Thursday, May 31, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 22: So Far Away: The Travels of Nils Malkom Nilsen

I am working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

Nils Malkom Nilsen, the maternal great-grandfather of my husband, was a minister for the Swedish Covenant Church, and from his birth in Åsenhöga, Jönköping län, Sweden, to his death in Hilmar, Merced County, California, he lived in at least twelve residences.
  • Åsenhöga, Jönköping län, Sweden
  • Fastorp, Lännäs, Örebro län, Sweden
  • Sheffield, Warren Co, Pennsylvania
  • Youngstown, Mahoning Co, Ohio
  • Cromwell, Middlesex Co, Connecticut
  • Harcourt, Webster Co, Iowa
  • Hilmar, Merced Co, California
  • San Pedro, Los Angeles Co, California
  • Turlock, Stanislaus Co, California
  • Escalon, San Joaquin Co, California
  • Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Co, California
  • Hilmar, Merced Co, California

He studied the ministry in Fastorp, Sweden, before immigrating to the United States to Sheffield, Pennsylvania, where he served at the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church from Spring 1889 to October 1890.

After leaving Sheffield, he next moved in Youngstown, Ohio, at the Swedish Church on Pine. He served there for five years. During that time, his wife died and he received permission returned to Sweden to get another wife.

In Cromwell, Connecticut, he served at the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church and started an orphanage, Cromwell Children’s Home, where he served as the superintendent.

He left for Harcourt, Iowa, in April 1903, and served at the Swedish Evangelical Mission Church for two and a half years. During that time a new church was built.

In 1907, he moved his family (wife and five children) to Hilmar, California. Besides being the minister at the Swedish Mission Covenant Church, he also purchased land to raise crops as a farmer. He was in Hilmar the longest at seven years.

He then served at several California churches: San Pedro, Escalon, and Santa Cruz, where he was in charge of a conference grounds at Mission Springs.

Also in the 1920s, he returned to Sweden to visit family.

The total miles traveled between his hometown in Sweden to his place of death in Hilmar was roughly calculated using online sources such as and

277 km

Åsenhöga to Fastorp
250 km

Fastorp to Malmö
6234 km

Malmö to NYC

329 mi
NYC to Sheffield

120 mi
Sheffield to Youngstown

395 mi
Youngstown to New York
6234 km

NYC to Malmö
258 km

Malmö to Åsenhöga
6492 km

Åsenhöga to NYC

395 mi
NYC to Youngstown

492 mi
Youngstown to Cromwell

1274 mi
Cromwell to Harcourt

1829 mi
Harcourt to Hilmar

311 mi
Hilmar to San Pedro

320 mi
San Pedro to Turlock

28 mi
Turlock to Escalon

108 mi
Escalon to Santa Cruz

107 mi
Santa Cruz to Hilmar
6492 km
2916 mi
Hilmar to Åsenhöga
6492 km
2916 mi
Åsenhöga to Hilmar

Total kilometers traveled was 26,495. For miles, I multiplied this number by 0.621371 and the number of foreign miles was 16,463. The total miles traveled in the U.S. was 11,520.

So, Nils Malkom Nilsen traveled a total of 27,983 miles between residences and the two trips to Sweden! He certainly traveled far in his lifetime.

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Wow, this gentleman must have encountered a lot of interesting people on his travels. Did he keep a diary or write letters that describe his daily life?

  2. I researched the orphanage your ancestor founded and I see that it's still there (with an greatly expanded mission), now called Ädelbrook. Your great-grandfather left a lasting impression on generations of children! From their website: "Ädelbrook was founded in 1900 by the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church. Dedicated and opened as The Swedish Christian Orphanage, its purpose was to “provide a home for homeless and neglected children… and provide not only for the physical needs of a child, but that the Word of God be taught…so that each child may discover the joy and security of a Christian faith.”" (

  3. My husbands' great-grandparents were in Sheffield, Warren Co, Pennsylvania, in the 1889-1890 time period. They were Gus & Louisa Peterson.


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