Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Family Reunion September 30. 2007

Members of the Olson-Hendrickson-Erickson-Bergquist-Peterson-Arrowood families gathered on September 30, 2007 at the Bethlehem Covenant Church in Palestine, Stephenson, Michigan, to which our common families originally belonged, to share a meal, memories, and photos. The group photo turned out rather blurry, alas.

Here is a bit of family history:

John Hendrickson departed from Östra Åmtervik, Sweden together with his sister Greta and her husband Lars Magnus Bergquist in 1882. John Hendrickson later sent for his parents Maria and Henrik, and Bergquists and Hendricksons both settled in the rural community of Palestine, near Stephenson (Menominee County), Michigan. On that same ship was Johanna Katrina (wife of Johannes Olson) from Nordmark, Värmland and their younger children, Anna, Andrew, Hulda, William, and the infant Oscar. The Olson family eventually settled in Negaunee, Michigan and later in Ironwood, Michigan.

The marriage of Hulda and Pastor John Hendrickson in 1893 united the families of the Bergquists, Hendricksons, and John Olsons. John Hendrickson served the Humboldt Park Covenant Church in Chicago, was an itinerant preacher, founded the church in Ironwood, and was Pastor of the Bethlehem Covenant Church in Palestine (Stephenson) from 1903 to 1911.

John Hendrickson died in Ironwood on February 28, 1915, the day after his 55th birthday, leaving Hulda with six children: Hugo, Milton, Marion, Leonard, Cornelia, and Gerald. Hulda remained active in the life of her family and the community until her death in 1973 at the age of 98.

Another Swede, John Erickson arrived in North America in 1881 with his wife Christina and the younger children Emil, Gerda, Lydia, and John Victor. Older children August and Alma had come earlier on their own and settled elsewhere. John was born in Wastanvik, Fryksände, Värmland, in 1836. Christina was born in Gällserud, Lysvik, Värmland, in 1834. They departed for North America from Klampenborg, near Sundsvall, and after some time in Norway, Michigan, settled in Palestine, buying 40 acres of timberland in 1884, which became the farm later known as the Olof Olson's.

John Erickson served on the board of the church for many years, and the minutes often noted that he closed the meetings with a prayer. Christina died in 1895, and according to her granddaughter Viola Olson, was one of the first buried in the church cemetery. I have not been able to find a picture of Christina. There are several of John, however, a tall strong man who died in 1914.

Olof Olson and his brother Charles arrived in the 1896 from Markaryd in Småland. Olof married John Erickson’s daughter Lydia on September 25, 1901, and Charles married Jennie Jacobson (another early family). Olof and Lydia had 4 children: Viola, Harold, Doris, and Elsie. In 1943, Doris married Leonard Hendrickson, son of Hulda and John, uniting the Olson and Erickson families with the Hendrickson and Bergquist families. That same year Elise married Carl Peterson, who still lives at the farm below the church. Viola never married, but kept house for her father, Harold, and Elsie after the death of Lydia on October 28, 1928. Harold married Emma Johnson Bunda in 1954.

Two children of John and Hulda, Milton and Cornelia, married members of the Arrowood family (Mary and Frank). Marion married Henry Bruemmer, and Gerald married Senia Suokko. Hugo, who served on the front lines in Alsace, fighting in battles of the Marne, and Meuse Argonne in World War I, never married, and preceded his mother in death.

I know many of us have photos or other early documents to share. Mary Ann and I have scanned many of them. Jo Anne Arrowood Swanson and I have put many of them on Flickr on the internet for all to see, add to, and comment on. The web address is


It was twenty years ago in August since we gathered in 1987. It was my mother Doris’s last gathering, and she reported on Pastor John Hendrickson’s diaries. This coming October 9 would have been her 100th birthday. Viola wrote in 1991, at the conclusion of her report to me on family history:

"We are standing on the shoulders of the giants who left us such a beautiful heritage. They were intent on peace and security. They carried their supplies from the tracks -- five miles or more -- from the place now known as Stephenson. They crossed the river on a log carrying 5 gallons of kerosene and 100 pound sacks of flour. Many trips were made."