Swedish American: Wisconsin History

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Swedish Beginnings in Wisconsin

First Swedish Settlers in Wisconsin

(Historic Marker Erected 1988 - Veterans Memorial Park, Hwy. 12, Genoa City, Walworth County)

The first Swedish settlers in Wisconsin were Carl Friman and his five sons. They came in 1838 and purchased 80 acres near Genoa City. Carl returned to Sweden but his sons remained in Wisconsin and wrote letters back to their father. The letters to their father appeared in newspapers in Sweden and influenced others to emigrate to American and to Wisconsin. By 1900 nearly 49,000 individuals born in Sweden lived in Wisconsin.

Reference: Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin history

Swedish immigration to Wisconsin

The largest and most significant wave of Swedish immigration to Wisconsin occurred between 1860 and 1890. Almost all came from rural areas in Sweden though once in the U.S., they tended to settle in cities and work as laborers. Wisconsin's first Swedish settlement was along Pine Lake in Waukesha County in 1841; a second emerged along the banks of Lake Koshkonong in 1843. Immigration from Sweden increased significantly following the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862 and crop failures in Sweden in the late 1860s. Wisconsin received its heaviest flow of Swedes between 1880 and 1900 though overall, Swedes constituted a minor part of the state's foreign population. The largest Swedish populations in Wisconsin were in the northwest. Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul were the major urban centers of Swedish settlement.

Reference:  Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin history http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary/index.asp?action=view&term_id=11091&term_type_id=1&letter=S