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Archive for Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Lindsborg a cultural lesson for Swede

December 26, 2001

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— A Swedish visitor says his trips to Lindsborg teach him things he didn't know about his homeland.

Lindsborg has retained much of the Swedish culture, music and rituals that even Alf Brorson's neighbors, in his home of Torsby, Sweden, have forgotten.

"There are many things that we found here that are forgotten in Sweden," Brorson said.

Brorson is on his ninth trip to Lindsborg he first visited in 1993 and his 11th to the United States.

While he's in Lindsborg, Brorson will give a presentation on the city's history. His interest in Lindsborg stems from the fascination of his now-deceased father, Pastor Bror Carlsson, who wrote a book on the life of the city's founding father, Olof Olsson.

Olsson was a charismatic pastor who in 1869 led a group of 105 Swedish immigrants into Kansas and founded what is now Lindsborg.

Olsson, 28 when he led his group into Kansas, was Lindsborg's first pastor, organist and school superintendent, Brorson said.

In teaching Lindsborg residents about their past, Brorson also learns about his own heritage.

"In Lindsborg and Swedish communities across the United States, the traditions are kind of frozen," said A. John Pearson, vice president of the American-Scandinavian Association of the Great Plains. "But Sweden has moved on.

"Many Swedes today think it's quaint to look at the way the Swedes were," Pearson said.

But those same people often don't know the entire history of their ancestors, he said.

In Lindsborg, Brorson has heard meal prayers and seen eating traditions that were unfamiliar, until he did some research.

"It's a mutual relationship," Brorson said.

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