Heart O' Texas News
30 April 1931
Minnie Gustafson came to America, her adopted home, as a young girl from
the lake region of the land of the midnight sun, famous the world over
for its natural beauty and Greta Garbo! She found this land of cactus
and sagebrush quite different from the setting to which she had been born.
a country of white trials, strange customs, great distances, and new faces.
In coming to america, Mrs. Johanson crossed the far-famed North Sea.
There were 1,925 passengers on board the ship, most of then seriously ill
with sea sickness.
She and another young Swedish girl worked for hours trying to help the fellow passengers in this malady that included practically everyone on board. One mother was so alarmed and so distressed that she begged the girls to promise her that should she not reach America alive they would see her two young children safely to their father who lived in Denver, Colorado. This they promised. For seventeen days they did not glimpse anything but sky and water; sea lions in great numbers were in evidence through the day. The boat ran into an iceberg of huge proroportions and, for awhile, it seemed all aboard would be lost, but an expert crew repaired the damage and they sailed safely, this after touching shore at Bremen for three days, also Bremenhaven, finally arriving in America after a month's voyage.
As a girl Mrs., Johanson carded wool, spun it and then would weave it into garmets, dying the colors to suit her fancy. Yarns and linens were made from flax gathered by each family for weaving and spinning the family linens and household necessities. The young girls in Sweden wore bright shawls and sometimes white caps and aprons on festive occasions, May 1st being a national festival event. In the country the farm houses were usually of frame construction and built in quaint styles. Dutch ovens and open fireplaces were used for the family cooking. Great loaves of rye and wheat bread were baked, often only every six months or sometimes once a year. This bread was made in pones and dried. christmas was a happy season in Sweden. Mrs. Johanson remembers it was quite different from the howling wolves and windswept prairies of West Texas. Great logs were brought from the nearby forests-also lovely Christmas trees of fir were seen, and, too, there were huge puddings, steaming hot, aflame with glowing candles! Of course the families gathered around the holiday tree and the young people often danced the old-time Mazurka or waltz. Preceding all of the Christmas festivities was early church service at five o'clock-Mrs. Johanson remembers, as a little girl, the sweet strains of the organ as it pealed forth on Christmas morning. It happened to be a wonderful old pipe organ in a stone church with ivy covered walls in the village in which she was born.
Other Swedish families settled in McCulloch along with the Johansons: G. H. Johnson, Carl Hendrickson, Mr. Hurd, and Thurs, John and Eric Nelin, all coming west from Williamson County. The Johansons owned land in this county long before they came to live here. Mr. C. C. Johanson bought this land in the advice of his friend, Dan Hurd, not dreaming of becoming a resident later on. However, he sent two families out to manage the farm (or ranch as it was at that early date. The Johansons were living near Round Rock below Austin when suddenly a change of climate became necessary for their son, Henry, so Mr. Johanson loaded the family in an old fashioned carriage, together with a wagon for the household goods, and started west towards McCulloch. It took five days for the journey due to heavy rains throughout Texas. The family was compelled to seek shelter at a convenient farm house en route.
Mrs. Johanson tried to make the best of "Pioneering." she made her own cheese according to the manner of making cheese in her native Sweden. She had barrels of pickled meat and even dried some of it as she used to see her mother do. Of course there were times when she was homesick for her old home near the North Sea. Often she talked of going back but there were many things to be considered with a growing family. Ties had to be broken, travel seemed almost impossible to her then and now she has no desire to return.
Times changes all things and it has reconciled Mrs. Johanson to life in McCulloch where she came as a very young woman many eventful years ago.