|The Swedes of Oregon|
|Skrivet av Wiliam Carlson Smith|
The Swedes of Oregon
William Carlson Smith
From American Swedish Historical Museum Year Book 1946
William C. Smith, Ph.D., was a professor of sociology at Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon. He was born of Swedish immigrant parents in Minnesota and spent his early years on a farm in a Swedish community at Oakland, Nebraska. He has written "Americans in the Making: the Natural History of the Assimilation of Immigrants" (1939), "Americans in Process: A Study of our American Citizens of Oriental Ancestry" (1937), together with a number of articles in sociological journals.
Conjecture has it that Scandinavians were among the early settlers of Oregon. That, however, has not been established as fact by authentic records. The appearance here and there of Scandinavian names, to be sure, is suggestive, but names may be deceptive. For instance, the common Swedish name "Anderson" may be borne by one of Irish or German ancestry, while the name "Stalcup", inherited by an Oregonian from a Swedish settler in Delaware, does not suggest Swedish origin.
According to the Federal Census, there were two foreign-born Swedes in the Territory of Oregon in 1850 in a total population of 13,294. The report does not give the localities where these two resided and thus far we have not located any records concerning them. Since the Territory (organized 1849) comprised not only the present Oregon but also Washington, Idaho and the south-western portion of Wyoming, it is even possible that they did not reside in the Oregon portion of the Territory.
The earliest Swedish settler we have located was Charles M. Wibert who was born in Norrköping, Sweden, in 1820. He worked at several occupations and finally became a shoemakers apprentice. After learning his trade he went to London in 1841 for three years. He landed in New York in 1843 and worked at his trade in several places. In 1850 he started in business for himself in Milwaukee but was burned out by the great fire of 1851. With his entire capital destroyed and with a debt of several hundred dollars, he determined to seek a new home in Oregon, and in 1852 he set out for Portland via the Isthmus of Panama, reaching his destination on July 6, 1852. For a short time he worked at his trade and then opened a boot and shore store, the first of its kind in Portland. Gradually he paid off the indebtedness in Milwaukee, in full and with interest. He could have made settlement for the debt at a considerable reduction, but refused to do so. This incident illustrates the honesty and integrity which characterized him throughout his long and successful business career.
The second Swedish settler we have located was John Nasburg. He was born in Sweden in 1839, came to the United States in 1850 and, after spending two years in Illinois, crossed the plains and reached The Dalles in Oregon on November 13, 1852.
Another early settler was Andrew Johnson who was cast away from a vessel at Coos Bay bar in December, 1854. He helped to build a fort at Empire city in 1855 and did much to end the Indian outbreaks.
The Swedish settlers began to trickle into the state and in 1860 the census enumerated a total of 56. After that they came in increasingly large numbers and even though the total number reached a peak of only 11,032 in 1930, the percentage of increase for each decade was greater than that for the general population up to 1920.
Immigration to Oregon had two peaks - 1880-90, when a total of 142,936 arrived, and 1990-10, when newcomers numbered 259,229. The first increase was due largely to the completion of a transcontinental railway line to Portland in 1883. The second influx was, in the main, the result of the Lewis and Clark Exposition held in Portland in 1905, which brought throngs of visitors, many of whom remained or returned later to the state to live. The development of irrigation projects which opened new lands for settlement and the modern exploitation of the great forest resources with the attendant stimulus to all forms of business were attractive forces. In this westward movement of population the Swedes furnished a generous quota. Although the great majority of the Swedes did not arrive in the Pacific Northwest until the late eighties, 205 had made the overland trek by 1870 and by 1880 they numbered 893. The establishment of transcontinental railway travel brought an upsurge to 3,774 by 1890.
For many years Oregon had a State Commission of Immigration which advertised in the eastern states and abroad for immigrants. The Commission made arrangements with an Atlantic steamship company to carry immigrants from Europe at one-half the usual fares. The advertising campaign brought many from New England, the Middle West, and from Europe. The report for 1887 stated that "the Germans and Scandinavians make up the best of the foreign-born immigration". In 1913 the Commission prepared literature in the Scandinavian languages to appeal to farmers in other parts of the United States who might be interested in making changes because of climatic or other conditions. Oregon Posten also did much to make Oregon known to Swedes in other parts of the country. One man wrote to the editor that while in Canada he had read about the conditions in western Oregon which were so far superior to those of his cold clime that he came. He was so pleased with the change that he wrote that there were several farms near the Baptist Church available for Swedes.
In the Swedish settlement of Oregon, direct migration from Sweden was not the rule. An examination of 193 obituaries and biographies shows that 53 came directly while 140 had resided for longer or shorter periods in the East or Middle West before going to Oregon. The majority came from the middle states. Helge Nelsons study arrives at the same conclusion, except for a number of sailors who came to the seaports and were laid off there or deserted their ships to go fortune-hunting on land.
This pause of longer or shorter duration on the westward journey influenced the pattern of settlement. The immigrants did not come in groups and settle in colonies, but they came for the most part as individuals and families. Because of the breaks in the movement to the West, the Swedish immigrants had opportunities to become more or less Americanized and consequently they were less prone to segregate themselves in Swedish colonies than those who took up their abodes east of the Rockies.
According to Rosenquists researches, more than two-thirds of the immigrants to Texas came from a single province, Jönköping län. Furthermore, one single parish, Barkeryd, supplied more than one-sixth of the total number for the province. No such concentration is evident in the migration to Oregon. A study of 301 biographical sketches and obituaries indicate that emigration was well scattered-from Lappland in the north to Malmö in the southern tip of the peninsula, and also f rom Finland. The large majority came from the southern provinces, but they are most densely populated. In the sample, Värmland has the largest number, but several other areas are not far behind.
Table I gives a picture of the Swedes in the state. From a total of two in 1850, they increased until they reached a peak of 11,032 in 1930. In 1940 the number had decreased to 8,498 and in the next census we may expect a further drop because the older immigrants are gradually dying off while comparatively few of Swedish birth are arriving, either from Sweden or from other states. Probably there was a considerable number among the "dustbowlers" from the Dakotas and Kansas, but data on this are not available.We note in Table I that after 1870 the percentage of the total population increased considerably. It rose to 1.5 per cent in 1910 where it remained until it took a drop to 0.8 per cent in 1940. After 1870 the Swedish population also increased considerably in its percentage of the total foreign-born. It rose to 10.3 per cent in 1920 and dropped to 9.7 per cent in 1940.
The Swedish Population of
Oregon Compared with the Total
The Swedes constitute one of the largest immigrant groups in Oregon. From 1850 through 1940, Canada and Germany sent more immigrants to Oregon than did Sweden. Prior to 1910 England outstripped Sweden. Germany is the only non-American country that ha consistently supplied more immigrants to the state than Sweden. In 1920 there was a total of 6,050 born in Finland. Since a considerable number in this Oregon group were Swedish-speaking Finns, or Swedes born in Finland, they should in reality be added to the Swedish totals and then the Swedes would come closer to the Germans.
It is interesting to compare the immigration into Oregon with that into the other two Pacific Coast states. In Washington in 1930 the Swedes were the largest non-American group with the Germans following in second place. In California immigrants from England, Germany, Russia and Italy far outnumbered those from Sweden.
Several agricultural colonies have been founded by Swedes in Oregon. Powell Valley, fourteen miles east of Portland, was the first Swedish settlement in the state. In 1875 N.F. Palmquist came from Kansas and settled there. The following year brought his brother, and then others trickled in one by one until the early nineties when enough settlers arrived to give it the aspect of a Swedish colony. In the forest clearings many five to twenty-acre farms were developed and devoted to dairying and the cultivation of fruits and berries. On some of the larger farms, good crops of wheat and oats are produced.
In 1906 the American-Scandinavian Realty Company was organized and purchased 1,960 acres of land, eighteen miles southeast of Oregon City for the purpose of establishing a Swedish colony to be called Calrsborg, more commonly known as Colton from the name of the post office. Rev. C.J. Renhard, a Swedish Lutheran minister in Portland, was the moving spirit in the project. In 1905 he had come to Oregon from St. Louis where he had observed the crowded living conditions which caused him to consider the desirability of rural colonization for Swedes. He concluded that Oregon was highly desirable for a colonization project. Many Swedes came to the colony from the East and Middle West. A considerable number in the colony had come from eastern Nebraska and in this group several had been connected in some way or other with Luther Academy at Wahoo, Nebraska. The farms are commonly about forty acres in size and are devoted to diversified farming. In this active Lutheran community a church was organized in 1907.
In the drought years of the nineties, C.J. Larson was driven off his farm in western Kansas and, after trying several places, he moved in 1906 to Warren (Columbia County), about 25 miles northwest of Portland. When he arrived he found a few Swedish-speaking families already settled there. Larson visualized a Swedish colony and immediately began to advertise for settlers. They responded, and came from Iowa, Kansas, and other mid-western states.
Eastern Oregon has attracted comparatively few Swedes and they are scattered thinly over the entire area. In the northern part of Morrow County, however, there is sufficient concentration to have a Lutheran Church at Ione, but its members are widely distributed. This is a prosperous wheat-growing country and some of the largest farms are owned and operated by Swedes. The first Swedes to settle at Ione arrived there before 1880. In 1883 C.J. Anderson came from Örebro and became the first Swedish settler at Eight Mile.
There are also other settlements of less importance at Mist, Mayger and Cherry Grove. On the Columbia river, northwest of Portland, there is a small settlement of Swedes and Swedish-Finns at Mayger. They have small acreages but most of them are occupied by fishing. At Mist, in Columbia County, is a mixed settlement of Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians. Swedes began to clear the land about 1877. The colony, however, has not flourished and has all but been abandoned by the Swedes.
Swedes have developed several fruit-growing colonies, the most important of which is Melrose Orchards near Roseburg. Others were located at Newhome, or Newhem, in Yamhill County and Elida and Outlook in Clackamas County.
The Swedes in Oregon are predominantly urban. In 1930 their percentage of urban dwellers was 50.2. If we add to that the 2,663 rural non-farm folks the percentage rises to 83.3 which leaves 16.7 per cent for the rural-farm group. For 1940 the corresponding percentages were 58.3 and 80.4. These urban dwellers are scattered about in several places, but the largest groupings are found in Portland, Astoria, and the Coos Bay cities.
Portland has the largest concentration of Swedes in the state. In 1920 there was a total of 5,060 foreign-born Swedes in the city. This was 2.0 per cent of the total population and 10.7 per cent of the total foreign-born element. In 1940 the total dropped to 3,622 which was 1.2 per cent of the total population and 9.4 percent of the foreign born. The sex composition of the Swedish group still has the earmarks of a frontier, immigrant-receiving community with 2,898 males to 1,987 females in 1930, while for 1940 the figures were 2,106 to 1,516.
While the Swedes live all over Portland and are interspersed among those of old American stock and those of various nationalities, they are concentrated more thickly in the northeast area, particularly in the Albina, Irvington and Overlook districts where they live in attractive and well-kept homes. In the early days a considerable number of Swedes worked in the sawmills of "Slabtown" in the northern part of the city, and because of transportation facilities they lived as close to their work as possible. Many lived in the Albina district east of the river. The marine life there attracted many as longshoremen, sailors, and drydock workers. This became an important industrial area as the railways came in and many Swedes worked in the railway shops. Representatives of many nationalities arrived; but the Irish, Germans, Poles, and Scandinavians were the most important and each group tended to segregate into particular areas. Gradually the Swedes began to move away from the waterfront in a northeasterly direction. Many of the Swedish institutions are located in this northeast section--Swedish bakeries, Emanuel Hospital, several churches, the Swedish eating houses, "A Bit of Sweden", "Gripsholm", and "Sweden House".
Oregon Swedes engage in many occupations. They were the earliest pear orchardists in the Rogue River Valley. They organized a cooperative fruit-growing organization at Medford in 1903. Cattle ranches in eastern Oregon, dairy herds in Tillamook County, and farming, such as is done at Colton, Warren, and Ione, indicate the variety of enterprises that are based on the soil.
Of the total Swedish-born population in the state, 16.7 per cent were on farms in 1930. This percentage is low when compared with 41.6 per cent in Kansas or 61.6 per cent in North Dakota. Since the Swedes have come from a land of iron and forests, they had opportunities to develop along mechanical lines and consequently they have settled largely in Portland where their skills have been in demand. Many have found places in the forest industries. They work in the pine forests and lumber mills at Bend and Klamath Falls. Swedish logger-ranchers are scattered through Tillamook County. Marshfield and the Coos Bay towns have had Swedes in logging and lumbering, all the way from lumber jacks to sawmill operators. C.A. Smith, a Swede in Marshfield, has one of the largest sawmills on the Coast.
Joel J. Westerlund, born in Finland in 1871, came to Oregon in 1891 to get gold, but instead he got fish. For forty-five years he was employed by the largest up-river salmon fishery on the Columbia River. He developed the fish-wheel type of fishing salmon and was very successful with it. It has been said of him that probably no other man ever lived who knew more about Columbia River salmon than he. It is interesting to note in passing that Westerlund was an apprentice boat-builder in Finland and after his retirement on pension he began to build boats in North Portland.
Many other Swedes have engaged in fishing. Swedes and Swedish-speaking Finns at Mayger on the Columbia River northwest of Portland farm and fish. Deep-sea fishing off Coos Bay occupies both Swedes and Norwegians. In Astoria Swedes are important in the fishing industry, both as fishermen and as canners. Andrew Young of Astoria, who came to Oregon in 1874, became interested in salmon fishing on the Columbia and Fraser rivers and with his brother became owner of two fish canneries. P.A. Berglund of Astoria was also interested in salmon fishing on a large scale.
The largest concentration of Swedish population is in Portland and they have turned, in the main, to skilled occupations. A total of 448 registration cards for naturalized Swedish voters were examined in the office of the Registrar of Elections for Multnomah County for the year 1910. That particular year was selected rather than a more recent one because the percentage of naturalized citizens would be higher then than in a later year, due to deaths in the immigrant group. A great variety of occupations was found in this sample. The wood-working and building trades stand out above all others. Oregon Posten calls attention to the fact that the Swedes are most important in the building trades and goes on to say that "We can point with pride to many large and beautiful buildings planned and built by Swedes". In this sample from the voters register, the carpenters have 66, the highest number. In addition there are 11 contractors (probably the majority are building contractors), 5 cabinet makers, 1 cooper, 3 draftsmen (quite likely they a re largely tied to the wood-working activities), 1 lumber graders, 2 lumber workers, 4 sawmill workers, 2 wood workers, 1 wood dealer, 1 wood chopper, 5 cement men, 1 brick mason, 2 stone masons, 1 plumber, 12 painters, 3 plasterers. There are 15 clerks of different kinds and 53 laborers of whom probably many are working in the wood and building industries.
Many Swedish immigrants, with the smell of the homeland woods in their nostrils, turn readily to the forest industries. Carl F. Munson worked as a logger and farm hand until 1888 when he came to America. After a brief stay in Minnesota he came to Oregon and became a lumber-mill laborer and soon a yard foreman. After five years he became lumber-cargo inspector on river boats. Then in 1912 he became chief lumber and mill inspector for the West Coast Lumbermens Association, which position he held until his retirement in 1934.
Because of the important part of the Swedes play in the wood-working industry, they have a number of labor leaders in Portland, particularly among the carpenters. Gust Anderson has been secretary of the Central Labor Council of Portland since 1923.
In addition to the above list, there were 10 tailors, 20 farmers, 14 longshoremen, 17 liquor dealers, and a scattering of others.
Undoubtedly the above sample is skewed toward the skilled occupations. Doubtless, there are unskilled workers who move about and have little interest in voting or who do not have sufficiently permanent abodes to be permitted to register and vote.
Swedes are found in several engineering fields. The Ross Island, St. Johns, and Burnside bridges over the Willamette River in Portland were built by local Swedish contractors employing Swedish labor. They also did some bridge-building on the Oregon coast highway. A blacksmith, who came to Portland in 1917, became foreman in a machine shop and an expert on building and installing various kinds of machinery. Many Swedes have worked as mechanics in the railway shops of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific, and Union Pacific railways.
There have been and still are several Swedish tailoring establishments in Portland. One of thee immigrant tailors operated for many years in Portland where he catered to a high-class trade and the majority of his customers were non-Swedish. He made clothes for governors and other prominent men.
Swedes have developed outstanding skills in a number of fields. In 1890 David Hagg bought a farm at Reedville near Portland. He cleared the land and gradually developed a dairy farm which has long been a model for cleanliness. In 1936 he bettered the national butter-fat production record for a herd of more than fifty cows. One man who came in 1920 has worked as a scientific gardener. He has been in charge of one of Portlands finest private gardens. He graduated from a garden school in Sweden and is a highly skilled experimental gardener and botanist.
A number of skilled Swedes could not at first secure employment in their special fields. One man, a telegraph and linotype operator in Sweden, could not secure work in either field and so he turned to manual labor until he learned the English language. In 1907 he began to operate a linotype. Furthermore, many had to begin at the bottom and work up. John Pearson came to Minnesota in 1882 and to Portland four years later. From 1886 to 1892 he worked in a sawmill, from 1892 to 1895 he was a ship carpenter and after that he was employed as a longshoreman until 1914 when he and his two sons entered the undertaking business. In the funeral parlor they serve many Swedes but the larger percentage of their clientele is non-Swedish. For several years an immigrant woman worked as a maid in the home of a prominent department store owner. She adjusted herself so well that she was transferred to the store as a clerk and then gradually developed into a special designer whose services were valued very highly.
Several Swedes have been doctors and dentists. Notable in this group was Dr. Francis G. Swedenburg who practiced medicine in Ashland for forty years. As a youth he came from Sweden with his parents. He attended the University of Minnesota and graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago.
There have been several attorneys in the group. Waldemar Seton came to the United States in 1882 and reached Portland in 1891. He completed his law course in the evening law school of the University of Oregon in Portland in 1896 after which he practiced law until his retirement in 1939. In this period of forty-three years he built up a large practice. C.A. Applegren is still practicing and specializes in real estate law. Gustaf Anderson came to the United States in 1882, and moved up from had-carrier for an Irish brick layer for a year, then lived the life of a lumber-jack for several years. From 1887 to 1895 he worked as a bookkeeper while taking a law course. He practiced law from 1895 to 1912 and then served as a judge of the circuit court in Baker, Oregon, from 1912 to 1924. After that he entered private practice in Portland. Anderson did not associate much with Swedes but decided later in life that this had been a mistake. He said that when he first came here, there was prejudice against Swedes, and to call a man a Swede in the eighties was equivalent to calling him an ignoramus. He decided in his early years to Americanize as rapidly as possible, but concluded later on that he could have done that and still kept in touch with his people.
The teaching profession has attracted several. A number have been teachers in the public grade and high schools in different localities. They are also found on the faculties of institutions of higher learning. J.A. Bexell came to Oregon State College from Sweden in 1908 as an expert in agricultural economics. John Throstenberg, a professor of Scandinavian languages and literature at the University of Oregon, was another. Olof Larsell from Dalarna is professor of anatomy in the University of Oregon Medical School and Dean of the Graduate Division of the Oregon System of Higher Education.
In the professional field, however, there are more of the second and third generations, because they do not have the handicaps that faced the immigrant generation. Dr. E.T. Hedlund, who was born in the south, practiced dentistry for many years before he became postmaster in Portland. Hedlund, however, edeavored to keep rather close to the Swedish group, if one may judge by the amount of advertising he did in the Swedish newspaper of Portland. David E. Lofgren, born in Iowa, came to Portland in 1908 and entered legal practice, specializing on patent law. The legal profession regards him as resourceful and ethical and a man of courage and integrity. In Portland he has contributed to patriotic, civic, and humane undertakings. He has been an active member of the Board of Emanuel Hospital and has been an important factor in the success of that institution. Frank M. Erickson, born in Indiana, became professor education at Willamette University in 1920 and served there until he retired. Albin Walter Norblad, Jr., of the law firm of Norblad and Norblad of Astoria, is now (1946) serving in Congress and will appear as a candidate in the fall election to succeed himself. Lewis Conrad Rosenberg, who has won considerable fame as an etcher, was born in the old Albina district of Portland in 1890. He was graduated in architecture at the University of Oregon and went east for graduate study. In 1921-22 he attended the Academy in Rome where his course was changed from that of an architect to an etcher of architectural subjects. He returned from Europe and taught architecture for two yeas at the University of Oregon. In 1927 he went to the Royal College of Art in London and gained recognition for his work in Europe. He now lives in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Margaret Reid Hulten, born in Missouri in 1909, is the one Oregon women of Swedish descent listed in American Women, Vol. III. She is a journalist living in Europe. Mrs. Clara S. Hoff came from Sweden when only four years old and thus, culturally, belongs to the second generation group. She has written since she was eleven years old and her contributions have been published in several places. Ted Malone included one of her poems in his anthology.
The list of second and third generation notables, or near notables, might be expanded, but for the present this sample must suffice.
The Swedes, particularly in Portland, seem to have a rich organizational life. Like other immigrant groups, they have organized several mutual benefit societies, which usually combine insurance, fraternal, and social features. These societies are quite well supported, except by some who object to the liberal policy of permitting Sunday picnics and dancing in connection with the social gatherings.
Svenska Bröderna (The Swedish Brothers), the oldest Swedish society in the Northwest, was founded as a sick-benefit organization. Under the leadership of Philip W. Liljeson, thirteen men met on October 29, 1888, and effected an organization. This was the beginning of a significant activity. For several years the society had its ups and downs. When work was scarce, men would leave Portland and the membership would decline. On November 30, 1892, the organization changed its name to "Svenska Sällskapet Linnea" (Swedish Society Linnea), and admitted women to membership. After that date, the society moved ahead. The society has paid out considerable sums for sickness, burial, and other needs. The peak period was from 1930 to 1940 when $10,844.00 was paid out to benefits. The total payments from the time of organization to 1946 has been $10,792.00. Monetary aid to the needy has not been restricted to their own local group, but has even been sent to Sweden. In addition, the society has given advice and information to countrymen who were in need of assistance. Social gatherings are held once each month with a literary program and refreshments. Every year the society has a Christmas festival open to the public. In midsummer provision is made for a boat excursion on the Columbia River, and on the anniversary of founders day a grand festival is held. The society also serves a reminder of contributions made to America by Swedish immigrants as when, early in 1917, a John Ericsson program was given. For the purpose of giving the membership a better knowledge of the best in Swedish literature and also to aid them in the use of the mother tongue, a library has been built up with books from the best of Swedish authors. That the library might be used to the best advantage, a study club was organized to serve as stimulus and guide.
The purposes of Linnea are: (1) to help and steady the weak and faltering; (2) to aid its members to grow both intellectually and morally; (3) to nourish a consciousness of our national heritage; (4) to protect our treasured Swedish language. The Society is interested in instilling high moral ideals in the young and in promoting unity for the good of all--in fact, it desires to do all in its power to foster and improve things Swedish in this land. While Linnea stresses the perpetuation of Swedish culture in America, it does not restrict its interests only to things Swedish. While Linnea stresses the perpetuation of Swedish culture in America, it does not restrict its interests only to things Swedish. It endeavors also to present to its membership the best in America as exemplified by Lincoln and George Washington programs.
Undoubtedly, Linnea has meant much to many immigrants. Charles W. Swenson, the sole surviving charter member of the society, said: "Linnea is like expanding your family to include hundreds of good friends--and they are good friends. If something unusual should happen to me and I should need help, friends would come to me from everywhere through this society--and it is the same for all others." Among others, an elderly woman spoke in glowing praise of the organization. She was lonely when she came from Sweden before she had learned that Linnea was admitting women and so she joined. At that time the society meant far more to them than it has in later years. "At that time", she said, "we were all ignorant greenhorns. Most of us could not use English and no one, outside of our own people, would have anything to do with us socially. I experienced many disappointments here--nothing was as good as I imagined it would be. But, good, old Linnea was just like a mother, a sister and a brother to all of us younger girls. The dances, the parties and picnics gave us something to think about and to plan for. There was something to which we could look forward all the time, and every once in a while a couple that had met in the lodge activities announced an engagement, and then we had a big time over that."
Society Linnea, however, must suffer an inevitable decline like that of other immigrant organizations. In 1900 there were 94 active members, in 1910 there were 337, in 1930 the number was 237, and in 1946 it had dropped to 125. The decrease in immigration has been an important factor in the decline. Since 1910 three national organizations, the Order of Vasa, the Order of Viking, and the Order of Runeberg, have come into the field and have drawn some away from Linnea, which is a local and independent organization. Some American-born persons of Swedish parentage have joined, but no great accessions may be expected from that source. Many of the young folk are marrying outside and that tends to cut them off. Some of the women have been trying to bind the children to the organization by teaching them the Swedish language, history, traditions, and fold dances, but their efforts have not been highly rewarded.
The change in language is not without significance in the life of the society. Article I, section 2, of the constitution, states that "The Swedish language must be used exclusively by the organization". According to Svenska Posten of May 29, 1946, however, at the regular meeting of Linnea on May 22 a committee presented a report with an English translation of the ritual, the adoption of which would be decided by a vote at a subsequent meeting of the society. It is hoped that by changing the ritual to English more of the American-born group will be attracted to the society.
The United Swedish Societies was organized with representatives from all the lodges. According to one of the members, as the lodges decline, they will liquidate into this united organization which will pay benefits to the few remaining old folks. For more than fifteen years the United Societies has sponsored the midsummer festival which was instituted by the "Swedish Brothers" (now Linnea) in 1889. The Oregonian said of this:
"Nearly 4,000 Oregonians of Swedish descent joined Sunday for the annual midsummer festival, a major Scandinavian holiday...Colorful Scandinavian costumes were worn by many...Favorite Swedish dishes were served...Two orchestras furnished music for dancing and folk songs. Games and sports occupied the afternoon."
On such occasions old Sweden is transplanted to Viking Park and all may participate in the colorful ancestral custom which the immigrants have brought with them from the homeland.
The United Societies has also carried on other activities. In 1940 it sponsored a program by the Swedish male chorus to aid Russian-invaded Finland. In 1931 a bazaar was held at which were exhibited wood carvings, embroideries, pewter ware, and household goods that had been brought from Sweden.
There are several mutual-aid organizations. A newspaper report states that the Vasa Order has been a blessing to many an immigrant when he first came here from Sweden. In that lodge he could her the Swedish language spoken and among lodge brothers he could feel at home. It provides sick and burial benefits and gives aid to the needy. It is also doing much to perpetuate Swedish culture. It has a library of Swedish literature. The Vasa Order is national and has lodges in many places.
Svenska Sjukhjälpsföreningen (Swedish Sick Benefit Society) was organized January 23, 1893, with fourteen members from which beginning it moved steadily forward. The society has provided sick and burial benefits and has even given aid to needy persons outside the organization. Provision is also made for social activities when they have programs and refreshments. The society has no hall of its own but has held its meetings in the Swedish churches. This organization attracts in particular the church folk who consider Linnea and other organizations as being too worldly.
Probably the most lasting contribution of an organizational nature is the Emanuel Hospital of Portland. On September 14, 1909, Rev. C.J. Renhard, a Lutheran minister, called a meeting at the Immanuel Lutheran Church which resulted in the organization of a hospital association. An old hospital building was rented and the first patient was admitted on January 23, 1912. The first building of the present hospital was begun on borrowed funds and completed in December 1915. Renhard was an idealist and promoter, but not a good business manager, so he retired from the hardship of the hospital to be succeeded by Rev. A.M. Green who was superintendent for twenty-one years until 1938. He was responsible for much of the success of the hospital.
In a report to the board of directors of the hospital, superintendent Green wrote:
"The duty and function of the modern hospital does not stop in merely caring for the sick who come to its doors. The welfare of the whole community, from a standpoint of health, must be regarded by the hospital as within the scope of its duties and functions. It must realize the need and accept the responsibility of service to humanity at large, and do all in its power to aid in the prevention of sickness, disease, and accident; to aid in the education of patients in preventive hygiene; to promote scientific research, and raise the standards of hospital practice, as well as provide the best hospital care in specific emergencies."
And that was written by a Swedish immigrant who was a dishwasher in a hotel in Tacoma, Washington, in 1982! Green was born in Sweden in 1873 and came to the United States in 1892. He went to Tacoma where he was dishwasher, then waiter, and finally manager of a hotel restaurant. He declined an offered interest in the business to study for the ministry.
These several organizations do much to control the behavior of the Swedes, who, in the main are law-abiding citizens. There are, nevertheless, black sheep in the flock. According to a newspaper report, one Swede left his wife and two small children to starve while he enjoyed himself in the pool-halls. He sold the family furniture and kept the money. In a six-month period he gave his family only $15. This same paper, a year later, stated: "Swedish names have during recent months seldom been seen in police reports for drunkenness but during the past week, sorry to say, several Swedes have appeared in police court and have disgraced the nationality to which they belong". Again this paper reported apologetically that two Swedes had brought shame upon themselves when they had tried to drive their automobile through a telephone pole. They had six gallons of whisky in the car and one of the men was intoxicated.
A study of crime and the foreign-born in Portland in 1923 found that Swedes and Norwegians were heavy violators of the prohibition law. A certain predilection for strong drink may be indicated by the fact that in the sampling of registered voters, in order to learn their occupations, there were seventeen Swedish liquor dealers.
The church plays a significant role among Swedish immigrants. In news letters published in Oregon Posten , the Swedish weekly newspaper published in Portland, the items and reports concerning the churches stand out with considerable prominence. One report relative to Colton stated that, "it is te Swede who has built up this community and it is the little church and the faithful congregation that has functioned as the unifying bond which has made accomplishments possible". The colony at Colton is built around the Swedish Lutheran Church which forms the core of the community.
Wherever a group of Swedes settled, small though it was, very shortly a church spire (or even several of them) would rise. The Lutheran Church ranks first, in addition to which there are Baptist, Methodist, and Mission Friend churches. The earliest indication of religious work among the Swedes of Oregon is contained in a report of the Willamette Baptist Association in 1875, thus: "Brother Sandstrom has the leadership of the Scandinavian missions and his work has been blessed". In 1881 Rev. Olaus Okerson came to Portland as an appointee of the Baptist Home Mission society to work among the Scandinavians. A Scandinavian Baptist Church was organized January 1, 1884, with sixteen members. A meeting house was built not far from the Union Station and dedicated on August 1, 1887. In 1894 the name was changed to the First Swedish Baptist Church. In 1905 another building was erected farther from the city center and in 1928 the present site east of the river was occupied.
Baptist Churches were also organized in Astoria, Fish Hawk, Deep Creek, Haley, Tillamook, Warren, Powell Valley, and Cherry Grove. For some time these churches were organized as the Swedish Conference of Oregon, but have for some time now belonged to the Columbia Conference which includes Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia.
The Lutheran Church entered the field when the Augustana Synod began mission work among the Swedes on the Coast in 1879. The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Immanuel Church of Portland was founded December 28, 1879, with twenty Swedish and three Norwegian members. A building was erected in 1882 and in 1905 the present structure was built. The next Lutheran church to appear was organized in Astoria on March 23, 1890, with one Dane, three Norwegians and eleven Swedish members. A Swedish colony had established itself in the wheat county of Morrow and on April 18, 1886, the Valby Church as founded at Ione with seventeen communicants. This church serves a large parish, about forty miles long. Churches were organized in different places until there were fourteen Swedish Lutheran congregations.
The Swedish Mission Friends organized the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church of Portland, October 5, 1887. They also organized churches in Klamath Falls, Marshfield, and Powell Valley. The Swedish Methodist Church in Portland was organized November 18, 1890.
We may assume that the Swedish churches have followed rather closely the population trends for the state. After the migration to the state following the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905, the Swedish churches increased in size. A statistical study of one of the denominations, the Baptist, may be taken as a sample of the total situation so far as the Swedish churches are concerned. This study shows that several small churches were organized only to disappear within a few years, so that only four have extended over any considerable period. It is evident that after 1910 there was a gradual increase in membership until the peak was reached in 1937. At that time a decline set in, except for one of the rural churches. It is probable that this will continue as the immigrant group is passing off the scene and the members of the younger generations, in their desire to lose themselves in the American group, go to the older American churches. This decrease may be offset in some measure by the fact that these churches have dropped the Swedish language and are now receiving members from outside the Swedish constituency.
For some time the Swedish churches have gradually been changing over to the English language. In January of 1921 the Swedish Baptist church of Portland made provision for one preaching service each month in English for the benefit of those young people and children who did not understand the Swedish well enough to gain much from the regular services. Then, in the 1924-32 period, thee were two English services each month and increasingly the English language has come in. While there is felt a responsibility toward those of Swedish birth to provide services for them in the mother tongue, there has come a realization that the church needs to serve those in the community who are not of Swedish ancestry. Prior to December 1, 1936, the minutes of church meetings were kept in Swedish but after that they were written in English by the same clerk.
In keeping with this shift there have been two changes in the name of the church. For many years it was known as the First Swedish Baptist Church. When the present edifice was erected the words "Swedish Baptist Temple" were chiseled above the entrance. This, however, was not the legal name of the church but it indicates a step in the process of change. On October 23, 1942, the name of the church was officially to "Temple Baptist Church".
In 1932 the Bethany Lutheran Church in Warren, organized in 1907, decided to alternate the Sunday services between Swedish and English. Since January, 1937, all services have been conducted in English. At the tenth anniversary celebration speeches were made in both languages.
For many years the Mission Friends Church in Portland had been known as "The Swedish Tabernacle". In 1938, after three years of discussion the word "Swedish" was dropped and the church came to be known as "The Mission Covenant Church". While this congregation was predominantly made up of those of Swedish birth or descent and a considerable number of Swedish-Finns, increasingly those outside the Swedish group have been coming to the church. This has created a difficult situation because the older people tend to cling to things Swedish and it is difficult for them to give up anything that reminds them of their native land. This necessitated a compromise in which both languages were used. The English is gradually gaining more ground, but there is one special occasion, the early morning Christmas service, where the Swedish holds sway. What would Christmas be to many of the older people, if they could not attend that early-morning service and join heartily in singing the beautiful Christmas hymn, "Var hälsad, sköna morgonstund", by the Swedish bishop J.O. Wallin! Since this church broke away from the Swedish language, many have come there from churches that were still clinging to the old-world languages.
The Swedish people of Oregon have shown an interest in governmental affairs and have participated in the political life of the state and locality. Most of the Swedes are Republicans, but they are not of the extremely conservative type, because they have strong leanings toward a socialized system such as they have in Sweden. In a total of 448 registrations in 1910 in the office of the Multnomah County registrar of voters, 352 were Republicans, 40 Democrats, 21 Socialists, 20 Independents, 5 Prohibitionists, 6 gave no party preference, and 4 refused to divulge any information. This is not necessarily an accurate picture of the situation. Oregon is characteristically Republican and the minor parties have little chance. Because of this it would not be unreasonable to conclude that a number with anti-Republican attitudes would not even register. Furthermore, such persons would in all probability be found among the unskilled workers with no fixed abodes from which they might register. Nevertheless, as in many other states, the Swedes of Oregon are overwhelmingly Republican.
A number of Swedes have held public office in the state. Albin Walter Norblad of Astoria was elected to the state senate by an overwhelming majority. He was president of the senate in 1929 and became governor by succession when the governor died. C.A. Applegren, Portland attorney, served in the state legislation in 1913 and Fred Lockley wrote of him: "During his tenure of office he closely studied each question brought before the house and manifested a jealous and watchful regard for public rights, expousing the moral side of every issue. Several others have also served in the state legislature. Such recognition has been a source of pride to the group and they have, in the main, been loyal supporters of their own countrymen. In 1920 scathing remarks were made about him and his legislative record. On the other hand, two other Swedish legislators were commended for their support of good measures.
A number of Swedes are employees of the city of Portland and are giving the Irish a close race on the police force. Hence "it may be Carlson the cop instead of Murphy the cop who fills out your next traffic tag".
Undoubtedly the American-born generation is participating more actively in political life than the immigrants and they have made some valuable contributions. Conrad P. Olson, born and educated in Wisconsin, came to Oregon and shortly was elected to the lower house of the legislature. In 1916 he went to the state senate for four years. While in the senate he introduced a bill to provide kindergartens in cities over 20,000. He also introduced bills to give better treatment to illegitimate children and for dealing with men who deserted their families. He was one of the four-minute speakers for war loans in World War I. He was one of the governors campaign managers, the first one of Swedish ancestry to occupy such a position. He was appointed to the state supreme court by the governor. In 1920 Dr. E.T. Hedlund, the present postmaster in Portland, began to give evidence of interest in politics. In the spring primary of 1920 he was nominated as presidential elector on the Democratic ticket. Shortly thereafter he was elected chairman of the Democratic County Committee. Minnesota-born Gust Anderson, secretary of the Portland Labor Council, served in the legislature in the sessions of 1929 and 1931. He was co-author of the law which provided free text-books for the schools. He was author of the old-age pension law which was not passed before 1933, after meeting defeat in two legislatures. He drafted the yellow-dog contract bill and introduced the anti-injunction bill which was passed in 1933. Iowa-born David E. Lofgren was elected to the state legislature in 1913 and 1919, where he was respected by his fellow legislators for his sincerity and determination to stand by his convictions, even on unpopular issues.
The first Swedish newspaper published in Oregon was a campaign paper, Demokraten, issued in Portland in 1890 at the time of a heated election in order to help busy readers form independent judgments relative to the current political issues through the medium of their own language. Only two issues appeared. In 1892 Democratic campaign funds brought out three numbers of Folkets Röst (The Peoples Voice). In 1894 a weekly, Portland Veckoblad, was issued for some eight months. In October, 1906, an illustrated monthly, Nordvestern (The Northwestern), appeared only to disappear in April, 1907. On January 1, of that same year, a non-sectarian religious newspaper, Härolden (The Herald), came into the field and lasted for two years. In March, 1908, Svenska Oregon Posten came into being and lasted only through six issues, discontinuing in December, 1908. These several attempts which all ended in failure led to a loss of confidence in Swedish papers.
On Oregon 3, 1908, F.W. Lonegren of Seattle arrived in Portland for the purpose of reorganizing and salvaging Svenska Oregon Posten. Lonegren was a printer by trade and under his leadership he organized the Swedish Publishing and Printing Company which was incorporated with thirty stockholders. The first issue of Oregon Posten, the rejuvenated paper, appeared on December 2, 1908. The circulation increased to such a point that the stockholders realized ten per cent on their investments in the first year. At first the paper was a four page, eight column publication. It gradually increased until it had eight pages and seven columns.
The purpose and editorial policy of the paper was well presented in the issue of January 1, 1919. It stated:
"Oregon Posten desires first of all to be a true organ for our countrymens best endeavors here on the Coast. Politically, Oregon Posten will continue to be independent and on the big problems now before us it will endeavor to take the point of view that will be in the interest of the general good.
"The paper endeavored to carry to the local Swedish group news of interest not only from the homeland but from America as well,. It endeavored to perpetuate what was good in the Swedish cultural traditions, while at the same time it was deeply interested in American affairs and aided the immigrants in becoming good Americans. The editor was active in endeavors which touched the Swedish group as well as the larger community. For some time he was a member of the Oregon State Immigration Commission.
The editorial policy as favorable to labor and leaned toward an anti-capitalistic attitude. It was strongly in favor of the Swedish co-operative movement and proposed it as a remedy for some of Americas difficulties. It was opposed to the crude and inhumane methods used by sheriffs in their drive against the I.W.W. which reached its peak about 1917. An editorial called attention to the conservatism and anti-labor attitude of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, and it could see no hope for a solution of the current labor problems under such leadership. The same issue referred to a replacement on the school board and commented unfavorably on the fact that a representative of labor was not selected in view of the fact that the labor element had a majority in the population. This was the first paper in Portland to support Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lonegren refused to accept liquor advertisements and several other papers then followed his lead. He had the courage to stand for what he considered right, not only for Swedes but for all Americans. Neither pecuniary inducements nor intimidations could swerve him from the course he considered to be right. He had been graduated from the University of Lund in Sweden and was a newspaper man from the time of his graduation to the time of his death. He was reporter, editor, and finally publisher. His hobby was flower culture and in that field he was widely recognized. He had a garden with plants from far and wide. He had a good botanical library and was the friend of botanists even in Europe. His column on "Blomsterprat" (Chats about Flowers) was greatly appreciated by many readers.
In the post-war frenzy, the Oregon legislature passed a bill, sponsored by the American Legion, which would practically have forced the foreign-language papers out of existence. Oregon Posten was the spearhead of the drive against this bill. The law went into the courts where it was thrown out and the foreign-language press was saved.
The peak year for the paper was apparently 1912 with a circulation of 3,250. N.W. Ayer and Sons American Newspaper Annual and Directory for 1921 gives the circulation as 2,800. After that year there is no report on the circulation of the paper. In 1932 Mr. Lonegren, because of failing health, gave up his editorial work. His wife, who had been associated with him in the editorship, carried on for some time and then sold out to Svenska Jorunalen of Seattle, and shortly Puget Sound Posten of Tacoma united with the other two papers to form Svenska Posten, the Swedish language paper which now serves the entire Northwest. This paper has a column from Portland which is devoted very largely to items relative to the activities of the Swedish organizations, chiefly Swedish Society Linnea and obituary items. There is some advertising from Portland, but it is not very extensive.
The paper has changed decidedly in recent years. In 1937 it had no English in its columns while in 1946 there is a considerable amount of space devoted to the English language. This shift to English is the characteristic attempt of a foreign-language paper to lengthen its span of life, but it is usually a premonition of impending death.
A visitor to Portland sees no striking indications of foreignness, but nevertheless the Swedish group has made certain impressions in addition to the Swedish group has made certain impressions in addition to the Swedish names which appear on the windows of business establishments in the city center.
Mrs. Alfred Nelson, manager of "A Bit of Sweden" (Portlands original smörgåsbord), has all of Portland beating a path to her door. By educating Portland Americans to an appreciation of Swedish delicacies she has greatly increased the business of Portlands leading importer of Scandinavian groceries. This establishment has an atmosphere which is different from that of an ordinary restaurant. Copper ware from Sweden is displayed attractively around the rooms, providing an old-country, homelike atmosphere. Swedish linens, hand-woven tapestries and paintings by Swedish artists also make their contribution. Charming waitresses, dressed imported Swedish aprons and caps, serve the delectable foods. According to Mrs. Nelson, at least eighty per cent of her customers are non-Swedish. Many are Irish and Italians. Swedes, she says, know how to cook and do not need to go there. No liquor is served and there is no trace of night-club characteristics in "A Bit of Sweden".
It seems that the Swedish people have not been as completely engulfed by the impersonal life of the American city as have those of older American lineage. There is still more of neighborliness and mutual helpfulness which has not been placed completely on a mercenary basis. Among other practices, the "surprise party" is rather common. Old folks are frequently surprised on their birthdays or on other anniversaries and frequently the departing guests leave a purse. A faithful worker in some department of a church is surprised and often receives a substantial gift which pieces out the usually inadequate salary. At weddings, funerals, surprise parties, and other festive occasions original poems are very common. According to a Portland paper:
"Edwin O. Okerstrom is a tailor professionally, but after his days work he is one of the most important links between Portland and Sweden, because not only is he one of the moving forces in the Swedish singing society, but also is an active leader in the preservation of the Swedish folk dances...Ever since he came here in 1925, he has been interested in preservation of the traditional folk songs and dances--particularly in preserving their traditional quality...The dances are beautiful and intricate, and instead of being merely exercises in rhythm, they have a "story" quality in them that makes them almost like ballets."
Undoubtedly Swedish song is the most important and most universally acknowledged contribution made by the Swedish immigrants to our modern cosmopolitan culture. Swedes are noted for their love of singing. Everyone sings in Sweden and song does not die from their lips on arrival in America. Rather, many become more interested than ever in the songs of the homeland. A Swedish immigrant in Portland said:
"Those old songs mean more to us here, I think, than they do to those we left behind, because they do not miss those things for which we have longings. The songs of the homeland hold us Swedish-born Americans together; they are a tie to the old home over there. We never forget the old familiar things of childhood and our songs, especially the ones about homeland scenes and customs, seem to help us over that nostalgic feeling we have at times. We prize these songs, and no one here objects. Our singing concerts and conventions are so dear to us, and yet so popular, because we always render good music. I think that good music means more to us of European birth than it does to most Americans; it is more a part of us. It is significant that you never see a good Swedish song rewritten to make it sound like this "swing" stuff. Why make a good inspiring song over into rubbish!
It seems that wherever a number of Swedes settle together, they sing. Astoria has had a Swedish mens chorus. Colton had an Oratorio Society which gave Gauls "The Holy City" in their own community and also in Portland.
The real musical center, however, is Portland. In the eighties there were occasional Swedish quartets and choruses in Portland, but there was no organized singing of any consequence. In 1889 a male chorus, Lyran (The Lyre), was organized but the majority of the singers were Norwegians. In 1903, Svenaka Sångklubben Columbia (Swedish Song Club Columbia), with twenty-five male voices, was organized and made its first appearance on February 4, 1904. Three months later the chorus gave a concert of its own and since then it has occupied an important place not only in the cultural life of the Swedish community, but in the life of Portland as well. The chorus has given several concerts in the municipal auditorium on which occasions they have presented prominent guest soloists, either of Swedish birth or of Swedish parentage. On March 29, 1919, the Oregonian spoke in glowing praise of the Columbia chorus and Theodore Karle, the guest tenor soloist. The paper said that the director of the chorus "has performed a service for Portland art". On May 30, 1919, the same page was generous in its praise of the concert by the chorus and Joel Mossberg, the visiting soloist.
July 29, 1905, was "Swedish Day" at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland. The Swedish Chorus of Portland invited other Scandinavian singing clubs on the Coast to attend the exposition on that day. Four Swedish choruses and one Norwegian sang separately and then as a massed choir. The local chorus gave a banquet to the visiting singers and set in motion the organization of the United Swedish Singers of the Pacific Coast. This organization held its first convention and song festival in Oakland, California, in 1907. Festivals have been held since then in the several cities on the Coast. In 1903 it was held in Portland when a local paper reported, "Large chorus thrills with masterpiece. Impressions gained from the inspiring epic of Olav Tryggvason, crusader of the North, were intensified when the massed chorus of the Pacific Coast Swedish Singers gave a program...before a large audience at the Auditorium".
Inevitably changes are coming with reference to Swedish music. Indicative of this is the change of name in 1919 of the "Swedish Song Club Columbia" to "Columbia Male Chorus". The Chorus would regularly sing "Stå Stark" by Wennerberg, the Swedish flag song, but in recent years it has appeared only infrequently on programs. Instead, the American National anthem has been given a place. When the Swedish national anthem is sung, it is used because it is good music. It is not a song to which the audience rises, and when it is sung they do not salute the Swedish flag. One of the immigrant singers said:
"The younger generations are coming up and we realize that they have a greater interest in America than in Sweden, and we cater to that inclination. We want to keep them with us and have them carry on an interest in Swedish song, folklore, and history, but we want them to be real Americans as well."
In recent years that have been a number of American-born singers in the chorus, but the songs do not mean the same to them as to the older generation. The activities of the Swedish Male Chorus were seriously curtailed during the War, but with the return of the men the organization has been revived and the first concern was given to an appreciative audience on May 25, 1946.
Many Scandinavian people make the claim that their way of living in the old countries is very much like that in America, consequently their assimilation into the American scheme progresses with ease and rapidity. Since many Swedes could follow their old-country occupations in Oregon, they could adjust themselves quite readily. There was the language barrier, but it was not a serious one. To be sure, in the eighties and nineties man of the older stock called the Swedes "illiterates" because they could not speak the English language and were "green" with reference to American customs. That old attitude, however, is now a thing of the past. The Swedes worked away quietly and entered every phase of the agricultural, industrial, commercial, and professional life of Oregon until they are not accepted with no show of prejudice. One of the indices of the acceptance of the Swedes is intermarriage. We have no accurate data on the amount of this among the Swedish people, but there are indications that a considerable amount of outmarriage is taking place. One of the older immigrants said it seemed that all the young people were marrying outside their group. From time to time marriage announcements in newspapers point in this direction. One man stated that Oregon City had only a few Swedes and so his daughter had married an American. Even though this practice is going on, it is not completely accepted by the group. A news item informs us that:
"George A. Swenson is suing for divorce from his wife Bessie because she called him a "Fool Swede" and refused to prepare meals for him...If Swenson had gotten himself a good Swedish woman as wife, he would doubtless have had good food and meals at the right time. Furthermore, he would not have to apologize for his Swedish food."
Among immigrants, the Swedes have had a high rating in literacy. In Oregon they have a good record with reference to school attendance. Parents are cooperative and attendance officers have few problems there. The children go through the grade schools and a high percentage goes to high school. The Oregon Posten paid considerable attention to Reed College in Portland, an institution with high scholastic standards. In the graduating class of 1919 there were six Swedes. In 1918 a Swedish girl who had graduated from Reed College was awarded a graduate scholarship at Bryn Mawr. She was the first woman graduate of Reed College to receive an eastern scholarship. A considerable number from the group have attended the University of Oregon, Oregon State College and other colleges in the state.
Several immigrants, against great odds, have improved their educational status in America. Waldemar Seton of Portland spent seven years on a night-school law course while working full time. He developed a lucrative law practice and served for some time as a judge. Another Portland man, who was born in Småland in 1881, went to college at the age of thirty-seven when he had a family of two children. But, probably, we should not marvel greatly at that for he said, "To God and a Smålänning all things are possible".
The Swedish organizations have done much to perpetuate the old-world culture, and, at the same time, they have been potent agencies in Americanization. The Scandinavian societies bring their people together in common causes that go beyond their own circle. For instance, in 1940 society Linnea gave a dinner that netted $640 for Finnish relief. The immigrant organizations, however, are slowly but surely passing out of the picture because the needs of the American-born generations differ from those of their elders. Gradually the Swedes are being assimilated and lost in the larger group. There will be some Swedish names continuing for some time, but many of them are disappearing as when Österholm is shortened to Öster which by direct translation becomes East--a name that does not suggest Swedish ancestry.
|Senast uppdaterad 2007-06-17 14:19|