A Lutheran pastor

Lutheran Pastor Interview*

History of Uptown, Summerdale District/Swedish Influx, Document #20

Source: Pastor of the Swedish [Ebenezer] Evangelical Lutheran Church, northeast corner Foster and Paulina Streets, who has lived in the district for fifteen years. Interviewed in December, 1927.

In 1890 there were a few scattered Swedish families in the district west of Clark Street and from Foster to Devon. In 1892 there were twenty-seven members who organized our church. The first meetings were held in a vacant store at Ashland and Paulina, not because it was a living center of the Swedish people at that time, but because it was the only place available for such purposes.

By 1904 the present site had been purchased and building was commenced so that in 1910 the basement of the church was being used. The whole building was completed and dedicated in 1912. I am not the pastor of the original organization, but have been here for about fifteen years. By the end of the first ten years of organization there was little increase in membership, but by the time of the celebration of twenty years, the congregation had reached eight hundred. Now we have an active membership of two thousand, while we administer to five thousand through marriage services and other church services.

The Swedish church organization in America can begin with as small a number as ten. Whenever a small group of Swedish people settle in a district, a preacher is sent there by some synod to organize them and direct their activities. Swedish people who come to America from a city in Sweden have a trade and try to follow that trade in the new country. But those who come from farms generally have no trade and so when they come to American cities, they decide upon some work that generally leads to a trade. Swedish people are the best machinists in America. They are best at work that requires care and honesty. They are painstaking. They work for other people rather than direct others to work for them.

As you know, the hygienic training of citizens is highly developed in Sweden. The lessons one learns there are retained in the new country. Swedish people have learned to live in pleasant airy places and will submit to a long wearisome street car ride in order to live in a pleasant place. They seldom live in the same locality where they work. The usual type of home built is a two-story frame building which has a back yard in which table vegetables can be raised. In cities, there is no effort made to raise things for sale in the yard. It is for individual use and enjoyment.

The Lakeview settlement begins at Winnemac Avenue and follows the west side of Clark Street to Devon and even beyond. There are some Swedish people as far north as Howard Street in this strip. They can be found in the southeastern part of Edgewater, too. It was Swedish workmen who built many of the homes in Edgewater, but they did not own the more expensive ones. They bought the more moderately priced homes in Edgewater and around war times when prices were up, they sold for small profits rather than wait for large profits. When they moved, many of them went to Devon and Western Avenues. The lots were cheap here and their own houses could be built. Twelve years ago this colony began its growth. It drew members from the old colony at Belmont and in Lakeview because older colonies were becoming crowded and land values were soaring. This settlement in the new location is now very powerful.

There are quite a number west of the Northwestern tracks in Lakeview. Another colony is at Foster and Kedzie. Some Swedish people go into the contracting business from their experience as builders. Other, but only a few, go into real estate business.

* Name not known.

Cover page: Documents: History of the Uptown Community, Chicago. Prepared for the Chicago Historical Society and the Local Community Research Committee, University of Chicago. Research under the direction of Vivien M. Palmer; staff investigators Marion Lindner and Beatrice Nesbit. These documents contain data just as it was secured form old residents and from existing documents. A final check of the data will appear in the volume of the Social History of Chicago.

Format: Photocopy of a typescript without page numbers in the Chicago History Museum library; volume 2 of a 6-volume set containing documentary information on 20 Chicago community districts/areas.

Publication date: 1925-1930.