Settling in Minnesota
My grandfather, Olof Bengts (Ole B.) Andersson, was born at Nusnas, Mora on February 21, 1875 (birth certificate). The birth records of Ole B. and Christina were acquired by an Olson relative who travelled to Sweden to visit family. Ole B.'s father was a jordbrukaren, or farmer/peasant, and his mother was a housewife. Ole B. was the youngest of 6 children: Brita, born 1859, Anders, born 1861, Marget, born 1864, Kerstin, born 1867, and Anna, born 1872.
Ole B. was just a toddler when his parents decided to take advantage of the opportunities in the United States and struck out for America in 1877. The 1862 Homestead Act in the United States was a major encouragement for Europeans to move to America. In 1867 Minnesota established a State Board of Immigration to encourage settlers from Europe. Both the Board and the railroads advertised and producted pamphlets for distribution in European countries promoting Minnesota farmland and the excellent quality of life. These pamphlets were published in both English and Swedish.
See passenger list below.
See Emigranten Popular, 1783-1951, for Swedish Emigration Record.
These records were acquired from the Ancestry.com database.
The family settled in Minnesota, where Ole B.'s father homesteaded land in Gennessee Township, Kandiyohi County. Kandiyohi County, named for Kandiyohi Lake, reminded the family of the home they'd left behind. It was just as beautiful as Lake Siljan and its surroundings. "Kandiyohi" is the Dakota name for several lakes, meaning "where the buffalo fish come".
Bengts Olof Andersson is listed in the 1880 U.S. Census as Anderson. In the 1885 Minnesota Census, he and his wife were still Anderson, but the children's last names were changed to Olson. As Ole B. was only 10 years old in 1885, it was unlikely that he changed his name on his own.
Bengts's farm was probably about 160 acres, or a quarter section. He probably raised livestock as well as farming the land. The Olsons always had livestock, such as cattle, horses, chickens, ducks, and turkeys, plus dogs and cats, when they lived in Saskatchewan. The Olsons and their descendents are great lovers of animals, especially cats, dogs and horses. Ole had a certain talent for taking care of the veterinary needs of his animals, so perhaps he acquired this knowledge from his father.
By 1890, more than 1,300,000 people lived in Minnesota. Wheat was shipped from Minnesota on a commercial basis starting in 1858. Crops were developed for the extreme climate conditions in Minnesota which led to increased production. Wheat was shipped to Minneapolis by train where it was milled into flour for export. Early mills such as General Mills and Pillsbury evolved into multinational corporations and they still exist today. As the land to the west opened up to wheat production, other commodities were developed in Minnesota, such as milk, butter and cheese and in the 1880's dairy products were an important part of the Minnesota economy. The cream separator was invented in 1878 which also increased dairy production. Butter and cheese was manufactured in most of the communities of southern Minnesota. Raising livestock was an important part of farming, and large packing plants were built in St. Paul where Minnesota farmers could ship their cattle for sale. Corn increased in production because corn was needed to feed livestock. Cooperatives developed to help farmers sell their products. They enabled immigrant farmers to carry out their business transactions using their own language and helped to complete the network of trading centers. Cooperation between citizens was important to these early immigrants and they were involved in setting up township fire insurance cooperatives, cooperative creameries, stores, and rural telephone associations.
Ole B. and his siblings would have attended a country school, perhaps even the school in the photo below (Willmar School). Little Ole was only 2 when the family arrived in the United States, so he probable attended school in about 1881.
Willmar Country School
Ole would have also helped on the farm as he got older, doing chores with his father and brother Andrew. Andrew was 14 years older than Ole B. Bengts may have acquired more land to increase his farming operation. He only had two sons, who both left to pursue homestead opportunities in Canada when they grew up.
Ole B. and his family attended the Lutheran Church in Willmar, where he was confirmed in about 1888 to 1890. Ole B. is 2nd from the right, back row. Willmar township took its name from the village of Willmar that was platted in 1869. The township was organized January 4, 1870. The townsite was named in honour of Leon Willmar, an agent for the St. Paul and Pacific railroad.
Ole B. met Christina Logstrom, a beautiful young girl who had recently arrived from Helsingtuna, Sweden. Ole B. and Christine fell in love and were married on December 2, 1897, by a Justice of the Peace in Willmar. They may have met at church, which was a large part of the lives of these immigrants. The Andersons must have been active in the Lutheran Church because Ole B. was confirmed.
It is interesting to note that Christine was 3 months pregnant when she and Ole B. married. Love and young couples weren't so much different from today - Ole B. was 22 and Chris was only 18. They were both very attractive and I can see how they would have fallen in love with each other. When they decided to marry, perhaps the church they belonged to didn't have a resident minister. In rural Minnesota, many of the ministers covered more than one church, and this led to their absence from the local church from time to time. Ole B. and Christine were married by a Justice of the Peace in Willmar so they perhaps didn't want to wait until the minister arrived because of the pregnancy. I always think of Ole and Christine spending time together in the beautiful countryside of Minnesota and their wedding day when I hear the song, "If I Should Fall Behind" on Faith Hill's "Breath" album.
Ole B. and Christine lived with Ole B.'s parents on their farm prior to their move to Canada in 1905. The young couple and their four young children probably all shared a room on the Anderson farm. The house was a large, two-story house on the top of a rise. As Ole was the youngest, most of his older sisters were married and gone from home, so it would have been just he and Andrew still living on the farm. Christine would have helped her mother-in-law in the house with the household chores and taking care of the milking and feeding the turkeys, ducks and chickens, and Ole would have helped his father and Andrew with farming the land and caring for the horses, cattle and pigs.
Christine looks a bit worried in this picture. Perhaps she is anticipating the move to Canada. When the family started out for Canada, they had four children: Walter (age 7), Esther (age 5), George (age 3), and Eddie (age 1), who was just a baby.
Chris and Baby (Eddie?)