Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

110 Jonas Victor Swenson Obituary March 13, 1933

     It is time for me to say goodbye to Jonas Victor Swenson.  I confess I am having a difficult time leaving him.  He has been a presence in my life for several months and I have enjoyed having him with me.  I felt he was looking over my shoulder as I typed his letters into my computer.  I wish I could have visited with him in person, but am so grateful for these letters that tell me so much about this amazing man.
     I think he represents so much of what was the best of the immigrants who came to America--especially the ones from Sweden.  Through these letters we have learned that it was not an easy thing.  Many adjustments and adaptations had to be made.  The weather was always mentioned, requiring a real adjustment to weather that was colder and hotter than in Sweden.  The second thing mentioned was his state of health.  With so many diseases around like cholera, tuberculosis, small pox, an immigrant's health was vital to his success in living in America, as we saw with his brothers who came here in the years before he did.
     Survival depended upon intelligence, persistence and very hard work, as well as the vision to see what could be accomplished.  Many came knowing they might not be very successful, but wanting to give a better chance to their children than was possible in their native country.  As I read his letters, there were times when I could hear my father, Victor Skonberg, saying the same things--about business, family and life.
     So, sleep well, my Great Grandfather Jonas Victor.  Your wish to be next to your Great Companion and wife, Anna Greta, has been granted. Your many descendants are grateful for your life that is an example for all of us. 

Grave Marker
Click on photos to enlarge

Jonas Victor Swenson died March 13, 1933, in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was visiting his sons.  He is buried next to his wife, Anna Greta, in Belgard Cemetery in Cleburne, Kansas.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

109. Anna Greta Johnson Swenson

     As the life of Jonas Victor Swenson is ending, some attention must be paid to his wife and "great companion", Anna Greta.  She, like most pioneer women, has little written about her, nor do we have any of the letters she surely wrote home to the parents and siblings she never saw after leaving Sweden with her husband and small children. According to family lore, they spent their first months in America living in a sort of built in cave before building some kind of house, and she was pregnant with their next child, so it was not an easy life at first .
     There are only glimpses of her in Jonas Victor's letters, who wrote of the late hours she spent sewing much of the clothing by hand for the family (and no doubt knitting the many stockings required--I remember watching my Grandmother Matilda knit stockings on very thin needles--Jonas Victor mentions getting yarn from Sweden), raising chickens and selling eggs, cooking for their large family, canning and  preserving fruits and vegetables from her large garden, not to mention all the laundry to be done, and her church work.  She was very pleased to receive money sent by her mother from Sweden, for the sewing machine she wanted very much.  Jonas Victor writes of making it possible for some water to be piped into the kitchen, indicating he did appreciate all the work she did, and wanting to lift some of the burden.  
     There must have been many times she was lonesome for the parents and siblings she left back in Sweden, especially after losing a baby.  However, like all pioneer women, she was far too busy raising children and helping her husband with the farm to spend very much time fretting over things she could not change.
    I would love to have met her and asked her about that life.  However, even though I did have that chance with her daughter and my grandmother, Matilda Skonberg, as a young person I did not ask her about anything.  And as a child growing up in a Swedish community, I assumed all "Grandmas" spoke with a Swedish accent!     
Obituary for Anna Great Swenson
Click on obituary to enlarge

Grave Marker for
Anna Greta Swenson

We visited the Belguard Cemetery near Cleburne, Kansas, several years ago. The entire cemetery was moved when the Tuttle Creek Dam was built earlier, causing the flooding of the limestone home they had built. The cemetery is now on a hill high above any chance of flooding.  The day we were there it was very windy, and I wondered what she would think of being there, far from her native country.  She and Jonas Victor, after much hard work and energy, made new successful lives for themselves and their family in this new land. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

108. August 11, 1929

Jonas Victor, at the age of 94, take his first airplane ride, piloted by his 18 year old grandson.  Note ties tucked into shirt front.  Was that the style, or just to keep them from flying around in the wind?   Roselyn.

Randolph, Kansas
August 11, 1929.

Left to right--G. A. Swenson, Jonas Victor Swenson and Earl Swenson.
Jonas Victor,  94, was flown to Omaha, Nebraska in 1929, by his
grandson, Earl Swenson, and accompanies by his son G. A. Swenson.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

107 June 1, 1931 Part 2

In this second part of the letter from Jonas Victor Swenson to his brother Albert in Sweden, he talks about the weather, about how things are in Sweden and a little about what women do in the church in America.  Roselyn

Randolph, Kansas
June 1, 1931
Part 1

     Now it is a beautiful summer time in Sweden.  The birds sing and the cuckoo calls.  It is a short time, but it is lovely.  You write about the meadow.  Those who have been to Sweden from here, say that it is so easy to walk in the summer.  But how is it in spring, autumn and winter, when there is a snowstorm?  I do remember mild winters.  I like summer best.  Then I am well.  Here I am well in autumn, spring and summer.
     I am thinking of Hamra, in Sweden.  Now it has cultivated bogs and marshes.
     As to me, I have no reason to complain.  When it is cold, rainy and nasty, I stay in my rocking chair from morning til nine o'clock in the evening.  I feel that it is tiring and the time is long, but the days pass, and my time cannot be very long, and I am satisfied with that.
     I will tell you about the convention where Mina and Alfred are (his son Alfred and wife Mina, who are working to help with the church convention.)  The women have a lot of work to do and it is costly.  They prepare enough food for 100 people.  They make coffee and more in the church lower floor (basement).  Everything is for the Lord so that makes it easier.
     June 7, it has been nine years since my wife died.  The time has been long, but short in the same way.  I have children.  I get letters from them, and they visit me, and that brings much joy to me.
     This letter is long, so I finish with greetings to you all from our old brother.

J.V. Swenson

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

106. June 1, 1931

As an aging man, Jonas Victor spends much time in his rocking chair, remembering the past.  He also talks about what he eats.  His diet was really quite modern and healthful--unusual for that time.  He mentions church work for the women.  Roselyn.

Randolph, Kansas June 1, 1931
     Thanks, brother for the letter I received yesterday.  You wrote with black ink, and then I can see to read it.
     Today, Sunday, Mina and Alfred (his son and wife who live near his old farm).  are at church, where there is a Sunday School convention.  Many congregations are there to discuss whether they think that Sunday School is good for the children.
     Perhaps you wonder why I am not with them.  It is too cold for my feet.  The floor is too cold, and then I get severe pain.
     During the night I sit wrapped in the rocking chair, and have my feet on a fur skin.  I had my breakfast in my chair.  I was so tired, so I fell asleep and slept for two hours.
     Now it is noon and the dinner is on the table.  Coffee, egg, butter, honey, milk, sugar and pie (sweet roll) are the best in the morning.  I always eat whole wheat--it is wholesome.  I mix it with raisins.  As you know, it is like grain.  It is the first thing I eat in the morning.
  I have talked about eggs.  My daughter-in-law has 400 hens and 200 roosters. The roosters are valuable to sell when they weight 1 1/2 pounds.  You should not eat too many eggs; two a day are enough or three the same day.  I always eat one.
     I have a good appetite and I sleep well.  Now I can eat more than I did several years ago.  However, I think the people in Sweden eat more than here, like potatoes.  When I was in Sweden they ate lots of potatoes.  I eat two potatoes, but Alfred, my son, eats more.