Friday, October 16, 2015

Swedish Immigrants homesteading in Kansas by Linda K. Hubalek


This past weekend was the 75th anniversary of our Svensk Hyllningsfest, Lindsborg's bi-annual festival honoring the Swedish pioneers who settled in the Smoky Valley of central Kansas. It's been held on odd years ever since 1941. The two highlights for most people are the school children dancing for the opening ceremonies on Friday, and the Saturday parade.

All the school children, grades one through eight, are in Swedish costumes and perform three dances per class. It's fun to watch the timid steps of the little ones, to the accomplished maypole dance of the oldest girls.

Saturday's parade theme was "Diamond Dala", for the 75th anniversary and because we have Dala horses all over town- from house signs- to four-foot dalas on street corners. My two favorite floats were themed "Dalas are a girl's best friend" and "Hello Dala".

You may ask, how is this related to our western blog theme of "Sweethearts of the West"?

Several ethnic groups settled in Kansas after the Civil War, because of the Homestead Act giving free land to anyone who would live on it.

My Swedish ancestors came to America in 1868 and settled in Illinois. A year later, a pastor from Galesburg, Illinois organized a group of over 200 immigrants to move and settle together in central Kansas. They drew by lottery what land they would homestead, and built sod houses or dugouts to live on the prairie.

At that time the railroad were being built across Kansas. For an income source, the Swedish immigrant men worked in teams, one man worked away from home laying the railroad tracks going west, while the other man stayed home working on their homesteads and taking care of two families.

So you may not think of a Swede being a part of the frontier and "wild west", but they, and many other immigrants, were living and working in that important era of western history.


 If you're interested in reading about the immigrants homesteading in Kansas, please enjoy the historical fiction book series Planting Dreams, featuring my Swedish ancestors.

Thanks for stopping by to enjoy today's Sweethearts of the West blog.

Linda Hubalek

4 comments:

  1. I put my comment for you on Anna Kathryn's post. I love your books and wish you the best for the future.

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  2. Amazingly, I did know about the Swedish population who settled in the west. However, I have never heard of a Dala horse. I thought the sign for the Dala was so neat.
    I enjoyed your blog, Linda. All good things to you in your corner of Earth.

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  3. HI Sarah, For centuries Swedish men in the Dalarna province would carve wooden horses during the winter months for toys and gifts. Lindsborg adopted the dala horse as their town symbol many years ago and you see the horses all over town. There is even a "Wild Dala Horse" herd lining the sidewalks along Main Street. These 35 four foot-horses are painted to depict different themes, like "Dollar Dala", "Salvador Dala", "Follow the Dala brick Road", "Yankee Doodle Dala....Come see them sometime if you get a chance to visit central Kansas.

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