Jonas Victor Swenson Family Photos

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

109. Anna Greta Johnson Swenson

     As the life of Jonas Victor Swenson is ending, some attention must be paid to his wife and "great companion", Anna Greta.  She, like most pioneer women, has little written about her, nor do we have any of the letters she surely wrote home to the parents and siblings she never saw after leaving Sweden with her husband and small children. According to family lore, they spent their first months in America living in a sort of built in cave before building some kind of house, and she was pregnant with their next child, so it was not an easy life at first .
     There are only glimpses of her in Jonas Victor's letters, who wrote of the late hours she spent sewing much of the clothing by hand for the family (and no doubt knitting the many stockings required--I remember watching my Grandmother Matilda knit stockings on very thin needles--Jonas Victor mentions getting yarn from Sweden), raising chickens and selling eggs, cooking for their large family, canning and  preserving fruits and vegetables from her large garden, not to mention all the laundry to be done, and her church work.  She was very pleased to receive money sent by her mother from Sweden, for the sewing machine she wanted very much.  Jonas Victor writes of making it possible for some water to be piped into the kitchen, indicating he did appreciate all the work she did, and wanting to lift some of the burden.  
     There must have been many times she was lonesome for the parents and siblings she left back in Sweden, especially after losing a baby.  However, like all pioneer women, she was far too busy raising children and helping her husband with the farm to spend very much time fretting over things she could not change.
    I would love to have met her and asked her about that life.  However, even though I did have that chance with her daughter and my grandmother, Matilda Skonberg, as a young person I did not ask her about anything.  And as a child growing up in a Swedish community, I assumed all "Grandmas" spoke with a Swedish accent!     
Obituary for Anna Great Swenson
Click on obituary to enlarge

Grave Marker for
Anna Greta Swenson

We visited the Belguard Cemetery near Cleburne, Kansas, several years ago. The entire cemetery was moved when the Tuttle Creek Dam was built earlier, causing the flooding of the limestone home they had built. The cemetery is now on a hill high above any chance of flooding.  The day we were there it was very windy, and I wondered what she would think of being there, far from her native country.  She and Jonas Victor, after much hard work and energy, made new successful lives for themselves and their family in this new land. 

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