At last--a letter from a woman! We have only a few but it is nice to hear a woman's experience about coming to America. This is from Swen Petter's sister, Greta Lovisa Svensdotter, who had come with her husband, Hans Olsson, to America in 1868. Like the other letters, hers has advice about coming to this country. Whenever I think of Lovisa, I always picture her looking like Marcia, one of her descendants!
I must add a note about the high mortality of children at this time. According to genealogy records, Greta Lovisa lost 4 children--Hans died in Sweden in 1866, at 1 year. After coming to America, Johanna died before 1876 at 9 years, Hilma (mentioned below) died in 1875 at 7 years and Emmelie died in 1874 at 8 months. How hard this must have been. I have read that epidemics of diseases like cholera, etc took many lives. Better sanitation practices and antibiotics have resulted in a far lower death rate among children.
Greta Lovisa, Andover, IL 1869
I will send an answer to your welcome letter, which arrived last Monday and told of both sorrow and joy. I will tell you that I think it is best for Oskar (Franz Oskar, another brother) to come here. He could easily learn the language and he can earn rather much during the summer, so he does not need to work during the winter. He can go to school and learn English and pay for the food. You can believe that he will not feel bad. (I don't think he ever came to America).
Many thanks for the song you sent to me. It was nice to get it for I had thought to ask you to send that song to me. Thanks to God that we have good health.
I want to tell you that uncle is very godly and has plenty of time. (I am not sure who this is). He does not need to do anything if he does not want. He says that you can go to America in spite of being crippled but well. I think it would be troublesome during the travel, because you have to walk much to the stations.
Our little daughter, Hilma Christina, is very lovely. She is 10 months old and walks around when she has something to hold on to. She has never been swaddled because it is too warm here for small children. You should know that she is very feeble. She coughs much during the nights.
Sven Petter is very busy. He works more than he needs, to earn their living. Sven Petter has a very hard working wife, or I think that he would not be as wealthy as he is. When he was sick, she cut the hay and piled it on drying racks. She cut 10 acres of wheat with a scythe and she worked so hard that she became a little sick. She does not hear so well. If you come over here you will see that she has much to do.
I will also tell what the women do. Once a week they wash and they also cut out and make dresses and whatever they need. Here the tailors do not need to go around in the villages to sew dresses, which are called calico. A dress can cost 2 dollars or less.
I have thought that it has been very quiet since I came here. I have thought many times if I could meet you and talk to you again, I would enjoy it so much.
May God grant that we may meet in a better world. (Irene writes that Lovisa has written many lines with Biblical quotations).
Greetings to parents, siblings and all.