A Guide to the Swenson-Palm Letter Book, 1863-1873
Swante (Svante, Sven, Swen) Magnus Swenson (Svenson) (1816-1896) was the first Swedish immigrant to Texas and the founder of the SMS Ranches of West Texas. In 1836, he immigrated to America, where he worked as a store clerk in New York and a railroad bookkeeper in Baltimore, Maryland, before settling in Texas in 1838. Swenson worked for John Adriance, who operated a large-scale carriage delivery service of general merchandise. At this time, Swenson met Dr. George Long, who, due to his poor health, requested that Swenson tend to him and his plantation. The doctor died in 1842, and Swenson took control over the estate, buying out a neighboring plantation a year later. In 1847 Swenson began encouraging Swedish immigrants to move to Texas, with the assistance of his uncle Swante Palm, creating what became known as the “Swedish pipeline”. Swenson moved to Austin by 1850 and founded the SMS Ranch on West Texas lands in 1851. He served as county commissioner for Travis County and the first treasurer of the State Agricultural Society (1853). He moved to New York City in 1865, where he started S. M. Swenson and Sons banking company.
Swante Palm (1815–1899), also known as Swen Jaensson, the son of Anders and Ingerd Jaensson, was born in the province of Småland, Sweden. In 1844, Palm followed his nephew Swen Magnus Swenson to Texas and worked as the bookkeeper for Swenson’s general store in Austin before serving as the diplomatic secretary to Thomas William Ward, the United States consul in Panama in 1853. A year later, he returned to Austin and married Agnes Christina Alm. After the Civil War, Palm served as a member of the Austin City Council, Travis County justice of the peace, and appointed vice consul for Norway and Sweden.
Sources: Swenson, Swante Magnus,” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed on March 2, 2011.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/SS/fsw14.html.
Rogers, Alfred E. “Jaensson, Swen [Swante Palm],” Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed on March 2, 2011.http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/SS/fja41.html.
A monograph (entitled Volumes I and II, incomplete) of Swedish letters with English translations comprises the Swenson-Palm Letter Book, 1863-1873. Written by Swenson and Palm to friends or relatives in the American Midwest and in Scandinavia, these letters from Austin, Texas, document the weather and land conditions of the region, the troubles caused by the Civil War, and the immigration of Swedes to Texas.
This collection is open for research use.
Swenson-Palm Letter Book, 1863-1873, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers