Louise Hurd McWilliams

EAST SWEDEN, TEXAS. East Sweden, also known as New Sweden or Sweden, is just off U.S. Highway 190 and 5½ miles northeast of Brady in east central McCulloch County. In the spring of 1885 Swen Leander Hurd, Carl August Johnson, and Daniel August Hurd of Round Rock inspected open land in McCulloch County, and each purchased a half section. In the fall of 1886 Swen L. Hurd moved his family to the new settlement, and in 1888 four other families arrived. Other immigrants came from Sweden in 1889, when the settlement had twelve households and about sixty-three residents. Homes were built with the help of A. M. Sanquest, a carpenter, and C. G. Thornbloom, a stonemason, of lumber brought from Brownwood by wagon. In the absence of a regular minister, Thornbloom held Lutheran Sunday services in homes and outside under the trees during summer. In 1890 J. A. Irvine, a Presbyterian minister from Mason, held services at Sweden once and sometimes twice a month. After discussion, the group decided to become Presbyterian, believing that no Lutheran minister would ever join the settlement, and in 1891 the Sweden Presbyterian Church was organized by Reverend Irvine and Dr. W. G. Little of Denison; Irvine became the full-time pastor. In 1892 landowners Swen Hurd, Carl C. Johanson, Carl Johnson, and C. G. Olson each donated an acre of land for a church school and the East Sweden Cemetery, where most early settlers were buried. Other settlers donated money and labor; the first church building was completed in 1892. In 1903 the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway built a track to the west of the settlement, and in 1912 the Santa Fe built to the east. Paul Junction was built at the intersection of the tracks.

In 1905 and 1906 Rev. Ernest Severin, a Swedish Methodist from Austin, started a Swedish settlement west of Brady where Rev. Abner Hanson organized a Swedish Methodist church and Hanson School was later founded. For a time both East and West Sweden settlements existed, but West Sweden eventually disappeared. The East Sweden church, destroyed by wind on June 14, 1916, was rebuilt in 1920. The three-room wooden school building was destroyed by fire in 1933 and rebuilt in 1934. The school was later consolidated with the Rochelle Independent School District. Cattle and sheep were raised locally, and two dairies operated in the community for a time, but cotton and later wheat and oats were the settlers' primary cash crops. A local cotton gin, owned by Swen L. Hurd, was later moved to Salt Gap. In 1936 state highway maps showed the church, a school, a cemetery, and scattered dwellings at the townsite. A monument listing the names of early Swedish settlers, dedicated on May 10, 1973, stands east of the schoolhouse, and in May 1976 residents buried a time capsule just south of the monument. A historical marker was placed at the East Sweden Presbyterian Church in 1989. The annual homecoming in August is attended by about 100 people. See also SWEDES.

Wayne Spiller, comp., Handbook of McCulloch County History (Vol. 1, Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1976; vol. 2, Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains Press, 1986).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Louise Hurd McWilliams, "EAST SWEDEN, TX," accessed January 22, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hve06.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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