Marieta's Retirement Ramblings

Swedish Baptists in Iowa


What a surprise! Not all immigrants from Sweden were Lutheran!

Recently I found a book at the Iowa Genealogical Society Library that broadened my horizons.

Ahlstrom, L. J. Eighty Years of Swedish Baptist Work in Iowa, 1853-1933. Des Moines, Iowa: The Swedish Baptist Conference of Iowa, June 1933.

This book is amazing. It contains hundreds of names: the organizers, the pastors, and many of the members of the churches. For many of the churches it gives the date of initial baptisms for early members. It contains dozens of photographs of members, churches, and parsonages. It also tells about the faith struggles of the believers in Sweden and the physical struggles of the immigrants after arriving in America.

The first several chapters provide detailed histories of several churches:

Chapter II: The First Swedish Baptist Church, Rock Island, Illinois. Organized August 13, 1852. Last official meeting March 30, 1930. pp. 36-68.

Chapter III: Village Creek Swedish Baptist Church. Organized August 10, 1853. This is in northeast Iowa, Allamakee County. pp. 69-100.

Chapter IV: Burlington and New Sweden Churches. Burlington Swedish Baptist Church. Organized March 26, 1854. pp. 101-124.

Chapter V: Stratford Swedish Baptist Church. (Swede Bend.) Organized August 28, 1856. pp 125-137.

Chapter VI: Swedish Baptist Church, Kiron, Crawford County. Organized August 16, 1868. pp. 138-168.

Chapter VII: First Swedish Baptist Church, Forest City. Organized in the Summer of 1869. pp 169-183.

Chapter VIII: Central Baptist Church, Sioux City, Woodbury County. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized January 17, 1875. pp. 184-206.

Chapter IX: Woodlawn Baptist Church, Burlington. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized June 13, 1881. pp. 207-216.

Chapter X: Penn Avenue Baptist Church, Des Moines. (First Swedish Baptist Church.) Organized October 18, 1881. pp. 217-236.

Chapter XI: The Swedish Baptist Church of Arthur. Organized October 25, 1885. pp. 237-251.

Chapter XII: The Grand Avenue Baptist Church, Davenport. Organized March 10, 1889. pp. 252-265.

Chapter XIII: Disbanded Churches. pp. 266-283.

Meriden Swedish Baptist Church. Organized September 27, 1869. pp. 266-267.
Denison Swedish Baptist Church. Organized February 12, 1871. About 1885 most of the members moved away; no property or treasury to be divided. p. 268
The Swedish Baptist Church at Lucas. Organized on August 6, 1876. The chapel was struck by lightning and burned down, 1900, and was never rebuilt. pp. 268-270.
The Swea Swedish Baptist Church, Kossuth County. Organized January 21, 1878. In 1924 the church disbanded and the property sold. pp. 270-273.
Gowrie Swedish Baptist Church. Organized March 17, 1884. On September 30, 1931, the church disbanded and the property was turned over to the Conference. pp. 274-277.
The Swedish Baptist Church at Creston. Organized August 26, 1885. February 27, 1925, the church disbanded and the members joined the American Baptist church at Creston. pp. 277-279.
First Swedish Baptist Church at Clinton. Organized February 16, 1886. pp. 279-281.
Swedish Baptist Church of Council Bluffs. Organized May 21, 1893. On March 5, 1919, the organized disbanded and turned the property over to the State Conference. pp. 281-183.
Churches at Moingona, Boone, Centerville, Slater, Foster and Marshalltown are also disbanded. p. 283.

The next five chapters give biographies of the people who were significant in founding the churches in Iowa:

Chapter XV: Gustav Palmquist. A Biography, b. May 26, 1812; d. September 18, 1867. In American from 1851 to 1857. pp. 295-321.

Chapter XVI: Anders Wiberg. A Biography, b. July 17, 1816; d. November 5, 1887. pp. 322-339.

Chapter XVII: Fredrik Olaus Nilsson. A Biography; b. July 28, 1809; d. October 21, 1881. pp. 340-385.

Chapter XVIII: Robert E. Jeanson, A Biography, b. July 3, 1832; d. May 30, 1920. [The founder of Swea City in Kossuth County.] pp. 386-402.

Chapter XIX: Frank Peterson. A Biography, b. November 19, 1847; d. July 30, 1930. pp. 403-414.

This book was especially interesting because my father’s hometown was Swea City, in Kossuth County. His father was 100% Swedish and Lutheran. Based on my Swedish Lutheran background, I thought all Swedes were Lutheran. This book was enlightening.