06 April 2020

Jamestown during the Civil War: Oil, Railroads and Swedes

The Civil War transformed Jamestown from another village in western New York into a prominent commercial and manufacturing center.  Before the war it seems as though all the Swedes in the area were somehow related or connected to others in the community. The boom in the Oil City region following Drake's strike in 1859 and the arrival of the railroad in 1862 dramatically altered the settlement pattern of Swedes who arrived in large numbers after the war.  The third wave of Swedish emigration that began in 1866 continued to bring emigrants from the same area as before, but now they were joined by Swedes from many other regions.  And the Swedes now came from cities and villages not just from farms.  After the Civil War the Swedish community became more centered on Jamestown and it extended from Buffalo to Pittsburgh and from Corning and Clearfield to Erie and Cleveland.

Detail of Titusville, one of the boom towns to emerge in the 1860s.  Birds eye view of the city of Titusville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Chicago: A. Ruger and Chicago Lithographing Co, 1871.  Collection of the Library of Congress, Digital link https://lccn.loc.gov/73694524.

Jamestown Journal, February 23, 1866, p 3.
Titusville Herald, 16 Jan 1866, p 3. 
FATAL-RUNAWAY ACCIDENT. Yesterday morning a frightful accident occurred to the Tionesta stage, which resulted in instantly killing one of the passengers and severely injuring the driver.  It appears that the stage started from Tionesta yesterday morning with one gentleman passenger, Major Geo. W. Stadden, and subsequently picked up two other passengers. Major Stadden, wishing to stop at the United States Hotel, the driver turned down Martin street at a very rapid pace, and in rounding up to the United States Hotel, brought the wagon in contact with a post standing on the corner of the street. The horses dashed furiously across the street and brought the stage in collision with the barber's sign post standing on the opposite corner. The violent concussion threw the whole of the passengers out. Major Stadden was killed almost instantly, being hurled with great violence against the corner of the house, he breathed but a few moments after and then expired. The driver received two or three severe cuts on the head, and the other two passengers were more or less injured.
  The body of Major Stadden was removed to the parlor of the United States Hotel, and the driver was also conveyed there, where his wounds were dressed by Dr. Fletcher Oakes.
  Great excitement prevailed during the dressing of the wounds. An eager crowd filled the room, and many were the speculations as to who the dead man was. Squire Burgess soon arrived and proceeded to empanel a coroner's jury. The jury, after making a preliminary examination adjourned until 4 o'clock. 
  Two diaries were found in the pocket of the deceased containing about $419, chiefly in greenbacks, but there was no marking to show who he was. A heavy gold watch chain was found in the watch pocket of his pants. He is about five feet ten inches in height, slenderly built, with light complexion and blue eyesDuring the afternoon his valise was opened and several letters found but none indicating his name, and it was not until his certificate of discharge from the army was found that his name was discovered, which was Orlof W. Stadden, he enlisted in the 116th New York Infantry Volunteers as a private, and was discharged as Sergeant Major
  It transpired that he had been working for a man in Tionesta by the name of John Arlington, and having left his situation was on his way to Philadelphia, when he unfortunately met his death. It's not known whether he was married or not, but he appeared to be a man of very regular habits. Everything on his person and his clothing all bore evidence of the gentleman. He appeared to be about 35 years of age. The following is the verdict of the jury:
  That Orlof W. Stadden came to his death by the fast and reckless driving of John C. Reil, of the Tionesta and Titusville Stage Line. The jury have taken charge of the remains of the deceased and his effects until such time as his friends come forward to identify him.

Buffalo Courier, 20 Feb 1866, p 3.
DEATH OF SERGEANT MAJOR STADDIN. -- We copy below from the Titusville (Pa.) Herald of the 15th Inst, an account of the sudden and accidental death of Sergeant-Major Stadden, of the 116th Regiment. He enlisted in this city in 1862, shortly after his arrival in this country from Sweden. He was a well-educated young man, and entered the service from the love of adventure. He was very popular with his comrades, and was made color sergeant. Acting in this capacity he was wounded in the arm at the storming of Port Hudson, on the 27th of May 1863. When the colors were shot out of one hand, he grasped them with the other and brought them off the field. After recovering from his wound, he was promoted to be 2d Sergeant of Co."G," and subsequently to be Sergeant-Major, He returned with his regiment, to meet his death In the manner below stated: 
                                                 [Quote from Titusville Herald]
Mr. Stadden was a relative of L.G. Sellstedt, of this city, and we learn that Mr. S. has gone to Titusville to bring his remains to this City. Should his funeral take place here, it is the intention of his comrades of the 116th to tender a military escort.

Olof Wilhelm Stadin and Lars Gustaf Sellstedt

So, who was this Swede Sergt. Maj. Stadden?  Did he have any connection to the Swedish community in the Jamestown area?

The roster list of the 116th from the New York Adjutant General makes no indication of Stadin's birthplace, but his compiled service record  noted  his Swedish birth, that he was 5' 8-1/2" tall,  with blue eyes and light complexion, and that he was a goldsmith.  His enlistment papers further indicate in his own hand that his full and correctly spelled name was Olof Wilhelm Stadin and that he was born in Jamtland about 1834 (age 28 in 1862).  Before 1865, there were no Swedes in the Jamestown area with ties to Jamtland.

The Buffalo newspaper article noted that he was related to Lars Gustaf Sellstedt, a wonderfully interesting personality and talent who arrived in Buffalo in 1842.  Sellstedt was a sailor turned artist with a fine career and works that include portraits of Presidents Millard Filmore and Grover Cleveland.  Sellstedt was a first wave Swedish emigrant and while there were likely some connections with the second wave of Swedes who settled in Buffalo and had strong connections with the Jamestown area community, no direct link (or acknowledgement) is included in his autobiography.  Sellstedt was born in 1819 in the Baltic port city of Sundsvall, the administrative center of Västernorrland and more than 500 km (300 miles) north of Vimmerby.  He likely spoke Swedish with a very different pronunciation than the Swedes of our area and he was formally educated even though he left home at age eleven.

After the death of his father when Lars Gustaf was nine, his mother remarried. I have not been able to make a connection to any Stadin family or to anyone in Jamtland.  Yet, their connection highlights the social and cultural differences that separate those first wave emigrants from their later compatriots of the second wave who became the early settlers in our area.  Likewise, our second wave immigrants were disconnected from the horde of Swedes that arrived after the Civil War aboard their steamships as part of the third wave.

Further genealogical research based on the family name of Stadin finally connected me to the origins of this Civil War veteran.  Olof Wilhelm Stadin was born 29 July 1834 in Frösö parish, Jamtlands län, the son of merchant Elias Stadin and Maria Söderberg.  Stadin left home at age 15 and likely arrived in America in April 1862 aboard the steamship City of Washington.  His career in the army was noteworthy, although not called out in the history of the regiment.  Specifically, his rise from private to major-sergeant as an immigrant whose mother tongue was not English is unusual.

Army records indicate that a stone marker was ordered in 1883 for the grave of  "O.W. Stadine" buried in Riverside Cemetery in Tidioute (Forest County) .

Lars Gustaf Sellstedt, Self Portrait, 1871. Collection of Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Lars Gustaf Sellstedt, Portrait of Millard Filmore, abt 1853. Collection of Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Lars Gustaf Sellstedt, Buffalo Harbor from the Foot of Porter Avenue, 1871. Collection of Albright-Knox Art Gallery


Eck, Susan J. "Lars Gustaf Sellstedt" Western New York History. Blog. [Accessed 2020.04.07 https://www.wnyhistory.org/portfolios/men/lars_sellstedt/lars_sellstedt.html]

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