Ernst Wilhelm Olson.

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cop. 2





TKe Linne Monument, Lincoln ParK, Chicago









The Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company


Copyright 1908
by The Engberg-Holmberg Publishing Company


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Introduction . 7

Chapter I. Summary of the History of Illinois 9

Chapter II. The City of Chicago 86

Chapter III. The First Swedes in Illinois 172

Chapter IV. The Bishop Hill Colony 197

Chapter V. Other Karly Settlements 271

Chapter VI. The Swedish Methodist-Episcopal Church . . . 356

Chapter VII. The Swedish Episcopal Church 412

Chapter VIII. The Swedish Lutheran Church 423

Chapter IX. The Swedish Baptist Church 544

Chapter X. The Swedish Mission Church 583

Chapter XI. The Swedes in the Civil War 625

Chapter XII. Music and Musicians 705

Chapter XIII. Press and Literature 760

Chapter XIV. Art and Artists 843

Chapter XV. Organizations 888

Bibliographical References 916

Acknowledgments 918

Index 919


Biographical sketches, Chicago 7

Index 409


Biographical sketches, Counties at Large 5

Index 264

\ 1 7882



HEN in the forties of the last century the great influx
of Swedish immigrants to the United States began, by
far the largest number settled in Illinois. Even at that
early period Swedes had begun to form sporadic settle-
ments in the territory to the north and west, but these
were of little consequence as compared to the populous Swedish com-
munities that sprang up in the soil of the Prairie State.

The Swedes of Illinois, therefore, rank as the pioneers of this
great migratory movement. In later years they have been out-
numbered by the Swedes of Minnesota, and* nearly all the western
and many of the eastern states now have each a very considerable
Swedish population, yet the Illinois Swedes retain pre-eminence from
a historical point of view.

Illinois was the central point from which the Swedish population
spread in various directions, chiefly to the west and the northwest.
The Swedish settlements in the eastern states and on the Pacific
slope are of more recent date and have no direct connection with the
pioneer history of Illinois.

In intellectual culture as well as in material development the
Swedes of this state led the way for their countrymen in other parts.
In Illinois we meet with the first properly organized Swedish churches
the mother churches of no less than five distinct denominations.
In Illinois was founded the first Swedish-American newspaper of
permanence, and the great bulk of the Swedish publishing business
in this country has always been done here. In Illinois was founded
the first Swedish-American institution of learning, followed in later
years by a score of others, but still remaining the foremost educational
institution among the Swedish people of the United States. In Illinois
were put forth their first endeavors in the literary field, which,
although modest, yet formed the nucleus of a distinct literature. In
the cultivation of the fine arts of music and painting as well as in
manufacture, craftsmanship, invention and industrial art, the Swedes
of Illinois also led, and in the succeeding pages will be found the
names of Swedish pioneers in a variety of fields.

In public life Swedes have been active in this state principally
after the close of the Civil War. In that conflict large numbers of
them fought as volunteers, contributing skillful commanders and
brilliant tacticians as well as gallant soldiers in the ranks. Their


military history goes back not only to the Civil and Mexican Wars,
for there were Swedes also among the Illinois troops in the War
of 1812. In the politics of this state a Swede made his mark while
Illinois was still a territory.

Chicago being one of the first points settled by the Swedes and
having gradually grown to be their greatest center of population,
also became the center of culture, and this city is, in a figurative sense,
the Swedish-American capital.

Illinois having thus become, from the first, the seat of culture as
well as the fountain-head of material development among the Swedish-
Americans in general, it is fair to assume that the Swedes of this state
in the past sixty years have exerted an appreciable influence not alone
upon their fellow-countrymen elsewhere, but also upon the civic life
of the state and the nation.

The story of the Swedes of Illinois, showing the part they have
played in the making of this commonwealth, is here told for the first
time in the English language and thus placed within ready access of
the general*public.


Summary of the History of Illinois

Early French Explorations in North America

OT long after the discovery of the West Indies by
Christopher Columbus, in 1492, and the successive dis-
coveries of Central and South America, those regions
were explored and settled by Europeans, while the
colonization of the North American continent was accom-
plished only by slow degrees. Although re-discovered in 1497 by John
Cabot, after having been found originally by Leif Eriksson and his
Norse followers about five hundred years earlier, and explored during
the first half of the sixteenth century by parties landing here and there
on the southern, eastern and western coasts and penetrating into the
interior, it was not until ;he early part of the seventeenth century that
the European nations obtained a firm foothold in this part of the New
World. So slow was their westward progress that the discovery of the
Pacific coast was practically without results up to the latter part of the
eighteenth century, when finally the first successful colonies were

The Spanish, the French, the English, and to a slight extent, the
Dutch share the credit for the discovery and exploration of the various
parts of the North American Continent. The Spaniards directed their
energies principally to the South, the Southwest and the West, the
French traversed and colonized the extreme eastern part, the region of
the Great Lakes and the Mississippi, the English settled the eastern
coast from Maine to South Carolina and the Dutch a limited area on
the Hudson River.

Sweden also claims a chapter in the colonial history of this
country. Through the colony of New Sweden, founded in 1638, extend-
ing over part of the present territory of Delaware, Pennsylvania and
New Jersey, and conquered by the Dutch in 1655, Sweden contributed


a noteworthy share toward the earliest development of North American

The discovery and primary colonization of the territory now
forming the state of Illinois was the work of the French explorers and
pioneers. Before narrating these events, let us view, in retrospect,
their causes and the historical factors leading up to them.

As early as 1504 the French began to frequent the banks of New
Foundland, attracted by the abundance of fish in these waters. These
fishing expeditions have continued to this day, and but for them the
French government might never have had its attention directed to this
part of America. King Francis I., in 1524, sent an Italian traveler,
John Verrazani, to explore these regions. He sailed along the coast
from the present site of Wilmington, North Carolina, to Nova Scotia
and, without founding any colonies, took possession, in the name of the
French crown, of the entire territory termed New France.

Ten years later, in 1534, a Frenchman by the name of John Cartier,
discovered the St. Lawrence Eiver and on his second expedition sailed
up the river as far as the present city of Montreal. On his third
expedition, in 1541, he founded Quebec, a fort which formed the center
of a penal colony, recruited from the French prisons. In 1541 a French
nobleman by the name of Francois de la Roque had been appointed
viceroy of New France. He arrived and took up his duties two years
later, but finding his province a wilderness and his subjects deported
criminals, he returned to France within a year.

During the next fifty years the public mind of France was entirely
engrossed with the strife between the nobility and the royal house on
the one hand and the equally bitter conflict between the Calvinists and
the Catholics on the other ; meanwhile the colonial interests in the New
World were well-nigh forgotten. Not until the beginning of the seven-
teenth century the project was revived. Samuel Champlain, a noted
naval officer, having explored anew the shores of the St. Lawrence
(1603), Sieur de Monts, a Calvinist, received a large portion of this
territory as a grant from the government. Two years later he founded
Port Royal, which rapidly grew to be a large and flourishing

In the meantime the cause of converting the Indians of New France
to the Christian faith was taken up in the mother country, and numer-
ous missionaries, many of them Jesuits, were sent among the natives,
gaining great prestige among them in a short time, owing to their
judicious methods. Missionaries, fur traders, settlers and soldiers soon
found a basis of operation in the settlement of Quebec (1608) and that
of Montreal (1641), from which points they gradually pushed on along
the St. Lawrence River, into the region of the Great Lakes, and through


the Mississippi basin, planting the Catholic standard of the Cross and
the flag of the fleur .de lis in the Indian villages as far down as the
Mississippi delta. In a short time France laid claim not only to all of
Canada, but to Maine, Vermont, New York, the two Carolinas, as well
as the entire territory between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi.

It was during this gradual conquest of the West and the South
that Illinois was first seen and traversed by white men. As early as
1641 French missionaries had penetrated to the outlet of Lake Superior,
and in 1658 traders had visited the western end of the lake. Among
French missions founded in these distant regions after the year 1660
was one at Green Bay, Wis., established in 1669, and named after St.
Francis Xavier.

The French learned through the Indians at this and other missions
that a journey of several days would bring them to the banks of a great
river, known among the natives, on account of its size, as the Missis-
sippi, the Father of Waters. This fact was reported to the French
governor at Quebec, who determined to take possession of the river
and adjacent regions. In order to carry out this enterprise without
molestation, it was necessary to obtain the friendship and co-operation
of the tribes dwelling along its banks. For this purpose Nicholas Perrot
was dispatched westward in 1671, with instructions to assemble the
surrounding tribes in council at Green Bay. After this meeting Perrot
set out with an escort of Pottawatomie Indians on his journey south-
ward, traversing what is now Illinois and visiting, among other points,
the present site of Chicago, then included in the territory of the Miami
Indians. Perrot is said to have been the first European to have set foot
on Illinois soil.

In the following year two Jesuit fathers, Claude Allouez and
Claude Dablon, left the Green Bay mission on a journey to western and
northern Illinois, visiting the Fox Indians along the Fox River and the
Masquotin tribe that dwelt at the mouth of the Milwaukee River. These
missionaries claimed to have extended their explorations as far as Lake

E-xplorations of Marquette and Joliet

Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, a fur trader, were
subsequently commissioned to continue the exploration of the Missis-
sippi and the territory through which it flows. In the spring of 1673
they entered upon their task, accompanied by five other Frenchmen and
two Indian guides, and supplied with two canoes. Starting from the
St. Ignace mission, opposite Mackinaw Island, they followed the north
shore of Lake Michigan. They soon reached Green Bay and the St.
Francis Xavier mission, the uttermost outpost of French civilization



The Departure of Marquette and Joliet on Their First Voyage to Illinois

westward and southward. Here the party rested until June, and then
pressed on into the wilderness. They traveled up the Fox River as far
as the ridge forming the Wisconsin watershed, and, carrying their
canoes across, proceeded down the Wisconsin River to their sought-for
goal, arriving the 17th of June on the banks of the majestic Mississippi.
Enraptured by its grandeur, and mindful of the divine protection of

Jacques Marquette

Louis Joliet

the Virgin throughout his perilous journey, Father Marquette in her
honor named it Conception River.

The exploring party took a short rest on the banks of the great
river, but soon embarked, more eager than ever. Floating down with
the current, they had on either hand vast stretches of prairie, where
the bison roamed in countless herds, but not a human being did they
see. It was like traveling through a mysterious land whose inhabitants


" We are Illini"

some strange power had spirited away. The mouth o the Des Moines
River was reached June 25th. On these shores human footprints were
discovered at last. Following up the tracks for about two leagues, the
party came upon three Indian villages, beautifully located on the banks
of the Des Moines, belonging to the Peoria tribe.

As soon as the natives noticed the strangers, four chiefs set out to
meet them. ''Who are you?" demanded Father Marquette, in the
Algonquin dialect. "We are Illini," one of the chiefs replied. The
Peorias belonged to a coalition of tribes, including also the Moingwenas,
the Kaskaskias, the Tamaroas and the Cahokias. The name Illini meant
simply men, and had been adopted by these tribes to distinguish them
from their hereditary foes to the eastward, the Iroquois, whom they
abhorred on account of their cruel and bloodthirsty disposition, deem-
ing them no better than brutes. In course of time the name Illini was
altered by means of the French suffix -ois, and finally this name was
applied not only to the Indian tribes but to all the newly discovered
region. When in recent years this tract was made a territory of the
United States, this name was made official, and later on naturally passed
to one of the states parcelled out of the territory.

The fearless little band still pressed on, arriving in July at the
junction of the Missouri and Mississippi. They shortly passed the
mouth of the Ohio River, reaching the confluence of the Arkansas River
and the Mississippi a few days later, and found there several Indian
villages. From that point the mouth of the great river was to be
reached in a short time, yet Marquette and his party hesitated to pro-
ceed farther, fearing a conflict with the Spaniards, who laid claim to all
the surrounding territory by right of discovery by Ferdinand de Soto
in 1541. Geographically, further progress was unnecessary, Marquette
being already convinced that the Mississippi emptied neither into the
Atlantic, nor the Pacific, but into the Gulf of Mexico. On July 19th,
therefore, he turned back, retracing his course as far as the mouth of
the Illinois River, which he entered and continued up this waterway.


The Death of Marquette

At one of the villages of the Kaskaskia Indians, near the present site
Utica, La Salle county, the party halted. The French named the village
La Vantum, and before departing, Marquette baptized the village chief
Cassagoac, together with several leading tribesmen. Continuing up the
entire length of the Illinois, the party entered its tributary, the Des
Plaines River, carried their canoes across the watershed between this
and the Chicago River, and finally by way of the south branch of the
latter reached Lake Michigan. Here they rested for several days, then
pursued their way along the west shore northward to Green Bay,
returning thither before the end of September the same year. Thus was
the Illinois River traversed for the first time by whites, and the sur-
rounding territory brought within the sphere of civilizing influences.

Joliet immediately returned to Quebec in order to report to Fron-
tenac, then governor of New France, the results of the expedition, while
Marquette was compelled by illness to remain at the Green Bay mission.

In spite of ill health Marquette a year later, on the 25th of October,
1674, revisited the Kaskaskia village, accompanied by two young
Frenchmen, Pierre and Jacques, together with a number of Indians.
Retracing the course of the journey northward, they reached the mouth
of the Chicago River December 4th. Here Marquette 's condition
suddenly grew worse, forcing the party to tarry. Near the head of the
south branch of the river his companions erected a block-house, which
sheltered them until early spring, when Marquette was so far restored
that they could continue their journey, arriving at their destination on
the 8th of April.

In this wilderness, with no sanctuary but the primeval forest, no
choristers but the winged songsters, Father Marquette, with all the
solemnity that the occasion afforded, performed the Catholic mass and
subsequently proclaimed the sovereignty of France ever the explored
territory in the name of the Savior, the Holy Virgin and all the saints.
In the same year he made another tour along the Illinois, exploring
thoroughly its banks and adjacent regions.

Divining that his end was near, Marquette with his companions


started on his way back to Canada, following the east shore of Lake
Michigan, but was overtaken by death in the vicinity of present Sleep-
ing Bear Point, in the state of Michigan, and was buried on the shore
by his companions. The next year, however, Indians exhumed his
remains, which were brought thence to the St. Ignace mission and
solemnly interred in the mission chapel. After death, Marquette was
long revered almost as a saint, to whom the sailors on Lake Michigan
would pray for deliverance in the hour of danger.

Journeys of La Salle French Forts Ejected in Illinois

At this time there lived at Fort Frontenac (now Kingston), located
at the point where the St. Lawrence River forms the outlet of Lake
Ontario, a former Jesuit named Robert de La Salle, who had emigrated
to New France in 1667. Devoting himself to fur trading, his vessels
visited almost all the bays of Lakes Ontario and Erie. In 1675 he was
knighted and received Frontenac as a grant from the crown on con-
dition that he erect a fort there. He was rapidly accumulating wealth
through agriculture, cattle raising and a lucrative Indian trade, when
Joliet on his visit to Quebec brought him the first report of the dis-
covery of the Mississippi. This enterprising man immediately conceived
the idea of founding French settlements in the Southwest and opening
up mercantile communications between France and the Mississippi

In pursuance of this purpose he returned to France without delay,
submitted his plan to the government, and was authorized to continue
the exploration begun by Marquette and Joliet, obtaining also the
exclusive right to the trade in buffalo hides. He returned to New
France in 1678, together with an Italian veteran by the name of Tonti,
a Franciscan monk, Louis Hennepin, and carried with him a number of
artisans and sailors and a large cargo of chandlers' supplies and mer-
chandise for the Indian trade. In the fall of the year a small vessel
with a capacity of ten tons was built near Fort Frontenac. In this ship
La Salle and his followers soon sailed across the Ontario to the mouth
of the Niagara River where a small fort was erected as a protection for
a trading post. Above the falls, on the shores of the Erie, he built a
sailing vessel with a tonnage of 120,000 pounds, named it the Griffin
and freighted it with chandlery and ironware, designed for the fitting
out of another vessel to be 1 built on the Illinois River. The Griffin was
launched August 7, 1679, with the firing of cannon and the singing of
songs. This was the first sailing vessel to plow the waves of Lake Erie.
With it La Salle and his crew crossed the lake, passed the straits into
Lake St. Claire, sailed thence across Lake Huron and through the
straits of Mackinaw, where another trading post was established, and



finally down Lake Michigan to Green Bay. Here the cargo was trans-
ferred to smaller boats for further transportation down the Illinois

Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle

River, while the Griffin took a cargo of furs and returned to the starting

La Salle and his crew navigated Lake Michigan as far as St.
Joseph, Mich., where a trading post was established, protected by


palisades and known as Fort Miami. They waited until December for
the return of the Griffin, but were disappointed, the vessel having gone
ashore on its way back to Niagara. Then they prepared to continue
their voyage. There were two routes between Lake Michigan and the
Illinois Kiver, used by the Indians from time out of mind, the one being
that taken by Marquette and Joliet on their return, the other leading
up the St. Joseph River to the turning-point near South Bend, Ind., and
thence across the watershed to the Kankakee and down that river to
the Illinois. La Salle chose the latter. His company consisted of Tonti,
Hennepin, two Franciscan monks, besides thirty sailors and colonists.
Reaching the aforesaid Kaskaskia Indian village, and finding it aban-
doned, they continued the journey -.down the Illinois, not stopping until
they reached, on January 1, 1680$ that expansion of the river called
Lake Peoria. Here they found Illini Indians, with whom La Salle en-
tered into a treaty of friendship, obtaining also permission to build a
fort, which was located on the east shore of the river, near the south
end of Lake Peoria.

The situation of La Salle was, however, far from enviable. Fifteen
hundred miles from the nearest French outpost, his followers despair.-
ing of a successful issue of the enterprise and anxious to return, he was
doubtless himself in deep distress, as evidenced by the name given to
this stronghold, viz., Fort Crevecreur, meaning Broken Heart.

In spite of untoward circumstances, La Salle did not lose heart, but
set about building the intended vessel. The work had not advanced
far when several of his men deserted him, forcing a temporary delay
and necessitating his return to Fort Frontenac to secure other work-
men. With three companions he started March 1st, reaching the
objective point May 6th, after many hardships and perils.

Meanwhile Hennepin and two other Frenchmen, Du Guy and
Michael d'Accault, journeyed down the Illinois to the point where it
empties into the Mississippi, and then started on a new exploring tour
up that river. They pressed on as far as the present site of Minneapolis
and discovered the great falls, named from St. Anthony of Padua,
their patron saint, the St. Anthony Falls. A cross having been erected
here, a mass was held and possession claimed in the name of France.
All that summer they tarried in this delightful region, returning in the
fall, not to Illinois, but to Green Bay.

Tonti, who had been requested 'to build a stronghold on a high cliff
on the south shore of the Illinois, which is now known as Starved Rock,
had left Fort Crevecoeur simultaneously and started for that point.
The fort was completed and received the appropriate name of Rockfort.
While Tonti was engaged in this work nearly all the remaining French-
men fled, after having razed Fort Crevecoaur and thrown all its supplies




into the river. Only six men of the garrison, including two priests,
remained faithfully at their post. To complete the disaster, a band of
Iroquois Indians arrived Sept. 10th, threatening the fortress with anni-
hilation. The remaining French-
men fled. At Rockfort Tonti was
taken prisoner and upon his re-
lease returned to Mackinaw.

Upon his return the following
year with the advance guard of
his newly recruited force of men,
La Salle, to his dismay, found both
fortresses deserted. He returned
with his men to Fort Miami, where
he met the main body of the new
expedition, and quartered it there

Online LibraryErnst Wilhelm OlsonHistory of the Swedes of Illinois .. (Volume v.1) → online text (page 1 of 80)