Excerpt from Trapped In Oregon

Anton Swanson's Diaries

Yes, a New Year has now arrived and we wonder what it has in store. I hope God will be near us and protect his poor children during the coming year as He has done in past years. New Year’s Day: Fine weather, but a cold wind. No work this month either. This has been the worst winter in 20 years in the Western Country. Here in Spokane the snow has been 4 ft deep and the temperature down to 16 below zero. It has been terrible to see the poor guys in town who are both freezing and starving, and who the city must take care of. But fortunately the great minister & preacher Billy Sunday came here, and he collected large amounts and was able to help a lot of roughnecks with room and board. But even so, he struck it rich here in Spokane with his preaching. The last week he was here he took in $11,000 in cash for himself. 28th. Hulda got sick. First we got scared because a woman doctor named Swinger said it was appendicitis. Then we went to another French professor from Paris, Dr. Menetiques, but he was absolutely sure it was not that, so our fears calmed down. He gave Hulda some medicine, but it didn’t help her. Then we went to Dr. Nelson, a Swede, and found out what sickness it was.

February. It was cold, windy and snowed early on, but the weather got better at the end of the month. But there is nothing to do and plenty of men in town. My beloved Hulda still doesn’t feel well. 27th. My dear Hulda left Spokane for Portland to stay with her sister and brother-in-law Linder until she gets to feeling better. She left Spokane at 7 in the evening and at 10 the next day she arrived in Portland. According to the letter I received from her she still felt a bit sick the first days there, just like she had in Spokane. It is a bit cold and windy here in Spokane and nothing to do, but there are plenty of guys. On the 27th I moved from 1503 West 2nd Ave down to Union Hotel on Front Street between Washington and Steven Street. Moved with a Nels Mattson from Småland.

March 1st. Rather nice weather during the first days of the month. 8th. I too left Spokane and went back to Portland where I thought things would be better. When I left at 7 in the evening it was snowing quite hard. The snow was like hail. As usual I couldn’t sleep on the train. When I approached Portland the next day it rained something awful. I then realized that I had left one tough area for one that wasn’t any better. 9th. I arrived in Portland at 10 and went directly to look at the employment listings, but I could immediately see that it almost looked worse than in Spokane. At 3 P.M. I went to Tigardville to see how my dear Hulda was doing. She was feeling a little better now and I was really happy to have her back, as it had been quite lonely in Spokane after she left. 10th. I went to town again to try to find work of some kind and I succeeded. I’m going to sell real estate for the Harding Land Co. in Portland. But after doing it for a couple of days I discovered that there was cheating going on, aimed at me, so I quit before it was too late. Since then I have run all over Portland trying to find work, but have had no luck. 13th. I could have started at the Inman Poulsen Sawmill, but because it had started raining pretty hard I did not want to go there and work outside 11 hours a day, because it is more than I can stand. At the same time I know I am a penniless slave and don’t know what I can do to earn a few dollars for me and my dear Hulda to live on. 21st. Really nice weather. My Hulda is beginning to feel a little better every day and I hope with all my heart that she will get well again so that we can manage, and that poverty will not be too tough on us. 24th. I started working at the Oregon Power and Light Co. where I scale telephone poles for $2 a day. I have an 8hour day and it is pretty nice work, even though it pays poorly. Now it rains a little bit every day.

April 1st. Rain and sunshine every other day. August Lambert from Skåne and I work steady every day. 7th. The first pay day on this job and we heard that we are supposed to get $2.25 a day from the first of this month. We’ll see if it’s true. 8th. My dear Hulda came in to town from Tigardville and we rented a housekeeping room here on 184 Sherman St. One room for $ 6 a month. Hulda is getting better day by day. We’ve had pretty nice weather all month.

May 1st Fine weather. 2nd. There was a pretty good Labor and Socialist Parade here in Portland. In the afternoon the President of the Western Federation of Miners, Wm. D. Haywood, gave a socialist speech at the Skating Rink here. It was a very good speech! 4th. We moved again from Sherman out to16th and Jefferson Street and live in the Jeffersonian Apartments, which are quite nice. 3rd & 4th. Norris and Rows Circus in town. 9th. We went to Tigardville. The weather has been nice these days. (My dear Hulda is beginning to feel quite well again and I hope it will continue to improve. She won’t feel real good until this fall as we expect a little baby.)

June 1st. The days are very nice. 12th. We moved again from Jefferson St back to Sherman St and will see how long we stay here. I and Lamberth from Skåne still work for the same company. Soon we will have been all over Oregon to put up or move light poles. On June 1st the much talked about Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition was opened in Seattle. 7,8,9,10,11,12th . The famous Rose Carnival was here in Portland. It was quite magnificent with illuminations, fire works and electric lighting. The Swedish Rose Float portrayed John Eriksson’s Monitor and a Viking Ship. It was well done and very costly. Plenty of people in town during these days. 23rd. The Swedish Midsummer Night Celebration at the California Building here in Portland. 24th. Midsummer Day and nice weather. The Swedes had a party again with a steamboat trip to Estacada and Oregon City. Nowadays I work around Estacada, Boring, Linds & Oregon City. Pretty nice in that county.