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Church organized in Swedish community

January
16
1897

On this day in 1897, the Bethlehem congregation was organized in Lund, Texas. Lund, in northeastern Travis County, was settled by Swedes in the late 1880s. The community was the center of a large Swedish agricultural settlement that arose as an extension of the New Sweden area, about four miles west. The first settlers in Lund were N. M. Anderson, August Thornquist, and Gustaf Seaholm. In the 1890s other Swedish families moved into the community. In a letter dated January 23, 1896, two settlers described the unique character of the community to their relatives back in Sweden: "West of us there live nothing but Swedes for a distance of about sixteen miles. East and south and north of us there lives a mixed population of Americans, Germans, Bohemians, Negroes, and Mexicans, so it is certainly a strange mixture." The Bethlehem congregation in Lund was established in 1897, with nineteen communicants and twenty children. The congregation was given 1½ acres of land by P. V. Nelson, Nels Ankarstolpe, and J. E. Rivers, and an additional acre was given for a community graveyard. The church was built in the fall of 1899. On April 7, 1980, a tornado severely damaged Lund. The Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Lund was lifted from its foundation and had to be demolished. A large brick structure with a bell tower was built to replace the historic church.

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