1856 Swensson List

► Sugar Grove Congregation    
 Wrightsville Congregation  
 Jamestown Congregation   

About These Membership Lists

Entry format of Membership List
Jonas Swensson began membership lists for the three congregations of Sugar Grove, Wrightsville and Jamestown in 1856 following his arrival and the establishment of the Lutheran Church in the area.  The list likely includes updates that ended when he resigned his position in 1858 to move to Andover, Illinois.

Swensson was an assistant clergy in Unnaryd Parish, Jönköpings län from 1851-1856.  Recently married, he, his wife and his eleven-year-old sister-in-law arrived in New York aboard the Minona on 5 July 1856.  He noted that he attended a service aboard the Bethel ship in New York harbor and was disquieted by the religious differences with the Methodists.   After a few days the young couple took the train to Dunkirk and arrived in Jamestown by stage coach.  From the outset he noted that he was uneasy about his decision to accept the position in Sugar Grove.  He played a major role in the ensuing divisiveness between the Lutherans and the Methodists that culminated in the migration of half of the families from the Chandlers Valley community to Minnesota and with his own resignation in August 1858.

This list by Swensson was an abbreviated version of the household survey (husförhörslängder) that was common during this period in Sweden.  There are more errors, inaccuracies and omissions in the birth information and names than that which was normal for Swedish parish records.  Details are typically correct in Swedish Church records for events within the parish, with some errors or inaccuracies occurring for events outside the parish.   It is difficult to assess if the quality of the Sugar Grove membership lists was due to 1) Swensson's inexperience;  2) Swensson's attitude towards the congregation and his duties; or 3) inaccurate information provided by the members.  The sub-standard result may have been a combination of all three factors.

Title Page: Förteckning på Medlemmarne af Den Svensk Ewang Lutherska Församlingen i Sugar Grove, Warren Co. Pa. samt Den som i trakten deromkring förenat sig om samma Ewang Lutherska Läsare, Borjad den 26 Juli 1856. Handmade folded paper cover, approximately 8 x 12.75 inches (205 x 325mm) when folded closed.

The membership list consisted of three congregations as organized in the original charter and likely reflected the settlement distribution of Swedish immigrants in 1856:  Sugar Grove township (centered around the location of the church near Chandlers Valley), Freehold and Pittsfield townships (centered around Wrightsville, 9 miles west of Chandlers Valley), and Ellicott township (centered in Jamestown and Falconer, 15 miles northeast of Chandlers Valley).  The Swedes living in the Town of Carroll were divided between Wrightsville and Jamestown.  The Swedes living in the Town of Busti were included with Sugar Grove.

Swensson's list began with the Sugar Grove congregation, then detailed the Wrightsville congregation and finished with the Jamestown congregation.  Pages are typically numbered.

Further Reading

Lawson, Evald Benjamin. Two primary sources for a study of the life of Jonas Swensson. Augustana Historical Society publications, Volume 17, Rock Island, Illinois, 1967.

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