Town of New Sweden

  • Town Admin and Clerk - Teresa Prue
  • 50 Station Rd, New Sweden, ME 04762
  • 207-896-3306

New Sweden, Maine

Population - 604

From the Maine Swedish Colony website. Much more information can be found there on the wonderful history of the Swedes in Northern Maine

"The coming of the Swedes and early growth

When the first Swedish colonists arrived Saturday July 23, 1870, (sooner than the State expected), they found only six log cabins ready of the twenty-five that the State had planned. The supplies were put in one, and the colonists in the other five. Each family was to receive a cabin and 100 acres of forest with five acres cleared (160 acres had been offered to American homesteaders, with few takers). Funeral services were held Sunday for the baby who died enroute. On Monday the land was apportioned by allowing groups of four families, who were generally from the same province, to draw a block of four adjoining lots. Each of the four families then drew for one of those lots, and the homes were built where the lots came together for mutual support and socializing. The one and a half story homes of peeled logs were 18 by 26 feet, with a large general room, a small bedroom and a smaller pantry downstairs, with sleeping space above. The State provided a Hampden cooking stove.

The colonists promptly went to work, clearing land and building homes, as well as building roads for the state (with Jacob Hardison in charge) for which they were paid one dollar per day in credit at the Colony's storehouse. It was already late in the year, but two acres of turnips were planted and harvested by November, and 16 acres of winter wheat and rye were planted. By late fall of 1870, other immigrants arrived and the colony had increased to 114 Swedes, and 26 houses had been built. A large public building was built by the Swedes to receive the new immigrants and serve as a supply house, a meeting place, a school, and a church. It became the heart of the Colony. The building was called the Capitolium by the Swedes, or the Capitol.

In November Thomas distributed 34 land certificates which could be exchanged for deeds in five years after settling duties were fulfilled. Winter jobs were found for single men on nearby farms and lumber camps, while those remaining in the Colony went to work making hand-shaved shingles, a common medium of exchange at that time. The Swedes also made and first introduced to America what they called skidor, or Swedish snowshoes, what we now call skiis. How that simple item, common in Sweden at the time, has blossomed in America!

The Second Year Growth

By February 1871, the Colony was successful enough for the Legislature to appropriate another $25,000. To recruit more immigrants, a Cirkular was printed in Swedish and distributed in Sweden, it was also reproduced in Amerika, an emigrant newspaper. It was much too successful! They came by the hundreds. Thomas couldn't handle such an influx and tried to slow it down. While more lots were being laid out in the Colony, he diverted large groups to Kingman to work in the tanneries or peeling logs, and others to work on the European and North American Railroad. Thomas advertised "Anyone in Maine wishing laborers of almost any kind can be supplied." Some struck out on their own to work elsewhere (some never returned), or settled the outer Colony. Some Swedes who had already gone west or south now wanted to come to Maine, and all the publicity resulted in more Americans coming to Aroostook. Albe Holmes came from New Hampshire and started the first Aroostook starch factory in Caribou. Starch became a major industry with several factories in New Sweden. The Caribou newspaper North Star carried a "Swensk Column" in Swedish in 1872-73. 300 Swedes came in 1872, bringing the total in the state to 1300. Next year, there were 1500 in Maine, with 600 in New Sweden. 2200 acres had been felled and 1500 nearly cleared. Thomas felt that his mission was accomplished so he recommended that state aid cease and the work of his office be turned over to the Land Agent, Mr. Burleigh."

Our Location

Central Aroostook Chamber of CommerceCentral Aroostook Chamber of Commerce

 3 Houlton Road
Presque Isle, Maine 04769

Phone: 207-764-6561
Fax: 207-764-1583


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