Swan Johnson

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Swan John­son’s moth­er died when he was six and his father appren­ticed him out until he was thir­teen years old and then he was appren­ticed out to a car­pen­ter who was a mas­ter builder. From him Swan learned the car­pen­ter trade. Swan repaired many big build­ings and was sent out to fix a barn that was split in the cen­ter by a storm. This was at Bement, near Chica­go. Lat­er he did a great deal of car­pen­ter work for a Mr. Vorhies, of Bement, where Swan John­son had moved his fam­i­ly from Chica­go, build­ing up the many farms of Vorhies.

Swan John­son was the son born of the sec­ond mar­riage of his father and he had old­er step-broth­ers, also one broth­er. It was a let­ter from his broth­er from whom he had not heard for fif­teen years which over­joyed him, caus­ing a heart attack which result­ed in his death. He was called for break­fast and when he did­n’t come, Mrs. John­son went to see about him, and there he was, one sock on and the oth­er in his hand as he had fall­en back on the bed.

Swan John­son went on a land excur­sion to Nebras­ka, Plat­te Coun­ty, in 1877 with the B & M Rail­road. Mr. Byron was the Land Agent. Swan John­son, John­ny Law­son and Hans John­son (the lat­ter became Thilda’s hus­band) went from Bement, Illi­nois, Swan John­son gave a span of mules in first pay­ment for his land. John­ny Law­son and Hans John­son gave a team of hors­es each as first pay­ment on their 160 acres of land. Each sold a set of har­ness for $25.00 for the hors­es and mules, and Nels John­son, a thir­teen year old son of Swan John­son, rode a horse bare­back and led the mules. They got anoth­er fel­low to ride a horse and lead a team fif­teen miles to Lov­ing­ton, Illi­nois, where the hors­es and mules were loaded into a car and shipped to Kear­ney Coun­ty, Nebras­ka. Nels rode back from Lov­ing­ton to Bement on a train. Mr. Byron gave Nels his tick­et but the con­duc­tor nev­er took the tick­et.

Swan John­son died Jan­u­ary 26, l894, from a heart attack caused by a let­ter from his only broth­er after fif­teen years’ silence. He was so over­joyed he read and reread it.

The John­son sale of per­son­al prop­er­ty was in the spring of 1896, and Will took over the farm­ing for two years with the help of Har­ry Car­pen­ter and Har­ry Coyle.

Mrs. Swan John­son’s last name was Vester­son. Both­il­da was Thilda’s name but she nev­er liked it. Peter went to Oma­ha to busi­ness col­lege where he received the nick­name of “Rock”. When he got home he liked to write “Peter Rock”, then “P. R.”, and he liked to call him­self “P.R.”, so it became his name. Nels assumed the mid­dle ini­tial “E” because anoth­er Nels John­son got his mail. Eric put an “E” in his name when he was to be mar­ried.

Nels says that a prac­ti­cal nurse who came to care for Mrs. Swan John­son at Bement by the name of Katie Baird, named Ellen “Louellen” all one word, but the fam­i­ly called her Ellen. Mrs. Swan John­son [ 5 ] wished to name her daugh­ter “Mimie Eliz­a­beth”, but her sons want­ed to call her “Min­nie Eliz­a­beth” after a girl by the name of Min­nie who they thought was pret­ty and very attrac­tive so her name was, to the fam­i­ly, Min­nie Eliz­a­beth. She was born at Keatskootoos on Feb­ru­ary 16, 1879. Min­nie cel­e­brat­ed Jan­u­ary 16th until Ander­sons, at Keatskootoos, found it was Feb­ru­ary 16th. Vic­tor was born Jan­u­ary 1, 1872, and Mary on July 4, 1881. Oscar died at Bement at the age of nine months.

There were sev­er­al Swedish fam­i­lies who lived at Bement who fol­lowed Swan John­son to Nebras­ka: (1) Nels Lar­son, an uncle of Rena Hoff­stein (of Elgin), a broth­er to her moth­er; (2) John Lar­son, Rena’s father; (3) John­ny Law­son of Genoa, whose chil­dren Albert, Charles, Min­nie, Gladys, Nel­lie, Ida, etc., lived east of Genoa; (4) John Ander­son (Mrs. Lot­tie Willard’s father), and (5) the Swan John­sons. These five fam­i­lies always cel­e­brat­ed Christ­mas, New Years, East­er, etc., togeth­er at one place while at Bement, and again when they came to Genoa they did the same for years.

Rena stayed with the John­son fam­i­ly and went to school. When Rena Lar­son­’s folks moved to Elgin, Nebras­ka, there were no schools, so she lived dur­ing the school year at the Swan John­son home. She also liked to spend the sum­mers there as she and Ida were good friends. In the fam­i­ly it was a live­ly place to be. Vic­tor, Will, Ida, Rena and Eric had many hap­py times togeth­er. When Ida was mar­ried her hus­band, John John­son, sent Rena a rail­road tick­et to come down to Arling­ton and take care of Ida and the first baby, Mabel. After Rena’s moth­er’s death, Rena stayed at the John­son home. She found work, but all week­ends were spent at the John­son home.

There were nine chil­dren born to Kjer­stin’s moth­er, but five died in child­hood. Kjer­stin’s father was a car­pen­ter and cab­i­net mak­er but he always had a class of sev­en or eight young men who met togeth­er to read the Bible every night. He was a tall, light com­plect­ed, slen­der young man much like Vic­tor. Kjer­stin was the old­est of the four liv­ing chil­dren. She had two broth­ers and one sis­ter:

Nels Wecelius who was appoint­ed a Judge by the King of Swe­den. He had sev­er­al chil­dren.

  1. Mrs. Hilma Haak, address, Oster­malm, Sundsvall, Swe­den. She lives in the old home, and address is always the same.
  2. Ellen, sin­gle, who lived at home and kept house for Nels Wescelius, her broth­er.

Two sons came to Amer­i­ca about the age of six­ty who live in Min­neso­ta, one a con­trac­tor and builder, and the oth­er has a chick­en ranch.

  1. Mr. Oscar Wescelius, Gheen, Min­neso­ta, Box 46.
  2. Robert Wescelius who must live near but does­n’t write to his sis­ters so often.
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Wvi­clius is the way the name was spelled in Swedish. Uncle John always spelled it Wescelius. Thil­da had one cousin, her father’s nephew, tall, red haired, on her father’s side of the house who was edu­cat­ed for a mis­sion­ary. He lived in Legvig near Swan John­son’s home, but went to the Uni­ver­si­ty in Stock­holm. He came home for a vis­it and returned to Stock­holm to board a ship for his mis­sion field. As he stepped on the ship he fell into the sea and was nev­er seen or heard of again. He always preached in the neigh­bor­hood when he came home on vaca­tions.

When the John­son fam­i­ly left Swe­den for Amer­i­ca, Thil­da was thir­teen, Peter ten, John sev­en, Nels five, Ida two, and Eric three months. Chica­go was their first new home. Kjer­stin’s sis­ter Kana, or Karen — as we now call it — who came with her fam­i­ly here has a daugh­ter, Mrs. Ellen Long, of Kim­ball, Nebras­ka, and a son, John Ahlm. John Ahlm lives in Nebras­ka, and anoth­er daugh­ter, Karine, lives in Cal­i­for­nia. She did live in Ong, Nebras­ka. Anoth­er daugh­ter, Anna, (sin­gle) died.

Swan John­son sent tick­ets for all of them to come to the Unit­ed States, but Nels Ahlm was a fan­cy dress­er and spent the mon­ey on fine clothes instead of buy­ing his pas­sage tick­ets, so the next time grand­fa­ther sent the tick­ets to Nels and his son John, and they lat­er arrived in Amer­i­ca, going on to Genoa, Nebras­ka.

Lat­er, grand­fa­ther sent tick­ets to Kana, a sis­ter of Kjer­stin, and the three girls to come to Genoa. This Aunt Kana was a tiny lit­tle woman, less than one hun­dred pounds in weight, four feet eight inch­es tall.

Kana Ahlm had three daugh­ters and one son, John, who lat­er mar­ried Dora Mag­nu­son, of Genoa. Ellen mar­ried Wes­ley Long, of Genoa, and they also had three love­ly daugh­ters and a son, Amos. They moved to Kim­ball Coun­ty, Nebras­ka.

The son, John, also moved his fam­i­ly to Kim­ball Coun­ty. One daugh­ter, Karen, mar­ried an old­er man at Ong, Nebras­ka, and lat­er moved to Los Ange­les.

Peter, Kjer­stin’s broth­er, learned the tai­lor’s trade and went to Eng­land to live, mar­ried an Eng­lish lady and once came home to Swe­den to vis­it. He had four chil­dren. Peter died in Eng­land.

Kana, Kjer­stin’s sis­ter, or Karine as we called her, mar­ried Nels Ahlm. They immi­grat­ed to Amer­i­ca. She was a very small, thin per­son. They had three daugh­ters and one son. They set­tled in Genoa, and Nels Ahlm did car­pen­ter work with Swan John­son. Kjer­stin’s two broth­ers went off to the Uni­ver­si­ty at Stockho1m. They were gone a cou­ple of years and when they returned they stopped to see Kjer­stin and inquire the way. She did­n’t rec­og­nize them until they told her who they were.

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