William W. Thomas Jr., New Sweden, ca. 1920
Click on the image to zoom. Click and drag your mouse over the image to move it left or right. Use the small navigation window to select the area you wish to zoom on.
Purchase a reproduction of this item on VintageMaineImages.com.
William Widgery Thomas (1839-1927), of Portland was an 1860 graduate of Bowdoin College and was "war consul" to Sweden in 1860.
He was impressed with Sweden and the people there and advocated for Swedish immigration in Maine. In 1870, the Maine Legislature approved his plan to establish the colony of New Sweden north of Caribou.
Fifty-one Swedes representing various skills and trades arrived in New Sweden July 23, 1870. Thomas referred to these settlers as his "children in the woods" and they referred to him as "Father Thomas."
He lived among them for one or two years in his own log cabin. By 1895 New Sweden had grown to 1,500 residents.
Please post your comment below to share with others. If you'd like to privately share a comment or correction with MMN staff, please use this form.