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Finding Katahdin Document Packets, Chapter 8, Section 4

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William W. Thomas Jr., New Sweden, ca. 1920

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William W. Thomas Jr., New Sweden, ca. 1920 / Maine Historical Society

Chapter 8, page 252.

William Widgery Thomas was born in Portland in 1839 and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1860. He was sent to Sweden as a "war consul" by President Abraham Lincoln.

Thomas 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.

He helped 51 Swedes, representing various skills and trades, come to Maine. They 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.