New Sweden (Me.).

The story of New Sweden [electronic resource] : as told at the quarter centennial celebration of the founding of the Swedish colony in the woods of Maine, June 25, 1895 online

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Online LibraryNew Sweden (Me.)The story of New Sweden [electronic resource] : as told at the quarter centennial celebration of the founding of the Swedish colony in the woods of Maine, June 25, 1895 → online text (page 7 of 8)
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here to-day some who shared with me that journey — we
were all nigh^. Ion? struofglingf with the circuitous route and
the heavy grades of a railroad across territory of another
nation, and we onl}^ reached Caribou in the grim light of
the early morning after a day and night journey from Bangor
to get there. Yesterday I left my home in the late after-
noon and, reclining upon the luxurious cushions of a Pull-
man palace car, was whirled through Houlton and Presque
Isle and into Caribou in the early evening. You are to-day
within eight miles of direct railway communication, on Amer-
ican soil, with the whole United States. More than that,
you are within eight miles of the fastest express trains that
run anywhere in the American Union. In the twenty -five
years during which 3^ou have been striving here in this dense
forest to hew your way outward to the populous sections of
the country, the great march of progress and the energy of
our own people have brought the business facilities of the
country up to your very doors. You are out of the woods.


You have already reached the top of Mount Pisgah and can
not only look over but ride on the picturesque " Bangor
and Aroostook" over into the promised land, and the out-
side world. [Applause.]

I have taken a great interest in the progress of this colony,
not simply from a material standpoint, but because of the
character of the people of New Sweden. My visits to you
have not been frequent because my district is one of
" magnificent distances," and you can imagine, perhaps,
bettei- than before you heard me struggling with the effort
to make a speech, after the finished oration of Mr. Thomas,
how terribly thin I should roll out if I undertook to spread
myself over the whole district every two years. The terri-
tory which I have the honor to represent covers more than
one-third and almost half of the area of the State of Maine —
and when I say that, I mean that it includes a great deal
more than half of the best pecjple of the State of Maine.
[Laughter and applause.] While I have not been able to
visit you frequently I want to give you assurance, if assur-
ance be necessary, that I have had a deep interest in the
success of this colony on account of the character of its
people. I have been familiar with the traits of the Swedish,
Danish and Norwegian people from my early youth. I have
tested them on land and sea ; and I can hardly recall a
voyage which I made in my youth and early manhood, when
in the stress of the tempest, when the gale was at its heiglit
and a calm, clear eye and a steady hand were needed at the
helm, that I did not turn to some Swede or Dane or Norwe-
gian to take his trick at the helm during the fury of tlie
storm. [Applause.] I am not here to flatter you: I am
thankful that I have no need to ; but standing here to-day
beneath these towering maples, and under the shadow of the
flags of these two nations (pointing to the large United
States and Swedish ensigns over tlie platform), it is but a
graceful and a grateful thing for me to say, that in a profes-


sional life that covered service on the sea both in the mer-
cantile marine in the pursuits of peace and in the navy in
time of war, I have found no men of any nationality who
ever proved more trustworthy, more capable, more truthful
and more patriotic than the Swedes. [Applause.] And
speaking from an experience not only in actual sea service
but from a long legislative experience in connection with
the maintenance and recruitment of our naval service, I can
say to you that no better men of foreign lineage stand on
the decks of our men-of-war to-day, and no men who can be
more relied upon to shed their blood to the last drop in the
defence of the stars and striijes than the Swedish-American
sailors of our navy. [Applause.]

Twenty-five years I what a history it has unfolded in the
life of this country ! And you have been here during that
great period working out your full share of the glorious
destiny of the best state in the American Union and the
best nation under the sun. I would not attempt to add one
tint which might mar the beautiful picture that has been
drawn by the master hand of Mr. Thomas here to-day. He
speaks directly to you. And he has the advantage of me
not only in his long, familiar intimacy with you, but even
more in the fact that while he can talk to the men in the
American tongue, when he wants to gain the hearts of the
women I notice that he drops into sibilant phrases in Swedish
which I did not understand. [Laughter.] I envied him
his linguistic ability in that respect, but I may console myself,
perhaps, after all, by the thought that while the ex-Com-
missioner, may thereby have some advantage with the
maturer women of the colony, who retain the Swedish ver-
nacular, I could perhaps " stand a hand " with him in my
own native language, with that younger generation of New
Sweden's bright-eyed daughters, who have been educated
as Americans in the schoolhouse over yonder. [Laughter
and applause.]


This is a remarkable occasion. I thought as I sat here on
the platform, of the anomalous character of this celebration.
How few occasions there have been in the history of man-
kind where people of different nationalities could assemble
together in thanksgiving alike for the land of their nativity
and for the nation of their adoption, [Applause.] Such
occasions are not frequent. There have been many sad
experiences on the part of people who have left their native
lands for foreign shores. There have been men who have
led emigrants to new countries who did not come back to
face their colonists after twenty -five years. There iiave
been cases where not prosperity but disaster has followed
such adventures. Thank God we are here to-day to cele-
brate a glorious success. [Applause.] We are here to-day,
American-born and Swedish-born, including those born here
of Swedish parents, to be thankful to the Heavenly Father
that the day is fair, that the sun does shine, and that it
streams down through the dancing green leaves of a Maine
forest to be radiated by the beautiful colors of the '■' Flag of
the Free," in the " Home of the Brave." [Applause.] I
am glad that in standing here as I do now it is so difficult
for me to distinguish in your intelligent faces the men and
the women and the children, who left Sweden to come to
the help of my country, and the American-born men and
women and children, who have come here to your festival
from Fort Fairfield, and Caribou, and Presque Isle, and
Bangor, and Portland and elsewhere. You have become a
part of a homogeneous community. You are a part of us,
and we are a part of you ; and I want to thank you for what
you have done up here in this lately unbroken forest of the
State of Maine to build up Aroostook county and incite and
encourage the enterprise and the capital that has alread}'-
brouglit the iron-horse from Bangor across the forests to
Caribou and will soon send its cherry whistle, sounding to
Ashland and to Van Buren. [Applause.] I want to thank


you and my friends from the other portions of Aroostook,
not only for what they have done to build up this county,
but for that grand self-reliance, for that superb public spirit
and generosity which has caused the people of this count}'
and broad-minded men in ray own city and elsewhere to
step forward at a time of almost unexampled commercial
depression in this country, and pour out unstintedly their
means and devote their best energies for the accomplishment
of the most remarkable railroad enterprise, considering the
circumstances, that has been carried through in this country
in twenty-five years. [Applause.] You are going to reap
the rewards of your liberality. You are not going to wait
for another generation to reap where you have sown. The
golden harvest is already rolling in upon you, and all that
Aroostook County needs is to stand steadfast in its faith in
what God has given it, to go on with your strong, right arms
and with your sturdy souls in making the most of the mag-
nificent heritage that you enjoy in this garden-county of the
State of Maine, and within the next twenty-five years we
will see all these surrounding forests literally "blossoming
like the rose ! " [Applause.]

At the conclusion of the speech, under the direction
of the President, the entire uudience rose and gave
three cheers for the speaker, " our representative in

Mr. Boutelle : I thank you, \\\y friends. If you
ever have a representative there who is one-half as
worthy as his constituency, he will have good reason
to be proud. [Applause.]

A selection of music was finely rendered by the band.

The President : I will now introduce to you Col.
Fred N. Dow, a member of Governor Perham's council
in the early days of New Sweden.




Mr. President:

A meeting which is held like this in a community which
owes its birth to a Thomas, and whicli names its children
for a Thomas, might well be called a family gathering in
which any is an intruder who cannot tlirough kinship with
our friend the ex-Commissioner, or through some connection
with the enterprise with which his name is inseparably con-
nected, show his right to participate therein. I cannot, there-
fore, better introduce myself to you than by saying that long
before most of those in this audience knew him whom you
honor to-day, I was intimate with him ; we went to school
together; we played together, and we have been friends
from boyhood up. [Applause.]

I also recall with a great deal of pleasure that in an offi-
cial way I had something to do, if not with the founding of
this colony, at least with the supervision of it, in its early
days. It was my duty as a member of the Governor's
Council to give attention to matters of moment in the incip-
ient days of this enterprise, to consider the expenditures in
connection with it, and to pass opinion upon the question
whether the State was expending too much. And I am free
to say that whatever I might have then thought, to-day
when there is spread before me such evidences of your pru-
dence and prosperity, I am glad to believe that there was
nothing then provided too rich for your blood, and whatever
was done by the State to found this colony was a wise invest-
ment. [Applause.]

What I have seen to-day in and about this community is
an inspiring revelation ; but I confess that when some twenty
years ago or more it was my privilege and pleasure to
accompany my friend, the then Commissioner Thomas, on a
visit to this colony, I think on the occasion to which he has


alluded, wlieu the State surrendered the control of it and
committed its destinies to the care of its own people, I had
grave doubts as to its future. I saw then only the almost
trackless forest in which you were to try to establish your
homes ; I saw then a thousand and one obstacles, which to
my imagination, all untutored to such surroundings, seemed
almost insurmountable, and I feared this colony would have
only a struggle for existence a few short years and then die
out, as otiier settlements in this vicinity had before failed.
But I looked only at one side of the picture. I considered
only a part of the elements which would enter into the
solution of the problem. I failed to weigh the effect of the
pluck, the push, the energy, which you had brought with
you from your native land, those inborn electrical forces
without which, whatever else be possessed, man can do Uttle,
and with which, though everything is lacking, so much can
be accomplished. [Applause.] And I am glad to come
back here to-day, after a lapse of twenty years, to acknowl-
edge that I was mistaken, to admit that I was a prophet of
evil, and to freely confess that I did not have the faith in
you to which you were entitled, and to congratulate you all
upon the magnificent results of your enterprise. [Applause.]
As I stand here under the flags of your country and mine
— our country now, thank God I can say — I cannot forget
that in similarity of experience and history we are after all
but one people. Many of you only a few years since left
your homes abroad and came into the same wilderness to
which the ancestors of others of us came years ago, and
what you have experienced and accomplished in 3'ou own
lives, to transmit to your children, we have inherited
from our fathers, who, though before you, like you came
into the wilds of early New England to conquer a home
for themselves and for us, their children. Our differences,
therefore, are after all but in a name. You are now with


US and of us, and as you have contribated so much to the
growth and prosperity of this immediate vicinity, so to you
in common with us is committed the future of what is now
as much your state as it is ours. And so as I look forward
I believe that here in Maine — the birthplace of most of us,
the adopted home of the rest of us, the prized abiding-place
of all of us — it is in a union of that spirit of enterprise by
which material prosperity is to be secured with that self-
respect which is the foundation upon which all the higher
elements of progressive civilization must be built, that the
grandeur of all that pertains to a great state is to be assured.
And for us to the manor born, what is the lesson taught
by all that has been accomplished in this vicinity during the
twenty-five years, the completion of which we celebrate
to-day ? Is it not that there is no better place in which to
live than in Maine ? [Applause.] Here the sky above is
just as blue as anywhere; here the soil is just as prolific;
here the waters are as pure ; here the air is as healthy, as
can be found anywhere the world over. Here abounds as
much as anywhere all that makes for prosperity and pro-
gress. If indeed it is proper to regard life as a mere lottery
in which prizes and blanks are awarded by chance, it may
be true that great luck may sometimes be found elsewhere,
but for every prize there are so many blanks that no one
who has a chance in Maine ought to venture elsewhere.
For we may justly claim that nowhere in all the range of
the rising and setting sun is there to be found a spot where
more satisfactory returns are surer to be won than right here
in our own good state by just such enterprise, industry, and
integrity as you, my friends from Sweden, have brought into
this country. [Applause.]

The President: I now have the plecisure of intro-
ducing Hon. Albion Little of Portland.

118 the story of new sweden.

address of hon. albion little of portland.

Mr. President and Ladies and Gentlemen:

A little party of us in the city of Portland have been
looking forward for the last two or three weeks with fond
anticipations of a grand good time in coming to the county
of Aroostook and to the town of New Sweden, and I have
to sa^' to you on this deliglitful occasion that our fondest
anticipations are more than realized, and that we are
extremely happy in coming to your quarter-century celebra-
tion and being introduced to you imd having an opportu-
nity of knowing you better than we have heretofore.

I want to say to you, who have not recently traveled to
the westward, that it is a most delightful trip from Portland
to Caribou by railroad. A vestibule train starts from the
Union Station, Portland, at 11.10 A. M., over the Maine
Central Railroad, which is one of the best managed rail-
roads in the United States, and comes down to Bangor
where you may be transferred to the Bangor and Aroos-
took Railroad, and come on to Caribou in a ver}'^ short time,
arriving at nine o'clock the same evening. This is a mag-
nificent railroad route coming to your doors. Tliis railroad
brings you in close contact with the outer world.

You may well be proud of your railroad facilities. Do
you know that such railroad facilities would not have been
offered so soon to Aroostook County but for this settlement
of Swedes in New Sweden ?

You have given great credit to ray distinguished friend,
Hon. W. W. Thomas jr., a son of not only one of Portland's
but also of Maine's most distinguished and honored citizens
for his sagacity, his wisdom and his leadership in bringing
this colony to this place; and 3'^ou do well. He has
been a faithful leader. He has led you to a goodly land.
There is no better farming land on the American con-


tinent than this which lies here in Aroostook County.
[Applause.] I have sometimes wondered why this colony
ever came here. Why did you come to Maine ? Why did
you come to Aroostook County? Why did you come to
this place now called New Sweden? You came here when
the watchword was " Go West, young man ! Go West and
grow up with the country ! "

You have answered these questions here when you say
that a quarter of a century ago, Mr. Thomas, whom you
have seen fit to honor as " Father Thomas," came to you in
your homes and told you of this great country, and that
when he was hunting for game in the far-off wild woods of
Maine, he had discovered some very excellent farming land,
most favorably located in a healthy climate, well watered by
living springs, lakes and rivers, which could be had on very
favorable terms, for the taking and clearing.

Although Mr. Thomas was then but a young man, his
honest purpose and earnest endeavors inspired your confi-
dence. Without further guarantee, you banded yourselves
together into a little colony and, trusting in your God and
your accepted leader, leaving behind kindred, homes and
native land, sailed over the wide, wide ocean, crossed seas
and rivers, and traversed the unbroken forest to make for
yourselves new homes in the wild woods of Aroostook
County, where only wild beasts roamed. Here for ages the
wild deer, moose and caribou had full sway, unmolested
save by an occasional huntsman.

Twenty-five years, quarter of a century, have come and
gone. Hard times and long days of toil and hardships have
come and gone; and to-day we see the results of your toil.

The woodman's ax, the farmer's plow and the mechanic's
tools have done their work, and they have done it well.
Instead of the lofty pines, the grand old oaks, the evergreen
cedars and other woods, we see immense grain fields and
vast fields of waving grasses and broad acres of thrifty


growing potatoes, and well-fed horses and cattle on every
hillside and plain. Instead of the old log cabin of your
eaily settlement in the forest, we see well-planned framed
houses and comfortable homes on well-made roads. We
also see handsome chniches where you worship God on His
holy day, and good schoolhouses where your children are
taught in the language of the country. All these are in har-
mony and keeping with modern civilization.

Upon the advice of Mr. Thomas you came here, at the
same time when, under the advice of Horace Greeley, car-
load after carload of the young men of Maine were going
into the great western country and settling upon its vast
prairies. Many of them wisli they were back again, wish
they had had the councils and advice of Mr. Thomas and
gone east into Aroostook County and into New Sweden,
where they would have been fur better off. Some of them
are turning their faces this way again. Their sons and
daughters are looking eastward. This is the promised land.
Recent developments have shown that the State of Maine is
the best state in the union for farming. [Applause.] More
than that it is the best state on this continent to raise states-
men in. [Applause.] [A voice: correct.] And as good
as that, it is the best state on the American continent to
raise children in. [Laughter and applause.]

If Horace Greeley were alive to-day and could see the State
of Maine as we see it, I have no doubt he would agree with
nic in giving this advice: Young man and middle-aged
man, stay where you are. Cut down more trees, clear more
land, dig up more stumps, plow more land, plant more pota-
toes, and tickle the earth with hoe and spade, and laugh in
time of harvest.

This ought to be, as it is, a proud and happy day for you
all, as well as for Mr. Thomas. It is a sort of red letter
day for him with the full light of noonday sun turned upon
his noble deeds and great achievements.


As I have said you do well to give unstinted credit to my
distinguished friend for his great goodness to you in bring-
ing you so safely to this promised land. It is right. But,
m}' friends, did it ever occur to you that perhaps his kind
acts, great wisdom, his great faithfulness toward you, and
his noble deeds, may have been the very stepping-stone to
that mansion of a nobleman in your native land, where he
entered and wooed and won one of the brightest and fairest
daughters in all that charming land of the midnight sun to
be his faithful and loving wife. [Applause.]

Did it ever occur to you that if his connection with this
colony contributed in any way, directly or indirectly, to
make this beautiful woman queen of his home, he has been
amply repaid. Yes, one hundred-fold. [Great applause.]

At this point the President sprang to his feet and
shouted to the audience, " Stand up and give a cheer
for IVIr. Thomas' Swedish wife." And, under cover of
the cheering that ensued, Mr. Little resumed his seat,
the President apologizing for interrupting the course
of the speech, and explaining that the enthusiasm
aroused by the speaker had quite carried him away.

The President: I have the pleasure of introduc-
ing to you Hon. Seth L. Larrabee of Portland, whom
the people of New Sweden liope to see the next
Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.



Ladies and Gentlemkn :

I only come forward to speak the great pleasure I have in
attendhig these very interesting exercises, and to tell you


how deeply I was impressed as I drove across your country,
over your remarkably good roads this morning, and am still
impressed, with the evidences of thrift and industry, which
appeared upon almost every iiill top and hill side within the
range of my vision. The orator of the day and one of the
gentlemen who have preceded me have referred to some
financial aid that was furnished by the State to this colony
in the early days of its existence. I think there is no visitor
present upon this tribune or in this auditorium who will not
cheerfully admit that whatever sum was then paid for your
assistance, was a remarkably good investment for the State
of Maine. [Applause.] The Swedes of Maine owe no
financial debt to the State. They owe her nothing but loy-
alty to her institutions and her laws and that degree of
loyalty only which they have for a generation cheerfully
rendered. [Applause.] The obligation moves from the
opposite party. The State owes to you the thanks of the
present generation and of all future generations of its citi-
zens for the great object lessons in frugality, thrift, industry
and prosperity which you have so fully and practically
illustrated upon these hills of northern Maine. [Applause.]

The President: I shiill now call upon Hon. Edward
Wiggin of Presque Isle, one of our State senators from
Aroostook County.



Mr. President, and Fellow Citizens of New Sweden:
I should most gladly have declined the invitation to say a
word to you on account of the lateness of the hour, but at
the earnest request of your president, and also of my friend
Mr. Thomas, I will say one word, merely. In the first place,
fellow citizens, I congratulate you most heartily upon the
:iuccess which has attended the efforts of yourselves and


your sires and your mothers upon this wilderness towiisliip,
which has made this day and the celebration of this day
possible. I know something of the history of this colony.
I watched it from its birth, from the first year you came
into these woods ; and I will say to you frankly, and espec-
ially to you older ones, the original members of this colony,
that when you reached Aroostook County the people of
Aroostook had very little faith in you. We did not believe
you would stay here ten years, and we thought it would

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Online LibraryNew Sweden (Me.)The story of New Sweden [electronic resource] : as told at the quarter centennial celebration of the founding of the Swedish colony in the woods of Maine, June 25, 1895 → online text (page 7 of 8)