The Hedstroms and the Bethel Ship Saga: Methodist Influence on Swedish Religious Life

By Henry C. Whyman; Kenneth E. Rowe | Go to book overview

2
Steps Toward the Methodist Ministry

On May 27, 1833, Olof Gustaf Hedstrom boarded the brig Standard, bound for Bremen. The ultimate destination was Sweden, his first return to his native land from which he had departed eight years earlier. He took with him a well-bound book of blank pages upon which he intended to write a travel journal.1 Unfortunately, the journal is less complete than we should desire. The entries are sporadic and end with his arrival at his brother's home in Lyckeby, Sweden. For information about succeeding events, we are dependent upon reports made following his return to New York.

The journal is nonetheless a valuable resource for a study of Olof Gustaf Hedstrom. There could not be many (if any) such diaries of a returning Swedish immigrant as early as 1833. In addition to its rarity, it is the only diary Hedstrom ever kept, so far as is known. Like all autobiographical statements, it is self-revealing. We see the intensity of his spiritual commitment and the rigid standards by which he lived. From the very beginning Hedstrom considered the journey a missionary venture in every respect. There are also intimations that he received confirmation of the direction in which his life would move. His Sweden experiences, with satisfying and successful results, erased all doubts and confirmed his timid impulse toward Christian mission. No longer would he be satisfied with a business career in the clothing industry.

The desire to visit his family in Sweden is understandable. He had left suddenly and probably without taking appropriate farewell -- doubtless with the intention of a reasonably early return. As communication between the continents was difficult, there had been no contact between Hedstrom and

-11-

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The Hedstroms and the Bethel Ship Saga: Methodist Influence on Swedish Religious Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - The Unintentional Immigrant 1
  • 2 - Steps Toward the Methodist Ministry 11
  • 3 - The Circuit Rider 27
  • 4 - Hedstrom's Relation to the Läsare 40
  • 5 - Peter Bergner, Pioneer Missionary 58
  • 6 - The Bethel Ship John Wesley 77
  • 7 - From North River to Swedish Bethel 87
  • 8 - Jenny Lind 104
  • 9 - Jonas Hedstrom Migrates West 114
  • 10 - Bishop Hill and Victor Witting 126
  • 11 - From Ship to Scandinavian Shores 138
  • 12 - An Accomplished Mission 153
  • Notes 159
  • Index 179
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