The Swedish colony of Batavia is of a later date than those of the neighboring towns of St. Charles and Geneva but its members are numerous and active and the place amply deserves a mention among important Swedish communities.

One of the early Swedish settlers here was A.P. Andersson, who figured among the pioneers of Geneva. He came from Böne, Vestergötland and was a tailor by trade. In 1854 he removed to Batavia where he established a tailor shop of his own in the middle sixties. Andersson, however found several Swedes ahead of him. Men engaged in cutting timber for a railroad company. Following A.P. Andersson came August Andersson from Halland, who removed to DeKalb after a short stay. A little later Gustaf Svensson, a moulder joined the Swedish settlement. By 1880 he had made himself known as the inventor of a new kind of fence which was used extensively in the West.

In the late sixties there was a considerable influx of Swedes to Batavia, most of the newcomers obtaining work in the stone quarries situated just outside o the town. Since then Swedes have constantly kept moving in. A large number are employed in the factories while not a few are in business for themselves. Several have gone to farming in the immediate neighborhood.

Until 1872 the Swedish Lutherans of Batavia had belonged to the church in Geneva, but that year they withdrew and organized a local congregation, now one of the largest in the Illinois Conference. In 1870 a Swedish Mission church was founded and about the same time a Swedish M.E. church. There is considerable activity in the matter of fraternal organizations in Swedish circles here.

Batavia had a population of 3,871 in 1900 and at the close of 1905 the Swedish Americans of the city numbered about 1,600.


From: The History of Swedes in Illinois



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Illinois Ancestors