Swen LindellX

Born: 1910

I am Swen Lindell. I was born in Sweden in 1910. My mother died soon after my brother was born in 1912. Shortly after, my father moved to Minnesota with my ten older brothers and sisters, leaving my younger brother and me with relatives in Sweden. He thought we were too young to go to America at that time. When my brother was eight and I was ten, my father came to Sweden to take us to America. We were scared of this strict, unsmiling man who was a stranger to us. We cried and begged to stay with our “family” in Sweden – the only family we had known. The ship crossing was miserable. We were scared, seasick, and homesick. The trip was very long, first by ship then by train. My father spoke Swedish when he did speak to us, which was not often, but when he spoke to others we could not understand him. When we arrived “home” at the farm near Ceylon, Minnesota we were greeted by many more strangers – our older brothers and sisters many of whom had married and had children of their own. For many weeks I cried at night for my Swedish “family.” Soon we had to start to school in America. In Sweden I was a good student but in America I had to sit in the front row of the schoolroom with the youngest children. My knees barely fit under the desk! The other boys laughed and called us “dumb Swedes.” I didn’t know what it meant yet, but I knew I didn’t like it. I worked hard on my English so I could move up in my classes. No pretty American girl was going to like a dumb Swede. Soon they stopped calling me dumb Swede and just called me Swede. I graduated from eighth grade and worked on the farm. In 1929 I married Vera Prust. She was 100% German-American. Her family did not want her to see me let alone marry me! My younger brother married Vera’s double first cousin (two German-American sisters had married two German-American brothers). People said they could never tell my boys and my brother’s boys apart they looked so much alike! In 1930 our oldest son was born. They called him Swede his entire life. We had three more boys in the next 20 years while working first for my father on his farm then buying and building up our own farm. I began contracting to Green Giant to grow sweet peas and sweet corn. I also did quite a bit of truck driving. My left arm was always more tan than my right because I drove with the truck window down and my arm on the window. We sold the farm and moved into town in 1967. I was mayor for several years in the 1970s. Who knew a dumb Swede would become mayor! My granddaughter did not know this story until her younger sister came to stay with us and became homesick. I called her parents and said we would bring her home. This really surprised my daughter-in-law because I was a strict father. Then my son told them the story of my homesickness when I was taken from Sweden to Minnesota.

Contributed by: TyAnn Lindell, Hancock, Michigan