Swedish Farmsteads of Porter County, Indiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Swedish Farmsteads Historic District (pending)
Location West Oakhill Road, Porter, Indiana
Built 1888
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # [1]
Added to NRHP aaa nn, nnnn[2]

The Swedish American Farmsteads of Porter County, Indiana are representative of the numerous rural communities settled by a significant ethnic population. They influenced the religious community and social community.[3] This collection is the most complete early 20th century complex within the Swedish cultural landscape of Baileytown and has retained a great deal of integrity.[4]

Swedish immigration to Indiana[edit]

Swedish immigration to Indiana was a by-product of its proximity to Chicago. The proximity to Chicago provided an avenue for Swedish immigrants to reach northern Indiana during the primary migration period from 1840 until 1920. It was driven by the overpopulation and a scarcity of land in Sweden. Coming to America opened new horizons, which were often exaggerated in letter to family back in Sweden.[3]

In addition, it was the middle classes that primarily came. The cost of travel was significant. Only the better off could afford the trip. Thus, those families who were at risk of losing their livelihood and falling in the social stature would risk the trip to America.[3] Initially, before 1860 religious dissenters would also emigrate to America, but his was of only minor importance.[3]

Swedish immigration was focused on the western prairies where land was plentiful. Thus, Chicago became a center for Swedish life in America. By 1920, Swedish-American cultural activities in Chicago included Swedish language newspapers and arts.[3] The construction of a railroad through the region in 1850 expanded the opportunity for immigrants to reach this area. There is a story that a Jonas Asp recruited Swedes to work for Joel Wicker cutting lumber for shipment to Chicago.[3] Another story tells of Swedish families driven out of Chicago after the Chicago Fire in 1871, coming east to an already existing Swedish community. By the late 19th century, there was a substantial community along the Little Calumet River.[5]

Bailly Town was settled by 30 members of the Swedes Lutheran Church in 1857. They were associated with the ‘Bethel’ Swedish Community in Miller (Gary, Indiana). In 1863,the first church was built. After the Chicago Fire in 1871, additional families began to arrive.[5]

Community life revolved around the Augsburg Evangelical Lutheran Church in Porter. By the mid-19th century the congregation split in two and founded the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chesterton[6]

Anders Kjellberg Farm[edit]

Main article: Chellberg Farm
Anders Kjellberg Farm
Chellberg brick house.JPG
Anders Chellberg Farm House
Location Mineral Springs Road, Porter, Indiana
Built 1885
Architectural style gabeled Ell
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 127-406-05022[1]

The Chellberg Farm is significant as it represents the ethnic heritage of this nearly forgotten Swedish American settlement. Other nearby Swedish landmarks have been restored or preserved, including the Burstrom Chapel and the Burstrom Cemetery.[1] The farm includes the family home, water house with windmill, chicken coop/bunkhouse, and the original barn.

  • Farmhouse - Built in 1885, the house is two-story with one-story wing forming a 'L-shaped' (gabled ell) structure. It has a gabled roofs on both areas. This is a popular architectural type of late 19th century and can be found in other homes of that time period. The brick is from the Porter brickyards. Labor was by local Swedish carpenter. There is a porch on front of 1 story wing.[7]
  • Barn - Built in 1870, the barn is two-stories with partial loft, measuring 50'x24'--approximately 25' to the peak. It is a three-bay floor plan under a wood gable roof. It is built of heavy timbers with a cedar shingle roof, small vent cupola, and wood siding.[7]
  • Chicken Coop - This one-story, single-room structure was built ca 1879. It has a gable roof of wood shingles. It is 10'x24', on a brick foundation. The siding is vertical board and batten. Interior walls have been plastered.[7]
  • Sugar Shack - Built in the 1930s as a utilitarian structure of one-story made from concrete block. The building was built for processing sugar maple sap into maple syrup. The single room is 12'x24' with a gable roof over the concrete floor. Double vertical board doors, standing seam metal gable roof cover the structure. The building has a boiling pan over a brick fire box. This is connected to the brick chimney. The roof includes gabled ridge vent with hopper panel vent, and metal ball finials. A small shed addition was added to east[7]

John Borg Farm[edit]

aka Clara Samuelson Farm

The remains of the John Borg Home.

John Borg purchased the property and began farming on September 4, 1888. Due to the poor quality of the soil, he quickly moved into the new field of animal husbandry. There are no longer any significant landmarks remaining of the farm. The farm was originally 20 acres (8.1 ha) with a later addition to the south to gain access to the Little Calumet River. The entire property was under cultivation at the time of the farm and has slowly returned to immature woodland of silver maple and elms. In the northeast corner of the property, along Oak Hill Road, is the original drainage basin for the farm, funneling water to the east. Today, it is a wetlands forest. The property was heavily impacted by the development of U.S. 20.[3]

Historic Structures

  • The main house was a 2-storey gabled-Ell with a brick facade. The interior plan is a mirror image of the Anders Chellberg main house. It was designed by a local architect, A.J. Lundquist.
  • The barn, silo, and other outbuildings have disappeared over time.

Charles Johnson Farm[edit]

Charles Johnson Farm
Johnson-Nelson Farm P1010001.JPG
Charles Johnson Farm House
Location 217 Dunes Highway, Porter, Indiana
Area 1.78 acres (0.72 ha)
Built 1908
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 127-175-05015[1]
Added to NRHP aaa nn, nnnn[2]

Charles Johnson purchased 6.78 acres (2.74 ha) from a Charles Anderson, who was living in a log cabin on the site since about 1880. When Johnson purchased the property in 1904, that cabin was the only structure, along with an orchard to the southwest of the main house. One of the Johnson’s daughters regularly went to this farm to purchase apples. When Mr. Anderson suggested that he give her the tree, she became adamant that her parents move it. Since that was not possible, Mr. Johnson asked if he could purchase the property, to which Mr. Anderson replied that he would sell, if the Johnson’s built him a place back in the woods to live out his life.[3]

Historic Structures

  • In 1908, the cabin enlarged into the main house seen today. It was enclosed by clapboards siding and the inside was lath and plastered. It was enlarged with a dining room and kitchen. Because the house was expanded from and existing structure, there are no identifiable Swedish characteristics.
  • There are two summer kitchens to the east of the house. The smallest (8 ft × 12 ft or 2.4 m × 3.7 m) was built as a temporary structure during the 1908 improvement of the main house. The other (12 ft × 20 ft or 3.7 m × 6.1 m) was the house built by the Johnson’s for Charles Anderson. I was moved nearer the farmstead after his death.
  • Northeast of the main house is the two-story barn (12 ft × 30 in or 3.7 m × 760 mm). The barn was built sometime before 1908. A chicken coop was added shortly after the barns construction.
  • the privy is still standing to the northeast of the main house about 50 feet (15 m).

Pete Larsen Farm[edit]

Pete Larsen Farm
Pete Larsen Swedish District Porter County.jpg
Larsen Farm House
Location 750 Howe Road, Porter, Indiana
Built 1910
Architectural style gabeled Ell
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 12717505019[1]
Added to NRHP aaa nn, nnnn[2]

The property was purchased from the Bailly Homestead by F. Burstrom in the early 1870s.[3] Swedish immigrant Peter Larson was a successful carpenter from Chicago. He was a construction supervisor and spent little time at the farm, traveling home on weekends. He was more prosperous than many. He purchased a Sears catalogue house and contracted help during construction.[8]

Historic Structures

  • Farm House - The house is a frame construction. It has two stories in a rectange. The material was purchased from Sears & Roebuck through the catalogue. Built between 1908-10 it features intersecting gable roof with a front porch. The Lap siding is still original (2010). The foundation is concrete block.[8]
  • Garage
  • Barn - A family story tells of Pete, bringing home an Italian work crew one weekend. By Sunday, the barn was completed.[8] The barn is a small, two-story building of frame construction. It has a hay loft under a gambrel roof. It was built ca 1920, replacing an earlier structure. It has a concrete foundation with a wood lap exterior. The Dutch door on east and west sides are original with the hay loft doors on both the north and south walls. A large vehicle door on north was added at a later time.[8]

Sugar Bush Farm[edit]

aka Carl P. Nelson Farm

Charles Nelson Farm House

The Carl P. Nelson Farm is a contributing property in the proposed Swedish Farmstead Historic District. The farmhouse remains at 891 N. Mineral Springs Road, Porter, Indiana. Currently (2010) it is a private residence that was built in 1891 using the traditional gabeled Ell design. The land and structure are owned by the National Park Service.

In 1876, the property was platted as the property of an E. Allenquist.[9] By 1895, C.P. Nelson and John Nelson were joint owners of this 80 acres (320,000 m2) tract of farmland.[10] By 1906, C.P. Nelson was the sole owner of the property.[11] By 1921, Matilda Nelson is reflected the owner with a C.W. Nelson in residence.[12] This is also the first use of the term 'Sugar Bush Farm'.

Historic Structures

  • Farm House

Gustaf Lindstrom Farm[edit]

Gust Lindstrom Farm
Wahl House Swedish Historic Farmstead.jpg
Gust Lindstrom aka Arthur Wahl House before restoration
Location 399 Howe Road, Porter, Indiana
Built 1910
Architectural style gabeled Ell
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 127175052[1]
Added to NRHP aaa nn, nnnn[2]

The Lindstrom/Wahl farm started by Swedish immigrant Gustaf Lindstrom in 1870. It's located to the south of Baileytown. Before 1900, Arthur Wahl obtained the property and developed most of the existing structures. The farm illustrates the prosperity of some of the early Swedish settlers. The residence was originally a two-room log cabin. As the families wealth increased, a larger residence was constructed around the log cabin and a barn added. This was after 1900. Like other Swedish farmers, the Wahls relied on an outside occupations for economic security. They continued to farm and began a nursery in the 1930s.[13]

  • Farmhouse - The house has two floor, each rectangular in shape. Later additions include; two porches and the summer kitchen on the back. The earlier log cabin is still within the current structure. The cabin had two rooms and is thought to be ahall & parlor design. The current residence built in the 1900s (decade). The molded concrete block foundation supports a frame structure with lap siding and corner boards. The windows are double hung. The roof is a gable design. A family tradition indicates that members of the Wahl family built the house[13]
  • Barn - The barn, built around 1910, is two stories. It is a vertical board structure with a gambrel roof covered in roll roofing. The building has a concrete foundation. The windows are fixed pane 4 lite. On the east is a double door. The hay track and door are still evident on the south side. Two garage doors were added on the south.[13]

Associated Properties[edit]

Located outside the National Lakeshore are several other historic structures related to the Swedish Farmstead Historic District, but not included.

Burstrom Cemetery[edit]

Old Swedish Cemetery

Located on E. Oak Hill Road, Porter, Indiana, north of the Swedish Skola. The cemetery was started in 1870 and is still privately owned.

Augsberg Swensk Skola[edit]

Old Swedish School House

Initially built in 1880, additional work was done in 1934. The structure was built by 19th-century Swedish immigrants to the United States. It reflects church architectural traditions of Sweden. The bell tower is off-center as was common in Sweden. Unlike in Sweden, the bell tower has been enclosed and the lower room that was created is used for tools and wood storage. The structure has been adapted from a traditional architectural form that dates from the Middle Ages.[14]

The Augsberg Swensk Skola is a contributing property in the proposed Swedish Farmstead Historic District. It is located on East Oak Hill Road in Porter, Indiana. The school and church was built in 1880. It is a one room design with a Gabled front.

Westchester Township School District No. 4[edit]

Westchester Township School District No.4 is a contributing property in the proposed Swedish Farmstead Historic district. The structure is privately owned at the corner of Waverly Road and Oak Hill Road, in Porter, Indiana. This was the first school house to serve the Swedish community. It was built in 1881. It is rectangular in shape with a gabled front.

Augsburg Cemetery[edit]

Charles Nelson's Tombstone in the Augsburg Cemetery

Augsburg Cemetery (1878) is a contributing property for a Swedish Farmstead Historic District. It is the final resting place for many of the original Swedish families from the area. The cemetery is located south of Augsburg Lutheran Church on Beam Road in Porter, Indiana.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church[edit]

Now closed

Bethlehem Lutheran Church is a contributing property in the proposed Swedish Farmstead Historic District. The church is not located near the historic farms, but in town at the corner of Lincoln Ave and Second Street, Chesterton, Indiana. The Gothic Revival building was built in 1880. It is currently owned by the Boys and Girls Club of Chesterton, Indiana.


  1. ^ a b c d e Porter County Interim Report; Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory; Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, July 1991
  2. ^ a b c d "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form; Selected Swedish Farmsteads of Porter County, Indiana; NPS Form 10-900- B; Kenneth R. Dodson, July 10, 1994
  4. ^ Oscar-Irene Nelson House, aka Charles Nelson Property NR nomination; National Park Service; Porter, Indiana; 2008
  5. ^ a b Lake County Indiana, from 1834 to 1872: Timothy H. Ball; J.W. Goodspeed, Chicago, Illinois; 1872
  6. ^ Roots Eternal and Unshakable; An Ethnographic Overview of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; Applied Cultural Dynamics; David R.M. White; September 1999
  7. ^ a b c d Chellberg Farm NR nomination; National Park Service; Porter, Indiana
  8. ^ a b c d Peter Larson Residence NR nomination, National Park Service; Porter, Indiana; 2008
  9. ^ Plat Map, Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, 1876
  10. ^ Plat Map, Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, 1895
  11. ^ Plat Map, Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, 1906
  12. ^ Plat Map, Westchester Township, Porter County, Indiana, 1921
  13. ^ a b c Gust Lindstrom NR nomination; National Park Service; 2008
  14. ^ HABS files in the Library of Congress