www.MaineSwedishColony.info

This site is not updated on a regular basis. 11/6/17

 

The Sons and Daughters of the Colony of New Sweden (New Sweden Historical Society) and Maine’s Swedish Colony, Inc. have merged under the New Sweden Histroical Society name.

 

Get involved. Join one of the Historical Societies of the Maine Swedish Colony (download form)

New Sweden
Historical Society

https://www.facebook.com

/NewSwedenHistoricalSociety

116 Station Road

PO Box 33
New Sweden, ME, 04762

207-896-5200

Carolyn Hildebrand nshs@maineswedishcolony.info

207-896-3052

Download Membership Form

Stockholm
Historical Society

https://www.facebook.com/

stockholmhistoricalmuseum/

280 Main Street
Stockholm, ME 04783

Sandra Hara

 

Woodland
Historical Society

1149 New Sweden Rd.
Woodland, ME 04736

 

 

History and Guide

 

How the Colony came to be


The Swedish Colony in Northern Maine

W.W.ThomasWilliam Widgery Thomas, Jr.,
was the Maine official
who created the
Maine Swedish Colony
and led the first settlers from
Sweden to New Sweden.

One might say that America's Civil War in the 1860's led indirectly to the establishment of Maine's Swedish Colony. President Lincoln sent War Consuls to various countries to further the Union cause, and he sent young William Widgery Thomas, Jr. of Portland, who had been a diplomatic courier, to Gothenburg, Sweden. Thomas loved Sweden and the Swedes and rapidly learned the language and customs.

W.W. Thomas

When Thomas returned to Maine after the War, he found the state losing population as many heeded the call to "Go West, Young Man!" At the same time, the State was trying to protect its northern border after the Bloodless Aroostook War and to settle the great North Woods. The state had made land in the townships north of Caribou available to American settlers on very easy terms, and a small influx to Woodland and Perham had begun around 1860 but even many of those left when the Civil War intervened. Now Thomas campaigned, with the support of Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain, to have the state recruit a colony of Swedes to establish a new agricultural settlement in the virgin forest of T15-R3.

On March 23, 1870 the Legislature passed an Act authorizing a Board of Immigration and Thomas was named Commissioner of Immigration. On April 30 he sailed from the United States and landed in Gothenburg on May 16 where he began selecting the first group of immigrants. On Midsummer's Eve, June 23, the colony of 22 men, 11 women and 18 children gathered with Thomas and their friends and relatives for a farewell party in the Baptist Hall. They sailed with Thomas on June 25 to Hull, then by rail to Liverpool, then sailed to Halifax, arriving on July 13. They ascended the St. John River by steamer to Fredericton, where they transferred to horse-drawn tow-boats to Tobique Landing (now Perth-Andover). While on the tow-boats an infant baby, Hilma Clase, died (and was brought to their new home).

Capitolium buildingThe Capitolium in New Sweden-
first public building and heart of the Colony.
(Line illustrations are from the
1895 Quarter-Centennial
Celebration publication.)

The colonists spent the night in a barn in Tobique. They then traveled by wagon train to a welcoming luncheon in Fort Fairfield, and on to Caribou for a bountiful supper and overnight in Arnold's Hall. The wagon train continued on July 23 along a newly cut woods road, arriving at noon at their new home, which Thomas named New Sweden, "a name at once commemorative of the past and auspicious of the future." 

 

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Privacy Policy-We do not share contact information. Site comments, correcctions, and questions? No change is too small – email the official web trolls: John Hede, jhede@ainop.com and Bill Duncan, Bill@WilliamLDuncan.com ©2010 Site hosting courtesy of WilliamLDuncan.com. This site was originally developed with assistance of a Discovery Research grant from the Maine Arts Commission, the New Century Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and the historical societies of the Maine Swedish Colony.

Note, June 2017. This site is not updated on a regular basis. See individual historical society pages on Facebook.--Bill