The Loström (Logström) family originated on the island of Gotland, located in the Baltic Sea. Our Greatgrandfather, Olof Reinhold Logström, was born in Visby in 1851. Gotland is 3,140 sq. km. in area, making it the second largest island of Sweden. The main source of income in the past was agriculture and animal husbandry. The region is part of the traditional area where the Goths, East Germanic tribes, originated.
Map of Gotland
People have lived on Gotland for over 7,000 years. Agriculture and animal husbandry were the mainstays of Bronze Age society (1800-500 BC), and specialized craftsmen and traders began to emerge. Early Bronze Age artifacts indicate that sacrifices were central to the ritual and ceremony of the era, and early Bronze Age objects have been uncovered that are almost certainly religious in nature, such as ritual axes, statues and figures of gods. During the Iron Age (400 to 550 AD) Gotlanders left in droves for the European mainland, and the ones who stayed built more than 100 forts to defend their island from invaders.
Picture stones, a type of carved, ornamental stone, found only on Gotland, were produced during the 5th to 8th centuries. Many are gravestones, and were decorated with vortexes and images of ships, people and animals. Later these were replaced by smaller, less skillfully carved stones.
The Viking era, 800 to 1050 AD, yields many picture stones and amazingly rich archealogical finds. These finds indicate that Gotland was an important Baltic trading hub. The population consisted mainly of farmers who lived in isolated, solitary farms. No villages existed on Gotland at this time. During this era, burial ritual gradually shifted from pagan to Christian. During the Viking era, the Gotland's skilled boat-builders and venturers travelled far and wide.
Archealogical discoveries indicate the Gotlanders traded with Europe during the reign of the Roman Empire and that the town of Visby was an important trading centre. Wealthy businessmen of the time showed their wealth by building private churches, many of which still exist. By the 11th century, Christianity had gained a firm foothold on the island.
During the 12th century, silver hoards suggest that the islanders' trading enterprises were very successful. More than 700 hoards have been found on Gotland, some containing coins from the Caliphate with many Western European coins appearing from the mid 10th century.
In 1361, tragedy struck the island of Gotland. King Valdemar IV of Denmark invaded and massacred 800 to 1,000 farmers just outside the Visby city walls. Five days later, the Danes fought a peasant army outside the city, with an estimated 1,800 peasants being killed by the Danes. Few Danish artifacts have been found in the area, so it is assumed Danish casualities were low. Following this devastating battle, the citizens of Visby surrendered. Mass graves have been discovered where the local farmers and a few bodies from the invading army are buried together. Two types of armor were found in the gravesites, the poorer quality belonging to the farmers. On the leg bones of the farmers were large gouges where the invading Danes cut the men down by hacking at their legs with their swords and breaking them. While the poor farmers were fighting to defend the island, the townspeople remained safe inside the city walls and looked on as their countrymen were slaughtered. This marked the end of Gotland's status as a powerful trading nation.
A mystical aura exists in the middle of the Baltic Sea, and it was here that the Vikings set out for the unknown East over 1,000 years ago. Gotland is an island of sagas, surrounded by the ghosts of the generations who lived there.
Our Greatgrandmother, Márta Persdotter, was born in 1857 in Tuna, Gävle, on mainland Sweden. She and Olof Reinhold Logström were married in 1876 at Tyrvalds, Gotland,and they had eight children: Peter Reinhold, Hilma Christine, Katrina Elizabeth, Gustaf Robert, Olof Edwin, Erik Albin, George Otto and Martha Hedvig.
The name Gävle derives from the old Swedish word meaning river banks and refers to the Gävle River. It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland (Northern Lands) region, and received its city charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria. Gävle began as a few small, low, turf or shingle roofed wooden buildings. During the 1700's the town rose around three important buildings: the church, the regional palace, and the town hall. Gävle has suffered fires on three different occasions over the years and was rebuilt each time, resulting in the beautiful esplanades and green areas of today. Gävle is a port city and both copper and iron were exported through Stockholm to foreign ports. During the 1500's Gävle was one of the most important port and merchant towns with many shipyards. In 1787 it was allowed to ship directly to its markets which increased trade significantly. Gävle has few shipyards left today, but over 1,000 ships call there each year, and Gävle is among the top 10 common ports in Sweden. Large forest and pulp industries exist in the area, and many people perceive Gävle as a stinky place as a result. Today the population is about 68,000.
Olof Reinhold Logström moved to Stockholm in 1873 when he was 22. In 1876 he and Margreta (Märta) Persdotter were married in Tyrvalds. In 1888 Olof moved his family to Helsingtuna, Hälsingland, and then he emigrated to the United States.
Olof Reinhold made the journery to the United States with his sisters, Augusta Dorothea Loström and Joanna Lovisa Loström. It is likely that they were joining Olof Reinhold's brother, Gustaf Robert Loström, who had made the trip to the United States in 1881.
Castle Garden Emigrant Landing Depot
Olof Reinhold's son, Peter, travelled to the U.S. at the young age of 14 to join his father. Then in 1892 Olof Reinhold returned to Sweden to move the remainder of his family to the United States. The family lived in Gennessee, Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, in 1895, according to the 1895 Minnesota Territorial and State Census. Gennessee is located near Atwater, Minnesota. Christina met Ole B. Olson, who was from the Willmar area of Minnesota and they were married in 1897. Olof Reinhold was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on April 10, 1900. He was farming in Kettle River, Pine County, Minnesota in 1900. In 1904 he made an application to homestead land at the land office in St. Cloud, Minnesota. His homestead was located north of Finlayson, Pine County, Minnesota. Big Pine Lake is located near Finlayson and is 387 acres in size. There are several small lakes in the area so this would have reminded the family of their home in Sweden.
In 1911, Marta passed away. Their youngest daughter, Martha, was about 12 at this time. Olof Reinhold visited relatives in Sweden from 1912 to 1913, then returned to Finlayson until 1923, when he returned to Sweden to visit family. He returned to the United States in 1924 but eventually moved back to Sweden where he remarried (wife: Anna Olsson). He died on his birthday in 1940 at Sanda, Gotland, Sweden.