Front row sitting: Adah, Alvin, Swain and Sophia Nelson.
Back row standing: Seymour and Annie Nelson, Anders and Selma (Nelson) Gyllenhaal, Emelia Nelson.
The importance of Swain Nelson for the Gyllenhaal Family Tree Project lies in the fact that Swain's eldest daughter Selma married Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal (1842-1905), the Swedish immigrant who became the patriarch of the American branch of the Gyllenhaal family. The photo album of Swain's son Seymour and Seymour's wife Annie Nelson reveals just how closely the Gyllenhaal and the Nelson families were connected. (See The Marcia Henderson Pendleton Photograph Collection.) Both families were started by Swedish men who immigrated to America and settled in Chicago and later in Glenview, Illinois. The two men had similar (and unusual) religious backgrounds--both were devout Swedenborgians in a country where the official state church was Lutheran. And both men were instrumental in founding of the Immanuel Church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborgian), which continues operating to this day in Glenview, Illinois. The two families appear in many photographs together, and for a time in Chicago the Gyllenhaals lived on a property owned by Swain Nelson. The two men, together with other Gyllenhaals and Nelsons, are now buried in the Northfield Oakwood Cemetery beneath headstones of identical design.
The "Autobiography of Swain Nelson" reproduced below apparently went through at least one previous draft before reaching its present form. Swain's granddaughter Gertrude took notes while Swain told his story. These notes were apparently later turned into the final draft on which the transcript below is based. The manuscript was carefully assigned page numbers, and it appears to be complete (page 94, the last one, ends halfway down the page). Many of the marginal notations appear to refer to an earlier draft of the document. But the story of Swain's life ends earlier than we might wish, before the move "out to the country" in the 1890s to what is now the town of Glenview. There is a related document in the Academy of the New Church Archives, housed in the Swedenborg Library in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. It is a typescript entitled, "The Saga of Swain Nelson and Sons: Compiled from Swain Nelson's Memoirs and Other Data." This document was dictated by Seymour Nelson, Swain's eldest son, to Antonette Lindrooth, and it draws heavily from the autobiography of Swain reproduced below. Unfortunately it, too, ends early, during the trip to Sweden undertaken by Alvin Nelson (this 1889 trip is alluded to on page 21 of Swain's autobiography). But in this case it is clear that a portion of the document is missing (the last page ends in mid-sentence). If anyone has information about the location of a complete version of "The Saga of Swain Nelson and Sons," please contact the Gyllenhaal Family Tree Project.
Copies of the "Autobiography of Swain Nelson" reside in the Gyllenhaal Family Tree Project Archives and the Academy of the New Church Archives, both in Bryn Athyn, PA. The location of the original is unknown to me.
--Ed Gyllenhaal, March 2001, The Gyllenhaal Family Tree Project
This autobiography was written for Alvin's children 1
Related by father to Gertrude who wrote it down on these following pages -
Page 1 - 1/3 way down
(1) Autobiography of Swain Nelson.
My father and mother were religious people. They went regularly to the Lutheran Church.
My father had a limited education, but he was honored and respected by all who knew him. He had a position a[s] superintendent of a small estate called Christinelund 2 [sp?] belonging to a larger one. On this formerly mentioned estate I was born, on a very cold day, January 30 1828.
My earliest recollection was a visit to my grand-parents on my father's side. I remember they had a large orchard, with delicious pears. The next early recollection was when my father took me to a private (2) school, about 15 miles from my home. The most that I remember about that school, is that during the winter we had so much snow that the house I lived in, was covered with a snow drift up to the roof. I think I had only remained there one school term when my father took me home.
At home nothing particular happened till one day a blind man whose name was Hoppman, and a 12 year old boy Peter Kjellberg came to sell book and almanacks. The boy led the blind man, who carried on his back a violin in a bag made of fox skins.
Hoppman was a particular friend 3
(3) of my father, and remained at our house several days. During his stay the two men conversed about the education of us children, 2 girls and 3 boys, and the result was that my father called about 12 of the small farmers that belonged to the estate, to our house, to learn of them if they would like to have Mr. Hoppman teach their children. For my father was always interested in the welfare of his neighbor's children. Peter could teach them writing, and arithmetic, while Mr. Hoppman would administer reading, spelling, and mental arithmetic. They all liked the plan, for we had no public school in our part [of the] (4) country, at that time.
The farmers had only from 10 to 15 acres of land each, with the addition of a living house and some barns. In place of money for rent, each man did so many days work on the estate which my father had charge of. The ammount [sic] of work, each did, was according to the value of his little farm.
Each farmer had only one large room in which to live, cook, eat, and sleep. And some had a chicken roost in the corner.
The arrangment [sic] made with Mr. Hoppman, was to move the school from house to house, the number of days at each being bargained according to the number of children attending (5) school from that family. I believe it was a week for each pupil. In addition the farmer agreed to board Mr. Hoppman and Peter, the week the school was at his house.
I remember having delightful times in this school, and Peter, being my own age, became a life friend to me.
I believe Mr. Hoppman taught this school 2 years. You may be sure many incidents happened, with the school and the family in the same room. One time he was playing on his violin and we children were singing, when a rooster in the corner of the room concluded to try his voice too.
That made Mr. Hoppman angry, an[d] (6)4 he tried to stop the fool [?], but that alarmed the hens, and the result was that the poultry had to be removed to other quarters during school session. You may believe we boys enjoyed the sport, which we afterwards had to pay for.
It happened one time during Mr. Hoppmans [sic] teaching school at our house that one of his little daughters Sophie came to see him. She was the prettiest girl I had ever seen, and I liked to play with her, but she was shy with me. It happened shortly afterwards that I was allowed to go with Peter to their home which was 10 of our miles + [?] 2 Swedish miles away. A farmer living near Mr. Hoppman's house, had allowed the latter to plant potatoes on a portion of his field, and (7) while I was there we children were sent out to hoe them.
Sophie had two sisters younger than herself, Sarah, and Amanda. She also had one brother Peter, and her before-mentioned cousin Peter Kjellberg.
When we were working, and felt in a mood to play, the way Sophie reasoned with us, and told us that there were times to play, and also times to work, and that that was a time to work, impressed me that she was a good, sensible little girl.
At the end of the second year Mr. Hoppman made arrangments [sic] with a watch maker, for his nephew Peter to learn that trade, so he could not continue to teach any longer.
(8) By that time my father concluded to buy a farm. His intentions were to to [sic] teach us boys farming himself. He had only a little money but he had good credit, and could borrow.
This farm was located in Åraslöf about 15 miles from Christinelund [sp?].
My father then sent my mother and us children to care for the farm while he kept his former position.
The first years it was hard for my father to meet the expences [sic], and he was often pressed for money. I remember one summer we became short of flour for bread, and had to wait for the rye to ripen. Probly [sic] about a month we had potatoes and meat, but I never was so hungry for bread
We had Public Schools, at this village and I attended during the winter, and worked on the farm in the Summer season. I enjoyed the farming very much.
An accident happened one day, when I was climbing over a picket fence. My left leg became fastened between the pickets, and I over-balanced, and could not get away on account of my leg. When I was lifted off of the gate, I found my leg was broken.
In the year of my accident I was sent back to Christinelund, where my father had the possition as superintendent. I went to the Parish Paster [sic] to be instructed as Christinelund belonged, and afterwards (10)6 confirmed a member of the Lutheran Church, for my father and mother still belonged to that Parish. It is called (?) Fjellkestad's Socken, or parish.
I think I worked on my father's farm about four years. Three winter months during the last two years, I had the experience of making potato whiskey, for my father conceived the idea of converting part of the product of the farm into that liquor, thinking it would bring more money.
So he procured a license and bought a small distiller, for the government permitted the manufacture of whisky. But soon my father discontinued this industry, as the tax on it was increased, and it (11) became unprofitable for small distillers.
It happened one day when Mr. Hoppman was visiting at our home in Årastöf, that my father told him that although I liked farm work, I was not quite strong enough. Mr. Hoppman suggested that Horticulture work did not need as hard labor as agriculture. The consequences were that I secured a possition [sic] as an apprentice on a large estate called Vanås. I liked this place well enough, but I could not get along with the head gardner [sic]. And, as he did not teach me anything, I did not stay the full term. So on the 24 of Oct. (12)7 I quitted.
I thought then of going to Germany for the advancement of my profession, so I made arrangments [sic] with the professor on the estate, for instruction in the German language. I then bought the necessary books for this study, together with some on gardening.
I also secured a room in neighboring village, for the winter, and provided myself with provisions, such as as [sic] bread, dried beef, & pork. I then studdied [sic] very religiously.
During my apprenticeship, I had further oppertunity [sic] to get acquainted with that little girl I had seen before. By this time (13) she had grown to be a beautiful woman. I found that Mrs. Hoppman, her mother, had secured a possition [sic] on the same estate, to have charge of the dairy, the Count having previously caused her to be instructed.
The family were given one large room to live in, with the addition of a kitchen. They were also provided with a number of bushels of rye for bread, and firewood, but meat and other neccessaries [sic] had to be provided for by spinning flax or wool, or any other work. The family, consisting of 3 daughters Sophie, Sarah, and Amanda; And and [sic] the one son Peter, together with Mr. & Mrs. Hoppman; lived slept, & worked in this (14) one room.
I often visited the family in the evening, when my work was done, and enjoyed it very much. Those evenings were occupied in this way.
Mrs. Hoppman and Sophie would spin flax, and Sarah would read aloud a novel, or any light literature, especially for Mr. Hoppman. Sometimes he would play on his violin and Sophie would sing one of the many folk songs that her father had taught her, at my request.
Thus the evenings passed with delight, independent of the outside world.
But one thing happened that made (15) me very sorry, and also angry. Sophie became engaged to be married, to a rich man from Stockholm. I had only seen this man once, but I got a strong dislike for him. It was to me as if a hawk had got hold of a dove, for I could not believe she could be happy with him. I scolded her parents for giving their consent. They wondered why I was disturbed about it when I had no claim on her.
I never spoke to Sophie about him, but she found out herself that she couldn't love him so she broke the engagement.
After I began my studies I did not visit the family so often. Partly because I lived over one mile from, their home, (16) also because I was occupied with my studies.
Still, she was often in my mind, and after some time, when an opertune [sic] moment came, I ventured to tell her that I loved her. She very kindly answered that she could only love me as a friend.
This did not satisfy me, but I was not in a position to press my case further.
When Spring came I went home to my father's farm. My plan of going to Germany became changed, partly because I had not the necessary money, and partly because she was so much in my mind.
So I concluded to cultivate part (17) of my father's farm for garden products, such as I could sell in Christianstad, with a view to secure a home for I knew my father was willing.
So I commenced imediatly [sic] to prepare the ground, and I succeded [sic] so well that I had a good sale the first year.
This encouraged me so that I intended to lay my plans before her, with the hope that she would change her attitude towards me, for, altho [sic] I visited her a few times in Christianstad I never had a chance to do so.
Then it happened that she got a place near Stockholm, as a Countes's [sic] ladies maid.
That delayed my communication (18) with her, but after a time I made up my mind to write to her, and press more ardently, my love for her.
After I had the letter ready I took it with me to Christianstad on a visit to my friend Kjelberg. I asked him for Sophie's address. He said if I would give him the letter he would address it, and mail it to her.
I awaited anxiously an answer. Yes, I waited months and months, but no answer came. I had given up my intention of going to Germany and hardly knew what to do.
At this time there was great excitement in our parish, about going to America, & I began to think I would (19) like to go. But I had not the money, and my father could not spare that much, so I went to my friend Kjelberg in Christianstad, He advised me strongly to go, and said he would loan me the money.
My parents did not greatly object to my going, tho [sic] my father was afraid I was not phycially [sic] strong enough to take care of my-self.
I was 23 years old, and concluded that I would go. So I bought an English Lexicon, and other English books, and commenced to study, though I did not learn much. But I found when I came to America, that the German I had learned, was a great help to me.
Another important event happened (20)8 during the time I was home. One day Mr. Hoppman made a visit to our house, and brought some of Swedenborg's books with him. I believe professor Kahl in Lund had sent them to Mr. Hoppman, and he was very enthusiastic about them. He talked of them to my father, and left one book for us to read. I remember that my father was not opposed to them though he was afraid to investigate, but my mother was much opposed. I was the only one that could see the truth expressed in them.
My friend Kjelberg was also very enthusiastic about this new Doctrine which strengthened my affection for him. Through him they also formed (21) a New Church circle in Christianstad. Kjelberg had by this time built up a prosperous business so that he himself engaged a proffesor [sic] to translate Swedenborg's books. I think he did it at his own expence [sic].
I also think your Grandma said that Divine Providence was translated into Swedish by him.
When your father was in Europe he also visited Kjelberg's family. He found them very interesting, but their father had neglected to have his children instructed in the New Church Doctrine. You can ask your father about it.
Early in the Spring of 1852 the people from our Parish that intended to emigrate (22) to America, formed an agreement to go together on one ship. I think we were about 20. The ship we were to take passage on was a new one, not quite completed.
We had to provide ourselves with provisions for 90 days. My mother had provided us (that is Olof Benson and myself) with bread, smoked pork & dried beef, also 2 blankets & 2 pillows. For I had promised to pay for my cousin. The ship furnished only bunks filled with straw, and water, for the passage.
It was agreed for us all to meet a certain day, with all our luggage at the parish Church. From there we had wagons to take us to the nearest place where we could get fishing boats to Gothenborg.
(23) When the time came I sent Benson with our teamster [sp.?] and luggage, to the meeting place, for I wanted to walk across the meadow I had walked so many times before. A feeling came over me that perhaps I would never see my family again, and I was almost ready to go back. I kneeled down under a tree, and prayed the Lords prayer and when I rose up I had new courage.
After we all got on the fishing boat a storm arose, and I became so very sea-sick that I did not care if the boat went down or not. Finally the captain had to bring the boat to the shore, and bring all his passangers [sic] into a fisherman's hut, where we stayed the next day till the storm abated a little (24) when we went to Gottenborg.
We found that the ship was not ready and we were taken to a large loft over a ware-house, and were furnished with straw for bedding. I improved my time by doing garden work.
When we finally got on the vesel [sic], we were furnished with bunks of straw.
Nothing particular happened the 7 weeks we were on the water, and we landed safely in New York.
Most of the passengers from our Parish bought rail-road fares to Illinois, but I was short of money, for I had loaned some to a lady with a family. She expected her husband to meet her in New York, and for some reason he failed to come. She gave me her husband's (25)9 address, and promised to send the money to my address when I could give it to her. I received that money in Defiance Ohio, at a time I needed it very much.
We traveled on railroad from New York to Toledo, from there we bought passage to Defiance on a Packet [sp.?] Canal boat used for passangers [sic] only.
I shall always remember that delightful ride. The boat glided so gracefully between fields and woods with beautiful foliage. It was like a beautiful panorama.
This was on a bright Sunday, and we arrived at Defiance late in the evening. We then secured lodgeing [sic] in an Irish house with a provision store below.
It happened the first evening (26) in the house that I went down in the store to have a 2 1/2 dollar gold piece changed. I also wanted to buy a few sheets of paper. I put my gold piece on the counter, and when I wanted it to pay for the paper, the money had disappeared.
I was then left without any money, and could not explain things to the owner of the house because I could not talk English. And it was probly [sic] as well, for we lived and boarded in the house over two weeks, and he did not call for the board money.
The reason I have for believing my credit was good, was because I had an old Swedish Post trunk (27)10 round and bound with 3 straps of iron, and locked with 3 padlocks.
I started the next day for the country to seek for work. It was the harvest time and I thought I should have no difficulty in getting work.
I always called at the farm house at noon so as to meet the farmer. But when I asked for work the answer always was that they could not use me, but I was always invited for dinner.
I walked every day for a week, and the second week I found work in loading sod or clay in an excavation of a basement for a large (28)11 building. The weather was very warm, and I perspired profusely but was not uncomfortable by it. About this time I sent Benson out in the country to get work for himself. He succeeded in getting a a very good place with a farmer, where he also had the privaledg [sic] of going to school.
When the excavation was finished, after setling [sic] for my board bill, I had to look for other work.
I heard that there was a company in the woods about 8 miles from Defiance; framing timber to build locks with.
I walked down to the place and applied for work, but as I was not (29) a carpenter the foreman said he could only use me for one part of the work, which was so hard that no one would work at it more than five hours at a time. It consisted of operating a machine that had an auger bit fastened in it by which you could bore a hole in the timber much faster than the old way. It had to be worked with arms, foreward [sic] and backward.
I worked at this about 3 weeks, but I became so stiff in the arms and shoulders that I could not take my coat off or on, but had to be helped.
Then I got sick with the ague, and had a very strong fever. One (30) day I heard a man talking to the fore-man [sic] about me. "What are you going to do with the man if he dies here?" he asked. The froman [sic] was a rough uncultivated man. He answered and said: "I will throw him in the canal close by." I suppose he thought I did not understand him, but I did, and it was a very uncomfortable feeling for a sick man with a strong fever.
The forman [sic] continually offered me medicine, which I positively refused. The medicine they used was Quinine.
I don't remember how long I lived in this camp, but finally I got well enough to walk (31)12 back to defiance. I went to the same boarding house I was at when I came. I also had my trunk and clothes there.
After a few days I found a place with a farmer, to husk corn. It only lasted till the winter became to cold, then I went back to town again.
After a (?) time I went [?] the Tavern, and got a place there, to take care of horses, at the time when the farmer wanted to to go to town. He would saddle a horse, and take a saddle bag with him, and put in things that he wanted to buy, such as sugar, groceries, and medicine, [sp.?] these he would take home with him.
The roads were full of deep mud (32)13 and I have often seen two hundred saddle horses in town, but not a single wagon team.
My work was to clean the horses belonging to the farmers that stopped over night at the tavern. The horses legs would be covered with sticky clay mud, all the way up.
After a few days I was taken sick again. The tavern keeper threatened to take my watch for board money, but his wife would not let him. She was an elderly lady, and would come up in to my room herself, bringing dainty food to eat and she would wash my face and hands, and rub my head, and comfort me with motherly sympathy. It made me feel much better, and (33)14 when I got well I worked there the rest of the winter.
It happened on Sunday, in the Spring of my second year in America, while I was walking along the Miami river, at Defiance; a thought came so strongly to my mind, about her whom I so loved, that I kneeled down under one of those large trees, and prayed to the Lord to give me her for a wife. I believed at that time He would grant it. I experianced [sic] a strong feeling that any prayer would be granted, and I was as sure of it as if it had been spoken audibly. That state remained with me for some time.
But new scemes [sic] presented themselves, and this first incident passed out of my mind. But the (34)15 Lord's hand held me back.
In this connection, wonderful to me after I was married I never spoke to my wife about this incident, till it happened after we had been at the meeting at Beach Haven, we returned to Philadelphia. We were invited to stay at Dr. Starkey's house. At supper one lady asked me how I got my wife. I answered that I courted her in Sweden, but she refused me. After I came America I prayed the Lord to give me here for a wife. My wife then spoke up. "He never told me that" she said. We had then been married over twenty years.
A few days after, I was at Mr. Pitcairn's house. Mr. Pitcairn asked me the same (35) question.
This was the first time we had traveled together after our marriage.
I dont [sic] remember if I wrote to Mr. Hoppman before or after this event, but I wrote to him about how things appeared to me in America. He sent that letter to his daughter Sophie. She was then living with the Countess. By that means she got my address, and I soon received a letter from her, apologizing for not answering my letter, which she did not receive till after I had left Sweden for America. She also wrote that if I was still of the same mind in regard to the question I asked her, she would (36) consider it. It did not take me long to answer her, and the result was, after some correspondence, she promised to marry me. This was in the summer of 1854. Sophie was then living with the countess near Stockholm, and could not terminate her services, till the following Oct. 24, according to Swedish laws. The she went home, intending to make herself ready for the American trip next Spring, but she got sick with the Ague, and could not get well the whole summer. She had medicine from promanent [sic] Phycians [sic], without being cured. Then she happened to hear of a young man that practiced Homeopathy. With much success (37) she applied to him and gradually improved and finally got well. And she never had the Ague since. That was the reason for her strong belief in Homeopathy.
I was then living in Defiance. I forgot to mention the practice of Homeopathy was not allowed in Sweden at that time. The young man mentioned got his books and medicine from Germany.
In the Spring of 1854 I got a possition [sic] from a contractor, to take care of his cow that is, to take the cow to the pasture in the morning, and take her back in the evening, and milk her. For that I would get my board and my lodging, and in addition (38) I could cultivate a piece of ground containing about 8 acreds, that he owned, and make what I could out of it. That furnished me with work for that Summer, which was the second summer in America or 1854.
I forgot to mention that I made the aquaintence [sic] of a Presbyterrian [sic] minister when I first came to Defiance, and that I always went to his Church, for I wanted to learn good English. I remember the singular experience I had when I first heard him preach, for I could not understand a single word of it, and it sounded to my ears as if someone (39)16 were dropping peas in a metal plate.
After I became more used to him, I began to recognize words and sentences, and after some time I could follow his serman [sic] through. He spoke good English.
Early in the Autumn I started to work for a German hardware merchant, in whose house I lived.
I don't remember how long I worked for him, I think about a month, when I got the ague again.
The merchant said if I could only sit up and watch the store when he went out, he would (40)17 not expect more, but I could not even do that.
He found me one day living by the basement, on sheet iron plates, and got very angry. He said it was very dangerous, and sent me to his home about a miles walk.
It was a warm Autumn day, and hot in the sun, and after walking part of the way, I got so tired that I sat down on the wooden side-walk, and fell asleep.
A German cigar maker came and woke me up, and said:
"Man, this is not place for you, in the sun! Come with me to the next corner, for I have a lounge in my cigar store (41) that you may sleep on.["]
After sleeping over night in the store, I felt much better. The cigar man then told me I could stay there as long as I wanted.
In a couple of days I expected the fever to return, but I escaped it.
Then I began to think it might be a good thing for me to learn cigar making. In this the cigar man encouraged me.
I began by stripping tobacco for covers, [sp. ?] and then learned to make fillers, and finally to roll it into a cigar.
(42) I worked at this about 3 months, but I found I could never make a success of it, because my fingers were so crooked.
Of course I got no money for my work, and had [to] pay for my board provisions, & though the latter at that time were very cheap, namely a loaf of bread for 5 cents, a lb. Of butter for 6 cents, yet I had developed such a strong appetite, and had so little money, that it was hard to make both ends meet.
It is remarkable that I did not have the ague any more, and that I haven't had it ever since.
Although I could smoke cigars if I wished, I did not smoke a single one, for I was afraid (43)18 because, at the time of my apprenticeship I smoked cigars with the other boys, and got very sick.
I wonder if the oder [sic] of tobacco was the cure of the ague.
When the Spring came I got restless ? in the cigar store, and secured the work of improving the grounds around the house of a banker in Defiance.
When this was finished I got a possition [sic] from a doctor by the name of Allan, to do chores around the house, such as cutting the firewood, taking care of his team of horses, milking and taking care of the cow, and sometimes driving (44)19 for the doctor in the country. I also had to take care of a meeting hall, by cutting wood, and making a fire, also sweeping it after every meeting. For this I received my board and lodging, and was promised 4 dollars a month, though I only succeded [sic] in getting about two dollars. The rest he owes me yet. The doctor was a very kind man, but it was hard for him to collect the money necessary for his family although he had a large country practice - 20 and a drug store. He had a nice family, and I felt much at home there.
It happened while I worked for him, that he introduced me to his friend Mr. Shefield - (top of page) (45)21 who had talked to the doctor about his farm, and said that he was very much disappointed because he had bought it for the purpose of growing apples. He had planted apple trees in the fall and in the Spring, but in both seasons they had died, (see top of page) and he could not understand (?)
So the doctor suggested that Mr. Shefield take me over to see the farm.
When he took me, we examined the ground, and I told him that it looked to me as if it would be good for an apple orchard.
Then he wanted me to explain to him, why his trees had failed to (46) grow, when there were other apple trees already growing on the farm. I told him I could tell him why his planting had failed, and would examine the roots of the living trees and find the cause of their growth.
So I got a pick-ax, for the ground was as hard as brick, and made a hole over two feet deep, before I found a root. I then showed him the root, and told him it would soon die.
He said he had noticed that some were already dieing [sic].
As regards his own planting, he had neglected sufficient cultivation. I told him to mark out the number of trees he wanted to plant, and for each, have his man dig a (47) round hole six feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, and place a foot of the top soil on one side of the hole, and a foot of clay on the other, and leave it open till he was ready to plant.
He marked out for 1000 trees which we planted the following Spring. (Up the side of page 29)
That summer I started for Chicago but I left my clothes in my trunk with the doctor's family.
When I arrived in Chicago, I accidently [sic] walked into Mr. F.A. Bryan's drug store, being the best known in the city. It told him I was a gardner [sic] looking for work. He said he was building a new house (48) and would like to have his grounds improved, so he offered to meet me at his new house next morning.
I met him as agreed the day before, and proposed to double dig the whole ground.
He became so interested in the work, that he took off his coat, and we worked together in the ditch.
He also invited me to dine with his family.
After about two days work he got tired and returned to his drug store, and his hired man [and] I had to do the cultivating.
When this was done, I laid out, and built walks, planted ornamental trees and shrubs, and seeded his ground.
(49) That was my first work in Chicago. Then Mr. Bryan said that if I had cards printed 'Landscape Gardener', he would keep them in his store, and destribute [sic] them, and make me known to his friends.
That was a great help to me, and I continued to have the benefit of his drug store, till it was burnt by the great Chicago Fire.
One Sunday, when I was working on his place he told me to come with him and we would drive out to the country, to Dr. Kennicot's place and select shrubs and roses for his place. I found Dr. Kennicot a naturalist, he had among other things a collection of snakes walled in (50) with cobble stones, a whole room filled with butterflies pinned to the wall and many other specimens.22 Dr. Kennicott was a particular friend of Mr. Bryan, we were treated royally among other things I noticed Dr. Kennicot [sp. ?] had two very beautiful daughters. Well when we got through with our visit it was late in the day, and it took most [?] of the night before we got home.
After I got through with Mr. Bryan's work, I continued to get small jobs. I soon found that I would have to have help in order to make any profit . In the Spring of 1857 I happened to have a large job and I expected to have a good profit, at that time I received a letter from Sophie that she expected (51) to arrive in New York together with two girl friends. I had so much work I could not leave to meet her. So I wrote to Benson to come and I sent him to New York to meet her and her friends and conduct them to Chicago[.] [E]verything promised well till one day Mr. Pomery['s] warehouse full of grain burned and Mr. Pomery was unable to pay his bills about $700 dollars. That was more money than I had saved, this happened after Sophie had arrived and I thought we would have to put off our wedding, but Sophie said we had better get married and she would do the best she could.
She was willing to help all she could, we happened to get acquainted with an English family, that wanted (52) to give up housekeeping and wanted to sell their furniture, we looked it over, and were pleased with it especially the crockery ware it had been brought from England. I proposed to buy the furniture if he could wait for the purchase money, a little while which was agreed. I think the price was $100. We rented two small room[s] on the back part of a house on Randolph Street near Carpenter Street. And Sophie began to get ready. She lived with the family by the name of Wholferstet [sp. ?] the same family we rented the rooms from. Sophie made her own trousseau and she looked beautiful in her wedding apparel, although it was made of cheap material. We were married (53) by Dr. Hibbard July 17th 1857 - on a very warm day (on a Friday). Sophie's favorite day. We were serenaded in the evening by the boys at the boarding house where I boarded, we invited them up in our rooms and Sophie was asked to sing a Swedish Song, which she did. Then she gave them each a piece of the wedding cake. Mr. Benson my cousin wished to attend the High School and we agreed boarding him. After finishing High School he lived with us until the beginning of the civil war, where he voluntered [sic] and served till the end of the war. He came home and lived with us again, till he got married and shortly after became my partner.
(54) I kept on getting small jobs as before. One day I was walking and looking for work I found a pile of bricks in one enclosure of 20 acres.
I found the name of the owner was James Waller a Southern gentleman. I called at his office and gave him my card and solicited work to improve his ground, he told me to suggest a way how I could improve it. I asked for a sheet of paper. I sat down to a table and drew rough pencil sketched the way I would lay out the grounds. The place where the pile of bricks lay was a little elevation about 50 ft. from the road back of this elevation was a ravine a depression about 4 feet and beyond this ravine (55) was the ground rising 3 or 4 feet higher.
I placed the house on the drawing about 200 feet further on the [blank space] from the brick pile on the highest part of the ground. I drew a graceful drive from the road over the ravine to the location of the house and beyond the house to the barn and green houses. He took the plan and looked at it then he remarked to some gentle man in the office, here is a man with only ordinary education he is conveying to my mind with his pencil sketch a plan that he could not have explained to me by any amount of talking, he proposes to change the location of my house 200 ft. further from the road on a higher ground and he is right.23 Mr. Waller told (56) me to mark out the drive on the ground also mark the location for the house and barn, he approved of the plan and gave me his work making drives and planting trees, it was a good work, and I made good profit from it. I also made good friends with the family. A circumstance happened which was very unpleasant, we had a Swedish gardener who boarded with us, he was superintending the work at Mr. Waller's place. He became very sick, my wife attended him and gave him homaepathic [sic] medicine. We called Dr. Seymour, he told us the man had Small-pox. I don't remember what he said but he did not recommend any place we could have taken him, but he (57) vaccinated us and my wife continued to take [care] of him, and she was not afraid.
Your uncle Seymour was a baby at that time, none of us had any bad effect from it.
The times began to be hard. Banks were braking [sic]. The money we used was only paper money, and when we got a dollar bill you would not know if it was worth 100 cents or only 50 cents, you would have to go to the bank to find out how much that dollar bill was worth to day.
People anticipated war if any change in the administration was made and it looked like Mr. Lincoln would be elected. At this time I had done considerable work for a Dr. Dyer[,] a New Churchman, when I presented my bill to him, he said he could not pay (58) me any money, but he said he would give me an order for iron on an iron merchant which I might sell to some manufacturing establishment. I took the order and went to the firm of Furst [sp. ?] and Bradly plow manufactures. Thinking I could sell the iron order to them because I was acquainted with them, but Mr. Furst said he had so much iron on hand, that he would be glad if he could sell some of it. I tried to sell it to other firms for much less than the amount it called for. Dr. Dyer was one of the rich men, he had much land. I was very much in need of money. I had no work and no money and the grocery man had told my wife, that we could have no more groceries until we paid our bill.
(59) Your uncle Seymour was a baby at that time. I hardly knew what to do. A few days afterwards I met Mr. James Waller on the street he called me, he said he had heard that Mr. Thomas B. Bryan had bought the land next to his land and residence and intended to lay out a cemetary [sic] on it and naturally I don't like it, I wish you could find out. I called on Mr. Bryan the next day and gave him my card, and told him that I had heard that he was intending to lay out a cemetary [sic] and I came to solicit the work. I told him I had done Mr. James Wallers [sic] work. He was much astonished he said he had not bought the land yet, he kept me in his office talking on various subjects. When I started to go, he called me (60) back, he said would you like to have the use of a little money, it startled me how could he know it was the very thing I needed. [H]e said I have $40,000 in the bank below his office was over Sca[?]ions bank. I told him I was a stranger to you but if you will let me have $50.00 I will be much thankful for it. [H]e made out a due bill for me to sign, and then wrote out a check.
I never was so glad for a little money. In a short time Mr. Bryan sent a letter for me to call at his office, when I met him in the office he said he had now bought the land and he wanted me to me[e]t him at his office next morning and we would go out together and look over the land. Next morning I saddled my riding horse and rode (61) to his office where he found me riding on horse back, he also secured a riding horse from the livery stable. We were riding about 5 miles from the city on a very sandy road.24 When we came to the land he had bought , we rode all over it. Mr. Bryan had his plans made for the entrance and office and a straight road to a given point from that point he wanted me to suggest a road where I thought it ought to be. We rode together over the route, then he told me to mark it out and let him know where I had marked it out and I will come & see it.
The next day I got my man with a team and a small load of sticks and we marked out the road (that is the center road in Graceland Cemetary [sic]).
The land was covered with small oaks[.] (62) [W]hen I had the road marked out I made an appointment with Mr. Bryan, we went out together. Mr. Bryan approved of the location, then he wanted me to make a bide [sic] for grubing [sic] out the Oak trees and grading and making the road bed. I made a low bide [sic] for I needed the work and labor was very cheap. And to be paid in gold.25 So I made a reasonable profit any way when I had the road finished. Mr. Bryan suggested where he wanted the second road made and I marked it out the same as the first, made a bide [sic] on it which was accepted, when I had finished the same he wanted me to make another road, then I told him I could not work any longer without a plan, well he said make a plan.
(63) I started to work out the whole ground in fifty feet squares and marked out the roads. I had already made on the plan and also the one I suggested to make and submitted to him the plan which he approved of, then he told me to mark the road on the ground and he would come out and look at it, and make a bid for the construction of the same which was accepted. I also found gravel on the ground and I proposed to cover the roads with gravel which he accepted. This together with other work gave me occupation between 2 & 3 years in the hardest times on account of the expectation of war. After Lincoln was elected President things went on as before - people began thinking the scare would pass over - till one (64)26 day the papers reported firing on Fort Sumpter, then it became great activity for manufacturing of war materials, and other works was also becoming more active. I found plenty of work but men were scarce and high priced. I did some work for some Jews at good prices and they were so eager to pay almost before the work was fully completed, for they were afraid the government money would depreciate. As one of them told me afterwards.
After the closing of the war the business was quick. One day I saw advertisment [sic] for plans for improving of Union, and Lincoln Park.
I started right of [sic] to make a plan for Union Park and thought I had succeeded in making a good one, which I (65) submitted to the Park committee of Aldermen.
I had not attempted to make a plan of Lincoln Park because I had seen in the paper that the city engineer had made an elaborate plan. But the committee after I had submitted my plan for Union Park asked me to made one also for Lincoln Park. I remarked that the time was too short. He said he would extend the time, my cousin Benson was then come home from the War, so I sent him to the ground to take measurements,27 and observations for I had never seen the ground before. I started right off to make the plan, but the time was limited, so I had to make a less finished plan. I hardly expected it to be accepted, but they were both accepted. I got $200.00 for the plan.
(66) Then the committee asked me to make specifications and they advertised for bids, my bid was the lowest, it was very simple. I bid 50 cent cubic yard for excavation for the lake and 35 cents square yard for making the road with clay and gravel and 15 cent square yard for surfacing and seeding the lawns, the city engineer to do the measuring. I was awarded the contract for the improving of both Union & Lincoln Park[,] by this time I took Benson in as partner. I counted particularly on his help as having better knowledge of the English Language. He had then lately been married. We started immediately to work on Lincoln Park. I borrowed money from a friend to buy mules and barracks at Camp Douglas. (67) They were being sold by the government. [B]y this means I got lumber to build stables also much of the lumber used for building Benson's house which we built on the Park ground. [F]or Benson to live in and board the teamsters, the ground was enclosed with a high picket fence being part of the cemetary [sic], so that very few people knew that any work was being done inside the cemetary [sic] afterwards called Lincoln Park.
We first formed and excavated the lakes and distributed the material from the excavations and then we made roads[,] in the 3rd year we began to shape the surface. One day the alderman Iver [sp. ?] Larsen the principal promoter of the Park came to me and said he wished I would take down (68) the fence and open the Park to the Public so that he could get appropriations large enough to pay for the work for there was much opposition to Park improvement by many in the council that perfered [sic] Street improvement. Mr Iver Larsen had encouraged me to proceed with the work much beyond the appropriation so I had to borrow money at high rate of interest.
Well we fixed up the Park temporary best we could and we had a notice placed in Saturdays paper inviting the public to visit Lincoln Park. The next Sunday the Park was crowded full with carriages and people on foot. People were astonished they had never expected to see a park in Chicago. The papers published extravagant praise in favor of the Park, from that time on the Park (69) was always filled with people on Sundays.
I think it was largely due to this excitement that the people the year afterwards voted with so large a majority in favor of parks for the West and South Sides. About this time mr. Falk and his wife Sarah and their children Sophie, Marie, Amanda & Hulda together with Falks [sic] Mother and also Peter Hoffman and his wife arrived from Sweden, we built a house for Mr. Falk in Lincoln Park and we employed him as foreman in Lincoln Park and his wife boarded the teamsters because Mrs. Benson wished to be relieved from that work. Mr. Peter Hoffman did various work in the way of painting. After we had the Pavilion built in Lincoln Park Peter had charge of it. We continued to work in the Park on (70) our contract with the city and by the time we were finished a new Lincoln Park commissioner was appointed by the Governor for new laws had been made and the people had voted with large majority in favor of having parks made on the West and South Sides, also for the enlarging of Lincoln Park. While the commissioners for Lincoln Park were arranging tax levy for the Park the Chicago Fire happened that made it necessary to postpone taxes for the Park. So the commissioners made arrangement with us to take care of the Park Summer & Winter, that is to keep the roads in repair and sprinkled. Mowed and taking care of the lawns. To keep the ice in order during the Winter.
By permission we built a nice pavilion it was built against a hill, with the (71) front facing the water - thus the front was all glass windows fronting on the water, we also formed a grotto under the hill, by this means we emphasized the hight [sic] of the hill, here we served refreshments especially ice cream, we also made small boats, which we rented out. We had a little income from this enterprise. Our agreement with the commissioners was for a stipulated price per day for the team and also for the labor.28
In the Chicago Fire we lost our barns also two dwelling houses that we had built near the Park, we only received part insurance for them because most of the insurances [sic] companies went into bankruptcy. We started right of [sic] to build barns for the horses. We commenced to haul and plant large forest trees. (72 ) (that is Elms trees) on the burnt resident part of the city. We also planted large forest elms on Ashland Ave. for a man by the name of Sam Walker, he owned most of the land fronting on the avenue and he conceived of the plan to make a Boulevard effect by having the whole avenue planted with large trees, he was reported worth more than a million dollars.
In the beginning of the work he paid very promptly, but afterwards he would make his checks dated a week a head, and if the check was not paid by the bank, when presented, he would make another same as the first one, till one day his affairs were placed in Bankruptcy court, hew was owing us $17.000 Dollars. We happened to buy much valuable land with heavy indebtedness.
We also lost in another bankruptcy case (73) $5000 dollars. It was a very hard panic.
By this time the West Park commissioners advertised for bids for excavation of lakes in Douglas Park. And I bid on the work and my bid was the lowest.
By this time - Uncle Johnson and his wife - and daughter Emma, also Mrs. Hoffman my wifes [sic] mother arrived from Sweden. Mrs. Hoffman was 45 yrs [sic] old at that time your papa was a little boy and Grandma tried to teach him Swedish[.] After awhile he could explain things to her that she wanted to know. He used to stand at her knees and talk with Grandma. She lived 10 years after she came here. She lived mostly with us. She visited occasionally her other two daughters Amanda Johnson & Sarah Falk.
I made arrangements with Uncle Johnson (74) to superintend the work in Douglas Park. We built a large building in Douglas Park in the East end. Mr. Johnson & his wife, should live, in the middle of the building was a large room for dining room & kitchen on the West end was the mens [sic] sleeping quarters. We also built barns for the horses. Here Mr. Johnson lived several years. In the Spring we got contracts to plant large forest trees which work Mr. Johnson also superintended. I continued having contract work in West Side Parks until about 1878 when a new Park commissioner was appointed by the governor. Which commissioner for some reason were stopped from collecting park taxes, consequently I could get no settlement from him.
I had agreed with the former Park29 commissioner to take land as park (75) payment for trees I had planted. The Park owed me 25 lots valued at $500.00 for each lot also a voucher for cash $2.000. I had borrowed money and left my contract for these lots as security and consequently in the panic of 1877-78-79- when the commissioners finally settled with me I had to let the lots go to the party I had borrowed money from for about $250 per lot, because I could not redeem them. I had borrowed much money from Mr. Jungé Savings Bank, but by getting settlement with the Park commissioners I was able to pay my indebtedness to the bank and also to help Mr. Jungé. So that when the bank was closed the bank owed my $200.00 and Mr. Jungé indebtedness to the bank was paid. My borrowing from Mr. Junge bank was material (76) benifit [sic], I paid 10% which yielded a good profit to the bank. During the years 1861 to 1877 my deposits were over $60.000.00. Mr. Jungé help to me was very much appreciated. One time I had a large voucher for money from the village of Hyde Park which30 I could not sell to the bank which Mr. Junge sold for me for a reasonable discount. In all my dealings with Mr. Jungé we had no misunderstanding, we remai[n]d firm friends to the end of Mr. Jungé's life. When the Lincoln Park commissioners got ready to operate the Park, Benson was offered the office of superintendent of Lincoln Park, which position he accepted. I continued to take contracts in my own name in Lincoln park, and in the West Side parks as before, I also did a good deal of work at Elmhurst for Mr. Lathrope. L. B. Bryan brother [in] law, I also did (77) work for Mr. Hagew [sp. ?] & Seth Hodham & Rockwood Bros. [sp. ?] in Elmhurst. I continued Park work till about 1893. We bought the land in Glen View. It happened that Mr. H. L. Burnham was advised by his physician to move his family into the country on account of his children not thriving well in the city. I believe Mr. Burnham rented a farm house from Mr. Clavey, he learned that Mr. Clavey would like to sell his 40 acres farm, that led the Immanuel Church to buy it[.] [A]t the time, I did not think we could move out right of [sic] on account of our business in the City, but when I found we could buy the Kinder Farm, we bought it right of [sic].31
We had been working for land in other directions for nursery use, we found this farm land well suited. My wife was much interested in this move, and here we are now.
I am now come to write about the history (78) of the Church in Chicago in 1857 my wife and myself became members of the Chicago Society of the New Jerusalem, we worshiped for some years in a small wooden church building on the South Side. I think it was on South State St, the Society had a large lot on Wabash Ave & Adam St given the Society by the Canal Trusties. The society was now large, at the church services new people would come a few times and then not come anymore, the society very slowly increased in number. Dr. J. R. Hibbard was our pastor[.] In 1859 & 1860 the society built a large and handsome church building on part of their lot on Adam St. After the building of the church the Society grew in numbers there was many strong New Church families belonging to the Society. But Dr. Hibbard could not get the young people interested. The war happened after we had our new Church built, but it did not make much difference (79) with the attendance on the Sunday service. The Church socials were always mixed with outside people. After the war nothing unusual happened till about 1869 Dr. Hibbard got a leave of absence for 3 years32 on account of his health during this time he traveled in Europe. The Society got a minister by the name of Mr. Noble for the time of Dr. Hibbard['s] absence. Mr. Noble was not well liked he was mixed with Spiritualism. Some of the young people and those that did not like Mr. Hibbard formed a 2nd Society and called Mr. Mercer for this paster [sp. ?] and most of the Chicago Soc. Went to his church. Mr. Mercer was an eloquent preacher but unsound doctrinally the result was that few attended Mr. Noble's services. When Mr. Hibbard came home after the great fire, he found his church burned and his society divided, but one thing must have been a consolation to him, he (80) had found a new wife, his former wife had been dead about ten years. In 1872 the Chicago Society sold the property where the Church had been standing. And also other lots belonging to the Society and received a large sum of money, with this they bought a large lot on the South Side corner of 18th St. & Prairie Ave., also a lot on the West Side on Washington Blvd. [sp. ?] & on Lincoln Park. On these lots the society commenced building on the West Side they built a large church but only finished the basement.33 For the present use on the South Side they built on a temporary building. On the North Side Mr. Benson & myself built also a temporary building in which Benson held Sunday School (Mr. Benson studied one year with Mr. Hibbard for the ministry)[.] When the building[s] were ready to use the executive (81) committee of the Chicago Soc. Passed a resolution that each congregation that is the South & West Sides, that each make a separate arrangement with the Pastor for his compensation for the Chicago Soc. Will not be responsible for any debts contracted by the congregation. Dr. Hibbard accepted the condition and said he would take the offerings on Sundays for the present. I have been told Dr. Hibbard had a salary of $2500 a year from the Chicago Soc[.] before he went to Europe. Dr. Hibbard commenced preaching on South Side in the morning, and the West Side in the afternoon. Dr. Hibbard could not get back many of the members of the Chicago Soc[.] that were used to attend Mr. Mercer's church, consequently he had only a small attendance at the services on the South Side. And on the West Side only a small number, some of them stayed away from Sunday Service because it was held in the afternoon.
(82) Dr. Hibbard kept on preaching on the South & West Sides without any unusual happenings till one day Mr. Jungé suggested to me we ought to ask Dr. Hibbard to give some special instruction to our young people. So we asked Dr. Hibbard and he said he would be glad to do it, but he was afraid the young people would not come, but he would try. I believe he succeeded in forming a very interesting class, it was held at Mr. Jungé's[,] I think Friday evenings. Dr. Hibbard said he was much pleased with the young people. One day I think it was in the year of 1876 Dr. Hibbard informed us that he was intending to move to Phila. And we would have to look for another minister. Dr. Hibbard gave us the names of 2 candidates, but said we would not be able to pay for their services. Then he said there was a young man by the name of W. F. Pendleton from Phila. I think he would be willing to come (83) for what we would be able to pay. But said Dr. Hibbard he is not very strong and I do not think he will be able to do the work. I think Dr. Hibbard had in mind preaching on the South & West Sides. At that time Mr. Bostock was in Phila. Studying for the ministry he wrote to Mr. C. F. Junge recommending Mr. Pendleton to us, the result was that Mr. Junge, Mr. Orlando Blackman and my self wrote to Mr. Pendleton asking him if he would come and preach for us on a trial. [H]e wrote back that he would come and preach for us 3 months for a stipulated sum which I do not remember.34
Well Mr. Pendleton came without his family but in a short time he sent for them to come on, when Mr. Pendleton first came he also preached on the South Side. Mr. Scamon [sp. ?] said he liked Mr. Pendleton, but he said we cannot get our ladies to come and hear him. Mr. Pendleton had a (84) remarkable faculty of winning the affection of the young people, they were eager for instruction, before Mr. Pendleton had finished his 3 month term the young people were ready to follow him.
When Mr. Pendleton had filled his term agreed on he called the gentlemen of the congregation together to learn if they wanted him to keep on preaching for them he said he was willing to take the voluntary offerings for his compensation the question with him was, were we willing to have him as our Pastor. The result was that a meeting was called of the whole congregation, at that meeting a discussion came up about the janitor if the Pastor gets all the offering, how is the janitor to be paid. Some one suggested the janitor be paid first, and the Pastor get what is left. There was a feeling with some that Mr. Pendleton was not the man to build up (85) the society from the outside. The following Sunday after the meeting when the offering was counted, and the amount for the janitor put aside there was only one cent left of course that was not offered. In the following week Mr. Pendleton made the acquaintance with Mr. T. Forest and he had a very delightful meeting35 with Mr. Forest[,] he encouraged him that is Mr. Pendleton for he had at that time thought of leaving the ministry and take up other uses. Mr. Forest thought he could get the use of the North Side chapel and he told Mr. Pendleton to go over in the Park and call on Benson. Mr. Pendleton saw Mr. Benson and made the arrangements to preach there. The next Sunday Mr. Pendleton preached a powerful sermon on the West Side. After the services Mr. Pendleton (86) said he had decided to terminate his work with us, but he would preach next Sunday, on the North Side chapel, for those who wished to hear him. After Mr. Pendleton had finished Mr. Blackman arose and said he intended to have Sunday School and perhaps some reading in this place and he asked how many would com. I told him I would go with the young people.
The young people had formed a strong affection for Mr. Pendleton and it is mostly their credit that the Academy work was kept alive[.] I think they numbered about 15 or 16. Mr. Pendleton kept on preaching on the North Side chapel to a congregation of about 30 some times more. He also continued to preach on the North Side as long as he was with us.
(87) One day I met Mr. Blackman on the street I asked him how he got along with his Sunday School, he was much discouraged[.] I invited him to come over to our house next Thursday evening to hear Mr. Pendleton talk on a subject that I thought would interest him, he came and was very much affected, after the meeting he called Mr. Pendleton aside and thanked him. Mr. Pendleton answered him that he had not done any thing for him, Mr. Blackman said you left me alone, what he meant by that he did not explain. But he was a changed man, after a short time arrangements were made to have church services on the West Side again and continued as long as he was with us.
After Mr. Pendleton had been preaching for us about a year he called Mr. Forest[,] (88) Mr. Blackman and myself together and told us that the offering on Sunday were so irregular, that he could not meet his expenses with regularity. I don't remember if he said how much he received, but he said he needed $1000 a year to meet his expenses and he wished that we would guarantee that sum, which we did. It was afterward increased to $1200. When Mr. Pendleton commenced teaching day school your father attended that school also your aunt Annie. When the offering ran behind Mr. Pendleton would call us together to make up the deficiencies by subscription. In this connection it is interesting to relate an incident that happened one day I was buying cinders at the North Side Rolling mills for my work in Lincoln (89) Park, a gentleman behind the counter said I understand you have a new minister at your church in the West Side[,] how do you get along? If you need any money call on me. I told this to Mr. Pendleton and next time we had to make up a deficit we asked Mr. Blackman to call on him (that gentleman Mr. Blackman called on, he helped us several times.[)] We were getting along very well, occasionally some outsider would come to the services a few times & then not come any more[.] I think one or two came regularly.
Occasionally Dr. Small would come and learn if Mr. Pendleton was preaching unsound doctrine I suppose. We all belonged to the Chicago Soc. of the New Jerusalem, Mr. Blackman, Mr. Forest (90) and myself were members of the executive committee. And if our young people had been members of the Society, we would have been the largest number and could have prevented the society from taking back the Mercer Society in a body which they actually did, by a vote of the Society the Mercer Society was invited to join the Chicago Society in a body and also to take their minister with them, this was done while Mr. Pendleton was with us. It happened after Mr. Pendleton had been our Pastor about 7 years that Bishop Benade called him to Phila. That we were much disturbed by this call is only telling it partly for when Mr. Pendleton preached his last sermon, there was tears in every eye of that congregation and some lady (91) sobbed aloud. After Mr. Pendleton left we had a minister by the name of Mr. Smith[,] he only remained with us little more than a year.36 After Mr. G. Smith we received Mr. Bostock as our pastor with his coming Bishop Benade suggested that we form a new Society and separate from the Chicago Society and connect ourselves with the Penn. Association[.]
After we had completed our organization we notified the Chicago Society of our separation and asked for the continued use of the Church on the West Side offering to pay a moderate rent for it. We expected the Society would grant us our request because we had helped to finish the main room up stairs also because they could (92) not use it themselves. But they refused and ordered us to vacate immediately and also to vacate the chapel on the North Side in one or two months. It is of note to relate that the Chicago Society afterwards rented the West Side Church to a Spiritualism Society.
We were much surprised and disturbed because it appeared uncharitable. We afterwards made arrangements with Mr. Maynard for a room over his drug store about 6 month after he needed the room himself. Then we were accommodated by Mrs. Blackman for the use of her parlor. After a while we rented the Odd fellows hall on the North Side for Sunday use, but we found (93) too much noise there. So we secured a Masonic Hall on the South Side, when we were well settled, we were notified that changes were to be made and we would have to vacate. Dr. Boericke said he was tired of looking for rooms. So he suggested that we secure a lot and build a small building and borrow money from the Building and Loan Association, that was the beginning of the Carol Ave. move.
After securing a lot on Carrol Ave., we built a nice little church with one large audience room and 2 small room [sic] behind, but after a while it was found to be to [sic] small for the accommodation of the school uses[.]
So we built an addition on the (94) rear of the church covering the whole lot, now it seemed to us that we were amply provided for[.] Mr. Pitcairn donated $500 to this addition. It was really a nice and homey place, but after a while some people, that had paid litte [sic] or nothing toward the building began to find fault with the neighborhood, because it had changed from what it was in the beginning.
1Alvin was the fifth child of Swain and Johanna Nelson. The phrase "related by father to Gertrude who wrote it down on these following pages" indicates that Alvin's daughter Gertrude took notes while Swain told his story. These notes were apparently later turned into the final draft on which this transcript is based. Swain sometimes uses the second person when relating the story to Gertrude (e.g. "You can ask your father about it," p. 20). back to text
2There is a fair amount of confusion evident in the manuscript between the place-names Christinelund and Christianstad. One is sometimes crossed out and replaced with the other. It seems likely that the two were sometimes confused in the earlier draft of the manuscript, the mistakes carried through into the final draft, and then corrected, perhaps after a consultation with Swain Nelson. The spellings of these place-names in this transcript follow the corrected version of the final draft of the manuscript. In the Motormännens Vägatlas över Sverige (Kartförlaget 1996-97) they can be found in the province of Skåne as Kristinelund and Kristianstad. In the autobiography Kristinelund is referred to as "a small estate" (p. 1), and on the map a place with this name appears near the west coast, just north of Helsingborg. Kristianstad is a town about 60 km to the east. Both places are located in the county (län) of Kristianstad, in the province (landskap) of Skåne (the southernmost province of Sweden). We are also told (p. 9) that Swain's parents belonged to the parish of "Fjellkestad" (no doubt Fjälkerstad). With this information it may be possible to find out more about the family in the parish register. back to text
3Nearly blank page inserted here has notation: "Aunt Adah only remember" back to text
4Notation at top of page: "Peter's or Mr. Hoppman's home?" back to text
5Notation at top of page: "Note fit in about the position of a Parish Paster." back to text
6Notation at top of page: "(up side)" back to text
7Notation at top of page: "9. Near bottom what means" back to text
8Notation at top of page: "Page 16. (middle)" back to text
9Notation at top of page: "p. 20" back to text
10Notation at top of page: "21 (middle - lower)/(1/5 from bottom)/22 (top line, job is better)" back to text
11Notation at top of page: "22 - (ask if it will do)/22 (near bottom)" back to text
12Notation at top of page: "24 - (near bottom)/25 - (near top." back to text
13Notation at top of page: "25 - 1/4/Note. Explain about girls" back to text
14Notation at top of page: "25 & 26 (extra pages) Do they belong there?/" (first line)/" (near top)/" 1/3" back to text
15Notation at top of page: "25 (extra) (over 1/2)" back to text
16Notation at top of page: "what kind of a plate?" back to text
17Notation at top of page: "21" back to text
18Notation at top of page: "28. Last word of top line" back to text
19Notation at top of page: "28 - little below middle/28 What is that about a gardner [sic]?" back to text
20Written above this is: "see top of" back to text
21Notation at top of page: "(where does that on the side come in?) p. 29 -/29 - about apple trees -" back to text
22Between the lines is written: "page 81 -" back to text
23"34 page" written before the next sentence. back to text
24"37 page" written before the next sentence. back to text
25"38 page" written before the next sentence. back to text
26Notation at top of page: "page 39" back to text
27"40" in a circle here. back to text
28"43" in a circle here. back to text
29"45" written between lines here. back to text
30"46" in a circle here. back to text
31"47" in a circle here. back to text
32"48" in a circle here. back to text
33"49" in a circle here. back to text
34"51" in a circle here. back to text
35"52" in a circle here. back to text
36"55" in a circle here. back to text