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The Story of Marie, a 19th century Swedish Immigrant to Minnesota in America-part 9-confrontations

Updated on December 27, 2014

Marie and Nils

"You have a lovely house," Marie said. “ I want to thank you for the new boots."

"A shoemaker must keep his family shod." Her brother Niles said. "Did you have a good voyage from Sweden?" Nils lit his pipe and sat down in the rocker by her chair.

Marie smiled and clapped her hands together, "Ah. It was wonderful after the first seasickness. I met so many wonderful young immigrants. We had much fun exploring the towns."

"Why did you decide to come?" Nils said, puffing gently on his pipe.

"Same as you, brother. To see new things and have opportunity different from the old country.”

"But your life was secure there. You shared the farm with your mother and would have married a fine boy. What more will you have here?"

Marie gestured with her arms,” Look around you brother. Would you have had so much in the old country? Would I have? Such a big house and so much land."

Nils leaned slightly forward and took the pipe out of his mouth. "Don't you like Sweden? If you married , you would have had a substantial farmer as husband and not have to work for strangers like you do here."

"I like John very much, but I don't love him." Marie said it quietly, but her lips stiffened into an almost straight line.

Nils settled back in his rocking chair. Then you will marry Viktor? He does have good prospects. Although he is just a laborer now, he is starting to buy some land."

Marie straightened out the long sleeves of her dress and leaned slightly forward. "I don't know if I want to marry so soon. In America, I hear, a woman doesn't have to marry unless she wants to. I think there is a lot to do before I have a big family like yours. After all, this is a new age. We will be in the 20th century soon. Won't that be something?"

Nils frowned and his voice rose slightly.” If you don't intend to marry Viktor, why did you take money from him?"

Nils saw Marie's body stiffen just slightly and from childhood he knew she was getting angry. Too late to backtrack now.

"You and other family ignored my request for passage money. Viktor offered me the loan of some money for my passage. I will repay the money, and no promise was made of marriage on either side."

Deciding it best not to pursue this subject further, Nils said, "Mother, I’m sure, was awfully sad to see you leave. How will she keep house and run the farm without you?"

Marie stood up, her face red with anger; "There is still a brother in Sweden. Is it that only girls must stay home with parents while boys can seek adventure and fortune."

Nils said nothing as she fled the room. He did not see her tears.

Marie, probably taken when she was in Chicago.
Marie, probably taken when she was in Chicago.

Marie and Viktor

“I think it is time for us to have our wedding banns announced.” Viktor said this without expecting comment from Marie.

“Wedding?” she responded with surprise and annoyance. “What wedding?”

  “Our wedding. Why should it be put off longer?” After hearing about Marie from her brother Nils, Viktor wrote to her in Sweden and a regular correspondence developed between them. It was not unusual in the 1890’s for immigrants to tell their friends about a sister or brother. No was it unusual to start a correspondence with someone in the old country. In the course of the correspondence, Viktor had offered to send money to Marie for passage to America. Her acceptance, to Viktor, was tantamount to being engaged. Such arrangements were not unheard of. In all probability, many immigrants came to America as what we call mail order brides. In one form or another, the practice persists to this day.

“Our wedding? You have never asked me to marry you.  You haven’t even said you love me.”

“But Marie,” Viktor felt confused. “You must have realized when I offered you passage money that I intended you to be my wife.”

“You intended. You think that sending money is a marriage proposal? I’m not a horse or a pig that you can pay some money for and call it your own,” she responded vehemently.

Marie, as you can see, was of an entirely different mind than Viktor. Although not discounting the idea of a serous relationship with Viktor, she thought of the money as a loan and certainly did not consider it a commitment to marriage.

In a gesture of frustration, Viktor brushed back his straight blond hair with the palm of his hand. Women are impossible to understand, he thought. “You mean you were not interested in me,” he said.

“ Viktor. You are a handsome man. And a very generous and dependable man. You will be a fine husband for someone, but it will not be me.”

“Viktor looked astonished. “You are breaking off our engagement? Why?”

“Engagement! We never were engaged. You assumed that I would love and marry you without ever asking. I cannot marry someone who does not love me and who thinks that I can be bought for money. I will pay you back your money but I’m afraid that we cannot go on seeing each other.”

“Marie, I wish you would understand.” “I’m sorry Viktor. But our being married would be impossible. Please go now.”

Immanuel Lutheran church in Brunswick
Immanuel Lutheran church in Brunswick

Author's note

 The historical record is unclear as to what kind of relationship existed between Marie and Viktor. Church records show Viktor getting married to someone else several years later and Marie makes reference to being engaged a few years later.)


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Back in those days love probably not a consideration to the extent it is now. My sister found a few letters written by Marie and I've tried to fill in what could have happened. I was struck by how adventurous Marie seemed to be to go out on her own. I appreciate your reading the hub and commenting.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Interesting how Viktor took for granted that Marie would marry him. Seems odd that anyone would marry some one with no mention of love. Love your story it sounds like my family. Great series.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Yes. The hubs have not gained much attention but I felt it was a story that I had to tell.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Nice to have those letters from the past!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 7 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for your interest. This particular hub is my own speculation as to what might have happened and is fictional. Most of the series is based on letters left by Marie and I tried to fill in the gaps.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Interesting! I came to take a look at your grandfather and his shoe shop but now I see that I will have to read the entire series sometime.