Happy Easter

3 04 2021

Illustration by Erik Forsman, Swedish Painter

Happy Easter from all of us at Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin

Marjorie Jothen 102 years!!

20 03 2021

During the SAHSWI March meeting 2021 we celebrated with Marge her 102nd birthday. “Goda Vänner” Carol Gustafson and Mary Stetson, led the ZOOM participants in singing “Happy Birthday” and followed up with “Ja må hon leva” on Violin. Then presented Marge with a fabulous birthday cake.

SAHSWI Past President Barbara Froemming spoke a tribute to Marge…

“This is a very special day! Our wonderful Marge Jothen is celebrating her birthday. This is not just any old birthday – this is Marge’s 102nd birthday. I’m not sure that all of you know Marge has been a member of the Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin since the mid-80s. She has always been a leader, having served on the Board of Directors for many of those years, and more recently, she served as President. Currently, Marge is our genealogy “guru,” helping our members who are searching for guidance in their family history pursuit, and also helping in the genealogy research room at Scandinavian Fests. AND, she has made sure our Society’s historical files have been properly maintained. I could go on and on, but let’s just say Marge has been a terrific role model, a mentor to many of us, and a great friend!”

Marge is 102 years young and has surpassed the Swedish birthday song, translated “may you live to be a 100”, a great accomplishment to stay young for so long.

Marge told her story in the 2019 March newsletter. “Between 1869 and 1892, my 4 grandparents, 4 great-grandparents, and 12 great-uncles and -aunts emigrated from Sweden, primarily from Småland, some from Östergötland and Dalsland, to settle mostly in Chisago County, Minnesota.” She has researched her family history and is the author of two books:

  • The Carlson Family: Sons of Carl Gustaf Petersson: Ancestors, Descendants and Emigration from Gärdserum, Småland, Sweden to Fish Lake, Chisago County, Minnesota, 1991 and  
  • Warme Swedish Ironsmiths: Descendants of Carl Werme (1711-1772) in Sweden and America, 2000.

In the article published in 2019 Marge continuesI’m proud of my Swedish heritage and have enjoyed learning more about it, traveling to Sweden 4 times and finding the areas of my heritage: Småland, Östergötland and Dalsland.”   However, researching Swedish heritage is only one part of her busy life:

  • Born in Minneapolis, MN on March 13, 1919 to Arthur Warme and Hannah Carlson Warme, when her father was serving in France, as a private in the 3rd Infantry in WWI. 
  • Moved to Milwaukee in 1921, and to Whitefish Bay in 1928 where school had program for music, art, and gym.
  • During the depression in 1930 Marge’s father lost his job at A.O.Smith resulting in difficult times. Marge explains We moved 4 times in Milwaukee before my father was able to borrow money for a down payment for an old house. Then we lived in a mansion on Prospect Avenue, my father got a job as a caretaker there and in addition to his salary, we also got to live there.”
  • Education BS in  Public Health Nursing (University of Minnesota) and MA in Educational Administration (UW-Milwaukee). 
  • Army nurse in WWII, serving in the South Pacific.    
  • Worked in public health nursing (Visiting Nurse Association) in Milwaukee for 25 years and advanced to Director
  • Continued as a Director in Madison for another 2 years responsible for the Handicapped Children Program.
  • Member of Swedish-American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc. (SAHSWI) for 38 years, served as Board member, Vice President, President, Historian, Julotta and Misommar committees and Founder and Coordinator of the Genealogy group

Marge is providing part of her heritage to the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. She is donating a collection of items relating to iron smithing, including rare iron muffin tins, a book including manufacturing and trade secrets of iron smithing written by her second cousin, and other items, which are included in exhibits by the Institute.

Svenska Låtar (Swedish songs)

2 03 2021

Please join the next SAHSWI meeting on Saturday March 13 at 2 PM via ZOOM featuring

Carol Gustafson and Mary Stetson, artistic name “Goda Vänner”, presenting and performing this program about Swedish Folk Music. Being American, learning Swedish Musical Language goes beyond learning melodies. Carol and Mary will discuss and demonstrate how to sound Swedish in various types of Swedish folk tunes: Vals, Polska, Schottis, and Gånglåt.

They will also discuss the Snoose Boulevard Festival held in Minneapolis in the early ’70s, and the early immigrant experience.  This Scandinavian/Swedish festival brought immigrant songs to life. Be prepared to sing!! 

Link to Svenska Låtar ZOOM meeting

Meeting ID: 828 5961 0407
Passcode: 450129

Facts about Swedish traits

7 01 2021

SAHSWI first meeting in 2021 was held Saturday January 16 virtually via ZOOM. After Society updates and the traditional happy birthday celebration the main topic for the meeting was “Facts about Swedish Traits” presented by board member John Elliott. 31 members attended the meeting.

Program description: The population of Sweden is one of the happiest in the world. In the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network World Happiness Report, 2020, Sweden ranks number 7. A high GDP per capita, an emphasis on social equality that is built into the education system starting in kindergarten, 16 months of paid family leave that can be split between a couple after a new child is welcomed into a family, and free day care also make Sweden the best country for women. Basically, an emphasis on work-life balance leads to a happier populace. Turns out feeling productive and rested leads to major smiles.  

Are the traits that Swedes possess make them happy? One of the key characteristics of Swedish culture is that Swedes are egalitarian in nature, humble and find boasting absolutely unacceptable. They are very athletic and hardy, very punctual, and they have everything exactly set.

John Elliott discussed many interesting and some unexpected facts about the traits that Swedes possess. Please find below the complete presentation.

Happy Birthday, Ja må du leva: Smörgåsbandet

Ja må hon leva: Sofia Talvik

God Jul, Merry Christmas

23 12 2020

“Julotta” is a traditional Swedish church service held early in the morning on Christmas Day. “Jul” is the Swedish word for Christmas, and “otta” is the time just before dawn. The tradition goes back to the Middle Ages, and everyone that could, attended the Julotta. In the Swedish Church Law dated 1686, it is stated that the Julotta should start at 6 AM Christmas Day morning.

The Julotta service has been a part of SAHSWI program for many years, held at the Whitnall Park Lutheran Church. The service this year is cancelled due to the Pandemic. Thanks to the North Park Covenant Church in Chicago a virtual service available through the link below.

Julotta at North Park Covenant Church

SAHSWI celebrated Santa Lucia Day virtually on December 13. During the ZOOM meeting a video was played with a traditional Lucia concert from Kungsholm’s cathedral in Stockholm, Sweden. Recently, our Society was contacted by Elsa Nilsson, offering a different rendition of a Lucia Concert. This is Elsa’s introduction.

“I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. I am writing with a Lucia greeting I am hoping you will share with your network. My name is Elsa Nilsson and I am a flute player from Gothenburg, Sweden, based in New York city for the past 10 years. Every year around Lucia I get incredibly homesick, and can you blame me? Lucia is my favorite of the Swedish holidays! As a child I would be in at least 10 Luciatåg (Lucia processions) every year, and I loved the idea of celebrating the return of light with music at the center.”

Elsa goes on to say that she and her band released an album on Lucia Day with the hope that it is able to spread some light in this dark time. You can listen to this jazz inspired Lucia concert through the link below.

Dark Is Light Is | Elsa Nilsson (bandcamp.com)

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin wishing you

See the source image
Illustration “Gnomes” Swedish Christmas by Lars Carlsson

2020 SAHSWI Lucia Celebration

4 12 2020

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin traditional Lucia Celebration at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church in Hales Corners was cancelled this year due to the pandemic. Instead a ZOOM virtual Lucia Celebration was held at 7 PM, Sunday, December 13 (Lucia Day). 

Past President Barbara Froemming welcomed participants to the meeting and introduced incoming President Jan Ehrengren who thanked Barbara for the past 12 years of steadfast leadership of the society, and then presented the program for the Lucia ZOOM celebration.

A video including photos from last and previous years Lucia celebration was shown. Lucia celebrations have been held at Whitnall Park Lutheran Church every year since 1967. SAHSWI member Sonia Hummel has directed the Lucia Program for many years and she and her family has been involved ever since the inception in 1967.

The program included two YouTube videos, Lucia Celebration in Sweden introduction, and a Lucia Concert from Kungsholm’s Cathedral, Stockholm, Sweden.

SAHSWI board member, Karin Konrad, presented the history of Saint Lucia, and The Lucia buns, Lussekatter. Karin discussed Santa Lucia actually being catholic saint from Syracuse, Sicily, and why Lucia Day is a Swedish celebration.

The name, Lussekatter, means “Lucia cats” and comes from the way the scrolled buns looks like a cat’s tail and the fact that they are common to serve on Saint Lucia day.

The Christina Nilsson story

6 11 2020

A Rags to Riches Story – Christina Nilsson

“A Rags to Riches story” was the headline of SAHSWI member Carol Gustafson presentation at the only social meeting of the Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin in 2020. Carol, who is the great, great niece, presented the life of Christina Nilsson, the famous Swedish opera singer, who sang at the opening night of the New York Met in 1883, and was very popular in USA, Russia, UK, France, and Sweden. It is a story about a poor girl from a small village in Sweden who became famous worldwide.

Carol talked about her family ties to Christina and her recent trip to Christina’s homestead, now a museum in Sweden as well as her visit to the mansion Villa Vik and mausoleum in Växjö. Carol showed pictures of Christina including an illustration of her wedding with the French banker Auguste Rauzaud, and and another with her second husband, Angel Ramon Maria Vallejo y Miranda, Count de Casa Miranda.

At the meeting Carol and Mary Stetson, artistic name “Goda Vänner”, performed Christina’s signature Swedish Folk song: “Fjorton ar tror jag visst att jag var” translated “I think for sure, I was fourteen years old”.

This song is performed on YouTube by Mia Marianne and Per Filip.

Christina Nilsson in Kyrkhult

The extra ordinary life of Christina Nilsson and her genuine personality is illustrated in an article from Kyrkhult “Hembygdsförening” a local historical Society of Kyrkhult. Author Olof Jönsson’s article from their annual publication 1984, Vår Hembygd, is translated and provided here: (Kyrkhult is located in Blekinge, in the south of Sweden.)

Christina Nilsson Biography (Reference Wikipedia)

Christina Nilsson, Countess de Casa Miranda, (20 August 1843 – 20 November 1921) was a Swedish operatic soprano. Nilsson became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 1869.

Read the rest of this entry »

2020 Annual General Meeting

21 10 2020

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc. held it’s annual meeting on Saturday October 10 virtually via ZOOM. The ZOOM meeting was administered by Society Board Member John Elliott and chaired by President Barbara Froemming and included:

  • Presentation of society annual reports. The reports are available on the website for one month, see link Annual Reports 
  • Election of directors. George Lofgren, Milwaukee, and JoAnn Kreimendahl, Menomonee Falls were elected for a 3 year term expiring in 2023.
  • Update of Society activities. Barbara Froemming reviewed activities since the previous Annual Meeting. Due to the affects of the Covid 19 pandemic only two public meetings were held – The 2019 Lucia Celebration and a 2020 February meeting featuring a Presentation by member Carol Gustafson about opera singer Christina Nilsson. For further information see page Recent Programs.
  • Presentation of Wisconsin Historical Marker project. John Elliott presented a project initiated by Jan Ehrengren to recognize Gustaf Unonius and The New Upsala first Swedish settlement in Wisconsin with an official State of Wisconsin Historical Marker. See link to the presentation: Wisconsin Historical Marker project pdf
  • As a wrap-up of the meeting Society members Carol Gustafson and Mary Stetson performed Swedish music on violin.

SAHSWI update

1 09 2020

From the President of The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin:

Dear members and followers of the SAHSWI website.

As we continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak we have cancelled most of 2020 social events. We hope that you still have been able to enjoy Swedish food based on our agenda from our cancelled March meeting, and maybe even have celebrated Midsommar on your own (see previous posts). We are now evaluating how to conduct our annual meeting, scheduled October 10, 2020. Since large group group gatherings still are not possible we are looking into a virtual meeting option. As plans are finalized we will update you on this.

Our December Lucia tradition, always very well attended, will also not be possible as a gathering. We are looking into also how to share this tradition virtually.

One of our Historical Projects is the Memorial of Gustaf Unonius at Nashotah house. Another memorial for Gustaf Unonius’s and the New Upsala Swedish settlement is located near Pine Lake in Chenequa. Based on the significance Unonius had on the Swedish immigration we are investigating how to get State of Wisconsin to recognize Gustaf Unonius and the New Upsala settlement with an official State of Wisconsin Historical Marker. (Link Gustaf Unonius and New Upsala)

For our members, I also like to inform you that the membership dues payed in 2020 will also be valid for 2021. As always, being a volunteer organization, we would welcome any donation, however not at all expected.


Barbara Froemming,


Covid-19 Midsommar Celebration, join ASI or DIY

14 06 2020

It is time to celebrate 2020 Midsommar. In Sweden Midsummer’s Eve this year is celebrated Friday June 19, and Midsummer’s Day on June 20, in large parts of Sweden there is no clear distinction between those days as the sun never sets. As reported earlier, the celebration at Heidelberg Park has been cancelled to avoid further spreading of the corona virus. However, this celebration has been around for over 500 years, so we shouldn’t let a pesky virus stop us now. The only thing is, we cannot celebrate it all together, so we suggest two alternatives to still have a Midsommar celebration – Celebrate with ASI, American Swedish Institute online, or continue our Wisconsin celebration with a DIY Midsommar.

You can join the American Swedish Institute virtual Midsummer Celebration on June 20 from 1PM to 5PM online. Press link below to sign up.

American Swedish Institute virtual Midsummer celebration

2nd alternative is the SAHSWI DIY (Do It Yourself) MidSommar celebration based on our own tradition. (Reference pictures from the SAHSWI celebration in 2019)

> Make a midsommar pole. Suggest you make a mini version of our traditional Midsommar pole (see pictures).

> Make midsommar kransar for the girls / women (see picture)

> Sing and Dance the songs Små grodorna and Vi ãro musikanter

> Food: Chose either the meatball platter or the Swedish Herring dish(available at IKEA) with sour cream, dill, chives, and new potatoes.

> Drink: Popular Swedish soft drinks are made from Lingonberry or Elderberry, both available at IKEA. A shot of Aquavit (recipe below or buy at link Gamle Ode, New Richmond, WI) and a lager beer is a must to pair with the herring. For wine drinkers there is a special wine from (link) Midsummer Cellers in Napa Valley.

> Play the traditional game of Kubb (link Wikipedia description, game available at link Amazon)

Glad Midsommar, Happy Midsommar, from all of us at SAHSWI.