Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Monday, August 29, 2011

18 June 12 1870

A letter from brother Hans Alfred Swenson who has arrived in Andover.  He is not very happy.

Andover, IL  June 12 1870
Dear Father and Mother, brother, sister and brothers-in-law in Sweden and friends.

I  will let you know that I arrived here late in the evening on the 9th of June.  It was both a long and troublesome voyage.  It was not like any travel in Sweden.

The 12th of May we left Goteborg, Sweden.  The 17th we arrived in Hull in England and the 18th to Liverpool. We went from there on the big ocean to New York and arrived there the 24th.  The 2nd of June we went from New York and arrived in Chicago on the 8th.

I am sure you want to know about the travel.  My travel companions and I thought it was a madness.  We had many experiences and learned much but we never had enough food.  You may wonder if anybody avoided the seasickness.  Nobody did, more or less.  The least seasickness is a headache and you cannot eat or drink.  That was what I had.  I was with people who were not so sick.

You should not believe that anybody who wrote to Sweden told the truth, because they came of their own free will.  You have to live with what you  decide as long as you live.  They have written to Sweden that they will not force or advise anybody to go to America.  A fool will learn and understand what they refer to when they say this.  When you are in Sweden, you do not realize that they speak another language in the new country.  I will tell you that I feel no safety and I would be happy if I was still in Sweden.  It is strange that August had not said that I should go or not and did not tell about paying travel money to them that helped me from Sweden. The reason is that they are so unhappy.

I will tell you that the country is not as good as you might think.  I could not believe this and I know that you think that the country is seven times better than it is.  Nobody in Sweden can understand and believe everything is as bad in America as it is now.  The weather is very dry here.  I have never seen it this dry in Sweden or thought it would be so dry here.  August did not tell me it would be so dry.  It seems that the soil here in America is not as good as it is in Sweden.  The grain is so thin and short, the grass is better, but not as thick and long as in Sweden.  Nobody in Sweden can believe this.  They boast of the deep soil in America when they write to Sweden.  I think it is miserable.

Between New York and Chicago, the soil is cultivated.  August has everything cultivated without a little piece for pasture for the cows.  He cannot let the horse out because he has no place where there is something to eat.  The people plant gardens and have vegetables.  They live off of vegetables, coffee and tea and buy wheat (flour) for bread.  Consequently, they do not eat as much.  A Swede who visits an American starves, because he only has three meals a day.

He has to get up at four o'clock in the morning, groom the horses, give the swine food and milk the cows  and make butter.  This must be done by six o'clock and then he has breakfast.  Then he is out working til noon when dinner is served.  After that he feeds the domestic animals.  At one o'clock he has to be out working again. At seven o'clock in the evening he has supper.  Then he has the horses to take care of.  Then he is glad it is evening.

The food is many different dishes, but mostly vegetables, both sour and not tasty.  The farm-hand has to eat quickly so he is lean.  It would be the same in Sweden if food was eaten like this.  It is only to quench the hunger and nothing to work on.

When the weather is warm you drink much water but it tastes like lime, which is in the oil.  It is no wonder people get sick.

There is not enough time to tell you what I know and have seen or paid for some room for me.  If I wrote all I have heard and seen it would be as long as the Bible.

Greetings to all of you and relatives from H.A. Svenson.  August and Lina (Carolina) also send their greetings to you and say thanks for what they have.

On the other side of the letter Hans Alfred has written:  I am with August.  The farm hand had finished his work some hours before I arrived, so I had to work at once.  If I had known the language it would have been easier, but now I have to suffer in all weather.

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