Folkets Vän 85

I'm beginning to think my neighbor, Jack Anderson, is something of a prophet. Here's why: Recently I was looking at a newspaper clipping from the dedication of Stromsburg's arboretum back in 1988. By the way, that would be twenty-five years ago. It mentioned that following the dedication ceremonies there would be refreshments inside Covenant Home, and a scrapbook about the arboretum was among items mentioned.

That roused my curiousity, and I began wondering what became of that scrapbook. The bright and helpful crew at the library took up the question and in a few days had come up with at least part of the answer. The Women's Civic Improvement Program produced some very interesting volumes which resemble scrapbooks, but in fact are carefully crafted entries in the competition for outstanding communities in the state. One such entry, for 1988, had the story of the arboretum (as well as many other interesting efforts that might enjoy looking at it).

In the clipping about the dedication, Jack is quoted as saying, "people will soon forget those who pass on, but the trees which they have planted in this park will be a living monument for generations to come." On the next page is a panoramic picture of the crowd assembled there that day. In looking for familiar faces among that crowd, the impact of the above quote began to sink in.

Arboretum dedication crowd

There were Earl and Adele Byleen. Bill Conrad and Ralph Johnson stood nearby. Paul and Myrna Swanson appear near the center. Bob Kronberg is clearly visible on the right. Now, twenty-five years later those mere twigs scattered here and there have grown into mighty trees. And those familiar faces, though far from being forgotten, are gone now. Seeing those pictures and reading those lines make my walks through the arboretum more meaningful than ever.

You got it right, Jack.



Folkets Vän 86
Affordable care in 1927

The collection of old newspapers in my basement does not include 1927 or 1928, so it's back to the library to read them on microfilm. Have you discovered this treasure, free, right here in our own town?

How about this ad for the new "Home Hospital," Dr. Edstrom's brainchild which made use of the recently vacated Augustana Conference Children's and Old People's Home (now Midwest Covenant Home). Dr. Flippin was put off by this new competitor to his hospital and wrote a lengthy rebuttal to the idea in the paper.

Listed on the staff, in addition to Dr. Edstrom, are Dr. R.L. Minnick (he defeated our relative Eric Forslund for mayor in 1926), Dr. Fred Fouts of Central City, Dr. D.D. King of York, and a consultant from Omaha, Dr. A.D. Dunn. A friend made me aware recently that before the 1920's medicine was practiced primarily through house calls or office visits. Hospitals were strictly a charity provided for the unfortunate. So this notion of a public hospital was something new and different.

"The Clinic meets every Wednesday at 9 A.M., in Dr. Edstrom's office (which was above the present Polk County News offices) and members of the Clinic on other days at the Hospital by call or appointment only." "The institution is modern and equipped with X-ray and Electrical Treatment appliances." It may surprise you to know that one of these Electrical Treatment devices survives right here in Stromsburg at an undisclosed location.

I have saved for the last the bit of news that may astound us most: "Hospital rates are $20.00 to $35.00 per week and that includes general nursing."



Folkets Vän 87
"Let's eat out!"

This would be a good one to read just before dinner, it might make you hungry.

In 1929 the Park Hotel was advertising its Sunday dinners. If you remember eating at the hotel it places you well into middle age if not into the senior citizen category. I can claim to have eaten there more than once, but not in 1929. Here is the menu:

Rice Tomato Soup
Choice of: Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy, Baken Ham with Raisin Sauce, or Breaded Pork Tenderloin
Served with: Mashed Potatoes, June Peas, Pineapple Salad and Hot Parker House Rolls
Finish off with: Apple Pie or Strawberry Short Cake
Tea, Coffee or Milk included
"Phone Reservation Early"

The papers reported some of the diners: Morrills, Scotts, Hunsakers and Bantas to name a few. Though this sounds like what we used to call "the upper crust," they weren't being all that extravagant. The advertised price for the above repast was....fifty cents! I'm having sticker shock in reverse!



Folkets Vän 89
More on Bishop Hill

The last time we wrote about Bishop Hill Colony it appeared that since its neighboring railroad stop of Galva, Illinois, was the home of the Stromsburg Town Company, there must be some connections between Bishop Hill and Stromsburg. There is no doubt that the communal nature of that experiment and the eccentricity of its founder, Eric Jansson cast a dark cloud over its story and prompted many "not to remember" their own connections.

Now, thanks to a book shared with me by Vance Teegerstrom, some of those connections come to light. That book is The History of Bishop Hill by Theo. J. Anderson on the occasion of the centennial observances in 1946 with the story of the 50-year observances included. Among the many pictures is a painted portrait of Eric Jansson's son Eric Johnson. We will have more to say about him shortly. There is also a picture of the monument to Eric Jansson and the son's gravestone beside it.

Eric Johnson

Every few years the descendants and survivors of the colony held reunions there. The Headlight reported that Mrs. Olaf Netsell and a Mrs. Dunn from Osceola attended these reunions. Netsell was among the Galva founders of Stromsburg and an early businessman mentioned often in the papers. Anderson's history lists descendants of the colony; among them are several Nebraskans including one Lillian C. (Hedberg) Erickson of Stromsburg.

But perhaps the most remarkable link turned up in the February 18, 1892 issue of the Headlight, where it is reported that Capt. Eric Johnson started a newspaper in the basement of Boostrom's, under the opera house, which was called "The Progress." The 1972 red book reports: "On December 17, 1891, Eric Johnson became editor of the Stromsburg Progress, owned by the Stromsburg Publication Co., Inc. This company was made up of the following men: S.B. Samuelson, W.O. Johnson, I. Boostrom and L.G. Berggren. The paper lasted until 1892 when it was moved to Clay Center."

Johnson's longest tenure as an editor seems to have been at Holdrege, Nebraska. At the time of the 50th anniversary at Bishop Hill he is living in Texas. He attained the title "Captain" Johnson in the Union Army during the Civil War. No picture of his famous father appears in the book, possibly explained by this quote: "In person, Eric Jansson was tall and angular, while his face was disfigured by a deep scar across the forehead and by the abnormal prominence of his upper incisor teeth." His eloquence and personality evidently overshadowed these cosmetic deficiencies.

Also mentioned is Swedish Methodist Pastor Victor Witting, a Stromsburg visitor who has written another sympathetic essay on Bishop Hill, the home of his own youth. The industry and success of the colony might be expressed in its industrial output: some 169,000 yards of flax linen and carpet between 1848-1860, and the production of up to 100 barrels of flour from its round-the-clock steam mill each day. The sad end of the Bishop Hill saga is the murder of Janssen and the dissolving of the commune into private individual ownership by the 90's. A fascinating story.



Folkets Vän 90
Skogsberghs in Nebraska

When it became evident that the mother of the most famous evangelist of the Swedish Mission Friends, E.A. Skogsbergh, was buried in neighboring Hamilton county in a little country cemetery, things got really interesting. One old book noted that his brother Carl was a member of that community, and so probably farmed near there. What was needed was more evidence. Again we learned that there are many discoveries not far below the surface.

A trip to the Monroe Free Church, next to the cemetery mentioned above, revealed a large group of friendly Nebraskans among whom we singled out someone "our age." We hit the jackpot. Not only did Gene Gustafson recall the Skogsbergh name and the location of their farm, but he reported that his grandfather, A.G. Gustafson was from the same village in Sweden as Skogsbergh and that his attendance at a Skogsbergh revival meeting was a life-changing experience for him.

Gene's research produced old plat maps which confirmed the existence of the Skogsbergh farm and opened a chapter which included several more Skogsberghs. There was Per Skogsbergh, S. Skogsbergh, M. Skogsbergh in addition to C. P. (Carl?) listed as owners in section 21. Now we needed to account for these newfound Skogsberghs!

Enter the Stromsburg Genealogy club with their sharp internet skills. The 1900 census for Monroe precinct...and various links from that information...revealed that Carl Skogsbergh was living there that year, and that he had suffered the loss of his first wife and had remarried Maggie (Johnson) and spent some time in Minneapolis. Among his children and step-children were listed Elizabeth, Victor, Axel, Rakel, Seth, David and Richard. The last-named survived till 1990 and is buried in Palmdale, California. Now we have lots of Skogsberghs! So many in fact that it is hard to know where to go from here.

But the fact is now more firmly established: Skogsberghs were Nebraska farmers.



Folkets Vän 91
Charles Lindberg and Christmas

These seasonal thoughts arise from an account in Hjalmer Sundquist's book, Jesu Auctoritet, (The Authority of Jesus) preserved in the Stromsburg Covenant church archives.

He describes in detail the laborious process of "forskning," or "investigation" into the Biblical texts as he writes in 1932. He likens this process, of which he seems just a little weary, to an example which is powerful.

When Charles Lindbergh was planning his famous transatlantic flight in 1927, he considered the legality of his arrival in Paris without going through the usual customs procedures which he would have oberved had he, say, arrived by boat or crossed a border into France. And so he went to considerable lengths to secure a letter from proper sources authorizing his entry into their country and carried this document with him on his flight.

Now, picture the famous scene at Le Bourget airport where that great multitude of enthusiastic Parisians waited well into the night, and remember the near-hysteria upon his arrival when Lindberg and the plane were mobbed and even endangered by the uncontainable crowd.

The letter mentioned above was forever forgotten.

Sundquist likens the letter to the Scriptural documentation about Jesus. Think about that!

I never before thought of the Le Bourget crowd as representing humanity, or of Lindbergh as a Messianic type, but there is something of an advent lesson here.

The arrival of "the one from above" makes moot all of our documents and investigations! It's Christmas! It's exciting! Have a good one.



Folkets Vän 92
Finding Bethel Church

There has been an occasional mention of a "Bethel church" in the old papers, continuing beyond the dates of the Baptist Bethel chapel west of town. Where was this Bethel church? Finally a note in the Benedict news section revealed that burial was made in the Bethel church cemetery "northeast of Benedict." Though there has been plenty of material to cover in Polk county, this called for a visit to the York County Historical Society.

Their maps revealed the location of Bethel church, now long gone from the scene, and the cemetery. On the Gresham road east of highway 81, just three miles and a bit north. Nancy Beach of the York County Historical Society said "it's like being on the moon." No trees are present, but it should be said that the Bethel cemetery proved to be very well maintained. And it was really not that hard to find.

What was really striking was that the Stromsburg water tower was plainly visible from there. In fact, I'm not sure that the same could be said of Swede Plain or Swede Home cemeteries which are no closer than Bethel. The fact that it is just over the York county line may have caused it to be overlooked by us in Polk county. But what sort of a church was Bethel?

There were headstones bearing English and German names; some Swedes and some hard to determine. The only one I knew personally was Edgar Farley, once a resident of Covenant Home. The York library has a copy of the York County History which was our next objective. There it reveals that the Bethel church and the Lutheran church of Benedict were sister parishes and sometimes served by the same minister. They were of the German Evangelical denomination.

The German Evangelicals were immigrants whose churches were supported in part by Germany's "Church of the Prussian Union," a royal mandate uniting Lutheran and Reformed Germans. We learned about this while living in Iowa and being members of one of their churches. This was before the days of the Missouri Synod, which we now think of as "German Lutheran."

Being so close to Benedict, it was inevitable that the two churches would combine. The early maps reveal something else of interest. Bethel church was there before the railroad went through, and so was also there before Benedict. What we have called the Benedict Lutheran church was actually a rural church as well, to the west. Some of the German Evangelicals ended up in the ELCA like Benedict, others are now UCC, like the church in Walnut, Iowa. Does anyone have a picture of Bethel?



Folkets Vän 93
Finding Mapps

On occasion the old papers mention someone from "Mapps" in a way that suggests it was near here. Then came news of a derailment of the southbound train "between Benedict and Mapps." Was there a place called Mapps along the Burlington? Now there were two questions to ask the York County historians about: where was Bethel church and where was Mapps?

Both questions were quickly answered, with reference to old maps of York county. There was a railroad siding along the Burlington between Benedict and York, a little like Durant up on the Union Pacific, and it was called Mapps. There was a grain elevator there. The Mapps family name appears on more than one farm in the area including the ground on which the elevator was located. Was it a private elevator or a cooperative like Durant?

Little places from olden times can so easily slip between the cracks of history and be lost. Less than a mile west of Highway 81 from the Fillman place, some trees and grain bins mark the location of Mapps. No railroad siding remains. If you go around the section north you will see the biggest pile of cobs you ever saw. Many is the time we passed Mapps and did not even know it.

Discovering places like Mapps seems always to lead to something just a bit further down the line. Those old maps show a United Brethren church and cemetery just a few miles west and south of Mapps. Was this the Lincoln Valley church we have seen mentioned? Stay tuned.



Folkets Vän 94
Farmor's shoe

This story begins with a wooden shoe, a family heirloom from the province of Skåne (pronounced "Skony"), Sweden. It belonged to "morfar's mor" (mother's father's mother) who came to America as an old widowed woman to live with her son's family at the end of her life. My mother heard her aunts refer to it as "farmor's shoe," which baffled her since to her it sounded like "farmer's shoe."

Her son, Nels Johnson, built a special room addition to his family farm house as an apartment for his elderly mother and brought her to America. It turns out that this kind of thing was not the exception, but rather the rule. My paternal great-grandparents were also brought to America by their children and lived out their days in the same place: Wausa, Nebraska.

The details of their immigration have just emerged in the last two years. When Grandpa John came over, the first of the family to do so, he became a citizen and went to work for Eric Forslund on the Morrill farm. Immediately after marrying Eric's wife's sister, he and his bride went back to Sweden for the purpose of convincing both sets of parents to come to America. This they did in short order. We have learned they went to the same church in Sweden. Eric had also brought his father to Stromsburg. His father-in-law, Carl Johnson, lived into his nineties and spent most of his life in the Forslund household.

It is clear that the generation of immigrants were thinking not just of themselves or their offspring when seeking a better life in a new land. They were also thinking of their elders. One can imagine what an experience it would be for senior citizens to relocate in a strange new place with different language and customs. Certainly the appeal of better living conditions would not have been enough. It was the powerful appeal of being with their children and grandchildren that would have made the difference.

There are more examples. The Rodines on father's mother's side came to America earlier than most of my relatives: they, too, brought their elders to the "promised land." Your family probably has similar stories. It is good to think of and remember the names of those beloved family members who would not, who could not, be left behind.



Folkets Vän 95
That chair

Some chairs have stories, other chairs are just chairs. Old guys like me have favorite chairs. My list just grew by one more.

One of those first really cold mornings this winter, I had to rub my eyes to believe what they were seeing. Across the street in the driveway of one of the neighbors was a little furniture arrangement. Two chairs, an end table and lamp. Wouldn't you wonder, too?

You'll understand if I say that furniture generally is not part of my department in the household. But this furniture had instant recognizability; it was from Midwest Covenant Home back in the day when we first came there...1975. It had more of a commercial look rather than residential. Sort of like the seats in a fast-food restaurant where they really don't want you to stay too long. The colors on the upholstery were not what you would find in a house either: bright orange, yellow or blue. In spite of these things, they weren’t really uncomfortable and I always enjoyed sitting in them while visiting with a resident or family visitor.

Since that was nearing forty years ago you might think that these items would be past worn out. Sure, there were a few nicks and scratches, but the cushions were very nearly like new and the frames could be touched up. That's the way commercial furniture is supposed to last. You might be familiar with this furniture from their days at the Viking Center, which is where they went when Covenant Home remodeled in the eighties.

Anyway, the thought that I might get my hands on one of these chairs for Dalakarl headquarters in the basement put me right on the phone to the neighbors. Not home. Gone out of state. But thanks to cell phones, someone got word to them that there was mysterious furniture in their driveway. I played right into a prank, I think. The happy ending to the story is that when they came home I was offered any or all of the furniture and now have already spent many happy hours in my "new" chair reminiscing...which is what I do best.

Also I've been contacting friends from the old days to see if they wouldn’t want to have such a piece of memorabilia from Covenant Home. No takers. What is it with you ladies and commercial furniture? It's so durable!



Folkets Vän 96
Coming of the Air Age

Most everyone knows about the late, lamented airport out by the cemetery, and a few old-timers tell of a landing strip south of town where world war two surplus planes roared over disturbing Sunday morning worship. But the old papers reveal that the roaring began well before that, during the roaring twenties.

A gent one mile north of town accommodated aviators on his place, and one event held there featured captured world war one enemy planes. That would most likely have been the vaunted Fokker D-7 which influenced fighter design for a decade or more after the war and was carefully studied by U.S. aviation companies. Imagining a Fokker circling over Stromsburg!

Later in the decade it was two miles west of town where airplane rides and demonstrations were held. A pilot named Moline advertised that two Travelair biplanes would be present. Travelairs were made in Kansas by a company founded by Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna and Lloyd Stearman. Each went on to fame in their own companies. The Travelair owed so much of its lineage to the Fokkers that they were used as stand-ins for them in the movie, Wings.

In a memorable photo, the paper showed one of the Travelairs having crashed into a house in Polk, the tail sticking up in the air. No one was hurt in the accident, attributed to an “air pocket,” but the next week Moline was down to one Travelair.

Just where the airmail route went depends on which account you read. North of Osceola is one option, near Benedict is another, and Stromsburg would not be left out as indicated by the painting of the town’s name in forty foot letters atop the Moore-Hunsaker lumber yard shed. The town received a commendation from the Selfridge Field Michigan Army pursuit squadron who spotted the sign on their way to California maneuvers. A picture of a permanent tower and beacon west of Benedict tilts the argument in their favor. An airmail pilot had to land there in the fog one night, and proceeded with his mailbags by rail.

A trimotor airliner was spotted over Stromsburg, prompting editor Chattie Coleman to wonder, “what could be next?”



Folkets Vän 97
Pictures from Sweden...of Stromsburg

A "staycation" is like a "vacation" but one you spend at home. Our pastor recently talked about it in a sermon. That's not a vacation at all, you say? Well, let's see what some of the options are. Let's say that a vacation is visiting new places and new things never before seen, being refreshed by them and being inspired to new ideas and activities.

With that definition, I think I have an example of a "staycation" that fills the bill. Google Earth is a magic carpet even better than a magic carpet (less wind, better seats) in making visits to new places possible. Let's take a moment to remember one hundred plus years ago when the stream of "green" Swedes was flowing in. One ship crossed the Atlantic with the Greenwall family aboard...all but John and sister Anna Nordstrom who were here already. On that ship were some Johnsons; Lovisa Mathilda was one. Her sister Anna became Mrs. John A. Sundberg. Her distant descendant is Kristina Granath, who in her interest in Stromsburg has contacted the Sundberg descendants. She is sending pictures back to be identified. Some are of the Sundberg ancestors; but a couple have been of the Morrill estate, one clearly showing Grandpa John's brother-in-law Eric Forslund and his two daughters.

How did these pictures come to be in the possession of these Johnsons? Kristina has the answer, along with our other Swedish resource, Margareta Sjögren. They all lived in the same neighborhood in Sweden; Forslunds and his future wife and Grandpa's future wife right across the road from each other! To top it off, she sent a satellite picture identifying these places. Greenwalls were not far away, as were the Nordstroms. Kristina says her Grandparents lived for a time in the old Greenwall house at Jularbo which is familiar to us from the old pictures. These connections are beyond remarkable.

The Forslund place was called "Ängsholm" which means "meadowhaven." Johnson's place was just called "Johnson's place" by Kristina. The road separating them is "Dickaväg" (Dicka road) running from "Dickasjön" (Lake Dicka) eastward. I have no idea how the lake came to be so named, but do you remember the Swedish stories about the three little girls, "Flicka, Ricka and Dicka?" Maybe they came from here, too.

When I look at these views from space, and drop down to street view to see the red cottages and outbuildings, the fields and trees, even a bicycle rider going by, I am inspired indeed. I'm a believer in "staycations."



Folkets Vän 98
Anton Cedarholm

In 1930 the Swedish Baptist evangelist, Anton Cedarholm, came to Polk county for a series of evangelistic meetings to be held in the new high school auditorium. This was a joint effort sponsored by the Covenant, Baptist and Methodist churches. Rev. Cedarholm's campaign was more highly organized than some of the earlier visits by evangelists. He had extensive newspaper publicity pieces printed well in advance proclaiming his ability in lofty terms. He is "an associate of R.A. Torrey" was one of the claims. At Polk, great aunt Lavina Rodine Hanquist hosted Revs. Cedarholm and Hedbloom for dinner, part of the hospitality committee, no doubt.

The name Anton Cedarholm resonates with me because he was still evangelizing in 1961 when he could be heard on the Moody Bible Institute's radio station in Chicago. He had a distinctive "delivery," particularly when signing off..."this is An-tone Cedar-holm" he would say in a drawn-out monotone. Our friend Rev. Bert Lovain's wife Lorraine had a story about Cedarholm. She was a student at Trinity in Chicago about to return home after the school year, when Cedarholm made an impassioned appeal for money from listeners, "or his program would be ended." So moved by this, Lorraine sent him $10 of her last $25, which meant she would have to hitchhike the last fifteen miles on her trip home...the remainder of her funds would only take her that far. I hope Cedarholm appreciated that.

Part of the more polished technique of the Cedarholm campaigns was to canvas the community for funds before he came, so that offerings would not be part of the meetings...except for a gratuity offering for the evangelist. This was duly organized and achieved. But it was not to be. A polio scare caused the county health board, which had considerable sway in those days, to forbid any and all public meetings just at the time the campaign was scheduled! Donated funds were dutifully refunded to the givers. What is it they say about "the best laid plans?"



Folkets Vän 99
Castles and Castiles

The Peter Castle center for studies in emigration to America is a Swedish institution of great interest. What is of significance to us today is a name which appears in Stromsburg history with a slightly different spelling…”Castile”. Here is the story:

The earliest group to come in numbers to Iowa from Sweden was led by one Peter Castle and formed the community of New Sweden, Iowa, north of Lockridge. I will shamelessly refer you to the New Sweden section of to read all about this fascinating mile in southeast Iowa which contains Swedish Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist sites. Castle is buried in the Methodist cemetery there, but his influence extended back to Sweden in the promotional letters he wrote to encourage fellow-Swedes to come to America. Sweden’s recognition of this influence is apparent in the name of the institution devoted to the emigration. The subsequent Swede Point (Madrid) and Swede Bend (Stratford) Iowa communities grew out of this original New Sweden community, one of the earliest in the midwest.

Editor Chattie Coleman in 1931 began a series of stories on Stromsburg businesses, and the picture accompanying the First National Bank story reminded us of the “Daylight Store” which surrounded the bank on the street level with the banner: “Wilson-Castile.” Wilson, of course, was one of the Wilson clan. But who was Castile? His 1936 obituary holds a clue: “John Castile was born December 4, 1853, in Jefferson county in the state of Iowa.”

Recently we revealed that Capt. Eric Johnson was indeed the son of the somewhat notorious “prophet” Eric Jansson of the Bishop Hill commune, and a brief resident of Stromsburg when he edited the “Progress” paper. The change in the spelling of his name obscured his heritage.

Do we have another example of such an obscured connection here? I’d be willing to wager that this John Castile is a descendant of Peter Castle of New Sweden, Iowa, with a similarly slight change in the spelling of his last name. Jefferson county Iowa, you see, is the location of New Sweden, home of the Castles.



Folkets Vän 100 "A Funny Mixup"

A story which appeared in 1931 under the heading, "A Funny Mixup" may still be amusing today. It went like this:

"The disappearance of a Chrysler car belonging to Albert J. Johnson, from its parking at the square last Friday afternoon caused some excitement and the owner notified the sheriff and telephone messages were sent to neighboring towns. The supposition was that the car had been stolen, but in the evening the mystery was cleared when it was found that Mr. Holm residing west of Osceola had made a mistake and drove home Mr. Johnson's car. His son discovered the mistake, and the car returned to the owner. Both cars had been parked on the same street and both were Chrysler cars. Mr. Holm did not notice that he had the wrong car till he arrived home."

Then followed, we presume, some embarrassed calls to said sheriff and neighboring towns. Some observations about an event such as this: Did the introduction of ignition keys do more to prevent thefts, or to keep people from getting in someone else's car and driving it away? If the keys were left in the car, as probably happened here, it wouldn't help.

It was the youngster who noticed something different...some detail that missed dad's eye. Dad was of the generation that looked at the team tied by the rail first, not the buggy. You looked at the horse, the horse looked at you, and you knew each other. With no team, it was confusing. Buggies, and cars, look alike.



Folkets Vän 101
More about Captain Eric Johnson

There had been mention of a "Capt. Eric Johnson" in the papers occasionally, but only recently did we discover that this early resident of Stromsburg and briefly a local newspaper publisher was in fact the son of the illustrious and somewhat notorious "prophet," Erik Jansson of the Bishop Hill commune in Illinois. Now, as if on cue, more information surfaces in the current issue of The Swedish-American Historical Quarterly.

This publication, a Christmas gift from my son, Mitch, contained an article entitled "A Visit with Erik Jansson's Son in Sacramento, California, 1915" by James M. Kaplan. From it we learn some interesting things about the son, and confirm what we already knew about the Stromsburg connection. Of the change in spelling of his last name, we might observed that the Swedish pronunciation of both is exactly the same: "yonson."

"His career as a journalist is both long and honorable, and the rest of his life story is perhaps even more remarkable. He is the son of Erik Jansson about whom more has been written and said than any other Swede, the founder of the religious sect called the Erik Janssonites and who in Illinois in the middle of the last century founded the settlement Bishop Hill. Already from childhood Eric Johnson led a more interesting life than any Swede I know. The sect is well known to the older generation; in its day it attracted great attention both in Sweden and here. There were a lot of similarities between Erik Jansson, the father of Capt. Eric Johnson, and the founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith. Both of them asserted that they had received revelations and were chosen by God himself as prophets and that they, as God's chosen, would bring all humanity under their protection..."

The reporter for a Chicago Swedish newspaper assigned to cover the 1915 World's Fair at San Francisco also discovered more details about Eric Johnson's military career: "On 16 September 1861, Eric Johnson enlisted as a soldier in Company D of the 57th Illinois Regiment. When this company was organized, Johnson was designated as Lieutenant. It should be noted here that this company was comprised exclusively of Swedes, and they called themselves Carl XII's Merry Men. The first matter that Lieut. Johnson and his Merry Men participated in was the siege and capture of Fort Donelson. The second was the renowned Battle of Shiloh, where Johnson showed such bravery that he was promoted to Captain, a title which he uses to this day."

Following the Civil War, he was involved in newspaper publishing in Galva and Chicago and added politics to his resume in Illinois, serving as secretary of the state legislature. "Then Capt. Johnson took a position at the War Department in Washington, which he did for three years, and in 1885 moved to Stromsburg, Nebraska, where he published the English language newspaper, Republican. He also published a newspaper in Holdrege in the same state. In 1888, he was elected to the Nebraska legislature, was named chief clerk in 1891 and reelected in 1898 to the same office, winning every single vote in that legislature, both Democrats, Republicans and Populists."

This new information is of great interest, particularly the statesmanship of Johnson, but there is some question about the name of the paper he published in Stromsburg. Our last article about him said: "But perhaps the most remarkable link turned up in the February 18, 1892, issue of the Headlight, where it is reported that Capt. Eric Johnson started a newspaper in the basement of Boostrom's, under the opera house, which was called 'The Progress.' The 1972 red book reports: 'On December 17, 1891, Eric Johnson became editor of the Stromsburg Progress, owned by the Stromsburg Publication Co., Inc. This company was made up of the following men: S.B. Samuelson, W.O. Johnson, I. Boostrom and L.G. Berggren. The paper lasted until 1892 when it was moved to Clay Center.'"

Referring back to the 1972 book clarifies the discrepancy. He was actually involved with two papers. The first paper he edited was the S.C. Beach/Calmar McCune Republican which he purchased in 1884 with C.J. Lindstrom. In 1886 he sold out to Lindstrom but the paper only lasted till 1889 until sold again. The 1891 Progress venture lasted an even shorter time, but we read that his Holdrege newspaper endured for quite a while. By the time of the Bishop Hill 50th anniversary, Johnson has reportedly relocated from California to Texas. He was a man on the move. Wouldn't it be interesting to know where he lived while in Stromsburg?

Of interest, too, is that of the many newspaper locations reported by Chattie Coleman Westinius, the Johnson paper was located in the basement of Boostrom's. We'll imagine hearing the presses clattering as we dine at the Senior Center today!



Folkets Vän 102
A Stromsburg Diners' Guide

There seem to be different "takes" on the new Subway eatery, incidently located on the site of the first business house in Stromsburg. One friend holds that it means too much competition with locals, another went ahead and got a job there. A piece in the 1931 paper made me think of this:

"The latest building in Stromsburg is the new hamburger stand on the Meridian Highway, just south of the Nordberg Filling station." (that was the place long known as Johnson Chrysler-Plymouth) "This makes two stands on the Highway within a block. On the opposite corner is the Hotel", (most of us remember that) "a half block east the Reno Cafe and one door further the bakery. On the east side of the square is the City Cafe and on the north side a half block off the Highway, the North Side Cafe, then just east of the Headlight office the Shipferling bakery and Lunch Room. A block north from the northwest corner of the square is the Colson Boarding house and a block south from the southwest corner, Mrs. Saint serves meals. The Dawes rooming house one block south of the southeast corner of the square serves meals, besides numerous private boarding houses in town. Who says we have to go hungry or cook our own meals?"

Who indeed! Today the Senior Center serves meals at about the same location as the Reno Cafe...I remember Ethel Westinius from Covenant Home days who earlier ran the Reno Cafe with her husband. There was a Grandma's Cafe on the east side but I don't know if it was the same location as the City Cafe mentioned above. The Corner Cafe is the fitting name for the restaurant at the southwest corner of the square, the one I tend to think of as "Dorothy's." The hotel is but a memory, but food can still be eaten at that location thanks to the Parkview Cafe/Dairy Inn. The old Dairy Inn now gives haircuts. For a time you could even get broasted chicken at the old Parkview across from Buckley Park.

I don't know if Colson's Boarding house is the same as the Dodds House, but incidently it is true that Orville Dodds could do a mean chicken fried steak. At coffee time there are even more choices; 4th Street Coffee House, Caseys, DonLedens and Bob Berggren serves up delightful fare at the Rose Colored Glass on occasion. There may be selected businesses and offices with a coffee pot going most times. On Sunday there's Fellowship Time at the churches. And if you were fortunate to have a Grandma living here; well, that just couldn't be beat. I'm even married to one.



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