In this letter we learn that Sven Peter has contracted tuberculosis and is feeling his mortality as he writes much about religion and God. It is sad to read of this when he and Carolina had worked so hard to be a success. There was a lot of tuberculosis in America, and most people who got it died. My father, Victor Skonberg, lost three older siblings to that disease, bringing sorrow to his whole family, especially his mother, Matilda Swenson Skonberg.
Sven Peter also writes about his success and happiness in having a "cottage".
Andover 19 February 1861
To you my dear parents and brothers and sisters and even my fellow-creatures, I wish all the best from now and forever.
My friends, I will tell my situation before I am separated from you. My health is not good now. I have been ill since May 10, 1860 and there is no help for my illness--just death. The illness is tuberculosis. Only a minority can be cured. I have been strong and healthy, but it is finished. As I have written before, in this country you can get ill quickly because the weather changes so often from summer one day to winter the next day (this was before they knew what caused tuberculosis and often blamed it on the weather) This is a strain for the working people. I have worked much during the dry weather, but no longer. Everything has been in vain. I cannot get my health back anymore, but I say thanks to God who has given us grace. (Irene writes "there is so much about God, I cannot write everything").
I would be happy if I could talk to you face to face for only one hour. I will try to tell you a little about our clergymen. We have divine service at 9:00 on Sunday morning until 3:00 in the afternoon and then again in the evening from 7:00 until 11:00 or 12:00. We also have divine service in the week both three and four times. (Irene writes "then come several lines about trespasses and forgiveness").
Now I will tell you that I have built a cottage on my land and the cottage is small, not so big, but it is a place for two people. The cost is only $100 and I am so happy now that I have a home, which is mine. If I had good health I would have everything I want to have. I am happy that I did not get ill as soon as I came here. Now I have so much that I can take care of my myself. I have property worth $400.
You ask what we use for heating. We burn coal which we take from the ground and that makes a fire.
There are even sheep in some places here and our calves do no freeze because they nurse. It is our remedy for keeping them. If the animals in Sweden were allowed to be outside, they would be much better and not get pains or lice.
Last spring I wrote you before I got ill and sent portraits. Did this arrive? I have heard that you have to pay for my letters, but that is not correct because I have paid in full. I have more money to pay for the letters than you have. It does not cost me so much. I can earn enough in one day but you cannot.
We had a good harvest here last summer but we are having a cold winter with much snow. In Kansas they had a bad harvest--both animals and people are starving. It has been such dry weather, the ground has been red like fire.
In the South of America there is a war (The Civil War). But it is not a problem for me. They who want war can make much money, many thousands of dollars from the public. But nobody is forced to do that.
Irene writes that she cannot find the rest of this letter.