Facts about the emigrants’ journey

• Various similarities between Wilhelm Moberg’s novels and Andrew Peterson’s emigration journey from Sweden to the Midwest in North America:

• In the exit permit combined with church-school grades that Andrew received from his parish priest (and Provost) Lindblom, the priest wrote; “Knows the Catechism well” (Luther’s Small Catechism). The certificate was signed by Provost Lindblom on the 5th of April, 1850. Karl Oskar’s exit permit including his church-school grades was signed by the parish Priest on the 28th of March 1850 – and the parish priest and Provost, Brusander, said to Karl Oskar: “You know your catechism well”.

• Andrew’s party of emigrants from Västra Ryd’s parish were 16 individuals in total – consisting of 10 adults and 6 children.

• Karl Oskar’s group of emigrants from Ljuders’ parish were 16 individuals in total – consisting of 9 adults and 7 children.

• In Moberg’s novels, the mix of personalities in Karl Oskar’s party of emigrants –  resemble some of the people in Andrew’s group so much that it looks as if some of the individuals in Andrew’s party of emigrants served as models for the characters in the novels.

• Both the fictional and real immigrants’ cross-atlantic journey began in spring 1850 and ended in July, 1850. Andrew departed from Sweden on the 19th of May and arrived to his destination; Burlington by the Mississippi-river, on the 30th of July,1850. Karl Oskar left Sweden on the 14th of April, and arrived to his destination Stillwater on the 31st of July 1850. Moberg writes that Karl Oskar and Kristina’s journey was delayed and that they were more than a month behind schedule when they arrived.  Andrews journey was one month and six days faster than Karl Oskars journey.

• The description of the Ships: The description of the Brig Charlotta that the emigrants traveled with in the novel, is consistent with the description of The Brig Minona that Andrew Peterson and his group sailed with in 1850. Andrew’s ship, the brig Minona, had nearly the same cargo space (104 x 23 feet) in real life, as Karl Oskar’s brig Charlotta has in the novel. “Charlotta’s” cargo space is said to have been 124 x 20 feet. Both vessels transported also iron from Sweden to America.

• Anna Lena Pehrsdotter, 34 years old at the time, traveled with Andrew’s group on the brig Minona accompanied by her 8 year old daughter Ida. In Anna Lena’s papers her daughter’s birth certificate states “Father unknown”. In Moberg’s novels, ‘Ulrika from Västergöhl’ and her illegitimate daughter Elin travel with Karl Oskar’s group onboard the Charlotta. 

• The number of passengers that survived the crossing with the Minona were 69 –  in Moberg’s book 70 passengers arrive safely in New York with the Charlotta.  

• The brig Minona was built in 1781 in Halmstad in the county of Halland, Sweden, and was originally named “Charlotte”.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s Diary, 21st of May: “Saw a small part of “Cape Far sund” in norway – it was the last thing we saw of our old Scandinavia”.

• These lines from Andrew’s diary may have inspired Moberg to write the following: “This stretch of beach was the last thing they would see of the old world. Now many days would pass before they saw land again”.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s Diary, the 26th of May, on board the Minona: “The Captain does not pray, but we do. Even the ship’s crew feels the need to pray. The Captain needs no god, for he is God himself”.

• The text above may have inspired Moberg to write the following passages, in which the Captain’s thoughts are disclosed: “The sectarians did not consider me to be the Captain and commander of the ship, but meant that the commander-in-chief on board was God himself”. He continues: “ If God had wanted any of the passengers to maneuver the ship, I’m sure he would have been reasonable enough to choose people with some seamanship skills”.

• On the 2nd of June, 1850, Andrew made this entry in his diary: “A strong storm came upon us in the late evening, one of the big waves that crashed onto deck roared in such a way that it struck terror in most of the people on board”.             

• Moberg writes about how most of the passengers were horrified by the first storm on the North sea that they experienced during the crossing. At one point he describes it like this; “the water crashed onto deck – and then came the roar…

• How it feels to get sea sick is described in Andrew’s diary on the 19th of May… “ There was a lot of gruesome throwing up round about the Railing - since they were not used to the rolling”…

• Moberg’s description of sea sickness sounds like this… “the cluster of people, nauseated by the sickness that comes from the rolling of a ship”… “Robert, lying on the deck stairs, vomiting. [spewing] It’s only sea-sickness, Karl Oskar said”.

• Andrew’s name for the ‘Atlantic Ocean’ is “The Atliantic Osian” which is the way Moberg writes the name of the ocean in the novels. In Sweden and Scandinavia people refer to this big sea as “The Atlant” i.e. ‘The Atlantic’. Saying the “Atlantic Ocean” is not, and was not considered correct amongst Scandinavians, instead, it’s a kind of “swenglish”. On the 15th of June, 1850, Andrew made the following entry in his diary: “have been working on a new mast – the lumberman and I have been working on it all night”.

• In Moberg’s novel there is also a lumberman on board who is traveling with the party of emigrants. Moberg’s group also traveled with a guide (who would escort them to Chicago) called ‘Landberg’. He was a lumberman too.

• The Captain aboard the Minona most probably saw and understood that Andrew was a very capable person. Amongst other things, Andrew worked day and night until the broken mast had been skillfully repaired. The Captain of the Charlotta similarily held Karl Oskar in very high regard, he said: “It is a shame that that farmer should be a farmer, had he been born on the coast instead of inland, he would have made for an able bodied seaman”.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s Diary, 21st of June: “Gustaf’s youngest Daughter in Sjöarp died today at 6 o’clock in the morning at the age of one year and five months”. The corpse was swept in sack-cloth and then it was sown into sailcloth with a sinker at the feet then it was carried up onto deck and was laid on a board that was placed on the Railing, then it was hauled down into that deep grave, at somewhere around 34 armslength’s depth close to the middle of the Newfoundland sand-bank”.

• In Moberg’s novels eight people die during the crossing of the Atlantic ocean – and the descriptions of the funerals in the book are very similar to the descriptions Andrew Peterson gives us in his diary.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s diary, the 6th of June: “some of our passengers have seen a large number of fish that are called mereswines and whales”. Moberg’s fictional characters Robert and Elin lean across the railing and look at the porpoises playing right next to the hull of the ship.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s Diary; from midsomer solstice on the 22nd and 23d of June, 1850: “the weather is light and beautiful today on midsummer’s eve so as to bring all the passengers up on deck but no green groves to stroll in”. In Moberg’s novel the weather is also warm and pleasant on midsummer’s eve.

• Excerpt from Andrew’s diary, the 25th-30th of June: “same wind warm weather a lot of mist, general health and furthermore expecting land soon. ”

• Moberg writes: “Charlotta meets other ships daily… flocks of seabirds and all sorts of objects are seen floating on the water. All of it signs of mainland approaching”.

• On the 2nd of July Andrew makes the following entry in his diary: “Early in the morning we saw the lighthouse of Boston with a fire in it, but it was far out in the sea on one of the islets, these [desse] are there to be an aid to sailors when it is dark – right before noon [farmidagen] a steamboat came and asked if the Captain wanted them to pull his Brig to the harbour, but we had good wind, so he did not need that – a while after that, the pilot came in his big cheerful Sloop skipping across the sea, and was Captain on our Brig to the harbour”.

• “A little while after the arrival of the Pilot the quarantine Doctor came on board to see if all of us were healthy which we were – in the evening we tied up our boat to a berth at the pier, and went up and looked at the big town Boston”. Moberg writes that the passengers on the Charlotta finally saw America at dawn and that they, on the same day, moored their ship Charlotta to its berth at a pier in the New York harbour, whereupon the Health Officer there carried out a health control exercise and put the boat in a three day long quarantine. After all this, the party of emigrants went and had a look at New York.

• The itinerary, the time it took to travel – and the means of travel are similar:

• Steam locomotive to Albany - Riverboats to Buffalo - Steamboat on Lake Erie and the Detroit sound.

• Steamboat on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to Chicago - Horsedrawn riverboats further out west.

• The day of arrival at the Mississippi river (their final destination) for the Andrew Peterson party of immigrants, was the 30th of July, 1850. In the novels, the group that Karl Oskar and Kristina traveled with, arrives on the 31st of July, 1850.

• After walking nearly 20 kilometers from the riverboat, through thick forests, the following individuals claimed their land: Andrew Peterson, John Anderson and Andrew Bergquist – near each other. ( see Josephine Mihelich book “Andrew Peterson and the Scandia Story”).              In Mobergs novel, Karl Oskar claimed his land on the same days as two of his friends claimed theirs – after having dealt with similar hardships, traveling on many different boats and walking long distances through thick forests.

Copyright Andrew Petersonsällskapet