Immigrant Stories in the Swedish American Church Books

ArkivDigital’s online archive includes many Swedish American church books primarily from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota. But we also have a few from Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The types of records vary between congregations. The most common sets of records are congregation or membership rolls, birth, marriage, death, confirmation, church protocols, church accounts, anniversary booklets and other types of records.

One of the most interesting set of records is the anniversary booklet (jubileumsskrift). Often these booklets include a history of the church and settlement and describes the life of the early immigrants in North America. Some of these books also contain wonderful biographical sketches and pictures.

john benson imageBucklin Swedish Mission Covenant Church, Missouri, USA (MO) Vol:13 (1880-1980) Image 17 / Page 31 (AID: v950811.b17.s31)

The above image is taken from the Centennial Celebration booklet for the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in Bucklin, Missouri. There is a short biographical sketch of John Benson born Johannes Bengtsson in Skummeslöv parish in Halland county in Sweden on April 4, 1852. It states that he first lived in St. Louis, Missouri and worked for the Johansen Shoe company and then moved to a farm north of Bucklin in 1881. The sketch gives information about his wife and children and states that he died on July 24, 1900.

With the information in the anniversary booklet, we can search for his birth record in ArkivDigital and then trace him forward in the household books until his emigration in 1871. Below is his birth record showing his birth of the 4th of April 1852 at Allarp in Skummeslöv parish. His parents are noted as B. P. Persson and Christina Bengtsdotter. His mother was 32 years old at the time of his birth.

john benson's birth recordSkummeslöv (N) CI:3 (1824-1860) Image 380 / Page 69 (AID: v93216a.b380.s69, NAD: SE/LLA/13348)

To find the Swedish American church books in ArkivDigital:

  • Log in at app.arkivdigital.se
  • Select Archive Search.
  • Select country, United States.
  • You can also limit the search by state.

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Memory Album (Minnesalbum) from Frederic Trade Lake Baptist Church in Wisconsin

Today, in ArkivDigital we have Swedish American church records for the following states:

  • Iowa – 60 congregations
  • Kansas – 98 congregations
  • Minnesota – 106 congregations
  • Missouri – 7 congregations
  • Nebraska – 119 congregations
  • Oklahoma – 1 congregation
  • South Dakota 1 congregation
  • Wisconsin – 12 congregations

In many of these archives along with church records such as membership, birth, marriage, death, reception and dismissal records, you will often find anniversary booklets and historical notes that present a history of the congregation, ministers and early settlers. In browsing these books, one will find many items of historical and also genealogical interest. In the archives for the Frederic Trade Lake Baptist Church in Burnett County, Wisconsin, you will find a minnesalbum or a memory album.

This congregation was established on the 5th of June 1869 in Knut Anderson’s schoolhouse. Below is an image listing the names of the early congregants and where they came from in Sweden.

frederic trade blogFrederic Trade Lake Baptist Church, Wisconsin, USA (WI) Vol:25 Image 58 (AID: v904644.b58) (left side of the image)

Below is an image of John Ring, the first pastor of the church, and his wife.

john ringFrederic Trade Lake Baptist Church, Wisconsin, USA (WI) Vol:25 Image 58 (AID: v904644.b58) (right side of the image)

John Ring or Jonas Ring was born in Delsbo, Gävleborg, Sweden on the 16th of February 1829. (Note – the record in the album states that he is from Ilsbo but he was actually born in Delsbo but did live part of his life in Ilsbo.)  He and his wife and children emigrated from Sundsvall, Västernorrland. Below is the household record showing them moving to America along with a notation that he and his wife are Baptists.

ring household recordSundsvalls Gustav Adolf (Y) AI:6b (1851-1866) Image 179 / Page 468 (AID: v122499.b179.s468, NAD: SE/HLA/1010190)

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