Donate to State of Wisconsin Historical Marker

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin seeking donations for new State of Wisconsin Historical Marker

March 2023, Hartland, WI:  The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin (SAHSWI) is seeking donations for a new state of Wisconsin historical marker.  The marker will be titled “Gustav Unonius, New Upsala, and the Scandinavian Parish.”  Gustav Unonius was a Swedish immigrant who established Wisconsin’s first Swedish settlement on Pine Lake in 1841 and had an impact on the Lake Country area as a pastor. The historical marker will be located on the grounds of St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church N48W31340 Hill Rd (Hwy 83) in Hartland. 

The group hopes to raise $10,000 to cover the costs to manufacture and install the historical marker.   Donations can be made online at  or checks can be made to the order of SAHSWI and mailed to:  Irene Roberts, S94 W34310 Jericho Dr. Eagle, WI 53119.  Please add a note in the memo indicating “historical marker.” 

Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax deductible.

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The public unveiling event is being planned for the fall of 2023.  Watch for further updates on the website at

Gustav Unonius, New Upsala, and the Scandinavian Parish.

In May 1841, Gustaf Unonius, his wife, and several companions set out from Upsala, Sweden for what then was the northwest frontier of the United States. Inspired by Swedish Romanticism, he pursued the dream of a life in a “cottage in the primeval forests” with his wife Charlotta.

His immigration was significant because letters he wrote of it to Swedish newspapers in 1842 sparked subsequent waves of Scandinavian immigrants. His memoirs, A Pioneer in Northwest America, tells many vivid stories of life in Wisconsin as it was becoming a State.

On arrival in Wisconsin in 1841, Unonius claimed land and built a cabin on the east shore of Pine Lake where Menomini and Potawatomi people lived. In 1842, after more Swedish families arrived at Pine Lake, the first Swedish settlement in Wisconsin was formed and called New Upsala.

Severe winters, disease, and crop failures made life a struggle for the settlers. Discouraged at farming and encouraged by fellow settlers who needed a pastor, Unonius enrolled at nearby Nashotah House, an Episcopal seminary, and became its first graduate. In 1844, New Upsala settlers formed the Scandinavian Parish at Pine Lake with Unonius as its pastor.

Unonius ministered to families as far away as Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, including the family of Thure Kumlien, a Swedish settler and notable ornithologist. The Scandinavian Parish evolved into Holy Innocents Church, which in 1968 merged with Grace Episcopal

Church and together formed a new church which in 1975 was named St. Anskar’s Episcopal Church. The original cemetery remains Holy Innocents cemetery located west of Pine Lake.

The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin, Inc. (SAHSWI) was founded in 1975 with a goal of promoting a greater knowledge and appreciation of the role played by persons of Swedish descent in the growth and development of the State of Wisconsin through the story of immigration and settlement as well as recognizing the contributions Swedish-Americans have made to the American Experience.

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