sufficient consideration, and the money 
thus secured turned into the common treasury to be disbursed for the 
common good, wherefore, the trustees averred, to attempt to avoid 
these just obligations, as suggested by the complainants, would be 
bald repudiation and dishonesty. 

In March, 1868, the trustees, desiring to complete the individualiza- 


tion, pay all obligations and dissolve the corporation, levied a new 
assessment, aggregating $123,835, which sum, together with remaining 
assets, was thought adequate for the payment in full of the colony 
debt, now amounting to about $158,000. But the majority of the 
members were unable to pay their pro rata share without hardship. 
The trustees therefore made an arrangement with Elias Greenebaum 
of Chicago whereby he was to loan them the respective amounts, on 
mortgage security, giving such terms as to prevent sacrifice of property. 
Had all availed themselves of this arrangement, which they did not, 
the debt might have been fully liquidated, the trustees asserted, and 
each member would have obtained clear title to his or her allotment 
of property. 

The trustees accounted for the size of the debt of 1868 in the 
following manner: To the amount due in 1861, estimated at $112,000, 
should be added interest at 10%, commissions, costs incurred in litiga- 
tion, sums paid in compromise, in cases where legal advantage had 
been obtained over the colony, payment of taxes, and other legitimate 
causes of increase of corporate debts; it would then be readily seen 
why the debt had become the debt of 1868, although $54,858 had 
been paid thereon. Furthermore, a claim of about $60,000 against the 
Western Air Line Railroad, counted as an asset in 1860 and 1865, had 
been found worthless, except as to the sum of $6,500, which had been 
received in settlement. It was further estimated that undivided 
property remaining unsold would bring at most $20,000. 

As to contracting, banking and other enterprises, into which the 
trustees engaged on the initiative of Olof Johnson, they offered a 
plausible defense of their acts. In 1854 they contracted for the grading 
of part of the roadbed of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and 
earned $37,000 under that contract. Two years later the colony was 
awarded a contract to grade the projected Western Air Line Railroad, 
and a large sum of money ($60,000) had been earned, when the railway 
company failed as a result of the panic. As the failure could not be 
foreseen at the time when the contract was made and labor thereon 
performed, and as the claim was watched for some ten years prior to 
its settlement for $6,500, the trustees disclaimed responsibility for the 
loss sustained. This contract, which involved no less than five million 
dollars, and promised to yield the colony a very handsome profit, was 
by no means a bad speculation, as has been freely admitted even by 
Eric Johnson himself.* 

In 1856-1858 Olof Johnson represented the colony in a copartner- 
ship with Samuel Remington, in a bank at Galva, known as the 
Nebraska Western Exchange Bank, through the failure of which as a 

* See "Svenskarne i Illinois," page 66. 


result of the panic the colony incurred losses. The trustees, while 
admitting this, declared that the undertaking had been reported to 
the members of the colony and approved by them, adding that a settle- 
ment was had in 1860 with Olof Johnson, who was then discharged 
from liability for the failure. 

While on many points the defense of their acts offered by the 
trustees seems valid, the manner of handling the accounts of the colony 
by them does not appear equally defensible. In 1849 Olof Johnson had 
raised in Sweden about $6,000 for the colony. In the schedule of debt 
submitted in 1868, we find this item, "Notes and interest due parties 
in Sweden for money loaned, etc., $12,000." This was either a part of 
the same item or another loan, which through neglect had been allowed 
to accumulate, notwithstanding intervening years of prosperity, 
one of which alone showed an increase of $238,334 in the value of 
personal property, according to the trustees' report. The Studwell 
loan of $40,000 in 1858, which three years later represented a liability 
of $66,570, is another case in point, though the prevailing financial 
stringency no less than lack of vigilance may account for this increase. 
The summary of accounts submitted by the trustees in 1868, showing 
receipts of $171,964 and disbursements of $195,837, was not convincing, 
and Olof Johnson's claim for reimbursement in the sum of $23,873 for 
money paid out in excess of receipts was naturally viewed with 

From the answer of the defendants we gather, in conclusion, that 
the complainants were not all legal members of the corporation, and 
that they had in almost every instance failed to assist in paying off 
corporate obligations, while the trustees, with a single exception, paid 
both assessments, amounting in the case of Jonas Olson to as much as 
$3,120. The revised by-laws were, the trustees declared, illegally 
passed and therefore could not be binding upon their acts, and they 
were in fact never so held by them. 

After a long and aggravating legal contest stretching over five 
years, the case was left to the judge, who delayed his decision for a 
like period. Finally in 1879 some sort of settlement of the case was 
effected. The trustees were not held accountable for the $109,619 ; 
Olof Johnson's claims of $23,873 and salary for the years he had acted 
as attorney in fact were disallowed; all other claims against the 
corporation were held valid and ordered paid, in addition to which 
$57,782 in new obligations, including a contingent fund of $16,000 
and costs on both sides, were saddled on the colonists. This "so-called 
decree." like others caustically referred to in like terms by the 
Supreme Court at a later occasion, was the result of a compromise 
between the attorneys in the case and was doubtless signed by the 


judge merely as a matter of form. Under the decree, entered April 25 
and July 28, 1879, many tracts of land were sold by the special master 
in chancery (William H. Gest), the owners of "which were not parties 
to the suit. The most of the lands were not redeemed from the sale, 
and deeds were made out to the purchasers, who had been notified at 
the sale that possession would not be voluntarily yielded by the owners. 
Petitions were filed by the grantees in some of the deeds for writs of 
assistance to put them in possession of the lands, among them the 
lands of John Root, a son of the man who killed Erik Jansson, now a 
prominent attorney. This proved the test case, on the outcome of 
which hung the fate of the entire colony case. Root's land had been 
sold for $2,868.50 and was purchased for the benefit of Charles C. 
Bonney, the attorney who prosecuted the suit against the trustees. 
The judge who tried the case granted a writ of assistance directing the 
sheriff of Henry county to put the petitioner, Lyman M. Payne, acting 
for Bonney, in possession of the land. Root appealed the case to the 
Appellate Court, where the judgment of the lower court was reversed. 
Payne appealed his case to the Supreme Court, where the judgment 
of the Appellate Court was affirmed. The opinion of the Supreme 
Court, rendered May 12, 1887, by Mr. Justice Mulkey, reads in part 
as follows : 

"Numerous orders and so-called decrees were, from time to time, 
entered in the cause, even a cursory examination of which, we think, 
fully justifies the claim of appellant that it is ' a case sui generis. ' Under 
the compendious title of The Bishop Hill Colony Case, after the manner 
of Dickens' celebrated case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, it has been 
'dragging its slow length along' for a period of over eighteen years, 
and, as far as we are able to perceive, those who have been chiefly 
benefited by it are the immediate parties to the suit, their counsel and 
the officers of the court notably the master in chancery, who has 
received some $9,000 out of the fund, as fees in the case . . . The con- 
clusion sought to be drawn from the circumstances pointed out as 
sustaining the claim (against Root) find no sanction in law and just as 
little in reason or logic. Viewed from a legal aspect, or, indeed, from 
any other aspect, we have seldom, if ever, seen a case so entirely des- 
titute of merit." 

The law governing the remaining cases being thus determined, the 
cases were dismissed and never resurrected. The original Bishop Hill 
case then remained, deserted by those who brought it and by their at- 
torney. When the clerk of the Circuit Court of Henry county was 
making up the docket for the February term, 1888, a member of the bar 
of the county suggested to him that the case be omitted from the docket, 


which was done, and thus the last remnant of the Bishop Hill Colony 
was given a quiet burial. 

To estimate the losses to the colonists incurred by Olof Johnson's 

Old Settlers Monument at Bishop Hill, Erected in 1896, in Memory of 
the Founders of the Colony 

administration and through the resultant litigation is not possible, in 
the absence of reliable figures. Up to and including the year 1879 there 
seems to have been an expenditure in money and property, to pay debt, 
aggregating $300,000, and a loss of more than $100,000 in bad accounts, 


worthless notes and other doubtful assets.* What remained of the old 
corporate debt was paid with the proceeds from the subsequent land 
sales. After the death of Olof Johnson in 1870, the affairs were 
managed by Jonas Olson, with the assistance of Swanson and Jacobson, 
Stoneberg and Kronberg taking little part. 

The Final Fate of EriK. Janssonism 

The decisive steps in the dissolution of the colony having been 
taken in the years 1860 to 1862, many of the Erik Janssonists left 
Bishop Hill and settled elsewhere. Jonas Olson sought to form a con- 
gregation that would remain true to the doctrines of Erik Jansson, but 
failed in the attempt, the colonists already having been divided in the 
matter of creed. In 1867 the Seventh Day Adventists made a successful 
effort at proselyting among them, establishing a church in 1870 with 
150 members, among whom was Jonas Olson. Shortly afterwards, the 
congregation was divided on certain doctrinal points, the one faction 
being headed by Jonas Olson and Martin Johnson, the other by John 
Hellsen, Peter Wexell and others. The rupture was not permanent and 
the members have worshiped together for many years. Not a few of the 
former colonists have gone over to Methodism. A Methodist Church 
was organized as early as 1864 with fifteen members, which number 
rapidly increased. Olof Stoneberg and Anders Berglund became the 
local preachers of this flock. A small number accepted Swedenborgian- 
ism ; beyond that the colonists largely preferred to remain outside of all 
denominational pales. 

Sept. 23 24, 1896, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of 
Bishop Hill was commemorated. Over two thousand people were in 
attendance, among whom were no less than ninety-nine of the incorpor- 
ators of 1853. Of the trustees two were still living, Jonas Olson, aged 
ninety-four, and Swan Swanson. 

A granite monument had been erected bearing this inscription : 


Dedicated to tKe Memory of the Hardy Pioneers 
who, in. order to secure 


left Sweden, their native land, with all the endearments 
of home and Kindred, and founded 

on the uninhabited prairies of 


Erected Joy surviving members and descendants 
on the 5OtK Anniversary, September twenty-third 


* A statement in "Svenskarne i Illinois," p. 51, that by 1879 it had cost the colonists 
$672,910.61 to pay their debt of $118,406.33 is clearly erroneous, the enormous total hav- 
ing been reached by duplicating items aggregating a quarter of a million. 






At the present time Bishop Hill is a small village with a population 
somewhat in excess of three hundred. The large buildings erected at 
the time of its greatest prosperity are still occupied, though some- 
what dilapidated. But few of the early colonists now remain alive. 
Berglund, Norberg, Hedin, Stoneberg, Olof Johnson, and Jonas Olson, 
all these leaders have passed away and the second generation sprung 
from them and their contemporaries is already growing old. Sophia 
Jansson, the widow of the prophet, died in the Henry County infirmary 
in 1888; Erik Jansson 's son, Captain Eric Johnson, is now living in 
California, and the daughter, who was married to Captain A. G. War- 
ner, a veteran of the Civil War, and later became Mrs. Rutherford, also 

In the evening of his life Jonas Olson, although confined to his 
invalid's chair by decrepitude, continued to preach. His eyes were 
dim, and it was better so, for his flock had grown pitifully small and 
looked grotesquely out of place in so capacious a house of worship as 
the old colony church. In 1871 he lost his first wife, whose maiden 
name was Katrina Wexell. The following year, at the age of seventy, 
he obtained a second helpmeet in Miss Katrina Johnson, a girl of 
twenty-eight. He passed away at his home in Bishop Hill on Nov. 18, 
1898, at the ripe age of ninety-six years. 

Olof Johnson, born in Soderala parish, Helsingland, June 30, 1820, 
died at Galva, July 18, 1870, in the midst of difficulties attending the 
famous lawsuit. He left an insolvent estate, and but for his life insur- 
ance, it is claimed, it would have fared hard with his family. 

Andrew Berglund, born in Alfta parish, Helsingland, Jan. 10. 1814, 
departed this life at Bishop Hill, Aug. 17, 1896. In 1867 he joined the 
newly organized Swedish Methodist Church at Bishop Hill, which he 
served as local preacher until his death. His son, Major Eric Bergland, 
U. S. A., retired, of Baltimore, Md., is one of several descendants of the 
original colonists, who have attained eminence. 

Olof Stoneberg, elected colony trustee in 1859 to succeed Peter 
Johnson, joined the local Methodist church in 1868 and became local 
preacher and an eminent member of the denomination. At his death, 
which occurred Jan. 8, 1892, he left a generous bequest to the Swedish 
M. E. Theological Seminary at Evanston, 111., on whose board of 
directors he had served for many years. Stoneberg was a native of 
Helsingland, born in Forssa parish on Feb. 17, 1818. 

Swan Swanson, the last surviving trustee of the colony, died in 
Bishop Hill Mar. 24, 1907. He was born May 25, 1825, in Soderala, 
Helsingland. Swanson served as colony bookkeeper and storekeeper 
prior to 1860 and subsequently with Jacob Jacobson became joint 
owner of the store. He was for many years postmaster of the village. 



Eric Ulric Norberg, whose conspicuous connection with the Bishop 
Hill Colony has been shown in the preceding pages, was born June 22, 
1813, at Ullervad, Vestergotland, Sweden, and graduated from the 
college at Skara at the age of eighteen, after which he became private 
secretary to the provincial governor, serving until the age of twenty- 

Eric U. Norberg in Old Age 

three, when he was appointed Clansman" for Skaraborg and one other 
"Ian." This office he held until 1842, when with his sister he emigrated 
to America, settling first in Michigan, then moved to Wisconsin and 
afterwards to Minnesota. This region at that time was scarcely 
inhabited by any white people, and. he lived near the Indians and had 
very friendly relations with them. In 1847 he joined the colonists at 
Bishop Hill, where he married and lived in the colony off and on for 
about ten years, then left and came to Chicago, where he lived for 
some two years, but returned about the time that the colony broke up 
and the division of property took place. Part of the time he was with 
the colony, he was secretary and kept the records of the meetings of 
the corporation. He also had charge of the colony warehouse at Galva. 
Prior to that time he also had charge of the warehouse at Henry on 



the Illinois River, where the colonists did a large portion of their 
shipping. In 1863 he moved with his family on a farm near Toulon, 
where he lived for a number of years until he moved to Galva, with 
his daughter, Mrs. Carrie N. Jones, where he died at the age of nearly 
86 years. A son of Eric Norberg is Gustaf Norberg, an attorney, of 
Holdrege, Neb. 



Other Early Settlements 

Character and Condition of Settlers 

N the latter forties and the early fifties, when Swedish 
immigration to the West showed a marked increase, 
these immigrants either settled in communities already 
established by Americans from the East or founded new 
settlements of their own. All who were able to do so 
purchased a piece of land and some live stock. The others had to 
hire out for work until they had saved up enough money to buy land. 
Simple dwellings, mostly log cabins, were built. One of the first cares 
of the immigrants was to organize a congregation and build a church 
edifice in which to worship God in the manner of their fathers. 
After having provided for these most urgent temporal and spiritual 
wants, they began to acquaint themselves more thoroughly with the 
new country and to prepare themselves for the proper exercise of the 
rights and duties of citizenship. 

These settlements flourished rapidly, their progress largely due to 
the industry and hardiness of the settlers. The fertile prairie soil, 
under careful cultivation, yielded rich harvests; large herds of cattle 
soon grazed on the green bottoms; the rude little loghouses gradually 
gave way to larger and more commodious dwellings; the small, strug- 
gling congregations grew to be a great factor in the mental culture of 
the settlers ; the settlements grew steadily more extensive and populous, 
due partly to their own enterprise, partly to continued immigration. 
In many of these settlements agriculture, combined with the raising of 
live stock, was then, and continues to be, the principal occupation, while 
in others industrial plants were established which have since developed 
so as to rank with the largest of their class. 

At that time the American settlers in Illinois, composed largely of 
New England yankees, had purchased tracts of land, not so much 
from a desire to become farmers as from a penchant for speculation. 
When Swedes in any considerable numbers flocked to a certain spot, 
these original settlers usually retreated, leaving the newcomers as lords 
of all they surveyed. Hence, certain settlements, almost from the 
outset, became exclusively populated by Swedes, and have retained 



that character. In others there was a mixture of Americans and 
Swedes, the two nationalities getting on well together and making 
united efforts for the development of their communities. In still others 
the Americans were numerically stronger, yet the Swedes pushed to 
the front in various lines, thus forming an important factor in the 

Although it is not our present purpose to write the local history of 
the Swedish settlements in Illinois, yet, for the sake of obtaining a 
connected story and a survey of the historical field, brief sketches of the 
rise and development of the principal early settlements, founded prior 
to the outbreak of the Civil "War, are here given, commencing with 
Andover, in Henry county, next to Bishop Hill the oldest Swedish 
settlement in the state. 


The first white settler in Andover was a Dr. Barker, who arrived 
May 6, 1835, remaining there only a short time. In June of the same 
year three other Americans, viz., Rev. Pillsbury, Mr. Slaughter and 
Mr. Pike, came there for the purpose of looking up a site for a colony 
that was being organized in New York. They selected an extensive 
tract, part of which was platted as a town site. Streets, alleys and a 
public square were laid out, and the place was named Andover, after 
the Massachusetts city where the renowned Congregational theological 
seminary is located. The land company in New York evidently worked 
with the pious intention of building up a Christian community, and 
making money incidentally, but the plan was not realized as originally 
framed, for in the place of a strong colony of American Puritans there 
sprang up a populous settlement of Swedish Lutherans. 

One of the first buildings erected in the place was a flour mill. 
During the first few years the population was small, and the settlers 
experienced all the hardships of pioneering. The nearest post office 
was at Knoxville, thirty odd miles distant. The letter postage at that 
time was 25 cents. 

The first Swede in Andover and Henry county at large was Sven 
Nilsson, a 'sailor, who arrived as early as 1840. The next arrival of 
Swedish descent was Miss Johanna Sofia Lundqvist, born Jan. 15, 1824, , 
at the paper mill Perioden, near Jonkoping, her parents being J. E. 
Lundqvist, a paper manufacturer, and his wife Brita Maria, nee Floden. 
The factory having been destroyed by fire, Lundqvist in 1842 moved 
with his wife and four children to Helsingland, where he purchased 
the Lund paper mill in Forssa parish. Together with many others, 
Lundqvist and his wife were drawn into the religious movement started 
by Erik Jansson. Mrs. Lundqvist appears to have been a particularly 



zealous member of the sect, judging from the fact that she was one of 
the fifteen persons who on Dec. 7, 1844, made a bonfire of Lutheran 
books, near Stenbo, in Forssa parish. For this alleged sacrilege these 
persons were tried at Forssa Feb. 24, 1845, and fined each 16 crowns, 
32 shillings banco. The verdict no doubt had something to do with 
Lundqvist 's determination to emigrate to America with his family in 
company with Erik Jansson's followers. He sold the paper mill and 
with wife and three children, including the oldest daughter, joined a 
company of Erik Janssonists who emigrated in 1846. The youngest 
daughter, Mathilda Gustafva, remained in Sweden to clear up the 

While the parents settled at Bishop Hill, the oldest daughter early 
in 1847 hired out as a domestic in the family of a Mr. Townsend in 
Andover. She was the first Swedish woman to live in Andover. The 
year of her arrival she formed the acquaintance of P. W. Wirstrom, a 
Swedish sea captain, whom she married. This was the first Swedish 
family in Andover. Captain Wirstrom, born at Waxholm in 1816, 
seems to have emigrated at an early date. The year of his arrival is 
not known, but it is known to a certainty that he was here as early 
as 1846, when he sailed on the Great Lakes. In the fall of that year 
he learned that a company of his fellow countrymen had arrived at 
Buffalo, N. Y. Going there, he found that the emigrants were Erik 
Janssonists headed by Nils Hedin. At their request he accompanied 
them as interpreter on their journey to Bishop Hill. After their arrival 
he became almost indispensable in the capacity of physician, possessing, 
as he did, a smattering of medical learning. He remained there till 
July, 1847, when he removed to Andover. 

After his marriage to Johanna Sofia Lundqvist, they made their 
home in a log cabin in Andover until the fall of the same year, when 
they removed to New Orleans, where Captain Wirstrom hired out as 
a slave driver. The following spring the couple returned to Andover, 
but went back to New Orleans in the fall, Wirstrom returning to his 
former occupation there. One day, in weighing up the cotton on the 
plantation where he was employed, it was discovered that the day's 
harvest was too small, and Wirstrom got orders to urge the slaves to 
still greater exertions. This he refused to do, and, having already had 
enough of the slave driver's job, he once more returned to Andover in 
1849. The same summer the cholera epidemic ravaged Andover as 
well as Bishop Hill, and Lundqvist 's two sons were among its victims. 

This was also the year of the great California gold fever. Among 
those who went west to seek their fortune in the newly discovered gold 
fields were Captain Wirstrom and his young wife. In company with a 
number of others from Andover, they set out April 6, 1850, on their 



long journey across the prairie wilderness to the golden land. They 
traveled mostly on foot, and many were their sufferings en route. For 
Mrs. Wirstrom, who had to do the cooking for eight men in the 
company, the journey was especially hard and toilsome. She stood it 
manfully, however, and late in August all arrived safe and sound at 
Beadville's Bear. A few weeks later, the Wirstroms bought a hotel. 
Adversities now came in rapid succession. Their only child died, and 
an attack of consumption compelled Captain Wirstrom to return to 
Illinois in 1854. He died Feb. 25, 1855, at Bishop Hill. Then Mrs. 
Wirstrom sold the hotel in California for $8,000 and removed to 
Bishop Hill. 

Nov. 4, 1856, Mrs. Wirstrom was wedded to an American by the 
name of M. B. Ogden, of Galva, and they settled on a farm which she 
purchased at Victoria, living there for more than twenty years. In 1881 
they removed to Riverside, California, where she resided until her 
death, June 10, 1904. 

The younger sister, who had been left behind when the Lundqvist 
family emigrated, came over in 1850, was married to one J. W. Florine 
and moved to Andover in 1855 with her husband, who became the 
first physician, druggist and photographer of that place. Florine 
served as second lieutenant in Company H, 43rd Illinois Volunteers 
in the early part of the Civil War, but asked for his discharge Feb. 4, 
1862, and died the same year. His wife, born at Nykoping in 1829, is 
still living. 

Returning to the early settlers of Andover, we meet here the 
aforementioned Peter Kassel, who emigrated from Kisa, Ostergotland, 
to Iowa in 1845, and corresponded with friends in the old country 
with the result that another company emigrated in 1847 from the same 
part of Sweden. They arrived in New York with the fixed intention 
of going to New Sweden, Iowa, but Rev. 0. Gr. Hedstrom succeeded in 
persuading them to go by way of Victoria, Illinois, where his brother 
Jonas Hedstrom was located, and investigate conditions in that locality. 
Jonas Hedstrom referred them to Andover, where they went to live. 
In the company were N. J. Johnson with wife and an adopted daughter, 
all from Jareda, Smaland, and Anders Johansson with wife and three 
children, from Linneberga in the same province. Johnson and his 
family obtained temporary lodging in the home of Rev. Pillsbury, later 
on moving into a loghouse that stood on the present site of the 
Andover orphanage. 

At the same time, or possibly somewhat later, came a family by 
the name of Friberg, one Nils Nilsson, a family named Hurtig, and in 
1848 John A. Larson from Oppeby, Ostergotland, who was to play a 
prominent part in the public affairs of Andover and vicinity. 



N. J. Johnson and Nils Nilsson were the first Swedish landowners 
in Andover. As early as 1848, they each purchased ten acres of land at 
$1.25 per acre. Johnson's rude hut, the first Swedish home in the 
settlement, stood as a landmark for many years and may have been 
preserved to this day. 

Anders Johansson died in 1849, but his widow was married again, 
to Samuel Johnson of Orion. In her younger days she was a strong 
and sturdy woman, in physical prowess the match of any man. N. J. 
Johnson and his wife were still living in the year 1880, and Nils Nilsson 
in the latter part of the eighties. Friberg removed to Colfax, Iowa; 
Hurtig, who lived south of "Deacon Buck's place," died in 1849, his 
wife surviving him by many years. In 1880 she was residing in Polk 
county, Neb., where she had moved in 1875. John A. Larson did not 
long remain at Andover, but went to Galesburg and there learned the 
wagonmaker's trade. In 1850 he went to California in search of gold, 
of which he found little or none, whereupon he returned in 1851, taking 
up his former trade in Galesburg two years later, and shortly after- 
wards removing to Andover, where he built a carriage shop of his own 
and was engaged in that trade for fifteen years. During that time he 
purchased the homestead of Eev. Pillsbury, which he made his home. 
Having early acquired a knowledge of the English language, he was 
of great assistance to his countrymen in legal or business matters 
and thus earned their lasting gratitude. In time he became a large 
landowner. In 1880 he owned no less than 587 acres of fertile land. 
His wife, who died in 1879 after a union lasting twenty-six years, bore 
him eight children. This honored and distinguished pioneer passed 
away at Andover in April, 1903. 

The little Swedish settlement was reinforced in 1848 by two un- 
married men, Gabriel Johnson and Gustaf Johnson, and five families, 
viz., Samuel Johnson from Sodra Vi, Smaland, with wife and three 
sons ; Halland Elm from Gammalskil, Ostergotland, with wife, one son 
and two daughters; Erik Peter Andersson from Kisa, Ostergotland, 
with wife, two sons and three daughters; Samuel Samuelsson, also 
from Kisa, with wife and four children, and Mans Johnsson from the 
same place, with wife and one son. 

These five families were part of a party of 75 emigrants who 
left Sweden in 1846, embarking at Goteborg on the sailing vessel 
"Virginia," Captain Johnson, for New York. The entire company 
were bound for New Sweden, Iowa, but their plans were frustrated. 
In Albany, N. Y., the modest sum set aside for their traveling expenses 
was stolen, and all the way to Buffalo, N. Y., the emigrants had to 
subsist on wild plums growing on the banks of the canal, and anything 
edible that they could pick up. Reaching Buffalo, they were unable 


to proceed farther, but remained in that city for two years in order 
to earn the money needed for reaching their final destination. In the 
meantime, friends and kindred at Andover had learned of their where- 
abouts and their sorry predicament, and sent letters urging them to 
come to their settlement. The five families just enumerated obeyed 
the call. One of the party, Mans Johnsson, had died during their stay 
in Buffalo. 

The balance of the party proceeded to Sugar Grove, Warren 
county, Pa., and became the pioneer Swedish settlers there and in the 
vicinity of Jamestown, N. Y. The aforementioned Samuel Johnson, 
who eventually settled at Orion, Henry county, died in 1887. Erik 
Peter Andersson passed away in 1854 and his wife in the latter 
seventies. Samuel Samuelsson and his wife removed to Galesburg, 111. 

In 1849 Andover received a substantial addition to its population. 
That summer a party arrived from Ostergotland and northern Smaland, 
originally consisting of 300 persons who had left Gb'teborg in the spring 
on the sailing vessel "Charles Tottie," Captain Backman. After seven 
weeks and four days they arrived in New York, whence they were 
carried by three canalboats to Buffalo. On board one of the boats 
cholera broke out. At Buffalo they took passage on a steamer for 
Chicago. There they met Captain Wirstrom, who escorted them to 
Andover, their final destination. The trip was made by canal from 
Chicago to Peru, from which point the emigrants and their effects 
were carried across the country in nine wagon loads at $18 per load, 
arriving at Andover July 31st. Their original intention also had been 
to look up Peter Kassel at New Sweden, la., but the cholera epidemic 
and other diseases in the party cut short their trip and compelled them 
to stop at Andover and neighboring points. Among the members of 
the party were the following : Nils Magnus Kihlberg and family, from 
Kisa, who settled at Swedona, where Kihlberg was still living in 1890 ; 
the brothers Carl Johan Samuelsson and Johannes Samuelsson from 
Vestra Eneby, Ostergotland, who with their families settled at Hickory 
Grove, Lynn township, south of Andover township. When the railroad 
was built through that country a station was located at Hickory Grove 
and named Ophiem. after Johannes Samuelsson 's old home, Opphem in' 
Tjarstad parish, Ostergotland. The two brothers had great success in 
farming and accumulated considerable wealth. In 1880 their combined 
estates were valued at $130,000. Both were earnest churchmen, con- 
tributing liberally to churches, schools and benevolent institutions. 
Johannes Samuelsson died June 11, 1887. at the age of 72, the younger 
brother Apr. 23. 1900. nearly 78 years old. He bequeathed to Augus- 
tana College and Theological Seminary a sum amounting to nearly 
$15,000. The same year, on August 20th, his wife Carolina, nee Persson. 



whom he had married in Sweden, followed him in death and was buried 
at his side in the Swedish cemetery at Ophiem. 

The same year that the last named party of immigrants came to 
Andover, there arrived also the following : Nils P. Petersson and wife, 
from Lonneberga, Smaland; Anders Peter Larssoii; A. P. Petersson; 
Pehr Svensson from Djursdala, Smaland, with his wife, son and 
daughter. The daughter died of cholera at Princeton, while en route 
to Andover, and shortly afterward the mother fell a victim to the same 
disease. The first wheeled vehicle made in Henry county was con- 
structed by Svensson. It was an extremely primitive affair, drawn by 
a yoke of oxen. In it Svensson and his son were often seen riding to 
the little church of a Sunday morning. 

Still another party of immigrants from Sweden arrived in Andover 
in 1849. This consisted of 140 persons from the provinces of Gestrik- 
land and Helsingland, headed by Eev. L. P. Esbjorn, a man destined 
to play a prominent part in the history of the Swedes in America. The 
party left Gene on board the sailing vessel "Cobden" June 29, 1849, 
and arrived in Andover in the late summer. The majority of these 
people were soon induced by Rev. Jonas Hedstrom to go to Victoria. 

Among those in Esbjorn 's party who remained in Andover were, 
Jonas Andersson, with wife and three children ; Matts Ersson and Olof 
Nordin with families, all from Hille. Jonas Andersson and Matts 
Ersson were members of the party of goldseekers that left Andover 
for California, returning in 1851, short on gold but long on experience. 
Andersson later engaged in the merchandise business in partnership 
with G. E. Peterson, but was forced into liquidation by the panic of 
1857. Two years later he removed to Colorado with his sons, his wife 
and daughter remaining in Andover. Olof Nordin and his family also 
left shortly afterward and their fate is not known. Matts Ersson lived 
in Andover until 1901 and died June 3, 1905, at the Bethany Home in 
Chicago, an old folks' home supported by the Swedish Methodists, 
where he spent the last four years of his life. Among the new arrivals 
from Sweden in 1849, not members of the Esbjorn party, were, S. P. 
Strid, an old soldier from Ostergotland, and Ake Olsson from Ofvansjo, 
Gestrikland, the last-named having accompanied a party of Erik 
Janssonists to America in 1846, but separated from them in New York, 
remaining three years in the state of New York before proceeding 
farther west. 

Disease was prevalent in many forms, the worst of which was the 
cholera. That dreaded epidemic made annual visitations from 1849 
to 1854, making great inroads on the population. As an example of 
its ravages may be mentioned that in 1849 one John Elm worked with 
two different harvesting gangs of sixteen men each, and of the thirty- 


two all but Elm and two others were stricken down and died of 
the pest. 

To obtain profitable employment at this time was no easy matter. 
A day's wages varied from 35 cents to 50 cents, and in many instances 
it had to be taken out in the form of pork and other provisions, cattle 
or anything of value. On the other hand, live stock and merchandise 
were very cheap. A good cow could be bought for $8, and a first class 
working horse for $40. The price of pork was 1% cents, and potatoes 
were to be had for the trouble of digging them. This was the golden 
age of topers, whisky selling at 12% to 15 cents per gallon. These 
prices ruled until 1853, when railway building began in western Illinois. 
This brought more money into circulation, increased the demand for 
labor, and raised the pric6 of agricultural products. Economic con- 
ditions thus kept improving up to 1857, when the panic struck the 
Andover settlement as it did the country at large. 

Better times came about 1862 when the Civil War put large 
amounts of money into circulation and farm products began to com- 
mand enormous prices. At this juncture, many of the Andover Swedes 
became independent farmers. They bought farms, often on time, but 
generally the returns from the first year's crops would suffice to clear 
them of debt. The more provident ones continued similar purchases 
until they became the owners of many hundreds of acres. The less 
enterprising ones were contented with farms of ten to eighty acres. 
The soil was carefully tilled; even the small farmers made more than 
a living off their acres and had no need of going farther west in search 
of larger farms. Thus Andover early became a well-to-do Swedish- 
American community, whose prosperity has been on the increase 
ever since. 

What has been said of the prosperity of the farmers applies in like 
measure to the artisan and the tradesman. By industry and thrift 
they also have acquired economic independence. The first Swede who 
obtained a deed to a building lot in the village the place never reached 
the dignity of a city was C. Larsson, the paper being dated Dec. 15, 
1849. The first Swedish mechanic was the aforesaid John A. Larson, 
who in 1853 built a blacksmith and wagon shop. The first Swedish 
merchants were Jonas Andersson and Georg(e) E. Petersson, who in 
1854, under the firm name of Andersson & Petersson, opened a general 
store, which they conducted until 1857. 

The name of Andover early became known in many parts of 
Sweden, and the place long continued to be the destination of Swedish 
emigrants westward bound. The conceptions of its size and importance 
were highly exaggerated. It is told of the emigrants of the forties 
and fifties that when they came to Chicago and noticed the bustle 



and activity of that progressive city they would give vent to their 
surprise by exclaiming, ' ' If Chicago is so large, just think what a place 
Andover must be!" There must have been a fresh surprise in store 
for them when, on their arrival in Andover, they found neither a city 
nor a town, nor even a village. Nevertheless, the early Swedish 
emigrants bound for other points than Andover were comparatively 
few. From there, however, they soon scattered over the state in 
every direction. Although they did not leave Andover in great num- 
bers at any time, yet from various aspects that settlement must be 
considered the second mother colony in Illinois, Bishop Hill holding 
first place. 

Andover early became known as a conservative and reliable 
Swedish-American community, a reputation which has followed it to 
this day. The reasons for this conservatism are doubtless to be found 
in the teachings imparted to the settlers by their early pastors, prin- 
cipally Eevs. L. P. Esbjorn, Jonas Swensson and Erland Carlsson, who 
labored in this field for a long term of years. The first two, in 
particular, exercised a very marked influence on the character of the 

As stated before, a Swedish Lutheran congregation was organized 
here as early as 1850. This was the first regularly organized Swedish 
Lutheran church in America since the days of the Delaware Swedes. 
Two years previously, pastoral work had been begun in New Sweden, 
Iowa, but no fully organized church was established there until a later 
date. Also a Swedish Methodist church was very early established in 
Andover, but the year of its founding is in dispute. Some claim 1848, 
others 1849, and still others 1850 as the correct date. The Baptists 
and the Mission Friends, on the contrary, have not deemed it worth 
while entering this old community, nor has any fraternal organization 
met with encouragement in Andover. 

At the close of the year 1905, the total Swedish population in the 
Andover settlement, extending over three townships, was roughly 
estimated at from 1,500 to 2,000 persons. 


Victoria is located on a rolling prairie in the northeastern part of 
Knox county. Its first white inhabitants were Edward Brown, John 
Essex, and one Mr. Frazier, all of whom settled there in 1835. The 
first marriage solemnized there took place in 1838, between Peter 
Sonberger and Phebe Wilbur. The first house was built in 1837 on a 
plain near the subsequent site of the town. The first sermon was 
preached in Victoria in 1836 by Rev. Charles Bostie. a Methodist 


In course of time, a number of other settlers arrived, the first 
Swede among them being Jonas Hedstrom, the Methodist preacher. 
He came in 1838, from Farmington, Fulton county, his first place of 
residence on Illinois soil. For several years Hedstrom was the only 
Swede in Victoria, but after the Erik Janssonists began to settle at 
Bishop Hill, a number of these were by him attracted to Victoria. We 
have already related how Olof Olsson, their first envoy, with his family 
came there in 1845 and was housed in a rude hut of logs situated in 
Copley township ; also how Erik Jansson himself and his kindred found 
shelter in the same log cabin the following year. Not long afterwards, 
Sven Larsson, Olof Norlund, and Jonas Jansson arrived from Soderala, 
Helsingland, and Jonas Hedin from Hede, Herjedalen. Norlund and 
Jansson soon succumbed to the cholera, and the others left Victoria 
for Ked Oak Grove after a stay of only a few weeks. 

Among the earliest settlers here may be mentioned Olof Olsson 
from Ofvanaker, Helsingland, who came to Bishop Hill in 1846, but 
after three months bade farewell to the prophet and his colony and 
moved to Victoria, where he bought a small farm. Olsson also died 
shortly after his arrival. Jonas Hellstrom, a tailor, left Bishop Hill 
in 1847 and opened a tailor shop at Victoria, where he plied his trade 
until 1850, when he caught the gold fever and went to California. 
After a year he returned to his old trade at Victoria. At the outbreak 
of the Civil "War, he enlisted as sergeant in Company C, 83rd Illinois 
Volunteers, being advanced in 1864 to the rank of first lieutenant in 
the 8th U. S. Artillery. He died shortly afterward, leaving a wife and 
one son. "Old Man Back" from Bollnas, Helsingland, an eccentric 
character, was another of the Bishop Hill settlers who moved to 
Victoria, where he purchased a small farm in Copley township. He is 
said to have considered himself the most important personage in the 
entire community. Olof Olsson from Alfta, another Erik Janssonist, 
simultaneously with Back moved to Copley township and became one 
of Victoria's first landowners. Then came in rapid succession Hillberg, 
Hans Hansson, Carl Magnus Pettersson, Sven Larsson, Lars Larsson, 
and Peter Kallman. The last named accompanied the first party of 
Erik Janssonists to Chicago, remaining in that city a few years, sub- 
sequently living three years in Galesburg, finally settling in Victoria 
in 1853. He died in 1877, leaving a family. Furthermore, we find 
among the Swedish pioneers at Victoria Charles Pettersson from 
Osterunda, Upland, who also came with the first Erik Janssonist party, 
remaining two years in New York, and coming to Victoria in 1848. 
He also went to California in 1850 as a gold seeker, and eventually 
settled on the coast. John E. Seline was another Erik Janssonist who 
deserted Bishop Hill, going to Galesburg in 1849, whence he moved to 
Victoria, where he was employed as a building contractor until 1856, 


when he purchased a farm. This man was one of Erik Jansson's twelve 
apostles. Seline later in life became an agnostic and a stanch follower 
of Robert G. Ingersoll. One Fetter Skoglund, who came over with the 
Esbjorn party of emigrants, settled down in Victoria as a tailor, but 
later went to farming. He was still living in 1880, in comfortable 
circumstances. Peter Dahlgren from Osterunda severed his allegiance 
to Erik Jansson after half a year's stay in the colony and established 
himself in Victoria township as a farmer in 1853. He was accidentally 
killed in 1856 by falling earth. 

The Town of Victoria was organized May 11, 1849, by John Becker, 
John W. Spalding, G. F. Reynolds, A. Arnold, Jonas Hedstrom, W. L. 
Shurtleff, Jonas Hellstrom, Joseph Freed and J. J. Knopp. The site 
then selected was not the same as the present one, being a mile and a 
half southeast, where Hedstrom had a blacksmith shop, Becker a gen- 
eral store, and Reynolds a hotel. The present village of Victoria 
slowly grew up to one side of this starting-point. 

The large Swedish settlement of which Victoria forms the center 
early grew to be one of the most flourishing localities in the state. 
Prosperity was general owing partly to the fact that the Swedes almost 
from the start became owners of the soil, partly to the circumstance 
that Methodism gained a firm foothold there from the first, making for 
industry, temperance and good morals. Furthermore, this settlement 
is the most Americanized Swedish community in the whole state, 
resulting from early stoppage of immigration, the great majority of its 
present inhabitants having been born and reared in this country. From 
the very start Methodism became a power in that community and is 
still firmly rooted there. The Swedish Methodist church is the only 
house of worship in the place and almost the entire population of the 
village and the surrounding country are members of that congregation. 
Neither Lutherans, Baptists, nor Mission Friends have sought to 
establish missions there, and encroachment by secular organizations 
in this stronghold of Methodism is out of the question. 

The population of the town of Victoria in 1900 was 329. The 
number of Swedish-Americans in the village proper together wih the 
surrounding settlement we have been unable to ascertain. 


The city of Galesburg is situated on a rolling plain, 164 miles 
southwest of Chicago, on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railway 
line. It was named from George W. Gale, who, together with several 
others, came there from Oneida county, N. Y., in 1836 and purchased 
11,000 acres of land in Knox county. On this tract he laid out a town 
site, the sale of lots and the building of houses progressing nicely at 



first, In one year the population increased to 232. From 1837 to 1850 
progress was slow, owing to lack of communications. The outlook for 
a railroad line through the place brightened during the latter year, 
however, causing increased business activity in the little town. 

During the first decade of its existence Galesburg had a formid- 
able rival in the neighboring town of Henderson, now Knoxville, which 
had certain advantages through permitting the sale of liquors, a traffic 
absolutely prohibited in Galesburg. So strict were the authorities in 
this respect that they inserted in every deed to property sold within 
the town limits a clause specifically prohibiting the sale of 
spirituous liquors on the premises. In the meantime, the liquor traffic 
flourished in Henderson, where the Galesburg people also had to go 
when in need of the cup that cheers. The rapid growth of the town 

Galesburg Main; Street 

soon inspired dreams of greatness in the Hendersonites, mingled with 
pity for Galesburg, which town seemed doomed to perpetual stagnation. 
A certain Swede, who was particularly hopeful for the future of Hen- 
derson, bought two building lots there for $200, although he might 
have got them in Galesburg at a much lower figure. Only a few years 
later, he sold his two lots for $20. The slump in realty values in 
Henderson came when Galesburg got its railroad. On Dec. 7, 1854, the 
first locomotive steamed into Galesburg over the Chicago, Burlington 
and Quincy road, which was then almost completed. On Jan. 1" 1849, 
the town got its first newspaper, "The Knox Intelligencer." In 1873 it 
became the county seat of Knox county. 

The Galesburg of today is a live, wide-awake and somewhat aristo- 
cratic city, whose population of 18,607 at the census of 1900 had 


reached 20,000 at the close of 1905. It is one of the chief railway 
centers of the state, being the intersection of the main line of the 
Burlington, with several branches, and the Atchison, Topeka and 
Santa Fe railways. The city has several beautiful parks, and its streets 
are shaded by avenues of trees giving to the entire city the aspect 
of a park. The pavements are of brick throughout. The city has 
a splendid street railway system, excellent waterworks, is well lighted, 
and has an efficient fire department. Although not a factory center, 
yet Galesburg has a number of manufacturing plants, including two 
foundries, an agricultural implement factory, flour mills, wagon 
factories and a broom factory. The railway shops of the Burlington 
road are located here, also extensive stock yards. Coal mines are 
found in the vicinity. Galesburg has a handsome opera house, five 
banks, nineteen churches, several of them Swedish, and ten public 
schools, including one high school. It is also a notable educational 
center, having several higher institutions of learning, namely, Knox 
College, Lombard University, and one or two Catholic schools. The 
courthouse, which is the seat of the Knox county government, is one of 
the largest and handsomest buildings of its class in the state. The 
city is situated in the center of one of the most fertile and prosperous 
farming districts in Illinois, with which it stands in direct and intimate 
communication. The townspeople as well as the farmers of the sur- 
rounding country are well-to-do, and, taken all in all, Galesburg is as 
fortunately situated and as prosperous as any of the smaller cities of 
the state. 

The first Swedish settlers in Galesburg arrived about the middle 
of the forties. In 1847, as far as known, the only Swedes there were 
the following: John Youngberg and family, one of the early Bishop 
Hill colonists, who later removed to Galva, but returned to Galesburg 
and went from there to California in 1860; Nils Hedstrom, a tailor 
by trade, who afterwards settled in the Victoria colony; Anders Thor- 
sell, a shoemaker from Djursby, Vestmanland, who came over in 1846 
with one of the first parties of Erik Janssonists ; a family by the name 
of Modin; Kristina Muhr, a widow, and Olof Nilsson, a shoemaker. 
Thorsell, who is said to have been a very skillful workman, plied his 
trade for some time w r ith so great success that he accumulated a small 
fortune. Had he stuck to the last and shunned the bottle, he would 
have become the wealthiest Swede in Galesburg, but unfortunately 
he became a slave to the liquor habit. He died in 1870 leaving a widow 
and one child. 

The majority of Swedes who settled in Galesburg earlier than 1854 
were such as had deserted Bishop Hill, having become dissatisfied with 
conditions in that colonv. In the vear last named, however, the influx 


of immigrants brought many Swedish settlers directly to Galesburg, 
and from that day its Swedish population has constantly grown, num- 
bering at the close of 1905 about 5,000, American born descendants 
included. That this numerous element has made itself felt in the 
development of the city and set its impress on its general character 
goes without saying. In every line of activity in Galesburg Swedes 
are engaged. We find them as city and county officials, as merchants, 
and in all the various trades. They are employed in considerable 
numbers on the railroads and at the Burlington shops. 

In the Swedish colony here different denominations early began 
missionary work. As early as 1850 Swedish Methodist class meetings 
were held, and the following year Jonas Hedstrom organized a Swedish 
Methodist congregation.. Simultaneously, Rev. L. P. Esbjorn, the 
Swedish Lutheran pastor at Andover, began work in this field, and a 
church was established in 1851. This, the First Swedish Lutheran 
Church of Galesburg, in 1853 secured as its pastor Rev. T. N. Hassel- 
quist, another pioneer of Swedish Lutheranism in America. The 
Swedish Baptists in 1857 organized a church, which had dwindled 
down to seven members in 1880 ; a few years later, however, work was 
pushed with renewed vigor, resulting in a reorganization in 1888. 
In 1868 a second Swedish Lutheran church was organized, composed 
of former members of the first church, and other persons. We are 
creditably informed that the present Mission Church was formed from 
its membership. A third Swedish Lutheran congregation in Galesburg 
was organized several years ago, which now seems to have disbanded. 
There is also a Swedish Episcopal church in the city. 

The fraternal movement was started among the Galesburg Swedes 
in 1866 when a sick benefit society, named Skandia, was organized. 
The society was soon forced out of existence by church opposition. A 
lodge of Good Templars, organized the following year under the name 
of Svea, was almost equally shortlived. In 1871 a Scandinavian lodge 
of Odd Fellows was formed. Among the present Swedish population 
of Galesburg we find no great interest in fraternal movements based 
on nationality. 

In local politics the Swedes of Galesburg have taken aggressive 
part, many having served the city or county in various capacities. At 
least one of their number, M. 0. Williamson, has been honored with a 
high state office, having served as state treasurer for the term of 

Galesburg has the distinction of being the cradle of the Swedish- 
American press. Here was started in 1854, by Rev. Hasselquist, the 
first Swedish- American newspaper of permanence, viz., "Hemlandet, " 
its first number being issued Jan. 3, 1855. This paper was published 


at Galesburg. until the close of 1858, when it was removed to Chicago. 
In the early part of 1859, "Frihetsvannen," another Swedish paper, 
was launched in Galesburg, but was discontinued in 1861. This journal 
was started to champion the cause of the Baptist denomination, which 
was the object of continuous attacks by "Hemlandet." A third 
Swedish organ, "Galesburgs Veckoblad," started in 1868, shared the 
fate of "Frihetsvannen," being discontinued after a short time. A 
couple of religious papers in the Swedish language have also been 
published here for short periods, and after the great fire in 1871, 
"Nya Verlden, " a Swedish weekly newspaper of Chicago, was pub- 
lished for five months in Galesburg. 

The Swedish colony of Galesburg furnished a proportionate num- 
ber of recruits to the Union army during the Civil War. Company C, 
43rd Illinois Volunteers, was made up exclusively of Swedish-Ameri- 
cans from Galesburg and vicinity. 

These data establish Galesburg 's claim to an eminent place in 
the history of the Swedes not only of Illinois but of the country at 


This community dates back to the year 1843, when the first houses 
were built on the site of the present city of Moline. The place made 
little progress until the late forties, when John Deere and others laid 
the foundation for the local plow and agricultural implement manu- 
facturing industry which caused the place to develop with enormous 
strides during the next few decades and which has given the city 
world-wide fame. The plow works of Deere and Company are said to 
be the largest in the world and their products are sent annually to 
the uttermost parts of the earth. The Moline Plow Company is the 
name of a younger concern which manufactures plows and other agri- 
cultural implements on a large scale. Besides these, Moline has a large 
number of industrial plants, making it one of the greatest manu- 
facturing cities in the state. The chief reasons for the subsequent 
location of so many factories at Moline were its water power facilities, 
its location on the border of two of the most flourishing agricultural 
states in the Union, and its unexcelled communications by land and 
water with all parts of the country. 

As an industrial city, Moline naturally has a large population of 
laborers. A large percentage of its many thousands of workingmen 
are Swedes, many of whom have established economic independence 
and a respected station in the community by their traditional industry, 
thrift and good habits. The greater number have homes of their 
own and some are quite wealthy. The Swedes of Moline are a power 


in the community not merely by dint of numbers but owing to their 
splendid citizenship. While conscientiously fulfilling their duties as 
citizen, they cautiously guard their rights as such, and as a result they 
will obtain the majority in the city government from time to time. 
A large number of them belong to one church or another. Almost 
every religious denomination pursuing work among the Swedish 
people is here represented. The fraternity movement also has made 
great accessions. The neighboring Augustana College has exerted 
considerable influence on the numerous Swedish population of Moline, 
giving out powerful impulses to religious and intellectual endeavor. 

Moline Bird's Eye View from City Hospital 

While the great mass of the Swedish workmen are common factory 
hands, not a few of them have forged ahead by skill and competence 
to become foremen, superintendents and mechanical experts in the 
works, and in rare instances they have gone so far as to found their 
own industrial establishments. 

The earliest Swedish settlers in Moline were Olaus Bengtsson and 
Carl Johansson, the former coming over from Sweden in 1847, the 
latter in 1848. Bengtsson landed with wife and children in Chicago 
and, being unable to find work, left his eldest son there and came on 
to Moline on foot, accompanied by his wife and three of the children, 
the parents taking turns in carrying the smaller ones when their 
strength gave out. The family settled on a farm in Moline township, 
near the Eock River, and did well at farming. Olaus Bengtsson died 
before the eighties. The son left behind in Chicago after three years 
rejoined the family, when he had to learn his mother tongue anew, 

MOUNE 287 

having completely forgotten it while living exclusively among English- 
speaking people. 

Carl Johansson, a tailor by trade, came from Kampestad, Oster- 
gotland, to Andover in 1847 and from there to Moline the next year. 
The place was at that time a bit of a village with a grocery and sundry 
other little stores where the farmers of the neighborhood exchanged 
their farm products for merchandise and provisions. A flour and saw 
mill combined was located on the river bank, and from the Illinois 
side, stretching across the south branch of the Mississippi to the 
island opposite, was a wooden dam which served until 1858. A large 
portion of the present site of the city was under cultivation, and at 
the foot of the hills which now comprise a fine part of its residence 
district grew thick woods from which the early inhabitants derived 
their fuel supply. 

During the years 1840 to 1850 came the following Swedish settlers : 
Sven Jacobsson, a carpenter from Vermland, with family, who sub- 
sequently moved to Vasa, Minn., but returned to Moline after a few 
years ; Carl Fetter Andersson, who purchased land on the bluffs where 
he was still engaged in farming thirty years later; Gustaf Johnson, 
with family, he and Jacobsson dying before the eighties; Erik Forsse 
with family, who later joined the Bishop Hill colony, was a major in 
the 57th Illinois Eegiment during the war, removing to Falun, Salina 
county, Kansas, some time after the close of the war ; Jonas Westberg, 
who died prior to 1880; M. P. Petersson, who began farming on the 
bluffs, then conducted a small store, removed to Altona, thence to 
Iowa, where he was still living in 1880 ; Petter Soderstrom, who moved 
to Minnesota and from there to Swede Bend, la. ; Sven J. Johnson, 
who for thirteen years ran the ferryboat across the Mississippi between 
Eock Island and Davenport ; Abraham Andersson from Gnarp, Helsing- 
land, a hired man who bought a small property in Moline and at his 
death in the early fifties willed to the Swedish Lutheran Church a 
house and lot as a parsonage for its future pastor. 

A unique character among the immigrants was Jon Olsson from 
Stenbo, Forssa parish, Helsingland, who came to Moline in 1850. In 
the old country he had lived like a peasant king on a fine, well 
cultivated estate. When Erik Jansson, the prophet, came to Forssa 
and began preaching, the "Old Man of Stenbo," as he was commonly 
called, was among the first to embrace the doctrines of the prophet 
and open his home for his meetings. His sons also early affiliated 
with the new sect, one of them, Olof Stenberg, or Stoneberg, which 
was the American form of his name, becoming one of its leaders. 
During the winter of 1849-50 he and Olof Johnson went back to 
Sweden in order to gather together the remaining followers of Erik 



Jansson and bring them to America. Then it was arranged that the 
old man, who wa,s now a widower, also should emigrate, but he did 
not accompany his son, preferring to travel alone. After having sold 
his estate, he chartered a steamer at Hudiksvall, took a cargo of iron 
and, in addition, all his household goods and utensils, down to tho 
dough-troughs and wooden bowls and spoons. The voyage across the 
Atlantic was successful. He took with him a small party of emigrants, 
part of whom, at least, were not Erik Janssonists. In New York he 
sold his cargo, but brought with him inland the whole odd collection 

Moline Fifteenth Street 

of partly worthless wares, which no doubt cost him a pretty penny 
in freightage. 

He made straight for Bishop Hill, but apparently did not take a 
fancy to the locality and its prospects. Besides, he probably hesitated 
to turn over his considerable fortune to the common exchequer. Be 
this as it may, he made his appearance in Moline early in January, 
1851, having already purchased two houses there, one a brick, the other 
a frame building, with large lots appertaining. It was rumored that 
he deposited $20,000 in gold in a bank in Rock Island ; whether or not, 
he was looked upon as a mighty rich man. 

"The Old Man of Stenbo" was an odd character in every respect. 
He stuck religiously to the manners and customs of his old home. 


He wore an old fashioned coat, its skirts reaching almost to his heels, 
and a leathern apron of nearly the same length. Dressed in this 
fashion, he circulated about the streets of the little village with an 
agility quite unusual for a man of his years. If he found a chunk of 
coal, an old shoe, a broken dish or a stick of wood he would pick it up, 
carry it home and place it on a pile of similar rubbish in the middle 
of the floor of the living room. In the basement he had arranged the 
appurtenances of a blacksmith shop brought over from Sweden, and 
the smoke from the smithy, which penetrated the whole house, did not 
bother him in the least. In the basement he also had an oven of 
masonry in the Swedish style, where he baked thin loaves of hard 
bread in the manner of the Helsingland peasantry. 

The old man practiced genuine old time hospitality, and would 
always urge his friends to partake of his repast, were it only a pot of 
cabbage soup served in wooden bowls. Having broken the thin bread 
into the bowl he would invariably dust the flour from his hands into 
the bowl so as not to waste any of his God-given substance. 

At length, the old man was lured back to Bishop Hill. Though 
advanced in years, he was hankering after another matrimonial venture, 
and what induced him to go was the assurance of friends that a suitable 
bride had been picked out for him. The match was made, and so he 
moved to Bishop Hill with all his earthly belongings, which presumably 
went the way of all other small fortunes invested in that enterprise. 
A few years after his removal the "Old Man of Stenbo" breathed 
his last. 

While he was still in Moline, there lived with him for some time 
Per Andersson from Hassela and Per Berg from Hog, Helsinglaud. 
These men went to Minnesota in the spring of 1851 and there founded 
the Chisago Lake settlement. One Peter Viklund from Angermanland, 
who also lived in Moline at the time, accompanied them, settling in the 
vicinity of Taylor's Falls, where he died. Another of the early Swedish 
settlers in Moline was Daniel Nilsson from Norrbro, Helsingland, who 
about the same time founded the settlement of Marine, near Marine 
Mills. Along in the summer of 1851 Hans Smith and his family moved 
to Moline from Princeton. He also left for Minnesota, going to Chi- 
sago Lake. 

The first attempt at organization among the Swedish population of 
Moline was the founding of the Swedish Lutheran Church, which still 
prospers. The founder was Rev. L. P. Esbjorn of Andover. The or- 
ganization meeting was held in the home of Carl Johansson, the tailor, 
this being a small room, 14 by 10 feet, in which those interested in 
the movement had habitually met to worship. But Esbjorn was not 
long to be alone in the field of religious endeavor among the Moline 



Swedes. Shortly after his first visit, the enterprising Kev. Jonas Hed- 
strom appeared and, being cordially received by the other pioneer 
Swedish resident, Olaus Bengtsson, at once began to hold Methodist 
meetings in the equally primitive home of that pioneer. In the latter 
part of the year 1850 or the beginning of 1851, he organized here a 
little Swedish Methodist church, which, like the Lutheran, grew and 
prospered apace with the influx of Swedish immigrants. 

A third Swedish church, called Gustaf Adolf, now a part of the 
Swedish Mission Covenant, was organized in 1875, and in the following 

Moline Third Avenue 

year a fourth one, the Swedish Baptist Church. A little flock of 
Swedish Episcopalians, formed in recent years, worked with but scant 
success, and soon disbanded. 

The fraternal orders have operated very successfully in Moline, 
ever since the latter sixties. The first Swedish fraternal society organ- 
ized there was Freja, in 1869, which flourished for a number of years. 
During the seventies a couple of other fraternal bodies came into 
existence, and during the last two decades a number of different 
societies have been formed, including a Swedish singing club, the 
Svea Male Chorus. 

Three secular newspapers in the Swedish language have been pub- 
lished at Moline, viz., "Skandia, " issued from December 1876 to April 



1878, "Nya Pressen," from 1891 to 1897, and "Vikingen," published 
for a short time in the early nineties. At the present time, the city 
has no Swedish newspaper. In the seventies and eighties, the firm of 
Wistrand and Timlin published a number of books and papers in the 
interest of the work of the Augustana Synod. 

The Swedes in Moline in 1880 numbered 2,589 ; at the close of 1905 
their number was approximately 8,000. The total population according 
to the census of 1900, was 17,240, succeeding years showing a sub- 
stantial increase. 


The prosperous city of Rock Island had its origin in 1816, when 
the national government planted a fort on the island of the same 
name, known as Fort Armstrong. As its commander was appointed 
Col. George Davenport, who, together with his wife and the garrison, 
for thirteen years were the only white inhabitants of the locality. The 
arrival in 1823 of the steamer "Virginia," with a cargo of provisions, 
from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, made a welcome interruption in 
the monotony of frontier life. This vessel was the first to traverse this 
portion of the Mississippi. In 1825 Col. Davenport was appointed 
postmaster on the island and about the same time formed a co-partner- 
ship with Russell Farnham, a fresh arrival, to engage in fur trading 
with the Indians. For the purpose the partners put up a building 
which afterwards was occupied as the first court-house of Rock 
Island county. In 1828 a few whites, among whom was John M. 
Spencer, arrived and settled there. Oct. 19, 1829, Davenport and 
Farnham purchased a tract of land in the present county of Rock 
Island, that being the first realty transaction in the county. 

In 1831 the little settlement had grown sufficiently strong to equip 
a troop of 58 men to engage in fighting the Indian chief Black Hawk 
and his tribe. Two years later, or 1833, Rock Island county was organ- 
ized and on July 5th of the same year its first county election was 
held. After another two years Stephenson, as the place was then 
called, was selected as the county seat. Its name was subsequently, 
changed to Rock Island. The first prison, a two story blockhouse, 
was erected in 1836. The same year work was begun on a county court- 
house, which was completed the following year. The first incorpora- 
tion of Rock Island was effected in 1841. Late in the sixties the federal 
government established on the adjacent island a large arsenal to- 
gether with factories for small arms, the plant having since reached 
an extensive development. During the Civil War a large number of 
prisoners taken from the Confederates were kept on the island, and a 
burial ground for soldiers dates from that time. The entire island, 


together with extensive establishments, is under the control and strict 
surveillance of the federal government, and the buildings and Avell- 
kept grounds are among the interesting sights in this part of the 
United States. 

The west arm of the Mississippi at this point is navigable while 
the east and smaller arm is closed by a dam Avhich furnishes 
water power for industrial plants in Moline and Rock Island and for 
the government works. A combination railroad and public highway 
bridge facilitates traffic between Rock Island and the city of Daven- 
port, situated on the Iowa side, directly opposite, and named after the 

View of Rock River from Black Hawk Watch Tower 

first commander of Fort Armstrong, who together with several others 
in 1835 purchased the land on which the city was built. 

Rock Island is at the present day a lively manufacturing and 
business center. Here are located large lumber mills, an agricultural 
implement factory, a glass factory, iron works, wagon factories, etc. 
The city has several banks and four newspapers, two of which are 
published daily. A new courthouse, one of the largest and most im- 
posing structures in this part of the state, was erected a few years 
ago. In the surrounding public square stands a monument in honor of 
the men from Rock Island who fought in the Civil War. In a pretty 
park in the western part of the city is a statue of Black Hawk, the 
Indian chief, whose name is intimately combined with the early history 
of the city and its surrounding country. A charming point of vantage 
south of the city bears the name of Black Hawk Watch ToAver. 
It is a high bluff rising steeply from the Rock River and crowned 
with a pavilion, the verandas of which afford a charming panorama 



of the vicinity, northwest over the Mississippi and the wooded bluffs 
disappearing in the blue distance, southward and eastward over the 
fertile valley drained by the winding Rock River and cut at this point 
by a section of the Hennepin Canal. This prominence Chief Black 
Hawk is said to have often sought at the head of his warriors when 
on the lookout for the hated palefaces who took possession of the rich 
hunting grounds of his tribe. The census of 1900 gives the city of 
Rock Island 19,493 inhabitants. 

The beginning of Swedish immigration to Rock Island was in 1848, 
when the founder of the Bishop Hill colony established a fishing camp 
on the island, managed by the aforementioned N. J. Hollander as fore- 
man for a half dozen colonists. At this point Erik Jansson's wife and 
the youngest two of their children, together with several other persons, 
succumbed to the cholera in 1849. 

Among the earliest Swedish settlers at Rock Island was A. J. 
Swanson, who came there in 1850 and made a small fortune in the boot 
and shoe business. Swanson, or Svensson, hailed from Odeshog, Oster- 
gotland. When he died, Jan. 8, 1880, at the age of fifty-one, he left 
an estate worth $40,000. Other Swedish settlers about this time were : 
J. Back and Peter Soderstrom, both sons-in-law of Rev. J. Rolin of 
Hassela, Helsingland; Jonas Strand, Jonas Norell, and Erik Thomas- 
son, all from Northern Sweden ; A. T. Manke, and Fredrika Boberg. 
Manke is supposed to have been among those who perished at the 
burning of the steamer "Austria" on the Atlantic Sept. 13, 1858. 
Fetter Soderstrom and Fredrika Boberg moved to Iowa before the 
eighties. In the fifties came August Linder, a tailor, Erik Akerberg, 
a jeweler, N. J. Rundquist, a wagonmaker by the name of Envall, 
Israel Johansson, a shoemaker, one Hofflund, the brothers Carl and 
Peter Stjernstrom, the one a tailor, the other a day laborer. Hofflund 
moved to Osco township, and the Stjernstrom brothers to Iowa 
previous to 1880. Not until the sixties and more especially in the 
seventies, however, did the Swedish immigrants come to settle in Rock 
Island in any great number. 

The little colony of Swedes that existed there in the fifties is note- 
worthy in this that it was the origin of the first Swedish Baptist 
Church in America, organized there Sept. 26, 1852. The founder was 
Gustaf Palmquist, a former school teacher from Stockholm who had 
joined the American Baptists in Galesburg in June of that year, and 
its first members were : A. T. Manke, A. Boberg and Fredrika, his wife, 
Petter Soderstrom. Carl Johansson, mentioned among the Moline 
pioneers, and Anders Norelius, a brother of Eric Norelius who later 
became a pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church in America and is 
now president of the Augustana Synod. 



The few Swedish Lutherans in Rock Island at first belonged to 
the church in Moline, but in 1870 they tired of going to the neighboring 
city to worship, and that year an independent congregation was or- 
ganized, with a membership of only twenty-eight. The few Swedish 
Methodists and Mission Friends who reside in Eock Island are mem- 
bers of their respective church organizations in Moline. Eock Island 
has little or nothing in the way of Swedish fraternal societies. 

The oldest and principal Swedish-American educational institu- 
tion, Augustana College and Theological Seminary, is located at Eock 
Island, having been removed there from Paxton in 1875. Under the 

Rock Island Spencer Square 

guidance of zealous and competent educators, the institution has 
developed far beyond the aspirations of its founders. Besides being 
a complete college and a theological seminary, Augustana embraces 
an academic department, a normal school, a commercial school, a 
musical conservatory, and a department of art. For several years 
past the work of gathering large endowment funds for the institution 
has been carried on. These and other signs point to a period of new 
and greater prosperity for this old and venerated institution of 
learning. In immediate proximity to the institution lies the Augustana 
Book Concern, the publishing house of the Augustana Synod. 

The Swedish-American population of the city of Eock Island at 
the close of the year 1905 was estimated at 3.500. 




On the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railway, 105 miles west 
of Chicago, is situated on a plateau the pretty little city of Princeton. 
Its history dates from the year 1832, when the site was mapped out 
and the first houses were erected. A log cabin, here as in most of the 
other settlements, formed the first human habitation. It was built by 
one S. D. Cartwright near the spot where the Congregational Church 
now stands. The sale of lots was not brisk, and it took a number of 
years to dispose of the entire plat. Bureau county was organized 
Feb. 28, 1837, when Princeton was made the county seat. The county 
court held its first sessions there the followingAugust. In 1845 the 
first courthouse was built, with county jail and sheriff's residence 
in connection. The structure was remodeled in 1860. 

Prior to 1850, only five known Swedes resided in Princeton. Doubt- 
less the first to arrive was a man named Burgeson, who later settled 
at Andover. He came to Illinois in company with the Rev. Pillsbury 
mentioned under the head of Andover, and for some time was in his 
service. Simultaneously, a young Swede was in the employ of Owen 
Lovejoy, the renowned abolitionist, who in the later forties and early 
fifties was stationed in Princeton as minister of the Congregational 
Church and afterwards was elected to Congress. In the city hotel a 
Swedish girl was employed, supposed to have been Sigrid Norell from 
Bergsjo, Helsingland, who in 1859 became the wife of A. J. Field 
from Ostergotland. The name of the fourth one is not known to a 
certainly. It may have been the aforesaid Field. 

The fifth one was Captain Erik Wester, the adventurer spoken 
of in Chapter III. This man 's career is of sufficient interest to warrant 
a fuller account. His right name was Westergren, shortened to "Wester 
for convenience. The year and place of his birth and the date of his 
arrival in America are not known. It is a matter of record, however, 
that he emigrated to escape punishment for a crime. Wester, who 
was employed as guard in the riksbank in Stockholm, was once sent 
to Helsingor to purchase a large lot of old rags for the Tumba paper 
mills, where the paper for the Swedish national currency has been 
turned out for years. Instead of closing the deal, he fled to America 
with the money entrusted to him. Landing in New Orleans, he re- 
mained there for an indefinite period. In the fall of 1848 he made 
his appearance at Bishop Hill in company with two other adventurers, 
one being John Ruth, who later became notorious, the other a man 
by the name of Zimmerman, who, like Ruth, claimed to have a military 
training from Sweden, and to have served in the French army during 
the campaign in Algiers. Bishop Hill and its plodding life had no 
charm for the three soldiers of fortune. Zimmerman soon departed 


for California, presumably in quest of gold, while Wester went to the 
Pine Lake settlement in Wisconsin, and Ruth, who had been enamored 
of a young woman at Bishop Hill, remained there a few months, after 
which time he resumed his roaming career. 

At the outset, Wester masqueraded at Pine Lake as a very devout 
person, going around preaching in the different homes. Finding that 
this line of endeavor among the few Swedish settlers yielded but 
poor returns, he established himself as a barber, securing friends and 
customers among the more numerous Norwegians, many of whom are 
said to have been victimized by this smooth stranger. 

Having reached the end of his rope in Wisconsin, Wester returned 
to Illinois. He first appeared in Peru, whence he came to Princeton 
in the spring of 1850, so utterly destitute that he was unable to pay 
the freight on his barber's chair. Though short of money, he was enter- 
prising and resourceful in his own peculiar way, and soon found 
Princeton a splendid field to exploit. A prosperous merchant helped 
him to a supply of cigars and with that he opened for business in a 
shanty. When business grew a trifle dull, he turned his cigar store into 
a grog shop. This attracted more customers, the business grew, and 
presently Wester had to look around for larger quarters. Soon the 
place grew to be quite a large department store, considering Princeton 's 
stage of development at the time. He sold goods of every description, 
such as clothing, eatables, boots and shoes, hardware, tobacco and 
whisky. Wester subsequently extended his business beyond the limits 
of Princeton, establishing a branch store at Galesburg. 

For a time it appeared as though the quondam bank messenger, 
evangelist and barber would finish his career as a rich and respected 
businessman. Such might have been the case, but for wild speculations 
and a decided decline in general business. In the young neighboring 
town of Galva, Olof Johnson, the financier of Bishop Hill, was at this 
time actively engaged in the management of its affairs, and looking 
forward to a highly roseate future. Why not join with him in one of 
his numerous enterprises and get rich in a trice? With this object in 
view, Wester went into partnership with him and Samuel Remington 
and started the Western Exchange Bank at Galva. No one knows 
how much money Wester furnished, but it is more than likely that 
the bulk of the capital was taken out of the Bishop Hill funds. This 
was in 1857, while the speculative fever, especially in the West, was 
still at its height. The same year the reaction came a panic that 
swept the entire country, wrecking countless business enterprises vastly 
more solid than those of Olof Johnson and Wester. The latter was 
caught in the crash, so was his financial institution, and in this failure 



a large bulk of the money that the Bishop Hill colonists had earned 
by the sweat of their brow is said to have been lost. 

But Wester persevered with dogged tenacity. The next year he 
made a new start, but failed again. In 1859 he started in business 
for the third time, but only to court another catastrophe. This time 
he appears to have made a fraudulent assignment, it being reported 
that he withheld more than enough property to pay his debts, had he 
been so inclined. With $1,700 in his pocket and a trunk packed with 
revolvers it will be remembered that he also dealt in hardware 
Wester left, stating that he was bound for Chicago, but going instead 
to Dallas, Texas, where he was still living in 1880, but in reduced 
circumstances. What afterwards became of the adventurer, whether 
he again got on his feet or went down in the struggle for existence, 
there are no records to show. 

In the summer of 1850, A. P. Anderson came to Princeton from 
the parish of Horn, Ostergotland. He had come over the year before 
and gone to Peru, whence he came alone to Andover in the hope of 
finding certain relatives, but on his arrival he learned that they were 
all dead. He then returned to Peru and moved with his family to 
Princeton. Anderson still lived in 1880 at the age of seventy-one. 
His eldest child, a son, had then lived in California for many years. 

In the autumn a whole party of Swedish settlers arrived from 
northern Helsingland and southern Medelpad. They had sailed from 
Gefle August 17th on the Swedish ship ' ' Oden, ' ' Captain Norberg, and 
arrived in New York October 31st, coming on to Princeton November 
21st, after a difficult journey. In the party was Erik Norelius from 
Hassela, Helsingland, then a mere youth of seventeen, whom Providence 
had destined to take an eminent part in Swedish-American religious 
progress. In his valuable work entitled, "The History of the Swedish 
Lutheran Congregations and of the Swedes of America," he has given 
a vivid and graphic description of the whole journey. 

Of this party of immigrants a few stopped in Princeton while 
the rest, Norelius among them, proceeded to Andover. Among those 
remaining at Princeton were : Hans Kamel, Olof Jonsson, Staffan 
Berglof, and Anders Nord with their families, all from Bergsjo, 
Helsingland; Per Soderstrom from Norrbo or Bjuraker, Helsingland; 
Hans Smitt from Hassela, Helsingland; Anders Larsson from Torp, 
Medelpad ; Olof Nilsson and one Simeon from Attmar, Medelpad. The 
Kamel family died out before the eighties, Soderstrom after a few 
years moved to Iowa or Minnesota and Simeon went away, leaving no 
trace. Olof Jonsson became the first Swedish property-holder of 
Princeton, living and prospering as a farmer for more than twenty- 
five years, afterwards removing to Humboldt, Kansas, where he is 



said to have owned large country estates. Anders Larsson also went 
west in the late seventies. 

In 1851 came Lars Magnus Spak and Nils Johan Nilsson from 
Djursdala, Smaland, and Jacob Nyman from Tjarstad, Ostergotland, 
the first and the last named with their families. The Spak family had 
come to this country in 1849, living for a time in Chicago, where they 
are said to have taken part in the organization of the Swedish Episcopal 
Church of St. Ansgar (Ansgarius.) The family head passed away 
long before 1880, but his widow was then still living, also their elder 

Princeton Main Street Looking North 

son, who was engaged in business. The younger son was living in 
Galesburg, as also the daughter, who was married to one A. J. Anders- 
son. Jacob Nyman also passed away in the late seventies, his widow 
and their son Johan still living in Princeton after his death. Nils J. 
Nilsson was also conducting a business of some kind in the eighties. 

The year 1852 brought large acquisitions of Swedes to Princeton. 
Among the new arrivals were the following: C. M. Skold, a tailor, 
from Vestra Ryd, unmarried, and Anders P. Damm, with six children, 
from Asby, both in Ostergotland; Anders Petter Larsson from Vad- 
stena, Ostergotland; J. 0. Lundblad from an unknown locality in the 
same province; S. Frid and wife from Wa, Skane; Ake Nilsson with 
wife and two children ; Nils Lindeblad with wife and son, all from 
Skane, but localities unknown; P. Fagercrantz from Brosarp, Skane; 



Lars Andersson fran Gingrid and Johan A. Westman from Bb'rstig, 
both located in Vestergotland; Pehr Christian Andersson, also from 
Vestergotland, locality unknown; Johan Gabriel Stahl with wife, 
son and daughter from Smaland, place unknown; Johan Andersson 
and Henri k Norman from Stockholm. Of these Skb'ld was still 
living in 1880; Nilsson lived on his own farm near Wyanet; Pehr 
Christian Andersson was employed by a railway company since twenty- 
five years back ; also Westman, Stahl and his wife, Fagercrantz, Anders 
Fetter Larsson, Lars Andersson and J. O. Lundblad, the latter living 
in Aledo, Mercer county, were among the survivors in 1880. Norman 
removed to Monmouth in 1856. Damm, who changed his name to Stem, 
died in 1878, leaving a widow and several children; Frid died before 
1880, also Lindeblad, while the wife and son of the latter were still 
living in Princeton in that year. Johan Andersson, who had been 
foreman in the printing office of "Stockholms Dagblad" died of the 
cholera in 1853, his wife returning to Stockholm the following year. 

Another Swedish pioneer of Princeton was Jonas Andersson from 
Farila, Helsin gland. He emigrated in 1849, remained a short time in 
Chicago, spent the following winter in St. Charles, went to Wisconsin 
in the spring, returning to St. Charles after working a few months in 
the woods, and remained there until 1853, when he moved to Princeton. 
Here he settled permanently and became the father of a large family. 
He was still living in the eighties and was a prosperous building 

Almost simultaneously with Jonas Andersson came A. A. Shenlund. 
He was born at Toarp, Vestergotland, and was engaged in the mer- 
chandise business in his native land. He emigrated in 1853 to Prince- 
ton, where he went to work on Rev. Pillsbury's farm, his wife being 
employed there as housekeeper. Having worked for some time at 
sawing wood, he next got a situation as bookkeeper with the afore- 
mentioned Wester, but disapproving of the loose business methods of 
his employer, he went into business on his own account, opening a small 
grocery store near the railway station just two days before the first 
railway train rumbled into Princeton. A few months later he removed 
with his stock to Bureau Junction, but moved back to Princeton after 
five months. When Wester failed in business, the administrators per- 
suaded Shenlund to take charge, and he conducted the business until 
1865, when he retired. In 1868 he resumed business in partnership 
with one Clark who withdrew from the firm in 1876. After that 
Shenlund ran the business alone for a number of years with so great 
success that he grew moderately wealthy. He was highly respected 
by his townsmen. Americans and Swedes alike. Shenlund died many 
years ago. 



Speaking of the early business men of Princeton it may be noted 
that S. Frid in 1854 established a boot and shoe store, conducting the 
business for some years, afterwards going into farming. Having no 
success as a farmer, he soon returned to the last and stuck to it, being 
successfully engaged in the shoe business to his death. J. O. Lundblad 
had early left for Missouri, but returned when the Civil War broke out, 
engaging in the same line of business but soon afterwards removed to 
Rock Island, going from there to Aledo to live. P. Fagercrantz in 1853 
established himself in Princeton as watchmaker and jeweler, conducting 

Princeton Main Street Looking South 

the business for a period of twenty-five years, after which he surprised 
his friends by going bankrupt. Although well advanced in years, he 
made a new start in business. In the vicinity of Princeton a number 
of Swedes settled and soon became prosperous farmers. 

Religious activity was begun early among the Swedish people of 
Princeton. A Swedish Lutheran congregation was organized in 1854, 
a Swedish Mission church in 1870, a Swedish Baptist church being 
added seven years later. 

According to the city directory, there were 1,200 Swedish-Amer- 
icans in Princeton at the close of 1905, but well informed townsmen 
believed that figure too low, holding that the actual number was 1,400. 
The Swedes living in the surrounding locality are about equally 
numerous. Besides, there are Swedes in considerable numbers living 



at other points in Bureau county, viz., Wyanet. Tiskilwa, Providence, 
Spring Valley, Ladd. Seaton, New Bedford, Walnut, and other places, 
adding about 1,200 more to the Swedish population in the county and 
bringing the total up to about 4,000. 


There have been Swedish people in Chicago almost from the 
earliest days of the city, and their number has constantly increased 
until, at the last general census in 1900, it was 48,836, or greater than 
the population of Norrkoping, the fourth city in Sweden in point of 
size. The same year there were in Chicago 95,883 persons born of 
Swedish parents, making a total Swedish-American population of 
144,719. Counting as Swedish- Americans 6,707 persons, one of whose 
parents was born in Sweden and the other in some other foreign 
country, we would obtain a total of 151,426 Swedish-Americans in 
the city. During the last seven years this number naturally has grown 
according to the usual ratio of increase. This is further evidenced 
by the school census of 1904 which set the number of Chicagoans born 
in Sweden at 55,991. A comparison of various estimates would indicate 
a Swedish- American population in Chicago of not less than 170,000 at 
the close of 1907. 

A large proportion of the Swedish- Americans have engaged in 
business and thereby laid the foundation for prosperity and economic 
independence. The great mass of their male population, however, is 
composed of skilled workmen. In almost every trade they are found, 
and everywhere they have the reputation of being highly intelligent, 
skillful and conscientious in their work. Not a few have distinguished 
themselves by making ingenious and practical inventions. Especially 
in certain trades, like that of the cabinetmaker, the architect and 
builder, the custom tailor and the mechanical artisan, they are 
found in the front rank. In many instances they have succeeded in 
building up comparatively large industrial establishments of their own ; 
others are engaged as engineers and foremen in large industrial plants 
owned by Americans and men of other nationalities. 

The majority of Swedish-American skilled workmen in Chicago 
doubtless are members of the labor organizations, their coolness and 
conservatism making them a desirable and wholesome element thereof. 
The unskilled laborers among them are few in proportion both to the 
entire number of Swedish-American workmen and to the proportion 
of unskilled laborers among other nationalities. As a consequence, 
the Swedish working class in Chicago stands on a higher economic 
plane than the corresponding class among the average foreign nation- 



ality, and is able to lead an existence more in keeping with the Amer- 
ican standard of life. 

The Swedish workingmen are in the main industrious, orderly, 
temperate, and thrifty. Generally, their first care is to get a home 
of their own, and for this purpose they have usually placed their 
savings in some one of the Swedish building and loan associations, 
obtained loans, purchased lots and built their own houses. Probably 
few other nationalities can show so large a proportion of property 
owners and home builders. Long ago the Swedes of Chicago solved 
the question of workingmen 's homes which is agitating industrial 
communities everywhere, thus setting an example worthy of emulation 
in other parts of the world. Many of the Swedish householders have 
two houses on their lots, the older one a frame structure built during 
pioneer days, the new one usually a brick building erected after the 
children grew up and the family began to prosper. 

A number of Swedish skilled workmen and men in business and 
the professions put their earnings into realty; others deposit them 
in the banks or put them out at interest elsewhere. There are two 
Swedish banks in the city, viz., the State Bank of Chicago, founded 
in 1879, and the Union Bank of Chicago, founded in 1905. The 
majority prefer the latter method of keeping capital growing, as 
against the more risky one of speculating. 

The Scandia Life Insurance Company is a Swedish corporation 
with head offices in Chicago, and the Swedish Methodists and Baptists 
each have a mutual life insurance society with headquarters here. 

The Chicago Swedes have been criticised for their lack of political 
activity, and to a certain extent the criticism is deserved. True, they 
have always cast their votes in great numbers at elections and fulfilled 
their duties as as citizens in the intervals, yet when nominations and 
appointments were to be made they have not insisted on the repre- 
sentation due them in consideration of their numbers and their civic 
standing. This fact possibly is due to the prevailing opinion among 
them, that the office ought to seek the man and not the reverse. 
Furthermore, they seem to take greater pride in upbuilding and main- 
taining the community than in the governing of it. In other words 
they would rather be producers than consumers. The great mass 
of the politically interested among them are Republicans. In the 
wards where they are numerous they form political clubs, and evince 
great political activity, especially prior to important elections. These 
ward clubs are combined into a central organization known as the 
Swedish-American Central Republican Club of Cook County, which 
in turn forms a part of the Swedish- American Republican League of 
Illinois. Many Swedish-Americans of Chicago have held political 



offices in the city and the county, and not a few have represented 
the community in the state legislature during the past thirty years. 

A trait characteristic of the Swedes in Chicago, as elsewhere, is 
their obedience to law and the high order of their citizenship. While 
they deprecate the wholesale manufacture of laws, they believe that 
good laws, dictated by the people's own sense of justice and equity, 
should be absolutely obeyed. 

They believe in education and culture. They keep their children 
in school regularly, and the great number of prizes and distinctions 
awarded them from time to time bear witness to the fact that they 
rank with the best pupils both in point of diligence and of intelligence. 
Many of them continue their studies from the public to the high 
school, while others enter commercial schools in order to fit them- 
selves for a business career. Still others in considerable number 
attend technological institutions, such as the Armour and Lewis in- 
stitutes, pursuing courses in engineering or other technics, or go to the 
universities, the medical colleges, the law schools, the dental colleges, 
the musical conservatories, where they are graduated year by year in 
ever increasing numbers. 

It would seem that so large a Swedish population would be 
capable of supporting a common institution of learning in the city. 
The absence of -such an institution must be ascribed to the fact that 
from the first the nationality has been divided into numerous reli- 
gious and fraternal organizations, each striving in its own way to 
make the greatest possible acquisitions and accomplish the best re- 
sults in behalf of its own adherents. 

Without exaggeration, it may be said that the traces of Swedish- 
American activity are most marked in the field of church and 
fraternal organization. The principal denominations and sects that 
have gained a foothold among them are the Lutherans, Methodists, 
Baptists and Mission Friends. Less numerous are the Episcopalians, the 
Salvationists, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and a few still smaller 
religious groups. 

At the close of the year 1905, there were in Chicago and vicinity 
41 Swedish Lutheran congregations having a total membership of 
15,000 and owning property to the aggregate value of $517,300. The 
Swedish Methodists had 18 congregations with 2,520 members and 
property valued at $249,600; the Swedish Baptists, 11 congregations 
with 2,588 members and $159,975 worth of property, and the Mission 
Friends, 12 congregations with 2,036 members and property to the 
value of $131,940. As to the other denominations there are no statistics 
at hand. 

These denominations carry on a relatively extensive work along 


educational and charitable lines. The Lutherans control and maintain 
the Augustana Hospital, one of the prominent institutions of its kind 
in the city. Martin Luther College, an institution of learning, was 
founded by them in 1892 but discontinued in 1896. In Evanston the 
Swedish Methodists have their own theological seminary, and in 
Chicago they maintain a home for the aged, named Bethany Home. 
The Swedish Baptists also conduct their own theological institute, 
located in Morgan Park, and support an old people's home, known as 
"Fridhem. " The Mission Friends not only own a school, North Park 
College, but a hospital and an old folks' home. In addition to these 
institutions there is in Englewood a Swedish- American hospital owned 
and controlled by the people of the various Swedish churches in that 
part of the city. 

As far as it has been possible to ascertain, the Swedish fraternal 
societies and lodges in Chicago number about one hundred. In the 
total absence of common statistics exact information concerning them 
cannot be given. These organizations, designed for the pleasure as 
well as the pecuniary benefit of its members, annually disburse large 
sums in the form of sick benefits, funeral expenses and mutual life 
insurance. Two lodges, "Svithiod" and "Vikingarne," have branched 
out in recent years so as to form large independent orders, with branch 
lodges as far west as the Missouri River. The Independent Order of 
Svithiod now embraces 38 lodges and has 16 ladies' guilds. The Inde- 
pendent Order of Vikings is composed of 30 lodges in addition to 
which there are 15 ladies' guilds. The Svithiod and the Viking 
lodges of Chicago are included in the above total. There are 10 
lodges of Good Templars, four other temperance societies, and a 
number of lodges of the Scandinavian Brotherhood of America. Other 
fraternities, including a couple of lodges each of Free Masons and 
Odd Fellows, together with nondescript organizations approximate 
twenty in number. Many churches, moreover, have their own sick 
benefit and benevolent societies. 

A number of different societies have associated themselves for 
the common purpose of charity and benevolence. One is the Swedish 
Societies' Old People's Home Association (formerly the Swedish 
Societies' Central Association), which founded and maintains an old 
people's home at Park Ridge. The other is the Swedish National 
Association, which conducts a free employment bureau and carries on 
charity work in a measure. 

A significant movement among Chicago's Swedes is the organ- 
ization and maintaining of singing societies, chiefly male choruses. 
Such have existed for several decades and they now number a 
dozen, exclusive of male or mixed choirs connected with the churches. 



They all form a part of the American Union of Swedish Singers and, 
in order to further their local interests, they have united into a 
local organization named the Chicago Union of Swedish Singers. 

In the field of culture, the Swedish-Americans here have ac- 
complished noteworthy results, aside from the work of their churches, 
schools and singing organizations, this city being as far back as the 
'60s the Swedish-American literary producing center and for decades 
the location of a considerable publishing and bookselling business. 
At present no less than eight large weekly Swedish newspapers are 
published in Chicago, four being secular, viz., "Hemlandet", "Svenska 
Tribunen-Nyheter, " "Svenska Amerikanaren, " "Svenska Kuriren;" 
the remaining four religious wholly or in part, viz., "Sandebudet" 
(Methodist), "Nya Vecko-Posten (Baptist), " Missions- Vannen" 
(Mission Church), and " Chicago-Bladet " (Free Mission Church). 
In addition to those mentioned, a large number of monthly church 
and society papers are issued in this city. A general pub- 
lishing business was first started in Chicago by the Swedish Lutheran 
Publication Society and is still continued by The Engberg-Holmberg 
Publishing Company. In connection with the church paper "Sande- 
budet" a Methodist Book Concern has more recently been established, 
in connection with " Missions- Vannen " a book store for the Mission 
Covenant, and in connection with "Chicago-Bladet" a similar store 
to meet the needs of the Free Mission churches. To this should be 
added that the American Baptist Publication Society has established 
a Swedish book department. Several small book stores are conducted 
by private persons. 

It should not be forgotten that from time to time there have 
existed in Chicago various Swedish dramatic companies which, 
although composed largely of amateurs and not to be compared with 
the standard theatrical companies of Sweden, yet have served to 
acquaint Swedish-Americans with the Swedish drama of past and 
modern times. 

These various lines of activity pursued by the Swedish people of 
Chicago are more fully treated in subsequent chapters. 

Somewhat later than Flack and Von Schneidau. mention of whom 
has been made, one Astrom came to Chicago from Norrland. In South 
Water street, not far from the spot where Old Fort Dearborn stood, 
he and another man from Norrland by the name of Svedberg, who 
came here from Buffalo, opened a restaurant, conducting that business 
for several years. This was in the latter forties. In 1850 Svedberg. 
doubtless smitten with the prevalent gold fever, went to California, 
and Astrom returned to Sweden. He came to America a second time ; 
after that nothing is known of him. 


In 1846 the first party of Swedish immigrants to Chicago arrived. 
There were fifteen families, and the newcomers seem to have had no 
connection with the emigration movement directed by Erik Jansson. 
Not one among them understood a word of English, not one had a 
relative or friend here, all were poor to the verge of destitution. 
But von Schneidau befriended them, acting as their interpreter and 
counselor, and soon procured work for the men in the employ of two 
Americans, W. B. Ogden and A. Smith. They were set to clearing a 
piece of ground just north of the present Division street, at 50 cents 
per day, without board, which, nevertheless, they considered fairly 
good pay. That winter and all the following year (1847) those Swedes 
are said to have worked at sawing wood for a daily wage of from 50 
cents to 621/2 cents. Tho women took washing in American families 
and thereby earned 10 to 25 cents a day, with board. 

Oct. 3, 1846, Jonas Olsson arrived in Chicago at the head of a 
party of Erik Janssonists bound for Bishop Hill. Many of the 
emigrants, having begun to doubt the divine mission of Erik Jansson, 
now refused to go any farther and decided to remain in Chicago. 
Among these recalcitrants was Jan Jansson, the prophet's own brother. 
He afterwards became the owner of a fertile farm situated one and 
one-half miles from Montrose, Cook county. Among the others were, 
Anders Larsson, John P. Kallman, Pehr Ersson, Petter Hessling, 
A. Thorsell and Kallstrom. They all lived together for a time in a 
house in Illinois street, between Dearborn avenue and State street. 

The year after, forty Swedish immigrants came to the city, and in 
1848 one hundred more. Times had now improved noticeably, so that 
a good laborer could earn 75 cents a day. But the necessaries of life 
were high, a barrel of flour costing $6 to $7, while pork sold at 6 to 8 
cents per pound. 

One of the earliest Swedish settlers in Chicago who, like Astrom 
and Svedberg, had a business of his own, was a man from Gotland by 
the name of Lundblad. He came over in 1847 and the year after started 
a soda water factory which he ran for some months and then went to 
Quincy, where he died. His widow returned to Chicago and died here. 
At the close of the year 1848, the Swedish population of Chicago 
could not have exceeded 300, all of whom waged a hard fight for 
existence. In 1849 no less than 400 Swedish immigrants were added 
to Chicago's population. If conditions had been bad before, things 
now grew still worse, for the newcomers of that year brought the 
cholera, the epidemic causing indescribable suffering and misery 
among them. 

In some instances the plague broke out on board the emigrant 
ships, and many victims were buried at sea. The majority of cases, 



however, occurred on the tedious journey from the eastern ports to 
the western points of destination, and after the arrival. The canal- 
boats were stopped ever and anon to permit the emigrants to go ashore 
and bury their dead. Conditions grew little better after the railroad 
from the East to Chicago was completed. Then the emigrants were 
packed like cattle in uncomfortable cars whose doors were opened 
seldom, if at all, during the entire journey. 

The cholera raged unabated for several years till 1854, inclusive, 
apparently claiming more victims that year than any foregoing, in- 
creasing immigration furnishing a favorable field for its ravages. In 
1850 Chicago received 500 Swedish immigrants and in 1851-52 1,000 
each year. We quote a few examples of the dreadful effect of the 
scourge among these people during 1854. One large party from Karl- 
skoga and Bjurtjarn, in Vermland, brought with them six corpses, 
when the train arrived at the Michigan Central railway station. Seven- 
teen of the party, afflicted with the disease, were brought to the pest- 
house, where more than half of their number died before morning. 
Of the older members of the Immanuel Swedish Lutheran Church, 
organized the year before, about one-tenth died of the plague, the 
percentage of deaths among their children being still greater. Among 
the newcomers the death rate was so great that two-thirds of the 
immigrants arriving that year are believed to have succumbed to the 

Poverty, unspeakable misery, absolute wretchedness such was 
the lot of the families of the deceased. Fortunately, there were 
charitable people among their fellow countrymen here, who took pity 
on these victims of pest and penury. Chief among these were Consul 
von Schneidau, and three clergymen, Gustaf Unonius, Erland Carlsson 
and Sven Bernhard Newman. The names of these four noble-hearted 
men shine in the annals of the Swedish pioneers in Chicago like stars 
in a dismal night. One's heart is warmed and the pulse is quickened 
in reading the accounts of what these men accomplished in behalf 
of the suffering immigrants. 

Actuated by his goodness of heart as well as by his sense of duty, 
Consul von Schneidau obtained permission to use the United States 
Marine Hospital for the accommodation of the plague victims. As soon 
as they were fairly restored to health, the question of getting work 
arose. Yet this was sometimes a difficult problem, and if they did 
obtain employment, being weak and emaciated, they were not always 
equal to the task. In either event, they turned to von Schneidau for 
assistance, and he helped them as far as it was in his power to do so. 
Having exhausted his own resources, he appealed to public benevolence, 
nor was this done in vain, for donations poured in in such quantities 


that the residence was turned into a veritable supply depot, where his 
good wife acted as distributor of the accumulated provisions. 

TJnonius was equally energetic in the cause of charity. In 1849. 
the very first year of his residence in Chicago, it fell upon him to 
render assistance to the cholera victims. He was untiring in his efforts 
to solicit among well-to-do citizens money, clothing and food for the 
relief of the sufferers. When the pesthouses could no longer hold the 
plague victims he opened the second story of his parsonage as a 
temporary hospital. His wife had the welfare of the patients equally 
at heart, giving them her service as nurse. When parents died, Unonius 
would see to it that their children were cared for, either in some 
orphanage or by adoption in private families. 

Rev. Carlsson also, immediately upon his arrival in Chicago, be- 
came entirely engrossed in relief work among the cholera sufferers. 
Not only among the members of his flock, but among the immigrants 
as well, his energy proved equal to the emergency. Scarcely an immi- 
grant train arrived but he was at the station to assist and advise his 
fellow countrymen. After having spent all that terrible summer of 
1854 on a constant mission of relief among the sick, he himself was 
attacked by the plague in the fall, but rallied after a few weeks. Even 
after the cholera epidemic subsided, Rev. Carlsson continued his mission 
of benevolence among the Swedish immigrants. 

What has been said of these three, in their relation to the cholera 
victims, applied equally to Rev. Newman. Without the slightest fear 
of the epidemic he went about ministering to his stricken countrymen, 
sat at their bedsides, comforting the sick and dying by word and deed, 
buried the dead and gave advice and succor to the survivors. 

Sometimes Revs. Carlsson and Newman cooperated in the work. 
Thus, one day the former made the suggestion, "Brother Newman, 
suppose you take one street and I another, and we solicit for a common 
fund." The memory of the unselfish exertions on the part of these 
pioneer clergymen in the days of dire calamity will be ever dear to the 
hearts of succeeding generations of their countrymen. 

Another example of prevalent conditions among the immigrants 
of those days may here be given. In 1855 Swedish and Norwegian 
paupers cost the city of Chicago and Cook county no less than $6,000, 
exclusive of assistance rendered by individuals aggregating a still 
larger sum. During the month of October that year, which was by no 
means the most unhealthy period, 35 Swedes who had died in private 
houses were buried at public expense because of the destitution of 
their families. During the same period the county defrayed the expense 
for the interment of about double that number of Swedes who died in 



hospitals and the poorhouse. Yet health conditions and the death rate 
were no worse in Chicago than in Milwaukee or other neighboring cities. 

The city of Chicago at this period was a mere nucleus for future 
development, and as yet few, if any, anticipated or dared hope for 
the enormous progress it was destined to make. The north side being 
the original location of the Swedish colony in Chicago, that part lays 
claim to the especial interest of Swedish-Americans. 

In 1850 that part of the city was an open, almost uninhabited 
prairie, the only objects that broke the monotony of the scene being 
large stumps or individual trees still left standing. The locality was 
low and swampy, with here and there pools of stagnant water, inhabited 
by snakes and other reptiles. To the north from the present Division 
street line stretched an extensive swamp covered with underbrush and 
vines. Although the district was platted and the streets were laid out 
on paper, there were in fact no other thoroughfares than Kinzie street, 
North Clark street and Chicago avenue, if indeed those might be so 
styled in their almost impassable state. They were practically very 
badly kept country roads, unworthy of the name of city streets. But 
what could be expected of the north side at a time when the streets 
on the south side, in the very heart of the city, were at times little 
better than quagmires. Ordinarily they were like rough country roads 
flanked at intervals with narrow planks in lieu of sidewalks. In the fall, 
winter and spring they were especially wretched, not to say perilous 
to life. Then the mud would be knee deep throughout, while in places 
there would be bottomless mudholes. It was no uncommon sight to see, 
on Clark, Lake and other principal streets, a pole stuck hi the middle 
of the street and on it a cross board bearing the legend : "No Bottom. ' ' 
In the north and west parts of the city as well as to the south of the 
"down town" district weeds man-high skirted the driveways on both 
sides, while the vacant blocks were the stamping ground of tethered 
cows and goats, and flocks of cackling geese, not to mention pigs, 
chickens and turkeys innumerable. Add to this that dead dogs and 
cats and other carcasses graced the roadsides and perfumed the air as 
they lay putrifying in the ditches, and you will have a true picture of 
Chicago and its immediate environments at this period. 

On the north side the buildings were as yet few and primitive. 
Standing at the Clark street bridge you had an unobstructed view of 
a two-story house and an adjoining blacksmith shop erected by one 
Sheldon, a Norwegian, at Ohio street, just west of Market street. From 
the same point of observation one had a free prospect all the way to 
Hubbard street, where R. B. Johnson, another Norwegian, had built a 
house. So few and far apart were the houses in this neighborhood. 
The price of a building lot in those days was a mere bagatelle in 


comparison with present day realty values. Tracts north of Division 
street could then be bought for $100 per acre, which was considered 
quite high enough. At Chicago avenue lots could be had for nothing, 
provided the applicants agreed to put up two-story houses on them, this 
stipulation being designed to attract people to the neighborhood and 
raise the value of realty. A few years before, or in 1847-49, any one 
eould become the owner of lots 140 to 150 by 25 feet on the north and 
west sides, a few blocks from the river, for the mere trouble of sawing 
a few cords of wood for the owners of the ground. Many of the 
pioneers took advantage of this offer to procure cheap building lots. 
Not many years thereafter the price of such lots had risen to $1,000 
and over. Today an immigrant who desired to earn one of these lots 
in the same manner would be sawing wood for the better part of his 
natural life. 

The Swedes who had become established in Chicago at this time 
had located between Indiana and Erie streets, on an island formed by 
the two arms of the north branch of the river, the west arm following 
the present river bed while the eastern came about to present Orleans 
street. The place was known as "Swedish Town" and formed the 
nucleus for the populous north side Swedish community. The buildings 
on this island, as elsewhere in the outskirts of the city, were small 
frame houses or primitive log cabins, or shanties built of rough boards 
set on end. The latter style of architecture was much in vogue in the 
large stretch of swamp between Indiana street and Chicago avenue. 
The neighborhood was literally filled with these shanties, put up 
without respect for compass or street lines, by poor immigrants who 
could afford no better shelter. In these rude huts hundreds of Swedes 
lived and died during the terrible years of the cholera scourge in 
the early fifties. 

After a- few years the east arm of the river was filled in, whereby 
the island became part of the north side district. When the owners 
of the land on which the Swedes were squatters in the years 1853 and 
1854 began to assert their property rights, the settlers were forced to 
move. They then bought lots here and there on the north side, the 
entire district being owned by two men, W. B. Ogden and W. L. 
Newberry. Both grew immensely rich from the sale of real estate. 
Mr. Newberry donated a part of his wealth for a library to be estab- 
lished in that -part of the city and to bear his name. This was done, 
the present library building having been completed in the nineties. 

The early Swedish colony on the north side embraced principally 
that part bounded on the north by Division street, on the south by 
Indiana street, on the east by Wells street and on the west by the river. 
Within these limits their first churches, the Ansgarius Episcopal, the 


Immanuel Lutheran, and the Methodist-Episcopal, w r ere built. Little 
by little, the Swedish people, however, scattered over the entire north 
side, but before that another rapidly growing Swedish colony had been 
started on the south side. In a short time there were Swedish settle- 
ments in all three of the older divisions of the city, while thousands 
of Swedes poured into the outlying districts or suburbs that grew up 
in rapid succession. W T hile none of these suburbs bears a distinctively 
Swedish stamp, still it is only the plain truth to say that the Swedes 
have taken a leading part in the work of building them up. 

Time and change have long since erased every vestige of the afore- 
said island and its "Swedish Town," but to following generations of 
Swedish-Americans it will always retain an historic interest. 

The calamity that befell Chicagoans through the great fire of 
Oct. 9, 1871, probably fell more heavily on the Swedish inhabitants 
than on any other nationality, from the fact that these still lived 
almost exclusively in one locality, that being swept by the flames, 
while other nationalities, being generally distributed over the whole 
city, partly escaped. It has been estimated that three-fourths of the 
Swedes that had established homes up to that time were residing on 
the north side, principally along Market, Sedgwick, Townsend, Bremer, 
Wesson and Division streets and North avenue. This whole area was 
swept by the fiery tornado, and Swedish homes were destroyed by the 
hundreds. Four Swedish churches, as many newspaper offices and 
numerous shops and stores owned by Swedes were leveled with the 
ground. Of the 50,000 people who during the nights following the 
catastrophe slept out of doors with no protection from the cold but 
the few garments they had snatched from the flames, probably 10,000 
were Swedes. True, they were left under the open sky practically 
destitute, but all was not lost, for they still possessed the power and 
the will to work and an unflinching trust in the future. Like all the 
other fire victims, they took up the task of building a new and greater 
Chicago on the smoking ruins of the old. By industry and thrift they 
succeeded after a few years in retrieving their fortunes. An instance of 
the enterprising spirit of the fire sufferers was given by the members 
of the Immanuel Swedish Lutheran Church who gathered around the 
still smoking ruins of their fine, neAvly built house of worship and, in 
the name of God, decided to continue work and rebuild the edifice as 
soon as possible, a resolve all the more sacrificial as the members' own 
homes were in ashes. So promptly was the resolution carried out 
that the congregation on Christmas Day, 1872, could worship for the 
first time in the new edifice which, however, was not fully completed 
until the winter of 1875. 

The total loss sustained by Swedes in the Chicago fire was not far 



from one million dollars. Few of them received any insurance money, 
most of the local insurance companies being forced to the wall. In this 
and other countries a relief fund of $7,500,000 was raised, but of this 
only an insignificant share fell to the modest and unobtrusive Swedes, 
while less numerous but more aggressive nationalities claimed more 
than their rightful share. The sums that were sent from Sweden for 
the relief of their countrymen here were designated for the "Scandi- 
navians," and had to be divided in brotherly fashion among Swedes, 
Norwegians and Danes alike, although the losses sustained by the last 
two nationalities were not to be compared to those of the thousands of 
Swedes. Our countrymen, together with other sufferers, were sheltered 
in hastily built wooden sheds where they endured great hardships 
during the severe winter of 1871-72, despite the free distribution of 
coal and provisions. The free building materials placed at the disposal 
of those who would avail themselves thereof, enabled many of the 
Swedes to rebuild at once, their new houses being in many instances 
larger and more commodious than those burned. Thus the Swedish 
district on the north side was rebuilt in a short time, the inhabitants 
gradually resuming their former functions in business and daily life. 


This flourishing little town is the center of a prosperous farming 
community in Western township, which was organized in the early 
days of the Bishop Hill Colony. Erik Jansson visited the locality in 
1849 and, finding the soil very fertile, determined to locate an auxiliary 
colony there. Another point in its favor was its location halfAvay 
between Bishop Hill and its fishery and nearest trading station on 
Rock Island. He purchased a tract embracing 1,116 acres. When the 
colony built its steam power flour mill, the authorities took a loan of 
$2,000 from Hall & McNeely of St. Louis, offering this property as 
collateral. The colony failing to meet payments, the mortgage was 
foreclosed and the land, together with several primitive buildings, was 
sold at auction in 1851 to satisfy the creditors. 

But before Erik Jansson 's visit a Swede named John Johnson is 
said to have lived there, removing to Iowa in the late seventies. When 
the cholera broke out at Bishop Hill in 1849 many of the colonists 
sought refuge in this locality, but were pursued by the plague, which 
raged here with such fury that as many as sixteen persons died in one 
day. Fifty cholera victims among the refugees lie buried in the south- 
east corner of section 25, with nothing to mark the place where these 
pioneers sleep. 

One of the earliest permanent settlers was William A. Anderson, 
who came over in 1851 and died here in 1858. He is said to have been 



very helpful and accommodating towards Swedish newcomers. Other 
pioneers were Anders M. Pettersson, from Sodra Vi, Smaland, who 
arrived in 1852, and N. P. Pettersson. 

John Samuelsson was one of the prominent Swedish settlers here. 
From Vestra Eneby, Ostergotland, he came as an immigrant to Andover 
in 1852. During the Civil War he served for three years in the 43rd 
Illinois Infantry and was in several battles, including Shiloh and the 
siege of Vicksburg. With the small savings from his pay as a soldier 
he made the first payment on a small farm which he purchased and 
kept adding to and improving until in 1880 it comprised 400 acres, with 
splendid farm buildings. 

Peter Westerlund is another prosperous pioneer settler in these 
parts. He was born at Hassela, Helsingland, Aug. 10, 1839, emigrated 
in 1850 and settled at Andover. There he lived for seven years, where- 
upon he made a trip to Pike's Peak, Colo., with a party in search of 
gold. From there Westerlund and eleven others started on an 
adventurous expedition to the southwest without a guide, through a 
territory without roads or trails. Their vehicles were drawn by oxen. 
They eventually reached the Rio Grande and followed the river to 
Albuquerque. Here they sold their oxen, built three boats and, con- 
trary to the advice of the townsmen, started to float down the un- 
explored waterway, ultimately arriving at El Paso. Up to that time 
the Rio Grande was supposed to be impassable, one reason given being 
that it ran through a mountain at a certain point. The intrepid Swedes, 
however, exploded that tradition. 

The town of Orion was founded in 1853 by Charles W. Deane, and 
at first bore the name of Deanington, which was subsequently changed 
to Orion. Three years later it got railroad communications and entered 
upon a new stage of development. Orion has a Swedish Lutheran 
church, organized in 1870. 

According to the census of 1900 the town then had a population 
of 584. At the close of 1905 the number of Swedish- Americans living 
in and around Orion was 800, of whom 298 were born in Sweden 
and 522 in this country. 


That part of Illinois now comprising Kane county was first settled 
by whites in 1833 when a party of colonists from Indiana came there 
to live. The next year another party arrived from New York, and in 
1836 the county was organized and named after Elias K. Kane, who 
became one of the early United States senators from Illinois. 

St. Charles, on the Fox River, was one of the first settlements in 
the county. In 1834 the place had only six houses, but the following 


year the growth of the population necessitated the building of a school- 
house. In another year a hotel was erected and a bridge was built 
across the Fox River. 

Almost from the first, the Swedes have formed an important, 
though not the dominating, element of the community. They were 
there in the latter forties, it being a matter of record that at least 
three Swedes, viz., Nils Jansson, w r ho ran a turning lathe, and two 
storekeepers, Bjorkman and Baker, settled in St. Charles prior to 1849. 
The latter, w r ho changed his name to Clark, failed in business and then 
removed to Chicago. 

Nils Jansson, who hailed from Horby, Skane, emigrated to America 
in 1830 as a young man. He was a hard drinker and somewhat of an 
adventurer, having traveled in Mexico and roamed at large over the 
western continent for some time before settling down here. When the 
number of Swedes in St. Charles increased, he assumed a sort of 
guardianship over them, started raising money for a little church and 
sometimes tried his ability as a preacher, which was none too great. 
The church was built in 1852, and Swedish clergymen of different 
denominations, among them Gustaf Unonius, the Episcopal pastor in 
Chicago, made occasional visits. The wife of Nils Jansson is said to 
have been a pious woman who often warned her husband to mend his 
ways. One morning she took him severely to task, pointing out his 
fate in the hereafter, if he persisted in his sinful course. To this he 
replied, it is said, that she need not worry about his soul, for half an 
hour was all he wanted to prepare for death. That same day Nils 
Jansson was killed by lightning in the country, a short distance from 
St. Charles. This seems to have occurred in 1850, though the year is 
not positively known. 

The Jonas Andersson from Farila, Helsingland, who is mentioned 
among the Princeton pioneers, was one of the first Swedes to settle 
in St. Charles. He came from Chicago in 1849, remaining over winter, 
and left for Wisconsin in the spring. After a few months, he returned 
to St. Charles, lived there till 1853, then removed to Princeton. 

Such were the beginnings of the Swedish colony in St. Charles. 
In 1852 several hundred Swedes arrived directly from the old country. 
Most of the immigrants came from Vestergotland, being persuaded to 
come by the glowing accounts of St. Charles and surrounding country 
given in letters from Anders Andersson, a blacksmith and wagonmaker 
from Timmelhed, who had emigrated in 1847. Some years later he 
moved to Taylor's Falls, Minn., where he died. He left two daughters, 
one of whom was married to Daniel Fredin, living near that place, the 
other to Dr. Erland Carlsson, one of the pioneer clergymen of the 
Swedish Lutheran Church in America. Other arrivals in 1852 were. 



Lars Fran (Frenn) from Timmelhed and his brothers, Sven Thim, and 
Anders Larsson, and a half-brother, Carl Larsson; the first-named 
moved to Wayne Station, a few miles from Geneva, after a year, and 
from there in 1880 to Vasa, Minn., where he died the same year at the 
age of eighty-one ; Thim died in Geneva ; Anders Larsson moved to Red 
Wing, Minn., in 1855 or 1856, and died at Vasa in 1871, fifty-eight 
years old. Still others were, a shoemaker named Bowman, who served 
in the Union Army during the war and died several years thereafter; 
his stepson, P. G. Boman, who moved first to Chicago, then to Rock- 

St. Charles West Main Street 

ford ; J. Sannquist ; Carl Samuelsson and Carl Sjoman from the Tim- 
melhed neighborhood, the former, who was somewhat of a spiritual 
leader, moving to Elgin, the latter to the neighborhood of McGregor, 
la. ; Abram Swensson and his sister, later removed to Hastings, Minn. ; 
Anders Svensson and his brother-in-law Hedelin from Rangedala. 
Vestergotland, both removing later to Faribault, Minn. Among the 
early settlers was also one Jonas Hakanson, thought to have moved 
from there to Rockford. 

These immigrants also brought the cholera, the plague having 
broken out on shipboard and pursuing them to their destination. Had 
they taken the necessary precautions upon arrival, such as obtaining 


clean and airy lodgings, the danger of contagion might have been 
minimized. Unfortunately, however, few houses were to be had, and 
the immigrants had to be packed into small and unsanitary rooms that 
became the hotbeds of the disease. The first case of cholera in St. 
Charles appeared July 3, the victim being a man. An Irish physician 
named Crawford, who was called in, advised the immigrants to scatter 
so as not to give the epidemic a chance to spread to the others, but 
instead of heeding his counsel, a dozen newcomers occupied a vacant 
cooper shop, which was turned into a pesthouse, all the occupants being 
attacked by the epidemic. Immigrants living elsewhere in the place 
also were taken sick. Dr. Crawford and a volunteer nurse were at the 
bedsides of the plague victims night and day for one whole week, 
exerting their utmost power to save the stricken ones. Meanwhile 
the contagion spread among the older settlers, five of whom died. 
Among the immigrants the plague at this first outbreak claimed 
ten lives. 

At length the local authorities awoke to the necessity of strenuous 
and systematic measures to check the ravages of the disease. For that 
purpose a temporary hospital was hastily erected of boards at a healthy 
and picturesque spot in the woods north of St. Charles. Several women 
volunteered as nurses and provided everything needed for the patients. 
But despite the best efforts of the community the epidemic was not 
checked until seventy-five persons had succumbed. 

A small party of Swedes came to St. Charles in 1853, including 
Peter Lundgren, from Bottnaryd, Smaland, John Carlsson, from Aske- 
ryd, in the same province, Peter Lundquist, Fredrik Pettersson, and 
August Nord. Lundquist afterwards removed to Rockford and Pet- 
tersson to Nebraska. In the surrounding countrj T a number of Swedes 
early settled down as farmers. 

In 1853 a Swedish Lutheran congregation was organized in St. 
Charles, but its growth was deterred by litigation over the question of 
ownership of the aforesaid church. An Irishman named Marvin took 
almost forcible possession of the edifice in settlement of claims against 
the congregation, so that when its members came to celebrate early 
mass on Christmas morning, 1854, they found the doors of the little 
church tightly nailed up. One of the intending worshipers, named 
Jonas Magnusson, broke open the door and let the people in. When 
the congregation came to worship on Easter Sunday the following year 
they discovered that the edifice had been moved away on rollers, and 
from that time Marvin seems to have had undisputed possession. 

From this time until 1882 the Swedish Lutherans in St. Charles 
worshiped together with their brethren in Geneva. That year a new 



congregation was organized in St. Charles, and a church was built the 
following year. During 1905 a new and larger edifice was erected. 

As early as 1853 S. B. Newman, a Methodist clergyman, organized 
a small Swedish class in St. Charles, which soon disbanded owing to 
the prevailing hostility to Methodism among the Swedish settlers. 
Again in 1890 the Methodists began work, resulting in the organization 
of a small congregation. A church edifice was erected in 1904. 

During the last two decades the Swedish population of St. Charles 
has slowly but steadily grown, partly by immigration from Sweden, 
but principally from people moving in from other localities. At the 
close of 1905 they numbered about 1,500, out of a total population 
of 2,675. 


Knoxville is the oldest town in Knox County, having been founded 
in 1831. During the first two years of its existence the place was 
known as Henderson. For many years it was the county seat until the 
more prosperous city of Galesburg laid claim to the honor. A bitter 
fight ensued, Knoxville vigorously defending the right once granted, 
while Galesburg claimed it as the prerogative of the principal city in 
the county and was ultimately victorious. One day in 1873, the ques- 
tion having been settled, the archives of the county were removed to 
Galesburg, where they have since remained. In the fight for the county 
seat none took a more active part than Sven Pettersson of Knoxville, 
who sacrificed both time and money in behalf of Knoxville as the seat 
of the county government. The part played by the liquor traffic in the 
rivalry between the two communities is described under the head of 

Prior to 1849, there were no Swedes in Knoxville, but that year 
several located there, among whom were two shoemakers, Adolf An- 
dersson and one Bostrom. The latter left in 1850, Andersson remain- 
ing until 1853. Simultaneous with these two were other settlers, 
among whom one Tinglof with his family, Kristian Johnson, A. Berg- 
quist, a farmer, and Trued Persson, a schoolmaster from Stoby, Skane, 
known as Granville among the Americans of Knoxville and Galesburg. 
He removed to Vasa, Minn., in November, 1855, where he attained 
prominence, was elected to the state legislature and held other positions 
of trust. He died there Dec. 27, 1905. One Daniel J. Ockerson came to 
Knoxville in 1851, went to California in 1859 and removed to Red Oak, 
la., in 1880. The same year Ockerson came, John Gottrich located in 
Knoxville and in 1880 was the only one of the early Swedish settlers 
still living there. The aforesaid Sven Pettersson arrived in 1852 as did 
a considerable number of Swedes. The influx was steadily on the 


increase, and in 1854 the Swedes formed a considerable part of the 

That year the cholera broke out in Knoxville, its ravages being 
mostly confined to the Swedes, forty of whom died of the pestilence. 
The fact that the Americans generally escaped is attributed to their 
more sanitary dwellings. As poor immigrants, the Swedes, on the 
contrary, had to be satisfied with little stuffy huts ; besides, they were 
unaccustomed to the climate and did not know how to accommodate 
their diet to the circumstances. The lack of proper sheltering resulted 

Knoxville Street Scene 

from the lack of money, for while there was plenty of work to be had, 
the pay was usually in the form of cows, calves, sheep and pigs. 

For a period of about twenty years, from 1852, there was a rapid 
increase of the Swedish population. But in the latter seventies came a 
stagnation which has continued to this day. The descendants of the 
old pioneers, as also the Swedes who have located there in later years, 
are generally prosperous and belong to the best portion of the Swedish 
population of the state. During the Civil War the Knoxville Swedes 
displayed their great loyalty to the flag by enlisting to the number of 
forty to fight for the perpetuation of the Union. 

The city has a Swedish Lutheran church, one of the oldest in the 
state, founded in 1854. In Knoxville there was printed, in December, 
1854, the first issue of "Gamla och Nya Hemlandet," the oldest 
Swedish newspaper in the West and the next oldest in the United 
States. The first number was dated Jan. 3, 1855. 

From 1873 to 1885, Knoxville had a Swedish institution of learn- 



ing, the Ansgarius College, owned and controlled by the Ansgarius 
Synod. The total population of Knoxville in 1900 was 1,857. The 
number of Swedes cannot be precisely stated. The membership of the 
Swedish Lutheran Church at the beginning of the year 1905 was 280, 
and the total number of Swedes in the city will not exceed 850. 


The little town of Wataga is situated in Sparta township, its first 
white inhabitant having been Hezekiah Buford, who located there in 
1834. Two years later came three brothers, Cyrus, Levy and Reuben 
Robbins, who planted a grove of shade-trees and a large orchard, 
known as Robbings Grove. 

The first Swedish settlers arrived in 1849. They were : Lars Ols- 
son, with family, from Bollnas, Helsingland; Peter Ericksson, with 
wife and two sisters-in-law, from Alfta, Helsingland ; Olof Palsson and 
Anders Danielsson from Ockelbo, Gestrikland. The first named died 
in 1864, having lived long enough to reap the fruits of his labors as a 
pioneer. One of his sons, Win. H. Olson enlisted as a volunteer in 
Company I, 102nd Illinois Infantry on Aug. 9, 1862. He was soon pro- 
moted to corporal and died March 26, 1865, from wounds received in 
battle. His brother, L. W. Olson, died in 1907. In 1880 he was a 
member of the firm of Olson and Bergman. Two of his sisters were 
also living at that time. Peter Ericksson, his wife and one of her 
sisters after a few years moved to Bishop Hill, where all died prior to 
1880. Olof Palsson moved first to Minnesota and then to Kansas. 
Anders Danielsson was still living in Wataga in the early eighties. 

In 1850 N. J. Lindbeck came over from Ockelbo and settled two 
miles east of Wataga; also Jonas Pettersson and his wife from Alfta, 
the Williamson family from Jerfso, Helsingland, and Lars Williams 
from Ljusdal, in the same province. Lindbeck left after nine months' 
stay, subsequently moving from one place to another, finally settling 
at Victoria, where he was still living in 1880. Jonas Pettersson died 
after a few years, but his widow and children, two sons and three 
daughters, were still living there in 1880. The head of the Williamson 
family died in 1885. His five sons all became prominent citizens in 
their respective communities. William Williamson went to farming on 
a large scale near Wataga, owning over 400 acres of land in 1880, a 
general merchandise store in Galesburg and a large interest in the 
grocery store of Nelson Chester & Co., in Moline. Jonas Williamson 
at that time also owned a large farm near Wataga. The third brother, 
Peter Williamson, had a valuable farm in Lucas county, la. The fourth, 
John Williamson in 1862 enlisted in Company K, 83rd Illinois Infantry, 
was wounded and received honorable discharge the following year. 



dying shortly after his return home. Moses 0. Williamson, the fifth of 
the brothers, born on the Atlantic during the voyage of the family to 
America, began his career as a harness-maker and later devoted himself 
to politics, rising from one position to another until elected to the office 
of state treasurer. After serving one term, 1901-1904, he retired fron? 
public life and established himself in business in Galesburg where he 
has resided for a long period. A sister of the Williamson brothers 
married W. C. Olson, who, after many years' residence in Wataga, 
where he held several public offices, removed to Wakeeney, Kans., some 
time in the seventies. 

Wataga was founded in 1855 by an American by the name of 
J. M. Holyoke and a Swede named A. P. Cassel, who jointly established 
a general merchandise store. The next year the place got a railway 
station and a hotel. Rich coal veins were early discovered in this 
vicinity and the work of mining began forthwith. The coal mining 
industry was at its height here about the middle of the fifties, when 
the mines employed 250 workingmen ; after that it declined, causing 
the floating population, a large percentage being Swedish laborers, to 
drift away to other localities. Those of the Swedes who had been able 
to purchase land remained, as a rule, and in time became well-to-do. 
A few engaged in business with uniform success. 

A Swedish Lutheran church was organized here in 1856 and a 
Swedish Methodist church the year following. Neither church is 
numerically strong, the former numbering 245 and the latter only 26 
members. In 1900 Wataga had 545 inhabitants. The percentage of 
Swedish- Americans in the town and the surrounding country can only 
be conjectured. 


The town of Swedona was first known as Berlin. It is situated 
on a plateau commanding a view of the plains stretching to the south 
and drained by the Edward's Creek. The growth of Swedona was 
stunted from the first by the lack of railway communication, New 
Windsor, Lynn and other neighboring towns developed at its expense, 
a number of houses being moved from Swedona to these places. No 
other factors requisite to development having since came into exist- 
ence, the place is still but a small village. The country around is popu- 
lous with successful farmers, largely Swedes. 

The first Swede in Swedona, undoubtedly, was Nils Magnus Kihl- 
berg from Kisa, Ostergotland, who came over with a party of 300 
emigrants on board the sailing vessel "Charles Tottie," in the summer 
of 1849, after a seven weeks' voyage from Goteborg to New York. 
Their original destination was New Sweden, la., where Peter Cassel 



had settled, but the cholera and other diseases crossed their purpose 
and compelled them to stop in Andover and vicinity. Late in the 
autumn, Kihlberg started for New Sweden, but while in Rock Island 
awaiting a boat for Burlington he changed his mind and returned to 
Andover. Shortly afterwards he located at Swedona with his family, 
consisting of wife and three sons. In 1880 Kihlberg and his wife were 
still living. The year following the arrival of Kihlberg, other Swedes 
settled here. They were Gustaf Larsson and Anders Samuelsson from 
Sund, Ostergotland, the former with wife and three daughters. Lars- 
son died in the seventies. Samuelsson later removed to the vicinity of 
Cambridge, Henry county. In 1857 still another family was added, 
that of Peter Magnusson from Ydre, Ostergotland, with wife and five 
children. Magnusson died late in the seventies ; one of his sons became 
one of the most prominent farmers in the locality, and two daughters 
successively married Rev. L." P. Esbjorn. 

After 1870, parties of immigrants, mostly from Smaland, began to 
arrive and settle in Swedona. The largest influx seems to have oc- 
curred in 1865, or thereabouts, when a number of fairly well-to-do 
families arrived and made extensive land purchases in the neigh- 

The Swedish Methodists were on the ground as early as 1855, 
when a mission was established, but not until 1863 did the congrega- 
tion get its own pastor. 

The Swedish Lutheran Church in Swedona was founded in 1859. 
Among its early pastors was Rev. A. Andreen, one of the pioneers of 
the Augustana Synod, and father of Gustav Andreen, president of 
Augustana College, and Revs. Philip and Alexis Andreen, all ministers 
of the Augustana Synod. 

While Swedona had a population of 111, the Swedish Lutheran 
Church there numbered 490 at the close of 1905, the majority living in 
Cable and Sherrard and in the country roundabout Swedona. The 
Swedish Methodists are 36 in number, some living in New Windsor. 
In the Swedona neighborhood there were in 1905 approximately 250 
people without church connections. 


The first white man in Altona was John Thompson, who came 
there in 1836. His nearest white neighbor was living in Franker 's 
Grove, eleven miles away. After a few years a number of Mormons 
located in the neighborhood. Joseph Smith, their prophet, had had a 
revelation to the effect that here an auxiliary colony of the Latter Day 
Saints was to be founded, the principal one being at Nauvoo. The 
branch colony numbered about one hundred persons. The neighbors 



having given the Mormons due notice that they could not count on 
security of life and property, the prophet had another revelation with 
orders to the branch colony to reunite with the main body at Nauvoo, 
which was done. 

The first schoolhouse in this vicinity was built in 1841. When 
the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Kailway was built through this 
locality one J. B. Chambers, who furnished the railroad laborers with 
provisions, built a store on the present site of Alton a, which was sub- 
sequently platted in 1854 by the heirs of John Thompson, who named 
the place La Pier, the name of Altona dating from 1863. 

Altona Main Street 

The first Swede to settle here was Anders Snygg from Bergsjo, 
Helsin gland, with wife and four children. The family had emigrated 
in 1849 and settled in Victoria. The year following Snygg bought 40 
acres of land three-quarters of a mile north of Altona and moved there 
with his family. Shortly after the removal, Snygg was taken sick and, 
after a lingering disease of five years' duration, died. His widow was 
still living in 1880, at the age of seventy. One son, Anders Peter 
Snygg, was then living in Dayton, la., one daughter was married and 
lived in Des Moines, and another daughter was married to an American 
by the name of Shade, in Oneida, 111. 

The first Swedes to settle in Altona next after Snygg were P. 
Petterson and his brother G-. A. Ericksson from Djursdala, Smaland. 
The former had been living for some years in Moline, where he was 
farming for a time and then engaged in business. These men, who 



located here in 1850, proved very enterprising, their first concern after 
arrival being to erect a combined flour mill, sawmill and planing mill 
run by steam. A little later they built a blacksmith shop, a wagon 
shop and a cooper shop. Not satisfied with this, they started a large 
general store, which supplied the neighborhood with all the necessaries. 
After nine years Ericksson moved to Iowa. His brother Petterson con- 
tinued all the various lines of business until 1862, when he sold the 
flour mill to Olof Andersson, shortly afterwards rejoining his brother 
in Iowa. One Anders Johnson for a time had charge of the wagon 
shop, which was subsequently removed to Andover. One A. M. Lonner, 
who later removed to Andover, was bookkeeper for the Petterson 
brother and Ericksson from 1853 to 1859. 

Another early Swedish settler in Altona was Nils J. Lindback, who 
came in 1854, remaining only a few years and then moving to a farm 
east of Victoria. The marriage interdict in effect in Bishop Hill at this 
time caused many young people to desert that colony and settle in 
surrounding places, including Altona. Among the Erik Janssonists who 
located in Altona in 1855 were Erik Lindvall and his wife Helena, 
John Soderstrom and his wife Louisa, Erik Hart, Hans Lindgren, John 
Granat and G. E. Rodeen. This party at first engaged in brickmaking 
near Altona. The two married couples made their homes in Altona 
proper. In 1858 Lindvall got work in a flour mill, very likely that of 
Petterson and Eriksson, and afterwards established a wagon shop, 
which he conducted so successfully that it made him wealthy in a 
modest way. Soderstrom for some years had owned and operated 
a brick yard west of Altona, then moved to the Galva neighborhood 
and rented a farm, still later removing to Osage county, Kansas, where 
he was living for many years as one of the most prosperous farmers 
of the state. Erik Hast went to California; Hans Lindgren moved to 
a farm near Ulah, Henry county; John Granat went to Galesburg, 
where he was still living as late as 1880, and G. E. Eodeen died in the 
Civil War, while serving in Company D, 57th Illinois Infantry. 

In 1858 Mr. and Mrs. Youngstrom moved to Altona from Pleasant 
Hill, Ky., where they had belonged for a few years to the Shaker sect, 
after leaving Bishop Hill in 1854. Youngstrom still lived in Altona in 

The first Swedish church in Altona was the Lutheran, organized 
in 1854. In the sixties its membership grew very large, but in the 
seventies a general exodus to the West caused a material decrease 
which, however, has been more than outweighed by normal growth 
in the later decades. 

A Swedish Baptist church was founded in 1858, and is still extant, 
according to the records of the denomination, but no statistics are 



therein given. This church also lost members during the emigration 
farther westward. In 1887 a Swedish Mission church was organ- 
ized, but meeting with no success, the little flock soon disbanded. 

In the Alton a country district there was an early influx of Swedish 
farmers. The first was George Chalman, who came in 1851 or 1852, 
and was still living in 1880. Other of the earliest settlers were Peter 
Newberg, Nils Hedstrom, L. Carlsson, E. Kraus, P. Olsson and Georg 
Eriksson. Shortly after 1860 a considerable number of Swedes settled 
to the north and northwest of Altona. 

In 1905 the Swedish Lutheran Church in Altona numbered 450 out 
of a total Swedish population of 700. Altona 's total population was 
633 in 1900. 


That portion of the state which is now Winnebago county was, 
like the whole northern part of Illinois, little known to the whites prior 
to the Black Hawk War of 1832. The first spot in this territory 
settled by whites was Galena, then named La Pointe. One Col. Johnson 
from Kentucky came there in 1824 with a number of miners and 
opened a coal mine about a mile from the present site of the city. The 
enterprise proved very successful and when the news spread hundreds, 
not to say thousands, in 1826-7 flocked there from all parts of Illinois 
and neighboring states to seek work in the coal mines. 

Partly in this way, partly through those who fought in the Black 
Hawk War, which extended to these parts, the Rock River valley was 
made known. One of the first white men who set foot on the present 
site of Rockford was Ira Parker, who came in 1824 with a party of 
landseekers from Terre Haute, Ind. On their way to Galena, they 
crossed the Rock River here and at this point found an Indian village 
with 300 to 400 inhabitants. Only the women and children and a few 
of the men were found at home, all the others being on the war path. 
The hills on both sides of the river were covered with thick timber and 
in the valleys the grass grew to a man's height. The scenery that met 
the party of whites at this point was inviting and highly picturesque. 

But Ira Parker and his party were not the only whites who visited 
this place before the settlement of Rockford began. Shortly after the 
Black Hawk War, Abraham Lincoln, possibly in the capacity of 
surveyor, and a party of government officials camped on the Rock 
River at this point, and he afterwards said that both he and the 
party were charmed with the natural beauty of the locality. 

In the summer of 1833, one John Phelps resolved to explore the 
Rock River valley throughout. Accompanied by a Frenchman, he left 
Mineral Point in a canoe and made a stop on the present site of the 



city. One of the explorers was in favor of settling on the spot at once, 
but there being no building material at hand, they proceeded on their 
way down stream. These two men became the first white settlers at 
Oregon, in Ogle county. 

Several years before Phelps made his tour down the river, the first 
white had settled in Winnebago county and built a cabin one and 
one-half miles from the mouth of the Pecatonica River, at a point 
afterwards known as Bird's Grove. This man was Stephen Mack, a 
son of an ex-officer in the army who lived in the East and carried on 
an extensive fur trade. Stephen Mack was born in Vermont, where 
he received his early education, afterwards entering Dartmouth 
College at Hanover, N. H. Being a roysterer to whom discipline was 
irksome, he soon left for home. His father then sent him to the West 
to superintend his fur trade there. One day while alone in his cabin, 
he was attacked by Winnebago Indians, and left for dead. He would 
doubtless have perished, had not the daughter of Chief Ho-no-ne : gah 
remained and given him the most tender care. She afterward became 
his wife and bore him four sons and four daughters. Two of the 
daughters later attended the Rockford Seminary, but their wild dis- 
position and their hatred of the w T hites soon caused their dismissal 
from the institution. They then rejoined the Winnebago tribe which 
had been compelled to withdraw to Minnesota. 

Stephen Mack was a tall, stately looking man with the air and 
manner of the man of the world. His Indian wife died in 1847. The 
following year he was married to a white woman. She was addicted to 
drink and made life miserable for her husband. One day, while under 
the influence of liquor, she set fire to their cabin, which was partially 
destroyed. These sorrows and perplexities proved too much for Mack, 
who was laid on a sickbed from which he never arose. He was buried 
side by side with his first wife in a spot near his cabin. 

Among the early settlers here we find Germanicus Rent from 
Alabama, Thatcher Blake from Maine and Daniel Haight, who lived 
on what is now known as the east side. A dam constructed across 
the river by Rent was swept away in January, 1835, but rebuilt the 
following July. At that time there were only eleven persons living in 
Midway, as the place was called on account of its location half-way 
between Chicago and Galena. By fall the number had increased to 
twenty-seven. Ephraim Wyman, born in Lancaster, Mass., in 1809 
was one of the early settlers, coming here Sept. 21, 1835. In the woods 
on the east side of the river there were living about 750 Pottawatomie 
Indians and on the Pecatonica River about 700 Winnebagoes. For- 
tunately for the settlers, these redskins were very quiet and peaceable. 
The nearest garrison was at Fort Winnebago on the Fox River, in 


Wisconsin, and from there assistance could not have been dispatched 
in time to protect the whites in the event of an uprising. 

The number of settlers steadily increased, and in 1836 they were 
sufficiently numerous to organize the county, which was named Winne- 
bago after the neighboring Indian tribe. For some time afterward, 
the settlers were subject to hardships and dangers of frontier life here 
as elsewhere in the western wilderness. A band of outlaws, known as 
the "Red Robbers," or "Prairie Bandits," operated in these parts 
from 1836 to 1839, striking terror to the settlers and making the 
neighborhood generally unsafe. Robberies and other flagrant crimes 
were of frequent occurrence, travelers between Midway and Galena 
being especially exposed to outlawry. 

The first merchandise store in Rockford was opened by John E. 
Vance on the east side of 'the river, not far from the spot where the 
railway station now stands. Shortly afterward, E. H. Potter and one 
Preston opened a store in a frame building near the present corner of 
State and Main streets. These were soon followed by others, mostly 
located on the east side. Year by year business grew, and in 1848 a 
bank named the "Winnebago Bank was established by the firm of 
Robertson, Holland and Coleman. Two years later, or only about 
sixteen years after the arrival of the first white settlers, the place had 
1,500 inhabitants, and in the next three years this number was trebled, 
owing doubtless to the completion to Rockford of the Chicago and 
Galena Railway, now a part of the Northwestern system. Realty values 
rose rapidly. A new and larger dam was constructed across the Rock 
River in the fifties for the generation of water power for mechanical 
purposes. A couple of saw mills were the first industrial establish- 
ments, but gradually various small factories grew up the modest 
forerunners of the big industrial plants of modern Rockford. During 
the first few years the inhabitants wishing to cross the Rock River 
generally forded the stream, entailing many accidental drownings. 
Fatalities were not materially decreased by the subsequent system of 
ferrying. When a bridge was built in 1840 the river could be crossed 
with some degree of safety, but this bridge was far from satisfactory. 
The structure was a rickety affair that undulated like thin ice under 
the feet of passengers and sagged like a hammock under heavier 
weight. In spite of constant threats to give way, it stood all tests until 
replaced by a more substantial wooden structure, which in turn gave 
way to a modern steel bridge. 

In 1880 the city had 13,129 inhabitants; in 1890 the number had 
grown to 23,584 and in 1900 to 31,051. In the last named year the city 
had 246 industrial establishments of different kinds, with an aggregate 
capitalization of $7.715,069, 5.223 workingmen and an annual produc- 



tion valued at $8,888,904. The chief products of the Rockford in- 
dustries are furniture, hosiery, agricultural implements, pianos, sewing 
machines and machinery and tools. Secondary in order are, paper, 
flour, grape sugar, matches, plated ware, etc. 

To the Swedish-Americans it is a satisfaction to know that of all 
foreign nationalities represented in Rockford the Swedes have had the 
greatest share in the rapid development of the city industrially, com- 
mercially and otherwise. It is even a question whether they have not 
surpassed the native Americans in these respects. All the way from 
the early fifties, Swedes have been living here. During the last three 

Rockford River View 

decades they have formed the pith of the working population in the 
city, and from twenty years back the Swedish- Americans constitute a 
considerable percentage of the manufacturers and businessmen of 
Rockford. Industrious and thrifty as a rule, they have generally worked 
in the employ of others until acquiring a competence, when they have 
combined into co-operative companies for the purpose of furniture 
manufacture or carrying on other lines of industry, thereby becoming 
employers and themselves reaping the profits. Wide-awake and intel- 
ligent, as they are, they have made many practical inventions, thereby 
simplifying processes, reducing the cost of production and increasing 
the efficiency of labor and machinery. Naturally saving and provident, 
they have established a building and loan association whereby many 
have become the owners of comfortable homes. A number of sick 
benefit and funeral aid societies have been organized, lending econom- 
ical assistance of no mean importance to families suddenly stricken 
by misfortune. 


The spiritual care of the Rockford Swedes is well provided for. 
Religious work has been carried on among them ever since pioneer 
days, and there are now no less than half a dozen Swedish churches, 
most of these having a large membership and owning valuable 

They have always evinced a live interest in educational work and 
given liberal support both to the purely American schools and the 
specifically Swedish-American institutions of learning. Many are the 
Swedish young men from Rockford who, after completing the pre- 
scribed courses, have entered the service of the church or devoted 
themselves to the teacher's calling or the learned professions. Several 
Swedish newspapers have been published in Rockford at different 
periods. Swedish song is here cultivated with as much zest as any- 
where in the United States.' Although not a Swedish- American center 
of culture in the same sense as Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and 
Rock Island, yet Rockford is an eminent factor for Swedish- American 
progress. Its Swedish colony is more homogeneous than most similar 
communities, making the Swedish characteristics more pronounced here 
than elsewhere. 

In 1854 the Swedes of Rockford numbered approximately 1,000, 
in 1862 about 2,000, ten years later about 3,500, and in 1885 about 
6,000. At the close of 1905, their estimated number was 16,000. Assum- 
ing that the total population increased in the five years of 1901-5 in the 
same ratio as in the foregoing census period, the Swedes of Rockford 
would now constitute nearly half the population. 

After taking this general survey, we will review the story of the 
Swedish pioneer settlers of Rockford. About 1852 the first Swedish 
settlers came here. When John Nelson from Karrakra, Vestergotland, 
subsequent inventor of a celebrated knitting machine, came to Rockford 
from St. Charles that year, he found ahead of him a few Swedish 
families and single men who had arrived shortly before. Among these 
were Abraham Andersson with his family and a young man named 
Clark, possibly the same person mentioned in the early history of St. 
Charles. Anderson soon left for Minnesota, and Nelson removed to 
Elgin a few months later, and from there to Chicago in the spring of 
1853. The following autumn he formed the acquaintance of Erik Nore- 
lius, then a divinity student, lived together with him for several months 
and attended the private English school taught by him in the winter 
of 1854. The same year Nelson returned to Rockford, accompanied 
by Anders Johnson who later removed to New Mexico, where he lived 
for many years. 

During Nelson's absence from Rockford in 1853 a number of 
Swedes had moved in, including the following: Sven August Johnson <;, . .. 



from Ving, Vestergotland, who came over in 1852 and subsequently 
became a prominent business man of Kockford where he is still living, 
loved and honored by all; C. J. Carlsson, a tailor, and P. Pettersson, 
with their families, both from Ving ; Peter Johansson, or Johnson, and 
two men, Lindgren and Lundbeck, both from Vestergotland, who died 
as pioneer settlers in Minnesota ; Jonas Larsson and Johan Sparf , with 
families, both from Olmestad, Smaland ; Isak Pettersson, a tailor from 
Bello, Smaland, all of whom came in one party from the old country. 

The Rockford pioneers were beset with the customary trials and 
hardships on their way to the new country and after their arrival. 
According to the story told by Jonas Larsson, they left Goteborg in a 
small, filthy sailing vessel, in which the emigrants were packed together 
in most uncomfortable quarters. A terrific storm at sea still further 
aggravated their misfortune, tossing the little vessel about on giant 
waves, momentarily threatening to swallow up the frail craft. The 
ship took the route north of Scotland, and the captain asserted that 
he had never encountered so heavy seas during thirty years of sailing. 
The ship was driven toward the coast of Ireland, apparently doomed to 
imminent destruction. So great was the despair on board that the 
cook ceased to prepare and serve food to the passengers. When they 
complained, they got the grewsome reply: "You have no further need 
of food: by tomorrow morning we will all be at the bottom of the sea." 
There was nothing to do but prepare for death. But the storm sub- 
sided, providentially averting shipwreck, and after a voyage of five 
weeks the ship made port at Cork, Ireland. Here the passengers were 
detained for two and one-half months while the ship was lightened 
and repaired. Then they set out anew, on an equally stormy voyage, 
reaching the American coast after another ten weeks spent on the 

Ultimately the party reached Rockford in the fall, after a journey 
lasting six months; but even then their hardships were not at an end. 
Poor food, still poorer dwellings, sickness and lack of work prolonged 
their misery. Wages were very low, ranging from 25 cents to 50 cents 
per day. Fortunately, however, the price of commodities was cheap, 
butter selling at 5 cents per pound, and meat at 3 to 4 cents. Single 
men could obtain board for $1.50 per week. Even bibulousness 
was not an expensive habit in those days, when whisky was to be had 
at 15 cents per gallon. 

Larsson and Sparf with their families secured common lodgings at 
North Second street, near the present public square, at a rental of $3 
per month. Larsson went south that fall in search of better em- 
ployment, but returned in a few months and remained in Rockford. 
About 1890, he was engaged by the Zion Swedish Lutheran Church as 

3 3 


parochial school teacher. Johan Sparf, after living in Rockford 
for some time, purchased a farm near Davis Junction, where he suffered 
from crop failures, but ultimately bettered his condition and in 1868 
bought a second farm at Cherry Valley, seven miles from Rockford. 
Now everything went well, and about 1885 Sparf was considered one 
of the most prosperous farmers of Winnebago county. He died in 
the nineties. 

During the years of 1854-5 many Swedes came to Rockford 
directly from their native land, others after a brief stay in Chicago. 
Among others we mention the following: Johannes Anderson, shoe- 
maker, arrived from Chicago in 1854; John Erlander, tailor, arrived 


Rockford River Front 

in Rockford in 1855, having emigrated from Slatthog, Smaland, the 
year prior; Peter Lindahl, later a grain dealer; A. P. Petterson, a 
mechanic, from Vadstena ; G. Bergquist, painter, and Gustaf Berglund, 
dyer, both from Vermland ; the former remained in Rockford, the latter 
removed first to Norwegian Lake, Minn., thence to Water Valley, Miss., 
where he engaged in manufacture; Anders Hedin, hatter, and Edvard 
Wallborg, both from Vermland, who accompanied Berglund to Minne- 
sota and from there to Mississippi, where Wallborg was drafted 
for service in the Confederate army, but escaped to Chicago, 
going from there to Beloit, Wis., where he died; Gustaf Scott, Johan 
Abrahamsson and A. Johnson, all of whom removed elsewhere ; Adolf 
Andersson, who lost his life in the war; Peter Hakansson, shoemaker, 
died in 1880; A. C. Johnson from Torneryd, Blekinge, who came to 
St. Charles in 1854 and to Rockford the following year, becoming the 
pioneer furniture manufacturer of the city; Gustaf Lundgren from 



Smaland and Isak Lindgren, who removed to Andover, still living 
there in 1880. 

In the fifties Kockford, like Chicago, was a stopping-place for 
Swedish immigrants going west to buy land and establish homes. 
This was especially the case in the years 1852 to 1856. The greatest 
influx of Swedes to Rockford occurred in the decade of 1856-66. 

Here, as elsewhere, the immigrants were subject to disease, chiefly 
the cholera, which claimed most of its victims in 1854. A few examples 
of the ravages of this messenger of death may be here noted. At this 
time Inga Christina Persson from Vernamo, who later married John 
Erlander, was a domestic in an American family. One day she saw 
a cholera victim carried past the house on the way to the grave. It was 
the body of her own mother. She had not been notified of her death 
for fear that she would hasten to the deathbed, contract the disease 
and spread it to others. Her father also died of the plague about 
the same time, no notice being given the daughter, who learned of his 
death accidentally, when a friend called to express her sympathies for 
the orphaned girl. The daughter herself had a slight attack of the 
cholera, from which she soon rallied. Johannes Andersson, the afore- 
said shoemaker, one morning visited a woman engaged in doing the 
family washing. That very evening he was requested to order a casket 
for her, she having been suddenly stricken down by the pestilence. An 
aged immigrant one day brought home a piece of pork and placed it 
in the frying-pan, with the remark: "Now that we are in America, I 
reckon we'll have some pork." That was his last meal. The next 
morning he was carried to the grave, having died of cholera in 
the night. 

Fortunately there were in the city many charitable people whose 
hearts went out to the sick and the suffering. Among those who in this 
dark hour showed themselves most sympathetic and self-sacrificing, 
Sven August Johnson, John Nelson and Clark, then young men, 
deserve special mention. Among the Swedish settlers, they were the 
most proficient in the English language. Without fear of contagion, 
they went from house to house, bringing help and comfort to their 
stricken countrymen. Clark is said to have solicited means among 
the Americans for the support of the sick and the destitute. The Amer- 
icans, too, showed great kindness toward the unfortunate newcomers. 
An old schoolhouse, situated near the present public square on the 
east side, was turned into an emergency hospital, and one Col. Marsh 
had a barn adapted to the same purpose. 

Along in the late autumn of 1854 the epidemic began to subside, 
and conditions generally improved. Though nearly all poor, the Swedes 
were industrious and saving, enabling them not only to earn a bare 



living, but to lay by something for future use. By their capacity for 
work and their integrity they soon gained the full confidence of their 
American neighbors. 

At first the Swedish settlers had no means of common worship in 
their mother tongue, but this want was supplied without great delay. 
The first Swedish preacher to visit Rockford was doubtless Gustaf 
Unonius of Chicago, but the year is not known. Most probably his visit 
took place in the late summer of 1852, for in September of that year he 
took a trip to Minnesota and very likely went by way of Rockford. 

The first Christmas matin services celebrated by the Swedes of 
Rockford were described by survivors in the eighties as having been 

Rockford Seventh Street 

extremely impressive. There was no house of worship, where the gospel 
was preached in the Swedish language, no bells chiming out the hour of 
worship, yet the settlers desired to celebrate the "julotta" as best they 
could. Before daylight, a little company of them gathered in a small 
cabin, where a Christmas tree had been provided and tallow candles 
placed in the windows. The order of worship was gone through some- 
how, but simple and unassuming as was this service, it made so power- 
ful an impression on those present that at its conclusion they embraced 
one another amid tears. The solemnity of the occasion forcibly brought 
home to them the fact that they were children of a common land and 
a common faith. 

In October, 1853, Rev. Erland Carlson made his first visit to Rock- 
ford and formed the acquaintance of the Swedish settlers there. He 
returned the following January and then organized the congregation 
known as the First Swedish Lutheran Church of Rockford. now one of 



the largest Swedish churches in the United States. In 1882 members 
who left this church organized another, the Emanuel Church, which uses 
the English language in its public worship and for some time belonged 
to the English Lutheran General Synod, but is now a part of the 
Swedish Augustana Synod. In 1883 there was a second withdrawal 
from the First Church to form another Swedish congregation, named 
the Zion Church. 

About 1854 or 1855 a Methodist preacher by the name of P. Chall- 
man visited Rockford, preaching to his countrymen there. S. B. New- 
man, another Methodist preacher, also made a visit, forming a class, 
which, however, disbanded shortly after. Not until 1861 was a 
permanent Swedish Methodist church organized. 

In 1875 the Mission Friends of Rockford had become sufficiently 
numerous to form a congregation of their own. Still later the Free 
Mission Church was added, and in 1880 the Swedish Baptist Church. 
The independent Swedish Evangelical Church, which was founded in 
1882, dissolved after a few years. 

Among the Swedish population of Rockford a large number of 
fraternal societies and lodges have sprung up in the course of years. 

It is but natural that the energetic and aggressive Swedish people 
of Rockford should play an influential part in local and state politics, 
and a number of them should attain to high positions of public trust, 
as numerous instances have shown. 


The city of Geneva is situated in the township of the same name, 
only two miles from Batavia and the same distance from St. Charles, 
the three cities being of nearly the same age. In 1836 a party of 
colonists from the East settled on the site of Geneva. The year after, 
a town site was laid out and the first courthouse was built. The first 
bridge across the Fox River was constructed in 1836, the year of first 

Swedes came to Geneva somewhat later than to St. Charles. When 
the first Swede settled here is not known, but in 1832 several came 
here, viz., D. Lindstrom, who later removed to Paxton, his son John P. 
Lindstrom, who removed to Moline, and his grandson, A. P. Lindstrom, 
who became a minister of the Augustana Synod and died in 1895. 
These came from Bone, Vestergotland. In 1854 the following Swedes 
were living in Geneva: G. Lindgren, Samuel Pettersson, who sub- 
sequently removed to Aurora; John Rystrom, removed to Oregon, 111.; 
Goran Svensson, removed to DeKalb ; Gustaf Pettersson, removed to 
Chicago; B. Kindblad and A. P. Andersson, who located in Batavia 
later; Julius Esping, an anchor smith, who removed later to Fremont, 



Kans. ; Carl Samuelsson and Sven Andersson, both subsequently 
removed to Elgin; Ericksson and C. P. Gronberg, removed to Water- 
town, "Wis. ; Jonas M. Pettersson, removed to Galesburg, and Olof 
Svensson, who remained in Geneva to his death. 

In 1880 John Pettersson was the oldest living Swedish inhabitant 
of Geneva. He came over in 1854 from Gallaryd, Smaland, and spent 
several years in Chicago, working at the shoemaker's trade. In 1856 
he came to Geneva, establishing himself as a shoemaker, with a 
branch shop at St. Charles. After seven years on the shoemaker's 
bench, he tired of the awl and last, and changed to the watchmaker's 

Geneva State Street 

In 1853 a Swedish Lutheran church was organized in Geneva. Not 
long afterward, a parochial school was opened to give the children 
religious instruction in their mother tongue. The first schoolmaster 
was John Pehrson, subsequently a clergyman in the Augustana Synod. 
He was succeeded by M. Munter, a schoolmaster of the olden type from 
Sweden, who flogged his pupils mercilessly for every offense, while 
his ability to impart instruction was questionable. The interest he took 
in the work of teaching may be illustrated with the following incident 
of Swedish-American pioneer life. One day the schoolmaster, wishing 
to kill a sheep, brought the animal with him to the schoolroom and 
then and there, before the eyes of the pupils, went through the uncanny 
process of butchering and quartering the sheep, all the while continuing 
to hear the classes in a perfunctory manner. This same Munter later 
went to Wapello county, la., where he became one of the founders of 
a settlement named after him Munterville. There he died some time 



in the eighties. About 1870 a Swedish Methodist church was organized 
in Geneva, and in 1894 a Swedish Baptist church. 

During the last twenty or thirty years Swedes in large numbers 
have moved into Geneva and the neighboring cities on the Fox River. 
The Swedes of Geneva in 1905 were estimated at 1,200, the enumeration 
of 1900 giving a total population of 2,446. 


Like Andover, Geneseo was founded by American colonizers from 
the state of New York, with headquarters at Genesee, from which 
place the new settlement was named. In 1836 a company sent three 
men west to look up a locality suitable for a settlement, and this was 
the choice of the emissaries. A tract of land, embracing the present 
site of Geneseo, was purchased, whereupon the committee returned 
home to report the results of their expedition. Fifty settlers imme- 
diately started for the new colony site, arriving in the middle of 
winter, subject to many hardships. Two thousand acres of land were 
bought up and parceled out among the settlers, who provided their 
own dwellings according to their means. In the spring they began 
tilling the soil, gathering their first harvests the following summer 
and fall. 

Geneseo dates back to 1837, when the first houses were erected 
there. The place did not receive a postoffice until 1839. Its growth 
was slow until 1853, when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Rail- 
way was built through the place, stimulating a more rapid development 
for the next few years. 

In the early fifties Swedes began settling in Geneseo. In 1852 
John Gustus, Lewis Johnson and Carl Johnson were living there The 
first named, who was from Opphem, Ostergotland, first had a shoe- 
maker's shop, then opened a store, and in 1862 sold this business to 
N. P. Rosenstone. In the late seventies he removed to Iowa, where he 
was not particularly favored by fortune. Lewis Johnson came from 
Smaland and Carl Johnson from Vermland; the latter settled on a 
farm just outside the town. 

In 1853 Lars Jonsson came over from Skarstad, Smaland, and 
bought a farm of 80 acres north of Green River. Carl Toline, who 
served as a volunteer in Company D, 57th Illinois Infantry, was among 
the early Swedish settlers here, and was still living in Geneseo in 1880. 
Another pioneer was Adolf Safstrom from Ostergotland who lived on 
a farm not far from Geneseo. 

Most of the Swedes who came to Geneseo to farm were poor and, 
in consequence, had to be satisfied with the low, badly drained lands, 
the early colonists having picked out the most desirable tracts. Never- 


theless, the Swedish farmers in this neighborhood have been doing well. 
The Swedish people in Geneseo engaged in business and the trades also 
have prospered and have as a class attained a respected and prominent 
place in the community. 

In the spring of 1855 Swedish Lutheran mission work was begun 
in Geneseo but not until 1859 was a church organized. Five years later, 
a Swedish Methodist church was established. This congregation began 
to decline in the eighties, and is now dissolved. 

At the close of 1905, there were approximately 560 Swedish- 
Americans living in Geneseo and vicinity. The total population at the 
last census was 3,356. 


In . 1853 DeKalb consisted of merely a couple of stores, a small 
hotel and a blacksmith shop. But at that time a railroad was built 
through, and the town began to grow apace. Building after building 
was erected and changes were made so rapidly that farmers who visited 
the town only once a month would hardly recognize the place. An 
enterprise that contributed largely to the development of the town was 
the location there of a barbed wire factory, which has since grown to be 
the largest industrial plant in this locality, employing thousands of 
workmen, a large percentage of whom are Swedes. In 1873 DeKalb 
got its village charter. 

The first Swede in DeKalb was one Jonas Olsson, who came there 
from Dixon, where he had owned a farm. He was soon followed by 
his brother and two young men, the sons of a clergyman by the name of 
P. Bark. Of the Olsson brothers, who came from Slatthog, Smaland, 
the former was still living there in 1880 while the latter had farmed 
for twenty years near Sterling. In 1853 three more emigrants from 
Slatthog came over and settled here, namely: Nils Magnus Johnson, 
Johan Johansson and Jonas Johnson. All three were well-to-do farmers 
near DeKalb in 1880. Simultaneousuly with these, came John Olsson 
from Hjortsberga, Smaland. These four were poor emigrants who at 
first were employed by Americans as day laborers. 

In 1854 Peter Mansson came with his family from Vislanda. Sma- 
land. He became the first Swedish householder in DeKalb, whence he 
moved to Salina, Kans., in 1879. Simultaneously with Mansson came 
Peter Jonsson, also from Vislanda, with a party of eleven others, all of 
whom settled in this vicinity, Jonsson and several of the others still 
living there in 1880. 

The Goran Svensson mentioned among the early settlers of Geneva 
was also one of the earlv Swedes in DeKalb. He was born in the citv 



of Ulricehamn, emigrated in 1852, coming to Chicago, where he lived 
for three years before removing to Geneva and establishing himself 
there as a shoemaker. In the early sixties he came to DeKalb, where 
he plied his trade for many years. 

In 1858 a Swedish Lutheran church was organized in DeKalb, and 
thirty years later a Swedish Baptist church. There is also a Swedish 
Mission church of more recent date. The Lutheran congregation is 
numerically one of the strongest of its kind in the state while the latter 

I)e Kalb Main Street 

two are quite small. The city has a number of Swedish fraternal 
organizations. The Swedish population of DeKalb and vicinity is now 
approximately 3,500, the total population in 1900 being 5,904. 


Of the origin of Galva, which dates back to the fifties, the following 
is told. In 1853 two Americans, J. M. and Wm. L. Wiley, took a 
trip from Peoria to Rock Island, passing through this locality. Pleased 
with the natural prospect, they decided to pitch their camps here, select- 
ing for that purpose a grove which was afterward named College Park. 
As they reached the top of the hill one of the men, standing erect in the 


wagon and surveying the surrounding country, exclaimed, "What a 
glorious country! Let us buy the land and found a town here !" Said 
and done. Negotiations for the purchase were opened at once and soon 
the land was theirs. But some time elapsed before any sign of the 
future town appeared, there being but three human dwellings in the 
neighborhood, and these small and far apart. The thing needed to give 
the place a start was a railroad, and the Chicago, Burlington and 
Quincy Railway company in the fall of 1853 agreed to build its line 
through that point and locate a station there, provided land for that 
purpose was donated. This the owners agreed to, and the following 
autumn its trains thundered through the town of Galva, which then 
existed only on paper. 

This was at the time when the Bishop Hill Colony five miles away 
was at the height of its prosperity. The Wileys had purchased forty 
acres of land just south of the new town site and subsequently sold part 
of it to the colonists and another part of it to one Jacob Emery. In this 
wise the Bishop Hill people obtained a voice in the affairs of the new 
town, which they named Gene, after the capital of the Swedish province 
of Gestrikland, from which they came. The name is said to have been 
first suggested by Olof Johnson, one of the leaders of the colonists. The 
Americans of the neighborhood, however, corrupted this to Galva, which 
was retained as the permanent form. 

Galva was developed with a rapidity almost without precedent 
among the booming towns springing up in the new country. Three 
years after its founding, the place had 1,500 inhabitants, a large num- 
ber being Swedes, whose industry and enterprise contributed to its 
development. The largest share toward its upbuilding in the first few 
years was contributed by Bishop Hill. As soon as the railway had 
been completed,- the colony erected a large warehouse at Galva, and 
shortly afterward a large business block of brick. Other business 
buildings followed, one of which was first used as a bank but was later 
turned into a hotel. The first comfortable dwelling house in the place 
was also erected by the colony. 

In the foregoing chapter the extensive business enterprises of Olof 
Johnson have been described. The large warehouse was used to store 
grain which was bought up and shipped in large quantities, making 
Galva, at least for a time, one of the principal grain shipping centers 
in the state. The other large structure was used as a packing house 
for pork. It is related that at one time when the colony had $60,000 
worth of pork from hogs raised at Bishop Hill stored here, the whole 
stock spoiled from careless packing, and was carted away and buried 
in a lot purchased for that purpose, together with many barrels of 
pork returned from eastern markets. The colony also carried on a 



general merchandise business and banking at Galva, and had a lumber 
yard there. Most of these enterprises, if not all, proved failures, 
entailing great loss to the colonists instead of being, as they ought to 
have been, great sources of income to their community. 

Among the early Swedish business men of Galva were one Young- 
berg, who owned a small store, and Erik Quick, a watchmaker, who 
tinkered with innumerable side lines of business. Both of these men 
later went to California. Afterwards the number of Swedes in busi- 
ness increased, so as to make them predominant in many lines. 

Among the more notable men who have resided in Gralva are, 
Jonas W. Olson, son of the aforesaid Olof Olsson, and John Root, son 

Galva Central Park 

of John Ruth, the assassin of Erik Jansson ; both these men are lawyers 
and still live in Galva. 

In Galva was founded one of the first Swedish-American news- 
papers, the full title of which was "Svenska Republikanen i Norra 
Amerika. " It was first issued in the spring of 1856 and discontinued 
in the summer of 1858, after having been moved to Chicago that year. 
Late in the following decade, or in 1869, a Swedish and English news- 
paper, "The Illinois Swede," was started at Galva. Simultaneously 
an all-English newspaper, "The Galva Republican," was published by 
the same firm. Late in 1870 "The Illinois Swede" was re-christened 
"Nya Verlden" and published exclusively in the Swedish language. 
The paper was moved to Chicago early in 1871, and in the fall of 1877 



it was combined with "Nya Svenska Amerikanaren, " resulting in a 
new paper, entitled ''Svenska Tribunen. " 

In 1867 Galva obtained its village charter. The town had 2,682 
inhabitants in 1900. There are three Swedish churches, the Methodist- 
Episcopal, founded in 1867, the Lutheran, founded in 1869, and a 
church of the Mission Covenant. In 1905 the first-named church had 
175 members, the second 420 and the last 14 members. It has not been 
possible to ascertain the number of Swedish- Americans in Galva, but 
with the aid of the above figures it may be stated with a reasonable 
degree of accuracy that at least half of the population is of the 
Swedish nationality. 


The little town of Oneida is situated in the most fertile part of 
Knox county. Although not among the first settlers there, the Swedes 
have had a large share in the development of the locality. The first 


white settler in Ontario township, where Oneida is situated, was 
Alexander "Williams, who came there in 1833. The same year G. W. 
Melton settled there and built the log cabin which was the first 
permanent human habitation in the locality. The first schoolhouse 
was erected in 1839 and the first church edifice, a Presbyterian one, 
in 1840. 



The town of Oneida was founded in 1854 by C. F. Camp and B. S. 
West, who built a hotel in the place. At Christmas time the same year 
the railroad came through, giving the place its real impetus for growth. 

The first Swedish settler in the township was Georg Bostrom, who 
came to America as a boy and was reared in an American family. The 
year of his arrival in Ontario township is not known, but that he 
removed from there to Wataga in the seventies is a certainty. After 
Bostrom came D. Danielsson and his wife from Ockelbo, Gestrikland. 
They had come to Bishop Hill as young unmarried people, and were 
there subjected to bitter persecution on account of a love corre- 
spondence carried on in defiance of the drastic rule against marriage 
and every form of courtship. Disgusted with the petty annoyances 
following their innocent correspondence, they removed to Oneida in 
1855 and were married. A few years later the pair located in Clay 
county, Kansas. Simultaneously with Danielsson, E. J. Pettersson 
from Tjarstad, Ostergotland, settled in Oneida, after living for five 
years in various parts of the United States. He established himself 
as a watchmaker and jeweler and was engaged in that business for at 
least twenty-five years. A number of Swedes early moved into the 
surrounding neighborhood, where they have become successful farmers 
and added materially to the wealth of the community. The population 
of Oneida was 785 at the last census. . No Swedish church has been 
organized here. 


The Swedish colony of Batavia is of a later date than those of 
the neighboring towns of St. Charles and Geneva, but its members are 
numerous and active, and the place amply deserves a mention among 
important Swedish communities. 

The very first settler in Batavia was Christopher Payne, who came 
in the summer of 1833. He was soon followed by other settlers who 
came in such numbers that a school was built and a merchandise store 
opened the next year. In 1844 settlement of the opposite bank of the 
Fox Eiver was begun after a bridge had been constructed. The 
splendid water power afforded by the rapids at this place was gradually 
exploited for manufacturing purposes and thus this bustling little 
manufacturing center came into existence. 

One of the early Swedish settlers here was A. P. Andersson, who 
figured also among the pioneers of Geneva. He came from Bone, 
Vestergotland, and was a tailor by trade. In 1854 he removed to 
Batavia, where he established a tailor shop of his own in the middle 
sixties. Andersson, however, found several Swedes ahead of him, 
men engaged in cutting timber for a railroad company. Following 



A. P. Andersson came August Andersson, from Halland, who removed 
to DeKalb after a short stay. A little later Gustaf Svensson, a moulder, 
joined the Swedish settlement. By 1880 he had made himself known 
as the inventor of a new kind of fence which was used extensively 
in the West. 

In the late sixties there was a considerable influx of Swedes to 
Batavia, most of the newcomers obtaining work in the stone quarries 
situated just outside of the town. Since then Swedes have constantly 
kept moving in. A large number are employed in the factories, while 
not a few are in business for themselves. Several have gone to farming 
in the immediate neighborhood. 


Until 1872 the Swedish Lutherans of Batavia had belonged to the 
church in Geneva, but that year they withdrew and organized a local 
congregation, now one of the largest in the Illinois Conference. In 
1870 a Swedish Mission church was founded and about the same time 
a Swedish M. E. church. There is considerable activity in the matter 
of fraternal organizations in Swedish circles here. Batavia had a 
population of 3,871 in 1900 and at the close of 1905 the Swedish- 
Americans of the city numbered about 1,600. 


The city of Monmouth was founded in 1852, but made little 
progress up to 1855, when it got its railroad. The following year the 
Presbyterians founded Monmouth College, an institution which grew 
to be largely attended. The Swedes have been on the ground since the 



early fifties, but never in such numbers as to cut much of a figure in 
the municipality. 

The first Swede in Monmouth was, it is believed, Johan Lund from 
Helsin gland, who came here in 1853, but soon moved away and is 
known to have died somewhere in Missouri while on a journey to 
Pike's Peak, Colo. In 1854 came J. 0. Lundblad, from Oppeby, Oster- 
gotland, who was also among the pioneer settlers of Princeton, and 
Erik Engvall. The two were for a time partners in the shoe business, 
and after the firm dissolved Engvall, who died in 1876, conducted a 
shoe store of his own for a number of years, prospering in the business. 

Monmouth South Main Street 

The brothers Hakan and Lewis Nelson from Skane arrived the 
same year and a year later Mans Cassell, also from Skane. In 1855 
John Johnson came from Helsingland and Jakob Soderstrom from 
Visby. The former left for Iowa in 1879, while the latter continued 
into the eighties as a shoe dealer in Monmouth. Carl Lundgren from 
Xykoping located here in 1856 and served in a Minnesota regiment in 
the Civil War. One year after Lundgren came Jonas Larsson from 
Skane, who moved out to Iowa in 1871. One Holmberg, who had a 
military education from the old country, settled in Monmouth in 1859, 
enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the war, and the last 
that was heard of him was his promotion to the rank of major. 

So few were the Swedes in Monmouth that a Swedish Lutheran 
congregation could not be organized here until 1868, and then there 
was onlv a verv small flock, which, however, has increased materiallv 



in the last twenty years. In 1888 a Swedish Baptist church was 
established with a limited membership, which has grown but little 

In 1900 the population of Momnouth was 7,460. At the end of 1905 
the Swedes in Monmouth proper were about 450 and in the surrounding 
country about 2,000. 


The first white settlers in Kewanee township were John Kilving- 
ton, Robert Coustes and Cornelius Bryant, who came there in 1836. 
Through the efforts of these men and others the Chicago, Burlington 
and Quincy Railway Company was induced to build through the little 
village of Kewanee, which then developed greatly to the detriment of 
the neighboring village of Wethersfield, whose inhabitants had the 
mortification of seeing building after building placed on rollers and 
hauled to Kewanee. Within eighteen months, the place had 1,500 
inhabitants. After rich coal veins were discovered in the vicinity and 
mining had begun, the young city grew still more rapidly. Several 
factories sprang up as the beginning of industrial plants which have 
been growing larger year by year. 

Erik Eriksson from Nora parish, Upland, is believed to have been 
the first Swedish settler in Kewanee. As a member of the Bishop Hill 
Colony he had grown weary of the irksome yoke laid upon the 
shoulders of the faithful and removed to Kewanee in 1855, setting up 
a saddlery shop which he conducted for ten years, whereupon he 
removed to Altona. From there he went to Nekoma. Quite a number 
of Bishop Hill colonists located in Kewanee in 1856, among whom 
another Erik Eriksson from Nora, with his two sons, Erik and Fetter, 
Erik Bengtsson, Anders Barlow and Hans Lindgren. About the same 
time there came from other localities Fetter Berglund, John Hedberg, 
Fetter Vestlund, hailing from Gestrikland, and John Carlsson and 
John Pettersson from Smaland, who were followed the year after by 
A. Johnson from Gestrikland. 

The last named of the two Erikssons returned to Sweden in 1867 
where he died a later. His two sons in 1857 went to California 
where they worked for several years digging for gold without success. 
Prom there they went to British Columbia, where fortune smiled upon 
them so lavishly that in a year and a half they could return to Sweden 
with 100,000 crowns. They chose for their wives the two daughters 
of Erik Eriksson of Nekoma, and made their homes, the one in Upsala, 
the other in Nora. Barlow later became a storekeeper at Bishop Hill. 
Of the early Swedish settlers, A. Johnson, Fetter Berglund. Fetter 



Vestlund and John Petterson were mentioned in 1880 as still living in 

In the early seventies, when coal mining had been fully developed, 
there was a generous influx of Swedes to Kewanee. Many of them 
subsequently removed to Bloomington and vicinity, but in later years 
immigration has brought others who more than make good the loss, 
and at present the Swedish population is quite large in proportion to 
the total. 

Kewanee Tremont Street 

The city has a vigorous Swedish Lutheran congregation, organized 
in 1869. The Swedish Methodist Church was founded twenty years 
after. Such a church was organized here as early as 1859, but 
before 1880 its membership was decimated by removals to the point 
where the field had to be abandoned and the church property sold. 
Later the Swedish Methodists got a new foothold in Kewanee, the 
result being the organization of the second church. There is also a 
small Swedish Baptist church which has been in existence since 1901. 

The census of 1900 gave 8,382 as the total population of Kewanee. 
The Swedish-Americans there at the close of 1905 were from 2,000 to 
3,000 in number. 



Ford county was organized in 1859. Two years before there 
arrived the first Swedish settler, Sven Hedenskog, superintendent of 
a large country estate in Halland, Sweden, who emigrated in 1857, 
settling a few miles west of the site of Paxton. Being a poor man, he 
was obliged to undergo the severest hardships, but his fortitude stood 
the test and he had succeeded in accumulating considerable property 
before removing in the latter seventies to Nebraska, where he died not 
long after. 

In 1859 a sailor by the name of Carl Andersson and one Anders 
Olsson, both from Helsingland, settled in the vicinity of Paxton. 
Andersson in the seventies removed to Colorado, leaving a daughter 
in Paxton. Olsson was still living on a farm three miles south of the 
city in 1880 and was then in comfortable circumstances. There was no 
great influx of Swedes to Paxton until 1863, when they began to settle 
here in considerable numbers, for reasons presented in the following. 

In 1860, the year of its organization, the Augustana Synod estab- 
lished in Chicago the Augustana Theological Seminary for the purpose 
of preparing young men for the ministry. While the synod was still 
small, its members few and there was difficulty in raising the money 
needed for the support of the seminary by free contributions, some of 
the leading men conceived the idea of purchasing a large tract of land 
and by selling farms to prospective settlers procure the funds needed to 
secure the permanence of the institution. The directors of the seminary, 
who were authorized to look up a suitable tract, after visiting a couple 
of states for that purpose, without arriving at any conclusion, received 
from the Illinois Central Kailway Company an offer of a suitable 
tract of land at Paxton. The offer was accepted and an agreement 
signed by both parties in February, 1863. This brought quite a number 
of settlers to the place, yet they did not come in such numbers as to 
insure the success of the plan, causing the authorities after a few years 
to cast about for a new location for the school. A more detailed 
account o^ these transaction will be found in the historical sketch of 
Augustana College and Theological Seminary. 

Among the settlers was Erik Rasmusson from Gammalstorp. 
Blekinge province, who had emigrated ten years before, locating near 
Galesburg in 1853. Other contemporary settlers of Paxton were. Carl 
Larsson, Erik Carlsson, John Andersson and A. M. Hansson. who all 
bought farms and located there permanently. In 1864 J. H. Wistrand 
came to Paxton and was in business there until 1875, when he removed 
to Moline and opened a store in that city. Simultaneously with 
Wistrand came Petter Hedberg from Attica, Ind., who established a 
lumber yard. He became justice of the peace and later was elected 



tax collector. Ill health compelled him to remove to Denver, Colorado, 
in 1873, where we find him serving as Swedish-Norwegian vice consul 
in 1880. 

From Attica, Ind., where Swedes had settled in the early fifties, 
a number of these removed to Paxton in 1865, among whom Fredrik 
Bjorklund, Carl Fager, John Svan, John Johnson, Carl Pettersson, 
Petter Larsson, Carl Johnson, Adolph Johnson and John Nelson, all 
farmers, except Larsson and Nelson, who were merchants. 

Paxton Market Street 

The influx of Swedish settlers continued steadily until 1870, but 
not on so large a scale as the Synod and the directors of the institution 
had hoped. The removal of the institution to Rock Island in the 
seventies naturally worked to the detriment of the Paxton colony, 
many of the Swedish settlers leaving for other places farther west. 
During the next few years, however, the exodus was partly counter- 
balanced by an increased immigration from Sweden. 

The Swedish element in Paxton has predominated in many respects 
from the first. This is especially true with respect to local politics and 
business pursuits. Around Paxton Swedish farmers are living in great 
numbers, most of them being in very comfortable circumstances. 

.In church matters the Swedes of Paxton have taken a prominent 


part. The Swedish Lutheran congregation there dates back to 1863. 
In 1878 a Swedish Mission church was organized, but the Methodists 
and Baptists have not seen fit to enter this field. 

In 1900 the population of Paxton was 3,036, and in 1905 there 
were approximately 3,000 Swedish-Americans living in and around 
the city. 


The city of Sycamore, county seat of DeKalb county, is situated 
on a plain at some elevation over the surrounding country and is the 
center of one of the most fertile regions in Illinois, if not in the entire 
country. The plain, or plateau, which at its highest point has an 
elevation of 772 feet above sea level, constitutes the watershead 
between the Fox and Rock rivers and slopes quite abruptly toward the 
Kishwaukee River, an insignificant stream which bends around the 
north and east side of the city at a distance of half a mile. 

DeKalb county was organized in 1837 and named after Baron John 
DeKalb from Alsace, who was a general in the Revolutionary War and 
fell in the battle of Camden. Three years before organization, the area 
had a population of 1,697. The land was not opened to settlers until 
1843, being comprised in an Indian reservation, but landseekers were 
on the ground as early as 1835 selecting their claims. But in those 
lawless times to defend one's right to his claim was far from easy. 
Quarrels and fights were the order of the day throughout that period, 
followed by protracted lawsuits after definite property rights had 
been established. 

In the early days of the county, the neighborhood was infested by 
a numerous, well organized band of outlaws, who made a specialty 
of stealing horses and saddles, not, however, disdaining to carry away 
other personal property. So great was the general uncertainty, that 
for a period of four years the settlers were compelled to keep their 
places guarded by night. Ultimately, when conditions had grown 
altogether intolerable, they organized themselves into vigilance com- 
mittees for their OAvn protection and for the summary punishment of 
the outlaws. The settlers acted with such vigor and promptness that 
the county was cleared of horse-thieves and robbers in a very short 

The early history of Sycamore does not differ much from that of 
other towns. The first white man to settle there arrived in 1835; his 
name was Lysander Darling. The same year a Norwegian physician 
named Xorbo took possession of a tract of timber land which is known 
as Norwegian Grove to this day. Simultaneously, a Frenchman settled 



here, giving his name to the place known as Chartres Grove. A year 
later a New York land company took possession of a tract in this neigh- 
borhood, comprising two square miles. The same company laid out 
the site of Sycamore, built a dam across the Kishwaukee River and 
erected a flour mill. 

The original Sycamore settlement consisted of a group of three 
loghuts on the north side of the Kishwaukee. With that, building was 
discontinued on account of the unsanitary location, and the new site 
was laid out, the first house to be erected there being built by Captain 
Eli Barney at the southeast corner of the present courthouse square. 

Sycamore State Street 

The first courthouse was erected in 1839. At the end of one year the 
little village consisted of about a dozen rude dwellings scattered over 
a large area. 

The early growth of the place is shown by the following figures : 
in 1848 Sycamore had 262 inhabitants ; in 1849, 320 ; in 1850, 390 and 
in 1851, 435. From 1855 on its growth was more rapid. In 1858 it 
received its town charter, and in 1869 it became a city with Reuben 
Ellwood as its first mayor. 

Sycamore has a picturesque, healthful location. It has unusually 
wide streets and large building lots and, especially in summer, the 
comfort of the inhabitants is enhanced by the double or treble rows of 
shade trees that surround the houses or skirt the streets and, walks, 
giving to the entire city a park-like appearance. Here and there above 
the masses of foliage a church steeple points toward the sky, giving 
mute evidence that the inhabitants are devoted to other than merelv 


material interests. Persons familiar with many different localities 
in the state say that Sycamore is one of the prettiest of the smaller 
cities of Illinois. 

The city has three large industrial establishments and a number 
of smaller ones. The former are the Sycamore Foundry and Machine 
Company, the Chicago Insulated Wire Company and the Sycamore 
Preserve Works. The first named employs about 100 men, the second 
an equal number, while the third during the summer season gives work 
to 200 to 300 persons, Among the smaller plants are a cigar factory, 
dairies, stone quarries, wagon and agricultural implement factories, 
flour mills, brick yards, a soap factory, a varnish factory, a furniture 
factory and others. The city has water works and electric lighting 
systems. Eleven churches, three public schools and one girls' seminary 
are located here. 

In 1880 the population of Sycamore was 3,028, in 1890 it had been 
reduced to 2,987 and in 1900 again increased, the census giving 3,653 
as the total number. 

The citizens carry on various lines of business, liberally patronized 
by the prosperous population of the surrounding country. The city 
has excellent communications, the North-Western and Great Western 
railways crossing each other at this point. The distance from Chicago 
is 56 miles. 

The first Swedes in Sycamore were Peter Johnson from Mjellby, 
Blekinge, and Andrew Johnson and Anna Carlsson, a widow, both 
from Skatelof, Smaland. Somewhat later came the brothers Daniel 
and Sven Gustafsson and Anna Andersson, a widow whose husband 
had lost his life while serving in the Civil War. Peter Johnson was 
still living in 1898, a venerated member of the Swedish Lutheran 
church. His wife and a daughter died in 1897. Andrew Johnson, who 
was a brother-in-law of Peter Johnson, removed to Colorado in the 
late seventies and died there as the owner of a goldmine. His widow, 
nee Anna Carlsson, who returned to Sweden, was still living there in 
1898, and Daniel Gustafsson was then living in Iowa. His brother Sven 
died prior to that time. 

When the Civil War broke out there lived in Sycamore a Swedish 
ex-artillery officer by the name of C. J. Stahlbrand, engaged in the 
business of abstract examiner. He obtained a commission from 
Governor Yates to recruit a battery of artillery, was chosen captain 
of the battalion formed by this and a couple of other batteries, 
was promoted major and then brigadier general for bravery, served 
in the army for about a year after the close of the war, then made his 
home in Beaufort, S. C., died in Charleston Feb. 3, 1894, and was buried 
in Columbia, in the same state. To this prominent Swedish-American 



citizen we will revert in a subsequent chapter, dealing with the Illinois 
Swedes who took part in the Civil War. 

In front of the courthouse in Sycamore the people of DeKalb 
county in 1896 erected an imposing monument in memory of the men 
from this county who fought and died for the Union cause on Southern 
battlefields. Among these men were a number of Swedish-Americans. 

Another early Swedish settler here was Carl Carlson from Moheda, 
Smaland, arrived in 1869 and subsequently the most successful and 
prosperous Swedish farmer in the county. He was still living here in 
1898, enjoying a considerable fortune accumulated during a life of 

Sycamore Court House and Soldiers' Monument 

toil and prudent husbandry. During the period covered by the late 
sixties and early seventies the number of Swedish inhabitants was 
substantially increased through direct immigration from Sweden. In 
1870 they were strong enough to organize a Lutheran church, which 
was for a time the only Swedish church in the place, being followed 
in 1888 by a Baptist church, which, however, has made but small 
acquisitions. The Swedes of Sycamore have taken active part in local 
politics, and several of them have held public office. In the matter of 
fraternal orders the Sycamore Swedes will not bear comparison with 
other Swedish-American centers. 

In the year 1880 there were in Sycamore and vicinity about 1,000 
Swedish people and in 1905 some 1,500. Those living in the city are 



engaged in various commercial pursuits, many of them being in 
business for themselves. A number of the retired farmers of the 
neighborhood are now residing in town, enjoying in their old age the 
fruits of their labors in earlier years. 

Before closing this brief historical sketch of the Swedish colony at 
Sycamore, we desire to give an account of the interesting visit paid 
to Sycamore years ago by Christina Nilsson, the renowned Swedish 
singer. In December, 1870, the Swedish nightingale appeared in 
Chicago, captivating the moneyed aristocracy of the city at a grand 
concert, and being herself feted at a splendid banquet given by 
Swedish- Americans headed by the Svea Society. The Swedes in Syca- 
more, hearing of these affairs, were seized with a natural desire to see 
and hear the prima donna. This desire was strengthened by the fact 
that relatives of the great singer were living in Sycamore, as well as 
other persons who knew her from the time when, as "Stina from 
Snugge, ' ' she traveled around singing at country fairs in Smaland. 

But there was still another reason why they wished to have her 
visit Sycamore, and that a weighty one. Twenty years before, Jenny 
Lind had given a handsome sum to the fund for the building of the 
St. Ansgarius Church of Chicago and subsequently donated a valuable 
communion service to the same church. Why, then, they reasoned, 
should not Christina Nilsson visit her own people at Sycamore and by 
her voice assist in raising the money needed for a church for the 
congregation organized that same year? They met and counseled, 
resulting in the appointment of a committee to go to Chicago and make 
their wishes known to the singer. In order to make assurance doubly 
sure, they appointed on this committee Anders Ingemansson, a man 
whom Christina Nilsson well knew. In former days while Anders was 
living at Lofhult, a part of the property belonging to the iron works 
at Huseby, Smaland, he often hauled loads of ironware from the factory 
to Vexio or Ljungby, and many a time the little flaxen-haired violin 
player from Snugge got a ride with him to and from the fairs held in 
these towns. Would she have the heart to refuse a request made 
by him ? Hardly. 

The other two members of the committee were one Gustafsson 'and 
Andrew Johnson. Through the kind offices of Rev. Erland Carlsson 
they obtained an audience with the singer, who consented instantly. 
Certainly she would come and sing for them ! But Strakosch, her 
impresario, said no. Suppose she would catch a cold and become 
indisposed but for one evening it would entail the loss of thousands 
of dollars. Or if there should be a train wreck and she would break an 
arm or a leg, what a dilemma they would all be in ! Such was his 
reasoning, concluding with a repeated refusal to let her go. 


But the singer made light of the objections of her manager, mildly 
ridiculing his foolish arguments, until he had to submit. Not wanting 
to break her engagement in Chicago, Christina Nilsson was compelled 
to go to Sycamore on Christmas Day, which fell on a Sunday. She was 
accompanied by the singers and musicians of her company, a number 
of prominent Swedish citizens of Chicago and, last but not least, 
Strakosch himself, who went in order to see that no harm came to his 
Swedish nightingale. 

The concert in Sycamore was given in the American Methodist 
church. Christina Nilsson, as usual, made an absolute conquest. Prob- 
ably never before had she sung Gounod's "Ave Maria" with such 
profound feeling as at this occasion. She gave two other numbers, 
besides. Her American hearers were as charmed as her own country- 
men. But the concert given in the church, to which an admission fee 
of three dollars was charged, had to be supplemented by a popular 
concert, in order to give the poorer classes an opportunity to hear her. 
At this concert, held in Wilkins Hall, she again sang "Ave Maria" and, 
in order to get into complete touch with her audience, now almost 
exclusively Swedish, rendered several Swedish ballads in the most 
approved style of little "Stina from Snugge." The net profit of these 
two concerts amounted to about $1,000. The amount appropriated to 
the church building fund we cannot exactly state. 

Ingemansson, the old friend of Christina Nilsson, who had engaged 
in the carpenter's trade in Sycamore, died there about 1890. Her 
relatives, who doubtless are still living there, are Anna, Magni, Gustaf, 
Emil, Ida and Oscar Nilsson, the children of Fetter Nilsson and Eva, 
his wife, now deceased. She was a cousin of the great singer. Another 
relative of the latter is Mrs. Carrie Bohlin, who bears the same relation- 
ship to the singer as the children of Fetter and Eva Nilsson. 


The previous sketches deal with the history of only the older and 
larger Swedish settlements in Illinois. But there are quite a number 
of later ones, large and small, many of which, especially those of 
recent date, by reason of rapid growth and the importance attained, 
would deserve a place in this series. But we are constrained to limit 
ourselves to the bare mention of their name and the time of founding. 
In many cases it has been possible to give the year with absolute 
certainty, while in many others the time can only be approximated. 
In the latter instances, the year stated is the earliest in which Swedes 
are definitely known to have lived in the respective localities, not, 
however, precluding the possibility of earlier settlement by individual 



Following are the older of the smaller Swedish settlements of 
which the time of first settlement is positively known : 

Settlement County Founded 

Lafayette Stark 1846 

Henderson Grove. . Knox 1849 

Beaver, Iroquois 1853 

Pecatonica Winnebago 1854 

Avon Fulton 1854 

Toulon Stark 1855 

Wyanet Bureau 1855 

New Windsor Mercer 1859 

New Boston, Mercer 1859 

Following are the smaller Swedish settlements of more recent date, 
the year of first settlement being definitely known : 

Settlement- County Founded 

Coal Valley Rock Island 1863 

Farmersville McLean 1863 

Bloomington McLean 1865 

Woodhull Henry 1865 

Aledo Mercer 1866 

Roseville Warren. 1867 

Nekoma Henry 1867 

Evanston Cook 1868 

Lockport Will 1768 

Danville Vermillion 1869 

Ophiern Henry 1870 

Lynn Henry 1870 

Osco Henry 1870 

Cambridge. . Henry 1870 

Donovan Iroquois 1872 

Earlier Swedish settlements where the year of founding is doubt- 
ful are : 

Elgin, Kane County 1852 

Aurora, Kane County 1857 

More recent Swedish settlements of doubtful date are as follows: 

Settlement County Founded 

Neoga Cumberland 1862 

Varna Marshall 1868 

Joliet Will 1870 

Biggsville Henderson 1872 

Lemont.. Cook 1872 

Kirkland, DeKalb 1872 

Highwood Lake 1874 

New Bedford. ... Bureau 1874 

Rankin Ford 1875 

Port Byron Rock Island 1875 

Prophetstown Whiteside 1875 

Morrison Whiteside 1875 

Oregon Ogle 1876 


Settlement County Founded 

Sibley Ford 1879 

Gibson City Ford 1881 

Peoria, Peoria 1883 

Streator La Salle 1884 

Putnam. Putnam 1885 

La Grange Cook 1887 

Clarence Ford 1887 

Morris Grundy 1889 

Gladstone Henderson 1889 

Canton Fulton 1890 

Stronghurst Henderson 1892 

Waukegan Lake 1892 

Wenona Marshall 1892 

Lily Lake Kane 1894 

Belvidere Boone 1894 

Cable Mercer 1895 

Utica Fulton 1900 

Granville Putnam 1902. 

Sandwich DeKalb 1904 

Beyond this individual Swedes with or without families are to be 
found in almost every part of the state. 


The Swedish Methodist-Episcopal Church 

Preparatory WorK 

T was through Olof G. Hedstrom that Methodism first 
was introduced among the Swedes and other Scandi- 
navians in New York and later by his brother Jonas 
Hedstrom among the Swedish settlers in Illinois. A 
sketch of the life and work of Jonas Hedstrom has been 
given among those of the first Swedes in Illinois. We proceed to 
give a brief account of the church founded by these two brothers, 
the earliest Swedish religious denomination in America. 

Jonas Hedstrom preached his first Swedish sermon December 15, 
1846, in a little blockhouse in the woods about three miles southwest 
of Victoria, the same house where Olof Olsson, the advance representa- 
tive of Erik Jansson, and later Erik Jansson himself, received the first 
shelter after arriving at their destination in the West. At this same 
occasion the first Swedish Methodist congregation was organized, 
consisting of five members, namely, Hedstrom and his wife, Andrew 
Hjelm and wife, and Peter Newberg. At Christmas time, a couple 
of weeks later, the first Swedish Methodist quarterly meeting was held 
in the same cabin, when several new members were welcomed. For 
some time Jonas Hedstrom continued as the spiritual leader of the 
little group of Swedish Methodists, meanwhile pursuing his black- 
smith's trade. But as the flock grew larger, he gave way to the urgings 
of the members to devote his whole time to gospel work. 

In August, 1848, he was received on probation into the American 
Rock River Conference and appointed missionary among the Swedish 
settlers. Thereafter he devoted himself almost exclusively to preaching 
and soon had ample opportunity to display his great capacity as an 
organizer. After making a few visits to a certain place he would 
proceed to organize a congregation there, and soon had to divide his 
time among a number of places. He labored with such untiring energy 
that within the year he had founded churches at Andover and Gales- 



burg and was able to report to the Conference in 1849 no less than 
six charges, viz., Victoria, Andover, Galesburg, Lafayette, Moline and 
Rock Island, aggregating sixty members in full connection and thirty- 
three on probation. 

At first Jonas Hedstrom was entirely alone in the work in this 
mission field. Until the arrival of L. P. Esbjorn, the Lutheran minister, 
in 1849, he \vas also the only Swedish clergyman in the entire West. 
Soon afterward he received his first assistant in John Brown, who 
became itinerant preacher among the widely scattered settlers. In the 
autumn of 1849 Hedstrom got a second assistant, C. P. Agrelius, who 
came on from New York with a letter of recommendation from the 

The Log Cabin in which the First Swedish M. E. Church 
in America was Organized 

elder Hedstrom. In the spring of 1850, this man was sent to a Nor- 
wegian Methodist mission in Wisconsin, but the same year he received 
new reinforcements in the persons of Andrew Ericson and A. G. Swed- 
berg, who soon after their arrival from Sweden in the late fall of 1849 
joined the Methodist Church and subsequently became traveling mis- 
sionaries. In May, 1850, a new mission field was opened in New 
Sweden, Jefferson county, Iowa. The records of the conference meet- 
ing of 1850 show that the Swedish mission in connection with the Rock 
River Conference at that early date comprised four circuits with six 
preachers and 195 church members. The preachers were the five 
already mentioned, together with Peter Cassel, who was stationed at 
New Sweden, la. 

In 1852 two more preachers were added, viz., Peter Challman, or 
Kallman, and Erik Shogren, or Sjogren, who at the behest of Hedstrom 
devoted themselves to church work after having returned from a gold- 


seeking excursion to California late in the summer of 1851, but were 
not accepted on probation by the Kock River Conference until Septem- 
ber, 1853. In January of that year the number of workers was again 
increased by the addition of S. B. Newman, who for two years had been 
assistant to Eev. 0. G. Hedstrom on the Bethel ship in New York 
harbor. Now he was sent to Chicago to take charge of the Swedish 
Methodist Church which had been organized there the previous month, 
December, 1852. The next addition was made in 1854, when Peter 
Newberg, Hedstrom 's former helper in the blacksmith shop at Victoria, 
where he had been under the spiritual influence of his employer, 
exchanged the anvil for the pulpit. The following year the corps of 
preachers received in Victor Witting a very valuable member who. 
after diverse experiences in this country, was won over to Methodism 
while on a visit to New York, having become familiar with the church 
during his previous residence in Illinois. All these preachers labored 
principally within the state, but incidentally extended their operations 
to Indiana and Iowa. 

In spite of these reinforcements, the work of Hedstrom himself 
rather increased than lightened, as the enlargement of the field com- 
pelled him to make frequent long journeys to the widely scattered 
churches in order to exercise proper supervision of the work. His field 
now extended from Chicago west as far as New Sweden, la. Opposing 
forces notwithstanding, the progress of Methodism among the Swedish 
settlers was continuous. In 1856, at the conference meeting held in 
Peoria, all the Swedish churches of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa were 
combined into a special district with Jonas Hedstrom as its presiding 
elder. However, he was not long to hold this position, for in his work 
as pioneer missionary and on the long, difficult journeys he was 
constantly compelled to make, his health had been undermined to such 
an extent that he was forced to retire after one year. On May 11, 1859, 
less than two years later, death ended his career. 

Tine Co-WorKers of Jonas Hedstrom John Brown 

The first assistant of Jonas Hedstrom in the missionary field was 
John Brown. He was of Danish descent, born on the island of Als 
Dec. 23, 1813, but having been brought up among German-speaking 
people, he acquired that language and spoke Danish or Swedish with a 
marked German brogue. 

Brown came to America as a sailor prior to May 14, 1843, when he 
was married in New York city to Johanna Baden, a German woman 
from Altona, who proved a true helpmeet to him. 

In New York, presumably, he came in contact with one of the 
early emigrant parties of Erik Janssonists, joined tlje sect, and in 1847 
we find him in Bishop Hill. Dissatisfied with the prophet and his 



colony, Brown soon left, together with a number of others, the deserters 
settling at Lafayette, Stark county, eight miles east of Victoria, where 
they obtained employment from an American named Hodgeson. The 
energetic sailor at once joined the Methodists, whose tenets he favored. 
His slight acquaintance with Hedstrom, formed during the visits of the 
latter to Bishop Hill, was now deepened by more intimate intercourse 
with him. Finding Brown suitable timber for the ministry, Hedstrom 
lost no time in urging him to enter that vocation. 

Ere long, Brown was in the field as a missionary, preaching first 
in and around Lafayette and Victoria, then in Andover and Rock 
Island. In the last-named place his efforts were especially successful. 
After having been received into the Conference in 1852, he was sent 
to labor among the Norwegians in Leland and Fox River, LaSalle 
county. As a consequence of overwork and privations his health soon 
broke down, compelling him to retire from active service after three 
years. He was subsequently employed as bridge tender at Freedom, 
halfway between Leland and Ottawa, having charge of the local church 
in the meantime. Some time later he removed to Iowa, locating in the 
little town of Nevada, Storey county. Despite ill health he traveled 
about the country preaching in English, German and Swedish in the 
new settlements, even now gathering many into the Methodist fold. 
Brown was a man of great zeal, a live, vivid and warmhearted 
preacher, and a very successful revivalist. When he got especially 
warmed up, both by his text and the summer heat on the prairies, he 
would throw off his coat and neckwear, and sometimes his vest, and go 
on preaching with a vim that was overpowering. Although sincerely 
devoted to Methodism, he was not fanatical or intolerant. "Let others 
stand by their flag; I'll stand by mine," was his motto, expressed in 
his bluff seaman's vernacular. 

While engaged one day in painting a fence at his home in Nevada, 
he suffered an apoplectic stroke which ended his life. This was in 1875, 
presumably in the month of September. 

Rev. Carl Patter Ag'relius 

The second in order of the ten assistants of Hedstrom during the 
first decade was Carl Fetter Agrelius, in temperament, energy and 
mental make-up a complete contrast to Brown. He also had been 
assistant to Rev. O. Gr. Hedstrom on the Bethel ship in New York, 
serving there 1848-49. and subsequently as Jonas Hedstrom 's assistant 
in the Victoria circuit. He became the first Swedish Methodist preacher 
among the Scandinavian population in Wisconsin. Agrelius was born 
in Ostergotland Oct. 22, 1798, studied at the University of Upsala and 
was ordained to the ministry, very likely in 1822. After serving for 


twenty-six years as a minister of the state church of Sweden, during 
the latter years as curate of the parish of Pelarne, in northern Smaland, 
he felt an inner call to go to America and take up Lutheran missionary 
work among the growing masses of emigrants. Together with a large 
party, he arrived in New York in 1848, probably in the month .of 
October. Kev. Hedstrom and his alert assistant, Peter Bergner, who 
were constantly on the lookout for Swedes, went on board at once to 
bid the newcomers welcome, give advice and assistance and invite 
them to attend the service on board the Bethel ship that evening. By 
his dress and general appearance Agrelius at once attracted their 
attention, and on addressing him they learned that he was a minister 
of the Swedish state church. 

Agrelius stopped in New York, where he attempted to build up a 
Swedish Lutheran congregation, an enterprise which, however, proved 
for too great for his capacity. He was devout, forsooth, and had the 
best of intentions, but lacked energy, enthusiasm and other qualities 
requisite to leadership. To him it was more natural to be led than to 
lead. Finding himself unable to organize a Lutheran church, he began 
to associate more intimately with Hedstrom, attended class meetings 
and services on board the missionary ship and preached there occasion- 
ally, at the request of Hedstrom. Before long he was a Methodist, heart 
and soul, joined their church, was licensed as local preacher a short 
time afterward and was engaged as Hedstrom 's assistant on the Bethel 
ship for a year, or till the fall of 1849, when he was sent to Victoria to 
assist the younger Hedstrom. Together with E. Shogren and other 
recent arrivals from Sweden who, upon Hedstrom 's advice, decided to 
settle at Victoria, he left New York, arriving at his destination in 
October. During the following six months he went from place to place 
in the surrounding circuit, preaching in the houses of the settlers. 

At the solicitation of an influential American Methodist in Chicago 
or Evanston, who took a great interest in the Scandinavians and 
guaranteed support to the preacher for one year, Agrelius was sent 
to Spring Prairie, Wis., in the early part of 1850 in order to begin work 
among the Norwegian settlements thereabout. In July, 1851, he was 
received into the "Wisconsin Conference on probation and sent as 
missionary to the Norwegians in Primrose, in that state. Here he 
remained for three years, till the fall of 1854, when he was sent to the 
Swedish Methodist mission in St. Paul and, a year later, to Marine, 
Chisago county, Minn. At this place he built a log cabin for himself 
on a piece of land he had purchased near Big Lake, and remained here 
for a number of years, preaching to his countrymen in the large sur- 
rounding settlements. 

In the spring of 1860 he moved back to Wisconsin and served the 


churches of Coon Prairie, Hart Prairie, Primrose and Highland ; in 1866 
he was declared superannuated, but continued for another year in 
charge of the Norwegian Methodist church of Willow River, whereupon 
his pastoral career ended. He now went back to live in retirement on 
his little farm in Marine, Minn., remaining there until 1878, when he 
removed to the home of his youngest son at Deer Park, St. Croix county, 
Wis. At that place he died August 18, 1881, at the mature age of 
eighty-three. On the same date twelve years after, his widow, Anna 
Elisabet, died at the age of eighty-four. 

Agrelius was a man of tractable and peaceful disposition. Among 
his associates he was talkative, benign and social. Hospitable almost to 
a fault, he was ready to entertain in his little log cabin every wayfarer 
who passed, whether stranger or friend. He was a man of thorough 
education but limited executive ability. His sermons were dry and 
wearisome to listen to, their contents being in substance good, but 
lacking in depth. 

Rev. Andrew Ericson 

The third in order of Hedstrom 's co-laborers was Andrew Ericson. 
Born at Roste, Bollnas parish, Helsingland, July 8, 1815, he was 
converted in early youth and soon thereafter began to preach. He 
and his wife were among those who accompanied Rev. L. P. Esbjorn to 
America in 1849 and came with him to Andover. Ericson did not long 
remain there. Urged by Rev. Hedstrom, who soon after their arrival 
visited Andover, he, together with a number of other newcomers, 
decided to locate at Victoria. Almost immediately he joined the 
Methodist Church and became a faithful and ever willing assistant in 
whom Rev. Hedstrom reposed implicit trust. Though not naturally 
brilliant, he proved a very able preacher. The partisanship so prevalent 
in those early days did not enter into his mental make-up. 

After laboring for a few years in Illinois, he was sent to New 
Sweden, la., in 1854, to assume charge of the Swedish Methodist con- 
gregation at that place and to exercise general supervision of the 
surrounding field, which at first was very large, extending from 
Burlington west to Swede Bend, a distance of two hundred miles. 
It is doubtful whether any other Swedish Methodist clergyman ever 
kept up services at points so far apart as those regularly visited by 
Andrew Ericson during the first part of the time he labored in this 

At the close of April, 1854, the year of his coming to the state, 
a church had been organized in Swede Bend, Webster county, 175 miles 
west of New Sweden. No less than thirteen times in two years he 
traveled from New Sweden to Swede Bend, a distance both ways of 


more than three hundred miles through wild and for the most part 
unsettled country. Not infrequently his own countrymen would refuse 
to shelter him, compelling him to spend the nights under the open sky 
all because he was a Methodist preacher. Such was the partisan zeal 
among the church people at that time. 

In 1856 Ericson was sent to Swede Bend and labored there ex- 
clusively until 1860, when he was sent back to Illinois and stationed 
at the Norwegian settlement in Leland. The following year he was 
minister in charge at Andover, which position he held for two years. 
At the conference of 1863, he requested that he be placed on the retired 
list, which being done he returned to Swede Bend, la., where he owned 
a farm. Here he spent his last days. Sept. 11, 1878, he was found dead 
just outside of his house, evidently struck down by apoplexy. 

Andrew Ericson was a -plain man of the people, with little book 
learning, his opportunities for study having been limited. Yet by dint 
of zeal and great devotion to his calling his labors were richly blessed. 
He was a man of peaceful and benign disposition, who made no 

Rev. Anders Gustaf Swedberg' 

Anders Gustaf Swedberg, the fourth of Rev. Jonas Hedstrom's 
auxiliary workers, was born in 1827 or 1828 in the city of Hudiksvall 
or near there. In early age he joined the so-called "Luther Readers," 
or Hedbergians, and occasionally appeared as exhorter at their meet- 
ings. He accompanied Rev. L. P. Esbjorn to this country in 1849. When 
they arrived at Andover, an epidemic of sickness was raging there, and 
lodging could not be secured, so Swedberg and others proceeded to 
Ghlesburg. There he at once came in contact with the Methodists and 
soon came to feel at home among them. In the spring of 1850 he joined 
the Methodist Church and became exhorter and subsequently local 
preacher. The following year he was received on probation into the 
Rock River Conference. It was then resolved that Swedberg and 
Andrew Ericson should alternately have charge of the congregations 
of the Victoria-Galesburg circuit, principally that of Galesburg, where 
Swedberg resided. 

At this time Swedberg was a young man, only twenty-one years 
of age; he possessed a good education, was a gifted speaker, had a 
pleasing manner, was full of fire and enthusiasm, qualities by which 
he won the hearts of all. It was the general opinion that in him Rev. 
Hedstrom had obtained one of his most valuable aids. But these 
expectations were not fulfilled. In the spring of 1852 an American 
Baptist clergyman by the name of Barry, a very eloquent man, came 
to Galesburg and by his sermons on the doctrine of baptism quickly 


stirred up the whole community. Among quite a number of Swedes 
who were converted to the Baptist faith was Swedberg. He left the 
Methodist Church, was baptized anew and in 1853 was appointed 
minister of a newly organized church at Village Creek, la. He at first 
served for two years, or until 1855, when the church was left without 
a preacher until the autumn of 1856 ; then Swedberg was again called 
there, accepting the charge. In 1864 he was still in charge of this 
church, but since that time little is known of him and it is not known 
whether he is still among the living. 

Rev. Peter Cassel 

Peter Cassel, to whom frequent reference has been made, also 
was one of Eev. Hedstrom's co-workers. He was born in Asbo parish, 
Ostergotland, Oct. 13, 1790. In his native place he was a miller and 
afterwards foreman on a large country estate. From 1825 to 1830 
this locality experienced a general revivalist movement in which Cassel 
joined. Cassel later became the leader of a party of emigrants who 
left Kisa, Ostergotland, in 1845, destined for Pine Lake, Wis., but on 
reaching New York decided to change their route and went to Iowa, 
where they founded New Sweden, the first Swedish settlement in that 

When in November, 1850, the Swedish Methodist Church in New 
Sweden was organized, Cassel was one of the first, if not the very first, 
to sign for membership. He soon became local preacher. The following 
year he was appointed minister in charge, serving in that capacity for 
three years, till the fall of 1854. Two years later he was ordained 
deacon of the Methodist Church. His strength soon failed, however, 
compelling him to resign. Cassel died March 4, 1857. 

"Father" Cassel, as he was reverently styled by the people of New 
Sweden, was a man of the old stock, honest and true. He was the 
soul of the church as well as of the community, and was looked up to 
by all with respect and confidence. 

Rev. Peter Challman 

Among all the co-workers and assistants of Hedstrom, Peter Chall- 
man, or Kallman, both as a revivalist and a pioneer preacher, took 
foremost rank. Being a man of exceptional energy, he would un- 
doubtedly have attained still greater prominence under more favorable 
circumstances. He was born at the Voxna factory, in Helsingland, 
1823. In the fall of 1844 he joined the Erik Janssonists and the folloAV- 
ing spring began to conduct religious meetings, preaching in accordance 
with the tenets of the sect. He was soon chosen one of Erik Jansson's 


apostles and sent out by him to preach. By Kallman's preaching many 
were won over. But to preach Erik Janssonism was fraught with 
grave peril. Kallman was twice mobbed by the enraged populace; 
once he wasnear being killed, another time he was arrested and brought 
to the Gefle prison, the trial however, resulting in his release. These 
experiences impelled him to leave the country. With a party of other 
Erik Janssonists he left Stockholm for America June 26, 1846, arriving 
at Bishop Hill Oct. 28th, four months later. 

Here he found conditions altogether at variance with the claims 
of the prophet and others, and in June, 1847, he left the colony in 
disgust, taking up a temporary abode in Lafayette. There he became 
acquainted with Hedstrom and other Methodists. In the fall of 1847 
he removed to Galesburg, where he worked as a carpenter for two 
years, preaching occasionally to his fellow countrymen at the request 
of Hedstrom. It was at this time that the gold fever was at its height. 
Following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, the newspapers 
were filled daily with wonderful stories of marvelously rich strikes. 
The air was full of wild rumors. Wherever people met, whether in the 
street, in their homes or in church, they talked of gold, nothing but 
gold. Everywhere, people were seized with an irresistible longing 
for the glittering gold fields. 

Many Swedes were among those smitten by the epidemic. We 
have noted that a Swedish party of goldseekers set out from Andover. 
In Galesburg another similar party was organized under the leadership 
of the energetic Challman. This party of twelve young Swedes, formed 
in January, 1850, started on March 14th on the 2,000 mile journey 
to the gold country. Following are the names of the men composing 
the party: Peter Challman, Erik Shogren, Jonas Hellstrom, George 
Challman, Victor Witting, Louis Larson, Peter Newberg, Charles 
Peterson, Olof Hedstrom, C. Alexander, Peter Magnus (surname un- 
known) and one Gustafson. On Sundays the party rested, Peter 
Challman, the leader, conducting divine services for his men. On July 
14th the party reached their destination in California. 

The result of the adventurous trip fell far short of expectations. 
Gold was found, to be sure, but not in such quantities as they had 
hoped for and far from sufficient to repay them for the hardships 
and perils of their long journey. Victor Witting remained until 1852, 
and Charles Peterson and Gustafson staid permanently, but the main 
party returned in July, 1851, after one year's work in the gold mines. 
In Chagres, now Aspinwall, on the return trip Alexander lost all his 
money in gambling and then disappeared. In despair over the un- 
satisfactory result of the trip. Peter Magnus drowned himself by 
jumping overboard shortly before the steamer by which the party 


returned reached Chicago. Charles Peterson died in Los Angeles in 
1898 at the age of eighty. He was a member of the Swedish Methodist 
Church of that city. George Challman is still living in Galesburg. 
Olof Hedstrom died in 1904, near Victoria. Erik Shogren died Jan. 2, 
1906. Of him and Newberg we will speak later. Upon his return Hell- 
strom located at Victoria, engaging in business, from which, proving 
unprofitable, he soon retired. He enlisted at the outbreak of the Civil 
War, served in the Union army as a non-commissioned officer for a 
time and succumbed in the Arkansas campaign at a time and place 
unknown. Gustafson was taken ill after working in the diggings that 
summer and remained in California until his death. Louis Larson 
separated from the party at Salt Lake City, but proceeded to Cali- 
fornia, whence he returned to Victoria after a few months, bought 
land and became a prosperous farmer. He married Christin Olson, 
who bore him four sons and one daughter. He died a few years ago 
at his old homestead, about a mile from Victoria, where his son Just. 
A. Larson now lives with his wife, Nancy Elizabeth, a daughter of 
George Challman. The Larson family were worthy and respected 
members of the Methodist Church in Victoria. 

Peter Challman returned via Panama and New York to Illinois, 
settling in Victoria, where he was at first employed as a house builder. 
The Methodist mission work among the local Swedes having grown 
quite extensive, Rev. Hedstrom, who knew Challman both from La- 
fayette and Galesburg, requested him to devote himself exclusively 
to this work, although Challman was not even a member of the 
Methodist Church. Challman acceded and began preaching. On Dec. 
31, 1851, he joined the church at Victoria on probation, was later 
accredited as local minister, was accepted into the Rock River Con- 
ference on probation in 1853, at Chicago, and ordained deacon, was for 
a year itinerant preacher, then served the churches at Andover and 
Rock Island in 1854-5 and during the next two years preached in 
Victoria, Galesburg and the neighboring district. Together with Sho- 
gren he took a trip to Minnesota in 1854 or 1855 to visit the Swedish 
settlements there. 

When all hope that Hedstrom would recover sufficiently to resume 
work was at an end, Challman was appointed presiding elder of the 
Swedish district in 1857, at the recommendation of Hedstrom himself. 
In this capacity Challman served with credit until 1865, when he waa 
assigned to Bishop Hill. Here he labored for a year until the fall of 
1866, when he undertook a trip to Sweden, "not for Christ, but in his 
own interest," he explained. 

On his return to America he settled on his farm in Knox county, 
left the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Free Methodists and began 


missionary work in and about Victoria in behalf of the latter denom- 
ination. He remained with the Free Methodists for four years, preach- 
ing and laboring at his own expense. During this time he built a 
Free Methodist church for the Swedes at Center Prairie, seven miles 
southwest of Victoria. When the Swedish congregation was dissolved, 
this edifice passed into the hands of an American congregation. Sub- 
sequently Challman gradually transferred his interests from the mission 
field to the corn field. In his ambition to acquire large tracts of land, 
he incurred heavy debts which, during and after the panic of the early 
seventies, he had great difficulty in paying. 

In 1884 he removed to northwestern Iowa. He now regretted 
that he ever deserted his pastoral calling and the "old Methodist 
Church," as he styled it. In order to correct his error, in part at least, 
he joined the American M. E. Church at Galva, la., in 1890, subsequently 
taking part in several annual meetings of the Iowa Conference. A 
severe siege of influenza undermined his health, and after having been 
confined to the sickbed for half a year, he died in Challer, la., July 8, 
1900, aged 77 years. His remains were borne to the grave by his 
six sons. 

In several respects Peter Challman was a remarkable man. He 
seemed a born leader. He was a man of imposing personality, designed 
to attract attention in any company. Picture to yourself a man broad 
of shoulder and of powerful build, massive head, wide forehead, a 
bushy head of hair, lively dark-blue eyes, heavy eyebrows, a beardless 
face, the expression of which indicated energy, resoluteness and fear- 
lessness, add to this a powerful bass voice that easily filled the largest 
edifice, and you have a fair image of Peter Challman in his prime. To 
those who did not know him well he appeared somewhat coarse and 
lacking in the finer sensibilities. But this was far from true. Under 
the rough surface of the man there beat a warm, sympathetic, benev- 
olent heart. He was a forceful speaker, though not a finished orator, 
and knew better than most preachers how to deal with hardened 
hearts. Among the Methodists stories are still being told of the 
revivals that followed upon his strenuous preaching. During his clerical 
career Challman is said to have taken part in the organization of no 
less than twenty-two churches. In the course of a single year, it is said, 
he gained 800 converts to the Methodist belief. It was while he was 
presiding elder that the Swedish denominational organ, known as 
"Sandebudet, " was established. 

Rev. EriK Shog'ren 

In Erik Shogren Jonas Hedstrom obtained one of his most eloquent 
and popular co-workers. There was something about his manner of 



presenting the gospel truths that appealed irresistibly to his hearers. 
This pioneer among Swedish Methodists doubtless was instrumental 

Rev. Erik Shogren 

in gaining large numbers for the church during his long period of 

Shogren was born Jan. 26, 1824, at Gnarp, Helsingland. As a 
boy he attended the village school and at the age of fourteen became a 


blacksmith's apprentice, afterward following that trade for many 
years. In the summer of 1849 he left Gefle on board the brig ' ' Solide, ' ' 
bound for America, arriving at New York sixty-three days later. Here 
he was met by Peter Bergner, assistant to Hedstrom, and invited to 
attend services on board the Bethel ship. Hedstrom conducted the 
meeting with his usual vivacity. Shogren, being one of the "readers" 
from the old country, had attended many of their conventicles, but this 
was something altogether different. Notwithstanding the strange 
method of preaching, Shogren felt strongly drawn to Methodism, and 
Rev. Hedstrom easily persuaded him to join his brother, the younger 
Hedstrom, at Victoria. On his arrival he was unfavorably impressed 
with the primitive appearance of the settlement. He had expected 
to find something quite different, and soon left in disappointment, 
departing for Galesburg after a few weeks and remaining there for 
three months. In February, 1850, he joined the Methodist Church, 
becoming a member of the congregation there organized by Hedstrom 
' the foregoing autumn. In March he joined the party of goldseekers 
organized in Galesburg and made the trip to California, returning the 
following year. He then settled in Victoria and began to conduct 
meetings and preach throughout that circuit, which then embraced 
Victoria, Galesburg, Andover, Rock Island, Moline and many other 

At Hedstrom 's suggestion he abandoned his trade and devoted 
himself wholly to ministerial work. The following year he was received 
on probation into the Rock River Conference, to which the Swedish 
missions in Illinois and Iowa belonged at that time. In 1854 he was 
ordained deacon and was made elder the year following. During the 
first two years he lived at Victoria while spending almost all his time 
traveling about the extensive circuit. In 1855 he was sent to preach 
in Chicago, where, despite stubborn opposition, he met with splendid 
success. In 1859 he was transferred to the Minnesota Conference, 
acting as minister in charge at St. Paul the first year and subsequently 
for three years as presiding elder of the Scandinavian district. In 
1864-5 he served in Chicago, going from there to Boston, where, as 
assistant at the Seamen's Mission, he endeavored to organize a Swedish 
Methodist church, a task cut short by an illness which compelled him 
to return to Minnesota. During the years 1866-9 he had charge of the 
little church at Marine, then took a rest for one year, subsequently 
going back to Illinois. He was stationed at Bishop Hill until 1876. 
when he was transferred to the California Conference and placed in 
charge of the newly organized church at San Francisco. There he 
remained for over five years, and was then at his own request trans- 
ferred to the Swedish Northwestern Conference and sent to Beaver. 


In this field he labored for only a year, subsequently serving the church 
at Galesburg in 1883-4 and the one at Rockford in 1884-5. Having 
been made presiding elder for the Chicago district the latter year, he 
served as such for two years and afterward as pastor in South Chicago, 
his last charge, for the same length of time. 

In 1889 age and illness compelled him to retire from active work. 
He withdrew to his little country place near Red Wing, Minn., where 
he resided until 1903, when with his wife he removed to Napa, Cal., 
joining their youngest daughter, Mrs. Emma Farman, who is living 
there. He died in Napa on Jan. 2, 1906, after a short illness. 

Like most other pioneers of Swedish Methodism in America, Sho- 
gren was a self-taught man. By assiduous studies and self-culture 
he sought to fill the gaps in his education. His favorite study was 
history, and from its pages he often drew valuable lessons for himself 
and his hearers. By nature eloquent, and possessing a pleasing voice, 
he trained himself year by year until attaining a high degree of skill 
and finish as a public speaker. This together with his rare affability 
gave him his remarkable power and influence over those who 
heard him. 

Rev. Sven Bernharci Newman. 

In January, 1845, the same year that Rev. 0. Gr. Hedstrom, on 
Whitsunday, May 25th, preached his first sermon in broken English on 
board the Bethel ship in New York harbor, a young Swede appeared 
for the first time at a place near Mobile, Ala., and preached Methodism 
in equally faltering English to the Americans of that place. This 
Swedish pioneer preacher in the sunny south, who later became one 
of the pathfinders and standard-bearers of Methodism, both east and 
west, was Rev. Sven Bernhard Newman. 

Newman was born Sept. 15, 1812, at Hoganas, Skane, had a 
careful bringing up and obtained employment as salesman with one 
of his brothers, a merchant of Landskrona. After working there eight 
years, he returned to his birthplace and taught private school several 
years. Another of his brothers had emigrated long before and estab- 
lished himself in business at Mobile. Sven followed in 1842 and for 
two years dealt in clothing and groceries not without success. Through 
his brother he was brought in contact with the Methodists, whom he 
joined in 1844. Without much knowledge of English, he shortly 
afterward began speaking at Methodist meetings. Friends who 
thought they detected in the young man more than ordinary ability 
urged him to consecrate his life to the pastoral calling. After some 
hesitation he took the advice and began to study theology under the 



guidance of an American Methodist clergyman. In 1845 he was 
received on probation into the Alabama Conference, was ordained 
deacon in 1847 and elder in 1849. 

Newman's first field of labor was the Campbelltown circuit in 
Florida, where he was stationed from 1845 to 1847. Subsequently 
assigned to another field, with headquarters at Milton, a pleasant little 
town not far from Pensacola, he labored zealously there for two years 
until transferred to Landerdale, Miss. In 1851 Newman was called 
to assist Rev. 0. G. Hedstrom on the Bethel ship at New York, this 

Rev. Sven Bernhard Newman 

being the beginning of his work among Swedish people, a work which 
he pursued with untiring zeal as long as his physical strength per- 
mitted. After spending two years in New York, he was assigned to 
Chicago in 1853 to gather the scattered members of the Swedish 
Methodist Church organized several years before by the Hedstrom 
brothers. With his characteristic zeal and energy he took up the 
task, succeeding not only in collecting the dispersed flock but also in 
having a house of worship erected. The edifice was built at Illinois 
street and dedicated in 1854. Part of the building funds were solicited 
in his former fields in the South. With headquarters in Chicago, he 
made regular trips to other points, both in Indiana and Illinois, found- 
ing churches in Poolsville and Attica in the former state, and St. 


Charles and Beaver in the latter. In Chicago, together with Consul 
Schneidau and Revs. Unonius and Carlsson, Newman labored ardu- 
ously among poor plague-stricken Swedish immigrants, a task trying 
indeed, but productive of blessed results. 

In September, 1855, Newman was again assigned to New York 
to assist Rev. Hedstrom on board the Bethel mission ship. After four 
years he was sent to Jamestown, N. Y., where he was placed in charge 
of an extensive circuit, comprising the neighboring points Sugar 
Grove, Wrightsville, Frewsbury and others. He remained in James- 
town for seven years, 1859-66, afterwards going to the Central Illinois 
Conference on assignment to Galesburg, where he was stationed for 
two years. At the conference of 1868, he was appointed presiding 
elder of the Chicago district, then including Indiana, Illinois, Iowa 
and Kansas. He held this position for five years, in the meantime 
acting as solicitor for the Swedish Methodist Theological Seminary at 
Evanston, for whose benefit he raised a considerable amount. 

Rev. Newman's subsequent assignments were: Rockford, 1873-5; 
Wataga and Peoria, 1875-7; Batavia and Geneva, 1877-9; Evanston, 
1879-82; Moline, 1882-4; Omaha, 1884-5; Chicago, as city missionary, 
1885-8 ; Evanston, as solicitor for the seminary, 1888-90. 

In 1890 he was declared superannuated, but continued to serve 
until 1899, preaching at Moreland, in the Emanuel Church of Chicago, 
at Austin and, lastly, at Ottawa. Having lost his first wife in 1885, he 
remarried in old age. In the early nineties, at the request of the 
Swedish Northwestern Conference, he published his autobiography, 
a very minute account of his life and labors. Enfeebled by the burden 
of years, he died in his home in Chicago on Oct. 27, 1902, at the mature 
age of ninety. 

In his years of activity Newman was a faithful laborer in the 
Lord's vineyard. While not an orator in the common acceptance of 
the term, yet his words left a deep and lasting impression. What he 
lacked in brilliancy and scholarly attainments was amply made up in 
zeal and devotion to his calling. 

Rev. Peter Newberg' 

One of the first five members of the first Swedish Methodist 
church was Peter Newberg, afterward one of Jonas Hedstrom 's most 
faithful and reliable fellow workers. Newberg was born at Lulea, 
Jan. 7, 1818. At the age of eight he lost his father, a sailor, and as a 
boy of fourteen he also went to sea, driven by the necessity of 
contributing to the support of his widowed mother. For fifteen years 
he shipped with merchantmen under various flags. 



In the spring of 1846 he mustered at Gefle as ship's carpenter on 
a vessel bound for New York carrying a large party of Eric Janssonists. 
On reaching harbor he left the vessel and accompanied the emigrants 
to Bishop Hill, but soon left the colony in disappointment, going first 
to Lafayette and then to Victoria, where he remained with Hedstrb'm 
over winter as his helper in making plows. The following spring he 
left for Peoria, where he was employed for some time in the building 
trade, working for a Swedish contractor or architect named Ulricson, 
who had lived there for so many years that he had forgotten his mother 
tongue. In the fall he returned to Victoria and was there married. 

Rev. Peter Newberg 

In the spring of 1850 he joined the aforementioned party of goldseekera 
and went to California. Returning in 1857, he located at Victoria, 
where he had a farm, and also engaged in house building in partnership 
with Peter Challman. In 1853, when the latter left his trade to devote 
himself exclusively to preaching, Newberg continued as building con- 
tractor on his own account. Among other buildings erected by him 
was the Swedish Methodist Church edifice at Victoria, dedicated at 
midsummer, 1854. 

While en route to America, he was subject to the religious influence 
of his fellow travelers, the Erik Janssonists; upon his arrival he came 
under the influence of Hedstrom, and at a camp meeting in the Victoria 
grove, in the summer of 1853, he was converted and accepted the 
Methodist faith. Thereafter he began to take turns with the other 
preachers in making circuit visits, and in 1856 he was received on 
probation by the Peoria Conference and assigned to New Sweden, la., 



as minister in charge. There he labored for two years, besides estab- 
lishing a small congregation in the country just west of Burlington, 
For a year, 1858-9, he served the Andover circuit and the following 
year, 1859-60, that of Galesburg. His ordination as deacon took place 
in 1857, and in 1860 he was promoted to the office of elder. From 
Galesburg he was transferred to Victoria, where he served for two 
years, until 1862. His subsequent fields were: New Sweden, la., 
1864-5, Eockford 1865-6, Victoria 1866-72, Swedona 1872-3. After that 
he was not directly .in charge of any church, but lived on his farm 
at Victoria. When occasion required, however, he would assist the 
other preachers in their work. Thus, in 1881, he went to Texas to aid 
Rev. Victor Witting in the mission field. He died Jan. 13, 1882, at 
Austin, aged 64 years. 

Newberg was a man of but mediocre mental equipment, lacked 
education and mastery of speech, yet was a rather popular preacher 
withal. The secret of it lay in his originality, his art of presenting 
old truths in new garb and of drawing striking applications from his 
own varied experience. He was a devout man, who lived in strict 
accordance with his teaching. 

Rev. Victor Witting 

The tenth, and last, of the co-workers of Hedstrom, was Victor 
Witting. This man was to play a prominent and many-sided part in 
the work and progress of the Swedish-American Methodist denomina- 
tion. Alike as an eminent preacher, a skillful organizer, a journalist 
and author, this venerable pioneer has made himself a name that will 
ever rank with the foremost in the history of Swedish Methodism. 

Witting was born in Malmo on March 7, 1825. His father, Anders 
Johan Witting, captain of the Vendes artillery regiment, was a 
descendant of a Finnish family, which had originally immigrated from 
Livonia and in the seventeenth century had been raised to noble rank. 
His mother, Gustafva Helena Rydberg, was a daughter of Postmaster 
Rydberg in Malmo. In the early thirties, Captain Witting removed 
to Landskrona, having been made chief officer of a battery of his 
regiment assigned to service in that ctiy. His son Victor now entered 
the Latin school there, and in 1836, when his father retired from mil- 
itary service and moved back to Malmo, Victor entered the collegiate 
school there. He left this school intending to prepare for college 
graduation and admittance to the university of Lund, but instead oi! 
carrying out this plan he obtained a position with an apothecary and 
began to study pharmacy. In his early youth he had acquired some 
knowledge and more admiration of this country through reading the 



history of the United States and the novels of James Fenimore 
Cooper and other writers, and when in the summer of 1841 the neAvs^ 
papers related that an Upsala student by the name of Gustaf Unonius, 
heading a small party, had departed for the new and wonderful western 
world to found a settlement there, young Witting 's longing for America 
became stronger than ever and he began devising plans of his own for 
reaching the New World. To him the only possible way was to become 
a sailor. He brooded over the matter incessantly for two years, until 
one day, Easter morning, 1843, just as his apprenticeship was at an end 
and he was about to take the apothecary's examination, he suddenly 
deserted the drug store with its pills and powders and went across to 
Helsingor, whence he hoped to ship as a sailor. For want of a passport 
the plan miscarried and he was obliged to return home. Having 
obtained his. father's permission to go to sea, he soon afterward shipped 
from Malmo, making several trips to England in the next two years, 
after which he entered the school of navigation at Malmo and passed 
the shipmaster's examination in 1845. In May he went to Gefle hoping 
to be commissioned for a long trip on some large merchant vessel. 
After making a short summer trip to England with the bark "Fama." 
when he formed the acquaintance of the aforesaid Peter Newberg. 
who was the ship's carpenter, he engaged to take the ship "Ceres," 
with a cargo of iron, from Soderhamn to New York. Thus at last his 
long cherished desire to get to America was to be fulfilled. 

On board this vessel was a small party of Erik Janssonists, fore- 
runners of the subsequent exodus of that sect. Off Oregrund, during 
a dark and stormy night, the ship grounded and all on board probably 
would have perished but for the fact that the vessel was so firmly 
wedged between two rocks that the heavy seas which broke over it 
could not dislodge it. The passengers and crew spent the night in the 
forecastle amid indescribable horrors. That night young Witting 
received impressions that gave to his life a different course. Profoundly 
impressed with the resignation and Christian fortitude shown by the 
Erik Janssonists in the very face of death, he made a resolve to become 
a Christian, should he survive that dreadful night, and, if he ever 
reached America, to look up these people. 

The following day they were taken off the wreck, and Witting 
went to Gefle, where he mustered on the ship "Gustaf Vasa," bound 
for the Mediterranean. Returning, he sailed for two years between 
Gefle and other ports. While at Stockholm in the summer of 1847. 
he heard that a brig was about to sail for America with a party of 
Erik Janssonists. Witting engaged to earn his passage by acting as 
steward to the passengers. In October, after a voyage of six or seven 



weeks, they reached New York, and the one chief goal of his longing 
had been reached at last. 

He accompanied the Erik Janssonists westward. At Chicago 
Witting was taken sick and brought to a hospital. After having 
been restored to health, he obtained work in a drug store and formed 
the acquaintance of his fellow countrymen in that city. Late in the 
summer of 1848, he accompanied a newly arrived party of Erik Jans- 
sonists to Bishop Hill, thereby fulfilling his solemn promise on the 
night of the shipwreck. With the very best opinion of the Erik Jans- 
sonists and with high expectations of their colony, Witting arrived at 
Bishop Hill. He had supposed that all was harmony there, and that 
the colonists "lived secure in dwellings of peace," but he found quite 
the reverse strife and discontent over Erik Jansson's despotic rule 
and the miserable state of affairs. Witting therefore remained only 
about a year and a half. In the late fall of 1849 he began planning 
for his departure and left on Christmas Eve, leaving behind him his 
young wife, whom he had wedded in the colony. He repaired to 
Victoria, and through Rev. Hedstrom obtained a position with a 
druggist in Galesburg, where he began work on New Year's day, 1850. 

At that time there were in Galesburg about twenty Swedish 
families and quite a number of unmarried Swedes of both sexes, 
probably a total of a hundred persons, nearly all of them former Erik 
Janssonists. Not a few already had been won over to Methodism. 
Hedstrom and Challman in turn conducted the meetings. Witting and 
his wife attended regularly, joining the little Swedish Methodist 
Church in February. It was in the days of the gold fever, and Witting 
joined the party of Swedish goldseekers. The journey as well as the 
stay in California was rich in adventures and novel experiences. 
Reaching the gold country he went to digging like everybody else and 
once was about to ' ' strike it rich ' ' but failed on account of the irresolu- 
tion of his comrade. From the diggings which they abandoned a 
Scotchman and his two sons subsequently took out a small fortune in 
a few weeks. 

Tired and disappointed with life in the gold fields, Witting left 
California in April, 1852, with just enough gold to pay his way back, 
arriving in Galesburg just before midsummer. In July he removed to 
Victoria, where he and Erik Shogren attempted to make a fortune by 
cultivating medicinal herbs. After two years they gave it up as a 
failure. The first year a shipment of herbs to Cincinnati was lost in 
transit ; the second year Witting, who was now alone in the enterprise, 
had to sell a large New York shipment at great sacrifice, leaving him 
without money enough to get home. These reverses almost drove the 
sanguine and energetic young man to despair. But when all his plans 


failed, he sought comfort in religion. A few visits to an American 
Methodist church in New York set his troubled mind at ease and 
inspired him with new courage. Having obtained a sum of money from 
the kindhearted Rev. O. G. Hedstrom, he returned to Illinois. 

His trip to New York proved the turning-point in Witting 's life. 
Almost immediately after his return to Victoria, he began to preach 
at small Methodist gatherings in private houses and was shortly after- 
wards appointed class leader. In the fall he obtained employment in a 
drug store in Peoria and began preaching to the handful of Swedes 
then found in that city. At the suggestion of Presiding Elder Henry 
Summers he now resolved to devote himself wholly to pastoral work 
and, having been admitted to the Rock River Conference on probation, 
in September, 1855, was stationed at Andover. Thus, after a varied 
career on land and sea, he finally found his proper sphere and settled 
down to his life's work, spending a long term of years in fruitful 
labor in behalf of the Methodist Church. 

From now on Witting devoted himself unsparingly to his calling. 
In 1858 he was appointed to the charge at Victoria and in 1860 trans- 
ferred to Rockford. In 1859 the idea of establishing a seminary for 
the education of ministers and founding a newspaper as the organ of 
the Swedish Methodists was advanced, but not until the spring of 1862 
did the latter plan materialize, and then chiefly through the efforts of 
Witting. At a meeting of ministers in Chicago he volunteered, if a 
paper were started, to edit it for one year without salary. It was 
unanimously resolved to launch the enterprise and Witting 's offer was 
gratefully accepted. This paper was named "Sandebudet" (The 
Messenger) and was published at Rockford, the first number appearing 
July 18th of that year. After occupjnng the editor's chair for some two 
and one-half years, having resigned from his pastoral charge in 1863, 
Witting left the paper, which in November, 1864, was moved to 
Chicago. The foregoing year he had taken up the school question for 
discussion in its columns and was gratified to find his plan so generally 
favored that during the year 1866, the centenary of Methodism, a 
school fund was subscribed. The school was not opened until New 
Year's, 1870, Witting serving meanwhile partly as the financial agent 
of the school project, partly again as editor of " Sandebudet. " 

In 1865 the Methodists began missionary work in Sweden, but 
their efforts met with little success. Witting was the first to put life 
into that work. After having obtained leave of absence, Witting went 
to Sweden in May, 1867, at the expense of a private individual. He 
soon attracted large audiences there, and in a short time Methodism 
became firmly rooted, especially in the capital. At the instance of 
Bishop Kingsley of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who was then 



visiting Sweden, Witting resolved to remain to prosecute the work 
which he successfully started. He hurried back to America to bring 
his family over, returning to Goteborg in November. 

Rev. Victor Witting 

It would carry us far out of our way to describe in detail Witting 's 
mission in Sweden. Suffice it to say that with him as superintendent 
the work was prosecuted with great energy, several congregations 
being organized and churches built. But it was not all smooth sailing. 


The authorities made trouble for the Methodist workers, several of 
whom were fined for disregarding the injunctions of church councils 
against public preaching by dissenters. But these obstacles were 
removed by the passage of the Dissenters Law of 1873, proposed by the 
government, passed by the riksdag with certain modifications relating 
to obligatory religious instruction of the young, and finally sanctioned 
by the king, its effect being materially to extend religious liberty in the 
country. The following year the Methodists of Sweden resolved to 
avail themselves of the right granted by that law to leave the state 
church and organize a denomination of their own, with government 
sanction. In February, 1875, a delegation of ten Methodist clergymen 
and laymen had an audience with the king, laying before him a petition 
with about 1,200 signatures, asking the privilege of uniting into a 
separate church body. The petition was granted March 10, 1876, that 
act securing forever the rights of the Methodist Church in Sweden. 
As may be readily understood, this was a day of triumph for Witting 
himself. On the 22nd of August following the Methodist missions were 
combined in a conference. 

After ten years' work in Sweden, during Avhich period Methodism 
made headway and gained permanence, Witting in 1877 returned to 
the United States. After preaching for a short time in Chicago, he 
was sent back to Sweden in the capacity of superintendent of the 
Methodist Church of Sweden. His term of service was, however, cut 
short by his leaving the Methodist Church, for reasons unexplained, 
and returning to America in the spring of 1879. The following year 
he founded a devotional monthly, entitled "Stilla Stunder," which 
was published in Chicago for two years. This breach between him and 
the church he had served for a quarter of a century was of brief 
duration. Having again joined the church, he was for the third time 
made editor of its organ, " Sandebudet, " serving as such from 1883 
to 1889. In the latter year he was appointed pastor of the Swedish 
Methodist Church at Quinsigamond, Mass., where he resumed publica- 
tion of "Stilla Stunder." The following Christmas he published an 
annual entitled, "Bethlehemsstjernan, " which never again appeared. 
In 1895, at the age of more than seventy, he was made editor of a 
weekly, known as "Osterns Sandebud." While laboring as pastor 
and editor, Witting found time for quite extensive literary pursuits. 
As a writer and translator of religious songs he has undoubtedly 
rendered his church greater service than any other Swedish clergyman. 
The hymnal used by the Methodists of Sweden for many years contains 
a large number of hymns written or translated by him, and it is gen- 
erally conceded that the best Swedish translations of the well-known 
songs of Charles Wesley have been made by Witting. He has published 



at his own expense several excellent collections of songs for prayer 
meetings, and for home devotion, which are still extensively used. His 
chief literary work, however, comprises his memoirs, embodied in a 
volume entitled, "Minnen fran mitt lif som sjoman, immigrant och 
predikant." The first edition of this work was published in 1901, 
followed in 1904 by a second edition, revised and augmented. This 
work is especially valuable for its rich contributions to the early 
chapters of Swedish-American history. 

Witting, who spent his later years at his home in Quincy, Mass., 
died July 2, 1906, his wife having passed away a few years earlier. 
Two of his daughters are married to Methodist ministers. 

Other pioneers of the Swedish Methodist Church of America ar<* 
Olof Hamren, whose field of labor was western New York, and Samuel 
Anderson and John Fridlund, both of Minnesota. 

The ILarly Swedish Methodist Churches 

At the period here dealt with the preacher's calling was no 
sinecure. The country was sparsely settled, with small settlements 
from ten to twenty miles apart, the settlers were poor, dwelling in 
small, stuffy huts or dugouts, and the absence of roads and bridges 
made traveling difficult. The daily routine of a frontier preacher was 
somewhat on this order: a wearisome journey, mostly on horseback, 
but often afoot; arriving towards nightfall at some lone settler's cabin, 
a blockhouse at best, with a single room ; preaching in the evening to a 
score of persons, children included ; sharing with the inmates their only 
bed; breakfasting on cornbread and molasses; then proceeding on his 
way to the next settlement, there to repeat the selfsame experience, 
and so on for weeks and months. Owing to the suspicion, not to say 
hostility, anent the Methodists prevailing among the Swedish settlers, 
they would ofttimes shut their doors in the face of the itinerant 
preachers, who were thus compelled to spend their nights in the woods 
or on the open prairie. With Christian fortitude they submitted to al) 
this, looking upon their calling as a work of love, not a means of liveli 1 
hood. The majority of them sustained serious financial losses from 
chosing the minister's calling, being able to earn more at their 
respective trades than afterwards in the ministry. The highest annual 
salary received by any of them did not exceed $400. Some got only 
$100 to $150 a year. A certain preacher with a wife and three children 
had to get along on $90 for the first year, averaging 25 cents a day. 
With this modest competence went the duty of serving an entire circuit, 
viz., Moline-New Boston, involving monthly trips of some two hundred 
miles with horse and buggy. He was able to make only an occasional 
visit to his family, living in a blockhouse forty miles away. 


During these early days it was customary for a clergyman to 
preach three times every Sunday and three or four times on week days, 
going from place to place, stops being made five to eight miles apart. 
In the spring and fall in particular, the roads would be extremely heavy, 
in fact impassable for vehicles, and then horseback riding was the only 
possible mode of travel. Sometimes the deep, sticky mud proved too 
much even for the saddle horses, and as a last resort the preacher, with 
his trousers tucked into his boot-tops, had to foot it through miles of 
mud and water. Under such strenuous conditions a Methodist minister 
naturally did not put on flesh, but these daily constitutionals kept his 
body agile and his spirits fresh and buoyant. 

Such was the preacher's life in those days. All the Methodist 
ministers traveled about in like manner the year around. That was 
quite different from present conditions, which permit the preachers to 
remain for at least two years in each place, enjoying comfortable homes 
and other advantages. 

TKe First Swedish Methodist ChurcK in America 

It was during the period just described that the first Swedish 
Methodist churches were organized in Illinois. As stated in foregoing 
pages, the very first was that at Victoria, founded Dec. 15, 1846, by 
Jonas Hedstrom, who on that occasion preached his first sermon. The 
first members were five all told. This was the small beginning of a 
movement which soon extended to all the surrounding towns and settle- 
ments, wherever Swedes were living, and from these districts came 
many of the pioneer clergymen. The early settlers at Victoria, with 
few exceptions, had been Erik Janssonists. Possessing more than 
ordinary knowledge of the Scriptures, they soon became firmly rooted 
in the Methodist faith. They took religion seriously, these pioneer 
settlers. The entire settlement of Victoria became so thoroughly imbued 
with Methodism that to this day all attempts of other denominations 
to gain a foothold there have proved futile. 

The little church after two years numbered ninety members. At 
first the meetings were held either in a schoolhouse or in private 
houses. In the latter instance, it was customary for those attending 
the meetings to bring their own chairs and candles. In the late summer 
of 1853 the church building was begun, and it was completed and 
dedicated the following spring. This, the first Swedish Methodist 
church in the state, still stands as a landmark and reminder of Swedish 
pioneer days in Illinois. A steeple was added to the structure in later 
years. In the late fall of 1858 the adjoining parsonage was built. In 
1857 the large Victoria circuit was divided into three, Victoria, Gales- 



burg and Andover forming independent congregations, each with its 
own pastor. A year later three new fields were taken up, viz., 
Kewanee, Nekoma and Oneida. The mother church at Victoria in 1905 
numbered 105 adult members. The baptized children are not counted 
as members in Methodist statistics as the case is in some other churches. 

The WorK at Andover 

The second in point of age among the Swedish Methodist churches 
of Illinois is that of Andover. The date of Jonas Hedstrom's first visit 

The Swedish M. E. Church in Victoria 

to the Swedes of Andover is not known, but it might well have been 
as early as 1847, while the settlers were still few in number. When in 
1849 Rev. Gustaf Unonius visited Andover he found cause for complaint 
in the fact that "a large part of the people had been converted to 
Methodism and much religious strife and disorder prevailed." In the 
latter part of July the same year, Jonas Hedstrom was in Andover to 
meet a party of immigrants ravaged by cholera. After having dis- 
tributed food and medicines among the sick and emaciated newcomers, 
he was kept busy night and day procuring lodgings for them. On 
Sunday, Aug. 12th, he preached a touching funeral sermon at the biers 



of the latest victims of the pest, and two weeks later, Sunday, Aug. 26th, 
while the hearts of the immigrants were still pliant from suffering, he 
chose as the opportune time to organize a Methodist congregation. 
Those who joined were, Anna Lovisa Gustafsson, who had just lost both 
her parents, her husband, three children and a brother ; Nils J. Johans- 
son and wife ; one Froberg and wife ; Helena Hurtig, a widow whose 
husband also had recently died of the cholera; Marta Olsson; Nils 
Olsson and wife; Ake Olsson and wife; E. P. Andersson and, on the 
following day, Mrs. H. Aim. 

The congregation was organized at "Captain Mix's place," a large 
farm with good buildings, located near the southeast corner of the 

The Swedish M. E. Church in Andover 

village. This was now purchased by the widow Gustafsson, on the 
advice of Hedstrom, and became the home of herself, her daughter 
Mary, a girl of seven, her sisters Caroline and Mary and her brother 
John M. Ericksson. She was born in Hagerstad, Ostergotland, April 
13, 1821 ; at twenty she married Gustaf Gustafsson and in the summer 
of 1849 they emigrated to America, with the aforesaid party. Being 
widowed shortly after reaching Andover, she remarried in 1851, becom- 
ing the wife of Otto Lobeck, a Pomeranian, removed with him to 
Omaha, Neb., in 1884, became a widow again in 1890, and died in 
Fremont, Neb., March 30, 1903. At her home in Andover also the 
Swedish Lutheran Church of that place was organized March 18, 1850. 
Mrs. Lobeck to her death remained faithful to the Swedish Methodist 
Church by which she was regarded as a venerable mother and held in 
high esteem. 


The Swedish Methodist flock of Andover increased rapidly, num- 
bering in 1850 no less than 74 members, mostly residents of that place. 
A church edifice was begun and almost completed in 1854 and the 
following year the parsonage was erected. In August, 1855, the first 
Swedish Methodist camp meeting held in this country took place here. 
Two years later Rev. Hedstrom, at the annual camp meeting in 
Andover, preached his farewell sermon to his Methodist brethren, it 
being probably the most stirring address ever made by that fiery leader 
and organizer: During this early period the Andover minister had 
pastoral charge of eight other places, namely, Rock Island, Moline, 
Berlin (now Swedona), Hickory Grove (now Ophiem), LaGrange (now 
Orion), Geneseo, Pope Creek (now Ontario) and New Boston. In 1862 
Moline was made a separate charge, as was Swedona in 1864. In 1905 
the Andover church numbered 117 members. 

The Galesburg' Church 

The third oldest Swedish Methodist congregation is that of Gales- 
burg. As early as 1848 Rev. Hedstrom began his visits there and in 
September the following year he organized a church, despite 
religious indifference on the one hand and direct opposition on the 
other. Its first members were, Linde, a shoemaker, and his wife, 
Erik Grip and wife, Gustaf Berglund and wife, Mrs. Thorsell, widow 
of a shoemaker, Christina Muhr, married later to A. Cassel of Wataga, 
Nils Hedstrom and wife, besides others. The opposition grew still 
more bitter when half a year later a Swedish Lutheran church also was 
organized in Galesburg. In the spring of 1852, a powerful Baptist 
movement arose to shake the little Methodist church in its very 
foundations. Several of its members were re-baptized. Even its young 
pastor, Rev. A. G. Swedberg, was converted to Baptism and took the 
sacrament of immersion. This movement, however, was of short dura- 
tion and so superficial that several of the converts soon returned to 
their former church. 

In spite of continued opposition both from Swedes and Americans 
the latter being chiefly the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists, 
who thought their own churches sufficient for the needs of the com- 
munity the struggling little church continued to grow, making a 
house of worship a necessity. In 1850 a subscription was started for 
that purpose. Jonas Hedstrom 's most formidable opponent was 
Jonathan Blanchard, president of Knox College. Through his influence, 
it was said, many Americans withdrew their subscriptions to the 
Swedish Methodist church building fund. As a side light on Hed- 
strom 's character the following instance may be quoted. During a hot 


set-to between Blanchard and Hedstrom, the latter is reported to have 
said to his opponent, "Do you see the sun in the heavens? You might 
as well try to stop him in his course as to attempt to shut the Methodists 
out of Galesburg. We have come here to stay." 

The Swedish Methodists could not be made to abandon their plan 
to build a church. At the suggestion of some of the leading men in 
the American Methodist Church, which was not much larger than the 
Swedish one, it was decided in the fall of 1851 that the two congrega- 
tions should erect a common edifice, in which both should worship in 
turn, according to specific agreement, so that on the days when the 
Americans held their services in the morning, the Swedes were to hold 
theirs in the afternoon or evening, and vice versa. The edifice was 
built and dedicated the following year. It was a light and cheerful 
sanctuary, with a seating capacity of about 200. Great was the joy 
of the Swedes over the new house of worship, which they justly con- 
sidered theirs in part. But their joy was soon spoiled. Some sharp 
individual among the members of the American congregation soon 
made the "discovery" that, according to the wording of the papers, 
the Swedish people legally had no claim to ownership whatever. This 
caused much friction, and at a subsequent meeting of the trustees, two 
of whom were Swedes and three Americans, it was resolved, in the 
presence of Hedstrom, and over the vigorous protests of himself and 
the Swedish trustees, that the church was the exclusive property of the 
American Methodist congregation, and that the Swedes had no more 
property right in it than any other people who, by subscription or other 
efforts, had assisted in its erection. By that decision the Swedish con- 
gregation was ousted and again stood without a church home. 

This misfortune befell the church at the time when its pastor, 
Rev. Swedberg, and about half of its membership, twelve to fifteen 
young and energetic persons, deserted the flock and joined the Baptists. 
The remaining ones, however, continued the work, hoping for better 
days to dawn, and their hopes were not in vain. New members were 
added, and nearly all of the deserters returned to the fold. In the 
surrounding country missionary work was begun in the years 1855-7 at 
the following points, Knoxville, Wataga, Abingdon, Monmouth and 
Oquawka. Late in the year 1856 a small church was erected which 
was dedicated New Year's Day, 1857. That same year the congregation 
was made independent, then numbering 69 members. In 1863 the little 
church building was moved to a larger lot in a more desirable location, 
and two years later an addition was built at a cost of a little over 
$1,300. In 1872 the present large and imposing edifice was erected at 
a cost of $18.000. In the middle sixties an independent church was 



formed at Wataga, decreasing the membership by fifty. In 1905 the 
Galesburg church had a total membership of 300. 

Operations in Moline and RocH. Island 

Swedish immigration to Moline and Rock Island had scarcely 
begun when the wide-awake Rev. Hedstrom went there to preach to his 









countrymen. The first man that took kindly to him was Olaus Bengts- 
son, one of Moline 's Swedish pioneers. Rev. Hedstrom lived in his 
house whenever he visited Moline, and in that same house the Swedish 


Methodist Church was organized, presumably in September, 1849, and 
held its meetings there during the first ten years of its existence. Only 
seven persons joined the church at its organization, these being Olaus 
Bengtsson and his wife, three other persons in Moline and two from 
Kock Island. During the first few years the growth was very slow, 
the total number of members in 1855 being only 18 or 20, and three 
years later showing only a slight increase over that figure. The chief 
reason for this slow progress lay in the energetic work done by th6 
newly arrived Swedish Lutheran pastor, Rev. 0. C. T. Andren, causing 
the majority of immigrants with religious interests to join his church. 
In 1859-61, after immigrants had arrived in great numbers, things 
began to look brighter for the Methodists in M61ine, their services 
were better attended, and in 1860 they could dedicate a little church 
which had just been erected. 

In 1862 the Moline Swedish Methodists were organized into a 
separate congregation, independent of the Andover church, and with 
a pastor of their own. The subsequent year, Moline was combined 
with Swedona,and in 1867 Geneseo was also added to the circuit, a small 
congregation having been organized in the latter place in 1864 and a 
little church erected. In 1871 the Moline congregation sold its church 
building, which was now inadequate, and purchased from an American 
congregation a larger building which was moved to a new location, 
where it was used until 1889, the year of the erection of the present still 
more commodious temple of worship. In 1871 a parsonage was built 
which four years later was rebuilt and enlarged. The total member- 
ship in 1905 reached 202. 

During the years 1852-5 there existed in Rock Island a small but 
vigorous congregation of Swedish Methodists, consisting largely of 
girls in the employ of American families, but soon most of these girls 
left the city, almost depleting the church as early as 1856. In 1854 this 
congregation is said to have owned a small church building which 
seems to have been disposed of long ago. 

The Chicago Field 

Swedish Methodism in Chicago dates back to 1852. In the fall of 
that year Rev. 0. G. Hedstrom of New York visited that city on his 
way to his brother in Victoria. Here he had an opportunity to preach 
for several successive days in the Norwegian, subsequently Swedish 
Lutheran church on Superior street. Large crowds went to hear him, 
and Hedstrom is said to have preached with such power that " there 
was weeping throughout the church, from the pulpit down to the last 
pew." In December, on his return to New York, he again visited 


Chicago, accompanied by his brother Jonas. Here they stopped a 
couple of weeks. The Superior street church being now closed to them, 
they conducted their meetings in the Bethel Chapel, or Seamen's Mis- 
sion, on Wells street, between Michigan and Illinois streets, and here, 
in December, 1852, the foundation was laid for a Swedish, or rather 
Scandinavian, Methodist church in Chicago. There is no doubt that 
this work tended to hurry the organization of the Swedish Lutheran 
Immanuel Church of Chicago, which took place in January, 1853. Rev. 
Jonas Hedstrom remained in the city a few days after his brother had 
left for New York, in order to encourage the little flock, and give it a 
good start, services doubtless well needed in a congregation made up 
of many heterogeneous elements. The membership at the beginning 
is said to have reached 75, but hardly had Jonas Hedstrom left the city 
before more than two-thirds of these deserted and joined the Swedish 
Lutheran Church just then in process of organization. A mere handful 
of them remained in the Methodist fold. 

In order to save the wreckage, Rev. 0. G. Hedstrom, shortly after 
his return to New York, sent his assistant, S. B. Newman, to Chicago. 
His task consisted in gathering the remnant of the church and, with 
that as a nucleus, form a practically new congregation. In the latter 
part of January, Rev. Jonas Hedstrom returned from Victoria, 
and the two worked so earnestly that in February the number of new 
members received on probation reached 65. In September of the same 
year this number had grown to 123, this, however, including a few in 
St. Charles, 111., and about 30 in Poolsville, Ind., where a church had 
been organized in August. 

Captain Charles Magnus Lindg'ren 

Among those joining the congregation that year was C. M. Lind- 
gren, a sea captain, who almost immediately became one of the chief 
supports of Swedish Methodism in Chicago. Lindgren Avas born in 
Dragsmark, Bohuslan, Nov. 28, 1819, went to sea at the age of 14, and 
sailed until 1849, when he went to California, remaining there for three 
years, first as a goldwasher and later engaged in the freight traffic. 
In the spring of 1852 he returned to his native land, was there married 
to Johanna Andersson, returned to America in September and arrived 
in Chicago in November of the same year. Here he opened a livery 
stable on Illinois street, but. finding this unprofitable, entered into a 
railway project together with the Erik Janssonists of Bishop Hill and 
settled in 1854 at Toulon. Henry county, a few miles from Galva. In 
the spring of 1856 he came back to Chicago, bought a couple of freight 
vessels and contracted with a lumber company for shipping lumber 


from Michigan to Chicago. At first this proved exceedingly profit- 
able, but suddenly the company failed, involving Lindgren in heavy 
losses.- Subsequently he removed to Montgomery, a small town on the 
Burlington railroad, about fifty miles from Chicago, where he set up as 
a manufacturer of machinery, but soon failed. In the fall of I860 he 
again came to Chicago and engaged in shipping, first with a good-sized 
freighter with which he succeeded so well that he was soon able to 


Capt. Charles Magnus Lindgren 

exchange it for a still larger vessel. Fortune now steadily favored 
him, and he gradually added vessel after vessel until in 1870 he owned 
half a dozen ships with a combined tonnage of 4,500. Several of these 
were among the largest in the lake trade at that time. The following 
year he had three more large freighters built at Manitowoc, Wis., one 
of which was named "Christina Nilsson," after the great Swedish 
singer who visited America that year. 

Failing health in 1877 compelled his retirement from business. 
That summer he took a trip to the old country. His condition, however. 


grew worse and on September 1, 1879, he died at his home in Evanston, 
aged 60 years. 

Captain Lindgren was a man of extraordinary activity and a kind 
and philanthropic man withal, who did much for his less fortunate 
fellow countrymen. His wife was equally kind-hearted. Lindgren was 
particularly liberal toward the struggling little Swedish Methodist 
Church in Chicago. Without his aid it would not have accomplished 
what it did. When in later years the Swedish Methodist Theological 
Seminary was founded here, Lindgren contributed generously toward 
its erection and maintenance. 

In the spring of 1854 the young Methodist congregation decided 
to build a church of their own. During the summer Rev. Newman 
made a trip to his former field of labor in the South to solicit funds for 
that purpose, and met with great success. The edifice, which was 
erected on Illinois street, near Market, was completed in the fall and 
dedicated in October or November, by Rev. O. G. Hedstrom. The back 
part of the structure constituted the parsonage. 

In those days it was a common occurrence that the meetings of the 
Swedish Methodists in Chicago and elsewhere were disturbed by 
drunken rowdies. Frequently the preacher would be interrupted in 
the midst of his discourse by hideous yells or by the hurling of stones 
or other missiles, aimed at the speaker, through the windows. After 
services, crowds of hoodlums would gather outside the sanctuary, 
jeering and molesting the worshipers as they were coming out. Time 
and again, these people, both ministers and laymen, were the objects 
not only of threats, but of open attacks. The aforesaid Captain Lind- 
gren, who was a man possessed of both courage and physical strength, 
was often obliged to act as a sort of special policeman at the meetings. 
On one occasion, when he undertook to escort the leader of a gang of 
disturbers out of the church, the culprit drew a knife, seriously wound- 
ing Captain Lindgren. This brutal crime, committed in the house of 
God, was brought to trial and the perpetrator was severely punished, 
while several other disturbers were arrested and fined. This example 
had a wholesome effect, disturbances became less frequent, and soon 
the Swedish Methodists were permitted to worship unmolested. 

The summer of 1854, when the cholera broke out in Chicago, was 
fraught with many trials for Rev. Newman and his flock. The noble 
work of relief accomplished by Newman and other Swedish pastors of 
Chicago is recounted elsewhere in these pages. About this time, also, 
his field was widened by work being begun in Beaver, St. Charles and 
Rockford, 111., and at Attica, LaFayette, LaPorte and other points in 

In September, 1855, Newman returned to his former place in New 



York as assistant to Rev. O. G. Hedstrom, Rev. Erik Shogren succeeding 
him in Chicago, where he labored for four years, until 1859, when he, 
in turn, was succeeded by Jakob Bredberg. At this time two young 
and gifted men, A. J. Anderson and N. O. Westergreen, joined the 
church, both of whom in later years became prominent clergymen in 
the Swedish Methodist Church. 

Rev. Jacob Bredberg' 

The aforesaid Jakob Bredberg was in some respects one of the 
notable men in the Swedish Methodist clergy. He was born in the city 
of Alingsas, Sweden, May 1, 1808, completed his college course at 
twenty-one and was ordained minister in 1832. Having served for 
twenty years as curate in Sweden, he emigrated in 1853. Like his 
former colleague, Rev. C. P. Agrelius, a few years earlier, Bredberg 
became acquainted with Rev. Hedstrom in New York and joined the 
Methodists, was subsequently in charge of the Swedish Methodist 
Church at Jamestown, N. Y., for four years, until 1859, when he came to 
Chicago. During his first year here the work progressed nicely, Rev. 
Bredberg 's eloquence and his reputation for great learning attracting 
good audiences. But the second year marked a complete change. Then 
it was discovered that he was indifferent to the interests of his church 
even to the extent of planning to leave the Methodists and join another 
denomination. This lost him the confidence of the parishioners and 
caused a falling off in attendance and a gloomy outlook generally. In the 
fall of 1861 the anticipated flop took place, when Bredberg went over 
to the Episcopalians and became pastor of the St. Ansgarius Church in 
Chicago, occupying that pulpit until 1877, when old age and sickness 
compelled his retirement. Alongside of his pastoral work, Rev. Bred- 
berg engaged to some extent in literary pursuits, such as editing a 
Swedish Methodist hymnal, the contents of which were partly compiled, 
partly translated by him, and later translating the English Episcopal 
ritual and a number of English, French and Bohemian tracts into 

In the condition just described A. J. Anderson found the Swedish 
Methodist Church when he took charge of it in the fall of 1861. The 
church edifice was in so bad repair as to be almost condemnable. Sun- 
day school had been discontinued, class meetings, prayer meetings and 
the customary forms of Christian activity had been abandoned. 
Furthermore, the congregation was still heavily in debt from the time 
the church was built. Rev. Anderson succeeded, however, in putting 
new life into the work : the church was rebuilt in 1863. and through his 
efforts the membership increased by 160 in the period from 1861 to 1864 






making a total of 210. The Sunday school numbered 130 pupils and 
the church property, now free of debt, was valued at $8,000. 

During the following year, while Rev. Shogren was in charge, 
another hundred members were added, and the attendance at services 
was so great that the congregation had to choose between securing 
a larger house of worship or dividing into two flocks. They chose the 
latter alternative ; an American Methodist church on the west side was 
purchased and moved to the corner of Fourth and Sangamon streets, 
and thenceforth regular services were held also in this part of the city. 
This was in April, 1865. The next fall Shogren was succeeded by Rev. 
N. O. Westergreen, whose three years of service, 1865-8, were character- 
ized by steady progress. Up to 1867 Swedes and Norwegians had 
worshiped under one roof as members of the same church, but about 
that time it became apparent that it was better for all concerned that 
the Norwegians separated and formed a congregation of their own. 
This was done and the second church building was turned over to the 
Norwegians, most of whom were living on the west side. This marked 
the beginning of Norwegian Methodism in Chicago. 

During the years 1868 to 1870 Rev. Nils Peterson was pastor of the 
church. The congregation at that time purchased the lot at the corner 
of Market and Oak street where later its present church was built. 
Rev. Peterson was succeeded by Rev. A. J. Anderson, who labored here 
for three years up to 1873. In the great fire of 1871 the church on 
Illinois street was destroyed, as were the other Swedish churches of the 
city. This disaster was the turning-point in the history of the Swedish 
Methodists of Chicago. For a time they held their services in the newly 
built Norwegian Methodist church on Indiana street. But after the 
fire the influx of Swedes to the west side increased, and for that reason 
it was found expedient also to make it the religious center. In pur- 
suance of this purpose the lot on Illinois street was traded for one on 
May street, where the present Swedish Methodist church on the west 
side was then erected. A small dwelling-house situated on the lot was 
remodeled into a parsonage. The basement of the church was finished 
in 1872 and the entire edifice was not completed until 1878. 

On the north side a temporary chapel was built simultaneously. In 
the summer of 1875 it was removed to make room for the Swedish 
Methodist church, which was not completed until 1879, during the 
incumbency of Rev. D. S. Sorlin, when a parsonage also was built. 
From 1873 to 1875 its pastor was Rev. E. Shogren, assisted by Rev. 
Alfred Anderson, and in 1875-6 Rev. N. 0. Westergreen was in charge. 
Although there was a church on the west side, Swedish Methodists 
living there still belonged to the north side church until 1875, when a 
formal division of the congregation took place and the westsiders 



formed a separate church and received their own pastor, Rev. D. S. 
Sorlin, the following year. In 1876 Rev. Witting, just returned from 
Sweden, was assigned to the north side church, serving it for one year. 
On the south side work was begun by the Swedish Methodists about 
this time, resulting in the organization of a congregation in 1876, with 
Rev. Fredrik Ahgren as its first pastor. The progress of these churches 
up to the present time can only be indicated here by means of the 
following statistics of membership for the year 1905, to-wit : the First 
Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church 425, the west side church 168 and 
the south side church 200. 

The Beaver Settlement 

About 75 miles southeast from Chicago, in Iroquois county, a 
Swedish settlement, named Beaver, was founded in 1853. There a 
Swedish Methodist church was started May 4, 1854, with nine members. 
The next year the missions in Indiana were organized into a separate 
circuit, comprising Attica, Poolsville, LaFayette, Yorktown and Buena 
Vista, with Attica as the headquarters. To this circuit Beaver was now 
added. In 1863 the congregation in Attica disbanded, the church was 
sold, work ceased entirely and the pastor removed to Beaver, which 
thus became the principal missionary station of the circuit. A church 
had been built there in 1860. Work at this point grew still more 
difficult when in 1870 a Swedish Lutheran congregation was founded 
there, its church edifice and parsonage being built the following year. 
The Lutherans, however, had little success owing to the fact that their 
members arrived later to Beaver and consequently had to settle on 
poorer land, where they hardly could make their living. Therefore they 
had to sell their farms and move to other parts of the country, their 
number was gradually decimated, the pastor left and finally the church 
closed its doors. The field was thus abandoned to the Methodists, who 
have worked persistently with the result that the Beaver church is now 
one of their best country congregations. A new church was erected 
there in 1890, the parsonage has been rebuilt since 1877, and in 1905 
the congregation had a total of 165 members. 

Methodist WorK in RocKford 

Methodism was first preached to the Swedes of Rockford in 1854, 
doubtless in the month of February, by Rev. S. B. Newman, who went 
there on a visit to the parents of Rev. N. 0. Westergreen, they having 
moved there from Chicago. A class was started, in charge of the elder 
Westergreen. Early in 1855 the younger Westergreen, at the sugges- 
tion of Rev. Newman, began preaching, continuing until the following 



spring, when the family removed to Evanston in order to give the son 
an opportunity to study. In May he visited Eockford only to find 
the class dissolved, and when Rev. E. Shoerren visited the city in 1856 

The Swedish M. E. Church in Rockford 

the outlook for Swedish Methodism in Rockford was still very dark. 
No further visits were made by Methodist clergymen until the year 
1859, when Westergreen again came there. The year after, Rockford 
had visits from Revs. Challman and Erik Carlson. At that year's 
conference it was resolved to begin operations in Rockford with Victor 



Witting in charge. A little old church owned by the American Pres- 
byterians was rented for the meetings and in October that year Witting 
began preaching there, at first to audiences of four or five persons, but 
the attendance steadily increased. Wednesday, Jan. 30, 1861, a congre- 
gation with a membership of 12 was organized. Prejudices and active 
opposition for a time deterred the growth of the church, but when at 
length the ice was broken more rapid progress was made. A year later, 
when Rev. Witting began to issue his paper " Sandebudet, " there was 
renewed opposition, but he was not the man to give up in dismay. He 
stuck to his post of duty, and in 1863 the congregation was able to 
purchase the little church they had hitherto hired, and renovate it, all 
without incurring any considerable debt. That year the congregation 
had 43 members; its pastor was Rev. Albert Ericson, who was also 
assistant editor of ' ' Sandebudet. " The following year N. N. Hill, a 
local preacher, was in charge. When he resigned in 1865 and was 
succeeded by P. Newberg the membership had decreased to 40. Sub- 
sequently the church was served for two years, 1866-8, by two local 
preachers, August Westergreen and Oscar Sjogren, each for one year. 
Meanwhile the membership grew to 68. The last-named year the con- 
gregation purchased a lot in a good location on First avenue to which 
the church was moved. 

Rev. 0. Gunderson \vas in charge of the church during the years 
1868-71, when there was an increase of thirty members. After Gunder- 
son there was the following succession of ministers: John Linn, 1871-2; 
A. T. Westergreen, 1872-3; S. B. Newman, 1873-5, and John Wigren, 
1875-7. During Rev. Wigren 's incumbency the old church, being found 
inadequate, was replaced in 1877 by a new and larger one. At the 
conference that year the congregation reported a total of 165 members. 
In 1905 this church, which at certain periods has been one of the largest 
in the denomination, numbered 210 members. 

Tine Swedona and Bishop Hill Churches 

A Swedish Methodist society, or congregation, was founded in 
Swedona in 1857, being made up partly of members of the Andover 
church. An edifice was erected and dedicated in the period of 1859-61, 
and in 1864 a parsonage was built, this being moved and remodeled in 
1874. In 1863 the Swedona church was made entirely independent of 
the Andover circuit, its membership being then about 50. This church, 
which embraces also the Swedish Methodists of New Windsor, in 1905 
had 36 members. 

The Bishop Hill congregation is also numbered among the oldest 
of the Swedish Methodist churches. It had its inception in the summer 



of 1860 when A. J. Anderson was asked by Jonas Olson to come .and 
preach in the old colony church. While in Andover, Anderson made 
regular visits to Bishop Hill. When and by whom the church was 
organized is not known. It figures in the list of assignments for the 
first time in the year 1863, apparently having been started that year 
by Rev. Peter Challman. In 1865 the so-called "Smedjevinden" 
(Blacksmith's attic) was purchased and turned into a meeting hall. 
Three years afterward, quite a large church was erected, as also a 

The Swedish M. E. Church in Bishop Hill 

Several of th'e former leaders of the Erik Janssonists about this 
time joined the Methodists. Galva and Kewanee, both belonging to 
the Bishop Hill circuit, were separated in 1860 and given their own 
pastors. In 1905 the Bishop Hill church numbered 124 members. 

Eminent WorKers and Leaders Rev. Anders Johan Anderson 

One of the pioneers of Swedish Methodism was Anders Johan 
Anderson. He was born in Quenneberga, Smaland, June 9, 1833, the 
younger of two brothers. The elder was Carl Anderson, who became 
known over a large part of Sweden as a prominent lay preacher. 
Having obtained an elementary education, A. J. Anderson emigrated 
to America in 1854, at the age of twenty-one. Landing in Quebec, he 
came on to Chicago, where he was employed for some months in a drug 
store. Toward winter he went south, remaining in New Orleans until 
spring, when he returned to Chicago. Here he obtained lodging with 



a family of Methodists who induced him to attend their church on 
Illinois street. There he made the acquaintance, first of Rev. S. B. 
Newman, and later of Rev. Erik Shogren. After attending services 
for a time, Anderson, in the spring of 1856, joined the church. 

He possessed natural talents of a high order, and these, coupled 
with his newly awakened interest in religious matters, soon attracted 
the attention of his brethren in the faith, who called him to important 
positions in the church. Thus he became, in rapid succession, class 
leader, local preacher, Sunday school teacher and leader of the church 

Rev. A. J. Anderson 

choir. He preached his first sermon in July, 1856, at a camp meeting 
in Forest Glen. In 1857, on the advice of Rev. Shogren and after a 
lengthy consultation with Jonas Hedstrom, the Methodist patriarch, 
Anderson resolved to enter the ministry. 

His first pastoral charge was at Galesburg, where he labored for 
two years, till 1859, his subsequent assignments being as follows: 
Andover, 1859-61; Chicago, 1861-4; Galesburg, 1864-6; Bishop Hill, 


1866-70; Chicago, 1870-73; presiding elder of the Swedish district of 
the Central Illinois Conference, 1873-7 ; Chicago, 1877-9 ; Andover, 
1879-80; Immanuel Church of Brooklyn, N. Y., 1880-93; Lake View, 
Chicago, 1893-7; presiding elder of the Chicago district, 1897-1902. 
He died in this city Dec. 19, 1902. 

Anderson was a talented preacher, a successful pastor and a man 
of unusual executive ability. This latter gift was especially valuable 
to him during his first and second term of service in Chicago. He was, 
furthermore, a clear-sighted and experienced church leader, whom his 
brethren in the work regarded with love and confidence. Few of the 
Swedish Methodist clergymen in this country can look back on so long 
and so successful a career as that of Rev. Anderson. His memory will 
long be cherished among the people whom he so devotedly served. 
When he was pastor of the church at Lake View, Chicago, he was 
offered the honorary degree of D. D. from a German Methodist college 
at St. Paul, Minn., a courtesy which he politely declined. 

Rev. JoKn Wig'ren 

John Wigren, another prominent Swedish Methodist pioneer 
preacher, was born in Grenna parish, Smaland, Oct. 1, 1826. He left his 
childhood home at the age of seventeen to serve a mason's apprentice- 
ship. After seven years, he received his master mason 's certificate from 
the Grenna council. June 19, 1852, he emigrated to America with his 
wife and two children, reaching New York Aug. 27th. On the day of 
his arrival he visited the Bethel mission ship and was converted then 
and there. From New York he went to La Fayette, Ind., to rejoin some 
acquaintances from his youth. After a^short stay here and in Pools- 
ville, he removed to Attica in the spring of 1853 and joined the Swedish 
Methodist church that was organized there in August of that year by 
Rev. Newman. 

Wigren at once became a zealous church worker, doing everything 
in his power for the upbuilding of the congregation. In 1885 he was 
appointed class leader, in 1856 exhorter and in 1857 local preacher. 
The pastor in charge being unable to visit the place more than every 
third Sunday, it devolved upon Wigren to conduct most of the services. 
With this he continued for five years, or until 1863, when he abandoned 
his trade to devote himself exclusively to the service of the church. He 
was then assigned to the Beaver- Yorktown circuit, which he served for 
two years. Soon after his arrival he set to work to have a parsonage 
built at Beaver. 

At the conference in 1865, he was ordained deacon, a year later he 
was received on probation into the Central Illinois Conference, and in 
1868 he was ordained elder. His subsequent assignments were : Swedona- 



Moline, 1865-6; Swedona alone, 1866-7; Andover-Swedona, 1867-9; 
Andover alone, 1869-71 ; Moline-Geneseo, 1871-3 ; Swedona 1873-5 ; May 
street church in Chicago, also presiding elder of the Chicago district, 
1878-81; south side church in Chicago, 1881-2; Bishop Hill, 1882-5; 
presiding elder of the Biirlington district of Iowa, 1885-7, and of the 
Chicago district, 1887-91; Lake View, 1891-3; Forest Glen, 1893-4; 
Aurora, 1894-7, and La Grange, 1897-9, after which he retired from 
active work in the ministry. 

Rev. John Wigren 

In his prime, Wigren was a very practical man, whose energies 
were especially directed toward the building of churches and parson- 
ages and soliciting funds for various purposes. Under his direction the 
church in Rockford was built in 1877, the west side church in Chicago 
was completed in 1878-81, and the basement of the south side church 
was built in 1881-2. While he was stationed at Bishop Hill in 1882-5 
his executive talents again stood him in good stead when the camp 



meeting grounds at Hickory Grove, between Bishop Hill and Galva, 
were purchased. 

Rev. Wigren is, moreover, a successful evangelist and has 
added many new members to the churches he served. Being a man 
of good judgement and considerable business acumen, he was often put 
in charge of important undertakings and has always been a dominant 
figure at the conference meetings. He worked energetically from the 
very start in behalf of the theological seminary at Evanston and was 
for nineteen years a member of its board of trustees. Rev. Wigren is 
living in retirement in Chicago. Three of his sons have followed in his 

Elim Swedish M. E. Church, Lake View 

footsteps and devoted themselves to the ministry in the Swedish 
Methodist Church. 

Rev. N. O. Westerg'reen 

Another of the Swedish Methodist preachers to be numbered with 
the pioneers is N. 0. Westergreen. He was born in Bjararyd, Blekinge. 
Sweden, July 25, 1834. Together with his parents and four brothers 
he came to the United States Sept. 29, 1852. The parents and two of 
his younger brothers proceeded to Chicago, while he and his two elder 
brothers remained in the East. The first winter he lived with an 
American family named Washburn, at Minot, Me., where he attended 
district school. After spending the spring and summer in Boston he 
came to Chicago in November, 1853. Here he met Rev. Newman, 
through whose influence he was converted about Christmas time and 
embraced the Methodist faith. 



Not long afterward Westergreen together with his parents removed 
to Rockford. He now experienced a desire to enter the ministry, and 
an opportunity to preach was offered when Rev. Newman, who had 

Rev. N. O. Westergreen 

begun the work in Rockford, appointed him leader of the meetings. He 
preached his first sermon in February, 1855, in his parental home. In 
order to prepare himself for his calling he entered the Garrett Biblical 


Institute at Evanston the same year and was enrolled at Knox College, 
Galesburg, a year later. In 1859 Westergreen was assigned to the Vic- 
toria church. Thence he was sent to serve the Norwegian congregations 
in Leland and Norway, and in 1860 he was assigned to Beaver, 111., and 
Attica, Ind. After two years he went back to Leland, whence he was 
transferred in 1863 to the Galesburg church. This assignment suited 
him all the more as it made it possible for him again to take up studies 
at Knox College. After serving a year at Bishop Hill, Wataga and 
Kewanee he was in charge of the north side church in Chicago during 
the years 1865-8. 

The Old Swedish M. E. Tabernacle at Desplaines Camp Grove 

In 1870, when the projected theological school was ultimately estab- 
lished, Westergreen became its first teacher, meanwhile having charge 
of the church at Galesburg for four years. Having subsequently served 
as editor of ' ' Sandebudet ' ' for three years, Westergreen became pastor 
of the north side church of Chicago ; he was next stationed at Geneva 
and Batavia for one year, and at Moline for a like term, acting at the 
same time as presiding elder of the Galesburg district. From here he 
was sent to the Fifth avenue church in Chicago, where he remained for 
three years. After four years ' service as presiding elder of the Chicago 
district, he was pastor of the Evanston church for a like period, of the 
Fifth avenue church one year, at Humboldt Park two years, at More- 
land, Melrose and Oak Park one year and at Ravenswood one year. In 
1895, at his own request, Westergreen was declared superannuated, 
but still continued to serve the small congregations at Waukegan and 
Lake Forest, and acted as teacher at the theological seminary during 
the school year 1896-7. 



Westergreen enjoys the reputation of being a profound thinker 
and a good speaker. He is well versed, especially in the subjects of 
theology and church history. As a champion of Methodism among the 

Rev. Albert Ericson 

Swedish-Americans he has exerted a powerful influence. His ability 
as scholar and preacher has been recognized by a Methodist institution 
of learning, which some years ago gave him the degree of D. D. 


Rev. Albert ILricson. 

The fourth of this group of eminent Swedish Methodist workers 
is Albert Ericson, a distinguished preached and educator, a biograph- 
ical sketch of whom is found elsewhere in this work. He began preach- 
ing shortly after his coming to the United States in 1857. After having 
served as editor of "Sandebudet", the mouthpiece of the denomination, 
for two years, Ericson was called in 1866 as teacher of Swedish in the 
proposed theological seminary and went abroad to prepare himself for 
this work. Finding upon his return that the school was not yet opened, 
he again assumed the editorship of the official church paper. After 
laboring as a preacher in the eastern field for some ten years he was 
called to the presidency of the Swedish Theological Seminary in Evans- 
ton. In this responsible position, held by him for a quarter of a 
century, he continues to render efficient service to his church and to 
wield great influence in the training of its teachers. 

The Swedish Theological Seminary 

As early as 1865, a year before the Methodist Episcopal Church of 
America celebrated its one hundredth anniversary, steps w r ere taken 
toward the establishment of a divinity school for the Scandinavian 
element of the denomination. The initiative was taken by Eev. Victor 
Witting. In October of that year a general convention of all Scandi- 
navian Methodist preachers and a number of laymen was held to discuss 
the matter. The meeting resolved that a Scandinavian seminary be 
founded at the earliest possible time. Rev. Witting and other pastors 
were appointed as solicitors of funds, and teachers were designated. 
The project met with favor everywhere and a considerable amount was 
subscribed. When Witting, who was the soul of the movement, was 
sent to Sweden, the work lagged, and more than half of the amount 
promised was lost through negligence in making collections. 

Ere long it proved impracticable to carry out the original plan 
of a common institution for all Scandinavian Methodists. A separation 
between the Swedish and Norwegian brethren followed, each group 
continuing to carry forward its plans, after an equal division of the 
existing funds had been made. The split delayed the establishment of 
a Swedish seminary until 1870, Avhen it was finally founded at Gales- 
burg. On Feb. 28th of that year it opened with two students and Eev. 
N. 0. Westergreen as teacher. During the entire first year the attend- 
ance stopped at a total of four. The upper story of a private house, 
belonging to one Peter Hillgren, was at first used for studies and 
recitation rooms. From there the school moved into another private 
house and then occupied rooms on the second floor in the private 





residence of Rev. Westergreen. Not more than a dozen persons availed 
themselves of the instruction given while the school was in Galesburg, 
but this number includes not a few of the leading members of the 
Swedish Methodist clergy. From that time the school has had a per- 
manent existence, although the location has varied. In 1872 it was 
removed from Galesburg to Galva, and Westergreen was succeeded by 
Rev. C. A. Wiren. Three years afterward, in 1875, the institution was 
located in Evanston, in organic connection with the Northwestern 
University. At this time Dr. William Henschen was placed at its head, 
a position retained by him until the close of the school year in the 
spring of 1883. Part of this time the first class had been maintained 
and taught partly at Galva, partly in St. Paul and Minneapolis, 
Fredrick Ahlgren acting as teacher at the former place in 1877-9, and 
J. 0. Nelson at the latter in 1879-82. After that the institution was 
consolidated at Evanston, with Prof. Albert Ericson at the head. He 
was the sole teacher up to 1889, when C. G. Wallenius was elected 
assistant professor. He resigned in 1896, and was succeeded by 
Westergreen, but returned to the position after an interval of three 
years, and remained with the institution until 1906. 

Many of the students of the seminary have availed themselves of 
its connection with the university to take special courses in its various 
departments, a number graduating from the college. From 1886 a 
special teacher of English has been a member of the seminary faculty. 

The control of the institution is vested in a board of nine directors, 
five clergymen and four laymen, representing the Central, the Western, 
the Northern and the Eastern Swedish Methodist Conferences. 

The institution was started on a fund of $4,000, which has since 
grown to $45,000. This does not include the sum of about $8,000 
expended on the building erected in 1883 on ground owned by the 
university. This building was a three story structure, containing recita- 
tion rooms, dining room, kitchen and 16 living-rooms for students. The 
money expended on the building was raised chiefly through the efforts 
of Rev. Charles G. Nelson. 

Recently a more commodious building has been erected at a cost 
of $35,000, the dedication of which on Sept. 21, 1907, marked a great 
stride in the progress of the institution. The new building is located at 
Orrington avenue and Lincoln street; on a campus, 246 feet front by 
211 deep, costing $12,000. The present valuation on the seminary 
property is $47,000, on which rests a debt of about $14,000. 

The Bethany Home 

The question of establishing a Swedish Methodist home for the 
aged in Chicago was first broached at the annual meeting of the minis- 
terial association of the Chicago district, held at Donovan, 111., in 1889. 



A committee appointed to present plans for such an institution included 
Mr. John R. Lindgren, the banker. At a subsequent meeting, held New 
Year's Day, 1890, he gave a promise of $5,000 to the proposed home, 
conditioned on the raising of a like amount. Rev. Alfred Anderson set 
to work soliciting donations, and when through his efforts the con- 
dition had been fully met, Mr. Lindgren promised another substantial 
donation on the same terms. 

With such a lift at the start, it was comparatively easy to acquire 
the funds needed for the early realization of the plan. In February, 
1891, a house in south Evanston was rented and on the 3rd of March 
following the home was formally opened. In August of the same year 
ground was purchased in the Ravenswood district, Chicago, for the sum 

The Bethany Home, Chicago 

of $13,000. A building was erected thereon, at a cost of nearly $15,000. 
Upon its completion, the temporary quarters were abandoned and the 
wards transferred to the new building. This contained mainly living- 
rooms for the aged, but two rooms were set aside for the accommodation 
and care of the sick, and two physicians and a trained nurse were 
engaged. In this way charity was extended in the form of medical 
attendance free of cost, wholly or in part, until the entire building was 


needed for its original purpose, when the hospital department was dis- 

In the year 1896 a six-flat building was erected on the grounds, the 
rental of which goes toward the maintenance of the home. This was 
ready for occupancy in April, 1897, and has since yielded the institution 
a handsome steady income, supplemented by gifts and contributions 
from churches, societies and individuals, and an annual offering in the 
churches on Thanksgivings Day. Applicants for admission have paid in 
various sums, varying from $50 to $500 a person, no specified fee being 

The affairs of the Bethany Home are in the hands of a board of 
trustees, with Rev. Alfred Anderson as president and Rev. John Bendix 
as financial agent, the latter having filled that position for the past 
eleven years. The institution, now free of debt, owns property valued 
at $75,000. 

At the close of the year 1907 the number of inmates of the home 
was thirty. The total number of persons cared for since the opening 
was 179, of whom 41 have passed away. 

GrowtH of Swedish Methodism 

In 1875 Swedish Methodism in the West had grown to such an 
extent that its ministers, with two or three exceptions, all deemed it 
not only desirable but absolutely necessary to hold a Swedish confer- 
ence comprising all the Swedish Methodist congregations in the states 
of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin 
and Michigan, and to this end a petition was submitted at the Gen' ^al 
Conference which convened at Baltimore in May, 1876. The petition 
was granted, and Sept. 6th the following year Bishop Jesse T. Peck 
organized in Galesburg. the Swedish Northwestern Conference. From 
its inception the conference embraced three districts, those of Gales- 
burg, Iowa and Minnesota, with a total of 36 ministers, 39 pastorates, 
4.105 members, 44 church edifices, valued at $121,750, and 22 parson- 
ages, at $19,225. 

In 1893, after 16 years of progress, there were five districts in all, 
viz., Chicago, Burlington, Kansas, Nebraska, St. Paul and Superior, 
with 85 ministers, 105 pastorates, 9,800 members, 131 church edifices 
and 61 parsonages, with a total property value of $564,880. After 
three years of preparation, the Northwestern Conference at a meeting 
in G-alesburg was divided into three conferences, the Central, the 
Western and the Northern Swedish conferences. The Central Confer- 
ence included Illinois, Indiana. Ohio, western New York, western 
Pennsylvania, and the city of Racine, Wis. It was divided into three 




p Q .^ i_ O 

- 3 

a 2 5 




I ? 




districts, Chicago, Galesburg and Jamestown, numbering altogether 
43 ministers, 43 pastorates, 5,321 members, 47 church buildings and 
22 parsonages. 

The Western Conference embraced Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and 
Nebraska and was divided into two districts, Iowa and Kansas- 
Nebraska, with a total of 27 pastors, 29 pastorates, 2,299 members, with 
39 church edifices and 19 parsonages, worth altogether $100,500. 

The Northern Conference comprised Minnesota and Wisconsin, 
with the exception of the city of Racine, and the northern peninsula 
of Michigan. The following year, this conference was organized into 
three districts, Lake Superior, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and had at 
that time 32 ministers, 39 pastorates, 2,634 members, 52 church build- 

Swedish Methodist Tabernacle at Desplaines, 
Dedicated 1907 

ings and 23 parsonages. At the seventh annual meeting of the con- 
ference in Calumet, Mich., in 1900, it was reorganized into a regular 
annual conference called the Northern Swedish Conference. In 1903 it 
numbered 30 ministers, 43 pastorates, 2.906 members, 64 church build- 
ings and 40 parsonages. 

The Swedish Methodist work in the East is of a more recent date 
than that in the West. With a couple of exceptions, the eastern 
congregations have all been organized later than 1878. Originally 
these belonged to the various American annual conferences, but in 1900 
they petitioned for permission to form a conference of their own. This 
being granted, the Eastern Swedish Conference was organized April 
24, 1901, at a meeting held in the Immanuel Church of Brooklyn, N. Y. 
The conference was divided into the four districts of Brooklyn, New 
York, Worcester and Boston, these embracing a membership of 3,642, 
with 26 ministers, 28 pastorates, 28 churches and 10 parsonages, the 
property being valued at $343.200. 



In Texas work was taken up among the Swedish people as early 
as 1873. At first this was carried on under the direction of the 
American Texas conference of the Southern M. E. Church, but in 1881 
a Swedish district was formed, as a part of the Austin Conference of 
the Northern M. E. Church. In 1903 this district had 10 ministers, 

10 pastorates, 572 members, 13 churches and 9 parsonages, the property 
being valued at $51,400. 

The Swedish Methodist work in California dates from the early 
seventies, but not until 1892 was a Swedish district formed. This 
numbered in 1903 seven congregations, .with 342 members, and had 7 
churches and 2 parsonages. The value of its church property was 

In the summer of 1881 the Swedish Methodists extended their 
endeavors to the states of Oregon and Washington, and in 1890 a 
Swedish district was formed, embracing these two states and Idaho. 
Its statistics in 1903 were as follows : 12 congregations, 395 members, 

11 church buildings and 8 parsonages. The total value of the church 
property was $39,935. 

Eliminating the Jamestown, N. Y., district from the Central Con- 
ference, its statistics will practically cover only the state of Illinois. 
The strength of the Swedish Methodists in the state will then appear 
from the following figures, compiled in 1907, covering the Chicago and 
Galesburg districts : regularly ordained ministers, 47 ; churches, 49 ; 
members, on probation, 383, in full connection, 5,222 ; church buildings, 
49, the estimated value of which was $372.200 ; parsonages, 27 ; estimated 
value. $102,000, making a total church property value of $474,000. 


The Swedish, Episcopal Church 

The First Swedish Episcopal Clergyman in the United States 

HE story of the founding of the Pine Lake settlement in 
Wisconsin, the first Swedish colony in the Northwest, by 
Gustaf Unonius, has been recounted in previous pages. 
In the history of the Swedish- Americans this man is re- 
markable also for being the first Swedish Episcopal 
clergyman in this country and the organizer of the first Swedish church 
of that denomination. This congregation was followed in later years 
by others, in various parts of the country. Although these do not, like 
those of the other Swedish denominations, have an organization of their 
own, but are merely part of the respective American bishoprics, yet 
they are not without influence on the religious development of the 
Swedish-Americans. That influence increases in direct ratio to the in- 
creasing number and size of the congregations, most of which up to the 
present time are few and comparatively small. 

Already during his pioneer days, Unonius, then a mere layman, 
acted as pastor for the surrounding community. Every Sunday he 
would conduct services in his rude dwelling, the order of service con- 
sisting of the singing of hymns and reading of a sermon from some 
postil brought over from the old country. These services gradually 
attracted the neighbors throughout the settlement, even those living at 
considerable distance, and in all their simplicity these hours of worship 
grew to be spiritual feasts to the settlers. In the meantime the Episco- 
pal Church had started a mission in the vicinity of the colony, where 
its ministers, at the invitation of the settlers, would administer the 
sacraments and perform other official acts. But since the English 
language was still incomprehensible to most of the settlers, who con- 
stantly required the services of Unonius as interpreter, they soon rec- 
ognized the demand for a man who could officiate in their own language 
and requested Unonius, in whom they had implicit confidence, to enter 
the ministry. He hesitated at first, but finding himself gradually drawn 
to the ministry and discovering his unfitness for the farmer's vocation, 


he finally gave way to their gentle persuasion and resolved to study for 
the priesthood. 

Of all the religious denominations with which the settlers had come 
in contact up to this time, they considered the Epicopalian the nearest 
approach to their own faith, both in the matter of creed and of polity. 
They therefore urged Unonius to seek ordination in that church, and 
he acceded to their wishes the more readily as he himself was convinced 
of the superiority of the Episcopalian over other churches. Entering 
the theological seminary just established by the Episcopalians at Nash- 
ota, Wis., he was after three years of study ordained in 1845 by Bishop 
Kemper and assigned as missionary to the Swedish and Norwegian 
immigrants in Pine Lake and vicinity. According to his own state- 
ment, Unonius was the first Episcopal clergyman ordained in Wis- 
consin. He soon discovered that the ministry also had its drawbacks. 
Things went fairly well so long as he was in the pay of the missionary 
board, but when he endeavored to form an organized congregation 
and asked its members to contribute regularly to the support of the 
minister, he was met with the reply that "in this country the gospel 
is free." 

Under such circumstances the ministry became a hard and dis- 
agreeable task, but undismayed he continued the work under great 
privations until he became pastor of a newly organized American 
church in Manitowoc, Wis., when his cares were somewhat lightened. 

The First Scandinavian Church in Chicago 

In the meantime, religious needs had begun to be felt among the 
few Swedes of Chicago, but at least for a time, these needs were only 
imperfectly supplied. As early as the fall of 1847, there appeared 
among them a certain Gustaf Smith who claimed to be a Lutheran 
minister but who seems to have been an adventurer and a mere im- 
poster. Nevertheless, he succeeded in gaining the confidence both of his 
own fellow countrymen and of the Norwegians of the city so as to be 
able to organize a congregation. A lot was purchased at Superior 
street, near La Salle avenue, on the spot where the Passavant Hospital 
is now located, and a small church building was begun, whereupon 
Smith, accompanied by one of the leading members of the church, went 
to St. Louis to solicit money for the building fund among the German 
Lutherans of that city. They succeeded well, bringing back no less 
than $600. The resultant joy soon turned to sorrow and regret when 
"Rev." Smith absconded with the greater part of the funds. About 
the same time another misfortune befell the congregation in that the 
still unfinished edifice was torn from its foundations by a storm and 



badly damaged. Worst of all, strife and dissension arose, which tore 
the congregation itself to pieces. 

Among the Norwegians of Chicago there were at this time several 
intelligent Christian men who had not been duped by Smith and his 
followers. These organized in the winter of 1848 the first Norwegian 
Lutheran church in Chicago and called a student of their own nation- 
ality, named Paul Andersen, as their pastor. The same year this con- 
gregation purchased the half -ruined church belonging to Smith's con- 
gregation and restored it to its foundation. The same church was sold 
in 1854 to the Swedish Lutheran Immanuel Church organized the year 
before and was used by them until 1869. 

The aforesaid Smith afterward joined the Swedish Methodists and 
operated for several years in Iowa. In 1852-53 he was in charge of 
their church in New Sweden and in 1854 organized the churches of 
Dayton and Stratford. Suspicious actions soon caused his expulsion. 
He then joined the American Free Methodists and in his efforts to win 
his former brethren of the Swedish church over to that sect, caused a 
good deal of disaffection and disorder among the young Swedish Meth- 
odist congregations of Iowa. He met with little success, however, and 
when he was no longer able to support himself among his countrymen 
in Iowa, he went still farther west where the tracks of the ' ' evangelist ' ' 
are lost. 

Unonius and the EriK Janssonists 

After these adversities, the Swedish members of the congregation 
founded by Smith decided, on the advice of P. von Schneidau, to 
call as their pastor his friend Unonius, whom they knew from his former 
visits to Chicago. In the summer of 1848 he had visited the city and 
conducted the first religious meeting in the Swedish language ever held 
in Chicago. That meeting took place in a hall in a medical institute 
on the north side and was attended by 30 to 40 persons. 

On this occasion an episode took place which deserves to be record- 
ed. A party of Erik Jassonists which had just arrived from Sweden 
was stopping in Chicago awaiting the arrival of one of the apostles to 
guide them on their way to Bishop Hill. In a few days the expected 
apostle arrived, accompanied by five or six other men, bringing horses 
and wagons. It was Anders Anderson from Thorstuna. Upon learn- 
ing that Swedish religious meetings were held in the city, he went there 
with some of his men. After the sermon, Unonius, knowing that there 
were Erik Janssonists in the audience, attempted to direct a few words 
of admonition to these deluded persons. Had he been aware of the 
trouble the Erik Janssonists had made for the Swedish clergy for the 
past four years, he would wisely have desisted from addressing them, 



but as he had been in the United States since 1841, he had not been in 
a position to follow the career of the sect. He was quickly made aware 
of the utter uselessness of engaging in a discussion with these people, 
infallible as they were in their own eyes. Hardly had he closed his 
remarks when Anders Anderson arose and began to defend the doc- 
trines of Erik Jansson. A long debate on the subject of dead and living 
Christianity ensued between the two men, and Unonius was igpomin- 
iously defeated in the tilt, his opponent Anderson being almost the equal 
of Erik Jansson himself in the art of fencing with passages of Scripture 
as weapons. With an inexhaustible supply of memorized scriptural 
concordances and parallels, literally interpreted, these fanatics were 
capable of proving with the words of the Bible any proposition what- 
soever. As against this volubility and mass of evidence all the learning 
and theological armament of Unonius availed nothing. Although An- 
derson worsted his opponent in argument, yet it does not appear that 
he made a single proselyte among the Swedes of Chicago, who were 
pretty well acquainted with the Erik Jansson movement. 

Founding' of the First Swedish Episcopal ChurcK 

"Rev." Smith's congregation seems to have been altogether too 
loosely organized to hang together for any length of time without re- 
organization. Besides, it appears to have lacked all connection with 
the Lutheran Church in general. One thing and another tended toward 
disintegration, and the Swedish members, at the instance of Von 
Schneidau and with the advice of Unonius, undertook to organize 
an Episcopal congregation. The original purpose was to make it all 
Swedish, but the Swedes being few and the Norwegian members of the 
church preferring to make common cause with them in church matters, 
it was decided to make it Scandinavian. A committee, known as the 
church committee, was appointed to draw up a constitution. This com- 
mittee, consisting of Von Schneidau, Anders Larsson. Pehr Ersson and 
J. Fr. Bjorkman, Swedes, and And. B. Jonsen, Battolf Markusen, and 
Knut Gundersen, Norwegians, met at the home of Von Schneidau March 
5, 1849. The name proposed was the St. Eric and St. Olaf Church, to 
indicate its Scandinavian character and to do honor to the patron saints 
of the countries of Sweden and Norway. 

The congregation at first held its services in the basement of the 
American Episcopal Church of St. James where the organization was 
completed in May, 1849. For reasons unknown the proposed name was 
not adopted, the church being named St. Ansgarius, from the first 
Christian missionary in Sweden. The constitution was now adopted 
and signed by 34 voting members, the Swedes and Norwegians being 
about equally divided. Rev. Unonius was present and his name and 



that of his wife head the list as it appears in the earliest church records. 
The first trustees were, Polycarpus von Schneidau, W. Knudsen, Battolf 
Markusen, Anders Jonsen, Anders Larsson, John Bjorkman, A. S. 
Sheldon and John Andersson. 

Immediately on his removal to Chicago, Rev. Unonius undertook 
the laborious task of gathering funds for a church building. Accom- 
panied by his faithful friend Von Schneidau, he made a trip to 
Delaware and Pennsylvania to visit the descendants of the Delaware 
Swedes and among these people he succeeded in soliciting for his church 
fund a sum amounting to between $4,000 and $5,000. Early in the 

Rev. Gustaf Unonius 

spring of 1850 two building lots, located at the corner of Franklin and 
Indiana streets, were purchased for the sum of $400. The work of 
building was at once begun and progressed nicely so long as the funds 
lasted. These, however, soon were exhausted and again Unonius and 
Von Schneidau were obliged to begin soliciting. At this juncture Jenny 
Lind, the great Swedish singer, visited New York city, and Unonius 
succeeded in persuading the prima donna to donate the sum of $1,500 
to his church building fund. After her departure in 1851, she added to 
her munificence by donating, through one Max Hjortsberg of Chicago, 
an altar service consisting of a beautifully worked communion cup and 
plate, valued at $1,000. For the funds now available a handsome and 


commodious church and a comfortable parsonage were built. The 
church was a frame edifice, provided with a semi-circular gallery, and 
had a total seating capacity of 300. Its dimensions were 33x50 feet. 
The parsonage was a two story frame house. 

Unonius as a Pastor 

For nine years Rev. Unonius carried on an energetic and richly 
blessed pastoral work combined with tireless endeavor in behalf of the 
needy. At this time the Swedish people of Chicago lived under con- 
ditions entirely different from those of today. They were few in number 
and generally poor, unable to give any material aid to other poor im- 
migrants who followed. The latter, therefore, in the first place turned 
to the Swedish minister for assistance, demanding not only that he act 
as their spiritual adviser and teacher but also as their commissioner, 
assistant and adviser in all worldly matters. Unonius, who warmly 
sympathized with the poor, and mostly sick, Swedish immigrants, never 
spared himself, but was at their service at all times, so far as his 
strength and ability would permit. The cholera, which broke out 
epidemically almost every year, caused him much work and anxiety. 
The hardest part of his task was how to procure homes and foster- 
parents for all the children of immigrants who lost one or both parents 
in the epidemic. 

After only four years of labor for the temporal and spiritual wel- 
fare of his countrymen, this warm-hearted philanthropist was so broken 
down by over-exertion that he was compelled in 1853 to seek rest and 
recreation in a trip to Sweden. He returned just in time to resume with 
renewed strength the arduous and self-sacrificing duties imposed by the 
terrible cholera outbreak of 1854 among the Swedish newcomers. 

The membership of his church continually changed. In 1850, his 
second year, the congregation numbered 163, the following year it grew 
to 195, in 1855 it dropped down to 117, but in 1857 it had again in- 
creased to 142. In 1856 the little church was so prosperous as to be able 
to purchase an organ costing $700. 

Notwithstanding his many duties at home, Unonius found time to 
pay occasional visits to neighboring places to serve his fellow country- 
men by preaching and officiating at various religious acts. During his 
very first year in Chicago, he made an official trip westward, visiting 
almost every point where Swedes had settled. The main reasons why 
he did not afterward attempt to organize Swedish Episcopal congrega- 
tions at these various places are the following : In the first place there 
was not sufficient material at hand at these points to found churches, in 
the second, he was the only Swedish Episcopal pastor in the whole 
country and had his hands more than full of work right in his home 

Communion Chalice and Paten of solid silver, presented by Jenny Lind to 

the St. Ansgarius Church, bearing the inscription, "Gifvet till den 

Skandinaviska Kyrkan St. Ansgarius i Chicago af en 

Landsmaninna A. D. 1851." 



field, and in the third place, after a few years the religious needs of the 
immigrants began to be provided for by the Swedish Lutheran clergy- 
men who organized congregations wherever an opportunity offered. 
Had the American Episcopal Church, from the very encouraging be- 
ginning made by Unonius, displayed a warmer interest in mission work 
among the Swedish settlers it might then have obtained that foothold 
among them which it has, with partial success, sought to gain in later 
years. It must be admitted, however, that Unonius did his part in serv- 

St. Ansgarius Episcopal Church and Rectory 

ing his fellow countrymen who at that time, if ever, were in need of 
spiritual advice and comfort as well as material help. The exceptional 
zeal and unselfish efforts of Unonius in behalf of the early settlers 
entitle him to an honored place in the history of the Swedes of America. 
At the time of his visit to Sweden in 1853, Unonius harbored the 
desire to remain in the old country and enter the service of the state 
church, but his duties called him back to Chicago. For several years 
more he labored here with his customary energy. His work was still 
further increased by his appointment to the office of vice consul for 
Sweden and Norway to succeed Von Schneidau who, after a few years 
of service, was compelled to retire on account of an incurable disease. 
Finally, in the year 1858, Unonius was able to realize his desire to 
return to Sweden. 



He there sought admission as minister to the state church, but 
encountering various obstacles, he was forced to choose another calling 
in order to earn a living for himself and family. He entered the cus- 
toms service and in 1863 was promoted to the position of collector of 
the port of Grisslehamn, an office which he held until 1888. Both before 
and after his retirement from the customs service Unonius would en- 
gage in pastoral work whenever called upon, and he retained to his old 
age the ecclesiastical office in the Anglican Church. 

In 1859, the year after his return to Sweden, the riksdag voted him 
a gift of three thousand crowns in recognition of his long and useful 
service in behalf of his fellow countrymen in the United States. 

Rev. Jacob Bredberg 

During his last years Unonius was living at Hacksta, in the pro- 
vince of Upland, a country seat placed at his disposal by his son-in-law, 
Hugo Tamm, a landed proprietor and member of the riksdag. There he 
died October 14, 1902, at the high age of 92 years. 

Alongside of his official duties, Unonius devoted himself quite ex- 
tensively to literary pursuits. His best known works, both in Swedish, 
are: "Mormonism, its Origin, Development and Creed," published in 
1883, and "Reminiscences of Seventeen Years in the American North- 
west," published in 1861-2. At the age of 86, he added a supplement 
to the latter volume. 



The St. Ansg'arius Church 

After the return of Unonius to Sweden the St. Ansgarius Church 
for several years had to pass through many hard struggles. No Swedish 
pastor was to be had, and it was for a time served by American Episco- 
pal clergymen. During this period it was known as the St. Barnabe's 
Mission, and its membership seems to have been very small. 

This stagnation period lasted until 1862 when Rev. Jacob Bredberg, 
a former curate from Sweden, who for several years had been in the 
service of the Methodist Church, assumed the pastorate. Its member- 
ship was very materially reduced that same year by the withdrawal of 
the Norwegian members, but it rallied from the stroke and added quite 

Rev. John Hedman 

Rev. Herman Lindskog 

a number of new members during the many years that Rev. Bredberg 
was in charge. In 1868 the church was extensively remodeled and en- 
larged at an outlay almost equal to the original cost of the edifice. The 
renovated temple had not been long in use when it was destroyed in the 
great fire of 1871. Three of the trustees, Schonbeck, Norstrom and 
Lind, succeeded in saving the altar-piece, painted in 1868 by the Nor- 
wegian artist Clason, and also the church records, which were taken to 
the cathedral of the Episcopal bishopric of Illinois, located on the west 
side, and there placed in safe keeping. The communion service donated 
by Jenny Lind was kept in the safe of one of the church members who 
saved it from destruction, and it is used at the communion services of 
the church to this day. 

Before the end of the disastrous year of 1871 the congregation had 
begun to erect a new church which was ready for occupancy on Christ- 



mas morning, 1872. This was the same church that is still used by the 
St. Ansgarius congregation. It is situated on Sedgwick street and is built 
in the Gothic style, its cost being approximately $30,000. To that sum 
the Illinois bishopric of the American Episcopal Church contributed 
$20,000. Adjacent to the church a spacious parsonage was erected. 

Old age and resultant illness in 1877 compelled Rev. Bredberg to 
resign. His successor was Nils Nordeen who was replaced by P. Arvid- 
son the following year. Arvidson was succeeded by John Hedman in 
the fall of 1879. Rev. Hedman was a native of Krokstad parish, in 
Bohuslan, where he was born June 25, 1848. He studied in Sweden and 
Germany before coming to America in 1873, and in 1877 he entered the 
Episcopal institution of Seabury Hall, at Faribault, Minn., where he 
finished his theological course in June, 1879. The following September 
he was ordained in the St. Ansgarius Church to which he was assigned 
as assistant pastor. In May, 1880, Hedman was unanimously elected 
rector and served in this capacity until 1887. 

From that year the rectorate of the St. Ansgarius Church has been 
entrusted to Rev. Herman Lindskog whose biography appears else- 
where in this volume. 

There are three other Swedish Episcopal congregations in this 
state, but these are of quite recent date. The largest doubtless is that 
of Galesburg; next in point of size comes the Immanuel Church of 
Englewood. The third in order is the Woodhull church which during 
the last few years has shown but faint signs of life. 

The Swedish Episcopal churches in the eastern states are not the 
fruits of the fundamental work accomplished in Illinois and Wisconsin 
and therefore cannot properly be mentioned under this head. 


The Swedish Lutheran Church 

Lars Paul Esbjorn, Founder and Pioneer 

HE Swedish Methodists had already organized two con- 
gregations and the Swedish Episcopalians one, when the 
first Swedish Lutheran clergyman began religious work 
in Illinois in a modest and unassuming way. It did 
not take many years, however, until the Lutherans 
had outdistanced both the Methodists and the Baptists, who soon ap- 
peared in the field. Born and raised as members of the state church of 
Sweden, a large part of the Swedish immigrants eagerly embraced the 
opportunity to group themselves into congregations around former 
ministers of that same church who, out of interest in the spiritual wel- 
fare of their fellow countrymen in the West, had sought them out to 
preach to them the word of God and administer the sacraments. Its 
many faults notwithstanding, the Swedish state church was still dear 
to the hearts of serious-minded persons among them, and they were 
all the more willing to adhere to the faith defended by the blood of 
their fathers since they could here organize their congregations in- 
dependently of the government and without any form of state super- 
vision. The innate force of the Lutheran Church here, as earlier among 
the German Lutherans in the East, got an opportunity to develop under 
the benign influence of untrammeled religious freedom, and the result 
has been wonderful indeed. In a very short time Swedish Lutheran 
churches were organized not only in various parts of the state of Illi- 
nois but also in the adjoining states of Iowa and Indiana. This was 
the comparatively small beginning of the large and powerful Swedish 
Lutheran Church of America, known as the Augustana Synod, which, 
in little more than half a century, has extended its work and influence 
over a large part of the United States, over parts of Canada and to 
Alaska and Porto Rico. 

The first Swedish Lutheran minister in Illinois was Lars Paul 
Esbjorn. With the exception of Peter Wilhelm Bockman, in Wiscon- 


sin, and Carl Peter Agrelius, in New York, both of whom were failures 
as such, Esbjorn was also the first Swedish Lutheran preacher in 
America in modern times. He may properly be styled the father of the 
Swedish Lutheran Church in this country. He not only founded the 
Augustana Synod, but also began the Swedish educational work in the 
United States. As a pioneer and founder, Esbjorn 'for all time will 
hold first place in the annals of Swedish- American Lutheranism. 

Lars Paul Esbjorn was born in Delsbo parish, in Helsingland, Oct. 
16, 1808. His parents were Esbjorn Paulson, a country tailor, and 
Karin Lindstrom, his wife. When the boy was five years old his mother 
died, and two years afterward he lost his father. An old maid-servant 
named Stina took the motherless boy in charge before the death of his 
father and was a tender foster-mother to him until he reached his 
twelfth year. It was she who taught him to read, and after she dis- 
covered the boy's aptness in his studies, she did not rest until she had 
him entered, in the fall of 1820, in a school in the city of Hudiksvall. 
Like all other poor boys, he suffered great privations in trying to get 
an education. Being a boy of weak constitution, want had a telling 
effect on him, yet he proved a diligent and hard-working pupil, who 
stood high in the estimation of his teachers. With good scholarship 
marks he entered the gymnasium at Gefle in 1825, and there took up 
astronomy, higher mathematics and navigation alongside of his pre- 
scribed studies. Having taken notice of his predilection for mathe- 
matics, his guardian advised him to join the topographical engineering 
corps of the army in order to raise funds for continued study, but Lars 
Paul was fixed in his resolve to become a minister, and nothing could 
swerve him. He had inherited three hundred crowns from his parents, 
but that sum did not go far. His noble-hearted foster-mother, however, 
exerted herself to the utmost to provide the necessary means and his 
home parish gave him assistance in the same way that Luther was 
helped when a boy. He was accustomed at Christmas time to make a 
round of the well-to-do farmers, singing a stanza or two of some hymn 
at every house, and received in compensation various gifts, according 
to the circumstances of the giver, ranging from money and grain down 
to dried meat and tallow candles. 

At midsummer, 1828, aged nineteen, Esbjorn passed examination 
for admission to the University of Upsala and was enrolled as a theolog- 
ical student of the university. After completing a four-year course 
in theology, he was ordained minister June 11, 1832, probably in the 
Upsala Cathedral by Archbishop Carl von Rosenstein, and became 
assistant pastor in Oster-Vahla parish, in Upland, where he served for 
three years. Subsequently he was chosen pastor for the Oslattfors 

L. P. ESBJORN 425 

factory and also school-teacher in Hille, Gestrikland, filling both posi- 
tions for fourteen years. 

During this time he was perceptibly influenced by Rev. George 
Scott, the English Methodist preacher at Stockholm, not, however, in a 
sectarian sense, but in the direction of deepening his religious convic- 
tions. From this time on Esbjorn was a strict and earnest pietist of the 
old school, and he became known as a zealous " lasareprest " (revival-- 
ist preacher), while still a strict conformist to the church. The earnest 

Rev. Lars Paul Esbjorn 

and gifted young pastor early devoted himself to literary work, partly 
original, partly translations and revisions of older religious books and 
tracts. In the early forties, when the great temperance agitation 
stirred the country, Esbjorn became one of the foremost temperance 
advocates in northern Sweden, contributing by speaking, writing and 
forming temperance societies toward that change of public sentiment 
which ultimately made it possible for the lawmaking power to stop the 


private distillery system and thereby stem the flood-tide of drunK 

Actuated by his great enthusiasm in behalf of temperance, Esbjorn 
at times probably went too far, for instance in forcibly depriving far- 
mers whom he met in the road of the whiskey kegs they were bringing 
home. But even where he acted with the utmost caution he did not 
escape bitter persecution, for the dram was dear to the hearts of the 
people and whiskey was a power in the land. His enemies sought in 
every way to make trouble for him, and even went so far as to threaten 
his life. One night when Esbjorn attended a religious meeting, sev- 
eral men lay in ambush for him under a bridge he was expected to 
cross, evidently for the purpose of beating or killing him. Luckily for 
him, the meeting lasted so long that the ruffians got tired of waiting 
and went home, thinking that their man had been forewarned and had 
taken another route. 

As a consequence of his stern piety and strict ideas on temperance, 
Esbjorn aroused much opposition among the clergy of the archbishop- 
ric, who did everything to prevent his obtaining a rectorate. Having 
passed the pastoral examination in 1839, he was nominated for that 
office in several places, such as Regnsjo, Soderhamn and Loos, but in 
every instance he was bitterly opposed by the whiskey interests. In 
the last-named place it is claimed he received a majority of the votes, 
but was deprived of the position by trickery. 

No wonder, then, that this energetic and profoundly earnest min- 
ister of the gospel wearied of the ungrateful treatment accorded him 
at home and began to look about for another field. He had no difficul- 
ty in finding one. The emigration of the first party of Erik Jansson's 
followers to America in 1846 had directed the attention of all 
Sweden to the great western land of promise. In the years next follow- 
ing one large party of emigrants after another had embarked for 
America. Esbjorn could not have failed to notice this movement, for 
it was in his own native district that Erik Jansson obtained his prin- 
cipal following and whence the sect gradually emigrated in larger or 
smaller parties, which were soon followed by others of their country- 
men who longed for America for economic reasons equally as urgent 
as were the religious considerations of the Erik Janssonists. The latter 
class of emigrants, who were still devoted to the creed and doctrine of 
the Swedish Lutheran Church, in letters to their friends and relatives 
at home complained bitterly of their religious needs, their situation 
being all the graver as they were surrounded on all sides, not only by 
the Erik Janssonists and the Swedish Methodists but by all sorts of 
American religious sects with which they did not wish to affiliate, and 

L. P. ESBJORN 427 

in this predicament they did not have one single Lutheran pastor to 
minister to their spiritual wants. 

Realizing the pressing needs of these people, Rev. Esbjorn decided 
to emigrate and become their pastor. The question of earning a liveli- 
hood from the start caused him a great deal of worry. His knowledge 
of Methodism, gained from Rev. Scott of Stockholm, had given him a 
high opinion of the unselfish motives of that church, and he seems to 
have had assurance that the same church in America would be found 
equally unselfish, relying on it to render some aid in his work as a 
Lutheran pastor. A correspondence appears to have been carried on 
between him and Rev. Jonas Hedstrom of Victoria on this subj-ect, 
Hedstrom being known to him through letters from emigrants. But 
this did not lead to any direct results, wherefore Esbjorn turned to the 
Swedish Mission Society with a petition for official recognition and 
financial aid from that source. He received both, the financial aid, 
however, being quite insufficient. 

After having received leave of absence to engage in clerical work 
in foreign territory, Esbjorn, accompanied by 140 emigrants from the 
provinces of Gestrikland and Helsin gland, embarked June 29, 1849, on 
the sailing vessel "Cobden," bound from Gefle for New York. The 
voyage, besides being fraught with difficulty and peril, craved the life 
of one of Esbjorn 's children, and the body was interred in Helsingborg, 
where the vessel touched. This was but the first of a series of sorrows 
and reverses that were to follow. The party arrived at New York in 
the latter part of August or early in September, with the intention of 
proceeding to Victoria, 111. Their plan was frustrated, however, for 
when Esbjorn met Rev. O. G. Hedstrom in New York he was informed 
that the American Methodists would give him no aid as a Lutheran 
minister, but only on condition that he join the Methodist Church. 
This Esbjorn would by no means consent to do. In his predicament he 
turned to the headquarters of the American Board of Home Missions 
in New York with an inquiry whether they would for a time support 
him in his work among the Lutherans. Having apparently received a 
favorable reply, he had no further reason to look up Rev. Jonas Hed- 
strom in Victoria, but began to make inquiries for some other western 
settlement where he might take up missionary work. He did not have 
to look long for just such an opportunity. While in New York, he had 
the fortune to meet the aforementioned Captain P. W. Wirstrom, who 
for a short time had been living in the new Swedish settlement at 
Andover, in Henry county. Wirstrom seems to have been the agent of 
the land company in New York that founded Andover, and it was no 
doubt through his influence that this company promised Esbjorn ten 
acres of land for a church on condition that he and his party would 


settle there. After careful consideration, Esbjorn resolved to go to 
Andover to stay. 

With Captain Wirstrom as guide and adviser, the party now 
started on their tedious journey westward. They traveled by canal- 
boat to Buffalo and thence by steamer to Chicago. Shortly after 
having passed Detroit, another of Esbjorn's children died and was 
buried in a very primitive coffin in a sandbank on the shores of Lake 
St. Clair. Rev. Esbjorn himself took sick with the cholera and was 
compelled to stop in Chicago with his family, only two of his sons going 
with the rest of the party to Andover. Three weeks later, when 
Esbjorn arrived there he discovered to his great sorrow that the alert 
Jonas Hedstrom had already been there and succeeded in persuading 
most of the newcomers to leave Andover and come with him to Victoria. 
Before, this same Hedstrom had recommended Andover as a suitable 
place of settlement for the Swedes, but now that he had learned of 
Esbjorn's unwillingness to become a Methodist he changed his tone, 
disparaging the place and doing everything to induce his countrymen 
to move away. 

In Andover Esbjorn had to contend with all the customary trials 
and reverses of pioneer life, such as sickness, poor shelter and lack of 
suitable food. He succeeded in renting for himself and family a couple 
of small, stuffy rooms in the attic of Captain Mix's place, a farmhouse 
situated just outside of the little village, and now owned by the widow 
Anna Lovisa Gustafsson from Ostergotland. The first Sunday Esbjorn 
preached in Andover, the Francis schoolhouse serving as the meeting- 
place, he was still so weak that he had to speak seated in a chair. He 
spoke with intense feeling, taking the words, "In my weakness I am 
strong," as the text for his introductory remarks. During the ensuing 
winter, Esbjorn occupied the crowded and uncomfortable quarters 
aforesaid, but in the meantime he purchased a little farm of ten acres, 
with primitive buildings, situated south of the timber, down toward 
Edwards Creek, and moved there in the Spring of 1850. 

The Swedish Lutheran Church at Andover 

In his work as Swedish Lutheran pastor at Andover, Esbjorn from 
the very start met with bitter opposition from Jonas Hedstrom, the 
Swedish Methodist pastor, who naturally was desirous of retaining the 
advantage he enjoyed on account of his long term of service in this 
vicinity. Nor did he miss a single opportunity to poison the minds of 
the settlers against Esbjorn and his work. In conversations held with 
individual members of his flock he would make the assertion that the 
Lutheran Church was spiritually dead; that it was the Babylonian 
harlot, which every one must shun who would be saved; that the new 


Swedish pastor had come to put the free settlers under the bonds of the 
Swedish state church; that there were no Lutheran congregations in 
America; that the Methodists were the true Lutherans, etc. Clearly, 
these and similar utterances from a man who had gained the confi- 
dence of the settlers in both wordly and spiritual matters would gain 
credence among them to a certain extent and hurt Esbjorn in his work. 
Hedstrom had the advantage of being backed by the American Meth- 
dist Church, from which he received a salary, small as it was, while 
there was no Lutheran congregation, conference or synod of any kind 
in this part of the country from which Esbjorn could get aid and ad- 
vice. He stood entirely alone, and was thrown on his own resources 
both as to the methods and the means by which to prosecute the work. 
In this isolated and difficult position, Esbjorn was obliged to turn 
to the Illinois branch of the Congregational American Board of Home 
Missions, at Galesburg, with a request to be taken care of and to get the 
recommendation of the mission board for aid from its funds. This was 
in December, 1849. His request was given favorable consideration, and 
after Esbjorn had personally met with the board, explaining his relig- 
ious tenets and showing his credentials, the Central Association for its 
part granted the petition on the following conditions : that Esbjorn, as 
a member of the association, was to be responsible to that body ; that he 
was to work as a Lutheran pastor, preaching and administering the 
sacraments, and that his assigned field was Andover and Galesburg, 
where respectively 180 and 100 Swedes already had settled. It is es- 
pecially worthy of notice that the association did not impose the con- 
dition that Esbjorn should join the Congregational Church, but that he 
was permitted to continue a Lutheran pastor. An appropriation of 
$300 was recommended by the association and referred to the mission 
board in New York which in turn granted the request of Esbjorn. In 
its letter, dated Jan. 14, 1850, the board stipulates that Esbjorn be 
appointed to preach the gospel to the Swedish people in Galesburg, 
Andover and surrounding country for a term of twelve months, under 
the direction of the Mission Board of the Central Association. The 
Swedish people in this district were expected to contribute $100 to his 
support, making a total salary of $400 for the year. He was- directed to 
make a report of his work at the end of each quarter. This appoint- 
ment was accompanied by a personal letter from Dr. Milton Badger, 
corresponding secretary of the board of missions, with instructions id 
Rev. Esbjorn not to admit as members of any congregation persons 
unable to give evidence of the new birth nor permit such to participate 
in the Lord's Supper. In his communication Dr. Badger criticises the 
German Lutherans for admitting members to their congregations by 


On the ocean voyage and on the journey inland Rev. Esbjorn had 
preached twice every Sunday to his fellow passengers and daily con- 
ducted morning and evening prayers accompanied by brief biblical 
expositions. This practice he continued after the arrival at Andover, 
and soon extended his ministerial work to Galesburg, Berlin (Swedona) 
and Rock Island. At the end of February, 1850, he reported to the 
aforesaid mission board in New York that he had preached every other 
Sunday at Andover and Galesburg, respectively, usually twice at each 
place, conducted evening prayers and Bible exegeses in the private 
homes, visited the families and the sick, held monthly mission meetings 
and temperance lectures and circulated religious tracts. From this it 
appears that from the very outset Esbjorn entered upon his duties with 
great zeal. In this same report he says that the people in Galesburg 
had begun to build a Swedish Lutheran meeting-house, toward which 
$550 already had been subscribed. He expressed the hope that a similar 
edifice would soon be erected in Andover. He complained, however, 
about the poverty which was general among his countrymen, causing 
them so great worry over the question of earning a living that their 
minds were not sufficiently open to the truth of the gospel ; also of the 
general exodus to California of goldseekers, a movement creating such 
a stir among the people that they found no time to think about the 
salvation of their souls. Another cause for complaint was the open 
avowal of Rev. Jonas Hedstrom of his purpose to convert all the 
Swedes to Methodism and bring them into his congregation. Further- 
more, former Erik Janssonists living in Galesburg were giving him 
much trouble by their self-righteousness and spiritual pride. 

In the first part of March of the same year Esbjorn could report 
that the number of persons attending the public services were, at An- 
dover about 70, at Galesburg 80, at Rock Island 30, at Berlin 12, of 
whom 12 to 15 could be regarded as true Christians ; that a temperance 
society with 43 members had been organized in Andover, and that the 
proposed Swedish church in Galesburg was in course of erection. 

These reports show the actual condition among the people about 
the time that Esbjorn, on the 18th of March, 1850, in the house of 
Widow Anna Lovisa Gustafsson, organized the Swedish Lutheran 
Church of Andover, the first of its kind since the time of the Delaware 
Swedes. The first members were only ten in number, viz.. Rev. Esbjorn 
and his wife, Jan Andersson, Mats Ersson, O. Nordin, Sam. Jans- 
son, And. Pet. Larsson, Mrs. Jansson, "Christina at Knapp's" and 
Stina Hellgren. The small number shows how anxious Esbjorn was to 
follow out his instructions with respect to church membership. But on 
the 23rd of the same month there was an addition of 30 to 40 members. 
Among these were Captain Wirstrom and his wife, also Eric Ulric 



Norberg, known for his prominence in the schisms of the Bishop Hill 
Colony. In the beginning of December the church numbered 46 mem- 
bers and its meetings were attended by an average of 50 to 60 persons. 
Sunday schools were organized both in Andover and Galesburg 
simultaneously with the churches. 

At first the meetings were held in Esbjorn 's home, south of the 
timber, where the audiences were accommodated in two or three rooms 
provided with chairs and improvised benches, or else in the Francis 
schoolhouse. Occasionally, prayer meetings were conducted at the 
house of Mrs. Gustafsson, known as Captain Mix's place. These peo- 
ple were actuated by a certain degree of religious zeal, a kind of imita- 
tion of the enthusiasm of the Methodists. The order of service con- 
formed in the main to that of the Swedish state church, and Kev. Es- 
bjorn retained the ministerial garb of that church. The prayer meetings 
were frequently attended by Methodists, but the spiritual arrogance 
displayed by them made their appearance rather disagreeable to 
Esbjorn. His dependence on the American Congregationalists as well as 
the fact that he was surrounded by Methodists who lost no opportunity 
to decry everything that savored of the Swedish state church, caused 
Esbjorn gradually to accommodate himself to the Reformed order of 
service to the extent of discarding for a time certain portions of the 
Swedish church ritual as well .as the use of the Pericopes. Not until 
the e"arly sixties, after the Swedish Lutherans had become an independ- 
ent church, did Esbjorn resume the position he held at the time of 
his arrival, that of a strict conformist to the practices as well as the 
doctrines of the Swedish church. His departure from those practices 
under the circumstances should not be too severely judged. It was the 
result more of necessity than of inclination. He was never a noisy 
revivalist, his religious convictions and Christian experiences being 
deeper and more temperate than those of his puritanical American 

Despite opposition, the little congregation at Andover steadily 
grew and soon the question of a church building arose. The members 
were all poor settlers, unable to defray the cost without outside aid. 
Consequently, Rev. Esbjorn, according to the common" custom, was 
obliged to start out on a soliciting tour. In April, 1851, he left on a 
trip through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. Dur- 
ing the eleven weeks he was out he succeeded in raising not less than 
$2.200, of which sum Jenny Lind, the renowned Swedish singer, con- 
tributed $1,500. Upon his return home in July, he at once began pre- 
parations for building. All the members of the church, men and 
women, were set to work making brick, and the foundation was laid 
for a structure 45 feet long and 30 feet wide, with basement designed 



for school room and sacristy. It was hoped to get the basement ready 
by Christmas, but rainy weather prevailing during the summer and 
fall interfered with this plan. The brick was spoiled by the rain and 
the sawmills in Andover were damaged by floods, whereby the con- 
gregation was compelled to go elsewhere for its building material, pay- 

ing a high price for it, besides having to haul it a distance of thirty 
miles. Cold weather soon put a stop to the work, but not until the 
basement had been so nearly finished that services could be held there 
during the ensuing winter. The basement was still unplastered and 
only partly under roof, no floor having been laid above and a large 
opening having been left for the tower. 

The next summer work was resumed but under still more unfavor- 



able conditions. The corn crop failed, no work was to be had, and, to 
add to the misery of the settlers, a terrible cholera epidemic broke out 
in the community, making such inroads among the settlers that much of 
the lumber bought for the church had to be used for coffins for the 
victims of the scourge. 

On Advent Sunday, Dec. 3, 1854, after more than three years of 
work and sacrifice, the congregation finally dedicated its church edi- 
fice, now almost finished. This was a day of great rejoicing, praise 
and thanksgiving being offered by grateful hearts to the Highest. The 
church, which seated 300 persons and could accommodate a larger num- 
ber in an emergency, was considered a great structure for the times, 
although quite insignificant as compared with the large, handsome 
Swedish- American churches of our day. It was not built according to 
any particular style of church architecture, the congregation being 
contented just so they had a house of worship of some kind. The 
church was in the form of a long rectangle. The basement was like a 
dark cave; but was nevertheless used to house newcomers, many of 
whom died there of the cholera. The pulpit, placed at the middle 
of one end of the building, and surrounded by a semi-circular altar 
railing, resembled an old-fashioned Swedish scullery. The upper part 
of the pulpit, not much larger than a salt barrel cut in half lengthwise, 
stood crowded back against the wall. 

This old church still stands, and, having been recently remodeled, 
now serves as schoolhouse and meeting hall for the young people's 
society. When it was proposed several years ago to tear down the old 
landmark the women pioneers still living arose in protest, calling atten- 
tion to the part played by them in its construction, and thus the old 
relic was spared. In front of the church lies the old churchyard where 
rest so many of the Swedes of Andover. 

Up to the autumn of 1852, Esbjorn was the only Swedish Lutheran 
minister in Illinois. He was then in charge of a pastorate extending 
about fifty miles from end to end, including Andover, Galesburg, Knox- 
ville, Henderson, Moline and Rock Island. He spent a great deal of 
time traveling between these points. Roads were bad and bridges few, 
and traveling in all kinds of weather and under contingent difficulties 
had a bad effect on his health. In the fall of that year he received well- 
needed assistance in the work when T. N. Hasselquist arrived from 
Sweden and took charge of the Galesburg field and a lay preacher 
named C. J. Valentin was stationed in Moline and Rock Island. There- 
by Esbjorn 's field was practically limited to Andover and vicinity. But 
the Andover congregation even then was scattered far and wide over 
the prairies, including, as it did, Berlin (Swedona), La Grange (Orion), 
and Hickory Grove (Ophiem), or, in short, all the Swedish Lutheran 



settlers in the neighborhood of Andover. Berlin and La Grange soon 
were made separate charges and subsequently independent congrega- 
tions. In the fall of 1853 the church numbered 210 communicant mem- 
bers, who contributed a total of $80 to the salary of the pastor. 

Rev. Esbjorn and his parishioners at the outset had many bitter 
feuds with the Methodists led by Rev. Hedstrom, and several other 
religious groups. Ere long, however, the Lutherans and Methodists 
had to stop fighting between themselves and turn toward their com- 
mon opponents and competitors, the Baptists, who in the summer of 
1852 commenced operations, led by Gustaf Palmquist, a former school- 
master, who had come over the year before and at first served as 
Lutheran preacher in Galesburg. Palmquist made a few converts among 
the Lutherans, but the principal harvest was reaped among the Meth- 
odists. Although the hotbed of the Baptist movement was at first 
Galesburg and afterward Rock Island, the Andover congregation did 
not entirely escape being influenced. But Rev. Esbjorn proved to be 
a wide-awake shepherd who successfully thwarted the efforts made to 
scatter his little flock. 

After a series of hot encounters with Methodists and Baptists, 
from which the Lutheran pastor and his flock seem to have emerged 
with a deepened sense of the worth of the evangelical Lutheran con- 
fession, the congregation grew both in numbers and in inward stability. 
The order of service and ecclesiastical practices of the old country were 
more fully adhered to, while greater importance was attached to sound- 
ness in spiritual life. Peace having eventually been restored in the 
church, renewed disturbances occurred when one B. G. P. Bergenlund, 
in the summer of 1855, after having been appointed assistant pastor 
and school teacher, began to cast aspersions on Rev. Esbjorn and his 
work, at the same time giving offense and scandalizing the church by 
conduct unbecoming a pastor and a Christian. Bergenlund, apparently 
a native of Ignaberga, in the province of Skane, and a man of educa- 
tion, had come to this country in January, 1853, stopping in Jamestown, 
N. Y. There and in Sugar Grove, Pa., he began preaching to his fellow 
countrymen and in the fall of the same year came to Illinois at the 
suggestion of Rev. Hasselquist. Having passed examination, he was 
licensed by the Synod of Northern Illinois as a regular preacher, where- 
upon he returned to Jamestown and Sugar Grove. By his unseemly 
behavior he spoiled his reputation in less than a year and was forced to 
leave. In May, 1855, he appeared in Moline, where he took ministerial 
charge of the Swedish Lutheran congregation without notifying 
Esbjorn. When the congregation showed a disinclination to receive him, 
he left for Andover where he insinuated himself into the confidence and 
friendship of the people by going from house to house. In this manner 



Esbjorn had forced upon him an assistant whom he had not asked for 
and did not want, but whose functions he endeavored to restrict by 
means of written instructions. Bergenlund, who had so little regard 
for the proprieties that he would preach high mass in highly inappro- 
priate dress, including heavy gloves, nevertheless gained a firm foot- 
hold in the community and soon began to act in total disregard of his 
written instructions. At the annual meeting of the Synod of Northern 
Illinois in 1855, Esbjorn was appointed traveling solicitor of funds for 
a Scandinavian professorship at the Illinois University at Springfield, 
the theological school of that synod. From the "early part of the year 
1856, when Esbjorn engaged in that work, Bergenlund had free hands. 
Tiring of the arrogant and arbitrary actions of this man, Esbjorn after 
a couple of months resigned his pastorate. In March he was seriously 
considering a removal to the new Swedish settlement of Stockholm, 
now Lake Pepin, Wis., but later in the spring he received a call from 
the Swedish Lutheran Church in Princeton, 111., which he accepted, re- 
moving there in August. Bergenlund continued operations in Andover, 
but before the end of the year the parishioners had their eyes opened 
to the eccentricities of their pastor and resolved to call Rev. M. F. 
Hokanson, of New Sweden, Iowa. Bergenlund still had a small party 
back of him, which made it possible for him to hold on for a short time, 
but he had lost confidence generally. In the summer of 1857, he was 
compelled to leave Andover and the next fall the Synod of Northern 
Illinois refused to renew his preacher's license. After drifting about 
from place to place, mostly in Minnesota, he came back in 1860, after 
the Scandinavian Lutherans had separated from the Synod of Northern 
Illinois and formed the Augustana Synod. He was then re-admitted 
into the Synod of Northern Illinois and ordained minister. He now 
began to make vehement attacks on the Augustana Synod, but more 
particularly on Esbjorn. After a few years he returned to Sweden 
where he succeeded in gaining admittance to the state church and 
obtain a charge in the bishopric of Goteborg, where still perserving 
in his erratic ways he gave old Bishop Bjork a great deal of annoyance. 
The Andover church, having been disappointed in Bergenlund, 
called as its pastor Rev. P. Petersson of the bishopric of Vexio, Sweden, 
who promised to accept, but was unable to keep his promise. After 
having been served temporarily by Rev. 0. C. T. Andren of Moline, 
the church in the spring of 1858 issued a call to Rev. Jonas Swensson 
of Sugar Grove, Pa., who had arrived from Sweden two years before. 
After due consideration, he accepted the call and removed to his new 
field in September of that year. His arrival marked the beginning of 
a new epoch in the history of the Andover church. But before enter- 
ing on that period we will briefly review the further career of his 


Rev. Esbjorn's Later Career 

From Andover Esbjorn removed to Princeton. Here he remained 
only two years. During this short period he accomplished much, in- 
cluding the work in connection with the erection of a church. In spite 
of illness, he worked strenuously and with marked success for the spirit- 
ual development of bis congregation. The people became more interested 
in churchly affairs and listened more attentively to the sermons; fur- 
thermore, the services were made still more attractive by means of 
better singing, resulting from earnest practice, encouraged by the 
pastor himself, not to mention other improvements. 

At the task of collecting funds for the Scandinavian professorship 
of the seminary, Esbjorn, who was an experienced solicitor, 
succeeded admirably. When the time arrived to appoint the incumbent 
of that chair, Esbjorn was chosen as the most suitable man available 
and assumed the position in the fall of 1858. After two years a com- 
bination of circumstances compelled him to resign. He then went to 
Chicago in April, 1860, accompanied by all but two of the Scandinavian 
students, and there continued teaching. Dissatisfied with their re- 
lations with the Synod of Northern Illinois, the Scandinavian Lutherans 
in June of that year met near Clinton, Wis., and organized an independ- 
end synod, called the Augustana Synod, and resolved to establish a 
theological school of their own in Chicago, the Augustana Theological 
Seminary, virtually a continuation of the school conducted for the 
past few weeks by Esbjorn. Rev. Esbjorn was formally chosen head 
of the institution, continuing his work as teacher with good results for 
three years. 

With all his soul Rev. Esbjorn had thrown himself into the work 
of raising his fellow countrymen in America to a higher level, and 
in his tireless endeavor in various fields he scarcely took notice of 
the rapid flight of time. At first he had felt no symptoms of home- 
sickness, being too busy to think of that, but with advancing years 
he was now past fifty he began to long back to the country of which 
he was part and parcel through birth and early training. There were 
also economic reasons for his home-sickness. For all these reasons Es- 
bjorn in 1863 returned to his native land after fourteen years of fruit- 
ful work among his countrymen in America. During this period great 
changes had taken place in Sweden. That temperance legislation for 
which Wieselgren, Fjellstedt and, last but not least, Esbjorn had fought 
was now an accomplished fact, the private distillery system having 
been abolished by the riksdag of 1854, and the work for spiritual 
enlightenment no longer meeting with the same stubborn resistance as 
before. Thoroughly tried in life's battle, the stern reformer, who 
before his departure from Sweden failed to obtain a certain pastorate 


on account of his temperance views and other "newfangled notions," 
was now met with open arms and was given the very lucrative rectorate 
of Oster-Vahla parish, in Upland, thus being recompensed even in a 
pecuniary way for all his privations in a foreign land. In this quiet 
spot he labored for seven years, dividing his time between his pastoral 
duties and private study and research, which had been his hobby from 
early youth, such as mathematics, chemistry and astronomy, besides 
theology. In the meantime he closely followed the rapid progress made 
by the church he had founded in America, and nothing gave him 
greater pleasure than a visit by some one of his former co-workers 
in this country. 

Esbjb'rn was the author of ten published books and pamphlets on 
various topics. 

The burden of years grew steadily heavier, health and bodily vigor 
gave way, and soon the eve of rest for this indefatigable laborer had 
arrived. After only a month of actual illness Rev. L. P. Esbjorn 
passed away in the Oster-Vahla parsonage, July 2, 1870, in the sixty- 
second year of his life, and was buried in the parish churchyard. A 
few years ago a handsome monument was erected on his grave to mark 
the last resting-place of this eminent Swedish- American pioneer. 

The sermons of Rev. Esbjorn were highly edifying, but he was by 
no means an orator in the ordinary sense of the term. His voice was 
ruined in the early part of his career through sickness and over-exertion, 
and he never affected eloquence. His discourses were nevertheless very 
captivating by dint of his lucid logic, his clear and profound ideas and 
the simplicity of his diction. He was a man of clear and well-balanced 
mind, pre-eminently fitting him for the profession both of preacher 
and educator. As a man Esbjorn was devout and warm-hearted, un- 
selfish almost to a fault, righteous, unaffected and without pride or 
vainglory. He was translucent, so to speak, and in his character there 
was nothing to hide. Although not really credulous, and being a good 
judge of men, he would sometimes be imposed upon, owing to his sheer 
goodness of heart. 

Before emigrating to America, Esbjorn was married to Miss Amalia 
Maria Lovisa Planting-Gyllenbaga, a devout and refined lady, who 
held the same religious views as he. Poverty, illness and numerous 
reverses had given her a despondent and melancholy disposition. Their 
children were: Paul, who died in the Civil War in 1861, while on duty 
in Missouri: Johannes, who returned to Sweden in 1863, entered the 
railway service and is now living in Karlskrona; Joseph, who also 
served in the Civil War, was retired as captain, and is now living 
in Minneapolis, Minn. ; Maria, who married a German Lutheran clergy- 
man named Schnur, and died many years ago, and two sons, twins, 
who died on the voyage to America. July 11, 1852, Mrs. Esbjorn died 


in Andover and lies buried in the old churchyard. Subsequently, Es- 
bjorn was twice remarried, first to Helena Catharina Magnusson, who 
was born at Sund, Ostergotland, June 29, 1827, and died in Andover, 
Sept. 15, 1853; afterward to her sister Gustafva Albertina Magnusson, 
born at Sund in 1833. The children of the latter union still living 
are: Rev. C. M. Esbjorn, Ph. D., minister of the Augustana Synod; 
Prof. C. L. E. Esbjorn, of Augustana College, at Rock Island, 111.; 
and two daughters, Maria and Hanna. Another son, Paul Oscar 
Esbjorn, a physician of Stanton, la., died in 1908. 

Rev. Jonas Swensson 

Jonas Swensson, wiio supplanted the erratic Rev. Bergenlund as 
pastor of the Andover church, where he labored for a long term of 
years, is another pioneer and early leader of the Swedish Lutheran 
Church in America. He was born at Snollebo, parish of Vathult, Sma- 
land, Aug. 16, 1828. His parents were Sven Mansson and his wife 
Catharina Jonasson. In the parental home he received a careful Chris- 
tian training, the foundation for his subsequent career. In his early 
youth he had a desire to study for the ministry, but such a course 
seemed to have been closed to him by his father's death when he 
was but nine years old, together with the fact that there were six 
other children in the home to be provided for. But later on the outlook 
cleared. After his confirmation he became a blacksmith's apprentice, 
but abandoned that occupation to enter the teachers' seminary at Vexio 
in 1846. While there, his early plan was revived and that summer he 
took up private studies in theology with his teacher. Rev. Josef Bexell, 
and in 1847 continued these studies for the curate of Bredaryd parish. 
At the end of August he went to Jonkoping, entering the rector's class 
at the school in that city, and was very favorably received by the 
rector, Rev. Fileen. In two terms he finished his courses and entered 
the gymnasium at Vexio in the fall of 1848. Here he studied for two 
years, until September, 1850, when he passed his final examinations. 
July 29, 1849, in the Hemmesjo church, Swensson preached his first 
sermon, and after that he frequently, while still a student, filled the 
pulpits of other churches in Smaland. 

Sept. 24. 1850, he was graduated into the university of Upsala 
with high standing. He at once took up the theological course at the 
university and passed final examination in June, 1851. The following 
October he was examined for entry into the ministry before the Vexio 
chapter and, on the 8th of the month, was ordained minister and 
assigned as curate to Rector Andren at Unnaryd. Swensson 's excep- 
tional capacity for study is shown by the fact that he finished both 
elementary and theological studies in about five years. Many who 


had known the tall and sturdy youth as a blacksmith's apprentice or 
as a pupil at the elementary school at Vexio were greatly surprised to 
find him in the ministry in so short a time. At Unnaryd and Jallun- 
tofta Swensson now labored for four and one-half years, till the spring 
of 1856. 

Himself an earnest Christian from his school days, Swensson 
strove zealously to awaken and maintain the new life among the mem- 
bers of his church. His own Christianity being most profound, he had 
little sympathy for the superficial new evangelism that was gaining 
ground in Sweden about this time. From the very beginning of his 
pastoral career he carefully prepared his sermons and committed them 
to writing, thereby laying the foundation for that system and order 
which characterized his work throughout life. From many neighboring 
parishes people flocked to hear him, and, young as he was, he became 
the spiritual father and counselor of many. In spite of a severe affec- 
tion of the lungs, he continued his work with undiminished vigor and 
was eventually restored to health, contrary to the expectations of him- 
self and his friends. 

His reputation as an earnest and devout preacher had crossed the 
ocean with the emigrants, and on the 24th of June, 1855, he received 
a letter from Dr. Peter Fjellstedt containing a call for him to become 
pastor of the Swedish Lutheran congregation at Sugar Grove, Pa. His 
first thought was to decline positively, but the more he considered the 
matter, the more clearly he discerned it as his duty to accept. In August 
the same year he had a personal meeting with Dr. Fjellstedt, when that 
devout and warm-hearted divine urged him to go to the assistance of his 
countrymen in the West. Dr. Fjellstedt promised to help him procure 
the needed funds and to render every assistance. Finally Swensson, 
after much trepidation, decided to accept the call, although still very 
much worried over the pecuniary phase of the situation, which seemed 
all the more grave as he was about to marry his betrothed, Miss Maria 
Blixt of Unnaryd. 

The marriage took place March 29, 1856, and on April 6th he 
preached his farewell sermon in the Unnaryd church, followed by 
similar sermons in various churches in the vicinity. Everywhere his 
many friends contributed more or less freely toward his traveling ex- 
penses, so that on reaching Goteborg with his bride he had no less than 
800 crowns at his disposal, without having borrowed a penny. Here 
the young couple were detained from April 22nd to May 20th, before 
embarking on the ship "Minorca" for America. With prayers and 
bjessings for friends left behind, he sailed away from his native land 
which he was never to see again. After a voyage of six weeks' dura- 
tion, they reached New York on the very birthday of the republic, July 
4th. The llth of the same month he arrived at Sugar Grove, and preach- 



ed his first sermon there two days later. His first impression of the peo- 
ple was not entirely favorable. Even those who confessed themselves 
Christians seemed strange to him. On every hand liberty seemed to 
have been turned into license. All this set him wondering whether, 
after all, his field of greatest usefulness did not lie in the old country. 
His doubts as to his calling and the resultant melancholy were 
somewhat relieved when in the fall of the same year he visited Illinois 

Rev. Jonas Swensson 

and here met elder brethren whose acquaintance and fellowship gave 
him new courage. During the conference and synod meetings he at- 
tended he sat quietly listening to the proceedings, never uttering a 
word. But no one followed the transactions more attentively than he. 
After having preached in several of the Swedish churches here, he re- 
turned to the East and took up his work with renewed energy. 

In Sugar Grove a little frame church had been built before Rev. 
Swensson's arrival, but it was not yet finished, and the parsonage was 
still in course of erection. In Jamestown, where Swensson was also to 
preach, there was no church edifice. Strife and differences existing 
with respect to the temporal affairs of the churches were a constant 


source of worry and sorrow to a man of his sensitive nature, but what 
affected him still more was the spiritual indifference and the bitter 
partisanship stirred up by the aforesaid Bergenlund and by the Meth- 
odists. Such a condition naturally revolted against Swensson's strict 
sense of propriety and his devotion to good order in the church. His 
concern for the welfare of the congregations, however, kept him at his 
post. Not even the flattering call to become assistant to Rev. Erland 
Carlsson of the Immanuel Church in Chicago could induce him to leave. 
But there came a time when he thought it his duty to leave his 
first field of labor in this country. The church at Andover was about 
to be torn asunder by internal dissensions fomented by the intrigues 
of Bergenlund, and stood in great need of an able and energetic pastor. 
Such a man was found in Rev. Swensson, to whom a call was extended 
in June, 1858. At the earnest solicitations of his brethren, who were 
familiar with the sad state of affairs, he accepted the call and re- 
moved to his new charge the following September. Here, as in Sugar 
Grove and Jamestown, he had to reap the bitter fruits of Bergenlund 's 
operations. With his installation as pastor of the Andover church 
Sept. 19th, Swensson's main life work began. For fifteen years he 
remained here, doing a great work not only for the local church but 
also in behalf of the entire Augustana Synod. For this reason the 
Synod classes Rev. Jonas Swensson as one of its founders and pioneers. 
The Andover congregation which had a membership of 356 when 
Rev. Esbjorn left, had increased to 400 when Swensson arrived. The 
settlement developed rapidly in every direction. As early as 1858 a 
church was built in that part of the locality known as Berlin, situated 
eight miles away, and on the 17th of February, 1859, a congregation was 
organized at that place. Next in order the Woodhull congregation was 
organized in 1868, followed by the New Windsor church in 1869, that 
of Orion in 1870, and finally the Cambridge congregation in 1875. At 
all these places Rev. Swensson alone preached for many years. At 
Berlin he held services regularly every other Saturday until 1866 when 
the church obtained a pastor of its own. Considering that Swensson 
usually preached two or three times each Sunday, held catechetical 
meetings at certain seasons of the year in the various districts of the set- 
tlement, made numerous visits to the sick, attended synods, conferences 
and other church conventions, often visited and preached in vacant 
congregations, and also looked out for the financial interests of his own 
church, meanwhile being almost constantly hampered by sickness in his 
own family, it appears that Swensson was a very busy man. The wonder 
is that he found time for it all. During the last three years of his life, 
he was also president of the synod, an office which alone would give 




the average clergyman all that he could do. For several years prior, 
Swensson held the position of synodical secretary. 

Although in good health, it seems a miracle that Swensson, stren- 
uously as he worked, did not give out much earlier than he did. It 
never occurred to him to husband his strength. He considered it his 

The Present Swedish Lutheran Church, Andover 

duty to sacrifice himself in the service of the church and at no time 
could he be persuaded to take a few months' rest. Often, after spending 
eight or nine hours in church, preaching, catechising and administer- 
ing the sacraments, as on confirmation days, he would sit up till twelve 
o'clock with a few intimate friends, talking, singing and playing: yet 
the next morning would find him up at four and busy currying) the 


horses in order to be ready to start out on his official rounds immedi- 
ately after breakfast. 

The little church which had been erected during Rev. Esbjorn's 
term of service at Andover, shortly after Rev. Swensson's coming was 
found too small, and in 1864 it was decided to erect a new one. The 
work on the new building, which was not begun until 1867, gave Rev. 
Swensson, as well as the church council and the building committee, a 
great deal of additional work and worry. On Nov. 15, 1868, the con- 
gregation moved into the new edifice, this being made the occasion of 
an impressive jubilee celebration. The new church, however, was not 
finished until 1874, the year after Rev. Swensson's death, when it was 
dedicated with solemn ceremonies on the 23rd day of August. The 
church completed represented an outlay of $30,985, not counting the 
work performed gratuitously by members of the congregation. This 
church still stands as a fitting monument to Rev. Swensson and his 
noble endeavors, in the same sense that the old one was a testimonial to 
the energy of his predecessor, Esbjorn. During the last year of Swens- 
son's life, the congregation attained to a membership of 1,855, of whom 
951 were communicants. 

As a preacher, Swensson was always popular. When he got 
thoroughly warmed up on a certain text, he would preach for two or 
three hours without a sign of physical exhaustion or waning interest in 
his topic. He never affected oratory or poetic nights of imagination, 
his sermons, simple and logical, addressing themselves to the reason and 
not to the feelings of his audience. His preaching was principally of 
the didactic order, bearing a striking resemblance to that of the famous 
Swedish preacher Anders Xohrborg. Swensson had an aversion to 
preaching or speaking at public celebrations and festive occasions. He 
was a model shepherd of his flock. The sick he visited with a regularity 
prompted by large-hearted sympathy rather than a sense of official 
duty, and he was never known to neglect a sickbed on account of incle- 
ment weather, bad roads or unseasonable hours, day or night. In his 
frequent travels between the distant points under his spiritual charge, 
he became an expert driver, with few rivals in the art of handling 
horses. He was generally in a hurry, this good parson, and when he 
whizzed by on his regular tours between Andover and B-erlin, puffing 
great clouds of smoke from his pipe, he bore more than a remote resem- 
blance to a railway locomotive going with a full head of steam. He was 
equally conscientious and businesslike in his attention to his duties as 
president of the synod. Its sessions were conducted in an orderly, 
parliamentary manner and with scrupulous fairness to all sides. He 
had a tender heart and, although a man of meager income, he would 
invariably give a helping hand to those in need. Swensson was of tall 



stature and fine build, and possessed a powerful, though rather in- 
flexible and unmusical voice, which carried well even in as large an 
auditorium as that of the new Andover church. In his personality he 
combined dignity with artlessness and simplicity. He abhorred hypoc- 
risy and affectation. While reticent in a crowd, he was a good talker 
and an entertaining companion among his intimate friends. 

During his later years, Swensson was subject to attacks of gout 
accompanied by spasms, followed by fainting spells. This affection 
caused his death. He passed away in his home at Andover Dec. 20, 
1873, at the early age of forty-five. His wife survived him by only one 
year. A monument erected by the congregation marks the spot in the 
old church-yard where reposes this energetic and faithful pastor of the 
Andover church. He left four children, three sons and one daughter, 
viz., Rev. Carl Aron Swensson, Ph. D., renowned as the founder and 
president of Bethany College, at Lindsborg, Kans., who died in Los 
Angeles, Cal., Feb. 16, 1904; John Swensson, manager of the Gustaf 
Adolf orphanage at Jamestown, N. Y. ; Luther Swensson, former post- 
master at Lindsborg, Kans., and Mrs. Anna Carlsson of Lindsborg. 

Rev. Swensson 's duties as preacher and pastor left him no time 
for literary work. A modest little pamphlet on a religious topic, pub- 
lished by him while still in Sweden, is the only published product of 
his pen. 

Omitting details, the further story of the Andover church may 
be briefly told. After a vacancy of one and one-half years, Rev. Swens- 
son 's place was filled in the spring of 1875 by Rev. Erland Carlsson, of 
Chicago, another of the venerable pioneers of the Swedish Lutheran 
Church of America. He had charge until 1884, when ill health com- 
pelled him to resign. In 1875 a parsonage was built at a cost of $3,600. 

Rev. Carlsson devoted himself to the watering of the spiritual seed 
sown by Swensson in this field, and in this as well as in his efforts to 
educate the children and keep the young people in the church he suc- 
ceeded remarkably well. After being three years without a permanent 
pastor, the church in 1887 called Rev. Victor Setterdahl who labored 
here for a period of eighteen years, or until the spring of 1905. In 
March, 1900, the fiftieth anniversary of the Andover church was 
celebrated with festivities befitting the occasion. The successor of 
Setterdahl is Rev. Carl P. Edblom. In 1906, the church had a total 
membership of 1,120. of whom 684 were communicants. 

The Andover church is not only the oldest of the Swedish Lutheran 
churches in this country but also one of the richest, most stable and 
most conservative. It would be hard to find a church anywhere whose 
members are so generally well-to-do and financially independent as are 
the parishioners of Andover. A visitor today does not easily realize 


that little more than half a century ago the first Swedish settlers began 
to build homes in this locality, organize themselves into a congregation 
and erect a church, all this under the most discouraging conditions. 

Rev. Tuve Nilsson Hasselquist 

The second in order of the ministers of the Swedish state church 
who came over during the pioneer days in order to minister to the 
spiritual wants of their poor and widely scattered fellow countrymen 
in Illinois was Rev. T. N. Hasselquist from Skane. He came here in the 
autumn of 1852 and for almost forty years aided in framing and up- 
building the Swedish Lutheran Church of America in various capacities, 
as pastor, as editor of the church paper and for a period of thirty years 
as president of its college and theological seminary. Esbjorn and 
Hasselquist are the central figures around which are grouped all the 
principal events of the early days of the Swedish Lutheran Church of 
this country. While the work of Esbjorn, the founder, is of primary 
importance to Swedish Lutherans in Illinois and all America, that of 
Hasselquist was no less significant, including, as it did, both the task 
of developing and establishing the church on the foundations already 
laid and of taking up new lines of work, for instance, the founding of 
the first Swedish newspaper in the United States as the organ of that 

Tuve Nilsson Hasselquist was born in the parish of Ousby, in north- 
ern Skane, March 2, 1816. His parents were country folk of the sub- 
stantial sort. Their sons were given a fairly thorough education at 
home. Rev. Collin, the rector of the parish, having noticed that the 
boy Tuve had a good head for study, urged his father to send him to 
school to fit him for a learned career. Consequently, at the age of 
fourteen, he entered a school at Kristianstad and there adopted the 
name of Hasselquist, from that of his native place Hasslarod. 

After only five years, young Hasselquist passed the examination 
for admission to the university of Lund, where he began his theological 
studies after being engaged for some time as a private tutor. He was 
examined for the ministry by the Lund chapter and ordained by Bishop 
Faxe the day before midsummer, in 1839, being at once appointed 
curate of the parishes of Everlof and Slimminge. Here he remained 
for one year, and was subsequently assigned to Kristianstad. After 
another year, he was transferred in 1842 to the parishes of Glimakra 
and Orkened in the northeast corner of the province. 

Young as he was, Rev. Hasselquist was already widely known for 
his true Christian character and his devotion to his pastoral calling. 
His sermons were full of spirit and power. Not confining himself to 
the Sunday morning sermon, he held Bible study meetings on Sunday 


afternoons and other religious meetings here and there in the parish 
during the week. He had the reputation of being a very earnest 
" revivalist preacher," and was a zealous temperance advocate, often 
appearing on the same platform with that warm-hearted temperance 
agitator Pehr Wieselgren. 

In 1845, after serving there for three years, he became curate under 
old Rector Nordstrom of Onnestad, after whose death he became tem- 
porary rector of the church. The arrival of Hasselquist to Onnestad 
marked the beginning of a period of spiritual revival for that locality. 
He labored assiduously, sowing the seed of truth, and was gratified to 
notice that it bore rich fruit. Toward the end of the forties, Hassel- 
quist was assigned as curate to Akarp and Wittsjo, in northern Skane, 
where he labored for several years. His time of service as assistant 
pastor was thirteen years in all. His frequent transfers from place to 
place gave him the advantage of an extensive personal acquaintance 
throughout a large part of northern Skane. He thus became widely 
known for his Christian zeal and sincerity, his ability as a preacher and 
his earnest efforts to substitute good morals for the prevalent license 
of the times. 

Had he remained in Sweden. Hasselquist would doubtless very 
soon have occupied a prominent place among the clergy. But provi- 
dence had decreed that he was to serve, not the state church of Sweden, 
but the Lutheran Church at large by becoming a pioneer of Lutheranism 
and of general culture in a foreign land. It was a trifling circumstance 
that primarily brought about Hasselquist 's emigration. Rev. Esbjorn 
greatly needed an assistant in his work among the Swedes of Illinois, 
and was casting about for a suitable man. The outlook was not en- 
couraging, and for a time it seemed as though these people were to be 
left to the choice between joining American churches and living with- 
out any church connections whatever. At this juncture, a settler named 
Ola Nilsson, hailing from Onnestad, came to the assistance of Rev. 
Esbjorn. He knew Hasselquist well and suggested that he would un- 
doubtedly come, provided he were fully convinced of the urgent need 
of spiritual workers among his fellow countrymen here. 

Rev. Esbjorn promptly followed his friend's advice. He arranged 
to have the newly organized congregation in Galesburg call Hassel- 
quist as pastor, with the promise of a small salary. In addition, Esbjorn 
obtained a small appropriation from the American Board of Home 
Missions. Rev. Hasselquist received the call in the early part of the 
year 1852. Looking upon it as a call not only from the Swedes of 
Galesburg, but directly from God, he accepted it without hesitation, 
although his chances for promotion in the state church were the best. 
Before starting on his long and significant voyage, he was united 


in marriage to his heart's choice, Miss Eva Helena Cervin of Kristian- 
stad, a woman of exceptional strength of character, who was to be of 
inestimable assistance to him in the great work he was about to under- 
take in the new country. 

Accompanied by his bride and a party of sixty emigrants from 
northern Skane, Hasselquist left for America late in the summer of 
1852. The party arrived in New York Sept. 28th, thence taking the 
usual route to Chicago. The Synod of Northern Illinois was just in 
session in the latter city, and there Hasselquist and Esbjorn now met 
for the first time. We can readily imagine the cordiality of this meet- 
ing. Hasselquist was at once admitted to the synod and soon thereafter 
preached his first sermon in this country. After adjournment of the 
synod, he left for Andover, whence Esbjorn took him and his wife 
across country to Galesburg, a twenty-five mile ride over the worst 
kind of country roads. 

The reception accorded the new pastor by his church was rather 
discouraging. It was a raw and drizzly autumn day. Everything 
about the place had a poverty-stricken appearance. There was no 
delegation of church members to bid him welcome, and no home in 
readiness to receive him. Just outside the town, Esbjorn with his 
guests met a Swedish settler, and, thinking to please the man, intro- 
duced Hasselquist as the new Swedish pastor. Instead of politely 
bidding him welcome, the Swede rudely inquired, "What business has 
he got to come here?" 

The congregation in Galesburg was a very small one. Organized 
in 1851, just a year before, it had only a few members, all poor, and 
neither a church nor a parsonage. All this might have been ignored, 
however, had it only been what it purported to be, a Lutheran church, 
but such was not the case. It was more Congregationalist than any- 
thing else, being under the influence of the American Congrega- 
tionalists, with students from Knox College, a Congregationalist in- 
stitution, conducting its Sunday school. 

Eev. Hasselquist and his bride were assigned quarters in a little 
shanty, half of which was occupied by a former Erik Janssonist, 
addicted to drink. The man was comparatively peaceable, but his wife 
was a veritable virago who kept lecturing and cursing her liege lord 
from morning till night. Here, indeed, extremes met under one roof: 
on one side of the partition there was quarreling and cursing, on the 
other, praying and singing. The Hasselquists occupied two rooms, the 
one fair-sized, the other a mere closet. The first was made to serve as 
sitting-room, study, parlor, kitchen and bedchamber combined. The 
furniture was in keeping with some of these functions, while most of 
the things making for home comfort were lacking. At first they had 



no bed, but slept on the floor; the trunk in which Hasselquist had 
brought his books had to do duty as a dining table, ""he roof of this 
primitive dwelling leaked so badly that the floor was flooded every 
time it rained. 

Thus Rev. Hasselquist began his labors in Galesburg under any- 
thing but favorable auspices. Not only was the congregation a small 
and poor one, and split up by divergences in religious beliefs, but worse 
still, there was a general opinion decidedly antagonistic to Swedish 


Lutheran church work in this locality. From the neighboring Bishop 
Hill colony many persons who had tired of the Prophet Erik Jansson 
and now were indifferent to religion in any form had moved into 
Galesburg. On the other hand, there was the Swedish Methodist strong- 
hold at Victoria which had extended its operations to Galesburg and 
there made many converts. And after the year 1852 the Baptists 
added a third element of opposition. To all these people a Swedish 
Lutheran clergyman, in the garb of the state church and following its 
prescribed ritual, was not much better than a Catholic. The Methodists, 
in particular, made Esbjorn and Hasselquist out to be spiritually dead, 
although in the old country these same men had been looked upon as 
altogether too zealous and devout in their Christianity to suit the free 
and easy church members. 

By his preaching and his living, Hasselquist, however, soon dis- 
proved the statements of his antagonists. But he found greater 
difficulty in overcoming the prejudices entertained against him by the 
professors at Knox College. These men evidently held a poor opinion 
of the Swedish clergy to whom they considered themselves far superior 
in every respect. Eventually, they learned to know him as a man of 
erudition, zeal and earnestness in his calling, qualities which compelled 
their respect. 

Among the very first cares that fell upon Hasselquist 's shoulders 
was the task of raising funds for a church building. With much 
difficulty the means were procured and a church erected, which not 
long after was found inadequate and had to be enlarged. The field 
was constantly being extended, so that at the synodical meeting of 
1853 Hasselquist could report that his pastorate consisted of no less 
than four congregations, with a total of 191 communicants. The four 
congregations referred to were those of Galesburg and Knoxville and, 
supposedly. Wataga and Altona. The Sunday school of the Galesburg 
congregation, which up to that time had been in the hands of the 
Congregationalists, was reorganized in August, 1853, and at that time 
consisted of five teachers and 27 pupils. 

Rev. Hasselquist remained at Galesburg for eleven years. During 
this period, besides his pastoral work in the local field, he carried on an 
extensive missionary work both in Illinois and in adjacent states. 
Numberless were his journeys during these eleven years, and beset 
with the hardships that attended travel in those days, when railroads 
were still unknown in this territory. A number of new congregations 
were founded by him, among which the Immanuel Church of Chicago. 
His missionary field extended eastward all the way to New York and 
to the north as far as Minnesota. In the new country Hasselquist 
evinced the same qualities that distinguished him in Sweden, only in 



a more potent degree. His zeal was increased and his love of his 
fellow countrymen grew in warmth when he saw Avhat was their con- 
dition, spiritually and materially. 

Rev. Tuve Nilsson Hasselquist 

In the intense opposition he encountered, even within his own 
church, he had ample cause for not strictly adhering to the ritualism 
of the state church of Sweden. Within and without his congregation 
there were many who cherished not the slightest respect for the re- 


ligious usages of their forefathers, but had the greatest admiration 
for everything that they knew or supposed to be American. 

Among the growing number of Swedish Lutheran churches of 
America Hasselquist early came to be recognized as a very efficient 
man. And when the Augustana Synod was organized he was chosen 
its first president. To this responsible position he was subsequently 
re-elected each year for a decade. This was the patriarchal period in 
the history of the synod. Hasselquist was no stickler on parliamentary 
law, the main thing with him being to get a clear and many-sided view 
of the subject in hand for the purpose of arriving at a good, sensible 
decision. "Whether or not such decision was in accord with the intricate 
rules of debate caused him no worry. Nevertheless, he could not be 
accused of despotism or arbitrariness. He was simply a father among 
the brethren. Though not in name, yet in fact he was the bishop of the 
widely scattered congregations of the synod, among which he made 
frequent official visits, learning to know his people and becoming 
known by them. 

The life work of Hasselquist, however, was neither that of a pastor 
nor of a synodical president ; it was to be performed in the capacity of 
president of the Augustana Theological Seminary, to which was sub- 
sequently added a complete college. In 1863 Hasselquist was elected 
the successor of Rev. Esbjorn as president of that institution, a position 
in which he was destined to exert a far-reaching influence. 

Previous reference has been made to Hasselquist as the founder of 
the Swedish press of the United States. He earned that title in the 
autumn of 1854 when he began preparations for publishing from Gales- 
burg "Garnla och Nya Hemlandet, " the first Swedish- American news- 
paper, whose first issue appeared on Jan. 3, the following year. Hassel- 
quist held the position of editor for four years, until 1858. In 1856 he 
also founded a religious paper, "Det Ratta Hemlandet," from which 
sprung "Augustana," the present organ of the Augustana Synod. 
From 1868 to 1889 this paper was published under the name of 
"Augustana och Mission aren," Hasselquist continuing these twenty- 
one years as its editor. He is also author of several books of a 
religious character. 

In 1881 Rev. Hasselquist lost his wife through death, their 
daughter Hanna having died four years before; and ten years after 
his wife's death the venerable patriarch himself passed away. He died 
Feb. 4, 1891, and at his funeral both the speakers and the great silent 
assemblage bore testimony to the great loss sustained by the Swedish- 
American nationality. Hasselquist left two sons, Nathanael and 
Joshua, and a daughter. Esther. 

Among the marks of distinction conferred upon Hasselquist may 



mentioned the title of Doctor of Divinity by Muhlenberg College and 
the order of the Polar Star by King Oscar of Sweden. 

Lutheran WorH. in Galesburg' 

The foundation for Swedish Lutheran church work in Galesburg 
was laid in November, 1849, by Eev. L. P. Esbjorn. In the early part 
of 1850, the building of a small meeting-house was begun at his sugges- 
tion and with his cooperation. The sum of $550 was subscribed as 
early as Feb. 28th. Although many Americans interested themselves 
in the undertaking, the work was delayed, and not until the latter part 
of May the foundation, outer walls and steeple were constructed. The 
foundation was of brick, the superstructure of frame and the dimen- 
sions of the building were, length, 40 feet, width, 30 feet, and height, 
18 feet. As yet, the congregation had not been organized, owing to the 
opposition of the Methodists. 

Aug. 24, 1851, Rev. Esbjorn, on request, held communion services 
at Galesburg and after services the names of those wishing to become 
members of a Swedish Lutheran congregation were asked to give their 
names. Forty persons responded and these constituted the first 
Swedish Lutheran congregation of that city. In the fall of the same 
year, Rev. Esbjorn designated Gustaf Palmquist, a former school-teach- 
er from Sweden, as pastor of the church. He gained the confidence 
of the people, but being a Baptist at heart, although not a confessed 
one, his work was not calculated to strengthen, but rather to disrupt 
and weaken the church, whose members were already wavering between 
the Methodist and the Congregational faith. In June, 1852, Palmquist 
joined the Baptists and celebrated the event by calling a jubilee meet- 
ing in the Lutheran meeting-house, at which he declared that not until 
now had he obeyed the will of God in receiving the Christian baptism. 
To show the nature of the Methodist opposition to Lutheran work in 
Galesburg it may be stated that Rev. Jonas Hedstrom, by spreading the 
report that the Swedish Lutherans in the place were a mere handful, 
that they differed very little from the Catholics, succeeded in dampen- 
ing the interest of the Americans in the Lutheran meeting-house to the 
extent that many of them repudiated their subscriptions toward its 
erection. By intrigue, the building, before completion, fell into the 
hands of the American Methodists, the Lutherans, however, being 
privileged to use it. After the arrival of Rev. Hasselquist, the Swedish 
Lutheran congregation purchased the building for the sum of $1,600, 
and shortly afterward had it enlarged. This first church edifice stood 
on the same spot where the present church is located. Having now a 
house of worship of their own, the Swedish Lutherans were in a better 
position to avoid undue influence from the other denominations. The 



church was neither lighted nor provided with seats, making it .neces- 
sary for the churchgoers to bring their own chairs and tallow candles. 
In spite of the latter, the gloom that pervaded the edifice of a Sunday 
night was so dense that the preacher was scarcely able to distinguish 
his hearers. 

In the cholera epidemic of 1854, the church suffered the loss of a 
number of members. The scourge, however, had the effect of causing a 
spiritual revival among the survivors, and Hasselquist seized this favor- 
able opportunity to work upon the hearts of his flock by holding meet- 
ings every evening for one week during the month of August. He was 

The First Swedish Lutheran Church of Galesburg, Erected in 1852 

assisted by Rev. M. F. Hokanson of New Sweden, la. The result of 
the week's work was that about one hundred persons applied for mem- 
bership in the churches at Galesburg and Knoxville. In the latter 
place the ravages of the pest were greater than at Galesburg, craving 
no less than forty victims among the Swedes. 

In the fall of 1855, Rev. Hasselquist obtained an assistant in the 
person of P. A. Cederstam, a theological student from Chicago who was 
licensed to preach the following March. Owing to the great lack of 
ministers, he was not long permitted to remain here, but was sent to 
Minnesota the following May. A year later Hasselquist received a new 
assistant in his brother-in-law, A. R. Cervin, a teacher from the old 
country, who aided him in the work for more than a year. 


There was much ungodliness to contend with during this period, 
necessitating a very strict application of church discipline. The warn- 
ings and admonitions of these men being left unheeded, excommunica- 
tion was resorted to. Drunkenness and licentiousness were the vices 
most prevalent. Dancing, improper conduct in church and negligence in 
attending divine services were also causes for disciplinary measures. 

Surrounded on all sides by those who hated everything savoring 
of the cult and practices of the Swedish state church, Eev. Hasselquist 
was driven too far in his concessions to the customs and usages of the 
American Reformed churches. Thus, it was no uncommon thing for 
him to make his appearance in church of a Sunday morning dressed in 
a white linen duster in place of the black clerical coat, and walk down 
the aisle singing one of Ahnfelt's songs in which the congregation 
would join. He would then go directly to the pulpit, read a text, offer 
a prayer and then commence preaching. Suddenly he would interrupt 
himself by singing another familiar song, subsequently picking up the 
thread of his discourse where he had dropped it. The services would 
end as unceremoniously as they began. These concessions to arbitrary 
usage were not without effect on the congregation. A faction was 
formed that held it to be wrong for the minister to wear a coat of 
clerical cut, read the confession or follow the ritual. These persons 
also considered it wrong to remain standing during the reading of the 
gospel and epistle text before the altar, and consequently remained 
seated when the congregation arose. They demanded that the pastor 
should sit r and not stand, before the altar, and insisted that he discard 
the clerical neck-band. They made so much of this that when Hakan 
Olsson, one of Hasselquist 's pupils, after ordination appeared with 
that mark of the ecclesiastical office, one of the deacons stepped up to 
him with the evident intention of tearing that innocent little article of 
apparel from his neck. This movement, which at first seemed insignifi- 
cant, developed to such an extent that even before Hasselquist left 
Galesburg lists were circulated for the purpose of soliciting members 
for a free church. Such a one was established in 1869 under the name 
of the Second Lutheran Church of Galesburg. Such was the result of 
Hasselquist 's thoughtless departure from a strict conformity to or- 
thodox usage in the church of his native land. 

When Rev. Esbjo'rn returned to Sweden, Rev. Hasselquist became 
his successor as president of the Augustana Theological Seminary, tak- 
ing his new position in 1863. In the fall of the same year Rev. 
A. W. Dahlsten assumed charge of the Galesburg church, preaching 
there once a month until New Year's, 1864, when he removed to Gales- 
burg. The influence of the saloons and the dance halls at this time was 
a great source of worry to the pastor and the church council. The 



disturbing element from the time of Hasselquist was still active and 
had acquired added strength. Certain persons worked with might and 
main against the pastor and to have the existing order of services 
abolished, demanding that any clergyman, no matter of what denomina- 
tion, should have the right to preach in their church. When this was 
refused, they sent a petition to the synod, setting forth these demands, 
adding the request that part of the liturgical service be abolished. 

The synod positively refused to grant the petition, whereupon the 
petitioners set to work on a plan to secede from the synod. They failed 
again. At a special meeting of the church, a large majority of the 
congregation resolved to abide by the decision of the synod. 

The First Swedish Lutheran Church of Galesburg, Erected in 1870 

In 1868 the old church, which had been enlarged by an addition 
during Hasselquist 's time, was found to be too small and a new edifice 
was planned. At first it was decided to build a second addition at one 
end of the old structure, but as this would involve a considerable ex- 
pense without affording the space needed either for the present or for 
the future, this plan was given up. Next it was resolved to widen the 
church by moving the side walls, but this plan also fell through. 
Finally, the congregation resolved to erect an entire new edifice, to be 
100x60 feet, but only $400 being subscribed, the whole enterprise was 
abandoned for the time being. The following year the matter was 
again taken up and on the 4th of April a resolution was passed to begin 
building as soon as $2,000 had been subscribed. 

Rev. Dahlsten having resigned after serving the church for six 
years, the congregation, a few days after deciding to build a new 
church, extended a call to Rev. A. Andreen to succeed Dahlsten. Fif- 


teen members left the church and, together with a few others, organized 
the proposed free church. During the ensuing vacancy, several others 
deserted. This had the effect of cleansing the church from that un- 
wholesome and pernicious element which for some time past had 
created disturbances and stunted the growth of the congregation. Rev. 
Andreen declined the call, and the church again called Rev. Hassel- 
quist only to receive a negative answer. Next a call was extended to 
Rev. N. Th. Winquist of DeKalb, who accepted and remained in charge 
for somewhat over three years. During his term, the new church was 
finished and the final report of the work was rendered March 4, 1870. 
The edifice was found to have cost $13,371.75, of which amount $6,784 
had been raised by subscription, the balance representing debt. This 
church, which for many years was the largest in the city, is still used 
as a house of worship. Its dimensions are : length, 100 feet ; width, 60 
feet ; height of side walls, 22 feet ; height of steeple, 165 feet. The task 
of reducing the church debt was next taken up, and much was accom- 
plished, partly by subscription, partly by the collection of pew rents. 
At this juncture, the members living at Henderson left and organized a 
congregation of their own. The schoolhouse was moved and provided 
with new seats, and new life was injected into the work of construc- 
tion; a church bell was purchased; the parsonage was renovated, and 
about this time the new constitution for the churches, revised by the 
synod, was adopted. 

Rev. Winquist left in 1873 and was succeeded in the fall of the 
same year by Rev. S. P. A. Lindahl. The peace and harmony that had 
prevailed during the time of Rev. Winquist was disturbed by one F. 
Lagerman, who filled the pulpit in the interval, sharply criticising in 
his sermons everything that fell below his exalted standard of Luther- 
anism. By coolheadedness and a conciliatory policy, the new pastor 
succeeded in restoring peace, the work progressing smoothly there- 
after. In 1878 the church purchased an organ at a cost of $2,350 and 
built a new parsonage. A house and lot was bought, the old house was 
sold and a new one erected, the total outlay for the new property stop- 
ping at $3,000. During Rev. Lindahl's time in Galesburg, the church 
carried on a vigorous campaign against the secret societies, but in 
spite of this and other disturbing influences the church, on the whole, 
made steady progress. 

In November, 1884, Rev. Lindahl resigned his .charge. He was 
succeeded by Rev. C. A. Backman of Ishpeming, Mich., who moved to 
his new field July 1st, the following year. In the summer of 1885 a 
large and commodious schoolhouse was erected. A year later, the 
church was renovated at an outlay of $1,300, and in 1887 a hall was 
provided for the young people by raising the schoolhouse, the total 



expense amounting to $1,300. Societies were organized and several 
new lines of endeavor were taken up. 

Rev. Backman, however, was not permitted long to labor in this 
field, death cutting short his promising career on March 6, 1888, before 
he had completed his thirty-fifth year. The vacancy was temporarily 
supplied by a student who by his personal conduct created the most 
serious disruption in the stormy history of the congregation, resulting 
a couple of years later in the expulsion of no less than 236 com- 
municant members. The effects of this schism were felt for years 

This movement was headed by C. A. Nybladh, who subsequently 
became a minister of the Episcopal Church. From his following the 
Swedish Episcopal Church of Galesburg was organized. 

The permanent successor of Rev. Backman was Rev. C. J. E. 
Haterius whose installation took place April 1