The diaries

Andrew Peterson's diaries from the voyage 1850 and from June 23rd 1854 and onwards have been preserved. (We also have some of Andrews memory notes 1850-1854). They describe how he built up his farm, resulting in something of a model property. He married Elsa, also a member of the baptist congregation. Elsa gave birth to nine children, eight of whom lived to reach adult age. None of them had any children of their own, so Andrew and Elsa's family eventually died off. Their memory did not, however, since it is well documented in Andrew's diaries, comprising ten volumes from June 23rd 1854 to March 29th 1898, when the last entry was made. Two days later, March 31st 1898, Andrew died in his home on the farm near Clearwater Lake, where he had lived for most of his life.

The diaries contain short notes about the daily activities of Andrew and his family, day by day. All purchases and sales are also noted, with the prices specified. The language is simple but rich. There is a considerable element of the local Ydre dialect that Andrew presumably spoke. Many words are spelt the way they are pronounced in the local dialect. Instead of "stycken" and "potatis" he writes "stöcken" and "potater", just as he would have pronounced the words. Many common Swedish words, though, are written with the officially correct spelling, often in use to this day. English words, often mixed with endings and inflections from the Swedish language, sometimes appear in the entries. They confirm that the well-known Swedish-American lingo, jokingly imitated through the years, really did exist as early as the 1850s.

Some quotations from the diaries:

  • 21 of May 1850. Almost calm wind, but the Brigg was roling much off the waves. Less seasickness after passing Skagerack. We saw a little of Far Sund point Norway – that was the last we got to see of our old Scandinavia.
  • 2 of July 1850. Early in the morning we saw Bostons lighthouses with fire, but it was far away out from land on islands. These are to show sailships when it is dark. Later came a steamboat and asked our Captain if we needed pulling assistance to the harbour, but we had a good wind, so he did not need help. Shortly after, came the pilot in his fancy boat, and he was as Captain into the harbour. Shortly after the Pilot arrived came the Quarantine – Doctor on board to see if if all were in good health, which we were. In the afternoon we went in to the dock and went upp to see the big city of Boston.
  • 18 of June 1855 Bought the claim from Germans for 25 Dollar. Payed Fisser’s son 5 Dollars for his help. Per Daniel went to St Paul.
  • 19 of June 1855 Hoed and planted potatoes on my claim. I had Alexander and Jonas- Peter and John to help me.
  • 20 of June 1855 I went for the second time to Alexander and John to help them with the logshanty.1 of August 1855 A.M. I was cutting gras (for hay) and did a rake. In the afternoon we had a meeting with holy communion, and decided to make a united Parish.
  • February 1855 13th slaughtered the Swines among other things 14th morning cut up the Swines, afternoon worked in the shop
  • August 1862: 20th we were frightened of the Indians so we moved out to the island in klearwater lake, and so we lay there till the 21st at night when we went home.
  • March 1898: 28th in the morning frank went to waconia with a full cart of wheat, at night the boys transported manure. The snow is now good for sleighing I am not well, I am in Bed.
  • 29th The boys transported manure - I was in Bed - we had bright weather but not mild weather.

Vilhelm Moberg's novels are based on Andrew Peterson's diaries. Read more.