New Upsala and the Scandinavian Parish

25 05 2022

Descendents of the Swedish pioneers George Bergwall and Bengt Peterson, arriving to New Upsala at Pine Lake in 1842, attended the Fika meeting at St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church in Hartland on Saturday May 14. At the meeting the story of the founder Gustaf Unonius, the first Swedish settlement in Wisconsin, and the Scandinavian Parish was presented by the team working on a project to honor these events with an official Wisconsin Historical Marker to be located St. Anskar’s church. SAHSWI member Cletus Hasslinger discussed his family history, Bergwall’s and Peterson’s immigration, their leadership at the colony and their life in Sweden before coming to America. These unique stories will be published later on the website in conjunction with the project.

Left: Descendants of George Bergwall and Bengt Peterson Right: George Bergwall

SAHSWI and project team member Tracy Redman talked about her time growing up in the Hartland area and her interest in the Historical plaque of Gustaf Unonius and New Upsala unveiled in 1948 as the state celebrated its centennial. When she became familiar with SAHSWI, she suggested that the organization should initiate this project. Board member and author Martha Bergland discussed the friendship between Gustaf Unonius and Thure Kumlien (The birdman of Koshkonong, book written by Martha), which started when they both attended (old) Upsala university in Sweden, before they immigrated to Wisconsin.

Meg Haag, project team and St. Anskar’s church member talked about how the Scandinavian Parish was split between the Episcopal and Lutheran churches and how the Scandinavian church and cemetery evolved into Holy Innocents and later became a part of St. Anskar’s. On Memorial Day at 10 AM St. Anskar’s is having a short service at the Holy Innocents Cemetery. (On highway C (Lakeland Drive), 3 miles north of C intersection with Highway 16) A walk through the cemetery, looking at the new and old gravestones, Fr Thomas walks with anyone who wishes to have a particular grave blessed. There are 2 bronze plaques placed there “In memory of the pioneer settlers at rest here in the Scandinavian Cemetery”. All are welcome to this service.

“We honor your courage and thank you for our heritage”

After the presentations at the May 14 meeting attendants enjoyed the customary Fika organized by Board member Janet Taylor. St. Anskar’s Junior Warden Sarah Hintz thanked all the guests and offered a tour of the church. From Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, and the project team we thank St. Anskar’s for having us, and we thank all attendees for coming, and all volunteers for helping.

Please find below a link to a summary presentation of the story of Gustaf Unonius, New Upsala and the Scandinavian Parish.