Gustav Carlson and Lovisa
Gustav Carlson was born June 7, 1818 in Ryd, Ekeberga,
Kronoberglan, Sweden. His father was Carl Manson, a farmer and his
mother, Ingrid Häkensdotter, were also born there. Gustav’s
siblings were Maria, 1797 (died same year), Magnus, 1798, Christina,
1801, Johannes, 1803, Elisabeth, 1807, Helena (Lena) 1813, Johanna,
1815, Gustav, 1818, and Cecelia (Ingrid), 1824.
Lovisa Johansdotter was born January 1, 1822 in Algutsboda,
Kronoberglan, Sweden. Her father was Johannes Nilsson, a farmer,
and her mother was Maria Gummesdotter, both born in Sweden.
Louisa’s siblings were Jonas, 1815, Gustav, 1819, and Samuel, 1825.
Gustav and Lovisa are my great grandparents on my mother’s side.
Gustav and Lovisa were married June 24, 1842. They had five
children while living in Sweden - Frank, August 13, 1843, Alfred,
March 28, 1845, Algodt, January 25, 1848, Aaron, June 28, 1850, and
Andrena, March 4, 1853.
Gustav and Lovisa with their five children immigrated from Sweden
in 1854. Also on the sailing boat to America were Lovisa’s brother,
Samuel, and his wife Lisa. There were eleven other immigrants on
the boat who came from the same area of Sweden, all of whom had
Minnesota as their destination. They arrived in Red Wing by
riverboat on August 6, 1854. Seven members of the group contracted
cholera in Chicago. Algodt and Andrena died two days after arrival
in Red Wing. Five of the eleven immigrants who had cholera died
within two weeks. Bodies were buried on hillsides at night in
unmarked graves so the Indians would not know that the number of
settlers had diminished.
Gustaf, Louisa and family first settled in Burnside. After a
short time, they moved to Vasa. Frank helped his father, Gustaf,
build their log cabin, the third one erected there. Although there
was good land for farming, there also was wilderness. As in the Red
Wing area, hostile Indians were also present in the Vasa area.
Settlers needed to take special precautions.
Hans Mattson, from Sweden, came to the Vasa area in 1853. When
he came from St. Paul to Red Wing, the banks of the Mississippi
River were lined with Indian teepees. There were very few
dwellings. He came to the area seeking a location for a
settlement. He accepted a ride out of Red Wing and followed the
Spring Creek valley to the prairie land, which is now Vasa
Township. Here he found good soil, a growth of oak timber and
He decided this would be a favorable location for a future home.
Mattson’s brother-in-law, S. J. Willard, from Sweden, came to Vasa
in 1854 and built the first house. As the settlement grew, it was
referred to as “Swedes Prairie”, “White Rock” or “Mattson’s
The congregation of the Vasa Lutheran Church was organized by Dr.
Eric Norelius in 1855. The first church, built of logs, was erected
in 1856. Dr. Norelius strongly suggested to the settlers that the
settlement be called Vasa in honor of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden.
As late as 1870, every family in Vasa, with the exception of one,
was Swedish. Dr. Eric Norelius was the first pastor of the church.
In the 1860 census, Gustaf, Louisa and family were on a 160-acre
farm in Vasa. Samuel, Lisa and family were on an adjacent 160-acre
farm in Vasa in 1861. Samuel Jonasson changed his name to Johnson when he arrived in America.
In 1868, Gustaf and Louisa sent money to Louisa’s brother, Jonas
Jonasson, in Sweden so that he could bring his wife, Lena and family
to America. However, Jonas and Lena used much of the money to pay
their debts. They used the balance of the money to send two sons,
Frank and Alfred to America. The following year, Gustaf and Louisa
sent tickets for all the family to immigrate to America. The family
group that immigrated consisted of Louisa’s father, Johannes
Nilsson, Louisa’s brother, Jonas, his wife, Lena and their six
children, Emma, Thilda, John, Lotta, Ellen and Aaron. Johan Nilsson
died that same year, 1869, at age 76. He was buried in the Vasa
Lutheran Church cemetery.
Jonas Jonasson and his sons changed their surname to Johnson,
probably after their arrival in America. Jonas, Lena and family
were on a farm in Welch Township in the 1880 census.
Gustaf and Louisa had five more children while living in Vasa:
Carl, April 18, 1856, John, May 20, 1858, Minnie, 1860 (died in
1861), Nancy, my grandmother, September 28, 1862, and Nanny, August
The Federal Agricultural Census of 1870 provided the following
information about the farm of Gustaf and Louisa Carlson:
- 95 acres of improved land
- 65 acres of woodland
- Cash value of farm - $3000
- Cash value of implements - $1000
- 6 horses, 2 oxen, 3 milk cows, 3 other cattle, and 3 swine
- Value of livestock - $1300
- 9 tons of hay annual yield
- 200 bushels of oats annual yield
- 100 bushels of Indian corn annual yield
- 25 bushels of Irish potatoes annual yield
- 1300 bushels of spring wheat annual yield
- Produce from market garden $100
- Value of slaughtered animals $100
Estimated value of all farm production, including the betterments
and additions to the stock - $1379.
Gustaf and Louisa were some of the earliest settlers in Vasa
Township. They endured many of the privations and hardships that
were part of pioneer life.
Gustaf, Louisa and family moved to Red Wing on November 30,
1873. The 1880 census indicated they had six boarders. The
boarders were immigrants, probably single men, working in Red Wing.
They rented rooms in a rooming house or hotel that did not furnish
On February 4, 1880, Gustaf Carlson was sawing timber by the
Cannon River, just below the railroad bridge. One of the logs, just
sawed through, swung around and struck him on the head, killing him
almost instantly. He was 61 years of age.
Louisa died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Nanny Sessions, 422
Minnesota Street on March 1, 1906. She was 84 years of age. The
report in the Red Wing paper stated “she was a woman of exemplary
Christian character with a heart that was always eager to help those
who were suffering or unfortunate.”
Both Gustaf and Louisa were buried in the Vasa Lutheran Church
Samuel, Lisa and their six children moved to Newhalem, Oregon in
the 1880’s. I have no additional information.
Jonas and Lena sent their two oldest sons, Frank and Alfred, to
Idaho to look for land. When they reached the Red River valley in
northwestern Minnesota, the Red River was flooding, so they could
not proceed west. Someone interested them in good land in Marshall
County, Minnesota, which could be homesteaded. The two sons
returned home and recounted their experiences to the family. Jonas,
Lena and their six children, Frank, Emma, Alfred, John, Lotta and
Aaron moved in 1882 to Warrenton Township in Marshall County,
Jonas and Lena’s youngest son, Aaron, married Eda Frey on July
21, 1889 in Vega, Warrenton Township in Marshall County. They had
eight children, Edward, 1890, Emma, 1892, Alice, 1894, Florence,
1896, Anna, 1898, Harry, 1900, Clarence, 1902, and Hazel, 1904.
Hazel was born November 18, 1904 and married Theodore Ranstrom on
November 16, 1928. Hazel has provided us with a wealth of genealogy
information. Hazel’s grandfather, Jonas, is a brother of Louisa
Carlson. Louisa is my great grandmother.
Hazel died November 14, 1996 In Warren, Minnesota.
Sources of Information
- Ingrid Häkensdotter book
- My mother’s scrapbook
- Vasa Lutheran Church, 125th Anniversary booklet
- Paper presented by Mrs. F.C. Johnson before a Swedish
- Red Wing Daily Republican of June 24, 1935
- Hazel Ranstrom
- First Lutheran Church at Red Wing
- Parish Church records in Sweden
- Federal Census of 1860-1870-1900
- Minnesota census records