The Swedes of Galesburg

Earlier this evening, I was thinking about my grandmother who passed away this last May, and I decided to scroll back through the photos I’d taken the last time I was with her. Well, there among all of the photos I’d taken of her and Clementine, was this one of the telegram that she’d sent to her parents, John Lambie and Violet Jacobson Lambie, on May 15, 1944, just after she and my grandfather had been married on an Army base in Atlanta.

This would have been just before my grandfather shipped out to fight the Nazis in Europe. [The war in Europe ended approximately one year later, on May 8, 1945.]

Anyway, sitting here just now, I became interested in 824 East First Street, in Galesburg, Illinois, where my great grandparents were living in ’44, so I looked it up in Google Maps. Here it is. [The house, from what I’ve found online, was built built in 1895.]

Interestingly, as I was poking around just now, I also happened across the 1940 census, which shows the family living just down the street, at 808 East First Street, where my great-great grandparents from Sweden, August and Anna Jacobson, lived. Somewhere around the house, I have a video tape of my grandmother, Dorothy Maxine Lambie Avery, and her sister, Marilyn Ruth Lambie Tercek, answering my questions about growing up in Galesburg. [I remember them telling a story about a traveling salesman who would go door-to-door, selling eels to the Swedish families around the holidays.] As I recall, they said that, during the Great Depression, their mother and father had moved in their grandparents, and I guess, based on the census, they were still living there in 1940. At any rate, living at 808 East First Street in 1940 were; August Jacobson (69), Anna G. Jacobson (68), their son-in-law John Lambie (49), their daughter Violet Lambie (41), and their two granddaughters, Dorothy (15) and Maryilnn (12). [I’m not sure if John Lambie was from Galesburg originally, and I never got to know him, as he passed when my mother was just a child, but I know that his parents, James and Jessie Lambie, had immigrated from Scotland.]

Anyway, I just wanted to get all of this down while I was thinking about it, in case my kids, or their kids, or anyone else in the future, ever found themselves wondering about our familial connection to the Swedish expatriate paradise of Galesburg.

For what it’s worth, I remember very little of Galesburg aside of my great grandmother Violet’s apartment, which I believe I visited on a few occasions as a small child. My memories of Beardstown, where my grandfather’s family is from, are much stronger, as they involve a boat shop with a soda machine. [Beardstown is about 80 miles from Galesburg, and the boat shop in question was run by my mother’s uncle Dick, my grandfather’s brother-in-law.]

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2 Comments

  1. wobblie
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Your grandparents would have been neighbors of my folks back in 46. My older sister was born in Galesburg in 46. My dad was an ROTC member at U of I and was called up into the regular army in 1942. My parents were married in June 0f 44 at the Indianapolis Cathedral. He was not shipped out to Europe until January 1945. Just in time for the final allied offensive in Italy. As a forward artillery observer he was with the lead elements of the 10th. Mountain Division. Bronze star recipient for heroism. Suffered from PTSD for much of the rest of his life. Following the war he commanded a black transport unit (the military was still segregated in 1945) in Naples. Released from the military he got a job teaching Ag Science at the Galesbury High School for a couple of years.

  2. Stefanie Stauffer
    Posted March 25, 2019 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I was in Galesburg briefly over the holidays, tagging along to pick-up someone from the train station. It is a pretty big ‘city’ for that area of incredibly rural W. IL & still has a mostly intact downtown w/ historic buildings.

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