Category Archives: Midwest

Liz Gulevich

Liz Gulevich was one of our featured storytellers at our salon November 9, 2014 called “Foreign Correspondents: Immigrant Odysseys.” She tells a captivating story about the empowerment of her immigrant mother during her mother’s sunset years in Palo Alto, California. There’s a surprise near the end that involves an audience member. Read More »

The Miracle of Life

Morrie’s early years were gruesome and filled with fear, but they shaped a man who taught his son to stand down for nothing and stand up for everything. It wasn’t something you see often. Nazi soldiers flooding the streets as Polish residents were called out, manhandled, and forced to their knees. The air was thick with crackling tension, only broken ... Read More »

Ragnild Syversdatter and Kittel Groth

Another young woman who courageously made possible a “better life” for the family in America was Ragnild Syversdatter Groth. When her parents agreed to the request that their seventeen-year-old daughter marry Kittel Groth, who was fifteen years older, she had no idea that five years later her husband would succumb to the “America fever.” He sold the family farm in ... Read More »

Guri Syversdatter Sundbreen & Lars Paulson Troo

  In the steerage the family slept on a straw-covered plank bunk with barely enough room for four – let alone five. After much seasickness all of Guri’s children suffered from measles and her youngest son died. The greatest bravery was shown by Guri Syversdatter Sundbreen,a little woman in physical stature but a giant in faith. In May 1857 this thirty-eight ... Read More »

Maja Greta Andersdotter

My great grandmother Maja Greta Andersdotter may have immigrated from Sweden to the US twice. She was born in Grevbak, Skaraborg, Sweden on Dec. 13, 1847, to Anders Johansson and Maria Svensdotter. She was the eldest of what eventually were six children in the family, including one who died in infancy. In the early 1850s the family was influenced by ... Read More »

Henry Drekmeier, Mathilde and Augusta Wagner

Grandpa Henry Drekmeier spent happy hours skating on the frozen estuaries of the Rhein near Bremerhaven where he was born. I suspect this may have been in the late 1860’s since he fathered the first of his five children in 1896. In order to avoid the Bismarckian military conscription he joined the German merchant marine and spent several years sailing ... Read More »

Francis Squair

Francis Squair (seated with his 3 brothers and 2 sisters) was my great-grandfather. He was born in the Scottish Highlands just east of Loch Ness in 1848. After studying pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, he and his brothers immigrated to Chicago around 1868. I can’t say why, but I surmise they were victims of the Highland Clearances, efforts by ... Read More »

Carl Carlson

My grandfather was born in Sweden and came to America with his wife near the turn of the 20th century. He was known on the East side of St. Paul, Minnesota as “Coffee Carlson” because he delivered coffee to various places throughout that part of town. He married Beda Wilhelmina Rudeen, but there is very little written about them. They ... Read More »

John Adolph Youngquist

Johannes Hokannson was a religious man, an itinerate preacher in Sweden. His wife, Cecilia came from a wealthy family. Cecelia’s family helped her and her children considerably, but even so Grandpa said they were poor in Sweden. The state church disapproved of such preachers in Sweden; hence, he left with his wife Cecelia, and the six youngest of their seven ... Read More »

Hans Christian Vinther and Ida Frederikka Otilia Sturve Vinther

Hans (1846 – 1908) was born in Denmark and immigrated to Illinois in the early 1870’s. Probably he left to avoid being drafted into Bismark’s German army. A short time later, he and a close friend, Martin Nelson moved to Texas. Then Hans sent for his German fiancée, Ida, (1852 – 1931) to join him. Hans’ brother Jorgen Theodor Vinther ... Read More »

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