June Weddings: “Wiedens observe 60th anniversary”

June 3, 2013

Image“Presque Isle –– University of Maine at Presque Isle President Emeritus and Mrs. Clifford O. T. Wieden observed their 60th wedding anniversary June 2 at a family dinner at the Northeastland Hotel. Four generations, representing all branches of their family, were present.
Marguerite Hill of Auburn and Clifford O. T. Wieden of New Sweden met while teaching at Mapleton High School. They were married Sunday, June 1, 1924, in the First Baptist Church of New Sweden by the bridegroom’s father, the Rev. Oscar Carl Wieden.
After their wedding, Wieden taught at Gorham Normal School, now the University of Southern Maine, for 16 years before assuming the principalships of the Washington and Arooostook State Normal schools, now the University of Maine at Machias and Presque Isle, until his retirement in 1969.
Mrs. Wieden continued her teaching on the secondary school level in these and neighboring communities, retiring in 1968.
She was president of the Maine Congress of Parents and Teachers and was instrumental in establishing the Maine Junior Classical League, serving for several years as its director. Both remain active in community and professional affairs.
The Wiedens have two children: Mrs. Louis (Carolyn) Carey of Waterville and Clifford Jr. of Falmouth, Mass., 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
They were honored by a coffee served after the Sunday church service by the Diaconate of the Presque Isle Congregational Church.
The Wiedens have resided at 31 Barton St., Presque Isle, since their retirement.”

[From an article in the Bangor Daily News, June 2, 1984]


After Clifford Wieden’s Wedding. Right to left: Rev. O. C. Wieden, Rev. David Anderson, Mildred Wieden, A. E. Nelson, Marguerite Widen, Clifford Wieden, Lars Johanson, Floyd Wieden, Hilda Norberg, Virginia Stadig, Alger Stadig, Annie D. Wieden, Lindley Wieden. June 1, 1924


Midsommar 2012 June 22, 23, 24

June 19, 2012
Midsommarstång (Midsummer pole) preparations at New Sweden, ME

Midsommarstång (Midsummer pole) preparations at New Sweden, ME

Midsommar is almost here! Here’s hoping that the weather will be practically perfect here in Maine Swedish Colony (after the past few years rainy events) and that the official start of summer will have folks  in a happy mood for the Fest.

The whole thing starts on Friday morning with the gathering of wild flowers up on Carlstrom Hill just north of Madawaska Lake. The view is incredible and it is an experience everyone should participate in at least once in a lifetime! Bring a pair of clippers or scissors to cut lupines. After the flower gathering, head back to the New Sweden museum grounds and pitch in to help put up the tents to get things ready for Saturday’s festivities. Helping hands are very needed and you will meet some new friends!

Friday evening features a supper and Swedish dance at the Stockholm American Legion. Proceeds support our veterans and you will have a great time with the very special Orust folk dancers and musicians who are making their second visit from Sweden.

There is a full day planned for Saturday. Head to the New Sweden museum grounds around 10 am Saturday and browse around. Make a hair wreath to wear out of  wildflowers (at the table near the Lindsten Stuga out in back of the museum) and then choose lupines from the buckets to pass to the Swedes who’ll tie them onto the big Midsommarstång (Midsummer Pole). Follow the Pole out to the front of the museum and see the little folk dancers perform. Perhaps have a homemade ice cream from the Lutherans and a red hotdog from Ralph Ostlund (nearly 90 and charming!) or coffee with a homemade sandwich and sweet under the shade of the birches. There are local crafts to browse, Swedish gifts in the restored one-room Capitol School, and the various musuem buildings to go inside, including a tour of the Ostlund log house and the blacksmith shop (down the road past Thomas Park.)

A brand-new Midsommar event is a Chicken Barbeque at the New Sweden School from 4-6 PM on Saturday evening for supper. Proceeds benefit programming for the local kids. There is also a Swedish supper with continuous seating put on by the folks at the Lutheran church in New Sweden with homemade dishes made by talented cooks.

Direct from Sweden, the Orust folk dancers and musicians perform throughout the weekend, including up at the New Sweden school Saturday night at 7 PM. [also performing: Friday evening 6 PM supper and Swedish dancing at the Stockholm American Legion; Saturday 11 AM Midsommarstång (Midsummer pole) and 1 PM Swedish dance lessons on the grounds of the New Sweden Museum, and 7 PM Swedish dance and lessons at the New Sweden School; and Sunday 1 PM at Thomas Park.]

Enjoy the Sunday afternoon program in the “music bowl” at Thomas Park (starts 12:45 with the arrival of the Midsommarstång) which includes the Orust folk dancers/musicians, the New Sweden Little Folk Dancers, and ends with the Långdans where all are invited to join hands to form a long chain to march around the park for the closing dance .

Catch the latest news by following Maine Swedish Colony on Facebook.

There are lots of other events. Too many to list them all here! You can get your own schedule with a download of the pdf at http://maineswedishcolony.info/

Midsommar is a wonderful family experience. Don’t forget your camera!

“The Grindstone Disaster of 1911” by Thomas Clark

August 5, 2011

One hundred years ago, the Grindstone train wreck on July 28, 1911  involved William Linton Duncan and his son Alexander Noel Duncan. The Duncans were traveling on the train, playing with the Presque Isle Band, and were both injured on the excursion train that had carried passengers to the coast of Maine for a day in the sun at the sea. The train returned late the same night on a stormy trip that ended in one of the worst train accidents in New England, killing nine men mostly from Aroostook County. “The Grindstone Disaster of 1911” was written by Thomas Clark and clearly describes what happened for those of us far removed from the familiarity of train travel. This centennial remembrance of the disaster helps us to consider the devastating influence the loss of life and health has on community, even many years later.

A shorter version of the article appeared in the August 3, 2011 issue of the Star Herald, Presque Isle, Maine’s local weekly newspaper.

June 27, 1894 Midsummer report

May 7, 2011

From the Aroostook Republican newspaper report June 27, 1894 (as archived in the files of Charlotte Lenentine Melvin):

Sold cigars at the festival [Midsummer]. People from Caribou, Perham, Woodland, Westmanland, Frenchville, Fort Kent, and Fort Fairfield there.

Swedish Colony Exhibit at Maine State Fair in Late 1800’s (?)

April 30, 2011

Marie Malmquist copied the following “whole account, word for word.”


A novel and entertaining feature of the Maine State fair, held at Lewiston, September 21-25, was the exhibit made by the Swedish Colony of The Pine Tree State, located in Aroostook County. The Fair itself was by far the largest and most successful since the organization of the Society, and the agricultural products and examples of the domestic industries of the Scandinavian settlement occupied a prominent place in the main building. The grains and vegetables amply illustrated the fruitfulness of the soil which a few short years ago formed part of the vast forest that still covers a part of the state larger than the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Illustrative of the primitive arts and industries of the sturdy descendants of the Vikings was displayed an assortment of home-made cloth, cloth made from cows hair (for blankets), wooden shoes, beartraps, bronze coffee pots, wooden tableware, saddlebags of wickerwork, oxyokes, moccasins, gloves and leggings of reindeer skin; straw beehives, snowshoes ten feet in length, and a variety of similar articles, none of them possessing much aesthetic grace or beauty, but admirably adapted for the severest purpose.

“A unique chapter in the History of Maine” was the apt phrase by which the Hon. W. W. Thomas, Jr. ex-minister to Sweden, characterized this Swedish Colony in an address at the decennial of its founding, held at New Sweden in 1880; and the colonists greeted Governor Chamberlain on that occasion with ‘Leve Koloniens Grundläggare! (Long live the Founder of the Colony). It was during the notably progressive administration of Joshua L. Chamberlain—the hero of Little Round Top at Gettysburg, and now President of Bowdoin College [1871-82] – that in response to his earnest recommendation the Legislature took action to secure Swedish immigrants to offset the depopulation of the State by emigration by the native born citizens. Mr. Thomas was sent to Sweden in 1870, and in a short time returned with a colony of fifty one souls, who were enthusiastically welcomed to the promised Land. The State gave each settler – all having paid their own fare from Sweden – 100 acres of land and afforded such other assistance as was necessary at the start. In 1880 the colony had expanded to 787 souls, and at present times numbers about 1000 men, women, and children. They have 20,000 acres of land under careful cultivation.

The Town Hall, or “Capitol,” as they call it, of New Sweden, serves as a church, schoolhouse, Castle Garden, and general place of meeting. In religion the colonists are about equally divided between the Lutherans and the Baptist. They have five schools and an excellent system of practical education. The original settlers still retain their native costumes and customs, but the new generation is becoming thoroughly Americanized. The farmers particularly pride themselves on their fine horses and comfortable turnouts for both Summer and Winter driving.

Mr. G. W. P. Gerrard of Caribou, who was responsible for the excellent exhibit at the State Fair, said to the writer: “The Swedish colony today is very prosperous. They are hardworking, industrious, frugal people, and are steadily improving their farms. They are an honorable class of men and women, and can be trusted implicitly. I do not believe there is another community of so many souls in America of which so much can be said in this direction, as of the Swedish Colony in The State of Maine.” Ex-Governor Chamberlain said: “I regard the enterprise as very well planned, well arranged and successful. The colonists are an excellent class of people, and will make the best of citizen. They are thriving in every way, and I look for a still more important development of the colony, which will in no small degree be influential in the course of future welfare of the State.”


By now, the great Decennial Celebration was past, the colony was secure, the church bell had been installed, and in making notes for a later speech, doubtless in a jocular vein, Thomas (we presume) wrote:

Church dedicated

You have built you a church

I have given the bell

You may now got to meeting

Or else go to h–l



[Centennial History Maine’s Swedish Colony 1870-1970 New Sweden, Westmanland, Stockholm and Adjoining Areas, Compiled and edited by Richard Hede, Section H-1 and H-2]

Jemtland picnic, August 1, 1894

April 29, 2011

Reported in the Aroostook Republican newspaper on August 1, 1894 (from Charlotte Lenentine Melvin’s files):
Jemtland Sunday school had a picnic at Madawaska Lake June 26, over 200 there. Tables, etc. A trip across the lake on the steamer.

Newspaper ad January 10, 1872

April 28, 2011

The North Star newspaper for January 10, 1872 (from the archived files of Charlotte Lenentine Melvin):

Newspaper’s second issue began the carrying of an ad by John Brown of the Fort [Fort Fairfield] who advertised in Swedish his groceries, dry goods, etc.

Grange Organized in New Sweden, ME 1893

April 28, 2011

Reported in the Bangor Daily News, April 21, 1893 (from Charlotte Lenentine Melvin’s files):

New Sweden Grange organized with 17 charter members. First master was F. O. Landgren. First secretary Solomon Johnson. First chaplain J. O. Wickstrom. (All three deceased by 1966). Later grange records note that some of the regular grange sessions which were then held on Saturday afternoons, drew an attendance of 77 members compared to the final year’s attendance which was not sufficient to fill the 13 officer’s chairs. Also noted in one of the earliest of secretaries reports was the purchase price of half a cord of kindling wood which was 50 cents and a half cord of hard wood which was $1.25.
A large pencentage of members have been awarded the Silver Star certificate for 25 years of consecutive grange membership and 12 or more members have received the coveted Golden Sheaf Award for 50 or more years of membership.

Grange unit dissolved at New Sweden 1966

April 27, 2011

Reported on March 4, 1966 by the Bangor Daily News (from the archived files of charlotte Lenentine Melving):

Grange met for the final session on Saturday night at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Nelson. Unanimous vote was recorded for the dissolvement of New Sweden Grange No. 315 and surrender of the grange charter due to lack of member attendance.
Approximately 100 members from Stockholm, Woodland, Westmanland and New Sweden are on the Grange roster with a high of 150 members, registered in previous years.
Youngest master to serve was Forrest Nelson at age 16.
Only three women served as Master’s: Alice Nelson, Mrs. Madge Nelson, Mrs. Beatrice Farrington
Any granger in good standing and on the grange membership may apply to the secretary, Mrs. Charles Hicks for a demit, to join another grange. The Grange Hall, located on a town lot which was formerly the Capitol School has automatically reverted to the town, an agreement at the time of purchase.

June 20, 1894 Midsummer

April 25, 2011

Reported in the Aroostook Republican (from archived files of Charlotte Lenentine Melvin):

Midsummer’s eve to be celebrated in the grove. Jemtland Band to be there. Coffee, cakes, lemonade, ice cream–proceeds to Lutheran church.


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