Minnesota: One family´s story

On April 14, 1892 the family of Gustaf Elg and Maria Sofia Bork arrived at Ellis Island, on board the Inman Lines steam ship "City of New York". The Ellis Island records show that at least seven of their children came on the same ship:

Emma Elisabeth (b 1857), Alma (b 1870), Sophia (b 1872), Franz Gustaf (b 1873), Freda (b. 1879) and Ellen (b. 1880).

Their son John (Johan Wilhelm) Elg (b 1866) was also on the ship - he was already a US citizen, and had gone back to Sweden to help his family on the journey.

Brothers Charlie (b 1859) and Aaron (b 1860) had also emigrated earlier. There is a bit of a mystery about sister Hanna (Johanna) Elg (b. 1862). There was a Johanna Elg on the same ship, but according to the records she was 14 years old on arrival, not 30?


Liljendal, ca 1860

Gustaf Elg was born in Säfsnäs, in the province of Dalarna, where the Elg family originated, in 1834. At the age of 15, he became a blacksmith´s helper in the mill at Liljendal. At 22, he became a master blacksmith´s apprentice, and was able to marry Maria Sofia Bork. Five years later he became a master blacksmith at Liljendal. As such, he was contracted by the mill owner and hired his own assistants.

The works at Skyllberg, ca 1880

In 1867, Gustaf left Liljendal, and worked first at Skyllberg, and later at Ferna (only abt. 50 miles from where I was born).

It is from here that the family started the journey which would take them to Ellis Island and further on to Minnesota. They probably travelled by train to Gothenburg, where they boarded a steamer which took them to the west coast of England. Atrain took them across to Liverpool, where they boarded the "City of New York" for the Atlantic crossing.


The Inman Lines´ "s/s City of New York

The "City of New York" was no rusting old hulk: When she was launched ten years earlier, she was the most modern ship travelling the Atlantic, and captured the Blue Ribbon for the fastest crossing. She regularly made the crossing in less than six days.

I have enclosed my translation of a letter to Gustaf Elg at Ferna, from the agent for the Inman Lines Shipping Co. Obviously, this family were not "your poor and destitute", at least they did consider paying extra to travel in the comfort of second class..

An interesting end note: A few years after the journey of the Gustaf Elg family, the "City of New York" was lying at a wharf at the Harlan & Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when she was almost run into by a new and even more splendid ship on its first trial run - the "s/s Titanic"...

I enclose some photos from Ferna, where the journey started, taken in the spring of 2002:


The dam which provided power for the hammers and blowers. The main workshop, now gone, was located beyond the dam, to the right of the remaining building.


Another view of the millpond, with a warehouse where finished products were stored.


Gustaf Elg may have lived here, this is one of several company houses which contained apartments for mill workers.


Apparently the mill made good money, this is where the owner lived! It is now a resort and conference hotel, with one of Sweden¥s foremost chefs running the kitchen.


An overview along the road crossing the millrace between the dam and the workshops. To the right you can see the owner¥s mansion, to the left os the office building. Note that a "mill" like this was not one single factory. From this office was controlled several associated hammer mills, a blast furnace, a large forest operation to supply the mill with firewood and charcoal, etc.

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Created by Lennart Elg. Last updated 02-09-27, 17.36