"Jenny Lind Chapel" - Part I



    The Lutheran Journal, Vol. 60, #3, 1991 - Erwin Weber


Over 140 years ago. Lars Paul Esbjörn, a Lutheran pastor from northern Sweden, and 146 Swedish pioneers left their homeland and sailed for seventy days on the crowded freighter, "Cobden" to New York. From there, more than 100 immigrants from Sweden continued their journey for another 26 days along waterways of the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, around the Great Lakes, where they met cholera, the "angel of death", to Chicago and then by canal boats to Peru, Illinois. From Peru, the baggage, the women, and the children were put on wagon trains to Andover, Illinois. The rest of the party went on foot. Due to illness, lack of food, and lodging, the majority left the group in Andover and went their separate ways. Only Pastor Esbjörn and handful of his faithful followers remained in Andover to build Jenny Lind Chapel, which became the "mother church" of the Augustana Lutheran Church and Augustana Synod. It later merged with the Lutheran Church in America. Today it is called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

This article concentrates on Lars Paul Esbjörn, his place of birth and early life in Delsbo, Sweden, his early schooling in Hudiksvall and Gävle and his study of theology at Uppsala University. Thereafter, he was ordained at Uppsala Cathedral, became and assistant pastor at Ostervåla, then pastor at the factory town of Oslättfors. He married Amalia Gyllenbåga, and lived in two rooms of the parish school house in Hille where he became a preacher of the Pietists. The article concludes with Esbjörn and his immigrants sailing from Gävle to New York in 1849.

My cover photograph shows a base relief by Bror Hjort depicting Paul Esbjörn and his wife Amalia standing in front of Jenny Lind Chapel in Andover, Illinois. The relief is located in the Lutheran Church, Ostervåla, Sweden.