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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


Some of the Old Settlers Move Out to Find Larger Land Interests and Other New Settlers Come In.

Before the Swedish colony started the land was owned by the Providence Western Land Company, of Rhode Island, and some of it was owned by the Iowa Railroad Land Company, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Their agents were J. W. Denison, of the former company, and Captain William Familton, of the latter. As far as I remember all the land was sold under contracts from five to ten years in time at 6 per cent interest per annum. There may have been two or three parties who paid cash, but as a rule no one had much money after settling down and purchasing horses and machinery as well as the other necessities of life. All of the first land sold to the settlers was handled through J. W. Denison.

It was later that Capt. Familton came to Denison, and upon his arrival he reserved from his land, which lay in the southern part of Sac and Ida counties, a large tract for the Swedish colony as they had by this time become quite popular and possessed of a reputation as hard workers and a sober and industrious class and wished to be in a colony by themselves.

Among the first to erect buildings in Sac county at that time were the families of John Nordell, John Larson, Erick Olson and A. Lindblad. Sol Peterson, representing the Swedish people who worked in the coal mines of Boone county, built his home in 1874 and soon came Andrew Dolk. John Baker was one of the first to break the virgin soil in Ida county. None of the first settlers was rich, as we stated before, but they had some means acquired by hard work either in the mines or on the farm from which they had come. As a rule, their earthly possessions consisted merely of strong arms, good health, ambition to succeed and faith in God.

In 1875 there were a few of the early settlers about two miles south of old Kiron who had been over the border line into Ida county and looked over the land; its soil and the lay of it. They thought it looked well to them and as they wanted more than eighty acres each, they decided to move out. This move was similar to those of the old covenant of Abraham and Lot. A new location was wanted and Lot had the chance to choose, but he chose a bad location when he came into Sodom. However, it was not as great a misfortune as this with the farmers of Kiron. They had the chance to sell out and they sold what they had with fair improvements and purchased more land embracing a larger tract. Among those settlers who moved were Hans Hallander, Jonas Fanberg and Olof Gradin. Now they were located twenty-five miles from Denison, the nearest railroad town. Hardships came again, but it seemed as though there was no fear of them. Self denial is the lot of many and not the least of these were the Swedish pioneers.

Two or three years later we find more of the first settlers leaving Kiron, among them being J. B. Samuelson, Erick Anderson, P. W. Larson, Axel Johnson, A. F. Lindgren, John Johnson, Elias Nelson, Olof Nelson, John Anderson, August Swan, Alfred Lindquist, Gust Nygren, Christ Christenson and Sederberg, all of whom with their families moved up into Ida county.

This departure of so many of the old settlers left a vacancy of many acres around Kiron, but they were rapidly settled up with others, the majority of whom were Germans who knew the value of soil in that vicinity.

While mentioning the denials and hardships connected with pioneer life around Kiron, we might mention a certain man not far from there who made it still more difficult to live than there was any need of doing. This man used to live in Wisconsin and was a farmer there, but having relatives near Kiron, and having corresponded with them, the Wisconsin farmer decided to come out and see the rich soil in western Iowa. But instead of going to the railroad station and taking the train, he figured that he might save a few dollars and cents so he decided to walk on foot from Wisconsin to western Iowa. So, taking food enough in a sack on his back, he started out on his journey and reached his destination in safety, but I leave it to any one to figure out how much the man saved on the trip. He purchased land and paid cash for it, his purchase being about the only one at that time for which cash was paid. Well, it takes all kinds of men to make up the world and yet some of the hardships did not seem to be of necessity.

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