“How will our children know who they are if they do not know where they came from?”
I am a fourth-generation American on most branches of my family tree. The first of my Wallin ancestors to live in America—my “gateway ancestor”—was my great-grandfather Frederick Isadore Wallin (1849-1926)—more commonly known as “F.I.”
Frederick’s mother died in childbirth while having him. In Sweden he was a tanner and the son of a tanner—one of the lower occupations on the social scale. Yet a number of his personal papers survive, and the records say that he “read aloud well” and had a fine tenor singing voice. He came to America (via Gothenburg, Sweden; Glasgow, Scotland; and Moville, Ireland) on the ship “Anglia” in May of 1871 at the tender age of 21; the ship’s steerage class passenger list was filled with Scots, Irish, Germans, Swedes, and a few Norwegians. He was a lieutenant in the New York National Guard from 1874 to 1878—when this picture of him was created. He became a U.S. citizen there and married Christine Bengston/Wennerholm, another Swedish immigrant. The 1880 census finds them living with their baby son in Jamestown, New York, where Frederick is a store clerk. But soon the young family went west to Nebraska, where Frederick was a peddler by trade, according to the 1885 Nebraska census. By 1900 he is a farmer, and he and Christina have seven children—Isadore, Inez, Frederick, Ithel, Aurora, Sture, and Leonard. Soon afterward he and Christina “moved to town” (Hordville, Nebraska) and built a store.
These words were written by his grandson Robert (my father) about Frederick’s later years:
“Old Frederick never really liked farming. When his son Sture was 17, Sture wanted to go out on his own; so he told his father that he would finish out the year on the farm, and then help his dad build a store in town during that winter. (This proposal was prompted by the old man telling Sture that there wasn't enough money for a new ball glove this year, while unloading a gallon of whiskey from the supply wagon.) So they built the store, with living quarters in the back and twelve rooms upstairs, which made it a hotel. The guests were traveling salesmen who went by train and would time their routes so as to spend an evening playing cards and having a few nips with F.I. Let it not be thought that he was a bad man; he was a founder of the Fridhem Lutheran Church in Hordville. This would have been about 1910, and Gramps ran the place until about 1920. Later his son Leonard had a store in the same building, but the hotel business went out with the automobile.”
F.I. lived to be 76 and died in 1926; Christina died in 1935. They are buried at the Fridhem Lutheran Church cemetery in Hordville.