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The Land of the Midnight Sun

Thursday, June 22, 1901

Happy birthday to me! Grandmother gave me a diary for my birthday and said I have a good imagination and need to write down my thoughts. I think I shall write all the presents for my birthday. My mother gave me some drawing paper and real drawing pencils! Father gave me teddy bear that is made of alpaca fur. He said he thought of me when he saw it.  ďIt had such a cute face I thought of you when I saw it!Ē he exclaimed and gave me a big hug. Grandfather gave me a pair of new shoes he made. Johan gave me a beautiful pen that had my name engraved on it for me to write in you! It is late now. I have to blow out the candle. Tomorrow I will give you a proper name. Good night!

Saturday, June 24, 1901

Sorry I didnít write yesterday, I was in town with Mother and Grandmother. They said now that Iím 13 I should be able to go to town and see all the sights. I have never been to town because my parents said I was too young. I had so much fun! I have thought of a name for you! I shall call you Hope because I have a cat named Hope. Of all my pets, sheís my favorite because I found her. She was as skinny as a twig and I loved her when I saw her. I wish I could have told you about me today but I canít because Mother is calling me to help her make dinner. Bye!

Sunday, June 25, 1901

Dear Hope,
I will now tell you about me! You already know when my birthday is but I shall tell you again. I was born June 22,1888 in Stockholm Sweden. My name is Elisabeth Sofia Aronson. I have a brother named Johan, he's 16 years old. Three years older than me. My best friend, Maria, said I have my head in the clouds. It is because I am always daydreaming. I never told this to anyone, not even Maria, but I daydream about falling in love with someone and that special someone falls in love with me. The reason why I never told anyone that is because I never had anyone to tell and because I donít seem like I would daydream about that. Iím sorry to say that in church today, I started to daydream. I turned so red when I thought about that, Johan started to make funny faces at me. I am afraid what I did next was not appropriate for a young lady to do. I snorted! Can you believe it? I snorted in church! It was more of a laugh than anything but still, it was embarrassing. Father gave me a sharp look and a scolding after church. I felt bad after that and I said more prayers after church. I shall copy one down Our Father:Vår fader, du som är i himlen. Låt ditt namn bli helgat. Låt ditt rike
komma. Låt din vilja ske, på jorden så som i himlen. Ge oss i dag vårt brödför dagen som kommer. Och förlåt oss våra skulder, liksom vi har förlåtitdem som står i skuld till oss. Och utsätt oss inte för prövning, utan räddaoss från det onda. Ditt är riket. Din är makten och äran i evighet.
In English it is:
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
For some reason, Mother and Father are teaching me English. I have to go milk the cow now so bye for now!

Wednesday June 28, 1901

Dear Hope,
My heart is pounding as I write this. Mother sent me into town for some fresh eggs and yeast when I saw the scariest thing! I saw a man hanging from a tree. When a woman saw me she asked if I was ok. She saw that I was looking at the man and she said that he had murdered someone. I said I had to go and got the eggs and yeast. I ran home (careful not to break the eggs) and told Mother what happened. She held me and said that I shouldnít go to town for some days. I was thankful for that and when Father came home I ran to him. I told him what happened and also told him what Mother had said. He agreed with her. Hope needs to be fed. Bye!

Thursday June 29, 1901

Johan did the funniest thing today! While I was baking bread, he came up behind me and said that he knows how to make bread faster than me. He took a loaf of bread out of the breadbox and said ďThere! I told you I could make bread faster than you!Ē I laughed so hard I started to cry! Donít worry, I didnít snort. It wasnít that funny but I needed a good laugh and couldnít help myself. Tomorrow Mother said I could go back to town for a nice ribbon for my hair. Grandfather talked my mother into coming into town with him to the cobbler shop. He said I should see were he and my father work. I also stopped writing ďDear HopeĒ because I kept on forgetting!

Friday June 30, 1901

Grandfather spoils me so much! He gave me some coins to spend on myself and he took me out to eat. I bought some pretty ribbons for my hair and some cloth for a new blouse.
I shall get more cloth later to make a matching skirt!

Saturday July 1, 1901

Father came home with a surprise! He brought home a flock of sheep for me to tend to. I am so happy! I love sheep and now that our chickens are gone, we needed more farm animals. He said it is for wool for Mother and me to spin so we can to make more money. I asked Johan why Father wants to make so much money all of a sudden. He just shrugged and told me to stop worrying. I must not think about such things or I shall never sleep.

Monday July 3,1901

I have been crying for hours. Father told us today at breakfast that we would be moving to America. ďWhy?Ē I cried. ďWe can have a better life in America and my children can get a better education,Ē he said. ďWhat about Grandfather and Grandmother?Ē I said. Father told me that they already made the decision to stay here and tend to the animals. I fear I shall never see them or Maria again! I asked Johan how he felt about that and he said that he didnít care. He also told me to call our parents ďMomĒ and ďDadĒ from now on because thatís what kids in America do. What is so great about America? I will tell you more tomorrow.

Tuesday July 4, 1901

Dad said that we are leaving July 15th. I donít want to leave my grandparents but I do want to go to a real school. Iím not feeling too well so I shall stop writing.

Monday July 10, 1901

I was sick with the flu all week. To think, this time next week I will be on a ship to America. I hate that word. Dad told me more about where we are going but I have to go now. I am feeling a bit queasy again.

Saturday July 15, 1901
Somewhere at sea

I got over my flu but now Iím seasick. I can hardly write. Johan said that we arenít be going to Ellis Island. Weíre going to Canada instead. I heard of that place once but I donít know where it is. I donít know the name of the ship weíre on. Frankly, I donít even care! Iíd rather be home with Hope and Grandmother and Grandfather! I will never see my beloved cat or
Grandparents again! I wasnít even able to go see Maria. Grandmother said she would tell her were I was going and that I would write her. I donít think I shall be writing until I get to Canada. Johan said we would be going to Quebec.

Saturday August 15, 1901
Quebec, Canada

I am in Quebec right now and Dad is getting us train tickets to go to Michigan. It is a state of America. I donít know about these things though. Johan told me everything and told me not to worry. It is very hard not to! Now I know why Mom and Dad wanted Johan and me to learn English! And why Dad wanted us to make more money. Ta för sig! Help me! I want to go home and I want to be in my house, in my home country! My Sverige. The Land of the Midnight Sun, Sweden, my home.

Sunday August 16, 1901
Somewhere in Canada

We are on a train heading to Michigan. Papa (yes, I am now calling my parentís Mama and Papa) said we are going to the Lower Peninsula. He said it is in Michigan and showed me a map. When I was trying to get to sleep, I heard Mama and Papa arguing. I hear them arguing a lot lately. They rarely did that in Sweden. Mama says a lot of immigrants are going to Michigan to have a better life. I donít know what is so good about Michigan or America for that matter! I like riding in a train better than in a boat though, itís actually soothing. I started to complain again but Johan told me to be quiet and that he didnít care about me anymore, let alone my problems. I felt like I was slapped and told him that I didnít care about him either!


I met a girl named Caroline. Sheís around my age and is going to Michigan like I am. She said she came from Norway and that she has an older brother like me! He stayed in Norway though and she started to cry when she told me that her family couldnít afford his passage. I didnít know what to say so I asked her where in Michigan she was going. She said to the Lower Peninsula. I hope she goes to the same place I am because sheís my only friend here!

Tuesday August 18, 1901
Detroit, Michigan

Here we are, in Detroit, Michigan. It is a huge city. Iím afraid I do like it here. Caroline said her family is going to live here but might be moving on to somewhere else. I hope she doesnít! Johan has been acting strange around Papa. He always scowls at Papa when he tries to talk to him. I have to go now because Mama said she has to talk to me.

Wednesday August 19, 1901
Before Dawn

What I am about to tell you is not good news. Everything in my life is going to change. I now know why Johan has been acting hateful. Papa said that he is old enough to work now and that he has to help the family. Papa and Johan are leaving Mama and me and are going to become lumberjacks. Mama said that Papa and Johan are going to come home for Christmas and other holidays and not to worry about them. How canít I? Our family is being ripped apart because of America! How I despise America! Both Mama and I will have to work to live! Education! Ha! I will not be able to go to school like Papa promised. I want to go home more then ever!


Papa and Johan left to go get a job. I fear Johan will do something he will regret. I hope not! Papa gave me a hug before he left and said he had something for me. Guess what it was! A baby kitten! I was so happy! Itís a boy but he doesnít have a name yet, I canít think of one. Maybe Iíll ask Caroline if she can help me. He is the cutest little thing! He is all black with one white paw. I canít wait to see Caroline again and I really do hope she can help me pick a name. Playing with this kitten distracts me from my sadness until nighttime. Tomorrow Mama told me we have to go look for jobs. I keep thinking and hoping Iíll wake up in the morning in my own bed with Hope sleeping at my feet. I know that will never happen.


Caroline thought of a name for Him! She thought His name should be Sven because that is her brotherís name. I thought it was a nice name and thanked her. I told her that Mama and I have to find a job and she told me that I should be a seamstress. I said thank you again and told her I was going to tell Mama. I told her and she said that sheís happy that Iím not scared about getting a job and all I could do was smile. I couldnít tell her that I was scared out of my wits! All I can do now is try to look brave.

Thursday August 20, 1901

I canít believe what happened today. Mama and I went to the seamstress place and only she got a job because I was too young. I could tell Mama was distressed but she tried not to show it. I donít know weíre going to do. Iím a good cook so maybe I could see if a tavern needs a cook. I shall ask Mama about it and see tomorrow.

Friday August 21, 1901

Good news! I got a job at a local mansion belonging to one of the richest ladies in town. Her husband died after her son was born and she needed a cook. I asked her about the job and surprisingly my English was good and very understandable. She said that I was the only person that asked about the job and got it right away! She didnít even say I was too young! As a payment, we now have a new home and free food! (That I am cooking!) Mrs. OíReilly, the lady I cook for, is giving Mama and me free room and board. Mama couldnít be happier! The money she earns can go to us and not to pay for our room and food. She also gets leftover cloth so she can make our clothes. Maybe moving to America isnít that bad after all!

Saturday August 22, 1901

Mrs. OíReilly told me about her family at lunch today. Since I am the only person she has to talk to during the day, she told me about herself. She said that she was born in Ireland and so was her husband. They got married in Ireland and moved here in 1848. In 1849, they heard about the California Gold Rush and moved out to California. Her husband, Sean, claimed a spot where he found 4,000 dollars worth of gold and he found a lot more. Thatís how they got rich. Sean died a week after his son was born. She said he died of small pox. She named her son after him and when he was old enough to go to school, she shipped him off to a boarding school. She didnít tell me which one but it was in Pennsylvania. She told me Sean (Jr.) is about my age. I found out Mama and I am staying in the room right next to his! She showed me a picture of him and my, is he handsome! I forgot to say this but Mrs. OíReilly said that my cooking is the best she ever tasted! I just smiled because thatís on of the nicest things anyone has every said to me. I decided to tell her about me and told her everything that happened. Surprisingly, she started to cry and called me a ďpoor thingĒ. I also found out that she doesnít have any other family in America other than her son Sean. I have more family here than her! I think I should call her a ďpoor thingĒ!


I forgot to tell you what I did with Sven! I left him with Caroline until we could find a home. (She has an uncle that lives here and is staying with him) I asked Mrs. OíReilly about keeping Sven here and she said she couldnít be happier about having a cute little kitten here! Iím happy heís here right now! He sleeps on my bed in the afternoon and roams around the house at night. I hope he doesnít get in too much trouble!

Sunday August 23, 1901

I went to church today with Mrs. OíReilly today. Mama couldnít come because she wasnít feeling ill. Sheís feeling better now. Mrs. OíReilly thinks it is the weather. She said Mama might have allergies so thatís why sheís been coughing and has a sore throat. I hope itís nothing serious!

Monday August 24, 1901

Good news! We got a letter from Papa and Johan today! I was getting some ingredients for the soup Iím making for dinner and I saw a sign asking for a woman named Lovisa Aronson (Mama!) She has a letter in the mail office. I went there to claim it for her and they asked me questions about whom I am and where Iím from. I told them that my name is Elisabeth Sofia Aronson and that I am from Sweden. They didnít believe me at first but then I told them Papaís name, Oskar, and the postman smiled and gave me the letter. I ran home (without my ingredients) and opened it as fast as I could. More later! I have to go make dinner.

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