d r a f t

For the futures file as I rework my paper “Swedes in Roger Williams’ Garden” —

  • More information on John Lewis Peyton, whose description of northern European immigrants I quoted in the original paper, including an important correction on his background. Turns out he was more of a blueblood than I thought he was, which points up even more his picture of “wild, rough, almost savage looking men from North Germany, Denmark and Sweden – their faces covered with grizzly beards, and their teeth clenched upon a pipe stem.”
  • A screenshot of an excerpt from a filiopietistic little book (ca. 1910?) on the Augustana Synod that I’ll have to track down somewhere because it has a lovely, romanticized picture of a wagon train stopping on in the prairie to sing Din klara sol (a beloved old-country hymn, “your bright sunshine” in English) on a Sunday morning that makes a nice contrast to Peyton’s picture.
  • A link to my post on French jurist Mireille Delmas-Marty’s concept of “reciprocal creolization,” a term she got from Édouard Glissant. I think she essentially sees it as a framework for negotiating differences among different cultures — as a means of ensuring cultural diversity in a global world.

File under Édouard Glissant. I think his metaphor(s) for creolization may tie in with what I want to say here — the argument I want to make for cultural and religious diversity — if it’s not too far a reach. (“When you take an intellectual ride on a metaphor, it is important that you know where to get off” — Ulf Hannerz) 

Din klara sol

Here’s the book excerpt. As best I remember, it’s from a turn-of-the-century Sunday School book — written early enough that kids would be assumed to have some command of Swedish and late enough that the synod’s origins had been romanticized.

It should be around here somewhere.

J. Lewis Peyton

His description of Chicago in 1848 is included in As Others See Chicago: Impressions of Visitors, 1673-1933. I got his origins wrong (said he was from the Carolina low country instead of a plantation in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia [as the headnote clearly indicated, mea culpa), and he was very much a product of Virginia plantation society. (Sounds like a Southern counterpart to Henry James, lived much of his life in Europe, literary dilettante, etc., etc.

NCPedia (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press.) has this:

John Lewis Peyton, european agent for the state of North Carolina (1861–65), lawyer, and author, was born near Staunton, Va., the son of John Howe and Anne Lewis Peyton. One of his great-grandfathers, Colonel William Preston, died of wounds received some years before at the Battle of Guilford Court House. Peyton attended the Virginia Military Institute and was graduated from the University of Virginia in 1844 with a law degree. He was practicing at Staunton when Secretary of State Daniel Webster sent him to Europe on a secret mission to England, France, and Austria. 

During the period 1853–56 Peyton lived in Chicago, where he contributed to a number of periodicals and was assistant editor of W. W. Dannenhower’s Literary Budget. He also was active in the National Guard with the rank of lieutenant colonel. At the recommendation of Stephen A. Douglas, President Franklin Pierce appointed him federal district attorney of Utah but because of ill health he declined the post and in 1856 settled again in Staunton. As a Whig he supported the Bell-Everett presidential ticket in 1860. An opponent of secession, he considered the election of Abraham Lincoln to be no cause for alarm. Following the secession of Virginia, however, he helped organize and largely equip a regiment of which he was made colonel, but because of physical infirmities he was unable to serve.

In the late summer of 1861, while drilling troops, he was appointed North Carolina’s agent abroad by Governor Henry T. Clark and on 26 October sailed by way of Bermuda from Charleston aboard the Confederate man-of-war, Nashville. He landed at Southampton on 21 November and joined other Confederate agents and English sympathizers of rank and influence in London. They promptly set about to secure support and recognition of the Confederacy from Great Britain and felt that they might have succeeded if the home government had been more supportive at a critical time. Peyton remained in England at the end of the war and retired to the Island of Guernsey. He declined to renounce his claim to American citizenship in order to accept appointment to office in Guernsey and in 1876 returned to Staunton. Peyton was widely published, writing on such a variety of subjects as the trade of China, recollections of the Far West, and a history of Augusta County, Va.

He was married in 1855 to Henrietta, daughter of Colonel John Washington of Lenoir County, N.C. She was a niece of Governor William A. Graham and an aunt of Congressman William A. B. Branch. The Peytons were the parents of an only son, Lawrence Washington Howe. John Lewis Peyton died at his home, Steephill, near Staunton.


Excerpt from ‘Swedes in RW’s Garden’

Microsoft Word – Swedes in Roger Williams Garden (final).docx

Swedes in Roger Williams’ Garden: Acculturation in Immigrant Churches, 1848-1860: Conference on Illinois History, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Springfield, October 7, 2020 [via Zoom]

[…] Reliable census data are hard to come by at the local level, but an estimated 214 Swedes lived in Chicago in 1850, their number growing to 1,070 in 1860. (During the same time, by way of comparison, the city’s population grew from 29,963 to 112,172.) In the 1850s, most Swedes lived side-by-side with a like number of Norwegians in “miserable shanties or … small and narrow rented rooms” on a marshy, windswept prairie along the north branch of the Chicago River. The North Side was mostly Irish and German, but Carlsson’s congregation competed primarily – and often bitterly – with a Swedish-language Episcopal church called St. Ansgar’s, named after a ninth-century archbishop who established churches in what are now Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Chicago was both a boomtown and a gateway to the Mississippi valley frontier, and an 1848 visitor from the South Carolina low country Virginia spoke of “emigrant parties” led by:

… wild, rough, almost savage looking men from North Germany, Denmark and Sweden – their faces covered with grizzly beards, and their teeth clenched upon a pipe stem. They were followed by stout, well-formed, able-bodied wives and healthy children. Neither cold nor storm stopped them in their journey to the promised land, on the frontiers of which they had now arrived. In most instances they followed friends who had prepared a resting place for them.13 

Out in western Illinois, an important destination point for Swedish settlers, Esbjörn in the early 1850s tended little congregations in Andover, Moline and Galesburg, and an estimated 400 religious dissenters lived in a nearby utopian colony at Bishop Hill. Other Swedes were scattered in perhaps a half-dozen pioneer communities in northern Illinois, Iowa and the upper Mississippi valley.14 In these little outposts of Swedish culture they battled poverty, recurrent cholera epidemics and – at least in the opinion of the first Swedish pastors – Methodist and Baptist evangelists.


13. Ulf Beijbom, Swedes in Chicago: A Demographic and Social Study of the 1846-1880 Immigration, trans. Donald Brown (Uppsala: Läromedelsförlagen, 1971), p. 62; Lindquist, Carlsson, 30-31; Rönnegård, Prairie Shepherd, 179-91; John Lewis Peyton, “Seeing Chicago from a ‘Trap’,” in Bessie Louise Pierce, ed., As Others See Chicago: Impressions of Visitors, 1973-1933 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 101. Cf. Erika K. Jackson, Scandinavians in Chicago: The Origins of White Privilege in Modern America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019), 18-34.

14. My overview of Swedish immigrant communities is pieced together from Beijbom, 57-63; Oscar Olson, Pioneer Period, 48-92; and Erling and Granquist, Augustana, 8-28.

[Uplinked Sept. 26, 2022]

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