16 April 2019


I have completed a review (cleaning) of the data set of about 1820 Swedes who I have documented as having resided in the Jamestown area from 1844 to 1865.  I will be working on visualizing the data and will be posting these statistics soon.  Below is a quick, first look showing the stream of Swedes.  Note that this graph is based on the population of immigrants and their children who lived in the area during this time period plus the immigrants who had lived in the area and then migrated to other parts of the country and their children.  Jamestown, Chandlers Valley and the dead comprise the largest population groups.

Population stream of documented Swedish settlers and their children (n = 1822 in 1865). The group "No Data" are those documented Swedes whose trajectory is unknown - many of these may have died. Graphic developed in RAWGraphs.


Onward (especially to Minnesota)

A significant percentage of the documented Swedish immigrants who lived in our area decided to migrate westward. For this research, I have counted those immigrants who spent at least a winter in our area before moving on, but the duration of their time in our area ranged from a documented stay of only a month to residencies of more than a decade.

From  the very beginning of the Swedish presence in Chautauqua and Warren County, the area served as a way station for those heading further West.  Some who traveled with that small group who arrived in 1848 in Warren County moved on to Iowa before 1850 (remember that Iowa was the original destination of the pioneers who settled in Chandlers Valley). Other groups, also headed for Iowa,  ended up in Illinois, and stepping stones of Swedish communities developed along the westward migration.  Illinois and then Minnesota increasingly became the destination of Swedes in the 1850s.

The mindset of these Swedes may be represented in the remarks of an unknown author published in  the Stockholm paper, Aftonbaldet.

Skildringar från en resa i Nordamerikas Förenta Stater. 
Af —s.g.
Filadelfia den 10 Augusti 1853

Den 14 sistl. April företog jag en utfart från Newyork till de vestra staterna, dels för att lära känna tillståndet i denna del af den stora «unionen» dels ock landsmän.  K. 5 e.m. lemnade jag Newyork för att gå på Erie jernbana, och var kl. 2 e.m. följande dag i Dunkirk vid Erie-sjön, sedan jag tillryggalagt en sträcka af 78 sv. mil.  Dunkirk är ett af de många bevis, huru hastigt städer uppblomstra i detta land. För omkring 2:ne är sedan räknade denna stad endast 500 envånare, och hade nu 5000.  Här träffade jag en svensk veterinärläkare, hvilken jag lärde känna på resan öfver Atlantiska hafvet ifrån Sverige förliden sommar.  Denne underrättade mig, att i Chatauque county, nära Dunkirk, omkring 20 svenskar hade nedsatt sig, men som de icke funno sig väl i denna trakt, hade de beslutat att flytta till vestern. De östra staterna stå i allmänhet vida efter de vestra i rukbarhet, hvilket har till följd en beständig utvandring frånöstern till det «stor vestern».  Hade Kalifornens guld och mississippi datens ruktbarhet varit kända och tillgängliga för de första europeiska emigranter till detta land, så hade de östra staterna måhända till denna dag varit i indianernas händer.

[roughly translated]
Depictions from a journey in North America's United States 
By —s.g.
Philadelphia on August 10, 1853

Last April 14th, I undertook a trip from New York to the western states to get to know that part of the great "Union" and know the situation of my fellow countrymen.  At 5 a.m. I left New York to go on the Erie Railway, and arrived at 2 a.m. the following day in Dunkirk on Lake Erie, having traveled a stretch of 78 Swedish miles [518 miles or 834 km]. Dunkirk is one of the many proofs of how fast cities bloom in this country.  About two years ago this city counted only 500 people, and now has 5000. Here I met a Swedish veterinarian, whom I got to know on the journey over the Atlantic Ocean from Sweden last summer.1   He informed me that in Chautauqua County, near Dunkirk, about 20 Swedes resided who had found themselves well in this region, but they had decided to move to the West. The eastern states are generally far below the western in fertility, resulting in a permanent migration from the east to the "Great West." Had California's gold and the Mississippi Valley's reputation been known and accessible to the first European emigrants to this country, then the Eastern States might still be in Indian hands today.

Source:  Aftonbladet, 2 Sep 1853, p 3.

Little attention is given in our local history to this migration of Swedes from our area to the frontier settlements of the  Midwest. The Jamestown area had important ties to the early settlers in the Vasa community in Goodhue County, Minnesota and in the Watertown community in Carver County, Minnesota.

Photo from  Eric Norelius, Vasa illustrata: en borgerlig
 och kyrklig kulturbild / framställd.
 Vasa 1905, p 17

Vasa, Minnesota

The earliest migrants from our area to Minnesota seem to have been Eric and Catherine Anderson and their family who left Sugar Grove and settled in Vasa, Minnesota in 1855.  Little was written by Norelius about this family, so their motives and connection to Hans Mattson are unknown.  Norelius  included a photograph of their original log house in his history of Vasa.

Photo from  Eric Norelius, Vasa illustrata, p 12.

Among this group who left, the most significant were Germund and Catherine Johnson and their children, the founding family of the Chandlers Valley Swedish community, who moved out West in 1857.  They left our area after being at the center of the new Swedish settlement in Sugar Grove, after ten years working to clear a farm from the forest, and after giving land for the cemetery and establishing the first church for the community.

Photos from  Eric Norelius, Vasa illustrata, p 128.
The Johnsons were part of the earliest settlers in Hans Mattson's venture in Vasa and lived nearly three decades as neighbors to the influential Lutheran minister Eric Norelius and his wife Inga.  Eric Norelius wrote only brief, respect-filled descriptions of Germund Johnson.2  Germund and Catherine were founding members of the Methodist Church in Vasa and were leaders in that congregation.

Watertown, Minnesota

The earliest settlers in the Watertown area of Carver County, Minnesota were the Peter Justus3  family who "had lived some time in Pennsylvania" and claimed land at Swede Lake in August 1856.

Daniel Justus family, the first Swedish settlers in Carver County, posing in front of their first house at Swede Lake. Date of photograph unknown (1880s?), collection of the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis , OCLC number 856938207


  1. The Swedish veterinarian was Peter Magnes [1852.265] who arrived 20 June 1852 aboard the SELMA in New York City.  Born 12 March 1824 in Mellby Parish, Jönköpings län and baptized Jonas Peter Magnusson, he emigrated from Vetlanda parish.  One of his letters home was paraphrased and published in Folkets Röst (Kalmar) 22 January 1853, p 2.  He moved west and was a pioneer Swedish settler in Denver, Colorado.

  2. The Swedish community near Dunkirk could refer to Pomfret township or to Portland/Brocton. This group of 20 Swedes who were planning to move West may not be included in my list because they may have migrated before the 1855 New York State Census and might not be documented in the area.

    The identity of the author has not been determined. No passenger on the manifest of the SELMA had initials S.G. or a name whose last letters were ___s ___g.

  3. Rev. Eric Norelius had harsh words for B.G.P. Bergenlund and Jacob Bredberg, so if he disliked someone he did not shy from having his opinion published. His remarks about Germund and Catherine Johnson were respectful, especially given their differing religious views: 

    Germund Johnson flyttade med familj till Vasa, Minnesota, och var i flera år farmare derstädes. Sedan flyttade han till Red Wing och hade sitt egentliga hem der de senare åren, men vistades mycket af tiden hos sina barn, dels i Alexandria, Douglas co., och dels i Stevens co. samt dog i augusti 1888 i Hancock samma co. Hans hustru, "Kare", dog ett par år förut; båda äro begrafna i Vasa. De voro till bekännelsen metodister, ganska frispråkiga och skrädde icke orden. 

    Translation:  Germund Johnson moved with his family to Vasa, Minnesota, and was for many years a farmer there. Later, they moved to Red Wing, but spent a lot of time with their children, in Alexandria, Douglas County and partly in Stevens County,  and died in August 1888 in Hancock County. . His wife "Kare" died a few years before; both are buried in Vasa. They were professed Methodists, quite outspoken, and did not mince words.
    Source:  Eric Norelius, De svenska luterska församlingarnas och Svenskarnas historia i Amerika. Rock Island, Ill., Lutheran Augustana Book Concern, 1890, p 32-33.

    In a nostalgic description of Germund Johnson he seems to indicate that Germund Johnson had wanted to become a minister when he was in Sweden and later once he was in America.  However, the subsequent reference to the contemporary conditions in Chandlers Valley might be construed as a reference to Frederick J. Johnson instead.

    Gamle Germunds och hans hustrus graf ligger helt nära intill där jag nu sitter och skrifver, endast en 40 acres-lott skiljer huset från graf platsen. Underliga äro de många omflyttningar och sammanlänkningar, vår nybyggare-historia har att uppvisa! Pastorn för Hessel Valley-församlingen hade pröfvat på att vara präst både i Sverige och i Amerika, och han sade mig en gång tillfälligt-vis: "Det ser ut, som om våra landtförsamlingar komma så småningom att gå ut", och så nämnde han, att i hans församling fanns nästan ingen ungdom. De allra flesta medlem marna voro öfver 65 år gamla. Hvart tar ungdomen vägen? Jo, den går till städerna. Detta är ett bekymmersamt ämne icke blott i Chandlers Valley och i New York-konferensen, utan man känner det mer eller mindre i alla våra konferenser. 

    Rougly translated:  Old Germund and his wife's graves are close to where I now sit and write, only a 40 acre lot separates this house from their grave site. Strange are the many relocations and interconnections that our pioneer history has to show! The pastor of the Hessel Valley congregation had tried to be a priest both in Sweden and in America, and he once told me more recently, "It looks as if our country churches will eventually go out," and so he mentioned that in his congregation there were almost no young people. The vast majority of members were over 65 years old. Where do the youth go? Yes, they go to the cities. This is a worrying subject not only in Chandler's Valley and in the New York Conference, but it feels more or less in all our conferences.
    Source:  Eric Norelius, De svenska luterska församlingarnas och Svenskarnas historia i Amerika. Vol. 2. Rock Island, Ill., Lutheran Augustana Book Concern, 1916, p 403.

  4. Daniel Larsson Justus [1850.077] was born 2 April 1816 in Roslags-Bro (Bro) Parish, Stockholms län, the son of Kronobefallningsman (Administrator, sheriff/tax assesor/collector) L. C. Justus and Johanna Magdalena Tillander.  This Latin surname was written with an initial "j" or "i" as both Justus and Iustus. He married Anna Olofsdotter [1850.078] in Skog Parish, Gävlebergs län on 6 Jan 1837.  They and their three young children received permission to emigrate 16 Jan 1830 from Norrbo in Skog parish. 

    The Justus family was not identified by Nils William Olsson in his ground-breaking study of the earliest Swedish passengers to America (which included the 1850 voyages). My best guess, based on the similarities to the John (Peterson) Frank family, is that they traveled from Gävle to Göteborg and also arrived aboard the MINONA on 2 July 1850 in Boston. However, this would mean that the Justus family was omitted altogether from that manifest.

    The Justus family was enumerated 2 September 1850 as Household No. 273 in Busti, Chautauqua County in the United States Census.  The family was not enumerated in the 1855 New York State Census but that likely indicates that they were working/living on a farm across the border in Warren County.

    The family left our area in the spring of 1856 and arrived in Carver County that summer.

    There is no indication that the Justus family was connected to the Swedish community at Bishop Hill in Andover County, Illinois. This is relevant because of the connection between Gävle (Gefle) as the principal port of exit for the Janssonite sect.

    Living next door to the Justus family in 1850 was John (Peterson) Frank and his family, he was listed as James Peterson. This family from Målilla and Gårdveda parish arrived aboard the MINONA on 2 July 1850 in Boston, was not enumerated in the 1855 NYS Census, and migrated to Watertown in 1857.