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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


A General Comparison Between the Old Time and Present Values of Property As Well As the Difference in Prices of Farm Products Between That of Now and Forty-Six Years Ago.

I expect to give a general review of the times past since the Swedish settlement came to Kiron and compare prices of land and farm products, including live stock also. I have already stated the value of farm land about 1868 and the price of grain which we purchased for seed as well as for food stuff. Machinery was high, unreasonably so, as there were only a few American families around Deloit who had any to sell.

Two or three years later, when the farmers of Kiron had raised products to dispose of they grew cheaper and as the virgin soil was opened up and crops produced, prices went down very low. About ten years after coming to Kiron we sold corn as low as ten cents per bushel. Wheat went down to about thirty-five cents, hogs sold as low as two dollars and fifty cents per cwt. and cattle in proportion. Good milk cows brought ten dollars per head, three year old steers about fifteen dollars per head, while real estate dropped in value and there was a panic in the land for money. The banks and money kings hoarded their cash and kept it locked up in vaults instead of letting it out into circulation. The interest on short bank loans was 20 per cent and 10 per cent of it was required paid in advance.

Real estate had increased during the twenty-three years previous to this time about fifty dollars per acre with the improvements which had been added, while during the last twenty-three years the same property has advanced in value one hundred and seventy-five dollars per acre, or at the rate of about seven dollars and fifty cents annually, while at the former period it averaged two dollars per acre annually. During the last period of time corn sold as high as seventy-five cents per bushel and above, hogs at nine dollars per cwt. and cattle eight or nine dollars. From this summary we can readily see what an increased profit is obtained from farms and their products now than in former days.

Another thing to be considered is the decreased distance from market. While the early settlers were obliged to haul a load of corn from fifteen to twenty miles to reach a town the most they could haul was thirty bushels, while now a farmer can haul at least two loads a day and in some instances four, loading up fifty bushels of corn and receiving as compensation at least thirty dollars per load, if not more. The first settlers also had to use small hand corn shellers if any and receive but three dollars for a hard day's work. Therefore, we say that farmers in our day may rejoice over the good fortunes which they possess and that they are living in this day rather than forty-six years ago. There is nothing better in the line of business than to have a farm to cultivate and make one's home with his family and thank God that such hard times have passed away.

The writer wishes to mention at this time a society which has prospered in and around Kiron for many years. During the month of March, 1879, a few men came together and discussed the organization of an insurance society among the farmers, and a committee was appointed for the purpose of drawing up a constitution and by-laws. In a short time the committee reported their actions which finally were approved and the society was planned to be conducted on a mutual basis. Officers were elected, Andrew Norelius selected as president, Nels Fredrik Rodin as vice-president, Charles John Johnson, secretary, and August Lundell, treasurer. This organization has enjoyed a steady growth and at the time of the 1914 report had twelve hundred members scattered throughout eight counties, including Sac. Andrew Norelius, after being secretary for many years, resigned in 1913 owing to old age, and P. G. Lundell was elected. Augugust Lundell is now president, John A. Pithan vice president, and William J. Sandberg treasurer.

A majority of the farmers in this locality now have fine homes lighted by acetylene gas and heated by the most up to date methods, and automobiles can now be seen on most of the farms. These improvements form a somewhat different appearance from that made by the underground houses which had but a stove pipe above ground to indicate settlers and the ox teams used to ride behind.

At the present date from sixty to eighty per cent of the population of Stockholm, Otter Creek townships in Crawford county, Hayes township in Ida county and Wheeler township in Sac county are of Swedish nationality. The people as a general rule are now thoroughly Americanized, the younger generation using the English language except in their religious services, in which both tongues are used.

Remarkable improvements are noticeable in every line of business during the period since the first settlement and to those who were among the early settlers and are still living and looking back over the past, it seems but a very short time and we cannot realize the change that has been made. Many of the old settlers who have gone into the unknown beyond from which no one returns and laid to rest upon the final resting place south of Kiron, had many hardships and self denials about which the younger generation know nothing, but their memory should be held in sacred remembrance for what they accomplished, for the good that we enjoy at the present time, and the writer advises our young generation to remember these old men and women who have prepared an easy way to make a living and to enjoy all the comforts of life which we have at our disposal at the present time.

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