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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 E1izabeth” 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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