Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Old Maine Swedish Farms

April 16, 2011

Old Maine Swedish Farms

It is sad to say but true. The Swedish language is slowly dying here in Maine Swedish Colony. Local filmmakers Brenda and Alan Jepson have recently released their lastest DVD which chronicles the importance of the Swedish language to the culture of the community. Several Swedish speakers are interviewed, including Floyd Jepson and Edmund Anderson, both no longer with us. Another interviewee is Lewis Peterson.

Dan Olson, narrator and language consultant for the film, conducts personal conversations with  local people in Swedish. The focus of the interviews centers on living on the farms in the old days and what life entailed in those times.

Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) recently aired an interview with the filmmakers. Follow the link to read the transcription and to listen to the rich audio which includes Swedish music, the Swedish interviews, and English translations.

Crown of Maine Productions offers the opportunity to own your own copy of “Old Maine Swedish Farms.”

Artists to Show New Work at First Friday Event

January 7, 2011

Two Swedish Colony artists are featured in downtown Presque Isle, ME at First Friday Downtown Art Walks tonight, Friday evening Jan. 7, 2011. Richard Clark of Perham, owner of Wood’s Edge Gallery, will show his landscapes at Morning Star Art & Framing from 6-8 PM. Alan and Brenda Nasberg Jepson of Crown of Maine Productions are showing their video work across the street at Stew’s Sight and Sound. Refreshments will be served! Several other artists within walking distance will also show new work. FMI on the event see the Facebook page for First Friday Downtown Art Walk

FMI on Jepson’s work see Crown of Maine Productions

Tell Me Thursday: WW Thomas, Jr

July 9, 2009

William Widgery Thomas, Jr. was the founder of New Sweden, ME. He went to Sweden and found the first fifty-one settlers who came to northern Maine with him on July 23, 1870. Many more Swedes followed. In fact, there were so many that arrived that some had to leave to find work elsewhere. The settlers worked hard to establish an agricultural community that eventually thrived. Several other towns developed in neighboring townships with many Swedish citizens: Perham, Woodland, Stockholm, Westmanland, Connor, and Caribou. People from other countries such as Norway, Finland, Canadian, and Denmark settled in the communities as did  Acadians and Irish.

W. W. Thomas, Jr with wife and son

W. W. Thomas, Jr with wife and son

Wordless Wednesday: Founder of New Sweden, ME

July 8, 2009
W. W. Thomas Jr, about age 45-50 in Stockholm, Sweden

W. W. Thomas Jr, about age 45-50 in Stockholm, Sweden

Remembering David Anderson

June 27, 2009

David Anderson worked to preserve the Swedish culture and heritage in New Sweden, Maine.

Obituary of David G. Anderson

New Sweden—David G. Anderson, 63, husband of the late Edwina (Jacobson) Anderson, died unexpectedly April 30, 2001, at Caribou. He was born in Westfield, Mass., May 22 1937, the son of Walter David and Marion (Bean) Anderson.
Mr. Anderson earned his BA from North Park University in Chicago and his master’s degree from the University of Hartford. He helped students learn in Suffield, Conn., Lenoxville, Quebec, and New Sweden schools. David lived in the country of Sweden for two years before he became a resident of New Sweden, where he worked to preserve the colony’s ethnic heritage. He was a past president of the New Sweden Historical Society and was also a past council member of the New Sweden Covenant Church. After his1990 retirement, David enjoyed his work with Literacy Volunteers of America and his winters in Venice, Fla. Mr. Anderson’s interests included Swedish-Americana, Quebec’s eastern townships, the back roads of Europe and the restoration of old homes.
He was predeceased by his dear wife, Edwina (Jacobson) Anderson in 1998. He is survived by a special cousin, Ann Herz of Grantham, N. H.; several other cousins, aunts, nieces, and nephews.
A service of Thanksgiving to God for David’s life will be held 2 p.m. Thursday, May 3, 2001, from the New Sweden Covenant Chrch with the Rev. Shelly Timber, pastor, officiating. Interment will be in Westmanland Cemetery at a later date. Friends who wish to contribute in memory of Mr. Anderson may do so through the Edwina and David Anderson Award Fund, care of New Sweden Historical Society. Envelopes will be available at the church or through the Mockler Funeral Home, 24 Reservoir St., Caribou 04736.

John E. Olson’s Poem

June 18, 2009

Voyage from Sweden

Written by John E. Olson (1841-1929)

We traveled from our homeland
in the Lord’s guiding hands
fortunate
free from danger
to New Sweden where we live.
We praise the Lord’s abundant love
that we remain, body and soul
lovingly preserved.

Here and there upon this earth
we meet our daily trials and toil
but lighter here than on old soil
its still a vale of tears.
This isn’t yet our proper home
without a rest we still must roam
with praise and thanks to God our father
for the eternal kingdom he holds for us.

Yes, many friends were parted
back home with sorrow and tears
With God we’ll reunite
and never more be separated.
There will be a glorious choir
that will never part, as here
that will sing in perfect harmony
with praise to Jesus, dear.

A copy of the above poem was given to Anders Tidstrom of Sweden by Katarina Hanson (1881-1972) in 1970 when he visited New Sweden, Maine. In early 2009 the poem was emailed in Swedish back to Maine and translated by Paul Carlson.

John E. Olson (1841-1929) was an early settler in New Sweden, immigrating in 1871. He was a farmer and violin maker, producing at least one double violin. He and his wife Hannah (1841-1926) had several children, including Victoria (1886-1924), Amanda (1877-1922), and Mathilda (1873-1953) who married Oren Anderson. Mathilda Olson Anderson’s son was Clifford Anderson (1899-1953) who married Dagmar Espling in 1931.

John and Hannah Olson are buried at Capitol Hill Cemetery in New Sweden, Maine.

John E. and Hannah Olson stone at New Sweden, ME

John E. and Hannah Olson stone at New Sweden, ME

The above English translation of the poem is followed below by the original Swedish version.

Old Sweden

Old Sweden

Öfverresa från Sverige

af John E, Olson

Wi reste från vårt fosterland
I genom Herrens styrda hand
Ja, lyckligt öfver att ej vi
I någon fara komma i,
Till nya Sverge där wi bor
Wi prisa Herrans kärlek stor,
Att ännu vi till kropp och själ
äro bevarade jemväl

Me här som där på jorden är
fins möda strider och besvär
fast mycket bättre här än där
men jemrens dal det åndå är
Och är ej här vi skola bo
Och för Guds barn fins ingen ro,
men pris och tack vår Gud och far
Ett evigt rike för oss har

Ja, många vänner skildes åt,
I fosterland med sorg och gråt,
Hos Gud vi all träffas få,
och aldrig mer vi skiljas då,
en härlig sångkör bliver där,
som aldrig skiljas såsom här,
Wi skola på fullkomligt vis
En gång få sjunga Jesu pris

Rena Espling Hultgren

June 14, 2009

Rena Hultgren will be honored at Midsommar on Sunday June 21, 2009 at New Sweden, Maine.

Here is her bio:

Rena Espling Hultgren was born in New Sweden, Maine to Helmer and Edrie (Olson) Espling and grew up on the farm. Rena married in 1944 and has two children, Sylvia and Roger, three grandchildren, and one sister, Mabel Todd.
Rena attended New Sweden schools, transferred to Caribou in grade 8, and graduated from Caribou in 1940. She worked at the Caribou Public Library and completed the Augusta State Library Course in cataloguing. She worked at A&P grocery stores in Caribou and Fort Fairfield. In 1942, Rena went to live in Worcester where she worked at Norton Company until late 1944 when she moved to Princeton, Massachusetts where they farmed.
Rena spent 8 years at a Belgian-owned machinery office transcribing parts and service manuals into English from French. From there she went to a 12-year office position in a construction company, writing parts and service manuals for machinery. The next 10 years were spent organizing and operating a retail and wholesale business of several motorcycles brands with over 350 dealers to keep supplied. Rena completed courses in sales, service, direct mail, and office management and made approximately 20 trips to Oregon, Colorado and Chicago to cover related fields in the industry. Her next position was at the Chevrolet Dealership in Holden, Massachusetts where she was responsible for maintaining inventories, accounting, and payroll. She was executive secretary to the owner for 11 years before moving back to Maine in 1993.
Rena has traveled extensively. She has been to Hawaii nine times, to nine countries in Europe with her son who was stationed in Germany, to New Zealand with her daughter’s family, to Australia on her own, and to Sweden with friends. She spent a great deal of time camping with her children in the northeastern U.S. and Eastern Canada. She also spent several winters in Florida since moving back to Maine.
After retirement, Rena was occupied with helping Maine’s Swedish Colony, Inc. as Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer and Gift Shop Manager.

Scandanavian Gift Shop in New Sweden, ME

Scandanavian Gift Shop in New Sweden, ME

Rena’s hobbies include family genealogy, woodworking, sign painting, cross-stitch, and other crafts, and reading. Much of her work was donated to, and sold, by the gift shop in New Sweden.
Rena’s genealogy work covers nearly ten generations, dating back to the late 1700’s in Sweden, and includes over 1700 names. Now at age 85, her goal is to complete this study and she says she is particularly interested in keeping the Swedish heritage alive.

Mabel Espling Todd

June 13, 2009

Mabel Todd will be honored at Midsommar on 1:00 pm Sunday June 21, 2009 at New Sweden, Maine.


Sunday Program featuring The Maine Event singers and Wednesday Evening Fiddlers

Sunday Program featuring The Maine Event singers and Wednesday Evening Fiddlers: Thomas Park; arrival of the Majstång (Maypole); Little Folk Dancers; music by The Maine Event singers and Wednesday Evening Fiddlers from Perth Andover; raffle drawings and more, Lewis Peterson emcee, Honoring Rena Espling Hultgren and Mable Espling Todd.

Here is her bio:

Mabel Espling Todd

Mabel Espling Todd was born in New Sweden to Helmer and Edrie (Olson) Espling. Her beloved sister, Rena, is four years younger. Mabel attended grade school in New Sweden and graduated from Caribou High School in 1937. Mabel was married to Arthur Todd and has two children (twins), Paul and Amber, and three grandchildren.
Mabel worked in Caribou at Newberry’s and R. H. Frost Co. (where she obtained state licenses for insurance and real estate), Norton Company in Worcester during WWII years, Ray Harmon and Sons, National Confectionery, the Caribou Town Office, M. D. McGrath Co., L. D. Bearce Co. and Bearce-Carter Oil. She was Office Manager at Cary Memorial Hospital and at Maine Potato Bag Co. She worked at Caribou Publishing Co. for some time where she was also involved in all aspects of printing the Aroostook Republican. She worked 19 years at Loring AFB with the Army & Air Force Exchange in every department until she retired. Mabel has been considered a good secretary, excellent in bookkeeping and proficient in office management. Her most recent paid occupation was being ballot clerk at Stan’s whenever T16 R4 was involved in the election process.
Mabel has been affiliated with Baptist churches in the area serving as Sunday school teacher, Youth Leader, Deaconess, Choir Member, Church Clerk, Financial Secretary and Mail Secretary as well as a member of various committees.
Mabel was Secretary/Treasurer of the Caribou Band Parents for four years while her children were in the high school band, helping to raise money for instruments and band trips.
Mabel was instrumental in starting youth groups where there were none such as the Caribou Junior Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist and Boys 4H group for Perham and Woodland boys. She was Assistant 4H leader for many years with Colby girls.
Mabel is still quite proficient in Swedish which she began learning from infancy. She also became proficient in French, Italian, Finnish and Lithuanian.
Mabel’s most recent interests have been volunteer work. She has been involved with the New Sweden Historical Society as Secretary, Treasurer and “ongoing volunteer fulltime.” Mabel served faithfully as museum hostess as well as on several committees. She is a member of the Maine’s Swedish Colony, Inc., and served as Secretary for several years. She was a member of the New Sweden Cemetery Association and was President for many years and a Director. Mabel is a member of the Madawaska Lake Campers Association serving as Secretary and Treasurer for many years and as a Director.
Mabel says she has had a good life and has appreciated many activities and associations that have been educational and fulfilling. At age 89 she is happy to be able to be involved in whatever comes her way. Perhaps Mabel’s favorites memories are of working with her dad on the farm and later enjoying farming with her husband. She says one learns a lot in that occupation, not just planting and harvesting, but also construction, electricity, machine work, purchasing and selling, to mention a few.

Anniversary of Death: Mildred Westin

June 7, 2009
Mildred Velma Barnes Westin

Mildred Velma Barnes Westin

Mildred “Millie” Barnes Westin used to be my landlady. We lived in the upstairs apartment in her rambling old house on the edge of Collins Pond in Caribou, Maine. She used to sing in her deep alto voice while working around the kitchen downstairs and I would hear her through the hot air grates in the floor.

Millie had a table in the bay window facing east right next to our entrance. Among the plants was a huge Christmas cactus that always seemed to be in bloom. Her outdoor garden was filled with lilies, roses, and cultivated raspberries in the summertime.

I remember seeing Millie and Everett, her husband, sing the special music presentation in church at the Caribou United Baptist. I didn’t realize it then, but it really was very special to hear the Swedish hymns sung. (Everett’s father immigrated from Sweden. He served first as a minister at the First Baptist Church of New Sweden, Maine starting in 1895 and also at the Stockholm First Baptist Church as late as 1928).

As a teen, I was a junior church helper and sat in the tiny pews with the 4 year olds as Millie led them in learning to sing (with the hand motions) “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine.”

One Thanksgiving, Millie came to our house for dinner along with my father’s cousin Olive Choate. She told stories about Everett during World War I involving lots of blood. I can’t remember the details now.

Millie died two years ago today at the age of 94. She was born in Caribou, graduated from Caribou High School in 1931, and worked for the telephone and telegraph company in their Caribou office. She and Everett were married November 21, 1950. He predeceased her in 1992 at age 91.

Carnival of Genealogy: Swimsuit Edition

June 5, 2009
"Bathing" Aug. 1911 Madawaska Lake, Maine

"Bathing" Aug. 1911 Madawaska Lake, Maine

John J. Sodergren and his father cut a path probably in the 1880’s from their log house  near the Little Madawaska River in Stockholm, Maine to Madawaska Lake in the Maine Swedish Colony established in 1870.  John J. Sodergren catered to the local population that spent their summer holidays at the lake. A steamboat was in use and rowboats were for rent as were lakeside cabins. A barn was built near the shore for the horses. In the winter, ice was cut from Madawaska Lake for use in the summertime.

Mabel Sodergren bought the store from her father in 1914 and ran the business with her her second husband Andrew Lawson for many years. The business was purchased by Chester Buzzell upon their retirement. Buzzell sold to Stan Thomas who was the last owner of the building which was torn down in 2006.

Madawaska Lake is still a popular spot for swimming and boating, a little treasure in far northern Maine cherished by many residents and visitors.


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