From North River to Swedish Bethel
Hedstrom's original appointment to the North River Mission was designed to meet a broad variety of needs in a multiethnic immigrant community. Four years later, the wording of the assignment was changed to Swedish Bethel. Given the initial Swedish congregation, escalating Swedish immigration, and a Swedish pastor of Hedstrom's caliber and energy, the direction of the Bethel Ship ministry was inevitable, if not predictable. It should be noted that from the beginning, the Swedish congregation was the only Bethel Ship membership officially recorded and reported.
Two parties arriving from Sweden in 1845 and receiving hospice on the Bethel Ship were forerunners of a burgeoning Swedish emigration movement that became known in that country as "America Fever." Each party played a notable role in Swedish immigrant history. Less than two months after the inauguration of the Bethel Ship program, on August 11, 1945, the bark Superb sailed into the harbor with Peter Cassel and twenty other Swedes, mainly relatives and neighbors. Most were from Kisa Parish in Östergötland, Sweden.1 Influenced by letters from earlier emigrants Polycarpus von Schneidau and Gustaf Unonius, they intended to settle in Wisconsin. While recuperating on the Bethel Ship from the long voyage, Cassel and his compatriots met Peter Dahlberg, who had explored substantial portions of the Midwest and who was awaiting the arrival of his wife and family. Dahlberg's glowing account of the rich Iowa soil impressed Cassel, causing the party to change its travel plans. They established New Sweden in Jefferson County, Iowa, and became the "first emigrant group to leave a defined area in Sweden to settle in