Swedish Immigrants in Rhode Island

Interviews with members of Swedish immigrant families who settled in Rhode Island. 

  • Ed Hahne in Florida, 2015. Photo by Lorraine Colson Bloomquist
  • In the late 1880s through the early 1900s, Providence, Rhode Island, Boston and other cities in New England became a destination for many Swedish immigrants with industrial skills. Lorraine Colson Bloomquist interviewed members of five Swedish immigrant families that settled in Rhode Island in this series of stories.

  • Ed Hahne in Florida, 2015. Photo by Lorraine Colson Bloomquist
  • Edward Hahne
    Both of Edward Hahne’s parents, Linnea and Knute, were born in Bohusland, Sweden. Times were hard in the 20s, so they decided to immigrate to the United States in 1924, leaving behind Linnea’s parents and two sisters. Two brothers immigrated, too.

  • Lorraine Colson Bloomquist interviewed members of Swedish immigrant families that settled in Rhode Island in this series of stories. (RISHA Logo)
  • Knute arrived in the U.S. first in order to establish an occupation and a home. His skills were in utilities, so he secured an electrician position at NE Power Company in Boston, Massachusettes working on large transformers. Later he worked in a coal power company in nearby Malden.

  • Knowing no English, his first words were learned in a diner ordering “ham and eggs.” After Linnea arrived and they were raising children, only English was spoken at home. Being most proud of their new land, they wanted to speak the tongue of America. Every Sunday, the American flag flew proudly at their home. The Hahnes were proud to be self-sufficient, hard working Americans and made it on their own in the new land.

  • After they moved to Malden, Greta was born in 1928 and Ed followed seven years later. In 1945, Knute, also a skilled carpenter, built a house overlooking the ocean in Warwick, where the children grew up and attended Aldrich High School.

  • Social life included gathering with Swedes at Gloria Dei Church, where the children were confirmed and married. Knute was a reserved person, but Linnea, a homebody and ever the social person, sang in the choir; once a month she was soloist at the Swedish service. Later she joined Pilgrim Church in Warwick. Active in the women’s activities she was a skilled crafts person and braided beautiful wool rugs. A familiar photo shows her Swedish style braids wrapped around her head.

  • Swedish artifacts of Edward Hahne
    -A wooden ironing tool measuring about 25” x 6” long was found by Knute Hahne in the North Sea. The date 1801 is carved into it, along with some other unknown letters. Also carved on the handle is a Dala horse. Used on full-rigger sailing ships , the tool appears to be used for of ironing ships’ sheets.
    -A wooden oarlock, fishing line holder was used on fishing boats in the North Sea. Ed brought it to America. The top is a cow’s horn, fit on a pointed holder made of wood, which fits into the oarlock hold on the dory. The fishing line ran across the top of the horn to keep it from being tangled and caught in the boat.

  • By Lorraine Colson Bloomquist
    Professor Emerita of University of Rhode Island Dept. of Kinesiology, member of Quahog Lodge, Vasa and member of the Board of RI Swedish Heritage Association