23 September 2019

Northern Chautauqua County Swedes - the Burton diaries

Jack Ericson1  and I talked about the Swedish communities in Hartfield and the other enclaves in the northern section of Chautauqua County when we met in July. Both of us had grown up near Dewittville and were ignorant of how early the Swedes had settled nearby (1851 or 1852) and that one of the earliest property deeds in Warren or Chautauqua County registered to a Swede was to Sven Lindahl for 14-1/2 acres on Plank Road transferred on 2 July 1853.2

Mr. Erickson called my attention to the farm journals/diaries of Hiram A. Burton of the Town of Portland in northern Chautauqua County. They are a wonderful collection tersely detailing the weather, chores, amount of time worked by a hired hand, and an occasional death in the community.  The Chautauqua County Historical Society has in their collection more than a decade of the Burton journals. The early years are in small printed diaries of various sizes about the size of a mobile phone.

1855 Burton Diary, O'Dell collection,  Box 10, Storage
Room A, Chautauqua County Historical Society
Hiram A. Burton3 was the grandson of a War of 1812 veteran, Simon Burton.  Burton had brought his family to Chautauqua County about 1816 and settled along Slippery Rock Creek in the Town of Portland.  The earliest journal of Hiram A. Burton in the collection is for the year 1855 and the entry on Tuesday, 10 April noted:

I made sash & worked
on the front door. Andrew
Johnson commenced work
at 50 cents per day made
fence & sawed wood &c
I winnowed wheat &c
plowed garden at night

The contracted work of Andrew Johnson on the Burton farm ended after three months.  The Wednesday, 18 July entry noted:

Andrew commenced in
the morning but left
about 9 for good he says.
I mowed some & looked 
for another hand some.

Hiram Burton was building a house in the next years and employed several Swedes from the area to work on his farm and help him in the construction.  It is likely that the Swedish enclave referred to as "Sweden" in Burton's journals was near to his farm northwest of Salem/Brocton.  Burton employed a series of workers with the Swedes comprising an important proportion of the labor pool.

Excerpts from a few of these diaries are listed below.  I have not read or transcribed all of the years, nor have I identified all of the Swedes.   Swedes began living in the area in 1851 or 1852 so it seems likely that Burton's relationship with the Swedish community began earlier than the 1855 diary.

The Burch Family

The identity of Andrew Johnson is partly corroborated by an entry on 23 April that noted:
  "Sold Burke Johnson 1 calf"

Andrew Johnson [1852.002] was part of a Swedish family that has been confusing and very difficult to document.  Like many other families in their area of origin (Älvsborgs län), Johan Björk and Carin Jonsdotter named sons both Anders and Andreas.4    The parents emigrated from Björke (Södra Björke) parish, Älvsborgs län in 1852 and arrived aboard the brig MIMOSA5  in New York City on 23 June.   They traveled with son Andreas and daughter Anna Lena to join their oldest son Anders Peter who had emigrated the year before with his wife and three young children.  The parents were admitted into the Chautauqua County Alms house in January 1853 and they do not appear in the 1855 New York State census suggesting that they died during this period.

Their oldest son, Anders Peter, became known as A.P. Burch 6  [1851.197] in America.  His wife and likely two of their children died during these first years in Chautauqua County and by the 1855 census he had remarried the young widow Eva Israelsdotter [1853.042] who was listed along with her daughter.  She had lost her husband and four other children to a cholera outbreak aboard the ship SAGADOHOCK when they had made the voyage to America in September 1853.  A. P. Burch was a prominent Swede in the area7 but moved from Portland in 1862.  He later became a Methodist minister in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Andreas took the name Andrew Johnson [1852.002] in America and married Clara, the daughter of Lausaner Westerling (Lars Håkansson Wästerlind) [1852.207] and Anna Elisabeth Johansdotter [1852.208] of Od parish, Älvsborgs län (nearby Södra Björke parish) who had also traveled with them aboard the MIMOSA.  They had three children together, Charles (1855), Joseph (1856) and Julia (1858) and were living in the Town of Portland in 1860.  The family has not been documented during the 1860s.

It is possible that they moved to Corry, Pennsylvania in 1862 and then to Moline, Illinois (1865) and then to Minnesota.8  Andrew Johnson likely died sometime in the 1860s.  Clara Westerling Johnson likely remarried William Farrell and lived in Westfield until her death in 1909.

Excerpts from the 1855-1858 Burton Diaries

10 April
"Andrew Johnson commenced work at .50 cents per day."
11 April
"Andrew worked for himself"
12 April
"Andrew and I plowed for wheat."
13 April
"Andrew & I plowed some A.M. & cleared out cellar."
14 April
Andrew worked 1/2 day plowing garden & for wheat in the fields, sowed wheat in garden"
15 April
"Paid Swede $6.07"
16 April
"Andrew dragged for wheat"
17 April
"Andrew built fence one half"
18 April
"Andrew & I plowed A.M. & sowed - built fence - dragged & drew rails in the afternoon. Very warm & growing time"
19 April
"Andrew & I built fence A.M. and ditched wheat & plowed some P.M."
20 April
"Andrew did not work on account of the rain.
21 April
"Andrew put up fence & loaded manure."
23 April
"Sold Burke Johnson calf. Andrew drew out manure A.M. & built fence P.M."
24 April
"Andrew worked only in the after noon dragging."
25 April
"Andrew worked at home"
26 April
"Andrew did not work"
27 April
"Andrew did not work. Sold Andrew 1/2 bu of potatoes"
28 April
"Andrew ditched & drew out manure... Paid Andrew two dollars."
29 April
"Sold Burke one calf"
30 April
"I had no help"
2 May
"Sold burke one calf"
3 May
"Sold Andrew 100 feet of hemlock lumber .65"
4 May
"Andrew helped all day."
5 May
"Andrew & myself made mortar all day."
6 May
"Paid Andrew $2.00 being 8 cents more than I owe him"
9 May
"Engaged Burke to plow tomorrow."
10 May
"Burke plowed for potatotes A.M."
11 May
"Andrew commenced work by the month."
12 May
"Andrew & I shelled corn & planted potatoes.
14 May
"Andrew & I planted potatoes A.M. & tended mason P.M."
15 May
"Andrew & Reynolds tended mason. Webster & McG[regor] plastered all day."
16 May
"Andrew & Reynolds tended mason."
17 May
"Andrew planted corn."
18 May
"Andrew did not work"
19 May
"I plowed Andrews field A.M."
21 May
"Andrew did not work for me"
15 June
"Andrew planted beans in with the corn"
18 June
"Andrew planted corn &c all day" Memorandum: "Sold Andrew 8 1/2 lbs of meat June 18"
19 June
"Andrew pointed the cellar & howed [sic] in the garden"
20 June
"Andrew cleaned the cow yard A.M. sick P.M."
21 June
"Andrew did not work"
22 June
"Andrew did not work"
23 June
"Andrew planted corn &c."
26 June
"Andrew hoed garden & corn & followed Pedler[?]"
27 June
"Andrew hoed corn"
28 June
"Andrew hoed potatoes"
29 June
"Andrew hoed corn"
30 June
"Andrew & I hoed corn"
2 July
"Andrew hoed corn 3/4 of a day sick the rest... Paid Andrew 4$ his month was out at noon & there is his due 5.85"
3 July
"Andrew worked till breakfast... Andrew was sick"
4 July
"I had no help today"
5 July
"Andrew worked all day..Paid F[?]igh 5 dollars for Andrew"
6 July
"Andrew hoed corn all day"
7 July
"Andrew hoed corn all day"
9 July
"Andrew & I howed corn one half day & then went over to the fire"
10 July
"Andrew & I hoed corn all day."
11 July
"Andrew hoed corn & pulled milkweeds from the wheat."
12 July
"Andrew did not work"
13 July
"Andrew hoed for himself"
14 July
"Andrew hoed potatoes A.M. & for himself P.M. I hoed potatoes &c. Sold Andrew one bu of flour 2.25"
18 July
Andrew commenced in the morning but left about 9 for good he says"
19 July
"Swede worked all day in haying"
20 July
"Alfred & Swede mowed until noon & then we agreed to let it alone on account of the rain"
27 July
"Francis, Salmon, Alfred, the Swede & myself worked in the hayfield all day each."
29 July
"Paid Swede $3.50 being in full"
30 July
"Alfred worked all day, Swede & Salmon worked 1/2 day each"
31 July
"Alfred, Slamon, Swede & myself worked all day"
1 August
"I had no help this day for it rained nearly all day"
7 September
"The Swede & I finished moving the barn & commenced the yellow shed. Had Burke's cattle"
8 September
"The Swede & I finished moving the yellow shed & built fence & mowed weeds. SOld Swede 9 1/4 lbs of pork $1.00"
10 September
"Swede mowed weeds & helped raise up the old house"
11 September
"Francis, Swede & myself commenced moving the old house & moved it about half way to the road."
12 September
"Francis worked 1/2 day & Swede & 1 finished moving the old buildings. Andrew paid me 3$ to be applied on judgement"
13 September
"Swede did not work. I went to the fair."
14 September
"Swede & I underpined [sic] the old stove room & picked up rubbish."
15 September
"Swede & I picked up rubbish &c...Paid Swede $2.50"
1 October
"Sold Burke 32 lbs of beef & pork"
3 October
"Sold Bure the rest of the beef $6.6 He owes me for beef & barrel $4.81 to be paid before christmas."
8 October
"Sold Burke 2 boat runners .25"
14 October
"I went after a Swede to dig potatoes"
16 October
"John Andersson dug potatoes all day"
17 October
"...went after help"
18 October
"John dug potatoes all day"
19 October
"John dug potatoes all day"
20 October
"John dug potatoes all day... paid Swede 3$"
22 November
"Swede drew corn all the after noon. Burk- returned 2 bu of wheat. Sold Lawson an old door"
23 November
"Swede drew..."
3 December
"Sold Lawson one more door. Rec for this & one that I sold before 3$ in full"
6 December
"Lawson drew corn all day"
"Lawson plowed for me all day & has agreed to ..."
19 December
"Swede husked corn all day. Rec of Andrew 1$"
20 December
"Lawson plowed corn ground for wheat... Burke returned that bu of wheat"
21 December
"Lawson dug well"
22 December
"Lawson plowed A.M. & husked corn P.M. ... Paid Lawson $3,00 in full"
27 December
"I did my chores & went down to Sweden & engaged Lawson to help me kill my hogs."
30 December
"Oscar & I went down to Sweden & engaged a Swede to work for me while I go over south - Youngs paid me $23.00 for Pork"
3 January
"Lawson husked corn at home"
4 January
"I let Lawson the job of cutting 20 cors of wood at .50 per cord - Paid him one dollar for labor"
9 January
"Thermometer stood 10 deg - below zero this morning."
15 January
"Sold Mr Birchlimb 2 bu of potatoes to be paid for next week"
16 January
I engaged 8 bu of spring wheat for seed to Burke. ...engaged a Swede to cut some wood"
17 January
"Sold Swede 2 bu of apples. Rec fifty cents for them"
19 January
"Paid Swede Delos $1.50 cts for cutting wood"
21 January
"Swede Frank commenced choping [sic] wood for me at fifty cents per cord, & has agreed to cut 6 hemlock logs for 7/ "
24 January
"Paid Delos Swede $1.50"
27 January
"Burke agrees to pay Frank $4.91 that he woes me for meat to bal. wood cuting"
11 February
"Lent Burke 3 chains"
12 February
"Burke broke my sled & returned my chains"
13 February
"Paid Mr. Lawson 2 dollars for cutting wood."
17 March
"Sold Burke 2 bu of wheat to be paid soon"
25 March
"Rec. of Andrew Johnson .50 in full."
26 March
"Went down to Sweden to hire help"
3 April
"Went over to Sweden partly engaged some help for the season."
22 April
"Sold Swede John Johnson 2 bu of wheat on trust"
23 April
"I went over to Sweden for help - engaged a man"
24 April
"Swede John Johnson plowed some & made fence"
25 April
"John & I drew manure from the cow yard & barn yard"
26 April
"John plowed for wheat most all day"
12 May
"Went after a Swede"
8 August
"Sold Burk 20 1/2 lbs of Pork at 11 cts per lb to be paid next week"
18 August
"Rec of Burk $2.00 for pork"
19 August
"Lent Burke 7 lbs 5 oun of flour"
31 August
"Borrowed of Burke his gun to kill Hawks"
9 September
"Sold Burke 30 lbs of pork at 11 center per lb $3.30 on cr."
23 October
"went over to Sweden & engaged Augustus to help me dig potatoes"
24 October
"Augustus & I dug potatoes all day"
25 October
"Augustus & I dug potatoes a.m. only - Paid Augustus the 7 1/4 lb of flour lent burke & 83 cents in money"
3 November
"Augustus & fathers hired man helped me dig potatoes all day"
4 November
"Birchlimb worked 3/4 of a day digging potatoes"
17 November
"Sold Augustus 32 lbs of flour - Rec .50"
22 November
"Memoranda. Sold Birchlimb 28 1/4 lbs of flour at .4 per lb & one peck of beans at $1.40 per bu"
13 January
"Burke skidded logs for me 1/2 day & I drew to the mill 3 logs. Took Burkes sled home."
17 February
"Sold Andrew 1/3 bu potatoes"
17 March
"Rec. of Andrew .25 for potatoes"
7 Feb
"Paid Augustus Gustavus $12.65 in full for labor last fall. Went down to Sweden to hire help. Stormy weather."
8 Feb
"Claus Danielson commence work for me. He cut wood & shelled corn. I made a wood box & helped Claus shell corn."


  1. Jack Ericson is a Trustee of the Chautauqua County Historical Society and the retired Director of Special Collections, Reed Library, SUNY Fredonia.

    Mr. Ericson proposed in 1988 a Heritage Documentary Project similar in scope to jamestownswedes.org that would have used census, cemetery and newspaper sources to create a database of Swedes in the Jamestown area.  That project didn't receive funding but was ahead of its time (by a couple of decades).

  2. The Swedish community in Hartfield was started about 1852 by Sven Lindahl [1846.012] and his family.  See Chautauqua County Deed Book Volume 63, page 400.  Based on the 1855 New York State census, the nearby Mayville community likely began a year earlier founded by Andrew Peterson [1851.001] and Magnus Baker [1850.060].

    The map at right shows the community as it later developed (1881). Swedish property owners listed include: Andrew P. Peterson [1851.001], J. Sandberg, John Gron [1855.014],  John Lundquist, Mrs. A. Nelson, Augustus Gron [1851.040], Gustaf Stromgren, Andrew Nelson, Peter Gron [1851.036], S. J. Westerberg [1850.052], Olie Stromgren, John S. Johnson, Samuel Peterson, and Charles J. Sackris [1865.001] and John W. Anderson.  Map detail from F.W. DeBeers, "Town of Chautauqua," Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Chautauqua...,1881, p 82-83.

  3. Hiram A. Burton, Jr (1822-1904) was the oldest son of Hiram Burton, the eighth child of Simon and Margaret Burton who had migrated from Massachusetts to Vermont to northern New York and settled near Salem (Brocton)  –  it was a route similar to many of the Yankee families who settled in Chautauqua County in the decade after the War of 1812.

    For more about the history of the Burton family in the Town of Portland see:

    Charles W. Burton. The Burtons 1648-1898. Rutland, VT: Tuttle Antiquarian Book, Inc, 1898.  Collection of Chautauqua County Historical Society.

    Horace C. Taylor. Historical sketches of the town of Portland : comprising also the pioneer history of Chautauqua County, with biographical sketches of the early settlers.  Fredonia, N.Y. : W. McKinstry & Son, 1873, p 353-354.   Digital edition.

    Note: Hiram A. Burton is listed as "Amos Burton" in the 1860 census and as "Addison Burton" in the 1865 New York State census and 1870 United States census.

  4. This common naming practice in Älvsborg län became confusing in America when both Anders and Andreas anglicized their name to Andrew.

  5. That ship was likely the Swedish brig MINONA travelling under an alias  –  it was probably dodging responsibility for destitute immigrants brought to New York City on previous voyages.

  6. The surname Burch might be a variant spelling of the birch tree (björk is birch in Swedish) or an adaptation of their parish of origin, Björke.

  7. Rev. Jonas Swensson relied on A.P. Burch to purchase tickets for his journey to the Northern Illinois Synod meeting ten weeks after arriving in Sugar Grove.  "Sept 25, 1856 Salem (Brocton), Chautauqua County. A. P. Björk attempted to purchase railroad tickets for Jonas Swensson to travel from Dunkirk to Chicago.  However this errand was not accomplished because the rail company would not accept bills."  from a translation of the diary of Jonas Swensson by Rev. Evald B. Lawson. "Two Primary Sources for a Study of the Life of Jonas Swensson," Augustana Historical Society Publications, Vol 17, Rock Island, Illinois, 1957, p 32.

    A.P. Burch was likely the first Swede to live in the Brocton area, pioneering a community that would be represented by both a Methodist and Lutheran church in the village.

  8. The migration of the family westward was described in a short biography of a son of A.P. Burch.

    "Isaac L. Burch was forty years old last July and has lived thirty years in Burnett county. He was born of Swedish parents at Brocton, N. Y., and from there his parents moved to Corry, Penn.; Moline, Ill, High Forest and Center City, Minn., finally settling in West Marshland, Burnett county. His father was a Swedish Methodist minister and did a lot of missionary work along both religious and immigration lines." 
    Source:  Ed L Peet.  Burnett County, Wisconsin : a pamphlet descriptive of Northern Wisconsin in general and of Burnett County in detail.  Grantsburg, Wisconsin: Journal of Burnett County Print, 1902, p 126.  Digital source:  Wisconsin Historical Society   .

    Anna Lovisa Burch [1852.206] is buried in Corry, Pennsylvania, another connection to that city that suggests that the extended family had moved there in 1862. See findagrave.com Memorial Id. 52498593.

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