Conversation: Mathilda Anderson and Charlotte Lenentine Melvin, 1950

Comments from Mathilda Anderson

From Charlotte Lenentine Melvin notes in her New Sweden Reseach Files located in files of Maine’s Swedish Colony, Inc.

[These notes appear to be from a conversation between Charlotte and Mathilda on the occasion of Charlotte’s visit to New Sweden about 1950. Charlotte stayed at Mathilda’s home while she did research.]

[What follows is without editing or revision. It appears as Charlotte wrote her notes.]

“Her father was John Olson. He came in 1871. He was a violinist. He made many violins, a few he sold, most he gave away. So he has one he invented, a double one, two necks, etc. It is beautiful. She says the wood was just rough old stuff, he smoothed it, steamed it, so he could bend and shape it.

She mentioned the sweet milk cheese, warm it, or just from cow, rennit, thick, cut, cook on stock basket (?)

Her son Clifford [Anderson]—U of f Me—field crops, agronomy

 Clifford Anderson, second selectman 1938, New Sweden poultry farmer

Clifford Anderson, second selectman 1938, New Sweden poultry farmer


She remembers hearing her mother speak of early days, having to chop potatoes in among the roots. She herself remembers when the parents burned the chopped logs, big fire, the children were frightened for fear the parents would burn in it.

Her mother worked in woods too, helping saw, etc. Her mother often cried, she so homesick, and later said if there had been money enough they would have gone back. But she had wanted to come because the children would have a better chance.

Mathilda Anderson's son , Clifford, graduated from Caribou High School in 1919.

Mathilda Anderson's son , Clifford, graduated from Caribou High School in 1919.

Mathilda, says so what, a hundred acres, and seed to plant with, how could they plant with no cleared ground to plant in? They could make out maybe, but it would be 3 or 4 years before they could do much.

She said it was awful the things they had to do without, no money, not even 5 cents to mail a letter home. All you could get was groceries at the store. The equipment they had to work with, etc.

An old Swedish saying—“must rest awhile to let the food die.” We had anise bröd, and rusks.

Boats were terrible, often had to wait days for it. Her parents said theirs was an old cattle boat. She reading the Amerika, and one told of water leaking in.

When land was cleared, still the stumps , had to pull with horses, burn, or let rot. Terrible. Years before much good out of it. Father got a terrible rocky piece. Mother helped pile and burn logs.

New Sweden cemetery stone for Clifford and Dagmar (Espling) Anderson and his mother Mathilda (Olson) Anderson

New Sweden cemetery stone for Clifford and Dagmar (Espling) Anderson and his mother Mathilda (Olson) Anderson

Early celebrations the ministers of each church in New Sweden and Stockholm—one year Rep fellows, last year Sam Collins. Lundt from Stockholm spoke in Swedish—nice to hear. Minister before this one in Lutheran church, would every few Sundays speak in Swedish. Some Swedish songs in the Mission church, etc. Pastor Lindahl speaks Swedish well but doesn’t preach it. The young people don’t know it. Parents don’t take the pains to speak it. Clifford used to talk it til he began high school, then ashamed. Now does some.

Her father cleared 10 acres, let it dry and then burned it. Kids scared parents would burn. Some land not good. Spruce bad, etc. Hard to make a farm out of it. Her father made his The own tools to make violins out of.

(the anise bröd) cooked like doughnuts, but not cut like them.

Hard to get money for matches. Her mother couldn’t see any future in Sweden. Had 2 sons before coming here, one less than a year after.”

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One Response to “Conversation: Mathilda Anderson and Charlotte Lenentine Melvin, 1950”

  1. jeanbduncan Says:

    Mathilda Olson, daughter of John and Hannah Olson of New Sweden, was married to Oren Anderson of Woodland on August 8, 1899. Justice of the peace William Allen performed the ceremony. After her husband died, Mathilda worked as a housekeeper for widower Enoch Brostrom. (Enoch lived where Ralph Ostlund lives now. Enoch (1865-1948) tragically lost his wife Maria age 29 years, baby daughter Maria, and twelve year old son Oscar in 1901.Enoch lived to be 83 years old.)
    Mathilda played the guitar. As an elderly lady, she was quite sickly.

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