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BJÖRKMAN

In the second year after the end of the Crimean War (1858) and as the Swedish economy began to sink into depression, a daughter was born to Carl Frederick BJÖRKMAN and his wife Eva ISSACCSDOTTER. She was the second child of four born to Carl and Eva and was christened Lovisa Christina in the Bottnaryd parish church, just outside the inland port of Jönköping (pronounced Yehn-chipping), about 75 miles from Vennersborg. Christine spent her entire childhood and adolescence in Bottnaryd.

One wintry day in January 1864, when she was not yet 8 years old, Christine's father was found frozen to death on his way home. Possibly he was having trouble feeding his family, because it is recorded with the records of his death that he was "found frozen to death with nothing to eat in his pockets." The next year Christine's younger bother (Johan Victor) and sister (Ada Matilda) died within six months of each other, leaving only she, her mother and an older sister (Ana Charlotta). Christine and her sister stayed with their mother until she died in 1882 and the very next year, probably using their inheritance, left their homeland for new lives in America.

We don't know if they went to America because of the sad memories of their early home life or if they received some encouragement and information about America from their cousin, Matilda CARLSSON. The CARLSSON's had gone to Kansas in the late 1860's and had eventually founded their home in Big Timber (later named Cleburne), Kansas. The CARLSSON's had improved their standard of living more than they could have dreamed of doing in Sweden. Naturally, they would encourage their relatives to come over.

The Scandinavian immigrants seemed to have devised a system whereby whoever went to America would encourage other members of the family to come over. Then, when the newcomers arrived, the old-timers would help them out until they were established. Only about 18% of the total number of immigrants who came over in the late eighteen hundreds returned to Sweden. This method of encouraging family and friends to emigrate seemed to work well and did help to solidify and unite the Swedish cultural communities in America. After arriving, many of the Swedes heard of new opportunities across the United States and eventually began new communities in other areas and then encouraged family and friends to move there. This became known as the "Great Swedish Exodus."

The sisters sailed by ship, probably from the great Swedish seaport of Göteborg and arrived in New York City after a couple of months. From there, they traveled by train to Manhattan, Kansas where they were met by their cousin, Matilda, now Mrs. Magnus VILANDER. She and her family cared for the sisters in their home above Cleburne, Riley County, Kansas until the sisters could find work and eventually marry.

The Swedish communities in the New Country were very close and attempted to keep the newcomers within their orbit. The center of the Swedish culture on the rolling plains of Pottowatomi and neighboring Riley counties was the Swedish Lutheran Church at Mariadahl near Olsburg just east of the Blue River. The church was used for most of the community activities. The Swedes were very conscious of their ethnic culture and tried to preserve what they could of their traditions. They also tended to mix with their own countrymen. No doubt, during one of these activities or while working around the county, Charles Nicholas OLSON met and fell in love with Christine Louise BURKMAN (Christina Lovisa BJÖRKMAN).

Although we don't know exactly how they met, we know they were married 18 April 1885, either in Westmoreland or in Mariadahl. They made their first home with Charles Nicholas' sister Lena, near Bellegarde for about three years. Eventually tensions arose between the two families and the Olsons bought a farm outside of Garrison where they resided for twenty-one years. Later they moved to the Keats area of Riley County for about four years (during which time their son, Arthur, probably met Nellie TELLIS). They next lived three years in Salina, Kansas and finally in 1916 returned to live in Garrison where they each eventually died. They had ten children, all but the first, born on the farm near Garrison. The Olsons, together with their relatives, were a very close knit family. They would get together for holidays and other occasions and eventually began the tradition of the family reunion during the summer around the time of Charles Nicholas' birthday in August. This closeness helped keep the family together through the generations and many of the cousins even now keep in touch with one another.

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