Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Friday, October 28, 2011

75. July after 1922, Part 3.

Jonas Victor goes to visit his son, Henry, in Omaha.  He tells about the large wholesale store that Henry and Charles have there.   The brothers owned several retail stores in small towns in Kansas and Nebraska, as well as other properties and businesses.  I believe they opened a store in Omaha around 1906 and they soon changed it into a warehouse, providing wares for the many salesmen who came to Omaha, Nebraska. The last listing of it as a business was in 1945.  Roselyn

Letter head of Swenson Bros Wholesale Business.
Click on photo to enlarge
When the reunion at my old home was over, I went to Omaha, Nebraska, and now I am in Henry's house.  The building you see on the letter paper is Henry's and Charlie's store.  That building is a four storied building, 135 feet long and 65 feet wide.  It is built of brick.  
     The labor is expensive and what the farmers have to sell is too cheap.  Wheat is now 70 cents a bushel.  The taxes are high, but not for paying for the war.  It is for schools and roads, but perhaps a little for the war, too.  You say that America has demanded money from all countries.  That is true, but the government owed in this country what they borrowed during the war, from both rich and those who did not have much money.  I had to lend 5,000 with 4 1/2 percent interest, but that was good because I did not have to pay tax on it.  I receive money back every six months.
     My children and their families do their best for me.  I always meet nice and helpful people.  I have done that since I came to America.  In "bad places" in towns, there can be discord and fights.  Here there are no bars.  I never see anybody intoxicated, but I know that some smuggle schnapps.  The authorities fine (penalize-they must pay money) them. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

74. July, after 1922. Part 2

All of the Swenson children meet at the old home for a reunion for a few days.

Picture of the Jonas Victor Swenson Home
Where family gathered in about 1923
Click on the picture to enlarge

Omaha, Nebraska, July after 1922
     The children decided that everybody should come to my old farm the 12th of July.
     My daughter (Matilda) and I went from Osage City to my home.  When I left that home I did not sell anything.  Everything was like it had been before, with furniture, bedclothes and household things of all sorts.  We had everything we needed.
    Among other things, there were 200 canned foods with fruits of all sorts, 10 gallons of wine, which was twenty years old.  My wife had made it partly of wild grapes and tame as we had at home.  You could not get better wine.  We did not use it and we did not now, either.  During that time, you were allowed to use it, and my wife served the wine when clergymen or other guests came.
     I forgot to mention that Alfred got the best bedclothes and silver and clocks.  The clock we had received on our 50 year wedding day, and it had worked for fourteen years with only one wind up a year.
     We were in my old home together for several days.  It was nice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

73. July after 1922 Part 1

This letter is interesting because Jonas Victor tells why he moved from his home after his wife died.  He also says he visited his daughter, Matilda, (my grandmother).  I never knew he was ever in the house I grew up in.   Roselyn

Omaha, Nebraska
July   after 1922

Dear Brother Albert and Family.  God' Peace!
     I am now in Omaha, Nebraska, and will try to write a "travel letter".  When my wife died, I was without an earthly home.  My home did not feel like my home any longer.  If any of the children had been living there, it would be have been otherwise.  In that case I would have been there most of the time.  It is good to know that our right home is with God.
     I moved to the home of my oldest son, because he lives nearest to the farm and Cleburne.  I could care for my wife's grave as I wanted.  Alfred and his wife wanted me to move into their home with them.  They have no children, a poor home, though rich.  I would feel poor, if I had no children.  It is a pleasure to visit my children and grandchildren.  Alfred and his wife wanted to have a child, so they have adopted a girl.
     I was at Alfred's home til the end of May, when my travel began.  I went to my son in Clay Center.  He is married to an American woman.  They have a child, and did everything they could for me.  I stayed there for three weeks.  My old friends there were dead, but I found new ones.  When you come to a town, you get into contact with people, and that is nicer.
     Then I went to Osage City, where my only daughter lives.  She has nine children who are living, three who have died.  All the children are married except for the two youngest boys. (One of those boys was my father, J.V. Skonberg).
They live at home and work on the farm.  Two of the married ones live close to the farm. (These two would have been Will Skonberg and Hulda Lindbloom.) 
     There, as everywhere, they travel by automobile.  On Sundays, we went to church.  There was always some dinner party or supper after church.  The harvest of wheat was bad, as there had been too much rain.
     There, like other places I had a nice time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

72. September, after 1922.

Jonas Victor writes his brother Albert about the weather and harvest--ever the farmer!   Roselyn

Clay Center, Kansas
September--after 1922    
Dear brother Albert.
     I think I shall write a little letter.  My eyes are not so good, so I cannot write much.  When a letter to you does not cost more than 5 cents, it is good.
     I am now in a town named Clay Center, with one of my sons.  (Peter Luther).
     Around here and also in Randolph there was a bad harvest.  It has been too dry, so the harvest of grain will be nothing.
     I am writing this letter because I am thinking of Karl Magnus, Lotta's husband. Lotta, our sister, is dead.  I do not know whether Karl Magnus went to jail after he drove into the gate by the railway with his horse and carriage.  Let me know when you write how it was in Hamra after the surveyor had been there.  How is Karl Magnus?  Is he alive? If he is, how is he?
     He drank too much.  Otherwise he was a good man.  He did a good job on the farm.  He and Lotta leased the vicarage in Tuna parish and he bought Smedserum, also in Tuna parish.     
     My health is good for someone my age.
     I do not remember if I have written to you since I got your letter, where you were telling me about selling wood.  Thank you for letting me know how you are.
     May God help us so we will be happily saved home with God.  The reunion is left.
    I have been here for two months, but my address is usually J.V. Svenson, Randolph, Kansas.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

71. July, about 1923. Part 2

This is Part 2 of a letter written by Jonas Victor, who is staying with his son Peter Luther Swenson in Clay Center, Kansas.  He misses his wife, and also writes about religion in America.   Roselyn

Part 2.
     We think of our family members.  Not a day passes without thinking of my wife.  She was Christian and was happy, so it was good that she did not suffer more.  I think that I soon will be by her.
     Brother, I think that it is great that we have contact with each other, when we are old.  Perhaps you have told me your age and I have forgotten that.  It would be nice to know both yours and your wife's ages.  When you write next time, do not forget that.  I am waiting to get a letter from you.
     You wrote that Algot had received some money.  What I understand in Selma's letter, is that he had an eighth part "there up" (?).  Perhaps it was not known, but it was an inheritance from Johan Petter.
     Now I do not know what to write about the religious situation.  I can see people going to church.  It is a German church.  On the other side of the street there are two big churches as far as it is to your barn.  The people pass the house where I am.  I do not hear the clergyman preach, as I stay at home.  
     It is nice to see the children when they go to Sunday School, and when they come back they are happy.  They have their Sunday School papers and run.  In most cases the whole family goes to church.  I asked my daughter-in-law how many people in town belong to some church.  She said that hardly more than half belong to a church.  The others amuse themselves with pleasures or sitting in the park talking.
     The best part is that you never see anybody who is drunk.  There are no advertisements about pubs or beer.
     It is a favor that God will lead us so we will be happy.

Yours, J.V. Svenson

Friday, October 21, 2011

70. July after 1922. Perhaps 1923 Part 1

Some of the letters have no date on them.  We know Anna Greta died in 1922, so can date letters after or before that date.  Jonas Victor moves around to live with his sons.  This letter is Part 1 of a letter from Clay Center, Kansas, where his son, P. L. Swenson, lived.  Roselyn

Clay Center, Kansas
July   Probably 1923.

Dear Brother Albert and Family,
     Thanks for your letter.  It  is always nice to hear from you and that you are in good health.  It is not surprising that you get tired.  You are in your life's afternoon, but as long as you have something to do with your farm and the cattle, you get exercise and the time passes faster. That is my experience, particularly now that I cannot read a book or a newspaper.  I can read handwriting if it is written on white paper with black ink.
     Here both the young and old feel tired, not only in Kansas but also in Illinois, where the air is heavy and sultry.  The people here are tired in spite of no walking.  If anybody has to move twice as far as you have to your barn, they use their car.  If they plough, harrow, sow or whatever they do in the field, they use two, four or six horses, they do not walk.  In spite of that they get tired.  Only when they stack up hay and look after the animals, do they walk.  In town people have cement on the path to walk on, as I think you have and I have now, when I am with my son for weeks or perhaps months.
     I walk about an English mile to keep my body moving.  It is the best I can do.  Here it is unusually warm weather, up to 105 degrees.  We have not heard that anybody has died in the hot weather.  In Minnesota, in the cities and also in Illinois, people are dying because of the hot weather.  The air is lighter here in Kansas, but in other states, it is still better.  We live on earth in the valley of tears wherever we are.  We hardly can find the same climate here as in Sweden.
     Thanks for the fine portrait of your son. It was sad to hear what had happened.  When he wrote home he was conscious, but he felt that he would die.  Perhaps God was in his thought and he asked for forgiveness , as the robber said to Jesus, that he would think of him when he came to his realm. We know what the answer was.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

69. July 4th undated year

This is one of the last translations from Irene and Rune Elofsson.  It is from Jonas Victor and is an earlier undated one, but before 1922.  It is interesting, because he tells of the July 4th Celebration--American Independence Day.    Roselyn

July 4, undated

Brother Albert,
     Today is America's greatest day during the whole year.  We heard thundering shots at four o'clock in the morning before we had gotten up.  There were American flag floats in town and country.  Truckers and Knights (Men's service club?) are provided with flags.  On the roofs in the streets and on the gateposts you can see flags.
     Music, speech and song you hear from here and there.  It will be an enjoyable day, which is July 4, and I will sit down and write to you Mother, if you are alive, Brothers and relatives.
     I wish you God's peace and blessing.  We all have good health, but my wife and I are aging and our strengths become weaker.  For our age we are still rather well.
     God has the honor for that.  

It is unsigned.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

68. Christmas 1922 Part 3

This is Part 3 of the Christmas letter sent by Jonas Victor to his brother Albert in Spakarp in Sweden.  He tells of his move from the home and what he took with him.   Roselyn

Randoph, Ks.
Christmas  1922
     I will tell you a little about my moving.  The children asked that I leave everything as it was, and only take the best gold and silver, the best bedclothes and clothes.  Furniture and carpets should be left, as were 200 glasses of canned fruit in the cellar.  
     I had to look through everything, and then I found a contract from when we moved from Hamra, which was signed by witnesses, Karl-Johan and Johan Petter.  The contract stated that when the first of "the old" died, we would get 300 and when the other died we would get 500.  There was 20,400 deposited, 800 for everyone.  
     I had never from that day until now, remembered that.  Mother, who had a good memory, did not remember this either.  The contract had never been in district court, so we cannot get it by law.  They had never told how much money there was when both died.  I take it as a God's leading in everything.  If Mother had gotten her right according to the contract, perhaps we would never have gone to America.  If we had remembered this and did not get the money, there might have been difficult thoughts, but now everything is good.
     Now it has taken me two days to write this letter.  I cannot write a lot each day, as my eyes are not so good.  
     I finish with many kindly greetings to you all.  "Still God is among us who are left, still he has love for us.  Hear how mildly he calls everybody, listen oh soul and come.  Lovely, lovely it will be at last, when everybody finally meets at the home of the Lord God".  May it so happen!
               Brother, JV. Svenson

We have fine weather, no snow.  My address is Randolph instead of Cleburne.

Monday, October 17, 2011

67. Christmas 1922 Part 2

This is Part 2 of a letter written around Christmas time.  Since the death of his wife, Anna Greta, he has lived with his son, Alfred,  who lives nearby.     Roselyn

Randolph, Ks
Christmas 1922
     Perhaps it has been more than ten years since Mama and I visited the Olson Family in Concord.  We also visited Clemet Larson.  He was married to a sister to Lovisa (Jonas Victor's sister).  She talked about her brother in "Tute" and also about you.  I was not well when we were there.  I have forgotten the name of the town.  I have not heard anything from them, but perhaps Selma Gulleen knows the name, so I can give you the name.  I will let you know when I get the paper.
     I have arranged it so the paper will come another year.  As I did not get a letter from you during for a while, I did not know how to send the paper, so I wrote that they should not send the paper any more.  After I got your letter, I wrote to them and asked them to send the paper to you for another year.  It does not cost very much.
     It is sad about brother Oscar.  May God forgive him his sins.  There is nothing we can do.
     The economy here is not as good as it was before the war, particularly for the farmers.  The labor is too expensive and sales are not as high.  Those who have help from their own family have it good, but those who must employ people have big costs.  The taxes are high, depending on the colleges. (?)  There is not as much tax for the war.  It is on the income that the tax comes and is comes more on the millionaires.  I have had income tax but not so much.
     The people live a good life.  The workers travel in their automobiles to their place of work.  Farmer, leaseholders and farmhands, everybody who can afford it, does that.  But there are many who cannot afford it.  The automobile is expensive to buy and maintain.  Suddenly, it becomes useless.  For those who have money, it is good to have an automobile to go from place to place quickly.

66. Christmas 1922 Part 1

     This is the first Christmas letter after the death of Anna Greta, wife of Jonas Victor, on June 7, 1922.  She had been in ill health for several years.     Julotta (pronounced Ulotta in English) was the early morning church service in Swedish churches.  His description of Christmas services is very much as I remember them.
     In my memory, the church I attended had the service either late at night on Christmas Eve, similar to other church "Midnight Services" or very early Christmas morning.  One of my favorite memories is coming home from college and attending Julotta services in my home church-Stotler Mission Covenant Church.  My Dad (Vic Skonberg-Matilda's son) had always decorated our tall windmill by the house with light bulbs strung clear to the top.  I can imagine my Mother's worry as he climbed up there to hang the lights we would see from about 1/2 mile away, as we came up the road toward home.   A very favorite memory.  Roselyn

Brother Albert with Family.  God's Peace!
     Thanks for the letter the postman brought, when I came back from "Julotta" (the early church service.)  I could not have received a better Christmas gift.  I had not been to "Julotta" in many years, because my wife was sick and I stayed home with her.  
     Now I have moved in with Alfred, my oldest son.  When I was dressed, we went in the automobile and we were there quickly.
    Hulda Olson has moved to be with her sister, who is married to the clergyman, Gullen.  They needed her.  She will be there the rest of her life.  After that, I moved to Alfred's.  They have no children.  They adopted a little girl, who they have brought up.  She goes to school all the time.  Now she is home two weeks over Christmas.  The girl costs a lot of money.  She has been in Chicago.  Alfred has enough money for her to do that.  She is studying the French language.  She is a good girl.  
     Alfred has a big fine modern house with big rooms and expensive furniture.  I have the best room on the first floor, so I have it as well as I could wish.  I am also surrounded by the children and friends.  In spite of that I get tears in my eyes and feel alone, when I think of old memories.  Do rest in peace, My Dear, until we meet and the reunion will come.
     While we are now in the middle of Christmas, I will tell you about it.  "Julotta" is not as real here.  The Swedes celebrate, but the English language is spoken more and more and it seems that the celebration decreases.  There is a party in the evening, when the Christmas tree and church are decorated.  There is a program, the Sunday School children read something and sing and play piano.   Nearly all churches have a choir.  Yesterday evening they went to a party and they are going to another party today, too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

65. November 8, 1922

Envelope of letter from Arthur, Iowa to Spakarp, Sweden
Click on envelop to enlarge.
Another letter from Hilma Tunberg in Arthur, Iowa to Gustaf Albert in Spakarp, Sweden.  He is the  brother of Jonas Victor Swenson.   Roselyn

Arthur, Iowa
November 8, 1922

Uncle Albert Svenson,
     Thanks for the letter I got in July.  You wrote that you would send me the money which was part of the inheritance from Uncle Gottfrid.  It was about three weeks before I got them.  
     They said at the bank that the money had been left at the wrong place, so it therefore took a long time.  
     I wrote my name on several papers, before I got the money.  These papers will go back, so that everything is as it should be.
     Thanks for all the trouble you had for me.  I will buy some remembrance, as it is like I received it from my mother.
     Again, thanks and Dear Regards to all of you from Hilma Tunberg.

Friday, October 14, 2011

64. March 4, 1922

There are two letters from relatives of Jonas Victor's wife's family.  Algot was the son of her sister.  They immigrated to Arthur, Iowa from Sweden.  The letter may be written by his wife, Hilma Tunberg.  It is in regard to the estate of Gottfrid, Jonas Victor's brother.  The letter is to Albert Swenson, brother of Jonas Victor.   Roselyn

Arthur, Iowa
March 4, 1922
     Dear Uncle Albert,
Thanks for the letter, which I received a little while ago.  It was unexpected.  My sister,  Frieda,
told me when she wrote that Uncle Gottfrid had died.  I remember so well my uncles in Spakarp, even though I was so young, when we moved to Tuna.
     The years pass quickly and we with them.  We have five children, three boys and two girls.  The boys are married.  The youngest of the girls finished college a year ago.  She works at a pharmacy here in town.
     We moved to town last September and are happy here.  We have worked hard, so we could have something better while we are still living.  Our sons work on our farm and have jobs, so they do not need to move. 
     We have only one grandchild, a little boy three years old.  I am sending a little photo of him 
and our youngest daughter, Hazel, eighteen years old.  
     I am writing to let you know how things are for us.  Times are not as good as they have been, but I think they will be better.  Young people think nothing of the price for anything, but we older ones have seen worse times.
     We have had a fine winter with hardly any snow.
     Now, I finish my letter.  If you have any trouble for my part, I had not thought to be remembered.
     We all have good health's valuable gift.  We wish that you also have good health, which is the best to own.
     Dear regards to all of you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

63. June 28, 1921

Jonas Victor is still trying to finish up estate business.  As the oldest living son, it must have been his responsibility.  With communication so slow, it took a long time. And the older generation worried about the younger generation--nothing changes!   

Cleburne, Kansas
June 28, 1921

Brother Albert,
     Your letter arrived two weeks ago with power of attorney and a copy of the testament.  When I got your first letter about brother Gottfrid's death, I thought that he had bequeathed everything he had to .....?  Therefore, I said that I did not want to have anything of what he had given to her, his housekeeper.  Now I see in the testament that brother Gottfrid has given her 4000 Swedish krona, and everything else goes to the relatives.  Therefore, I take what will be my part.  I hope you understand me.
     Now I will send the power of attorney and the testament to sister Lovisa's children to sign, but they are scattered around in several states.  It will take time before it comes back.  I am sending my power of attorney in this letter.  It is good that you will be my good man.
     Here it is as usual.  The times are bad.  Nearly everything has gone down compared with how it was before the war when there was an abundance of everything.     
     The wheat is harvested.  The oats are ready to harvest.  The wheat is not as good as last year.  Oats and potatoes are good.  We do not know yet how the barley will be.
     Now I finish with kindest regards to you and also to Selma and Anders Petter in Hamra.  
     We wonder why Oskar's son is living in Dunkullen.  He was rich when his mother died.  It is not right for a young man to live there.  The same thing could be said for Johan Petter's son, who lived in "Anebotorpet".  (?)

When you get time, write to us.  Kindly, Victor.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

62. December 28, before 1922.

Jonas Victor tells of Christmas and writes about finishing up some business.   Picture of envelope shows that in 1922, a letter from America to Sweden cost eight cents.  As it went by boat, It probably took about a month to arrive.  Roselyn

Envelope of letter to Sweden from Jonas Victor Swenson
Click on picture to enlarge
Cleburne, Ks.  December 28,  Before 1922.

Dear Brother Albert, God's Peace!
     I got your letter on Christmas Eve, so it was a Christmas gift as good as other gifts.  It is always nice to hear from you, many thanks.
     This Christmas was more valuable for me than others before.  My wife and I could celebrate another CHristmas together in our old age.  It was a great mercy of God.
     I am sending the testament to Hans's children, so they can see that it has been in court.  What I understand is that it is appointed that Hulda will get the 4000 brother Gottfrid allocated her, which is correct.  When the estate comes, we perhaps get a part of that.  If you send the money to me I send a check to Hans's children.  The cost is not more than two cents.  We never send money in letters.
     Please send a receipt from each one, because I can not write that.  It would be good if you could do that.  Then everybody can then sign.  Brother Albert, you must get paid for all your work.
     Hulda Olson, Hans's oldest daughter, has been here more than 4 years helping us.  Mama (Jonas Victor's wife, Anna Greta) needs help with everything.  Hulda is unmarried.  Your sons have to pay tax.
     It seems that it is better here for boys and girls.  They got to school free until they can be schoolteachers.  There are many colleges here.  In an area the same size as Svinhult's parish, there are three or four colleges.  The course is 4 years:  both poor and rich can study there without cost.  The young people go by car, so we have to pay the costs and taxes.
     The taxes are very high and the income small.
     I am not very well, so I finish now.
     Dear regards to all of you and Selma and Anders in Hamra.
                                       J.V. Svenson

Tell Anton (Jonas Victor's nephew) that he will get a part of the money that he lent out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

61. July 1920 ? Part 4

Jonas Victor writes about taxes and the effect of World War I.   Roselyn

I am glad that things are going well for you.  It was good that Gustaf and Selma got part of Hamra.
     You say that you have high taxes.  They are also high here, but I think you have higher, considering that the income is higher here than in Sweden.  I mean agricultural work.  I will tell you about our taxes.
     Last year we have made $8,000 a year for four years.  I get half of it.  Then I have income from interest on investments.  Now as to the cost of the war.  We have income tax.  Every married man who has $2,000 income a year, and unmarried persons who make $1,000 income a year, has to pay taxes.  I can tell you that I had $5,500 income per year, and have to pay taxes, but the taxes I paid the year before deducts, even what I gave $300 to the church, the Red Cross, Young Men's Association deducts.  
     Everything we buy for the cattle, vaccinating for half of very sick pigs and the house needs repair.  When all this is deducted, I have more than $2,000 left.  I had to pay 6% interest.  Those who have $100,000, pay more.  They have to pay $2,500.  Those who have millions in income have to pay half. That tax will pay interests and debts for the war.  
     The government has borrowed 30 billions from the people in America, everybody has to be helpful, so I lent $4,500.  Of these 30 billions, the government lent to England, France, Italy and several other countries, 10 billions.  America has 20 millions in debt.  All people who were not Germans had bitter feelings toward the Germans about the war, so they did everything they could to win the war.
     You thought the wheat harvest this year would be the best, which it has been in America, but too much rain came, so it was not so good.  The oats and barley are good.
     Now, I have written about earthly things, which shall come to an end and we shall soon leave.  I have just written that so you will not think we grudge you for your good times.
     When I read what I have written, I find much that is wrong, and it is difficult to read, so you need patience.  Brother Albert do send a letter so we get to know how you are.  
      Now I finish with many kindly greetings from us to all of you.  May God lead us through the desert to a better country.  God help us so we get to meet each other there, where there is no sickness, no sorrow and no divorce.  I cannot write with ink.

              J.V. Svenson

Monday, October 10, 2011

60. July 1920 ? Part 3.

Jonas Victor writes about his family, their businesses.   Roselyn

Cleburne, Ks. July 1920?  part 3.
     Our only daughter, Tilda (Matilda), is a widow and lives on a farm.  Alfred lives on a farm, Karl Victor and Hans Ferdinand live in a big town, 180 miles from us.  They have a big store that is called Wholesale.  They buy from factories and sell to people who have stores, so they have a big store.
Swenson Brothers Wholesale Business in Omaha, Nebraska Letterhead.
Click on photo to enlarge
They pay the women up to $80 a month and the men $100 a month.  
     Gustaf lives in the same town (Omaha, NE.)  He owns several houses, and a hotel which earns him $225 a month.  He also owns farms.  Otto is dead.  He was married to a German woman.  They had no children.  Our youngest son lives in the same town.  Theodore has a bank in a town further out in Nebraska.
I forgot Peter Luther, who has a store. All are married.  Peter Luther was here last Sunday and went home at sunset.  His family was with him.  When they come, they always drive in their automobile.
     Our work has been blessed, so we have until now, given $40,000 to our children.  They got something to help them start out in business.  If we change what we have given to our children to Swedish money, It would pay double the price for both quarters (2/4 mantal) in Hamra and the wood they have sold.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

59. July 1920? Part 2.

Jonas Victor writes more about the garden and Anna Greta's (his wife) health.   Roselyn

Cleburne, Ks.   July, 1920 ?
     I am sorry that your son David is sick and also said for Oskar.  As long as we are here we have fights and sorrows.  We are told to give everything to Jesus and pray to God ask for help.  I feel that I am old, but for my age I am well. 
     I have 150 hens to take care of and that is a lot of work.  The leaseholders take care of my horses.  We have a big cabbage yard with sugar peas, (Swedish peas), beans of several sorts, onions, red beets, tomatoes, parsnips, carrots, cabbage, wild strawberries and several other things.  A part of it is canned and when you are in America you like such food and it is good for you.  Hulda does this work and helps us with the work in the cabbage yard.
     I go to town once or twice a week to sell eggs and buy what we need.  I have to harness the horses.
     I do not know if my wife is worse now than when I wrote the last time.  When she had the stroke, she could not read anything. Now she can read two or three verses, but she remembers old and new songs and sings them.  She also remembers Biblical text.  I think it was good that she had that in her head.  Her singing voice is good, but she feels sad some of the time every week.  She does not know why, but it is better now.  She is weaker now than before.
     Hulda is here.  She is God-fearing and good so it is nice for us to have her.  I give her $25 a month.
     You ask about Anton.  As a farm hand I was satisfied with his work.  He loaned money out to people who everybody knew would never pay him back.  We said that to him several times.  At last he said "What is money worth?  Nothing".  He has money which he will never get.  
     It is unusual that farms with woods in Sweden have become so much more expensive.  
     For us, it was a happy day when we took payment from Hamra and went to America.  What life would our children have had if we had stayed?  They go to schools here and learn about the country's state, and everybody has a good life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

58. July 1920? Part 1

In this part of a rather long letter, Jonas Victor compares the state of the economy in Sweden and America, his family, garden, and World War I.    Roselyn

Cleburne, Ks. July

Dear Brother Albert with Family.  God's Peace!
     I got your letter two weeks ago.  I was happy to hear from you.  Thanks for you letter and its contents.  We learned a lot from you.  I knew that everything had gone up in price, but I did not think that the woods at home became so high.  Everything is more expensive where you are, but the workers are very costly, here.  You say that the farm hands get 1.000 Swedish money per year.  Here they get $50 or up to $60 or $70 every month , but in spite of that it is difficult to get farm hands.  In Swedish money it is high.  Everything they wear is cheaper than in Sweden.
     I have just come home from a little trip to a town 30 miles from here.  Our fourth son, Petter Luther, lives there.  He is married to an American woman.  They have a daughter.  He has a store, where he has 10 persons employed, 4 ladies and 6 men.  One of the ladies sits at a place 3 feet above the floor.  She gets all the small change, but nobody needs to go to her with the money.   There is a stretched steel wired going from all directions to her and on it are small pots, which go on a pulley.  They put the money in the small pots and send to her.  She empties it and sends it back.  I think the same thing is in Sweden.
     When I went to town, I saw hardly any horses.  Everybody has a car.  They park them right in the middle of the street.  The street was so wide that you could go on each side. How fast everything is in the world now.  There is a man who has factories where they build 3,000 automobiles every day, and in spite of that they are two months late with the orders.  
     During the War he built a ship every day.  It was these ships which destroyed so many submarines.  The ships cleared out the lanes where they shipped the soldiers to France.  No German submarines took the risk of going there.  The Germans said they would sink the American soldiers to the bottom of the sea before they got to France.  It did not happen.  The war is over.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

57. January 25, 1919

In this letter, Jona Victor  writes about his wife's poor health, his garden, and, of course, his business.  He also mentions Prohibition.  Roselyn

Cleburne, Ks, January 25, 1919
     Dear Brother Albert with Family,  God's Peace!
     I have not heard anything from you, nor have I written to you for a long time, so I thought I would do that now.  The last letter I got I remember that your daughter was at home and was engaged.  I think I have written a letter after that, but do not know if you received it.  Now that the war is finished, perhaps the letters will be more sure to arrive.
     We are at the farm, which is half leased out.  We get feed for two horses, half of the milk, wood delivered and half of everything they sell.
     I am well for my age, but my wife is not well.  She has been in bad health for some years.  She had cancer in the lower part of the backbone, so we were at a hospital.  She was operated on two times.  The rectum was removed, so evacuation is over the groin on the stomach.   They also removed the lower part of her backbone.  The wounds are still not healed.
     When she came home, she did all the work in the house for eleven months, but after that she fainted and was dizzy and her nerves were bad.  She can not read, but she is up most of the day.  She goes to church, but I have to help her to the carriage and to the chair in church.  
     Hans and Lovisa's oldest daughter, Hulda, cooks and takes care of the house.  She is not married.  She will soon be 60 years old.  It is a marvel that my wife is still alive.  It is because of God's help.
     Everything else is good.  I do a little work every day.  We have 175 hens, and also have bees and many things to repair.  When spring comes, I plant the vegetable garden with cabbages, onions, beans, peas, beetroots, carrots, tomatoes and other sorts.
     We had a bad grain harvest, but the wheat and the feedstuff were good.  Everything is unusually expensive, cattle and swine, and also grain and wheat, but it works well for the farmers.
     None of our children lives at home at the farm.  They are busy with business.  When it is good weather in the summer, they come with a car and visit us.  Everybody here has a car, even farmhands.
     Dear Brother, send us a letter so we can hear how you are.  Is Anton at home, or what does he do?  Ask him to write.  Is sister Fia still alive?  Where do Oskar and Gottfrid live?  Selma Johansson, who lives near us here in America, visited Anders Peter's son in Fruhammar.  Where do they live?  Send regards to her from us.
     I suppose that farms are expensive, when everything else is so expensive.
     While I was writing this letter, the paper and money for our cattle and swine came from Kansas City, so I will tell you the price.  We sold 21 bullocks, 17 cows and 74 swine.  We received $7,220.50.  This is not much in relation to the prices of cattle for you, but much of the beef and pork will be sent to Europe, where the price will be higher.  We have 30 swine left.  Last year we had 53 calves.
     Now I will finish.  I hope you can read the letter.  Perhaps this will be my last letter.  May God help us so we come through all obstacles and are happily saved home with God.
     Kindest regards to all.   J.V. Swenson
     After I had finished the letter, I received a newspaper and saw that the whole United States will have a sobriety law next year.  When that day comes, no pubs will be allowed to serve alcohol.  It is a good example for other countries.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

56. Undated (Between 1918 and 1922)

This undated latter from Jonas Victor Swenson is after the end of World War I--1918, and before June 7, 1922--the date of his wife Anna Greta's death.  We learn a little of Anna Greta's life and things she does.  Would her church have made quilts at their "sewing meeting" as Swedish church women did for many years?   Roselyn

Cleburne,  Christmas Time.

Dear Brother Albert and Family.  God's Peace!
     I will try to write once again.  I have written a letter to you and Anders Petter in Hamra, but I have not received an answer.  Whether you have them, I do not know.
     We are living on the farm and Hulda Olson (his niece) is here.  She cooks and cleans the house.
     We have renters.  Until now, I have been able to harness the horses and got to town and also to church.
     We are well, for our age.  Mama will never be well, but she is well in the head.  She knows everything.

Fredrik Jonsson and Anna Sofia (Fia)Svensdotter
sister of Jonas Victor Swenson
     This year we have had a big harvest of everything.  The prices have gone down as fast as they  went higher before the war.
Brother of Jonas Victor Swenson
 I wonder how things are with you, whether everybody is still alive.  Is your son, who was feeble-minded, still alive, and brother Oskar and Sister Fia?  How are the times?  I saw in a newspaper that nearly half of Hamra was sold to someone in Alhult.  I do not remember the sum.  The banks in Sweden write a lot about money.  They promise 6 percent interest, which adds to the sum every sixth month and the rate is "5SKr and 16 ore" per dollar. I do not know how it is for those who come from Sweden and have gone back there--and said that life is good for the people now.  (Irene says--"I do not understand what Victor means").  Is the railway line finished that would go to Hallefors?  
     I will stop here because the lines begin to go together.  If you get this letter please send us a letter.  It is nice to hear from you.  We wish you a Glad and Happy Christmas and a Good New Year.  God help us that we may be vigilant and praying and hold our belief until the end.  If you do that you will find salvation.
     I have been resting during the night and it is a new day, so I thought that I would write a little more.  Mama is resting until dinner, then she eats at the dining table.  She has been to town and church.  She has been to the sewing meeting twice, and has also visited our neighbor depending on the fine weather in the autumn, as it always is in Kansas at that time.
     Let us know where your son, Anton, is.  It would be nice to hear from him.  If Anders petter and Selma are in Hamra, send regards to them and ask them to write a letter.
     Kindest regards to all of you and our relatives.
     May God be with us all.

Monday, October 3, 2011

About Spakarp in 1914

 My cousins, Rune and Irene Elofsson,  who translated all the letters, gave me these pictures.  They appear in a Farm Museum in Sweden.  Roselyn    

Spakarp in 1914
     These are pictures of the house at Spakarp in 1914.  All Swedish farms had names.  The cone shapes in the front yard are not decorative umbrellas. They are bee "skipes" or hives.  The ladder shows that the family was doing some roof repair at that time.  Family members may be seen in the top picture.  Since the pictures are in black and white, we don't know the color of the house.
     The 2006 picture of the house retains the stone posts in the front yard.  Many years ago, a road passed between the house and barn and turned to the left.  Signs of that road remain today and lead to the old school about 1/4 mile away. 
     The bottom picture shows Jonas Victor's nephew Anton Gustafsson hauling hay to the barn in 1939.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

55. December 26, 1916

In this letter the day after Christmas, Jonas Victor is saying it was too cold to go to church in "early morning"  for the Julotta service.  He is glad that the family in Sweden are getting along much better than they had been.  He thinks Germany could win World War I.  America entered the war shortly after and helped win the war over Germany.  The car is causing problems for the horses. Roselyn

Cleburne, December 26, 1916
Dear Brother Albert with Family,
     We have received your letter.  Thanks so much.  You cannot believe how nice it was to hear from you and about the big changes for you.  I think, Brother, that you have a good life, because you have people working for you and get to work both with wood and land.  You are able to earn money.
    The prices have increased here as well, but not as much as there in Sweden.  A good horse sells from $150 to $200.  The swine and cattle are expensive but not as much as there.  Last spring I sold 33 fat oxen.  I received $140 each, but they were both big and fat.  We have 2 English miles to the station and some could hardly go there.  It was after very cold weather.  Wheat is twice as expensive as usual, but the working people are also expensive.  It is because everything they buy is expensive.
     We have the farm leased out.  Two people took over the farm last spring, but we live in the same house.  They give us half of everything and they also feed two horses.  We get half of the milk and we have 100 hens, which we feed.  We have the wood (for fuel) that we need.
     Our children want us to move to town, but we feel happy here as long as we can take care of ourselves.  You cannot have young horses there, because more than half the people have a car.  We meet them and they pass us.  We are about to reach 80 years, as the Bible says.
     You write that Oskar and Gottfied live in Dunkullen and have good times.  Perhaps they earn money working for other farms.  People here would not want to live a life like that.
     Does Oscar have any part in Fundsboda?  Are sister Fia in Aggebo and Karl Magnus in Tuna Parish still alive? We remember that Stina in Hamra lived in Hornsved in Ingatorp.  Does she live there and is she being helped by her son?  Thanks for the photo and what we learned about her.  Is she in full possession of all senses?  Now we have asked too much.
     We have survived Christmas.  It was so cold and dark.  We were not to early church service (Julotta).  The Sunday School had festivities in the evening, but we are too old to be out both in early morning and in the evening.  I have another question.  Are there preachers who come to your district and preach?     
     The terrible war does not seem to end, and the German people have the advantage.  We have Germans as neighbors.  The Germans are a strong people.  They who are here, are good.
     Brother, when I read your letter, I think we should write more often.  In spiritual things, it seems there is more on the established church.  You build large fine churches--also large fine houses.  The farms have cars.  The people who cannot afford cars, follow the others a long distance and go back the same day.
     It would be nice to know how the cultivation on the bog in Spakarp is.  Can you cultivate so you can have 16 or 20 cattle there?
     When you get this letter I think that your daughter will already be married.  We wish them a happy marriage.
     Our kindest regards to all of you--and also to Anders Petter and Selma in Hamra.
      J.V. Swenson

54. About Spakarp

Spakarp was the name of the farm where the Swen Jonsson family lived after they bought it in 1850. I think it was built in the late 1600's and had  been Royal property, as much of                                     Sweden was at one time.  
        It is a large two family home with a wall completely separating the entry halls and stairways between them. There are two huge fireplaces that heated the kitchens (also used for cooking), living rooms, and  bedrooms on the first floor and the large upstairs rooms that now can sleep up to 12,  I believe, with bunks around the room.  I assume the family used both sides of the house.
Fireplace in old kitchen
 The family that owns it now, spent several years remodeling and restoring the buildings surrounding the house.  They have modernized one half of the house, with a bathroom and a modern kitchen, and left the other half as it was long ago, with many old antique farm tools and other things.  It is a beautiful place with a long driveway up from the road.  It is surrounded by a forest, pasture, cattle and even an old school on the property.  
Playing an old game in the yard at Spakarp
     Daughter Susan and I spent two nights there, along with cousin Per, Asa and their two daughters Emma and Amanda.  It was fun to be there.  At dusk, as we watched the young family playing an old game in the yard, I could imagine the days when my Grandmother Matilda had visited her grandparents at Spakarp, before they moved to America.  I could almost see her playing in the yard.    
     If you want to read and know more about Spakarp today, click on the link below.  It is a web site from the family who own Spakarp.  It is used for family gatherings. And also can be rented by the week during the summer months.  Some families come back each summer for a vacation.                   
     You can see pictures and more information on this link.  The language is in English but can be read in Swedish,  as well.  It is so nice that this old Swenson family  home can be seen by others.