First train of Swedish immigrants arrived in Rockford in 1852 . Reverend Erland Carisson of Emmanuel Church met a band of Swedes at the Chicago train station. Chicago was experiencing a cholera epidemic and. he advised them to take the railroad to the end of the line. The immigrants followed the pastor's advice
At the end of the journey, the immigrants found themselves on a platform at Fourth Avenue and Kishwaukee Street in Rockford. Many lived in tents. A few had enough money to rent a room or buy a house.
In the summer of 1853, a cholera epidemic struck many of the first Swedish immigrants. Almost half of the Swedes died. The early immigrants wrote to their friends, family, and neighbors urging them to come to Rockford. This was true in many counties of Illinois also. Swedish immigrants streamed into the town and by 1854 a thousand Swedes lived in the city. By 1862 Rockford counted two thousand Swedes as residents. The greatest influx was between 1852-1856.
The census of 1900 recorded that about 6,600 Rockford citizens were Swedish born. . As late as 1952, at least one third of Rockford's 100,000 citizens were still of Swedish origin. Kishwaukee Street eventually grew with so many Swedes that a trunk from Sweden addressed only with "Kishwaukee Street USA" would reach Rockford.
Some names of early settlers to Rockford were: John Nelson, Abraham Andersson, Sven August Johnson, C.J. Carlson, Peter Johnson, Johan Larson, Johan Sparf, Issac Petterson, Johannes Andersson, John Erlander, Peter Lindahl, A.P. Petterson, Gustaf Berglund, Peter Håkanson, Anders Hedin, Edvard Wallberg, A.C. Johnson, Gustaf Lundgren.
From Swedes in Illinois-1908
© Wini Caudell and Contributors
All rights reserved