- Project Runeberg -  Year-book of the Swedish-American Historical Society / Volume 7 (1921-1922) /
9

(1908-1925) [MARC]
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confirmed in the established church, he or she was
considered incompetent to marry or to assume the usual
duties and privileges of an adult member of the
community. Only the more persistent seekers after
knowledge among the poor, or the mass of the people, learned
to write, I have often heard my father relate how he
learned. He worked several years for the rector of the
parish; and as a special favor, obtained from him the
notices read from the pulpit after services. By utilizing
any blank spaces thereon to copy what was written, with
goose quills for pen and charcoal ink, he succeeded in
acquiring a very neat and legible hand. Newspapers
were then unknown to the common people of Sweden.
Hence information in regard to other lands was
exceedingly scant among them. But, nevertheless, a few
Swedes came here during the ten years beginning 1840,
and even two or three to this state. One Jacob
Fahlstrom seems to have drifted in from the Selkirk
settlement in Canada and was here in 1837. Those who could
write naturally communicated with relatives left behind.
And in this way some imperfect knowdedge of the
possibilities offered here was disseminated among the
people in Sweden, and continued to spread. That the
reports were not always flattering to conditions in
America may well be imagined. And we also know that
there was not much for foreigners in this country then,
except room and opportunity to work. But whatever
these letters to relatives contained, emigration from
Sweden was certainly started. Usually, as soon as
those who first came could scrape together a few
dollars, some near relative was helped across.

And who were the ones that came? It is a mistake
to assume that the arrivals from Sweden during the

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