Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

9. January 20 1869 Part 1

This is a letter from Johan August Swenson, brother of Sven Petter, who emigrated to America in 1868 and settled in Andover.  It is very long, with his impressions of America.

Andover 20 January 1869
Dear Parents and siblings.  We will with God's help send an answer to the letter from you, which we received from our church January 16.  It was very nice for us all to get to know how you are in our old country.  It was nice to hear that you are all well.  It is the best news in the world, but it was difficult to hear that you have much misery for your living.

As you had written, Hans, we cannot understand about the cattle and how you can get what you need for your living.  Hans, you say that you cannot come over here this year because you don't have any money or clothes.  I say if you have money enough and clothes during the travel, you can go.  I know that.  There is no use here for Swedish clothes.  When I came over here I had to buy other clothes.  You ask if we can use the same plow as we had in Sweden.  I am as ignorant as you for I have not plowed with a Swedish plow here.  You think perhaps that yours is better, but you need not be anxious for that.  In America we have much better than you have there.

You want to know if there are ditches in the fields.  (The area around their home in Spakarp is hilly with stony ground so I think they can't imagine the flat land in Illinois)   There are no ditches--when we plow, we drive around, like you we want to begin on the edge of the field and drive around until we get the field done.  The field may be big or small.  The fields here are square.  All ways are used here in four directions.

It is the same in town here as it is there.  The streets are the same way.  You ask when I stand in America and look around what I can see.  I can see cottages one after another, fields, woods and grass.  Instead of the pine forest you have, there is deciduous forest here.  I have not been far in America, so I have not seen anything of what you have mentioned, but America is large.  You can find everything you want on this side of the ocean.  Here are people and civilization and also wheat fields.  You ask what is the best here.  You can find everything.

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