Monday, April 22, 2013

Madness Monday-John Peter Swanson, Sweden 1857

John Peter Swanson's parents are the people that frustrate me from my family history.  It drives me crazy that I cannot find anything significant.  I have a lot of information on John Swanson but cannot go any farther.  My hope is that some day someone will find this and be able to shed some light on who they were.
Here is what I do know about John and Carrie Clausen Swanson.  It was compiled by my Grandfather Leland Sorteberg from Princeton, Minnesota in the 1980s.

History of John Peter Swanson
Our paternal ancestor was born on May 20, 1857 in the area of Dalsland, Varmland, Sweden.  He came to America in the early 1880s.  Very little is known about his first years in Minnesota, except that he worked in the woods in Northern Minnesota.

John's father died when he was sixteen, and a brother and sister died when they were young.  John is the only member of his family to have emigrated to America.  It is believed that his mother came to Minnesota for a period of time but did not like it in Minnesota and returned to Sweden.  Up to this time record searches can not provide more details.

John Swanson met Carrie Clausen in a restaurant in Elk river, Minnesota, where she was employed.  They were married on June 18, 1884.  They first lived in Anoka, Minnesota where he was employed by the Pillsbury Flour Mill.

In 1895 the family homesteaded 40 acres of land in Anoka Township in an area just west of the Great Northern railroad tracks and about one mile south of Main Street.  (this is now the city of Coon Rapids and the homestead would be the land south of 121 Ave. and on the west side of Xeon Street)
John Swanson, was in stature a man of 5' 10" tall and weighed about 185 pounds.  He was a strong, determined, hard working, kind man.  For several years he continued working at the Pillsbury Mill in Anoka even though it was 5 miles to Anoka.  His first horse was a bronco named Betsy and it used to take about 30 minutes to make the trip from home to Anoka.  John was reputed to be the strongest man ever to work at the Mill, being able to carry a barrel of flour from the first floor to the top of the Mill.  This along with building a home and breaking the land was a very difficult time for the Swanson family, but because of the character of this family they were able to complete the tasks before them.

In March 1910, a fire started by a Great Northern and Northern Pacific train just below the Coon Creek Junction caused extreme havoc to the farms along the right-of-way.  The fire destroyed all of the barns and outbuildings on the farm, however, the family and neighbors were able to save the home.

John Swanson was a civic minded person and served for many years on the township board.  He was one of the original church founders of the Joyce Chapel Methodist Church, serving on the first administrative board.  John Swanson served on the District #50 School Board until the schools were consolidated in 1920.  The consolidated district was known as Coon Rapids Independent Consolidated District #2.  Also, he was one of the founders of the Coon Creek Rural Telephone Company.

From the Anoka, Herald, Tuesday, June 13, 1922, Obituary---
"It is with deep regret that we are obliged to chronicle, this week, the death of John P. Swanson, which occurred June 8th at two o'clock a.m. at the old farm home, Willow Lane, Anoka Township.  He had not been well for some time suffering from leakage of the heart, but more than this in his unselfishness he was more desirous of leaving this world than being a burden to anyone.  No fear was in his thoughts of passing over for he knew whom he had believed and was persuaded that He was abundantly able to keep that which committed unto Him against that day.  In a few words it is impossible to tell what place he held in the community and in the hearts of his neighbors.  He had lived in the neighborhood for 27 years and on the old home place for 26 years and during all that time had lived a life of thrift, honesty, unselfishness and kindness that might well be exemplified.  During these he had held many prominent positions in the community and was a trustee of Joyce Chapel from the time of its dedication 20 years ago.  John P. Swanson was born in Dalsland, Sweden in 1857 coming to this country in 1882.  At Anoka on June 28, 1884, he was married to Carrie Clausen and to this happy union were born 12 children.  Three of these died in infancy.  Mrs. Swanson, who had been his faithful nurse through the long, weary weeks of his illness, and their two sons Emil and Leslie, and daughter Geneva are left in the old home.  The remaining six children are married and reside in the community Anna, (Mrs. Wm. Tigue) Clara, (Mrs. Ed Greenlun) Ida, (Mrs. Peter Sorteberg) Oscar, Henry and Edwin.  The funeral was held at Joyce Chapel on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock, Rev. E. E. Shawl officiating.  Mrs. Roy Hodson sand "The City Foursquare," "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" and "The Sweet bye and Buy".  Interment was made in the Chapel Cemetery.  The community extends its sympathy to the loved ones, but all those who knew him morn his death."

John Peter Swanson died on June 8, 1922.  Both he and his wife Carrie are buried in the Joyce Chapel Cemetery in Lots 19/1-2.  This cemetery has now been designated as a Minnesota Historical Site.

Oh!, there are so many stories about the early life of this family and the things they had to endure might be almost unbelievable in this day and age but how would you like to do things like this?

For about 15 years they hauled potatoes, butter and eggs to Minneapolis every two weeks and peddled to regular customers on the route.  John always put the money collected in a gunny sack and put it in the back of the wagon.  One time he was stopped by two men who attempted to rob him but he was able to get away from them by putting the whip to the horse Maude and outrun them.

Doctors and the hospital were in Anoka.  About 1900, while raking hay John ran into a nest of bumble bees.  The team of broncs, Betsy and Maude started to run and the rake tongue broke and the rake tipped over and John received a severe gash on his head.  This meant a trip to the Kline Hospital in Anoka by horse and buggy and he almost bled to death!

Regardless of all the trials of life of the Swanson family that was raised by John and Carrie Swanson it was a very loving close knit group. 

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