Astrid Maria Rehn Lovestrand Oral History Interview, 1982  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Lovestrand, Astrid Maria Rehn
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders.
1 photograph
1 sound cassette.
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Astrid Maria Rehn Lovestrand, a Swedish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Astrid Maria (Rehn) Lovestrand was born in Dömle, Deje, Värmland, Sweden on April 4, 1906. Her father was the farm foreman on a large estate where he and the rest of the Rehn family resided. Astrid's mother Maria died when she was young and her father remarried the cook on the estate. His new marriage gave Astrid one stepbrother and four stepsisters in addition to her one full brother and two full sisters. After attending school and being confirmed, Astrid moved away from home to work at the age of 14. She found employment as a housekeeper, but Astrid wanted to seek better work in America. Many of Astrid's relatives lived in America and encouraged her to come. After Astrid's father died, her aunt, who lived in Yakima, Washington persuaded her to move there. Astrid was a bit frightened because she did not know her relatives well; nevertheless, in 1930, she decided to leave Sweden for America. With the assistance of her family and of women from the YWCA, Astrid immediately found work as a housekeeper in Yakima. The family she worked for helped her learn English, and Astrid had a pretty good handle on the language after only three months. There was a large Swedish community in Yakima founded by two Swedes who made a great deal of money from gold in Alaska. Astrid's husband was the first resident of the Swedish community. Astrid met her husband, Emil Lovestrand, at the Covenant church they attended. He was fifteen years her senior and a well-established farmer; they married in 1931. Astrid and Emil had eight children-six girls and two boys. They all worked hard on their orchard raising cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, and apples. About 1949, Astrid went to school for training as a practical nurse; she has worked as one since then. Emil passed away in 1967, and Astrid sold their farm to their oldest son. Astrid has traveled back to Sweden four times-in 1954, 1969, 1973, and 1979. She has not participated in any Swedish organizations, but she taught Swedish at a local high school for people in the community in 1980. There is still a fairly large group of Swedish residents in her area.


Maiden Name: Astrid Maria Rehn. Father Alfred Johan Rehn. Mother: Maria Elisabeth Carlsson (Barud). Paternal Grandfather: Alfred Rehn. Paternal Grandmother: Maria Rehn. Maternal Grandfather: Karl Carlson (Barud). Maternal Grandmother: Sara Carlson (Barud). Brothers and Sisters: Ruth Eklund, Elsa Broström. Half-Sisters: Elsa Gustavson, Gunhild Larson, Maerta Rehn, Majken Johnson. Step-Brother John Rehn. Spouse: Emil Lovestrand. Children: Barbara Neis, Phylles Tilton, Rita Vierleng, Bernard Lovestrand, Elsa Smith, Sharon Vance, Roland Lovestrand, Becky Thomas.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Astrid Lovestrand on June 17, 1982 in Yakima, Washington. This interview contains information on personal background, immigration, employment, Swedish community, marriage and family, trips to Sweden, and Swedish heritage. Also available is a black and white photograph of Astrid Lovestrand at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English.

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Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
254, side 1 038: Astrid Maria Rehn Lovestrand
Her father took the name Rehn when he became a "knack" or knight. Her maternal grandfather chose his name in the same way. He changed it from Carlson to Barud. He changed it back to Carlson when he and his family went to America in 1907. They came with seven children. Had twelve children all together. Kristine, the eldest daughter came before the rest of the family. Her uncle in Minnesota sent her the ticket. She sent for her sister, Sophie. Astrid's Aunt Sophie, who lived in Yakima, Washington, sent Astrid a ticket to come to America.
254, side 1 158: PARENTS
Astrid's mother Maria Carlson (Barud) had met Astrid's father when her parents were going to leave for America so she didn't want to go with them. She got married a year later. Astrid's mother had an older brother who stayed in Sweden because he was already married when the family emigrated from Sweden.
Settled first in either St. Paul, Minnesota or Omaha, Nebraska after coming to the U.S. Astrid's aunt and uncle, Sophie and Nels Nyström moved to Yakima, Washington because they'd heard so much advertising about the land. Astrid's grandparents and uncles, Axel and August Carlsson moved with Sophie and Nels. Astrid's grandparents came from Norssocken, Värmland in Sweden. Her grandfather ran the ferry across the river, Norsälven.
254, side 1 249: CHILDHOOD
Astrid was born in Dömle, Deje, Värmland. Her father was a rättare (farm foreman) on the big estate, Dömle herrgård. The main building at Dömle herrgård is now donated to the retired Swedish Lutheran ministers. Now it's called a "stiftgård." They've built a church there as well. Astrid grew up on this estate. The owner lived in the manor house. There were two buildings on each side of the manor house. The "rättare" lived in one of these buildings and the "förvaltare" (manager) lived on the other.
254, side 1 312: PARENTS
Alfred Johan Rehn and Maria Elizabeth. (See also I-158)
254, side 1 318: CHILDHOOD
(See also I-249) Born April 4, 1906. Born and raised in Dömle, Deje. Went to school there and was confirmed in the Lutheran church in Deje. The nearest big town was Karlstad.
254, side 1 333: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
One real brother and one step-brother. Six sisters, two real sisters and four step-sisters. Eldest sister, Ruth Eklund lives in Lindfors, Sweden. Her other sister, Elsa Broström was adopted by the owners of the estate because their mother died during childbirth. Her brother, Gustav was born two years before Elsa. Astrid's father married the cook at the estate sometime after their mother's death. They had four daughters, Elsa, Gunhild, Märta, and Majken. All of Astrid's brothers and sisters are living except for Märta. They are all living in Sweden.
254, side 1 387: CHILDHOOD
(See also I-249 and I-318) People were poor during Astrid's childhood, but they always had something to eat. Her step-mother was good to them. Sewed clothes for them. She had a happy childhood. They had to wear wooden shoes.
Remembers her grandmother. They lived in Västergötland. Her grandfather was a "rättare" on a large estate like her father was.
254, side 1 415: CHILDHOOD
(See also I-249, I-318, and I-387) Her father got his job in Dömle by going to agriculture school. He stayed on this job for a few years after Astrid's mother died. Later he got a job on a bigger estate, Mölnbacka. They stayed there until her father passed away in November 1920.
254, side 1 434: WORK
Astrid moved away from home when she was fourteen. She'd been confirmed. She worked for some people her father had gone to agriculture school with. WORK: After working for these people, she started doing housework. She lived in the homes where she worked. Got paid 20 crowns a month. Didn't earn much.
After her father died, her uncle (maternal) in Sweden wrote to Astrid's aunt in Yakima, Washington. Astrid's oldest sister Ruth was going to go first but then she got married. Astrid wrote to her aunt then. It was a big decision for Astrid to make because she didn't know any of her relatives in America. When she was 23 years old, she decided times weren't too good in Sweden. It was 1930 and the Depression had started. When she came to America, the Depression was just as bad here.
254, side 1 503: TRIP TO AMERICA
Left home on a cold winter morning in 1930. Took the train from Deje to Värmland to Göteborg (Gothenburg). Took 22 days to cross the ocean. Astrid got seasick. Maybe wouldn't have if the boat hadn't had to stop in the middle of the ocean to wait for an iceberg to pass.
254, side 1 533: ARRIVAL IN NEW YORK
A lady from the YWCA met them. She could speak Swedish. There were a lot of immigrants running around.
254, side 1 545: TRAIN TRIP
The lady from the YWCA put them on the train to Chicago. When they got to Chicago, they changed trains to go to St. Paul, Minnesota. When Astrid got off the train in St. Paul, a man was calling her name in the depot "Fröken Rehn!" He took hold of her and she ran. She told a lady from St. Paul's YWCA about the man. The lady told her not to be afraid because she knew her name. The man turned out to be her great uncle (her mother's uncle). His name was Ström. He was a free missionary in Sweden. He was the one who sent a ticket for Astrid's Aunt Kristine to come to America. Astrid's aunt in St. Paul invited her for dinner. Astrid had a two and a half hour stop over in St. Paul. The group of people Astrid had been traveling with from New York separated in Chicago. Astrid was with the ones who were going west. Ladies from the YWCA met them in New York, Chicago, St. Paul, and Yakima. They all spoke Swedish.
Aunt and uncle met her as well as the lady from the YWCA. The lady from the YWCA helped her get her first job. Astrid was told that she could call this lady and tell her that she was looking for housework.
254, side 1 650: WORK
First job was for a banker, Mr. Fletcher. This job was temporary while their housekeeper was on vacation. Her next job was with Mr. and Mrs. Davis in Yakima. He was the superintendent of schools. She worked for them until she got married.
Loved it from the first. It was spring when she arrived. Frogs were in the ponds. She'd never heard frogs make so much noise before. Although she hadn't met her relatives before, she felt as if she'd known them all of her life.
254, side 1 680: MEETING SPOUSE
Started going to the Covenant church. Met her husband-to-be there.
254, side 1 690: WORK
(See also I-650) Earned about $45 a month. Lived with the people she worked for.
254, side 1 696: LEARNING ENGLISH
Learned it from the people she worked for. Decided she would have to get away from the "Swedish colony" if she was going to learn English. Learned a lot from the three children of the people she worked for. Wasn't as self-conscious about making mistakes in front of the children. They would correct her mistakes.
254, side 1 712: WORK
(See also I-650 and I-690) Cooking was a part of her responsibilities as a housekeeper. Cooking was difficult because she wasn't used to American food. Hadn't seen squash, pumpkin before. Steak in America different than in Sweden. Didn't understand how to fix it. Hadn't seen a lot of different vegetables before. Had to learn to read recipes. Learned English in about three months. Learn quickly if you really put your heart into it. She was really self-conscious about speaking English with other Swedish people around her.
254, side 1 758: THE SWEDISH COMMUNITY
Her aunt and uncle's farm was located about fifteen and a half miles out of Yakima. The community there was started by two Swedes, Fridjolf Nilson and Nathaniel Gottberg (?), who'd made quite a lot of money in Alaska from gold. They heard about the land in the Yakima area. Dams such as Rimrock nd Bumping Lake were being built and supplying water to the area. These two men advertised the land in the Covenant churches and the Lutheran churches in the Midwest. That is how the Swedes ended up in this area. They divided the land up into 15-20 acre lots. They planted orchards. Her husband was the first one in the area.
254, side 1 802: SPOUSE
Emil Lovestrand. A farmer boy from Minnesota who came to Washington with his aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. August Lovestrand. They had three children, Olga, Emma, and Fritz. Olga still lives on the farm. Astrid met her husband through her uncle who was married to Emma. Emil came to the area in 1910. There was nothing but sagebrush on "Swede Hill." 20-30 families ended up settling in the area.
254, side 1 850: CHURCH
Emil was Lutheran. There was a small group of Lutheran there before the Covenants came. There were four or five Lutheran families there. They bought land and built a church. This was later sold to the Covenants. This church was there for many years. New one is 10-15 years old. Services were sometimes in Swedish. Preachers traveling through would deliver the Swedish sermons. Nathaniel Gottberg (?) was a missionary and he would sometimes give Swedish sermons. By the time Astrid came in 1930, the church had been turned over the an English speaking minister.
Had a smörgåsbord once a year. Still keep up the Swedish traditions. They're letting the younger people take over now. Astrid's daughters have been helping out. Have the smörgåsbord every other year now.
Was one in Wiley City, Washington. Owned by a man named Rakström (?). He wasn't from Sweden but his wife was.
(See also I-038 and I-179) Never learned English. They passed away before Astrid came to America.
254, side 1 942: SPOUSE
(See also I-802) Emil had been in the area for 20 years when Astrid came in 1930. He was well established. Had his farm. His oldest trees were 12 years old and bearing fruit. He was living in a house with a bedroom, a kitchen, and one more room. He built another house when they decided to get married. He was 15 years older than her. Got married in 1931.
254, side 1 961: CHILDREN
First daughter was born in the fall of 1931, Barbara, Phyllis, Rita, Bernard, Elsa, Sharon, Roland, and Becky. Six girls and two boys. Gave her children American names because she thought it would be embarrassing for them if people couldn't pronounce their names. Her husband spoke Swedish, but he made her promise that she wouldn't teach her children Swedish. When Emil started school all he could speak was Swedish and the other children laughed at him. He didn't want his children to go through that. Now the children wish they could speak Swedish.
254, side 1 993: TRIPS TO SWEDEN
Took Phyllis and Becky to Sweden in 1954. Went by boat. Had to stay for three months before she could get back to the U.S. She missed her family. After 24 years, Sweden seemed backwards. They stayed with her sister. Didn't have an indoor bathroom. Had to carry water in and out. Husband passed away in 1967. Astrid went to Sweden in 1969, 1973, and 1979. Went to Germany too because Becky was married and her husband was in the service there. 1973 went to Sweden with friends. 1979 went with three daughters, Barbara, Rita, and Elsa. They met Astrid's sisters and brothers. Things had changed in Sweden a great deal. Sweden is making more progress than other countries.
254, side 1 1052: ORCHARD
Mixed fruit orchard. Had Bing cherries, Royal Anne cherries, pears, peaches, apricots, and apples. Three kinds of apples. Had twelve and a half acres. Used horses on the farm for years. Eventually earned enough money to buy a tractor. Hard times.
254, side 1 1077: RAISING FAMILY
Raised her children during the Depression. Got easier after WWII. Had to sew the children's clothes. All of her kids went to high school. First four or five had to walk three miles to school. Got a bus later.
254, side 2 058: "EARNING MY OWN WAY"
Wanted to make enough money to pay her aunt for her ticket to come here. She was working to pay room and board. Wasn't making money fast enough. After a year, she met Emil. He offered to pay off her debt. After they were married, he liked to say that he had an imported wife. Her ticket cost $150. That was a lot of money then. She earned $45 a month.
254, side 2 115: WEDDING
Worked for Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Davis. Mrs. Davis offered to buy the cloth for Astrid's wedding gown. She also had a seamstress sew the gown. It was peach colored, not white. She had a white veil. Got married in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Carlson, friends of Emil's on Wiley Heights. Were married by Rev. Upsal (?), the Covenant minister.
254, side 2 175: MEETING SPOUSE
Emil had a brand new Model A Ford when Astrid met him. She met him at church. Her uncle was married to his cousin. Uncle told Astrid that if she married Emil, he would buy her a wash tub and a scrub board. He worked at the hardware store in Wiley City. One day Astrid was thinning peaches for her cousin, Clarence Nystrom. When she went in the house for lunch, Clarence's wife asked her to watch her kids while she went to the hardware store. When she came back, she told Astrid she couldn't thin peaches anymore that day because they were going to have a guest for dinner that Astrid would like to meet. Emil came in his new car. He had to speak to her in Swedish. After dinner, he took her for a ride in his car.
254, side 2 250: WILEY CITY & WILEY HEIGHTS
Official name for the area. Got its names from a pioneer family. One of the Wiley's is still living near the place where one of Astrid's daughters was living.
254, side 2 283: KEEPSAKES FROM SWEDEN
Didn't bring much with her. A couple of suitcases and a trunk. Aunt told her not to bring too much. Now, since she's been home so many times, she has a lot of Swedish things in her house.
254, side 2 312: LIVING IN THE U.S. VS. SWEDEN
Everything goes slow in Sweden. Here we are so free. When she first came here from Sweden she felt that there were some things she wasn't good enough to do because of the different class system. In Sweden one had to curtsy and open the door for people.
254, side 2 373: CLIMATE
Loves the climate in Yakima. Thinks Seattle is a lot like Sweden. Didn't realize how hot it would get in Yakima. They would sit in Emil's root cellar sometimes during the summer when it got too hot. She likes where she lives a lot better than in Sweden.
Means a lot. The Swedish people are looked up to. Different government than the U.S. government. Used to the U.S. system now, but proud to have been raised in a country that has a king and queen. Saw them in Seattle in the fall of 1982. Expected the king to be taller. Seemed to be really easy to talk to. They didn't talk to the king and queen, but saw others talking to them.
254, side 2 493: CITIZENSHIP
Became an American citizen in 1945. Had applied for the first papers earlier but something happened so she couldn't go through with it.
254, side 2 529: WORK
Always worked in a nearby fruit warehouse after their harvest was picked. After Becky was about 2 years old, Astrid took a course in practical nursing. She has worked as a practical nurse since then. She's taking care of a blind lady now. Starts work at 8am and quits at 3pm. Earns $900 a month. She eats breakfast and lunch with the lady.
254, side 2 568: FAMILY FARM
Sold the land to her oldest son. Still owns four acres. Had to sell the house with the acreage. Sold it in 1973. It had six bedrooms. Was too big for her. They paid cash for the house but didn't have the money for the land.
Hasn't joined any.
254, side 2 600: TEACHING SWEDISH
Taught Swedish at West Valley High School in 1980 for people in the community. The group she taught had had company from Sweden and had been invited to visit relatives in Sweden. They wanted to learn the Swedish language so that they could communicate. She had seventeen students. Difficult to teach so many at one time. Taught out a book she had from Sweden. It was called "Mina Pojkar" by Gustav Gejerstam. Taught how to bake Swedish bread one year.
Still a lot of Swedish people around. Older ones are dying off, but some of their children are still living in the area.
254, side 2 693: SPEAKS SWEDISH
Tells about her daughter who is a nurse, and her daughter's children. Oldest daughter is director for a volunteer organization for older people. One daughter is a secretary for Boeing. Oldest son farms and works in a sawmill. Her other son is self-employed. Works with cement. Becky is a secretary for West Valley High School. Sharon has her own shop of American folk art. Elsa doesn't need to work. She's married to a millionaire. Astrid has twenty grandchildren.
254, side 2 787: LIFE IN AMERICA
Never could have had this good a life if she had stayed in Sweden. Thankful to her aunt and uncle who sent her the ticket to come to America. Fortunate to have met her husband.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Confirmation
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family -- Sweden
  • Naturalization
  • Railway travel
  • Sweden -- Social conditions -- 1945
  • Swedish-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Swedish-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Carlson (Barud), Maria Elisabeth
  • Carlsson (Barud), Karl
  • Carlsson (Barud), Sara
  • Lovestrand, Astrid Maria Rehn--Interviews (creator)
  • Lovestrand, Bernard
  • Lovestrand, Roland
  • Rehn, Alfred Johan
  • Smith, Elsa
  • Thomas, Becky
  • Tilton, Phylles
  • Vierleng, Rita
  • Lovestrand, Astrid Maria
  • Lovestrand, Emil
  • Neis, Barbara
  • Rehn, Alfred
  • Rehn, Astrid Maria
  • Rehn, Maria
  • Vance, Sharon
  • Corporate Names :
  • Swedish Covenant Church (Yakima, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Barud family
  • Carlsson family
  • Lovestrand family
  • Rehn family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Karlstad (Sweden)
  • Värmlands län (Sweden)
  • Yakima (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Farmers
  • Nurses