Brother Karl – the model for Robert

Andrew's youngest brother Karl emigrated together with his sister "Chrestina" in 1852 and they arrived at Andrew’s house in ‘New Sweden’ on the 27th of September, 1852. Karl was only 15 years old at the time.

Some years later, Karl embarked on a trip to the southwest, during the Gold rush, and eventually he became part owner of a small mine in New Mexico. Karl died from alcohol poisoning on the 10th of January in 1878 – at the "Court Hall Saloon" in Denver, Colorado. 

When Karl died at the age of forty, he was unmarried. He wanted his siblings to inherit his money and his part in the mine. Despite the hard work Andrew and his siblings put into writing letters to district courts and people of influence in Colorado and New Mexico (as well as to two Swedes that had known Karl) thus trying to press family inheritance claims – Andrew and his siblings never got the inheritance they were entitled to. More than thirty letters that they wrote during a ten-year-period have been noted in Andrews diaries. One could say that the golden dream turned to dust.

On the 10th of November,1859 – Andrew received a cheque from Karl, who lived in Colorado then, but Andrew was only able to redeem half the sum noted on the cheque, on the 8th of December the same year. Following Karl's death on the 8th of August,1879 – Andrew received a bill of exchange from Karl, which he, with much difficulty and after much controversy, managed to redeem at the bank. Both these events reminds one of Robert's "invalid money” in the Moberg novels – which he had obtained in exchange for gold coins – often referred to as "Wild Cat Money". 

Karl's life as a younger brother and a Swedish farmer's son who heads out west during the Gold Rush and eventually dies under tragic circumstances from alcohol poisoning – together with complications and grievances connected to invalid account balances and having been (most probably) cheated by business partners – strongly resembles Karl Oskar’s younger brother Robert’s fateful problems in the novels – and to some extent Robert's friend Arvid’s experiences.

You can read more about the golden dream that turned to dust at the ‘Andrew Peterson Society's Museum’ in Ydre.

Copyright Andrew Petersonsällskapet