Artifacts are the items that people share with us at Gammelgården which we in turn use to tell the story of the Swedish immigrants and their lives. Often, these artifacts are presented to us as gifts of love because they represent family members now departed, but much loved and revered. We are always honored to receive the artifact and the story.

The artifacts highlighted here are all on display at Gammelgården; often during a tour, we are unable to share the whole story, so we do that here. Be sure to look for each of these artifacts when you come to visit and tour Gammelgården.

The artifacts we accept need to help tell the story of Swedish Immigration to Minnesota; especially relating to the years 1850 – 1880 as that is the time frame on which we focus. If you have artifacts to share, please contact Lynne Blomstrand Moratzka, Director at

Child's Shoes

These small, black leather shoes with 3 buttons were hand- made in Sweden for Freda Christina Johnson Morrison to wear to Amerika in 1897. She was 2 years old. The family story is that she was an active, friendly child and “danced” her way to Amerika on the ship. Her family settled in Scandia, where she married and lived. Donated by her daughter Ardyth Morrison Burke.

Folk Dress

The SWEDISH NATIONAL FOLK DRESS was designed and promoted by Marta Palme in 1903 to help promote a feeling of national pride. The colors are taken from the Swedish flag. The response was luke-warm until Nation Day, June 6, 1983 when the dress was worn by Queen Queen Silvia.

In the Swedish culture, garments and the rules of protocol developed for creating and wearing them reflected your place in society. The garments identified you by gender, occupation, social class, marital status and geographic location. Fabrics and garments were home/hand made.

We celebrate these wonderful garments and traditions as a means of respect and understanding for the life of our immigrant relatives, what they came from and brought with them. They help us link to time and place declaring “we belong together…we are linked to the past.”

Swedish National Folk Dress:

The Apron (forklade) A necessary and important part of the Folkdräkt. Made of linen or wool and later, cotton, crepe or silk, it is the focal point of the costume.

The Neck Scarf (sjan) Made of linen, wool and cotton or silk with a variety of designs or embroidery, the square scarf is folded on the diagonal and worn on top of the blouse and vest and either tied or secured with a pin.

The Head covering (huvudbonad) Head coverings came in a variety of types. White linen started and folded/draped in elaborate forms called huvudduk or klut. Formed hats of silk or satin called bindmossa. They often have a ruffled lace edge/lining to protect the fabric from hair oil.

Waist Bag (kjolvaska) Worn outside the skirt or pants some designs date to the Medieval ages. Made of linen, wool or leather the design announces parish or province of the wearer.

A Loom called ||Mom||

April Sommerfeld Corgärd called the museum in March of 2003 to inquire if Gammelgården would be interested in acquiring an old, Swedish floor loom-in working order. Well, yes, we would like to have several looms to set up during the winter and offer weaving classes. April said she would get back to me. Months passed. She called again in July to say she and her husband would be able to bring the loom on Saturday and set it up; would somebody be at the Välkommen Hus? You bet!

As April and her husband were re-assembling the loom, the story was told. The loom was made in Sweden by a father to go to America with his daughter and her husband who would leave shortly after their wedding. ( The date 1879 is painted on the loom.) That woman and her family used the loom in northern Minnesota until 1962 when it was sold at auction to Myrabelle Lange Sommerfeld, April’s Mom. Mom used the loom for rug weaving until early 1999. EVERYONE she knew had one of her rugs. All of April’s memories of the loom relate to her mom. Her mom died in 2001 and April did not want to keep or use the loom.

After the phone conversation in March, April came to visit Gammelgården for tours and in odd moments to walk the grounds. During her visits, she came to peace with her decision to let go of the loom and donating it to Gammelgården. As her husband finished assembling the loom, he looked at his wife and with great care said, “So, are you ready to leave “Mom” here?” and April replied, “Yes, I’m ready to let go of Mom.”

“Mom” now resides upstairs in the Välkommen Hus classroom. She has been cleaned and repaired. She is much admired by our guests and seems to be at home.

Swedish Almanac

Hand bound with leather, this book contains the annual Swedish Almanac from 1838- 1856. The almanac was the primary resource for farmers being published annually with moon phases ( important for planting crops), daily Bible readings, Name day listings and new laws passed by the Riksdag (legislature). Publishing an annual almanac for the farmer class also indicates the high level of literacy in Sweden; in fact, Swedish Immigrants had the highest literacy level of all immigrant groups. Public education began in 1842 in Swedish parishes.

This volume was found in 1935 in the Scandia area between logs of an 8’x10′ cabin.

Donated in 1989 by Carl O. Larson

Birch Bark Basket

A staple household article for storage and traveling, this birch bark and willow food basket was made for the journey to Amerika in the late 1890’s. With 2 bent wood handles, it is easy for 2 people to share the heavy load. The wooden cover can be used to prepare and then serve the food. To prepare for the journey from the Swedish farm to the port, it would be filled with food items as knäckebrod, sausage, smoked meat, cheese, dried fruit, dried legumes, coffee and tea to be consumed on that leg of the journey. At the port city, it was re-filled with food items that would travel well; once in America, it could be refilled along the way to the new home. In the new home, it was a storage container and also used for transporting all manner of goods and food for field work.

The cover includes railway/shipping labels: 69 fr:Wexiö.

Donated in 1981 by Mildred Booren Church, descendant of the immigrant family.

Horn Spoons

Animal horn provided a thin, smooth, durable material for spoons that also allowed for ornamentation. Horn spoons were highly prized and would have been an improvement for the immigrants from the rather thick and clumsy wooden spoons either brought from Sweden or carved here in America as the first eating utensils. Swedish peasant families of the early Immigrant era would have a spoon for each person in the family and would take spoons with them to social gatherings as no one would have the resources to provide extra spoons for guests.

Donated in 1994 by Ulla Reeves from her family.

Pancake Cupboard

The sole cupboard in an early cabin in the Marine on the St.Croix area. The property, cabin and the cupboard were sold to the Olaf and Brita Åsberg about 1882. This family had suffered the loss of infant twins born at sea en-route from Sweden to Osceola, Wisconsin. They chose to settle in Marine on the St. Croix instead. One week after settling in, the eldest son died of measles. The family stayed, welcomed several other children into the family and created a good farm and life. To celebrate their good life and bounty, each Saturday morning they had pancakes for breakfast as the ingredients (eggs, milk, wheat flour, butter and sweetening) were ALWAYS available and they were grateful. Extra pancakes were made and stored in the cupboard-but always consumed by lunch time! The family identified this cupboard as their “Pancake” cupboard. During the 1930’s the family moved to Stillwater; the cupboard became a storage unit in the garage.

Following the death of the parents, the cupboard was donated to Gammelgarden by Sylvia Babb in 1994-95

Painted Desk

This wonderful desk exhibits 8 paintings, the work of 2 different Dala painters..possibly Johannes Nilsson (1816-1989) and his son. The piece dates from the mid 1800’s. Upon completion of the painting, the owners were not pleased, so relegated the desk to the barn for over 100 years.. A Texan couple found it and purchased it to export to the USA. Before the desk arrived in the US, the wife died and her husband sold the desk to an antique dealer in Seattle, WA. in the 1970’s. The desk measures 74″ long, 25″ deep, 32″ high a sloped writing surface that includes lovely kurbits. The desk is the gift of Barbara Glaser and is displayed in the classroom of the Välkommen Hus.

Fanning Mill

Used to separate grain from chaff and sort grain size. Hand operated, but later adapted to horse power. Manufactured in Minneapolis, patented June 13, 1899 this is the “Hero” model. Gift of Howard and Joyce Anderson in 2005. The Fanning Mill is located in the Ladugård.

Hair Weaving

A hair weaving – typical of the Victorian era as a memorial piece. The center “flowers” of this piece represent the 5 children of the Croone family of Scandia. One summer day, all of the 5 had haircuts and Mom saved the hair as childhood mementos. The following winter, 3 of the children died from diphtheria. As it was a winter funeral, no fresh flowers were available for the funeral, so the colorful yarn flowers were used. Later, the hair flowers and the funeral flowers were combined in the frame as a family memorial.

Hair weaving in Sweden was often done by traveling Grandmothers/Granddaughters in the summer in return for room and board. Jewelry pieces were often made too, such as earrings, watch chains, broaches and bracelets were common. The painting is located in the parlor of the Präst Hus.

Missionary Organ

Very fitting for a Prast (Pastor’s) home as it was common for the Pastor’s wife to be the organist/pianist for worship. This organ has the middle 3 octaves and the case folds for travel. Pastor’s and their wives, often served multiple congregations and travelled a circuit. This lovely Eastlake Victorian piece was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Terry and Bennett. The organ is located in the Präst Hus.


Painting of a small boy, typical of the early 1900’s when boys wore dresses and long curls until about age 3. Notice that this painting mirrors the paper doll collection in the frame. The painting shows a member of the Malmquist family. Rev. A.J. Malmquist served Elim Lutheran during the WW I years; his grandson, Jim “Moose” serves as Gammelgarden president and donated this painting. The painting is located in the back bedroom of the Präst Hus. This room also includes a set of bookshelves made from thread spools and a baby buggy.

Sharpening Bench

Bench for sharpening saw blades . The blade is inserted in the clamp and rotated so each saw tooth could be filed at the proper angle. Could also be used to hold a block of cedar and with a draw knife and mallet, make cedar shingles. The Sharpening Bench is located in the Ladugård.


Sled (spark in Swedish). Used for winter travel, it can carry a person or goods. Driver pushes the sled and then stands on the runners. Still used in Sweden. Also shown in a winter painting by Carl Larson. Donated by Dennis Rasmussen. The sled is located in the Ladugård.