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The Campaign of the Illinois Central Railroad for Norwegian and Swedish Immigrants
By Paul W. Gates (Volume VI: Page 66)

The migration of thousands of Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes to the United States during the nineteenth century has attracted the attention of many students of American history. The social, economic, and religious causes of this vast movement have been carefully studied and their relative importance assessed. The influence of the "America letters," of Cleng Peerson, and of such pamphlets as Ole Rynning's True Account of America in arousing interest in emigration to the United States has been pointed out. {1} Less attention, however, has been paid to the advertising campaigns that were carried on in northern European countries by the great American land companies for the purpose of inducing people to migrate to their sections. It is proposed in this paper to study the work of the Illinois Central Railroad, the first of the land grant railroads, in attracting settlers from Norway and Sweden.

In 1851 the Illinois Central Railroad received a grant of two and one-half million acres of land in the state of Illinois to aid in its construction. Much of this land lay in eastern and central Illinois, regions that hitherto had been largely neglected by incoming settlers, in spite of the fact that they contained some of the richest prairie land in the West. By 1854 the construction of the road was sufficiently advanced to warrant the company's turning its attention to the problem of securing settlers for the region through which its line lay. {2}

David Neal, vice-president of the road and head of the land department, realized that the natural flow of immigration into eastern and central Illinois would not settle the company's lands and build up traffic for the road as rapidly as was desired. He therefore planned to stimulate this immigration, and proposed to station emigration agents throughout the eastern part of the United States and through Norway, Sweden, and Germany to induce people to go to Illinois {3} Neal selected Oscar Malmborg to undertake this work in the Scandinavian countries.

Malmborg was an educated Swede who was able to converse in French and German as well as in the Scandinavian languages. He had been at work for the Illinois Central Railroad since 1852 and was thoroughly familiar with its lands. His task was to visit the rural communities of Norway and Sweden, to converse with people who might be interested in coming to America, and to persuade them to settle upon Illinois Central land. He was encouraged to assemble a colony to return with him to Illinois, where a special tract of land was to be reserved for them.

Malmborg began his work in Sweden by translating and publishing, in the newspapers of the various provinces, material that was furnished him by the company. He traveled throughout the country distributing pamphlets and other literature, and visiting people interested in emigrating. There were a large number of them, he reported, both in Norway and in Sweden. {4} Unfortunately Malmborg's work was cut short by a change in the management of the land department that necessitated his return to Illinois, and it was not until 1860 that he was able to resume the work begun so energetically in 1854.

Charles M. Dupuy, who replaced David Neal as head of the land department, was as anxious as his predecessor to promote emigration to Illinois, but he was inclined to stress the work abroad much less than similar activities in the eastern part of the United States. Consequently the emigration activities abroad languished throughout the remainder of the decade. However, a great advertising campaign was carried on in the eastern states, where hundreds of thousands of pamphlets were distributed calling attention to the Illinois Central lands, and, in the newspapers of the rural sections, attractive circulars and advertisements were inserted. As a result, most of the movement to the company's lands, aside from the considerable number of German and French-Canadian immigrants, was from the eastern part of the United States. Scandinavian immigrants were going to other parts of the country. The influx of Easterners, however, did not take up the lands as rapidly as the company desired and in 1860 it was decided to send Malmborg again to Norway and Sweden to resume the work left off in 1854.

In May, 1860, President Osborn instructed Malmborg to proceed to Norway and Sweden to act as agent of the Illinois Central Railroad in inducing emigrants from those countries to come to America to settle upon Illinois Central lands. The occasion seemed especially timely, for it was reported that a large number of Swedes were preparing to emigrate in the spring of that year. {5} Malmborg was requested to start as soon as possible in order that he might begin work before the emigration season was over. For the period of four months during which he was to be in Europe, he was allowed $500 traveling expenses and $300 for printing and advertising. His pay was to continue as before.

President Osborn was well aware of the frauds that, in the past, had been perpetrated upon emigrants by land and emigration agents and he specifically warned Malmborg against making exaggerated statements in regard to the Illinois Central lands. It was left to Malmborg's discretion to determine the means and methods of making known as widely as possible the character of the lands, the inducements the company offered to prospective settlers, the rapid growth of the state, the immense crops, and other pertinent information. Malmborg was instructed to inform the New York office regularly of his movements and progress. His letters, which have been published in part, indicate the faithfulness with which he carried out his instructions. {6}

As Malmborg was authorized to spend only four months in the two countries of Norway and Sweden, he had to devote most of his time to the larger emigration centers and was forced to neglect the smaller rural districts from which people were leaving for America. Thus, during the first forty days, he visited Gothenburg, going from there to Christiania and to Bergen and then back to Stavanger, Christiansand, Christiania, Fredrikshald, Strømstad and Gothenburg. During this time he published twenty-five hundred circulars and maps in Swedish and a thousand in Norwegian; he inserted advertisements in the newspapers in Gothenburg, Christiania, and Stavanger, and in twelve rural papers in the two countries; he prepared editorials for publication and conducted a heavy correspondence, in the various sections that he visited, with people who were interested. So far Malmborg's work had been more or less that of a publicity director and, except in the larger cities, he had come into little direct contact with the emigrating class. Moreover, many of the emigrants from the rural sections had made their choice of destination before they arrived at the ports. Malmborg soon realized that in the time allotted he could accomplish little; he asked the officials of the Illinois Central for a longer period of time in order that he might visit the rural districts and make direct contacts with prospective emigrants in the two countries before they had decided on their future location. His request was granted and he was instructed to remain through the winter, following out the itinerary that he had proposed. {7}

In the extended period granted to him Malmborg worked largely among the peasant farmers and the lower middle-class landowners. The former, he reported, were slowly being squeezed out of their possessions in Sweden by the large landowners, and were easily induced to leave the country for America. The difficulty was that they had little money, and Malmborg found it advisable to work more with the class of farmers who had some resources with which they could pay their passage to their new homes and also make first payments on their land.

Malmborg employed various methods for establishing contacts with the farmers of Norway and Sweden. He traveled through the rural sections of both countries arranging meetings in parish houses and other public buildings. Previous notices of the meetings were sent to sextons or parsons in the churches, where they were read; advertisements announcing the meetings were frequently inserted in the local papers; personal letters were sent to many people who were reported to be interested in emigrating; circulars were often distributed by sextons among the parishioners; and special messengers were sometimes employed. Many of these meetings were well attended. After a short talk by Malmborg on Illinois and Illinois Central lands, maps and circulars would be distributed among the crowd and the people would then converse personally with the agent. Malmborg also attended the fairs at Kalmar, Wexjø, Jønkøping and other centers, his attendance being announced previously by advertisements. At these fairs he met people who had come from long distances, and he would discuss with them the subject of emigration and Illinois Central lands.

Malmborg continued to advertise extensively in the papers. This policy not only called attention to his meetings and gave him an opportunity to extol America but also established helpful contacts with editors of some of the more important papers. These editors frequently published free articles on emigration and America that had been prepared by Malmborg. The advertising also helped to keep the editors neutral when controversy sprang up between Malmborg and the groups who were opposed to emigration.

It was inevitable that Malmborg's activities should arouse opposition among the anti-emigration groups in the two countries. Perhaps the first attack was one that appeared in the Barometern of October 31, 1860, in answer to Malmborg's writings and advertising. It fulminated strongly against the "swindlers which so often beset the emigrant on his first arrival" in the new country. The "runners" who were employed by railroads, land companies, hotels, and lodging houses in the immigration ports were guilty of practicing deception and knavery upon the innocent immigrant, and the author of this article was striking at one of the worst evils. Malmborg replied in the Barometern of February 6, 1861, "in as moderate terms as possible in order not to excite opposition." He pointed out that he had promised that the Illinois Central Railroad would have its own agents at Quebec and New York to meet all immigrants who were planning to go to the company's lands, and thus would safeguard them against the "runners." To give as wide publicity as possible to his reply, he had it republished in the Wexjø Bladet; special editions of both papers were printed for distribution in the rural sections. A second attack, which was likewise published in Barometern, was answered in a different way. Malmborg arranged for a Swede who had spent many years in America to prepare a reply to which he himself added further material; he then had it published in the same paper over the signature of the Swede. It seems that on the whole Malmborg, who was a good publicist, did not emerge second best in the controversies.

The chief opponents of emigration in the Scandinavian countries seem to have been the large farmers. Malmborg pointed out that they were loath to lose their laborers and that consequently they circulated stories to the effect that those shipping for New York were taken to Siberia or to the southern states where they were sold as slaves. In contrast to the attitude in Germany of some princes, who exerted themselves to prevent the emigration of their subjects, the public authorities and press of the Scandinavian countries were neutral in the controversy.

Malmborg also came into competition with the Canadian emigration agents in the Scandinavian countries. The Province of Canada had two agents there and one of them, Christopher O. Closter, a Norwegian, had made such "gross misrepresentations" in his work that a clergyman who had resided in Canada, Wisconsin, and Minnesota publicly denounced him and his mission "in the hardest terms" before a crowd of four thousand in the Stavanger cathedral. It is interesting to note that the two Canadian emigration agents were attempting to combat in Norway and Sweden the prejudice that the people of those countries had against Canada in favor of Illinois and Wisconsin. They used the same methods that Malmborg employed, with somewhat more immediate success. Malmborg warned his employers to beware of the runners maintained by the Canadian government at Quebec "who spare no pains or expense in inducing the arriving to settle in the Canadas." {8}

During the winter Malmborg's time was spent in the rural districts and the centers where fairs were being held, but with the coming of spring he visited the various ports, Bergen, Stavanger, Drammen, Christiania, Gothenburg, Kalmar, and Stockholm, where he met emigrants who were preparing to journey to America. He continued his conversations with them where possible and arranged for the ship captains and port officials to distribute literature to persons sailing during his absence. He prepared lists of those who had given him sufficient encouragement to indicate that they were going to Illinois, and sent these lists to the land commissioner of the Illinois Central with the request that agents be sent to meet the incoming immigrants.

Early in 1861 it was apparent that a large emigration was preparing to leave Norway and Sweden for America. The Norwegian press estimated that ten thousand Norwegians would leave, although Malmborg set the figure at seven thousand. This, he said, was thirty per cent more than had left in any previous year. He was equally optimistic in regard to the number of Swedish emigrants. By spring, however, rumors of conflict in America led many to change their plans. Those who had already sold their farms were committed to leaving, but others who had been delaying now decided to wait for more propitious circumstances before they left the homeland. Malmborg reported that the prospective emigrants were becoming panicky over the stories of piracy by Southerners and in June he said that trade with the United States was practically suspended. Thus it was almost impossible to secure transportation from Norway or Sweden to the United States. The movement did not cease, however, for the emigrants took ship for Quebec whence they left for the western states. {9}

In accordance with Malmborg's advice, the land department sent agents to Quebec to meet the incoming emigrants, lists of whom had been supplied. This precaution seemed essential, for the Canadian government had its most able agents stationed at Quebec to induce the new arrivals to settle in Upper or Lower Canada. The agents were instructed to employ every facility for the comfort of the emigrants. J. W. Whitcher, one of the agents stationed at Quebec, reported in the early part of June that three hundred Norwegians had left for Chicago and that three or four hundred more would leave in two or three days. To make certain that they would arrive in Chicago safe from the blandishments of other immigration agents he was advised to send a man to accompany them to that city. {10} Fearful that even these precautions would not properly safeguard the emigrants, land commissioner Foster sent two additional agents, one to Detroit and the other to Quebec, to meet the Norwegians. Through the exertions of these agents and with the expenditure of a few hundred dollars to counteract, as Foster put it, the exertions of the Galena road, it was hoped that some results would be attained. Ill success almost drove Foster to desperation, for on June 12 he suggested that the company employ some of the emigrant runners at Quebec by paying more than the other roads paid for their services. On June 19 Foster reported that there was a considerable movement of Norwegians through Chicago but that they had little means. He still hoped to secure a portion of them, though as yet he had met with little success. Most of them, he remarked, appeared to have heard nothing of Malmborg or of his work in Norway. On June 24 Foster reported from Chicago, "Some of Malmborg's Swedes begin to arrive. I trust that we shall have better luck than with the Norwegians, most of whom are destitute of means, & are headed to Minnesota & Wisconsin." Malmborg himself accompanied his last group of immigrants, a party of sixty Swedes, to the United States. Of this number he hoped that ten families would settle on the Illinois Central lands. {11}

What were the results achieved by Malmborg? One official said there were no results from either the company's agent in Norway and Sweden or from those in Canada; that large numbers of Scandinavian immigrants passed through Chicago but that none of them purchased land from the Illinois Central Railroad. Writing in a similar vein in the following year, President Osborn said that Malmborg's trip had been a failure. {12} To the discouraged officials who wanted immediate results the work did seem a failure, but the results of such activities are not immediately apparent. Malmborg himself had said in February, 1861, that many Scandinavians would migrate that year, but that the great stream would begin the next year and he believed that his work would be felt in the future as much as in the present. Despite the statements of Redmond and Osborn, there were some small results from Malmborg's work even in 1861. As early as February of that year Foster reported that the Norwegians were beginning to come in. Most of them were destitute and headed for Minnesota and Wisconsin, but he was making up a party to send out over the Illinois Central line. In May Foster established four Swedes on Illinois Central land and during June he was kept busy dealing with Swedes and Norwegians. Thus on June 6 he piloted six Swedes down the line, with the expectation of taking more down soon; on June 26 he reported that quite a party of Swedes had gone down the line and another was to go that night; and on July 13 it was reported that "a very intelligent lot of Swedes" were sent down to Neoga in charge of an agent who was positive that he could sell to them. {13} Though relatively few of the Norwegians and Swedes coming to the United States in 1860 and the early part of 1861 actually settled upon Illinois Central land, these lands had been so well advertised that in the latter part of 1861 and in the following years a considerable stream of settlers from these two countries came to eastern Illinois. This was in part the result of Malmborg's efforts.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the movement of population to Illinois from the East practically ceased, but the Swedish and Norwegian as well as German immigration that had been looked for in the first part of 1861 now began. Most pleasing to the officials of the Illinois Central was the fact that most of these new immigrants were going to eastern Illinois. At Big Spring, 180 miles south of Chicago, a Swedish settlement sprang up which, under the encouragement of the railroad, came to be a prosperous agricultural center. The company donated a lot for the church and shipped quantities of lumber at reduced freight rates. Within a short time thirty families had taken up land in the vicinity. {14} With the opening of 1862 larger numbers of both Swedes and Norwegians began moving into the vicinity of Big Spring and Neoga. In fact the movement became so encouraging that President Osborn spoke of it at the annual meeting of the company in May of that year. {15} At the same time both Swedes and Norwegians were beginning to settle around Pera and Paxton, about one hundred miles south of Chicago.

To get a larger share of the Scandinavians coming to America, Osborn determined to send another agent to Quebec to work among the incoming immigrants. He engaged a Norwegian clergyman, Pastor Abraham Jacobson, to go to Quebec for four months during the emigration season. Osborn furnished him with five thousand circulars that were printed in Swedish on one side and Norwegian on the other. {16} Jacobson plunged into the work among his fellow-countrymen at Quebec, devoting as much of his time to relief work as to directing emigration. Indeed, so valuable did his relief work become that the Canadian government made him a grant of money to show its gratitude, not aware that he was at the same time acting as emigration agent of the Illinois Central. {17} In the same year Osborn requested Pastor Erland Carlson to engage for him another Swedish or Norwegian clergyman to carry on the same work in New York. The agents were to caution the immigrants against buying tickets beyond Chicago and also against agents of other roads. {18}

To counteract the efforts of other land companies, railroads, and states that were seeking to draw immigrants to their regions, Osborn decided in 1862 to reorganize the land department as far as its work with foreign immigrants was concerned. Where previously all control over advertising, agents, and similar departments had been with the land commissioner, the head of the land department, it was now decided to appoint prominent individuals among the German and Scandinavian peoples to undertake emigration work for the company. They were to be given considerable leeway in expenditures, in making sales, and in carrying on emigration work among their nationals both at home and abroad. Francis Hoffman, one of the most prominent Germans in the western states, was persuaded to undertake this work among his fellow-countrymen. {19} President Osborn then approached a group of Swedish and Norwegian Lutherans who were planning to establish a college, ultimately Augustana College, somewhere in the Northwest. He hoped to persuade them to locate it on the line of the Illinois Central Railroad and at the same time to accept an agency for the company's lands.

Osborn began negotiations with the Lutheran group in April, 1862. He had to bid against other sections that were anxious to secure the college. Indeed, proposals for locating the institution in Grundy, Black Hawk, and Butler counties, Iowa, and in Minnesota had already been made and one offer had been accepted, only to fall through at the outbreak of the Civil War. {20} Osborn's offer had the advantage over the others of providing a source of income for the college during its early days. His offer included a provision that a commission of fifty cents per acre should be given to the leaders for every acre of land that was sold through their efforts. The Lutheran leaders were slow and cautious and looked into this proposition very carefully before they would commit themselves. {21} Osborn hoped to locate them at Neoga, or perhaps farther south, in a region where the company was selling very little land but where a few Swedes and Norwegians had settled already. He felt that if he were successful in so locating them, sales of land would be greatly stimulated and large numbers of people would be drawn to the section.

By May 14 Osborn had interested the Scandinavians in his proposal sufficiently that they agreed to go on a tour of inspection over the line of the road to view prospective sites for the college. Accompanied by President Osborn and officials of the land department, two Swedish and two Norwegian clergymen set out over the line on a special train and traveled as far south as Jonesboro. Pastor T. N. Hasselquist, who was one of the leaders of the group, was especially struck by three places: Neoga, Pera, and Paxton. At the first place, as we have seen, there was already a considerable settlement of Swedes and Norwegians, there was a good deal of vacant land, and the soil and agricultural possibilities seemed favorable. Neoga's chief drawback was its distance from Chicago: 180 miles. It was feared that the location was too far from the main body of Scandinavians, who were much farther north. Pera was more favorably situated and already possessed a small settlement of Swedes, but too much of the land in the vicinity was owned by speculators who were holding it for high prices. Paxton had particular appeal for Hasselquist, who was struck by the richness of the surrounding soil, the large amount of land available, and the relative proximity of the location to Chicago. {22}

Henceforth Hasselquist strongly urged the Lutheran group to accept President Osborn's offer, but he was opposed by most of the other leaders, among them Engberg, Esbjorn, Carl Carlson, and even Norelius. These men opposed the offer on the ground that to locate the college at any of the three places mentioned would be to place it in a region far distant from the main body of Lutherans, who would thus be prevented from enjoying its benefits. Many thought it should be located in Minnesota, where large numbers of Swedes and Norwegians were settling. {23} Erland Carlson supported Hasselquist, and together they convinced the Augustana Synod that Paxton was the ideal location for the college.

The negotiations between Carlson and Hasselquist on the one hand and Osborn on the other were long and involved. The two Lutheran leaders were quite suspicious of the president and investigated every aspect of the proposition before accepting. They succeeded in getting Osborn to make a more generous offer, which included the following terms: the company was to sell the college one thousand acres of choice lands in the neighborhood of Paxton for six dollars an acre, and was to reserve five thousand more in the same region, the price of which was not to exceed ten dollars per acre. A commission of one dollar an acre was to be given to the college on all sales made through the influence of its leaders, up to thirty thousand acres, and fifty cents an acre on the next thirty thousand. This offer finally won the synod and was accepted on February 12, 1863. {24}

Both Hasselquist and Carlson were situated favorably for carrying on immigration work among their countrymen. Hasselquist, as editor of Hemlandet, an influential Swedish newspaper, was able to publish material about the proposed colony, and in this way secured much free publicity for it. He was also able to give a favorable start to the new settlement by bringing to Paxton a group of Lutherans who had been members of his congregation at Galesburg. Carlson, being in Chicago where thousands of Norwegians and Swedes were arriving, was in touch with the newcomers and thus was able to induce many to go to Paxton or that vicinity who otherwise might have gone to Minnesota or Wisconsin. {25} These two men were able to get much publicity for the colony through their extensive correspondence with prominent Lutherans in Norway and Sweden. The visits that the leaders of the synod made to their home countries was likewise valuable. Finally Hemlandet, which circulated to some extent in Norway and Sweden, through exchanges and otherwise, carried abroad the articles and advertisements on Paxton and the new college. Indeed the connection between Augustana Synod and Augustana College and the publicity that the leaders of the latter gave to their colony became so prominent that a writer in Sweden reported, "It has come to the point that in some quarters in Sweden the Augustana Synod is suspected of being a kind of emigration bureau and that ministers who visit Sweden are emigration agents to get recruits for their congregations.'' {26}

Though both Hasselquist and Carlson spent considerable time in promoting the movement of emigration to Paxton they were not able to care adequately for the work and it was decided to appoint an agent in Chicago who would take over the task of advertising and arranging the land sales. P. L. Hawkinson, an adept at advertising, was selected as land agent for Augustana College. Hawkinson immediately visited Paxton and its vicinity in order to acquaint himself with the region before he began his work. An early advertisement placed in Hemlandet by Hawkinson is interesting as showing the broad appeal he made to his countrymen. {27} It was directed to all who were interested in the college that was being established, to all interested in Paxton, to persons wishing to settle in a community where there was a Lutheran church and where good instruction by Lutheran pastors was available in both Swedish and English, and to those anxious to secure good farming lands. Hawkinson pointed out that some of the land in the vicinity was splendid, surpassing in richness all land in the northern and middle part of Illinois. In spite of the fact that Paxton was situated in the midst of a large prairie miles distant from timber, the advertisement declares that woodland is within four or five miles of the town and wood may be procured at much lower prices than in Galesburg or Aurora. Much of the land is suitable for wheat, although corn, which produces fifty to ninety bushels per acre, is more profitable. The climate is suitable; in fact, the region is the healthiest place in America, according to the residents of Paxton. Hawkinson then gives the particular advantages of buying land of the Illinois Central. In the first place, the prospective purchaser is given a free trip to Paxton by the railroad, and if he purchases from the company his family will likewise be given free passage to the community. In the second place, he will be allowed seven years to pay for the land at six per cent interest. One of the biggest advantages is that his land will be exempt from all taxes until the purchaser has made his last payment on it and received title. Finally, the Illinois Central will accept the products of his land as payment and gives the highest prices for them in

With the group that Hasselquist brought with him from Galesburg as a nucleus, and the constant additions that were brought to Paxton by Hawkinson, the colony developed rapidly during its first few years. Within a year Hemlandet reported that over six thousand acres had been sold and that there was a Swedish Lutheran congregation of fifty members that would represent a group of over two hundred people. The following year Hasselquist wrote that Paxton had a population of a thousand, lie was unlike most town-site promoters, however; he added frankly that the place would probably not be a large city. {28} Strangely enough, immigration fell off markedly in 1865 and 1866, in spite of the fact that both Swedes and Norwegians were coming to the United States during this period in much larger numbers than ever before. In 1867 and 1868, however, the colony experienced its most active growth. In these two years, between twenty thousand and thirty thousand acres were sold by the agents of the college. This brought to a virtual close the land operations of the group.

The total land sales that the officials of Augustana College made for the Illinois Central Railroad were over thirty-six thousand acres. {29} As the average number of acres per sale in this period was about seventy, this would represent approximately five hundred individual sales to perhaps as many families. {30} This figure, however, does not include all the land sales that were made directly or indirectly through the influence of Hawkinson, Hasselquist, and Carlson. Many Swedes were induced to come to the region through the work of these men, but subsequently purchased their land from other agents of the company. Captain Stevens, station agent for the Illinois Central at Paxton, was authorized to make sales; he received a commission ranging from fifteen cents to twenty-five cents per acre. To October, 1867, his total commissions reached one thousand dollars, which would represent additional land sales of from four thousand to six thousand acres. {31} As the incoming Swedes did not settle only in Paxton and its immediate vicinity, it is probable that other station agents north and south of Paxton benefited from the work of the Lutheran leaders, as did also other landholders in the community. Furthermore, not all who came to Paxton purchased land for farming; some engaged in business in the town. Thus it is impossible to measure fully the results of the immigration work of the Augustana leaders. It is certain, however, that owing to their efforts a considerable body of Swedes was planted in and around Paxton, which even today may be called a Swedish community. {32}

Hasselquist was unsuccessful in drawing any important number of Norwegians to his colony. Few of the immigrant groups coming to America during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century settled so largely in one section as did the Norwegians. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and northern Illinois contained in 1870 ninety per cent of the Norwegian population of the country, while the same area contained less than sixty-six per cent of the Swedish population. {33} It seemed to be much more difficult to induce the Norwegians to go to regions outside of the area above mentioned than it was to induce the Swedes.

It is interesting to note the localities from which the Paxton settlers came. Mention has already been made of the original group that came with Hasselquist from Galesburg. At the first meeting of the congregation in 1865, members joined the church who had come from Knoxville, Moline, Galesburg, and Berlin, Illinois, from Chandlers Valley, Pennsylvania, and from points in Minnesota. In 1865 and 1866 a group came from Attica, Indiana, and small numbers came from other Swedish centers in America. After 1866 the largest influx of settlers came directly from Sweden. {34}

Although Hasselquist, Carlson, Hawkinson, and others were successful in bringing many of their countrymen to Paxton, they were not able to overcome the prejudice of the Scandinavians against settling in a region so far south. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and even northern Illinois had much more attraction for them and in spite of all the work that was undertaken by these men, they were able to persuade only a small portion of the Scandinavian immigrants to go to their region. Hemlandet gave much attention in its columns to the Swedes and Norwegians who were passing through Chicago, and frequently observed that relatively large groups went to Wisconsin and Minnesota, many went to Galesburg and Andover, some stayed in Chicago, and a few went to Paxton. {35}

As early as 1865 Hasselquist became convinced that Paxton was not going to become a large colony and in the following year he wrote that the settlement had not grown as rapidly as he had expected. Nor had the college developed as had been anticipated. In 1866 its total enrollment was but forty, of whom seven Were Americans, six were Norwegians, and the remainder were Swedes. {36} It was apparent by now that the location at a point so far south was unfortunate, and already a movement was on foot to transfer the institution to some more central location. As early as 1868 Hasselquist was corresponding with the land department of the Union Pacific Railroad in regard to moving the colony of Swedes from Paxton to Kansas. {37} No change was made until the seventies, when Augustana College was moved to Rock Island, but such a move had seemed inevitable much earlier.

Besides the work of the Augustana leaders there were other influences that were attracting Swedes and Norwegians to eastern Illinois. Mention has already been made of the colony at Neoga and Big Spring, which continued to grow during this period. Pastor Magny, writing to Hasselquist on July 12, 1865, said that he had thirty-three children in his parochial school and that during the previous week five families had come from Sweden. A somewhat more important colony of Swedes was being established at Homer in Champaign County, not far from the line of the Illinois Central Railroad. Here M. L. Sullivant had a farm of twenty-three thousand acres, one of the largest in the state. Sullivant depended upon Scandinavians for his labor supply. When in need of help he would go to Chicago, where he would hire the penniless Swedes and Norwegians, who were stranded in the city, for twenty-five dollars per month and board. Many of these people subsequently settled in the vicinity of Homer. In 1868 Hasselquist was asked to come to Broadlands, as the large farm was called, to preach to the fifty Scandinavians who were employed on it. At the same time a considerable body of Swedes took up land around Beaver settlement. {38}

In summarizing this study of emigration promotion by the Illinois Central Railroad among the Norwegians and Swedes both in the United States and abroad, a number of facts stand out. In the first place the emigration work described above did not produce a new movement; Swedes and Norwegians had been emigrating in large numbers for almost a generation before the work began. The activities of the Illinois Central and its agents did quicken the movement and, in addition, helped to direct it somewhat. This point, however, should not be over-stressed. The Illinois Central succeeded in diverting only a portion of the Scandinavian immigrants to eastern Illinois, a region that otherwise they would have neglected entirely. These sturdy settlers have built up a section that has come to be one of the most productive agricultural centers in the country. The Swedes were the pioneers in Paxton, Ford County, and the surrounding region, and provided a basis for a slow but continued development to the present time.

The chief value of this study does not lie, however, in its tracing the development of a Swedish colony, but rather in its study of the technique of emigration promotion. As the first land grant railroad, the Illinois Central established precedents, in the means and methods it used for colonizing its lands, that were later followed on a much larger scale by the trans-Mississippi railroads. Where the Illinois Central had one agent in Norway and Sweden and a number of runners and other agents in the American immigration ports, some trans-Mississippi railroads employed hundreds of agents at home and abroad to carry on the same type of work that Malmborg and the leaders of Augustana College had done. Norway and Sweden as well as other northern European countries became literally honeycombed with a hierarchy of emigration agents maintained by Canadian provinces and American states, railroads, and steamship companies, all striving to promote and direct emigration to the regions in which they were particularly interested. It is in this phase of the work of Malmborg, Carlson, Hasselquist, Hawkinson, Jacobson, and others that the student of western history can see the greatest significance.


<1> See Theodore C. Blegen, "Cleng Peerson and Norwegian Immigration," in Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 7:303-331 (March, 1921), and ed., "Ole Rynning's True Account of America," in Minnesota History Bulletin, 2:221-269 (November, 1917). The publications of the Swedish and Norwegian historical societies contain many "America letters."

<2> See the present writer's "Land Policy of the Illinois Central Railroad," in Journal of Economic and Business History, vol. 3, no. 4, p. 554-573 (August, 1931).

<3> Illinois Central Railroad, Annual Reports, 1854.

<4> F. O. Malmborg to D. A. Neal, May 28, 1854, and Neal to Perkins, December 30, 1854, January 5, 1855, in Magazine Office, Illinois Central Railroad Station, Chicago. This archive is hereafter cited as M.O.

<5> Osborn to Malmborg, May 16, 1860, "Presidents Letters," no. 14, box 48, and Osborn to Foster, April 24, 1860, "Presidents Letters," no. 15, box 48, Sixty-third Street archives, Illinois Central Railroad.

<6> Swedish-American Historical Bulletin, vol. 3, no. 2, p. 9-52 (June, 1950). The document on page 11 was never forwarded to Malmborg, as the executive committee of the Illinois Central reversed its previous action in appointing him agent for Norway and Sweden. The originals are in the Magazine Office. It has not seemed necessary to refer to them except when quotations are used.

<7> Statement of expenses of the Swedish-Norwegian Land Agency of the Illinois Central Railroad Company from 26th May to 31 July, 1860," M.O.; Thomas E. Walker to Malmborg, August 24, 1860, "Presidents and Chairmans Letters," no. 15, box 48, Sixty-third Street archives.

<8> A. C. Buchanan, report, February 12, 1862, paper no. 355, Imperial Blue Book, Canada, vol. 34, passim; Buchanan, report, January 19, 1863, Sessional Papers, second session, seventh Parliament, 3:4; Malmborg to Burnside, April 14, 1861, M.O. For a more detailed discussion of Closter's activities in Norway see Theodore C. Blegen, "An Early Norwegian Settlement in Canada," in Canadian Historical Association, Annual Reports, 1930, p. 84 f.

<9> It is apparent that the statistics of Swedish and Norwegian immigration to the United States in 1860 and following years given in the Report of the Immigration Commission, vol. 1, passim (1911), are inaccurate. They do not include the large number of Scandinavians who came to the United States by way of Quebec and Montreal. In 1861 the Canadian emigrant agent, A. C. Buchanan, reported that a total of 8,668 Norwegian and Swedish immigrants had arrived at Quebec, of which less than 800 remained in the province. (A. C. Buchanan, Chief Emigrant Agent, report, February 12, 1862, paper no. 355, Imperial Blue Book, 34:4-6.) In the Report of the Immigration Commission it is stated that only 616 Norwegians and Swedes came to the United States in 1861.

<10> Foster to Walker, May 18 and June 5, 1861, green box, Sixty-third Street archives.

<11> Foster to Walker, June 12, 13, 19, 24, 1861, M.O.; Malmborg to Burnside, July 5, 1861, and Walker to Redmond, July 31, 1861, "Treasurers Letters," no. 18, box 48, Sixty-third Street archives.

<12> Redmond to Walker, August 16, 1861, M.O.; Osborn to directors of the Illinois Central Railroad, May 8, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O.

<13> J. W. Foster, letter, February 15, 1861, and Foster to Walker, May 31, June 6, and June 26, 1861, M.O.; J. M. Douglas to Osborn, July 13, 1861, Sixty-third Street archives.

<14> 0sborn to P. Peterson, May 13, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O. See an article on this colony by J. Peterson in Hemlandet, January 21, 1864. Augustana College at Rock Island, Illinois, has a file of Hemlandet.

<15> Railway Times (London), June 21, 1862.

<16> Osborn to J. M. Redmond, May 24, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O.

<17> Memorandum signed by F. Evanturel, September, 1862, in MSS. vol. "Emigration Letters Sent 1862-1864," and letter of A. C. Buchanan, September 23, MSS. vol. "Agriculture Letters Received 1862 to 18-," Dominion archives, Ottawa, Canada.

<18> Osborn to Reverend E. Carlson, May 24, 1862, and Osborn to Walker, May 24, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862.

<19> Walker to Osborn, May 2, 1862, "Treasurers Letters," no. 19, box 48, Sixty-third Street archives; Osborn to Walker, May 6, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O. See also a copy of the contract between Hoffman and the company in M.O.

<20> Osborn to Walker, May 6, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O.; Ernst Olson, ed., History of the Swedes of Illinois, 1:508-513 (Chicago, 1908).

<21> Carlson to Hasselquist, April 29, 1862, Hasselquist Papers, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois; Osborn to Walker, May 1, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O.

<22> Osborn to Walker, May 14, 1862, Osborn letter book, 1861-1862, M.O.; Hasselquist, report, in Augustana Synodens Protokoll, Minutes, 1862, p. 16-18.

<23> J. Engberg to Norelius, February 13, 1863, Norelius Papers, Augustana College; Carl Carlson to Hasselquist, February 27, 1863, Hasselquist Papers; Olson, History of the Swedes of Illinois, 1:508-513.

<24> Carlson to Hasselquist, January 30, 1863, Hasselquist Papers; J. Engberg to Norelius, February 13, 1863, Norelius Papers; Osborn to Walker, February 12, 1865, M.O. This agreement was ratified at the synodical meeting of Augustana Synod in June, 1863. Olson, History of the Swedes of Illinois, 1:513-515.

<25> Carlson, writing on September 15, 1865, to Hasselquist, said he was attending to the large Swedish emigration which was going through Chicago and was sending as many as possible to the new colony at Paxton; Hasselquist Papers.

<26> E. Norelius, writing from Goteborg, May 12, 1868, to the editor of Hemlander. The translation of the letter appears in Swedish Historical Society of America, Yearbooks, 1922 -1923, p. 144.

<27> Hemlandet, February 25 and May 6, 1863.

<28> Hemlandet, February 2, 1864; Hasselquist to Ahlenius, March 3, 1865, Hasselquist letter book, no. 1, Hasselquist Papers.

<29> Compiled from "Ledger A1, A to F," Sixteenth Street archives, Illinois Central Railroad.

<30> See the table of land sales statistics on p. 571 of the author's article in Journal of Economic and Business History, vol. 3, no. 4 (August, 1931).

<31> Hasselquist to Carlson, November 10, 1865, letter book no. 2, Hasselquist to Captain Stevens, September 3, 1867, letter book no. 8, and Carlson to Hasselquist, October 24, 1867, Hasselquist Papers.

<32> A pamphlet prepared by the Swedes of Paxton on the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the town entitled Minnesalbum, Sv. Ev. Luth. Forsamlingen Paxton, Illinois (Paxton, 1903), has been helpful in preparing this paper. Mr. J. Hasselquist, son of Pastor T. N. Hasselquist, very kindly gave the writer much assistance.

<33> United States Census, 1870, Population, 342.

<34> Minnesalbum, l2 passim.

<35> Hemlandet, July 6 and August 24, 1864.

<36> Hasselquist to Ahlenius, March 3, 1865, letter book no. 1, and Hasselquist to Harkey, March 12, 1866, letter book no. 8, Hasselquist Papers. There is considerable material on the history of Augustana College in Augustana College and Theological Seminary, Catalog, 1924-25, p. 115-117 (Augustana Bulletin, April 30, 1925).

<37> W. F. Downs, land commissioner of the Union Pacific Railroad, to Hasselquist, July 24, 1868, Hasselquist Papers.

<38> Hemlandet, June 6, 1864; Eaton to Hasselquist, April 6, 1868, and Mrs. James Mix to Hasselquist, May 22, 1869, Hasselquist Papers.

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