Why They Came                                  

From 1847 to 1920 there were over 1.3 Swedes who immigrated to America. There were several reasons for so many leaving their native country and their families  

By the mid 1800's the population in Sweden nearly doubled since the mid 1700's. There had been no wars since 1808, the introduction of potatoes and a vacine for small pox had greatly reduced the death rate of children and babies. The larger families had to divide the land for their sons making the already stone filled and small fields even smaller. People were starving and then two years of crop failure(1867-1869) made food even more scarce. Between 1867-1869 about 80,000 Swedes left. Also President Lincoln's Homestead Act of 1862 meant Swedes could now immigrated and own thier own land. Fertile land, free of rocks.

People also left seeking religious freedom. The Swedish government was connected to the State Lutheran Church and people who practiced any other religion were fined or put in jail. Eric Janson had left with his followers in 1846 after being jailed several times for holding prayer meetings.

Back in the homeland people began recieving letter from America telling of a glorious land, rich soil and opportunity. Letters were handed from family to family and soon many poeple were planning the voyage. Some letters were truthful but some were exagerated to show the family back home how successful their American loved one was.

They settled in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. The emigrants faced many difficulties and hardships but they were hard working and determined. There is a saying that the Swedes built Chicago and by the turn of the century Chicago was the second largest Swedish city, the first being Stockholm!! It's estimated that there are as many Swedish Americans here today as there are Swedes in their own country.

There are many Swedes who have made enormous contributions to this country and so many more who have left their mark in America.

Famous Swedish Americans

Charles Lindbergh, Carl Sandburg, Charles Walgreen(Walgreens Pharmacy), Ingrid Bergman, Ann-Margaret, Carl David Anderson(physics), Chief Justice Rehnquist, Eric Wickman(Greyhound Bus), Chief Justice Earl Warren, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

      Submitted by Wini Caudell



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Illinois Ancestors