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The Story of Marie, a 19th Century Swedish Immigrant to Minnesota in America-part 7-arrival

Updated on January 12, 2016


            The brawny locomotive shrieked   while belching sooty black smoke. Steam and smoke mingled with the misty autumn rain. Each car clanged as it reluctantly gave up its resting place to catch up with the leader.  Slowly gathering speed, the train and pulled away from the wood frame station, spraying Marie with tailings of steam.

            Standing alone, watching the train pull out Marie brushed at her clothes with a gloved hand. “I don’t believe I will ever get rid of the dust and smoke,” she said aloud. There was no one around to hear her this time. “I’m glad I had Ingrid to travel part way with,” she added

            She gave up trying to brush all the travel grime from her clothes and tried to drag her trunks to a dryer place under the overhanging roof. After a few frustrated efforts, she gave up and found a wooden bench to sit on. Travel fatigue settled in on her and she dozed off to sleep.

            Her sleep was interrupted by someone gently shaking her.

Viktor. I’m glad you’re here,” she said through her drowsiness.

            “Miss. why don’t you come inside where it’s warmer?”

            She opened her eyes, slowly. She became aware of a handsome young man. He was slim and rather short, but she sensed there was something big about this man.

            “Miss. You are welcome to come in, but I have to get back to the telegraph,” he said.

            “Oh! Of coarse,” she replied, after getting her wits about her.

            “There’s some coffee on the stove for passengers like yourself,” he told her. “There’s some apples and some breads my wife baked. I’m afraid the Johnnie cake is cold by now. You might warm it a bit on the stove.”

            “Thank you,” Marie replied.

            She hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast on the train. Where is that Viktor anyhow? He was supposed to the train.

            “I’m sorry to be a bother,” she said. “My friend was supposed to be here to meet the train and take me to my brother’s homestead.”

            “Ah!” The telegraph operator brightened. “Did you come here to get married?”

            Marie’s lips tightened and a glare formed in her eyes, momentarily. Drat, but people in America sometimes asked the most personal questions. And what makes him think I came from somewhere. Couldn’t I have been on a trip and just returned? Maybe my English is not good enough. Then she relaxed. Again she had a feeling that there was something special about this young man

            “No. Not married. But we think we may get engaged soon.”

            “It’s all right, missing.” Then he turned to speaking in Swedish. “My wife came from the old country too. We didn’t even know each other in Sweden. But my cousin saw a letter I wrote home. It got printed in the local paper. I’m sure you saw many like it. Anyhow, he showed it to a friend of his who showed it to his sister.  She is the one who became my wife.”

            Marie could see that this boy wanted to talk about his wife and their life in this new land. She no longer took his remarks personally. She was slightly depressed by a feeling that something tragic was going to happen to this young man.

            “So. If you came here to get married. Don’t worry. Many people have come here for that purpose and have started their own farms. I, myself, will be moving onto a better job for the railroad. They need a telegraph operator in the town of Hinkley. It is a very prosperous logging and milling town. It’s not far from here.”

            “My friend, Ingrid was going there. She said she would write and let me know if there are jobs. I can tell that you are much in love with your wife,” Marie added “I hope if Viktor and I marry, that we will be as happy. We have only known each other a little while in Sweden. One of my brothers did not like him. They wanted me to marry a boy in our parish, who was my friend. But we were not in love. Why am I telling all my private feelings to this stranger?

            Her thoughts were interrupted by the soft clop-clop and squeaky rattle of a horse drawn wagon. That must be Viktor now, she thought. She ran to look out the window but she only saw a wagon with a man and a young girl, about 15 year’s old. They were strangers. Drat. What has become of Viktor?

            The man got out of the wagon and come into the depot. “Scuse me,” he said. “Are you Miss Marie?”

            “I’m Marie”

            “My name is Eric. I’m here to take you to your brother’s place. I work out there on occasion. Here,” he fumbled in his pocket and brought out a folded piece of paper, “this will explain why I’m here”

            Marie took the note. It was from Viktor.


                        Dear Marie,

            I regret that I am unable to meet you at the station. I have been most anxious to see you again. Although I now have been successful in finding land, money is needed to plant crops and build a house and buy furniture. There is logging work up north but it was necessary to leave right away.  I have asked your sister-in-law to have one of the farm hands to pick you up. I understand that you are disappointed that we could not meet when got to the station. Please understand that this is necessary to establish a life for ourselves. Please write and let me know how the trip was. I will see you as soon as it is possible.



            Eric introduced her to his daughter and apologized for not being there when the train arrived. A wheel had broken on the wagon and he had to stop to get it fixed.


The Telegrapher’s Story

             It took Tommy several hours to straighten out the station, sweep the floors, and file the receipts after Marie left. Strictly speaking, these were not his chores, but Tommie was a very precise person and liked to leave everything in order.

            Finally, these things being done he loaded the baskets which held the food he had brought into his wagon, hitched up his horse, Tellie, made a final check of the wire for messages and locked up.

            He sat on the bench that Marie had fallen asleep on earlier, stretched his arms to get the kinks out and pulled a black leather-covered book out of his inner pocket, the pages were blank except for his entries. He picked a blank page, and wrote_Oct__1894___at the top.


A  young Swedish woman arrived alone today and nobody was at the depot to meet her. It seemed strange, as folks usually arrive well before the train’. They like to watch the train come in and see who all gets off.


I would have invited her into the depot sooner, but most folks just come in and I wasn’t aware of her at first. It wasn’t until I saw her trunks on the platform that I realized someone was still out there.


          She was quite upset that her young man wasn’t there to pick her up, although she tried to pretend that it didn’t matter. Well, I can’t blame her. It’s hard to be a stranger in a strange land--especially if you don’t know the language.


          She tried hard to talk in English but appeared much relieved when I spoke to her in Swedish. It is fortunate in dealing with so many new immigrants coming on the train that I seem to have a natural facility for learning languages. It certainly helped in learning Morse code.

*** Closing the book, he returned it to his pocket and climbed into his wagon. Get’p Tellie, we’ve got a new life ahead.

© 2010 Don A. Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Good suggestion. I'll have to figure out how that's done. Hubpages has been doing the linking so far.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I am really enjoying this story as it unfolds. Hard to find them in order, however. You might want to link the next one to each episode to make it easier to follow. This one is part 7 and the links above send one to episode 5 or 9. Just a suggestion.


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