My great grandfather, Martin Wicklund, was born in Halsingland, Sweden, on December 23, 1872. In 1892, at the age of nineteen, he left Sweden and immigrated to the United States where he made Minnesota his permanent home. Although immigration from Sweden to the United States in the 1800s was primarily due to economic reasons, my great grandfather immigrated because he wanted religious freedom.
My great grandfather was raised on a farm in Sweden. At the age of nine, my great grandfather left home for a short period of time. He became a shoeshine boy on a ship on the Baltic Sea before returning back to his family in Sweden. At the age of 19, he left Sweden again, but this time he immigrated to the United States with his father and two brothers. They traveled over three thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean, spending nine days on a steam ship. He came through Ellis Island and settled in Minnesota.
Upon arrival in the United States, my great grandfather traveled to northern Minnesota. He lived with approximately 50 men in a crude barracks in northern Minnesota. Although he knew no English, he was able to get a job working at a lumber mill in Northern Minnesota. Around 1900, my great grandfather and his father bought 80 acres in Minnesota where they logged lumber on their own land. In 1913, my great grandfather married. Over the years he had six children and twenty-one grandchildren.
Since my great grandfather came to the United States with his father and his two brothers, saying goodbye to his homeland, friends and loved ones was not as difficult as it would have been had he come by himself. Once he arrived in the United States, the most difficult thing for him was learning English and adjusting to a completely different culture. He left behind many cousins in Sweden who he kept in contact with through the mail. My great grandfather never got to return to Sweden. In 1994, many years after my great grandfather passed away, his daughter and granddaughter traveled to Sweden and were able to find six of their cousins. Some did not speak English so they had an interpreter. While in Sweden, they visited a library where a librarian helped them do research in order to put together a family tree. Due to their diligence, our family has an accurate record of our relatives.
From 1851 to 1930, more than 1.2 million Swedes immigrated to America, which was approximately 25 percent of the total population of Sweden during that time span. Sweden had one of the highest rates of immigration among European nations. The largest surge of immigrants, approximately 475,000, arrived between 1880 and 1893 (Granquist). This was the period when my great grandfather immigrated to the United States. A few early immigrants came to America to break free from religious persecution. For the majority, however, the driving force for immigration was economic, although they looked forward to worshiping...