29 March 2015

The Buffalo Years, 1846-1848 (Part 2)

J.W. Hill. Buffalo, New York. New York: Smith Brother & Co, 1853.  Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1970-188-1083 W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana, MIKAN No. 2836207.
   The end of the Erie Canal is hidden behind the buildings at the left of this birds eye view.  The trapezoidal area between the canal's terminus and the port of Buffalo is where the Norwegian Larson's boarding house was located.  The center of the view is Buffalo's Main Street in 1853 where ten years earlier Joseph Morrell had been a partner in Castle & Morrell.  The Buffalo Orphan Asylum was located in September 1846 at 240 Niagara Street, an area to the left of Main Street in this image and not far from Niagara Square.  The Asylum moved to Main Street and Virginia Street on 12 November 1846, a location in the center at the extreme edge of the city in this illustration.

Emedan vära penningar då voro slut, sä kunde vi icke komna längre utan mäste vi, tio familjer och några 13:a personer, stanna i Buffalo.1

Because we ran out of money, we could not go further and we, ten families and another 13 people, had to remain in Buffalo.

The saga told of the first Swedes who settled in Sugar Grove in 1848 ignored the considerable detail that their experiences in Buffalo were shared by 30 or 40 other passengers of the Virginia.  This blog will look at how these 10 families and 13 single men and women fared in moving on to their eventual destinations.  See the separate webpage (Manifest of the VIRGINIA 6 August 1846) that includes an annotated image of the manifest and a table of the passengers including their destinations.

My tabulations show a total of 13 families and 13 individuals on Captain Eric A. Jansson's manifest.  If Samuel Johnson's description was accurate, three families were able to continue with their travels, so not all of the passengers of the Virginia were stranded in Buffalo for two years.  Those families who were able to continue right away were likely to have been the families who settled in Iowa, the original destination for the passengers.  The passengers who remained in Buffalo changed their plans and settled in Illinois or Pennsylvania in 1848 instead of in Iowa.

The different ultimate destinations and arrivals tells us that the passengers aboard the Virginia acted autonomously (as family units or as individuals).  By contrast,  the passengers aboard the Augusta, who had arrived one week later than the Virginia,  acted together as a group and succeeded in reaching Iowa in September 1846.   

Passengers who continued on their way in 1846 or who settled in Iowa

John Farman's letter written in October 1846 in Iowa and then published in 1847 by Swedish newspapers is a significant document in the history of Swedish immigration.  Aside from what it tells us about Peter Cassel, it evidences Farman and his family's nearly direct travel from Buffalo to Iowa.  So not all of the passengers aboard the Virginia arrived in America with insufficient funds for their journey.  Since John Farman2 and his family were able to continue their journey  then this raises several possibilities:
  • Farman had sufficient funds to make the trip.  Although he complained about the costs of everything in his letter, he was prepared for the extra costs.
  • It is also possible, however, that he was able to borrow money from the emigrants from the Kisa area who were aboard the Augusta and who would have arrived one week later in Buffalo in their own boat.
  • Another possibility, less likely, is that Farman had negotiated with the transport agents for the group and had received favorable treatment as a result.  This is what Friedrich Kapp referred to as stooling.3

If Samuel Johnson's reckoning of the Swedes in Buffalo was accurate then two other families aboard the Virginia may have continued to their destination directly.  This would likely have been the other families who settled in New Sweden, Jefferson County, Iowa and included Philip Andersson4 and family and Anders Johan Andersson5 and his wife.

Other Passengers who arrived at their destinations in 1846 - Swedish children

A different group also arrived at their destination in 1846 – the children who were left in the care of the Buffalo Orphan's Asylum and who were then placed in homes.

Recent research by Donald Sandy and Jennifer Liber Raines encountered the documentation of these Swedish immigrant children.  Their research has now identified the institution that took in these children (previously unnamed) and has confirmed that a child was placed with Mr.. Struthers (rather than with Mr or Mrs. Falconer).

Five girls were taken-in by the Buffalo Orphans Asylum on 12 Sept 1846.   The register notes the entry of  Ingra L. (Louise. age 8)6 and Sara S. (Josephina, age 6),7  the oldest children of Germund and Catherine Johnson, Anna S. (age 7) and Ingra. L. (age 4), two daughters of Eric Peter and  Karin Anderson, and Eva Christine (age 3), the daughter of Peter Magnus and Maria Lena Larson.

The Johnson girls were in Warren and Sugar Grove by the end of 1846.

The Anderson girls returned to their parents in the spring of 1847 – their family remained in Buffalo until 1848.

The Larson girl was noted as having been placed with a Mr. Coyea [?] of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Eva Christina Larson, therefore, would also have arrived at her destination in 1846.  She has not been identified in the 1850 census.

Buffalo Orphan's Asylum, Register 1, page 38 (1846) collection of the Buffalo History Museum.  Images copyright by the Buffalo History Museum 2015 and provided by Donald Sandy.


Passengers who might have continued on their way in 1847

The historian George Flom wrote that Anders Norrman8 and his wife settled in Burlington, Iowa in 1847.  Research about the Swedish settlers in Sugar Grove has raised questions about this fact. Anders Norman is listed on the manifest of the Virginia with Inga Catherine Erlandsdotter (his second wife) and with his son Carl Gustaf (his last child by his first wife).  Johnson and Peterson in 1880 noted that the first group of settlers in Sugar Grove included “En gammal soldat vid namn Norman från Horn i Östergötland.”  It seems relatively certain that they were referring to Andrew Norman.  He has been documented as emigrating from adjacent Ulrika parish (not from Horn, whose parish records from this period were almost entirely lost due to a church fire) where he had lived for 10 years.  Before that he lived in Malexander parish and before 1825 he had served as a lifgrenadier in Storhagen, Torpa parishAnders Jonsson Norrman (aka Andrew Norman) was born in Linderås parish in 1794 and was among the oldest passengers aboard the Virginia (fifty-two years old).

Andrew Norman has not been identified in the 1850 Census, but a Charles Norman (age 24) was working for Laban Hazeltine in Pine Township in Warren County,  This is most likely to have been Andrew's son, Carl Gustaf.  Whether Andrew Norman was in Burlington or in Sugar Grove in 1850 remains open to debate, however, it may also relate to the narrative about the trip made by Samuel Dahl17  in 1847 to scout the locations in the West.  Dahl returned to the group in Buffalo with a negative report according to Lannes (1915, p 9).   It is easy to speculate about a scenario in which both Dahl and Norman traveled to Iowa and Illinois in the summer of 1847 and that both returned.

Andrew Norman alone was enumerated in the 1852 Iowa state census in Burlington.  He is documented in later censuses living in Burlington with his wife Caroline.  It seems likely that Inga Catherine, his second wife had died before 1852 and that he had remarried.  Norman died in the decade before 1880.  His wife was listed as Carrie Norman and denoted as a widow in that census.  She died in Burlington in 1896.


Germund and Catherine Johnson likely migrated to Sugar Grove and worked for William Falconer beginning in 1847.  The personal letters of William Falconer add credence to this date as likely although some accounts indicated that they arrived in 1848.  Their fifth child, Elisabeth Jane, was listed as born 4 April 1848 in Sugar Grove.

Life in Erie County and Emigrant Decision making 1847-1848

During 1847 and 1848 the remainder of the group continued working in the Buffalo area.  The details in Samuel Johnson's letter suggest that the group in Buffalo may have worked together (at least at first).  Research to date hasn't established the connection to any farm(s) in the Town of Hamburg, so it remains unknown where these Swedes worked or lived in 1847 and 1848.

Research has identified that Samuel Leonard, the son of Samuel Samuelsson, was adopted by a family in East Hamburg but that might only be a coincidence.

No Swedes were enumerated in this area of the south towns of Erie County in the 1850 census.

Hans Mattson (1891, p 17) wrote that his co-traveler had also worked on a farm in Hamburg in 1851 and noted that they had asked to stay in the house of a Swedish family who lived on the road to Hamburg – that family told them that they had had enough of the Swedish upper classes and did not invite them into their home.  This Swedish family has not been identified.


During 1847 the remaining passengers of the Virginia likely debated where they should settle.  As indicated previously, Lannes noted in his history that Samuel Dahl went West to investigate conditions there and came back with a negative report about the quality of the water.

Johnson and Peterson's narrative indicated that the various Swedish immigrant groups from the Kisa region remained connected by letter-writing.9  

The little Swedish settlement [Andover] was reinforced in 1848 by two unmarried men ... and five families...  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.

Likewise, it is variously noted that Germund and Catherine Johnson made efforts (letters and/or visits?) to encourage the group to consider settling in Warren County.

It can also be speculated that the group was in touch with their families in Sweden during 1847.  This is made evident by the arrival of additional family members aboard the Thracian who arrived 31 July 1848 in New York.

Passengers who continued on their way in 1848 to Andover, Henry County, Illinois

Likely at the end of the harvest season in 1848 the various families went their separate ways selecting two destinations not considered before they left the Kisa area.  Instead of  Peter Cassel's New Sweden settlement in Iowa, they chose to settle in Andover, Illinois and Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania.

The families who settled in Andover included
  • Eric Peter Anderson10 and his family, 
  • Samuel Samuelson11 and one of his four children (three children were left in Buffalo, his wife died aboard the Virginia ), 
  • Anna Greta (Mattsdotter) Johnson,12 the widow of Magnus Johnson (the older brother of Germund Johnson who died in Buffalo) and her son, 
  • Harald Alm13 and his family, and 
  • Samuel Johnson14 and his family.

A.J. Johnson.  Johnson's new railroad and township copper-plate map of Illinois, Iowa, & Missouri, from the latest and best authorities.  New York, 1859, c1857.  Library of Congress Call Number G4061.P3 1859.J6.

   The star at the left is the location in Jefferson County, Iowa of Cassel's settlement.  Burlington, Iowa was another destination.  One of  the stars at the far right is Victoria, Knox County, Illinois where Jonas Hedstrom lived.  Just north of Victoria near Galva, Henry County, Illinois is the site of Bishop Hill, the colony of the Janssonists.  Several of the families from the Virginia settled near Andover, also in Henry County, Illinois.  Samuel Samuelson is reported to have moved to Henry County and then to have settled further south in Galesburg, Knox County.  Galesburg is the small town where Carl Sandberg was born in 1878.


Passengers who continued on their way in 1848 to Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania

Charles Johnson15 and his wife Caroline Dahl were among the group that settled in Sugar Grove in 1848.  They were likely interviewed by Johnson and Peterson (1880, p 366-7) who noted that the group also included: 
Johnsons broder Fredrik Johnson med hustru och ett barn, en gammal soldat vid namn Norman från Horn i Östergötland, Germond Johnson med hustru och 2 barn från Kisa, Carl Johnson med hustru och ett barn från Sund, Östergötland, samt, Samuel Dahl och hans syster Karolina. Desse uppehöllo sig i närheten af Buffalo till 1848.
A.J. Lannes did not provide a list of this group.  E.B. Lawson, likewise, did not provide a list, but added that the group arrived 13 October 1848.16

The inclusion of Carl Johnson18  and his family from Sund is also open to debate.  Johnson and Peterson are clearly referring to passengers of the Virginia in their statement, and the only family from Sund was Carl Johan Jonsson, his wife Eva Ericksdotter, and her infant daughter Carolina.  The first difficulty is that Carl Johan Jonsson was not listed on the manifest (although Nils William Olsson noted that Johnson was listed in the passport request in Linköping and remarked about other deficiencies of Capt. Jansson's paperwork).  Secondly, Carolina died according to the manifest and this is corroborated by Samuel Johnson's tally of the voyage's dead.  Subsequently, there is no evidence of this couple in Sugar Grove.  Even with all of these points indicating the contrary, it is quite possible that Carl Johnson and his family did move to Warren County.

I believe that five of the 13 unmarried Swedes had worked or were from Lönneberga.  Samuel Dahl and his sister Caroline were children of Corporal Peter Dahl and Annica Carlsdotter.  Both Samuel and Caroline had worked as servants at a series of farms, but especially at the Saxemåla estate.  Anna Charlotta Carlsdotter19 who was listed as Dahl on the manifest also worked at Saxemåla.  Gustaf Haraldsson20 and Anders J. Andersson21 were also servants  working in Lönneberga.   This group received exit permissions at the same time (besked n:o 2-6) and were listed together on the manifest. 

Carl Magnus Johnson was another single Swede and brother to Frederick Johnson.  He emigrated from Hässleby Parish and married Caroline Dahl in Sugar Grovein 1851.

The remaining single Swedes included
  • two from Horn:   Alexander Gustafsson [7] and Anders Andersson 28 M [8].  
  • the brother of John Farman named Sven Gustaf Johansson [57] Besked No. 18, Kjettestorp, Kisa, 
  • Samuel Nillerquist [69] 1121, an entirely undocumented passenger, and
  •  Johan Samuel Pettersson [58], Källeberg, Rumskulla Parish  1110 according to Olsson, 1995, p. 236.  11/5 1802 Rumskulla AI:11 (1845-1851) Image 62 / page 50 (AID: v23841.b62.s50, NAD: SE/VALA/00309)  His wife and children?  Believed by Olsson to have abandoned his wife.  She is listed as a widow and remains in Rumskulla.
Of these thirteen unmarried passengers, only Charles Johnson, Samuel Dahl and Caroline Dahl  have been documented later on.  What happened to the other ten in Buffalo is unknown.

Passengers who remained in Buffalo

There are a couple of Swedish children in other households in the 1850 census that may suggest that they were adopted.

Samuel Samuelson’s children

Although Olsson is undecided, I think that it is clear that Samuel Samuelson’s wife, Maja Lena Ericsdotter was one of the five passengers who died aboard the Virginia.  This annotation on the ship’s manifest is corroborated by Samuel Johnson's tally.  Johnson and Peterson (1880) note that Samuelson and his wife and one child settled in Andover in 1848.  I believe this is either an error or more likely a reference to Samuelson’s third/new wife.

We know from later census and burial information that the daughter who accompanied Samuel Samuelsson to Illinois was his oldest daughter, Sophia Brita, who was born in 1831.  She married William H. Miller in Henry County, Illinois on 19 Aug 1849 and she was married a second time to Edgar Nichols.  She died in Henry County in 1883.

If Johnson and Peterson are correct, then the children that Samuel Samuelson left behind in Buffalo were Samuel  Leonard (b 1833),  Lena Lovisa (b. 1839) and Clara Mathilda (b. 1844).

Samuel Leonard and the Swift Family of the Town of Hamburg

Samuel Leonard22 was listed as a 15 year old German [sic] living in the household of Nathaniel and Charlotte Swift in the Town of Hamburg in the 1850 census.  He is living in the same household in 1855 and 1860 but he is listed as Swedish.  The 1855 New York State census also indicates that he has been living in Erie County for 9 years - since 1846.
Samuel Leonard Samuelsson was adopted by Nathaniel and Charlotte Swift of East Hamburg Township (Hamburg until 1850, today renamed Orchard Park).   The Nathaniel Swift farm was located near the present  intersection of Milestrip and Orchard Park Roads ( 42°47'29.41"N and  78°45'0.46"W) about two miles NNE of Rich Stadium.  Nathaniel Swift died in 1852.  Samuel Leonard remained with Charlotte Swift and was listed as her adopted son in 1865. 

Samuel Leonard  served in Company A of the 116th NY Infantry during the Civil War entering as a private and rising to second Lieutenant by the end of the war (5 Sep 1862 - 8 June 1865). He was wounded in action at Plain Store, Louisiana where Nathaniel Swift (grandson of Nathaniel and Charlotte Swift) was also wounded and then died in hospital later.  No other Swede from western New York or Northwestern Pennsylvania rose to such a high rank during the war.

After the war Samuel Leonard married, worked as a stone mason and moved to Ohio, Nebraska, and then settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he died in 1904.

Samuel Leonard’s half-sisters

Louise23  was likely adopted by the German family of Joseph and Barbary Reichert in Buffalo and remained living in the East.  Clara24 joined her half-sister and father in Andover at an unknown date and married Nels J. Engstrand in 1868 in Henry County, Illinois.


At least one of the group died in Buffalo during these two years.  Johnson and Peterson (1880, p 74) indicated that Måns (Magnus) Johnson, the older brother of Germund Johnson, died in Buffalo.  It seems very likely that there were many others who died there based on the number of passengers who aren't identified in the 1850 census (more than 10).

From The Statistics of the Population of the United States, Compiled from the Original Returns of the Ninth Census, 1872.  Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin. This appears to be an earlier version of the work by Francis A. Walker that was published by the U.S. Census Office in 1874, p 23.  I have added white stars indicating the principal settlement areas of Swedes with connections to Sugar Grove, especially with the passengers on the Virginia.


Numbers in brackets [ ] refer to the passenger number aboard the Virginia, see the manifest.
  1. Samuel Jönsson, 22 November 1846, Buffalo, New York. Samuel Johnson, letter published in the Östgötha Correspondenten, May 26, 1847 and referenced by Nils William Olsson in his research (1967, 1995).   Samuel Johnson [64] and his family settled in Andover, Henry County, Illinois in 1848.

  2. John Farman was listed as [43] Johan Peter Johansson on the manifest of the VirginiaHe and his family had arrived in Peter Cassel's New Sweden settlement in September 1846.

  3. Friedrich  Kapp, Immigration and the Commissioners of Emigration of the State of New York. New York: The Nation Press. 1870, p 66-67.   Kapp wrote about the abuses of immigrants including the fraud schemes detailed before the Commission.

  4. Carl Philip Andersson [1] and Sara Maria Svensdotter [2] have not been located in later censuses.  However, two of their daughters are noted by Olsson as marrying in Iowa.  Anna Elisabeth [4] married Magnus Fredrik Håkansson in 1848 and Sara Catharina [3] married Johan Peter Andersson 1 Feb 1851 in Jefferson County.

  5. Anders Johan Andersson [21] and his wife Anna Lisa Nilsdotter [22] and their infant were noted as having died shortly after their arrival in Iowa.  See Olsson and Wiken 1995, p 234.  This information is based on an America letter written in 1849 so it is more likely that this family arrived in Iowa in 1848.

  6. Lovisa Inga Johnson [33]   was listed as Orphan No. 132 in the record book of the Buffalo Orphan Asylum.  This register is in the collection of the Research Library of the Buffalo Historical Museum.  The orphanage documents resolve some historical details but open new questions that perhaps explain some of the confusion.  The placement of a child with the Struthers appears in the entry for one of the Anderson girls, however, we know that Louise would be adopted by them.   These documents are an important discovery.

  7. Sara Sophia Johnson [35].

  8. Anders Norman [50]  The next [second] Swedish settler in Burlington was Anders Norrman, who with his wife came in 1847 from Malander, Sweden.  George T. Flom, 1915, p 609.  The first permanent Swedish settler in Burlington was Fabian Brydolf who arrived in 1846

  9. This passage is Olson's translation of Johnson and Peterson.  The informing of Swedes in Andover, Illinois about the situation of a different group of Swedes 650 miles away in Buffalo, New York is an interesting topic.  It could be that succeeding waves of Swedish immigrants who passed through Buffalo brought the story to Andover.  Or it could suggest a triangulation of sources such as Rev. O.G. Hedstrom in New York City and his brother Jonas in Victoria, Illinois.  Or it could mean that the interchange of news was through families in Sweden.  See also a discussion of this by Maria Erling, "The Connections Correspondence Made" Swedish-American Historical Quarterly, Vol 56, No. 2-3 (April-July 2005), p 173-182.

  10. Eric Peter Anderson [26] (Olsson, 1995: p 234 n 1078)

  11. Samuel Samuelson [37] and his oldest daughter Brita Sophia [39] migrated to Andover in 1848.  See endnotes 22-24.  (Olsson, 1995: p 234 n 1089)

  12. Anna Greta (Mattsdotter) Johnson [44], the widow of Magnus Johnson (the older brother of Germund Johnson who died in Buffalo) and her son (Olsson, 1995: p 235 n 1095-1097)

  13. Harald Alm [59] (Olsson, 1995: p 236 n 1111)

  14. Samuel Johnson [64] (Olsson, 1995: p 236 n 1116)

  15. Charles Magnus Johnson [18] and Carolina Dahl [10]

  16. Rev. E.B. Lawson was the president of Uppsala College and researched this group as part of the Centennial celebrations in Chandlers Valley.

  17. Samuel Dahl [9] besked N:o 2 Lönneberga.

  18. Carl Johan Jonasson [nic] and Eva Ericksdotter [19] and her daughter Carolina [20]

  19. Anna Charlotta Carlsdotter  [11]  born 18 Feb 1821 in Tiderserum parish.  She emigrated  (Besked N:o 6) from Lönneberga Parish, Kalmar.  (Olsson, 1995, p 233, n 1063).  Possibly listed in 1850 Census as Anna Cragans servant in Abner Hazeltine household, Ellicott.   She was not related to the Dahl family.

  20. Gustaf Haraldsson  [12]  born in Karlstorp parish in 1823.  Besked N:o 5, Gallö, Lönneberga Parish, Kalmar, aka Nils Gustaf Petersson  (Olsson, 1995: p 233 n 1064).

  21. Anders J. Andersson  [13]  born 30 Apr 1825 in Pelarne parish.  Exit permit No. 4, Djursbo,  Lönneberga, issued the same day as Haraldsson and Anna Charlotta Carlsdotter.

  22. Samuel Leonard Samuelsson’s baptism is registered in Kisa Parish on 7 Dec 1833 (Olsson 1967: 75) matching his age in the later censuses (and indicating once again the frequent inaccuracies of the Virginia manifest). 

  23. Louise [40 Helena Lovisa] was likely adopted by the German family of Joseph Reichert in Buffalo. 

  24. Clara[41] joined her sister and father in Andover at an unknown later date. 

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