Boone County

Boone county was created in 1847 by act of the state legislature, and named for Captain Nathan Boone who in 1835 commanded Company H, First Regiment, United States Dragoons, on their expedition from old Fort Des Moines to Wabasha's village in Minnesota. During their march the little army, on June 23, camped near the Des Moines river in what is now Boone county.

Eleven years later Chas. W. Gaston, a member of Captain Boone's Company, became the first settler in Boone county. After the expiration of his military service Mr. Gaston located in Hannibal, Mo., where he married, his wife dying about five years later. In 1846 he ascended the Des Moines valley as far as Elk Rapids, and on January 12 took up a claim, and built a log cabin, thus becoming the first permanent settler in Boone county. Other settlers arrived later the same year, and built cabins along a creek, three miles north of Boonesboro. That same year the Dalander family and some other Swedes made the first Swedish settlement in the county at Swede Point, which event will be described in detail later. In 1849 the settlers were numerous enough to organize a county government. The county seat was located at a place called Boonesboro, and was known by that name until 1887 when Boonesboro became one of the wards of the city of Boone. In the year when the county was organized, the number of inhabitants residing within its borders was 400. Ten years later the population had increased to 4,018. In 1930 Boone county had a population of 29,271 of whom about 4,000 were of Swedish descent. Most of the Swedes are found in the city of Boone and in and around the towns of Madrid, Ogden, Boxholm and Pilot Mound.


Madrid enjoys the distinction not only of being originally a Swedish colony, but also of being the second oldest Swedish settlement in the state of Iowa. The oldest Swedish colony in the state, New Sweden, was located in Jefferson county, and was founded in 1845 under the leadership of Peter Cassel from Östergötland, Sweden, From New Sweden Mr. Cassel wrote enthusiastic letters to his friends in Sweden, setting forth the opportunities offered by the new world to prospective homeseekers. His letters were given wide publicity in the newspapers of his native land, and, as a result, some 46 people from Vesterslösa parish and vicinity, in the province of Östergötland, decided to emigrate to New Sweden.

In the month of May, 1846, the party embarked in Gothenburg on a sailing vessel named "Augusta," loaded with iron for New York City. After a tedious voyage of nine weeks and three days, the emigrants reached New York where they were welcomed by the Swedish Methodist minister, O. G. Hedstrom, who was conducting Swedish services aboard an old vessel, "Bethel," in the harbor of that city. From New York the journey was continued by river boat up the Hudson to Albany, and thence, through the Erie canal and over lakes and rivers, to Cincinnati, Ohio. From that city the immigrants journeyed down the Ohio river to Cairo, Ill., and thence up the great Mississippi past St. Louis to Keokuk, where they first set foot on Iowa soil.

In his letters Peter Cassel had instructed his countrymen what course to take from Keokuk in order to reach New Sweden, but the immigrants miscalculated the directions, and got lost along the Des Moines river. They finally reached Fort Des Moines, but found no one that knew anything about any Swedish colony. Instead they were told of a lone settler who had a cabin near Elk Rapids, and the tired and discouraged Swedes steered their course in his direction. The lone settler turned out to be not one of their countrymen, but the above mentioned Chas. W. Gaston who lived in a rude cabin, surrounded by a few small patches of corn and potatoes.

When the Swedish colonists found out their mistake, most of them continued their journey to New Sweden, where they joined the Cassel colony. Only four families decided to remain, and locate in Boone county. These were Mrs. Anna Dalander and her six children, Erik, John, Sven, Lars Peter, Ulla, and Anna Catharina; Mr. and Mrs. Magnus Anderson and their six children; Mr. and Mrs. A. Adamson, and Mr. Jacob Nelson and his family. Mrs. Dalander, who with her family became the founder of the Swede Point settlement, was born in Vesterslösa, Östergötland, in 1792. She located on a tract of land in the section where Madrid now is, and her children ultimately acquired homes in the neighborhood, as did also the other Swedes who were of the company.

The new settlers set to work immediately to provide dwellings, and plant crops. The first shelters were made from leafy boughs, but later log houses were built. Magnus Anderson and Jacob Nelson were the first to get their log cabins completed. Mr. Gaston provided the newcomers with seed for the small patches of ground they were able to break up. Their agricultural implements consisted of hoes and spades. The first plow bought by the colonists came from Oskaloosa and was of the most primitive kind with a wooden mould board.

The settlement was named Swede Point for a point of timber projecting out on the prairie, and retained that name for several years. The long distance from market towns and conveniences of all kinds caused one of the settlers, Jacob Nelson, to build a primitive grist mill, patterned after some mills he had seen in his native land. It was operated by hand, and served the colonists for some time.

Additional settlers moved into the colony from other points. In 1848 one of Mrs. Dalander's daughters, Ulla, married Mr. Carl Johan Cassel at Fairfield, oldest son of Peter Cassel, the founder of the New Sweden settlement, and the following year the couple located at Swede Point. They were the first Swedish couple married in the state of Iowa. Their union was blessed with nine children. The other daughter of Mrs. Dalander, Anna Catharina, married Chas. W. Gaston, whom the Swedes found living in the neighborhood when they first arrived at Swede Point.

The town of Swede Point was platted on Mrs. Dalander's farm in 1851, A second plat of the town was registered in December, 1853, but before the final register was made Mrs. Dalander died, November 28, 1854, leaving no will. Mr. Gaston, who was appointed administrator of her estate, had a new plat made of the town, which was registered May 25, 1855, in which he had the name changed from Swede Point to Madrid. The saying is, that he had a Spaniard working for him, who often boasted of his native country and its capital, Madrid. Mr. Gaston despised both the Spaniard and his country, and, having fallen out with his Swedish brothers-in-law, he spitefully changed the Swedish name of the town to Madrid. The postoffice was established in 1856 under the name of Swede Point, and continued under that name about a year before it was changed to Madrid. The town was incorporated in 1883.

Mr. Gaston had one son with Anna Dalander who died before reaching the age of manhood. After the death of his second wife Gaston married Mrs. Carmichael who survived him a few years. He died in the spring of 1892, and his remains repose in the Dalander Cemetery, two miles northwest of Madrid, where also several of the members of the Dalander family were laid to rest.

Chas. J. Cassel was elected County Supervisor of Boone county in 1880, and was the first Swedish county supervisor in Iowa. He died in 1902, and his wife (Ulrika Dalander) in 1894, leaving eight children, among them Peter Cassel, born in 1859, who became a druggist and vice president of the Madrid State Bank. In 1849 Erick Dalander married Miss Christine Nelson who died in 1851, leaving one son. The following year the widower married Miss Eva E. Swanson, which union was blessed with nine children. Erick Dalander died in Madrid in 1893, leaving ten children, among them E. Peter Dalander who became postmaster of Madrid. When the Civil War broke out several of the Swedes in the Madrid settlement joined the colors, among them Andrew J. Dalander, Peter Peterson, Jonas Peterson and Chas. J. Anderson. A large number of descendants of the Dalander and Cassel pioneers are now living in and around Madrid.

As early as 1875 the Swedish settlers of this community organized an Insurance Association under the name of "Hjälpförening" for the protection of home owners against fire. The first eight members were in the order named, Carl Anderson, Nels Newman, August Skortman, Erick Naslund, Olof Nyman, John Alsin, Sven Carlson and Alfred Johnson. A. T. Davis was the first president of the Association, and John Anderson the first secretary. The largest policy issued was for $800, and the total amount for all eight members, $3,025. In 1884 the concern was incorporated under its present name, The Swedish Mutual Insurance Association. Mr. Ernest Carlson, Madrid, who, in 1889, succeeded Mr. Davis as president, is still holding that office, and Mr. Alf. Reckseen, Boone, is secretary. Its reliability, and the cheapness of its insurance has for this Association won a remarkable success, its total risks now amounting to 91/2 million dollars.

The town of Madrid was without a railroad till 1881, when the Milwaukee road was finished through the settlement. Now a branch line of that system also connects the town with Boone on the north and Des Moines on the south. A number of coal mines in the vicinity have contributed materially to the prosperity of the community, and some of them are still worked with profit, employing several hundred miners, mostly Italians and Austrians. The present population of 'Madrid is 2,061, about 40 per cent of them being of Swedish descent. Both the mayor and the marshal of the town are Swedish, and the majority of its business men are of Swedish nationality.

The early settlers at Swede Point gathered in their homes for religious meetings as early as 1849, though without the service of any ordained minister. Mr. Jacob Nelson acted as leader of these gatherings. In 1854 the Reverend F. M. Håkanson from New Sweden, Ia., made his first call at Swede Point, driving the whole distance, about 200 miles, with team and wagon. His first service was held in the home of Carl Anderson. During one of Pastor Håkanson's visits several years later a Lutheran congregation was organized, October 18, 1859. The same year another church was organized at Swede Bend in Hamilton county, and the two congregations jointly issued a call to F. M. Håkanson to serve as their pastor which was accepted by him. From 1859 to 1868 he continued as minister at Madrid. Work was started on a church building in 1867, on a lot donated by C. J. Cassel & Co. The church was finished in 1870, and dedicated in 1871 by the Reverend Jonas Swensson during a Conference meeting in Madrid. The present membership of the congregation is 348.

In 1904 the Iowa Conference decided to establish a Home for Aged People of the Conference. Through the efforts of the local pastor, C. E. Benson, and the generosity of the business men of Madrid, a sum of $1,200 was subscribed, and used for the purchase of four acres of land in the northwest part of Madrid which was donated to the Conference as a building site for the Home. In 1903 the Conference accepted the offer, and two years later a brick building, 36x20 feet, consisting of two stories and basement, was erected. The building is provided with steam heat, electric light and all modern conveniences. Before his death in 1910 State Senator C. J. A. Ericson in Boone donated $5,000 to the Home. The approximate value of the property is now $100,000. Since the opening of the institution 184 aged people have been cared for at a total expense of $201,279.81, making an average cost per inmate of $1,148. The present number of inmates is 45, of whom 16 are men and 25 women. The total number of workers is five, including the steward and the matron. The average age of inmates at time of death is 84 years and 6 months. With few exceptions the people cared for are of Swedish nationality. Mrs. Hulda Green is matron, and C. J. Cleven steward of the institution.

The oldest person in the Home at present (1931) is Mrs. Kristina Hellstrom, now 95 years old. She was born in Hessle, Västergötland, Sweden, December 4, 1835, and graduated from the Countess Posse Normal School in Stockholm. In 1878 she emigrated to America, and in Kansas City, Mo., she and her childhood friend, Mr. Hellstrom, were joined in wedlock. Mr. Hellstrom served as lay preacher in the Augustana Synod in Missouri and Utah and died in Burlington, Ia., in 1904. Mrs. Hellstrom moved to the Home in Madrid in 1917. (Later information states that Mrs. Hellstrom died June 12, 1931).

The Evangelical Free Church of Madrid was organized in 1872 by the Reverend John Peterson. S. G. Bengtson, P. A. Bengtson and Jonas Johnson, and their families were the charter members. Arriving from Sweden in 1870, they located at Madrid, where Rev. C. A. Björk from Swede Bend visited them before the congregation was organized. Their first resident pastor, Eric Hedlund, arrived in 1877, and the first church building was erected in 1882. 'File congregation has now a membership of 45.

Among the Swedish pioneers of Madrid who made themselves noted, and whose family names are now well known in the community the following also deserve mention: Peter A. Alsin was born in Sweden February 27, 1827, served in the Swedish army, and emigrated to America in 1852. The following year he went to California by way of New Orleans and The Istmus of Panama, but returned to Iowa in 1855, locating first at Burlington and later at Fairfield. At the latter place he married Anna Stevenson in 1857, and raised a family of seven children. Moving to Boone county in 1868, Mr. Alsin engaged in farming near Madrid until 1892, when he retired, and moved to town where he died in 1911.

John Anderson, a son of Magnus Anderson, one of the first settlers at Swede Point, was born in Sweden in 1832, and came to Swede Point with the founders of the settlement in 1846. In 1896 he was elected County Supervisor, and served in that capacity 'two terms. For 30 years he was secretary and treasurer of The Swedish Mutual Fire Insurance Association, and in 1895, when Madrid State Bank was organized, he became its president, continuing in that office until his death in 1906.

Ernest Carlson was born in Linköping, Sweden, March 28, 1864, and, at the age of twenty, emigrated to Boone county, Iowa. From 1889 to 1921 he was engaged in mercantile business in Boone, and from 1922 to 1928 in Madrid. During the last three years he has operated stores in Kelley and Slater, Iowa, but moved back to Madrid this year, where he is now associated with his son, Gerhard, in a general store business. Another son, Dr. Eldon Carlson, is practicing osteopathy in Madrid, and a third son is a Methodist minister in California. Mr. Carlson was active in the establishing of the Old People's Home in Boone, was once the publisher of a Swedish weekly, "Svenska Härolden," as told elsewhere, and has been president of the Swedish Mutual Insurance Association since 1889.

Per (P. B.) Anderson was born in Emitslöf Parish, Skåne, in 1822. His father lost his life in a blasting accident when he was less than a year old, but the boy grew up under a devoted mother's care. In 1847 he married, and, through the influence of Dr. T. N. Hasselquist, was led to emigrate to America seven years later with wife and four children. After shorter periods of residence at Swedona and Geneseo, Ill., and Dayton, Ia., the Andersons finally located on a farm seven miles east of Swede Point. Mrs. Anderson died there in 1891, and her husband the following year. Of their eleven children only two are now living. One of them, B. F. Anderson, is engaged in insurance business in Madrid. His wife, who died July 18, 1930, was of the well known Seashore family of Dayton, and a sister of Dr. Carl Emil Seashore at the Iowa State University. A son of Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Anderson, Paul B., has been active in the Y. M. C. A. foreign service for 20 years. At the age of 17, he became secretary of the American Y. M. C. A. in Shanghai, China, holding that position from 1911 to 1915. During the World War he served as secretary to John R. Mott on the Elihu Root Commission to Russia. Remaining in Russia, he afterwards engaged in relief work among the prisoners in Siberia until 1920, when he was transferred to Berlin, to take charge of relief work among the Russian exiles in Germany. He spent some time at the Oxford University in England, and is a great linguist. A sister of his, Miss Roberta Anderson, was for some time in the service of the American Y. W. C. A. at Kobo, Japan, but is at present located at Racine, Wis.

Their father, Mr. B. F. Anderson, is the historian of the St. John's Lutheran Church of Madrid, and is also much interested in the history of his native country, and its people, and a collector of old documents, letters, and other relics of historical value. Similarly inclined is Mr. F. A. Danborn, another member of the Swedish Colony of Madrid. He formerly lived in Stanton, Iowa, but has made his home in Madrid for a number of years. He has spent much time in collecting newspaper clippings and other printed articles relating to the history of Madrid, and its pioneers, and is also a diligent contributor to both the Swedish and the English press on matters pertaining to Swedish pioneers in the state of Iowa in general, and Boone county in particular.


Moingona was a product of the Chicago & Northwestern railroad and of the coal mines in its immediate vicinity. It was laid out July 6, 1866, For some years the town prospered, its population increased to over 1,000, mostly miners, and a city government was maintained. Between 1867 and 1872 quite a number of Swedish immigrants were attracted to Moingona. Most of them got work in the mines, others secured farms in the vicinity. Three Swedish churches were organized. The Swedish Lutheran Church branched out from the Swede Valley Church in the country near by. It was organized in 1873, a church building was erected the following year, and the membership increased to 100. During the greater part of its existence it was served by the same pastor as the Swede Valley Church. Another Swedish Church was organized in Moingona by the Mission Friends, who also built a church. A few Swedish Baptists, who had located in Moingona, organized a Baptist Church June 24, 1885. It was served by Rev. C. W. Broms for a while, but did not continue its activity very long. Among the organizers were C. M. Nelson, L. J. Ahlstrom and Paul Johnson.

The straightening of the Northwestern railroad, removing the main line from Moingona, and leaving that town on a branch line of secondary importance, together with the giving out of the coal mines in the neighborhood, deprived the inhabitants of Moingona of their means of livelihood, and caused many of them to remove to other places. The shrinking of the population reacted on the business of the town, and year by year Moingona was reduced until only fragments now remain of a once thriving community. Both the Swedish congregations have ceased their activities, but until recently one of their churches was accessible for visiting ministers happening to come that way. Of the business houses only one store and a blacksmith shop (both operated by Swedes) remain. About a half dozen Swedish families still reside in the almost deserted village. The automobiles and the trucks taking what little traffic was left, the railroad has now discontinued all service over the road, and is ready to tear up the rails. Even the postoffice has been discontinued, the community now being served by rural route.


The town of Ogden owes its existence to the Chicago & Northwestern railroad, and was laid out by John I. Blair in 1866. It is situated on the main line of that road, 11 miles west of Boone. The Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad also passes through the town from north to south. The first residents of Ogden were William Patterson, John Regan and George Stanley, all railroad laborers. A. W. Blumberg was among the first merchants of Ogden. The town was incorporated in 1878. At that time Ogden had several Swedish families among its inhabitants. The settlement was originally named Swede Valley, and comprised a considerable number of Swedish miners and farmers, living in and around Moingona and Ogden.

As early as 1868 a Swedish Lutheran Church was organized with 48 charter members, and named Swede Valley. A church was built 4 1/2 miles from Ogden. In 1882 a cyclone destroyed the church, and a new one was erected. The congregation still retains the name of Swede Valley, and has now a membership of 182. In 1914 a separate Lutheran congregation was formed in Ogden with an initial membership of 28 which has since increased to 68. The Swedish Mission denomination started activities in Ogden in 1875, and organized a congregation in 1882 when a church building was erected. It has continued its activities to the present time, and has now 55 members. The town of Ogden has now a population of 1,429 of whom about 100 are of Swedish descent, including a dozen of its business men. Quite a number of Swedish farmers live in the surrounding country.


In 1864 and 1865 the Northwestern railroad was built through Boone county. When the citizens of Boonesboro failed to comply with the requirement of the railroad company, the road was constructed a distance from Boonesboro, thus giving rise to the town of Boone. It was laid out by John I. Blair, March 4, 1865, and was first named Montana. The decision of the railroad company to establish a division point there with round house and shops caused the town to develop rapidly. When it was laid out there was only one house within its confines. It belonged to Mr. Keeler, and was put up by him for a tavern in 1855. Twenty-five days after the platting of the town, March 29, 1865, 50 lots were sold at prices ranging from $50 to $500, each. The town was incorporated May 7, 1866, under the name of Montana, and had then about 1,500 inhabitants. In 1871, the name was changed to Boone. Boonesboro retained the county seat till 1887, when it was annexed to Boone, and became a ward of that city. The court house still remains in its old location in Boonesboro which is in the extreme western part of the city.

Boone is now one of the important railway and commercial centers of Iowa. Located on the Northwestern main line between Chicago and Omaha, 150 miles east of the latter city, and the division point of that road in Iowa, the city is of strategic importance to that system. A branch line of the Northwestern gives Boone direct connection with Des Moines, and a Milwaukee branch connects it with the main line of that system at Madrid. The electric line of the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern has its headquarters at Boone, with lines running north and south from that point. The population of Boone is now 11,886 of whom about 1,100 are of Swedish nationality. The Swedes are well represented in all business and professional tines, numbering about 50 merchants and professional men, all told.

Some Swedes located in Boone before the end of the sixties. Prominent among the early settlers was Nels Thorson who induced his countrymen to move to Boone, and assisted the newcomers in various ways. It was also mainly through his efforts that a Lutheran Church was established among them. The Swedish Lutheran ministers H. Olson and C. J. Malmberg visited Boone in the sixties, conducting religious services, but no congregation was formed until 1869 or 1870, when a church was organized in Mr. Thorson's home under the leadership of Rev. H. Olson. Services were held in the home of Mr. Thorson until a church building was erected in 1872. The church was originally called The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, but when some of the members wanted the congregation to join the Augustana, Synod the majority objected, and at a meeting July 26, 1877, for the purpose of deciding the question, the congregation was declared free and independent of the Synod. As a result, nine families, among them Nels Thorson, left the church, September 10, 1877, and organized a Lutheran congregation with 20 members. This congregation affiliated with the Augustana Synod, erected a church in 1879, and has since increased its membership to 294.

The original church later changed its name to The Swedish Evangelical Mission Church. When The Swedish Mission Church of America came into existence, some of the members of the Boone Mission Church wanted the congregation to affiliate with that body, but this move was resisted by the majority, and until this day the church has remained independent, though working in association with The Evangelical Free Church of America. Its official name is now The First Evangelical Free Church of Boone, and its membership about 200. In 1894 some of the members of the church separated from its fellowship, and organized a Swedish Mission Church, having an initial membership of about 30, which affiliated with The Swedish Covenant denomination. They bought a Methodist church building, and continued their activities till 1907, when the congregation was dissolved.

A Swedish Baptist preacher by the name of A. Pearson, having located in Boone during the eighties, gathered a few Swedes of the same religious conviction around him and organized a Baptist church June 26, 1885, with himself as leader. Rev. C. W. Broms served both this congregation and the one at Moingona for a while. Afterwards services were held occasionally by some visiting preacher until the members were scattered and the congregation dissolved. A small Swedish unit of the Salvation Army has for some years been located at Boone.

For a short time the Swedish colony of Boone could boast of its own weekly paper, printed in the Swedish language. Started in 1895 by Mr. Ernest Carlson who named it "Svenska Härolden" (The Swedish Herald) the publication gained considerable support from the Swedes of Boone and the surrounding territory, and attained a circulation of between 1,000 and 1,200. After about a year Mr. Carlson sold the paper to C. A. Nystrom, who continued its publication another 12 months, whereupon he discontinued the venture, and disposed of the subscription list to The Boone News. Mr. Carlson is now a merchant at Madrid, in connection with which place his further activities are recounted. Mr. Nystrom, who was a public school teacher, continued his work in the schools of Boone county for some years, afterwards becoming principal of the city schools of Plankinton, S. D. Removing later to Buffalo Gap in the western part of that state, he took up the study of law, was admitted to the bar, and elected to the office of County Judge.

At a meeting held in Boone in 1910 by The Swedish Evangelical Free Church of America the first steps were taken towards the establishment of a home for superannuated members. Boone was selected as the location for the home. At the instruction of the local church two of its members, Ernest Carlson and Andrew Johnson, bought a city block, which in 1912 was offered to the Conference of the Church as a building site for the home. The Conference accepted the offer, and the same year a two-story brick building was erected which was turned over to the Conference in 1913. A third story was added in 1918. The home which has every modern convenience, accommodates 55 inmates and is valued at about $75,000. For the last ten years Mrs. Augusta Johnson has been Matron of the home.

Of the Swedish residents of Boone Hon. C. J. A. Ericson gained not only a state-wide but a national reputation. From the obscurity of a poor immigrant boy he rose to the distinction of one of Boone's most prominent and honored citizens, and left after him enduring memorials both in Boone and in Rock Island, Ill., the educational center of his countrymen in their country of adoption. Charles John Alfred Ericson was born March 8, 1840, in South Vi parish, Kalmar Län, Sweden. An uncle of his, S. P. Svenson, had emigrated to New Sweden, Jefferson county, Iowa, in 1849, and the following year another uncle, 0. Clemetson, located at Andover, Ill. Both of them sent back glowing accounts of the opportunities on this side of the Atlantic. Two brothers of Charles', Gustaf A. and N. P., who also emigrated, and located at Moline, Ill., added their testimonies to those of their uncles about the advantages of the new country, and thus prevailed on Charles' father Erick Nelson, and the rest of the family to come over to America.

After his arrival in Iowa, Charles worked as a farm hand, mill hand, and clerk, and saved about $400 of his earnings which he invested in a stock of merchandise, and, in 1860, opened up a store in Mineral Ridge, a small town in Boone county. His business prospered, and he later became postmaster of the town. In 1870 he was induced to move to Boone, and take over a larger business which soon developed into the largest mercantile establishment in the city at that time. In 1872 Mr. Ericson assisted in organizing The First National Bank of Boone, becoming cashier of the bank in 1878, and later its president. He served the City of Boone as a member of the City Council, and as City Treasurer, was elected a member of the State Legislature in 1871, and State Senator in 1875, serving in the latter capacity six terms. Mr. Ericson was married twice. His first wife, Matilda Nelson, with whom he entered into wedlock in 1858, bore him two daughters, In 1873 he married Nellie Linderblood, who died in 1879.

On a lot, furnished by the City of Boone at a cost of $4,500, Mr. Ericson erected, and equipped, a magnificent library building for the use of his home city at a total expense of nearly $12,000. It was named Ericson Library, and was turned over to the city October 1, 1901. To Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., Mr. Ericson donated a tract of land, adjoining the College, to be known as the Ericson Park, besides making numerous smaller bequests to other institutions. Mr. Ericson died in 1910.


The town of Boxholm. is located in the northwest part of Boone county on the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern railroad, 16 miles northwest of Boone and 8 miles south of Harcourt, It is a Swedish town both in name and population. Long before the town was started Swedes settled in that vicinity, the Grant Center settlement, as it was originally called for the township by that name, being an outgrowth of the Dayton colony, a little farther north.

Mr. J. B. Anderson was the father of the Boxholm. settlement. He was born in Östergötland, Sweden, April 11, 1834, and emigrated to America in 1861. Locating first at Galesburg, Ill., he moved to Boone county, Iowa, in 1876, and purchased a farm where Boxholm now is located. Through his instrumentality a country postoffice was established in the settlement, and located in a store, opened by him in 1886. At Mr. Anderson's request the postoffice was named Boxholm, in honor of the town of his nativity in Sweden. Mr. Anderson became the postmaster it being also his duty to carry the mail between his office and Pilot Mound, a town five miles east of Boxholm. On Mr. Anderson's death, in 1892, his son Theodore succeeded him as postmaster until the office was abandoned about a year later. He is still living in the outskirts of Boxholm. Another son, J. A. Anderson, has been manager of a lumber yard in Boxholm for the last 15 years.

Olof Westeen was another one of the pioneers of this community. He was born in Lingbo, Hälsingland, Sweden, and in 1869 emigrated to Swede Bend (Stratford) in Hamilton county, Ia., from where he moved to a farm near Dayton in Webster county. In 1882 he moved to the Boxholm community, and located on a farm near where Boxholm. now is, where he died in 1924 at the advanced age of 93 years. His only son, Axel W. Westeen, succeeded in getting the Boxholm postoffice re-established in 1895, himself serving as postmaster until to town of Boxholm was started. Since then Mr. Westeen has been active in the business affairs of the town as merchant, banker and lately as village blacksmith.

Peter Stark arrived in Swede Bend from his native land June 19, 1868, and came to Grant township in Boone county in 1879. After the establishment of Boxholm, he moved to town, and opened a hardware store which he conducted for 18 years. The last seven years he has been engaged in harness business. He is the father of eleven children.

The town of Boxholm was laid out April 1, 1900, upon the completion of the railroad. A. P. Lundvall built the first store in town, in which the postoffice also was located, Mr. Lundvall becoming the -postmaster which office he filled about ten years. In association with a son he is still conducting a store in Boxholm.

The population of Boxholm is 280, of whom about 75 per cent are of Swedish nationality. Nearly all the business men of the town about 20 in number are of Swedish birth or parentage.

Two Swedish Churches are located in Boxholm. The Swedish Methodist Church was supposedly organized April 1, 1882, the work being carried on in a school house by ministers from Dayton until 1885, when a church was built at Grant Center, a mile southeast of where Boxholm now stands. When the railroad was built, and the town platted, the railroad company offered the congregation three town lots and $100 for moving the church to town, which was accepted. A parsonage was also built, and thus the church became independent. The congregation has now about 200 members.

The Swedish Lutheran Church had its inception at the Grant Center school house where meetings were held occasionally during 1880-85 by ministers from Dayton, assisted by local laymen. The congregation was organized Feb. 13, 1886, by Rev. C. A. Hemborg, J. B. Anderson acting as secretary, and 28 persons enrolling as charter members. A church was erected in 1888. After the establishment of the town of Boxholm, the church was moved to town in 1911. The present membership is 265.


The name of Pilot Mound was first given to a mound of earth, used by the Indians as a lookout point, and at some time as a burial place, numerous human bones having been discovered there. Swedish settlers located in the vicinity in the sixties, coming mostly from Swede Bend (Stratford) in Hamilton county. One of the first ones was Gust Linn, who with his wife Catherine (Lundblad) emigrated from Sweden to United States in 1852, and came direct to Boone county. He was a carpenter and worked at his trade for some time. Later he purchased land in Pilot Mound township. During the Civil war he enlisted in Company D. Thirty-Second Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and remained with the command about two years. For 14 months he was held prisoner at Tyler, Texas. He died in 1897. His son W. Linn became postmaster at Pilot Mound.

The Minneapolis & St. Louis railroad having been built through the settlement in 1880, the town of Pilot Mound was laid out Sept. 8, the following year. A postoffice by that name had existed there several years previously. The town is located about one-half mile northwest of the mound, for which it was named. Of a population numbering 274 only about a dozen families are of Swedish descent. Five of its business men are of Swedish birth. Most of them are sons of early Swedish pioneers. O. W. Tornell, who has conducted a hardware store in Pilot Mound since 1892, is a son of Olof Tornell, who was born in Hälsingland, Sweden, and emigrated to Swede Bend in 1865. The following year he located on 50 acres of land where the town of Pilot Mound now is situated. He died in 1895. Another of the Pilot Mound pioneers, C. J. Calson, came from Smäland, Sweden, to America at the end of the Civil War, being nine weeks crossing the ocean. Lack of funds prevented his going farther west than Buffalo, NY. After earning some money, he continued to Geneseo and Orion, Ill. In 1866 he moved to Swede Bend, Ia., and soon after located on some land, 2 1/2 miles from Pilot Mound. His son, N. J. A. Calson, is now one of the merchants of the town. A weekly paper, The Pilot Mound Monitor, was started in 1898 by August Samuelson who became its first editor and proprietor, but sold it soon afterwards to A. J. Wolf.

Though few Swedes live in the town of Pilot Mound, quite a number of Swedish farmers reside in the surrounding country, and compose most of the membership of the Swedish Mission Church, located in town. The congregation was organized in 1868 by the Reverend C. A. Björk from Swede Bend. Some 20 families, among them John Burnquist, composed the first membership. During the first year services were conducted in school houses, until a church was built. The present church was erected in 1914. The congregation now numbers about 45 members.

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