History and Culture on a Beer Can

23 01 2023

The first SAHSWI Fika meeting of 2023, held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church on January 21, 2023, featured SAHSWI members Del and Susan Worden’s presentation of Swedish history and culture expressed on a unique media – beer cans. Del, a collector of beer cans from various countries, showed his collection of cans from Sweden manufactured in the 1970’s, and discussed the subjects the cans portrayed.

All these cans are made of steel and displays pictures and text of different themes.

  • The Birka Beer series of 25 cans has historical information about the Vikings. Birka, the first Swedish town or settlement, (founded 750 AD) became an important trading center. Includes illustrations and description of Viking ships, their weapons, helmets, coins, trade with Asia, and their colonization.
  • The Sami Drum 5-can set show magical symbols only understood by a sorcerer called a “nåid” when he was establishing contact with the spiritual world. Symbols include, the Sorcerer, the Sorcerer’s bird and reindeer, The Sami hunter and the Goddess “Akka”
  • Brygghusöl a 5-can series of beer you can afford to like” picturing different common professions: The Miner, The Glass Blower, The Cook, The Market Woman
  • Gränges Export Beer, a set of cans picturing artworks from Swedish and foreign artists, including Swedish artists, Pehr Hillestrom, Wilhelm Wallander, and Albin Amelin
From left to right: The Viking ship from the Birka series, The Sami hunter from Sami Drum set, The Miner from the Brygghusöl set, and The Meal from the Gränges Export set of art.
  • Granges Fatol, presenting a different can for each of the different provinces (landskap) in Sweden,
  • Hansa Fatöl, a 5-can set with drawings of historic sites from the city of Visby on the island of Gotland.
  • Skepparöl a 7-can set show illustrations of different historic ships
  • Wasa Export Beer, a single can illustrating the powerfully armed warship that sank in August of 1628 on its maiden voyage.
From left Uppland from Gränges Provinces series, The North City Gate from the Hansa Fatöl Visby set, Zoroaster 1877 from Skepparöl set, and Wasa Export Bier, cans made for export to Germany

Del also discussed his collecting hobby, the evolution of breweries in Sweden, and about the classification of beer in Sweden, which is based on the alcohol content. Only class I and II beers are available for purchase in grocery stores, the stronger class III can only be purchased at the state-controlled liquor store “Systembolaget” or licensed restaurants.

Please find below the complete Powerpoint presentation

There were over 40 people attending the meeting who after the presentation enjoyed the traditional Fika with coffee and sweets donated by the attendants. Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson entertained playing Swedish folk music on violin.





Gott Nytt År, Happy New Year 2023

5 01 2023

2022 is now history and we look forward to an exciting new year. We remember 2022 as being the year we came out of the pandemic, with great programming, well attended Fika meetings, Midsommar and Lucia celebrations, with Lucia a record attendance in our 48 years of operation. We thank all that engaged to make 2022 a successful year, all volunteers, board and committee members, all who attended the meetings, all who made donations. We are grateful for the re-start of the Swedish Genealogy Research Group meetings and for the progress the State Historical Marker Project team made. We thank Martin Luther Lutheran Church, St. Anskar’s Episcopal church and Whitnall Park Lutheran Church for the use of their facilities for our meetings.

2023 promises to be a great year too. The first Fika meeting is coming up. It’s been 3 years since we had a Fika meeting in January. The program topic is uniquely interesting, presented by SAHSWI members Del and Susan Worden. Do not miss this meeting.

Saturday, January 21, 1:30 PM Fika meeting.

Del and Susan Worden presenting at Martin Luther Lutheran Church9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. The meeting is open to the public.

Del and Susan will show their collection of unique Swedish beer cans and discuss the stories they tell. There are cans with stories from the time of the Vikings, others with historic Swedish art, and some with ancient symbols, etc. This is a must see presentation!

After the presentation it is Fika time, coffee and sweets will be shared by SAHSWI members and others attending the meeting.





Lucia Day 2022

12 12 2022

The 2022 Swedish American Lucia Day was celebrated on Dec 4 at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church. The Lucia program was performed by 44 children and young adults under the direction of Sonia Hummel. Violin prelude and piano accompany was played by Lindsey Zundel. Hans Shin was reading the Lucia story and introducing the Swedish songs and poems, and Stina Lemery was helping with the songs that were mainly performed in Swedish.

This annual event was attended by about 170 people taking up most of the seats in the church Sanctuary, many moved by the high-spirited beauty of the Lucia procession and performance by children and teenagers ranging from ages 3 to 17.

The 2022 Lucia is Josie German who has her ancestral roots in Sweden through her Great Grandmother ‘gammelmormor’ Eunice Anderson Troyer, a life-long member of the Linde Lodge, Vasa Order.

Josie is an outstanding student, a junior at Franklin High School, already taking college level classes, by the end of her Junior year accumulating 18 college credits.  She is a member of the National Honor Society. She is active, participating in many clubs at school while also working toward her Gold Award in the Girl Scouts.

Josie is also a gifted athlete, competing in the Varsity Tennis State Championship for the last 2 years representing the team as the captain.

While she takes great pride in her own Swedish heritage, she always wants to learn about the cultural traditions of others and currently volunteers to teach and help newcomer young Afghan refugees.

The Lucia Crown

The Lucia Crown has five candles, each representing a different virtue of Lucia’s character: hope, mercy, purity, dedication, and faith. A short poem was read by Lucia attendants (Tärnor)

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS CANDLE – Maddie Franke   

När första ljuset brinner, står julens dörr på glänt, och jubel psalmen klingar i helig tid advent. (When the first Christmas candle is burning, we know Christmas is close by.)

THE SECOND CHRISTMAS CANDLE – Alex Franke

När andra ljuset brinner, vi höra löftets ord, om Konungen som kommer med frälsning till vår jord. (When the 2nd Christmas candle is burning, we hear the promise of old that a Savior is coming.)

THE THIRD CHRISTMAS CANDLEAubrey Wright

När tredje ljuset tändas i kulen vinter tid. Vi höra himlens klockor, som ringa fröjd och frid.(When the 3rd candle is lit, we hear the bells of heaven wishing all peace and goodwill)

THE FOURTH CHRISTMAS CANDLENadia Wright

Vi se i fjärde ljuset en stjärna underbar, som ger åt livets gåtor ett evighetens svar. (As the 4th candle is lit, we see a beautiful star with promise to all of life eternal.)

THE FIFTH CHRISTMAS CANDLE  Ida Bussa  

Sist julens lilla tomte med gran och juleljus, nu önskar juleglädje och frid i hem och hus. (At last the little Christmas elf with Christmas tree and lights, is wishing all a joyful and blessed Christmas.)

The Lucia Procession

The Lucia procession in the form of a light-bearing Lucia with an entourage is a relatively recent phenomenon The Lucia procession took on its present character after a competition was announced in Stockholms Dagblad in 1927, in which the chosen Lucia was given a chandelier and led a procession of bridesmaids. The procession was supplemented by star boys, who had traditionally gone around singing in the cottages during Advent to represent the three wise men. The event became popular and similar celebrations were recreated around Sweden. As Lucia processions began to be organised in schools and nurseries, the procession was augmented by Santa’s elves and gingerbread men. (Reference: Allmogens Tryckeri )

LUCIA:  Josie German

ATTENDANTS: Zoe Boschi, Hannah Cutler,  Ella Cutler,   Annika Cutler,   Evie Davauer,   Nova Davauer,   Olivia Davauer,  Violet Davauer, Leighton Ehrengren,   Anna Einhorn,   Ottilia Hoag,   Ella Lemery,    Emilla Lemery,     Mila Leon,    Lily Sparrow,  Addison Woodford,  Ellory Woodford,   Isie Woodford,  Catherine Zundel,   Elizabeth Zundel,   Margaret Zundel,

STAR BOYS: Nathan Boschi,   Thomas Cutler,  Camden Ehrengren,   James Einhorn,   Oliver Hoag,   Axel Roen,  John Snow,   Jacob Snow,   David Whipple. 

PEPPARKAKER: Joseph Kaltenburg,   Emma Snow, Mary Snow

TOMTEN:  Mia Cutler,    Eli Kaltenburg,     Eliza Snow,    Joseph Whipple,   Jane Zundel. 

Julbord, dance around the Christmas Tree, and Jultomten

After the Lucia program the celebration moved to the church Fellowship Hall for food and treats donated by SAHSWI members and others attending the event. The children performed Swedish folk dance and typical Swedish song and dance and everyone was invited to join in the dance around the Christmas tree.

Jultomten (Santa Claus) arrived greeting all the children to treats.

Thank you, Sonia

Thank you, Sonia

It was a beautiful celebration, a “Wisconsin Lucia tradition” kept alive and still growing. Sonia Hummel, part of the tradition, has directed this program for 25 years. This may have been the final year for her since she is moving on to Arizona to be close to her family

“Sonia, we like to thank you for all the wonderful performances of Lucia, for your dedicated work to keep this great Swedish tradition alive and well here in Wisconsin. We thank you for all the lives you touched through all those years.”

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin and Vasa Order of America, Linde Lodge no 492

Thank You

  • Whitnall Park Lutheran Church for having us at the church and making the necessary preparations
  • Lucia program participants,
  • All the volunteers at SAHSWI for all planning and preparations and ensuring the event was successfully completed,
  • Everyone that donated food and sweets
  • Santa Claus

And finally we thank everyone that came to together celebrate the Lucia Day.





2022 Annual General meeting

25 10 2022

2022 SAHSWI Annual General meeting was held on October 22, 2022, at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Milwaukee. The past year activities were reviewed, and annual reports from officers and committees presented. The presentation and all reports are available on the website. As shown in the presentation and reports, it was a good year for SAHSWI with the return to face-to-face meetings and celebrations, which all had good participation. It should be noted that membership increased, the new Fika meeting location at Martin Luther Lutheran Church turned out great, and the re-start of the Swedish Genealogy Research Group (SGRG) meetings was accomplished.

2022 Annual General Meeting presentation and annual reports.

Election was held for open positions on the Board of Directos. Martha Bergland, John Elliott, and Jan Ehrengren were elected to serve a 3-year term on the Board of Directors starting January 1, 2023. In addition, Irene Roberts was elected to serve a 2-year term as a replacement for Barbara Froemming, who sadly passed away in May of 2022. Irene is serving as the Treasurer of SAHSWI.

“I like to thank everyone that has made this past year a successful year for the organization. Our members and other meeting participants, all volunteers at our meetings and celebration events, our Board and Committee members, our Historical Project Team members, all successfully overcoming any challenges presented. We can now look forward to a new year of exploring and celebrating our Swedish heritage and advancing our Swedish American agenda in Wisconsin.” Jan Ehrengren, President SAHSWI

The Program presented at the meeting by John Elliott, SAHSWI Vice President, discussing “Swedish themed products marketed during the 1960’s including Berggren tileswill be the topic for a separate post. 





Remembering Barbara and Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage

14 08 2022

On May 12, 2022, Barbara Froemming, SAHSWI Treasurer and Past President, passed away peacefully. Barbara was the longest serving President for the Society, serving for 12 years. The society was established in 1975 as a part of planning for the Bicentennial celebrations to recognize the Swedish Americans and their descendant’s impact to the state of Wisconsin. Barbara is one descendent that is recognized for her leadership and dedication to the Swedish-Americans in Wisconsin. Her Grandmother and Grandfather on her mother’s side both came from Småland, Sweden, but from different cities, her grandmother came from Jönköping, her grandfather from Kalmar. Barbara was also officially recognized with an award of merit from the Swedish Council of America on Nov 4, 2016, for her outstanding contributions and many years of dedicated service to the Swedish American Community.

Barbara was a steadfast leader, well organized, ensuring Bylaws were followed, managed state and IRS filings and was the initiator and creator of many interesting programs for the Society meetings. One of her favorite topics was Swedish food and it was unfortunate that a meeting she planned to be held in March of 2020 titled “Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage” had to be cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic. To honor Barbara this meeting is now scheduled to be held on September 10, 2022.

Next meeting – Exploring our Swedish Food Heritage

September 10, 2022, 1:30 PM at Martin Luther Lutheran Church9235 West Bluemound RoadMilwaukee located just east of Milwaukee Zoo. Members of the Society will present their favorite Swedish dish, including samples for attendees to taste. The meeting is open to the public.

SAHSWI is not the same without Barbara, she is dearly missed, not only because of her leadership, but for the delightful, generous person she was, and for the delicious open face sandwiches she made for board and Fika meetings.





2022 Scandinavian Midsommar celebration

11 07 2022

This unique and popular Scandinavian tradition was celebrated at Heidelberg Park, Glendale, WI, Sunday June 26. Close to a hundred people attended the event decorating the Maypole (Majstången), making flower crowns, raising the maypole and singing and dancing around it. There were sack raises, Kubb playing, tug-of-war, face painting and entertainment by the magnificent violinst duo Goda Vänner. New additions this year were the History table where you could learn about Swedish settlers in Wisconsin and the Sale table offering Swedish items for sale donated by SAHSWI members.

The party started by making flower crowns and decorating the Maypole
Then procession and raising the Midsommar Pole (Maypole)
The dancing could begin accompanied by violin music
Swedish donated gift items to be sold
Swedish immigration history discussed by historian and author Martha Bergland
Children enjoying the games and the rewards

We like to thank so many for keeping the Midsommar celebration a fun filled event recognizing our ancestors coming from Scandinavia. We thank Janet and Karin for the overall planning and brining the flowers and organizing the Swedish items sale, John for adding signage and arranging the Kubb games, Liza and Brent for leading the maypole assembly and decorations, Chris for bringing and setting up the sound system, Bev and Tracy for welcoming all the guests, Sonia for emceeing the song and dance and arranging the kids games, Danielle for leading the face painting and childrens activities, Bob for taking beautiful pictures, Camden the youngest helping from set-up to take-down, Martha and her husband Jim for engaging people in the history of the Swedish immigration to Wisconsin, Mary and Carol for entertaining us with traditional Scandinavian violin music, George who developed the Midsommer pole skeleton, Joann for inviting all our members through her newsletter and mailings and everyone not mentioned that helped, but most of all we like to thank everybody that came so that we could celebrate together Midsommar, one outcome of the Scandinavian immigration to Wisconsin.





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.





Martha Bergland presented the life of Thure Kumlien

31 03 2022

Like finding a rare orchid, Martha Bergland has unveiled a rare and important naturalist during the early settlement years in Wisconsin. Fellow Swede Carl Linnaeus, considered the ‘Father of Botany‘, would have nodded in approval at Thure Kumlien’s contributions in helping us understand the biological riches found in early Wisconsin” (Reference Tom Anderson, author of Learning Nature by a Country Road)

SAHSWI Board member and award-winning author Martha Bergland introduced her newest book “The Birdman of Koshkonong, The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien” in the society’s first fika meeting in two years. The March 12, 2022, meeting was held at Martin Luther Lutheran Church, Milwaukee with about 50 people attending, among them Betsy D’onofrio and Susan Binzel, great granddaughters of Thure Kumlien.

Martha transported us back to his life and community in 1843 and the contributions he made to Wisconsin and the world as a Swedish immigrant to Wisconsin. Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin’s earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the University of Wisconsin and became the first curator of the new Milwaukee Public Museum.

The Birdman of Koshkonong published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press is available for sale directly from Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Amazon, or your local bookstore. An excerpt of the book was published in the Summer 2021 issue of Wisconsin magazine of history.

After the presentation Marjorie Jothen’s 103rd birthday was celebrated to the tunes of Mary Stetson and Carol Gustafson’s violins and the voices of meeting attendees, Happy Birthday both in English and in Swedish. Carol also baked a special birthday cake for Marge to share with everyone. Coffee and treats were served, and everybody enjoyed this first fika meeting in 2 years.

Martha’s presentation was held in the Sanctuary. Celebrating Marge with fika, from left Bev Wenzel, Kristin Laufer, Marge, and Carol Gustafson.





Our Swedish Heritage in focus

27 01 2022

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc. (SAHSWI) is a non-profit volunteer organization focusing on the history of Swedish immigration to Wisconsin and the heritage of cultural Swedish traditions and everyday life, and the impact people of Swedish descent have made.

ZOOM meeting Thursday, February 10, 7 PM Society board and committee members presented the organization programs, projects and activities.





Saint Knut’s Day and SAHSWI update

13 01 2022

Happy St. Knut’s Day! Today January 13th marks the end of the Christmas season in Sweden, today is the day the Christmas tree should be “plundered” and thrown out, it is the 20th day after Christmas. Saint Knut’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Knut, is a traditional festival celebrated in Sweden and Finland on January 13. Christmas trees are taken down on “tjugondag Knut”, and the candies and cookies that decorated the tree are eaten. The feast held during this event is called a Knut’s party. It’s the party to Dance Out Christmas.

See the source image
Knut’s dance or “Dancing out Christmas”, by Swedish artist Hugo Hamilton (1802–1871)

Maybe this year there are not many St. Knut’s Day dance parties due to the continuous pandemic outbreaks. Once again, the hopes of an end to the Corona Virus pandemic were crushed. Another variant, record infection cases, with a glimmer of hope, it is not as severe as the other strands.

SAHSWI update

Considering the rapid surge of Covid 19 infections mostly of the Omicron variant the SAHSWI board has decided to postpone the January meeting at Martin Luther church until it can safely be conducted. The current belief or hope is that the Omicron will run its course by the end of February, so the Fika meeting scheduled at Martin Luther on March 12, is still on. The programming will be adjusted and the topic for the meeting will be announced at a later date. In addition, on Thursday February 10 at 7 PM the plan is to have a ZOOM meeting for members and others interested to present information about SAHSWI, upcoming plans, and the new meeting place Martin Luther church. 

Hopefully the remaining 2022 general meeting schedule can be maintained as follows:

  • March 12, 1:30 p.m. – Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • May 14, 1:30 p.m. – Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • June 26, 1 p.m. – Midsommar Celebration, Heidelberg Park, Glendale
  • October 1,– Scandinavian Festival, Ronald Reagan School, New Berlin
  • October 22, 1:30 p.m. – Annual Meeting, program and fika at Martin Luther Lutheran Church
  • December 11, 5 p.m.– Lucia Whitnall Park Lutheran Church

In addition, there will be committee and project meetings

Do you have any ideas of topics to be addressed by SAHSWI, do you know of a story, or any special tradition related to our Swedish heritage? Please don’t hesitate to bring it up. Respond to this blog or send an e-mail to swedishamericanhistoricalwisc@gmail.com