Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

87. April, 1925 Part 1

Jonas Victor writes about his life staying with his son near the old farm.  He tells that his children have moved far away.  Roselyn

Randolph, Kansas
April, 1925

Dear Brother Albert,
      I thought I would try to write a letter to you to let you know how it is here.  
      I have, thanks to God, fairly good health, so I am up every day and do not need to lie in bed with pain, as many have to do.  I am with my son Alfred.  I have my home there.  I will be going to stay with my son in Clay Center and stay there for two months this summer.  It is nicer in that town the warm time of the year.  I will also see old friends.  I have a good time wherever I am.  
     Now it is beautiful here.  The trees are blooming in different colors and the weather is fine.  The weather has changed.  It was raining for the whole night but now it lasts no more than half an hour.
     Alfred has much work to do.  He is working until nine 'clock in the evening.  His wife has much work with her hens and taking care of the eggs.  She lays hens at least twice a week.  The baby chicks that hatch from three hens are given to one hen. That hen now has about 30 baby chicks to take care of.  Alfred's wife has many hens now, that are out with the chickens.  The hens produce many eggs, sometimes up to 18 dozen eggs a day.
     Not much wheat is grown in Kansas this year, but around here it seems to be good.  It is not used so much here.  They grow more barley.
     The farmers have to work hard.  It is difficult to get a farm hand.  They want to earn forty dollars a month.  The young people are in school until they are 25 years or more.  Then they go to the bigger towns, and those who are talented and are reliable can earn a lot of money.  Some become very bad people.  It is very different these days.
     My children are spreading wide around.  The nearest son, who lives in Clay Center is 30 miles away.  My daughter lives 88 miles to the south.  Three sons live in Omaha, 180 miles north of here.  Our youngest son, I don't know for certain, but it is at least 250 miles northwest of here.  
     I cannot speak to them so often, but I get letters from them.  When they come it is always by automobile.

Monday, November 28, 2011

86. January 6, 1925

Jonas Victor writes about Christmas in Randolph.  He asks about things back in Hamra, Sweden. There were (and still are) lots of wooded areas in this part of Sweden.  In the winters of the late 1800's, the Swenson family cut some of the woods to make charcoal for the trains.  There is still a very large basket/sled in the barn at Spakarp that was used to haul charcoal to the train.    Roselyn

Randolph, Kansas,
January 6, 1925

Dear Brother Albert.
     Thanks for your letter which I got the day before New Year's Eve.  I am so happy when I hear from you and the places around.  I am glad to hear that you have good health.  Now we have begun a new year and we do not know what will happen.
     Hamra must be odd looking with a plain between the "Beren", but they will plant wood again.  If not, it seems to me that it is like it was waste and the birch usually grow on special places and also grass.
     You wrote your letter on December 12.  Until that time we had fine weather, but then it began to be cold with snow.  We have received more snow, so it is eight or ten inches.  It is the most for many years.  The snow is not gone away, but it is not as cold.  
     Now all parties are over, which are held during Christmas time.  The Sunday after New Year's Day, prayer week begins.  There is a gathering in the churches every evening.  They have prayer gathering once a week the whole year--both Americans and everybody, but no gatherings are as little attended as the prayer gatherings.
     I have been at home the whole of Christmas.  It must be warm for me to be out of doors.
     The war did great damage.  If there would have been no war, the times and wood should still have been the same.  Now it seems that all countries have to buy grain.  We ship out much from America.  It has been very expensive here.  It is very expensive to get it ready to ship.  They need it.  The cattle are cheap so they lose money on them.  Many people here are poor and especially the renters.
     Brother, I think that you know that it is so great that we can send letters to each other.  The postman says that a letter abroad costs 5 cents.  I have put on 6 cents.  Let me know if you need to pay for my letters.  I want to pay for the ones you send.
    I can say that it is good weather for a sled, but I have not seen anybody use one.
     Now I finish this letter with dear greetings to you and enclose us all in God's protection and I pray to God that we will be happy, saved home to Him.

   Yours sincerely, Brother.

    J.V. Swenson

      When you get time, do send me a letter.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

85. November, 1922. Part 2.

Jonas Victor tells of some family business of money loaned.  He also writes about the schools and education in America.

Omaha, Nebraska
November 8, 1922  Part 2
     On the farm near Cleburne, I think that Anton knows Anderson and his son Karl, who have borrowed money from him.  They are carpenters and earn much money.  They have built houses here and there.  When the war was over, the building stopped.  The son, Karl Anderson, has moved to Kansas City.  In that town several hundreds of people live, and the town does not have too many carpenters.  Anderson, who has borrowed money from Anton, works with repairing a roof, so he earns money.  When I wrote to you, brother Albert, I said that they could pay because their earnings were so good.  You answered that Anton did not know that.  Then I thought that Anton had the same idea.  I do not know if Smitt has sent something.  I thought that he paid and sent it himself to Anton. I feel badly that Anton cannot get his money because he needs it.  
     Workers on farms earn $45-55 a month.  Farm-hands receive this and food and a place to live.  All farmers cannot pay a high salary, because they cannot make as much money, when they sell something from their farms.  The machines and tools are expensive to buy.  The tax is high, because you have to pay tax to the schools.
     Every district has to keep a school like in Cleburne, about 2 1/2 miles apart and pay the teachers and maintain the buildings.  Some teachers earn about $2,000 or more.  It works well for the farmers who have sons.  They come home three months during the summer, when it is a busy time.  Those who have no sons, have to work hard.  You must send the children to school.
     Here in Omaha, a school is ready now after two years' work. The master builder had a contract of three million dollars.  There are 3,000 students fourteen to sixteen years old.  They go to this school for four years.  (This would be what we call a high school). In another part of the town they are building another school in the same way at the same cost.  That school will be ready next year.  After the children have finished this school, they continue at high school (college?).  
     The children go to school from six to twenty years and more.  Both poor and rich children go.  All want to learn as much as possible.   

     I will finish writing for today, because the weather has been so cloudy and misty.  As I have not received any letter from you, I wonder if I, in my last letter, wrote something offensive.  In that case I want to ask your forgiveness. Have you received the paper?
     Dear Brother, if you are well, write to me.  I am in good health for my age, thanks to God.  Old memories come now and then.
     Greetings to all of you from your brother and friend.
     J.V. Svenson

Saturday, November 26, 2011

84. November 8, 1922 Part 1

     This letter does not have the year stated, and 1922 is just a guess.  
     Jonas Victor mentions a terrible storm that struck the area that he calls a hurricane.  I have found a record of a bad tornado that struck Omaha, NE on November 4, 1922, so this must be the correct date.
     After the death of his wife, Anna Greta, in June 1922, Jonas Victor lived part time with his children, mostly in Omaha, Nebraska, and Randolph, Clay Center  and Cleburne, Kansas. 
     I wish he had written what work the women in his family did.  I do know that my aunt Huldah, daughter of Grandma Matilda Swenson Skonberg, worked in a store the Swenson Brothers had set up near Osage City, Kansas.  Roselyn

Omaha, Nebraska
November 8, 1922

Dear Brother Albert and Family.
     Now in my life's evening, I will try to write a letter to you.  I cannot verbally talk to you, but my thoughts are often of you, and I wonder how you are.
     I am still in Omaha, but if I am still alive when you get this letter, I will be with my son Alfred in Randolph, Kansas, a big town like Omaha.  (I never knew Randolph to be nearly that size-Roselyn).   There is so much to see. Everything moves so quickly.  If you are in the shopping center among the big buildings, some are from four to eight stories, there are many automobiles and trucks there.  It is nearly impossible to cross the street, and everybody is in a hurry.
     I think that in forty years it will be another generation.  Of those who are now living, not many will be alive.  Everything is vanity and perishes under the sun.  It I go to a park, there are many flowers and it is very beautiful and nice to see.  There are thousands of people there, and they talk to each other and enjoy it.  You do not see any discord.
     A week ago there was a hurricane in the south part of town;  about four miles from here, trees were pulled up by the roots.  The houses were destroyed,  with large floods and five people were killed and five hundred were homeless.
     In a little town twenty-five miles from here, there was a burial of 118 people, some from Illinois, who were in the same house after the burial, were killed.  (I am not sure what he means here--Roselyn).  The rain and the hurricane destroyed the house.  Such accidents do not happen in Sweden.  I think that you can read in the newspaper what happens in other countries, that never happens to you.
    Here in Omaha they have built several hundred houses in summer.  The people go to the bigger towns, especially the young.  If they have knowledge and are clever they earn a lot of money.  They have short working hours.  In the evening they visit different places of amusement.
     Even the girls earn much money.  My daughter (Matilda), has a daughter who makes $175 a month.  She works seven and a half hours a day.  Saturday afternoon is free.  My daughter (Matilda), has a daughter in law who makes $175 a month.  They have no children and her husband is sick.  Many people do not earn that much money.  Girls who have grown up on a farm can work for a rich family and earn $15 a week.  
     The railway workers say what they want to earn.  If they do not get that, they go on strike.  When there are hundreds of thousands, and the trains stop, no power can do anything against them.  The bigger towns grow quickly.  In the smaller towns there is not much work.  The carpenters receive $1.25-1.50 an hour.  In small towns they do not build anything.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

83. May, 1924. Part 2

Jonas Victor continues with his letter saying the boys go to school so they won't farm, people are spending more than they can afford, etc.  He gives advice to his brother Albert, about selling some of the wood in the forest on their land.  We do not have the end of this letter.  Roselyn

Randolph, Kansas
May, 1924  Part 2

     The young boys are studying, and then they will not work at the farms.  The employees receive big pay, but nobody is satisfied.  These are troubled times.  The people have lived greatly in everything, so they do not have enough money.  There is much anxiety between the countries.  We do not know what will happen.
     You say that the forest affairs are good, so there will be a shortage of wood.  They have to plant where they cut down.....from Hamra forest. I understand what is causing this.
     Brother Albert, I cannot say that you should do as I say.  You know better than I do, but if it was I, and the prices were so high, I would sell.  There can be a forest fire and burn it up.  There can be a crisis so the affairs end, but if the times go ahead as it seems to do, the forest will get a higher price.  The price of boards and planks are unusually high here.  If I sold the wood, I would be careful until I received the money.  Now you do not need to take advice I have given you.  I have only said what I would do.
     In the Church, it is as you can see in the paper.  I can only say that, because Anton knows how it is in Cleburne, where there is a good clergyman, so it is a blessing.
     I will tell you that I have given Smitt $5 for taking care of Mother's (his wife's) grave.  I told him the he should send the money and give something to Anton.  I wrote to Anderson that he should try to add something, too, so they could send $8 to make it nearly 30 Skr.  Smitt said that he would try.  He has been not been well this winter and it is hard to get interested.

Monday, November 21, 2011

82. May, about 1924.

Jonas Victor is saying some things I heard from the "old Swedes" as I was growing up.  They regretted that most or all of the sermons at church were now in English instead of the familiar Swedish. The next generation spoke English.   Roselyn

Randolph, Kansas
May, about 1924.

Dear Brother Albert and Family.
     Grace and peace I wish you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
     I thought I would write a letter to you.  When I am sitting in my solitude, my thoughts often go to you.
     I am now with my son Alfred, and have it good.  I pay for it.  They are kind to me.  I have it much better than other people my age.  Here I can have contact with God in private.  My health is good for my age.  I walk a mile every day if the weather is fine.
     I miss my companion.  Many times I wish to move to her side.  May God help me.
     I can see and read when it is clear and sunny, but if it is cloudy, I must strain my eyes to see.  I can not hear when the clergyman preaches.  If I know the lesson, I can understand the contents.  Now most is in English and I can not follow that.  I feel that I am not as strong as I was a year ago.  (In spite of often feeling he will soon die, Jonas Victor lives on for at least 10 more years).
     The weather is dry and cold.  In May people tended to plant grain.  The wheat and oats are tall.
     I have paid the newspaper, so you will have it until the first of April, 1925.  I have not written anything the last week, because the weather has been cloudy and cold, and I could not see to write.  Yesterday I got your letter.  Thank you so much.
     We also have a late and cold spring.  First in April we had warm weather, so Alfred sowed oats, and it grew tall so the hens go there to eat every day. The first of May, the cattle were let out so they had pasture then.
     Before the war I did not know any farmer who had declared bankruptcy;  now there are many.  It depends so much on the automobiles.  They cost a lot to have, but for them who can afford to have automobiles, it is good.  Then the taxes and employers are expensive.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

81. April 1922 or 1923 Part 2.

This is a difficult letter to read.  Jonas Victor is remembering his brother Hans, who had mental illness.  I have read of others who had "religious insanity" at that time.  The treatment of mental illness in Sweden is similar to that which other countries used in the 1800's.  Roselyn

Clay Center, Kansas
April 1922 or 1923

     I remember how it was with Hans.  He had begun to study the Bible.  He was filled with agony and had a troubled mind.  Mother and Father mourned him.  He was a kindly man.  He was merry, not annoying.  When he was "feebleminded" (troubled) he went around and preached.  Many people began to think that he could hurt somebody.
     We had to put a chain with a lock around his foot and chain him to the bed.  On Sundays after dinner, I loosened him so he could go out.  When it was evening, I put on the chain again, and he never complained about that.  He was so manageable.  He had many difficulties.
     I remember that in Hessleby parish there was a woman with a daughter and a son.  He was a lieutenant.  They were not rich and had a fine little home.  She could cure illness.  Hans went there and I went with him. When he was there they gave him medicine, which he spit out.  When he refused to take the medicine, the lieutenant took a long whip like a twig and beat Hans three times.  It was very painful, so after that Hans would take the medicine.  We were there three days, but Hans did not get better.
     Little by little he got better and then he decided to go to America with different climate and nobody there to take care of him.  He had to work.  He saw that, and the result was death.  (All of this is told in Letter 21 from his brother who was in Andover, Illinois where Hans committed suicide). He should have stayed at home with his parents and worked when he could and they could have taken care of him.  Perhaps he could have had a good life.     
     I see that you have much to do with wood and the costs with selling it.  You have sold wood before and made money.  Perhaps you will have a good harvest.  If you have good pastures, you can have animals and get money from them.
     (Then he returns to talking about Hans and others who seemed to go insane over religion.)  It was not only Hans who had mental problems at that time.  Many people began to study the Bible and were made crazy by it, specially in Stockholm, when Valdenstrom preached.  In that time they did not believe in resurrection.  (Irene writes "Then there is much about different persons in the Bible and God's grace, among other things).

Your devoted brother J.V. Svenson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

80. April 1922 or 1923 Part 1

Jonas Victor writes of difficult problems that were in his Swedish family.   Hans and Oskar are Jonas Victor's brothers.  Roselyn

Clay Center, Kansas
April 1922 or 1923

Brother Albert,
     I received your letter several days ago.  Thanks for telling me how life is going for you.
     As you see, I am with my son in Clay Center.  I will go home next week.  I have been here since January 9.  It is good for my feet here during the wintertime.  They make a fire in the cellar, so the floors are warm in all the rooms.
     When I read your letter, I could not hold back tears.  I thought of Hans and Mother's and Father's sorrow.  I have never thought that Fransen was Oskar's son, even though you told me that Oskar and Anlovis (Anna Lovisa) had a son together.  It was difficult to understand why Oskar did not marry her.  Both the clergyman and Mother and perhaps her parents had ordered him to marry her.  If they had married, perhaps she would not have committed suicide.
     Their life was unhappy.  I can not leave the thought that it was a spirit which controlled him, but when she died everything was pulled up for him.  Perhaps he saw the life they had lived together, all the pressures he got.  The most difficult thing for him was he perhaps felt guilty because of her death.  And perhaps that is why his mind became bothered.
     If they had asked God to forgive them, everything would have been good.  Nobody who has not experienced death of someone close, can understand the feeling of the one who survived.
     I did what I could for my wife, when she was sick.  I picked flowers along the roads in the spring and also flowers in the garden, and we talked much.  She was happy.  I should have been with her the whole time her last week, so sometimes I have gloomy thoughts.  I feel that I neglected something.  
In the next part Jonas Victor tells about the mental problems Hans had and the cruel methods used for treatment of people with mental illness.   Roselyn

Monday, November 14, 2011

79. March 26, 1923. Part 3.

This is the final part of a letter.  He misses his wife, and as usual, he wonders about the "bog" and farm back home in Sweden.   Roselyn

Since Mother (his wife) died, I feel so alone and my thoughts are often of her, but I have it better than many others.  I have God's peace in Jesus Christ.  When I am at the cemetery, I think of "near and dear" and it is sorrowful for me.  When I come to my wife's grave where I have my great companion, then it is difficult to hold back the tears.  It will not be a long time before my body will be buried with her.  The reunion will be soon.  
     Here we have a burial plot for every family member and nobody else can be buried there.  Like many others, there is a cemented wall around the grave, 8 inches high and 20 inches deep and a gravestone in the middle with the name on. When I go to the cemetery, I find most of my old friends there.  I read their names and the year when they were born and also the year when they died.  It is cut into stones of granite, and it will not disappear in hundreds of years.  It does not feel good to see this, but it must be, so a new generation comes instead. Everything under the sun is perishable.
     You mentioned 3 crowns.  I always thought that you charged too little for your troubles about the inheritance from Gottfrid.  
     Brother Albert, do not forget to write and tell how it is with Algot, Johan Peters' son, and also about the harvest from the bogs, how much the wood is worth and if you can sell it.
     Let me know if you have a Sunday School in the neighborhood.  May we meet at home with God.  That is what I wish, and it is in my prayers.
     Kindest regards to all of you.
                     J.V. Svenson

The postmaster in Randolph said that a letter to Sweden does not cost more than 5 cents.  Let me know if you have to pay something.
     Let me know how old you are and also your wife and children.  
     I am happy that I got a letter from you and happy to write to you.  Do not wait so long to send letters.
     May God help us so we will meet our "near and dear" with God.  It feels strange sometimes, but God is the same as he always has been--loving, merciful and forgiving.
     From your brother.  Kindest regards to all of you.  J.V. Svenson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

78. March 26, 1923. Part 2

This part goes into some wrongdoing by a family member with money and the result.  Then he goes on to ask about the price of wood in Sweden and about his livestock and his gifts of money to his children.  Roselyn     

Algot, Johan Peter's son, did wrong with much money and that is a sin, and ends with sorrow.  If Johan Peter had said no, Karl Johan would have been under a guardian and then nobody would be suffering.  It would have been better for Algot.  It was bad for Algot.
     I can tell you that in America, I have never heard of anybody who has stood surety for a person.  Those who have debts have to take out a mortgage on their land, horses, cattle and implements.  I have never heard that anybody has been without insurance, but if the landowners cannot pay, the owners of the mortgages have to sell by auction, but the people get no pay. There is no insurance on the bill or the debt note.
     How is it on the cultivated bogs?  Probably you get lots of feed.  How much is the inspected wood in Hamra worth?  They must be small trees.  It is odd that they can sell them.  I think it times are very poor in Europe.  We have always been happy that we moved from Hamra.  When you write the next time tell me about the bogs and the price of the wood.  It would be good for you if the price is high.  The price of lumber here is very high.
     Next week if the price stays the same, my leaseholder will send our cattle to the slaughterhouse to sell.  We have 55 cattle;  some are calves.  The calves that have been with the cows during the summer are bigger.  The price is not very high.  These are the last I will sell.
     I have given the children 1000 acres of arable land, 90 cattle and swine and other things.  I wanted to arrange it so I did not have to work with it.
     I get $600 a year for as long as I live.  I also have income from another place.  I do not need all that, but many people ask for money for the hospital, children's home, compassion for old people, the home for lung diseases and also money for the churches in Cleburne.
     When God has blessed us, I do not want to lose the way and not see directions in God's word.  You cannot give money to all.  If I get sick and have to be in the hospital, I must pay for that.        

Thursday, November 3, 2011

77. March 26, 1923 Part 1

In this rather long letter, Jonas Victor is grateful for his children.  He writes about the economy in the country .   Roselyn

Randolph, March 26, 1923
Brother Albert with Family.  God's Peace!
     Thanks very much for the letter.  I learned so much.  It is nice to get a letter from Sweden, and especially from the place where my parents' house is and hear how you are.
     I am with my son, Alfred, and I feel well.  It is so quiet in the house.  They have no children.  They have a foster-daughter, but she is in school.  She is a teacher now and seldom at home.  How poor it is without children.  If I had no children it would be so boring to live.
     Nearly every week I get one or two letters, and also they visit me sometimes. I write to them.  There would not be as many letters if the postman did not come every day to the house both take and leave the mail.
     My health is good.  Thanks to God!  There have been changes for me.  On the farm I had much to do.  We had about 150 hens, which I cared for.  It was more work than I wanted.  Now I walk one mile every day if the weather is fine.  It keeps my nerves in order.  I was 87 years old the first of October last autumn.
     Albert gets about 15 dozen eggs a day from his hens.  They are cheap now.  We have not had snow this winter to amount to anything.
     I paid for the newspaper 2.50 this year.  I have proof of that.  I have written to Oskar about that.  They ought to have the newspaper.  Let me know if you get it.
     The workers here do not work more than 8 hours a day.  They have a big daily allowance.  There were 1 million bushels of potatoes that were not picked up in the northern states.  The work for doing it was too expensive.  The railway workers have a big daily allowance.  (Wages).  The result was that freight was expensive for the businessman, who would take the potatoes home and sell.  There was a big harvest so the potatoes were cheap.  The factories do not have enough workers, so nobody needs to be unemployed.
     The youth who go to school until they finish college or even longer, do not want to do heavy work.  So there are many vagrants.  The workers earn lots of money, but they use it to buy automobiles.  It is nearly impossible in the country for farmers to get help, so they trade between themselves.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

76. July After 1922 Part 4,

Jonas Victor writes about his health and about some relatives.    Roselyn

Omaha, Nebraska
July After 1922

When I came to Omaha, I met the clergyman Gullen and his family and Hulda, who was with us for six years.  He said that he had visited Miss Larson, your wife's sister.  She is living with one of her daughters in the country. She is sick with an illness that causes her hands to shake a lot.  It was not because of her age.  They did not say if she had much pain.  There is much illness in the world.
     I have been around in the town and I have seen so many beautiful parks and farms.  I have also visited old people's homes and hospitals.  There are so many sick people.  I could not stand that, so I had to leave.  I prayed to God for good health.  
     I think often of Oscar, (his brother, Franz Oskar) if God could save him so he would be obedient.  I have gone around a lot, and I think I have it better now than earlier, when my wife lived, because I had so much to do.  But I feel more and more that I, most of all, want to be by my wife's side in the grave.  As long as God wishes me to live, I will be thankful.  I have reason to be thankful, because I am in good health for my age.
     I talked to Smitt in Cleburne.  He said that he had written to Anton Gustafsson, and he says he will pay his debt.  I think that he will do that, and send it to Gustavsson.  Andersson could perhaps send a little every time, so it would be paid in one or two years.  He is old, but his daily allowance is good.
     The carpenters in the land don't have much to do.  I think often of you.  I know from newspapers, that it is much better in Sweden now than before.
     I wrote to Chicago about the newspaper to you, and they said that you should get it until the first of April next year.
     When I read this letter, I see that I have written very badly, so I have to correct it.  It will be difficult for you to read it.
   Dear Brother, do write to me, so I know how you are and how it is in Hamra and how life is for Algot, Johan Petter's son.
     Perhaps this is my last letter, before I leave here.  I will go to Alfred's over the winter.

This letter is not signed.