Sweden

Swedish Crest

Nusnas, Mora

SS Orlando at Sea

SS Orlando at Sea

Ships in Glasgow Harbour

Ships in Glasgow Harbour

Chicago Railway Station

Chicago Railway Station, 1870

Mora, on Lake Siljan, Sweden

Mora is the largest town on Lake Siljan. It is located on a promontory near the spot where the Osterdalalven flows into the lake, and is the center of an old parish. Nusnas is a small village a few kilometres away from Mora, and is famous for the little Dalecarlian horses that are manufactured there. A Viking settlement 6,000 years old has been discovered on the island of Sollerson, and large Viking burial grounds have been uncovered near Bengtsarvet, both quite close to Mora. The area is heavily forested, and nowhere else is fir of such good quality. The scenery is breathtaking, with an abundance of plants and animals.

Bengts Olof Andersson, our great grandfather, was born on September 13, 1833, at Nusnas, Mora, Sweden (see Family Search page). His wife, our great grandmother, Olpers Margit Matsdotter, was born at Nusnas on July 28, 1833. They were married at Mora on March 25, 1859. Margit may have worn a dress like the wedding dress in the banner, which is a traditional Swedish wedding dress of the 1800's. They had six children: Brita, born October 17, 1859, Anders, born June 3, 1861, Marget, born August 7, 1864, Kerstin, born March 9, 1867, Anna, born March 16, 1872, and our grandfather, Olof Bengts, born February 21, 1875. All the children were born at Nusnas, a small village not far from Mora. Bengts Olof was a jordbrukaren, or farmer.

In the early 1800s, many Swedes were leaving Sweden for America. Towards the end of the century, the Swedish government feared they would lose all their young people, which made up a large part of their farming and working class. In Swedish society, the working classes were looked down on and treated with disdain. This contrasted with America where the working classes were respected, and hard work and dreams were all you needed to succeed. The Swedish government published propaganda criticizing the move to America and the difficult life and poor living conditions these emigrants would encounter in their new country. This propaganda did not deter these adventurous people from setting out for a new life - many of them had relatives in Canada and the United States that had emigrated and were writing letters home about how well they were doing, and the wonderful opportunities in the North American west. By 1890, close to one million Swedes had emigrated to America. Most settled in Minnesota and the states surrounding Minnesota because of the homestead opportunities and inexpensive, fertile land.

The Andersson family left Sweden in 1877 and set out for America. The shipping lines, particularly the Wilson Line, had agents in the rural areas of Sweden that sold emigrants travel packages that included travel and accommodation from their home to their destination in America. The Anderssons travelled by train to Göteborg, then sailed to Hull on the east coast of England aboard the Orlando 2 on June 15, 1877. Once they arrived in Hull, they would have been provided with food and accommodation in the lodging houses while they waited for their train to Glasgow. Most emigrants only stayed in the lodging houses when necessary and most arrived in and departed from Hull within 24 hours.

Gothenburg
Emigration Record - Bengt Olof Andersson, June 15, 1877

Orlando 2
Orlando 2, Wilson Line, Sweden to England

My grandfather, Olof Bengts (Ole B.) Andersson, who was born in 1875 was only 2 years old when the family made this trip. It must have been quite an adventure for him. It also must have been stressful for Ole B's mother because Anna was only 4 and Kerstin 8. It is not known at this time whether any other family members came to America with the Anderssons, although it is certainly possible. I am sure a young couple with 6 children would hesitate to make this journey on their own.

Hull Emigrant Waiting Room
Emigrant Waiting Room, Hull, England

The next leg on their journey was by train, from Hull to Glasgow via York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The newly built York train station opened a month before the Andersson's travelled through York. The train station in Newcastle had just opened in June 1877. There was also a fairly new station in Edinburgh, the Waverly Station, which was built in 1866. The Queen Street Station in Glasgow was built in 1842. They boarded the SS State of Indiana in Glasgow, travelled through the Irish Sea, where they stopped at Larne, Northern Ireland.

At Larne, a mail route was established in 1875 and a trans-Atlantic service between Glasgow, Larne and New York began in 1873. Using the renowned State Line vessels, this service continued until December 1889 and many hundreds of emigrants left Larne to start a new life in America.

Present York Train Station
Modern York Train Station, Opened in 1877

Glasgow Harbour
Glasgow Harbour

Bridge Street Train Station, Glasgow - 1870
Bridge Street Train Station, Glasgow - 1870

State of Indiana
State of Indiana, State Line Steamship Company

The journey across the sea to Larne, Ireland, from Glasgow is very picturesque. Larne is about 20 kilometres north of the city of Belfast. The journey across the Irish Sea would not have taken too long.

Larne, Ireland
Larne, Ireland

My sister and I visited Larne and the Antrim Coast in June of 2009. We chose to stay in Larne because there were a few political troubles in Belfast so when we arrived in Belfast by plane from Glasgow, we rented a car and drove to Larne. The next day we drove up the Antrim Coast to Giants Causeway. This is a particularly beautiful part of Ireland, so I am sure the Anderssons enjoyed their time at Larne.

Antrim Coast Highway
Antrim Coast Highway

The "State of Indiana" was launched in 1874 so it was a new ship. The journey across to New York took 12 days - they left Glasgow Harbour on June 22 and arrived in New York on July 4, 1877. Steerage (or between-deck) accommodations were unsurpassed for the time - separate compartments were provided for single men, married couples and families, and single women. The ship was very clean with good ventilation, and the entire ship was heated by steam during the cold weather. The food was good for the times, and much improved over the previous ships' menus. Breakfast was at 9:00 and consisted of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, sugar, bread and butter or biscuits and butter. Dinner was at 1:00 pm, and consisted of soup, beef or pork with potatoes, and plum pudding on Sundays. Supper was at 6:00 pm, with tea, coffee or hot chocolate, sugar, bread and butter or biscuits and butter being served. Passengers could drink all the water they wanted.

The passengers were responsible for their own luggage on the journey to Hull from Sweden and beyond. They had to make sure it made it onto the train to Glasgow, then onto their transatlantic ship.

On their arrived in New York they would have sailed to Castle Garden, the immigration station at that time. They were required to have medical examinations. If a passenger had a contagious condition they were not allowed to proceed. The Anderssons passed the medical exams and carried on to a verbal examination. Probably the only person interviewed was Bengts Olof as the head of the family. He was asked questions through an interpretor. Swedish immigrants were well educated compared to other European immigrants, as most were taught to read and write through the Lutheran church.

The next leg of the journey was by train to Minneapolis, then on to Kandiyohi County. They probably travelled on the New York Central between New York and Chicago, a journey of about 24 hours. Then they would have changed trains in Chicago. Hopefully they arrived there before July 24 because rail traffic was paralyzed by angry mobs of groups of unemployed citizens, shutting down many of the train lines. This resulted from a series of strikes across the U.S. in 1877. The National Guard and federal troops arrived and on July 25 violence between police and the mob erupted with events reaching a peak on the 26th. These confrontations were quite violent. The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 lost momentum when President Hayes sent federal troops from city to city suppressing strike after strike until about 45 days after they started, the strikes finally ended.

From Chicago to Minnesota, they could have travelled on the Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Northern railway, which operated from 1876 to 1903. It had operations in Iowa and Minnesota. Then at Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twin Cities), they would have boarded the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, which ran directly from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Willmar and Atwater. In early 1878 the railroad was purchased by James J. Hill and he and his associates reorganized it as the St. Paul Minneapolis and Manitoba railroad, the precursor of the Great Northern railroad.

Willmar in 1876
Willmar in 1876

Willmar Railroad Station
Willmar Railway Station

Willmar
Willmar

The family made it safely to Minnesota because the U.S. Census has them living at Genessee Township, Kandiyohi, Minnesota in 1880 (see 1880 U.S. Census). Ole B. was 6 years old. Genessee township was organized in 1858 and named for the Genessee River area of New York where many of the township's settlers originated.

1880 Census Form - Bengt Ole Anderson
Completed for Ease of Reading

Atwater, a small village in Genessee Township, was located on the St. Paul and Pacific line.The railroad came to Kandiyohi County in 1869, bringing many Swedes and Norwegians. The village was founded in 1869 and named in honor of E. D. Atwater, secretary of the land department of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. It was incorporated February 17, 1876. Its post office opened in 1869 as Gennissee Station, with the name changing in 1870, first to Stockholm and then to Atwater. The area was also known as Summit Lake. Because of its location on the Great Northern Railway line, it was a center for grain storage and milling.

Willmar, Minnesota was also located on the railway going west from Minneapolis. Leon Willmar, a Belgian acting as a European bondholder of St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Company, purchased the title to Section 1 of Willmar Township. Work was carried out through the summer and fall of 1869 to complete the railroad to Willmar, which was finished by November 1869. Willmar was established as the county seat in 1871, and was incorporated as a village in 1874 and as a city in 1901.

The Anderssons would have been happy to see familiar landscapes as this part of Minnesota was very much like their home in Sweden, with beautiful lakes and fertile landscapes.

The Minnesota Territorial and State Census of 1885 gives us an idea when Ole B. became an "Olson". The names listed on the form were B.O. Anderson, Margit Anderson, B.A. Olson, Anna Olson, and Olaf Olson. The parents were Andersons and the children were Olsons ... this is a mystery. If the parents had followed the patronymic naming system of Sweden, the children's last name would have been Benson. If they had followed the traditions of America, their last name would have been Anderson. Perhaps we'll never know how we became Olsons. The Olsons were still living in Gennessee Township.

1885 Minnesota Census
1885 Minnesota Census - see Family 148

1885 Census Form - BO Anderson
Completed for Ease of Reading

We don't know much about the family's life in Minnesota during this time. They lived in a large house on top of a hill. In 1895, the Logstrom family lived in Gennessee, and this is where Ole B. met his future wife, Christine Logstrom. As can be seen in the 1895 Census, Ole B. was the only child living at home at the time. Ole B. and Christine probably attended the same Lutheran Church, the one that Ole B. was confirmed in, Immanuel Lutheran Church (as per correspondence from the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 2011). Christine and Ole B.were married on December 2, 1897 by a Justice of the Peace.

1885 Minnesota Census
1895 Minnesota Census - see Family 36

It is interesting to note that the census recorder, L.E. Cavell, did the Logstrom census on June 18 and the Anderson census on June 13.

On March 25, 1898, Ole B.'s mother, Olpers Margit Matsdotter, died on her wedding anniversary. She was only 65.

The 1900 United States Federal Census shows that the family was still living in Genessee Township on June 22, 1900. Ole B. and Christine are listed as being "Anderson" at this time and their two children, Walter and Esther, also had the last name Anderson. Walter was 2 and Esther was 5 months. Albert Anderson boarded with the family, and Mary Berg lived with them as their servant. It is interesting to note that in the old Olson photos, there is a picture of Martha Berg. Is this the same person?

1900 United States Census
1900 United States Census - Full Page

1900 United States Census
1900 United States Census - Entry for Bengts Ole Anderson

1900 Census Form - BO Anderson
Completed for Ease of Reading

Martha Berg
Martha Berg

In about April, 1904, Ole B.'s father moved to Kenmare, North Dakota, where he had a homestead. Christine and Ole B. lived with the Anderssons for the first part of their marriage, until they decided to strike out on their own, and took up a homestead in Saskatchewan, Canada. On September 14, 1904, Ole B.'s father died, and is buried in the cemetery south of Atwater (see Obituary - Bengts Olof Anderson). It was probably at this time that Andrew and Ole B. decided to emigrate to Canada.


Anders Andersson and Brita Olsson

Bengts Olof Andersson and Olpers Margit Matsdotter

Olson Origins - Changing of a Name

Olsons in Canada

Earl Olsons (the "Earls")