The John Swenson and Gelena Rea Family

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John Emmanuel Swenson
Gelena Marie Rea

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Parents of John Swenson: Olena Marie Olsdatter Songe (Swenson) and Nils Julius Hessler      Parents of Gelena Rea: Knud Olsen Rye and Astrid Tidemandsdatter Hilmen

Maternal Siblings of John Swenson: Clara    Neal    *   

Siblings of Gelena Rea: O.K.    T.K.    Randy    Guri    Peter    H.K.    Oscar John    *    Emma    Clara   

Children of John and Gelena: Georgie    Esther    Carroll    Wilma    Mamie    John Glenn   


John Emmanuel Swenson, the third of three children born to Mary Pierson Swenson, was born on 17 Jan 1867 in Norse, Texas.

Gelena Marie Rye was born on 29 Jan 1870 to Knud Olsen Rye and Astrid Tidemandsdatter Hilmen, the eighth of ten children. In 1887, while visiting some of her mother's relatives in Michigan, one of Gelena's brothers wrote to her about going to Texas. She returned to Wisconsin to prepare for her forthcoming trip to Texas. She met only with discouragement from her friends, for they had the opinion that Texas was very uncivilized country. On Monday, May 9, 1887, Gelena left Wisconsin for Texas. As the train crossed the Red River into Denison, cowboys bade her welcome to Texas. Gelena arrived in Fort Worth on Thursday and, thinking cowboys were rough and not to be trusted, she hurried to the Pickwick Hotel where she spent the night. The next day she caught the train to Clifton. From Clifton, she engaged a livery to take her to the home of the Rogstad's in Norse where her father and sister Emma were living. On May 17, the anniversary of Norway's independence, Gelena went with the Rogstad's to a picnic on Sugar Loaf Mountain. Gelena recalls the independence day was only celebrated a few more times after that. Later that month, Gelena's younger brother, Oscar John, who was attending Central College at Walnut Springs, came to see her at the Rogstad's. He persuaded her to go back with him. They stayed with their married sister Rangdi who was living near Walnut Springs. When school let, out Gelena and Oscar John went to stay with their uncles near Pottsville in Hamilton County, but in the fall 1887, they went back to Walnut Springs and entered Central College. The following summer (1888), their sister Randy died leaving four children. In the fall of 1888, Gelena taught at Indian Gap in Hamilton County. She probably stayed at the home of her Uncle T.K. At the close of the school year, she went back to the Rogstad’s home in Norse. While attending a party one hot August night (1889) at the Colwick home, an orchestra came to play for the dancing. One of the young men was John Swenson from Clifton. Music hath charms and soon Johnny's fiddle had won Gelena completely. Theirs was a case of love at first sight, and before they parted, John had promised to send Gelena a fan the very next day. Of course, she had to confide in someone, so she confided in Mrs. Rogstad, but being told that John Swenson had so many other girls, she was not surprised when she went to the post office and there was no fan and no mail. But the gift, and also a love letter, arrived very soon -- both having been missent to Norway Mills. However, they did not meet again until the next fall, when Gelena started teaching at Turkey Creek.

Baptismal Record of Gelena Marie Rye (Valders and Gjerpen Lutheran Parish Ministerial Book, 1852-1873, p.43, #31)

Confirmation Record of Gelena Marie Rye (Gibson Lutheran Parish Ministerial Book)

In November of 1891, Gelena and John Swenson were married by Rev. J. K. Rystad at the Norse Church. John and Gelena built a new house in Clifton within a year of their marriage. They had six children and all but the first child were born in this house. John Swenson was working in a store owned by A. Peterson and Chris Grimland when he and Gelena married. John Swenson became a co-investor in this company which was later known as Pierson, Peterson, and Company. In December, 1894, this company declared bankruptcy because of $18,000 in uncollected receivables. As a result of investments in this company, John Swenson filed for personal bankruptcy in March, 1899. John worked for a number of other dry good stores and then went into partnership on a dry good store that he purchased outright in 1907. This store was operated as J. E. Swenson Dry Goods store for over 20 years until uncollectable accounts as a result of the Depression forced a bankrupcy in 1928. John and Gelena spent 1930 and 1931 in Gatesville working with their son-in-law Pat Olsen. They rented out their home in Clifton while gone. When they returned to Clifton, John was with a government project for a couple of years making 25¢ per hour. For about 15 years prior to 1952 (when his eyes got bad), he worked as Secretary and bookkeeper in a book store. John was on the school board, city council, and many civic and church projects. Gelena was a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary (being State president about 1994), the Trinity Lutheran Church Ladies Aid, and the Clifton Civic Improvement Society. John died in 1957 and Gelena died in 1960.


John and Gelena had 6 children. If there is a link, click on one of the children below to see further information on that child.


Georgie Marie Swenson [1892-1979] married George Anderson; 2 children; died at the age of 87


Esther Kyle Swenson [1894-1981] married Palmer "Pat" Olsen; 2 children; died at the age of 86


Carroll Emmanuel Swenson [1896-1970] married Bonnie Kitching; 1 child; died at the age of 73


Wilma Gladyce Swenson [1900-1971] married Obie Mortimer Berry; 2 children; died at the age of 70


Mamie Swenson [1902-1994] married twice (Fred McClenagan & Irwin Covey; no children; died at the age of 91


John Glenn Swenson [1909-1913] died young at the age of 3


John Swenson as a young man
(date unknown)

John & Gelena Swenson wedding photo

John & Gelena Swenson and Family
Back (L to R): Esther, Carroll, Gelena, John
Front (L to R): Wilma, John Glenn, Georgie, Mamie
(exact date unknown; ca 1911-1913)

John & Gelena Swenson with Miscellaneous Family Members
Back (L to R): Georgie Anderson, Gelena Swenson, Bonnie Swenson, Esther Olsen, Mamie McClenagan, Annis Wiland
Front (L to R): John David Swenson, Carroll Swenson, Fred McClenagan, John Swenson
(Swenson home, Clifton TX, date unknown)

John & Gelena Swenson with Grown Children
L to R: Carroll, Mamie, Wilma, Esther, John, Gelena, Georgie
(Swenson home, Clifton TX, date unknown)

John Swenson-Gelena Rea Family Tree (first four generations)

John and Gelena had 6 children, 7 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, and 41 known great great grandchildren. Those shown in blue are known to be deceased.

Forebears First Generation
Second Generation
Third Generation
(great grandchildren)
Fourth Generation
(gg grandchildren)
John Emmanuel Swenson Georgie Marie Swenson Esther Doris Anderson John Ansley Russell III ---
Rebecca Rea Russell Nicholas Craig Melde
Jenna Rea Melde
David Anderson Russell ---
Sarah Ann Russell ---
George Washington Anderson Jr Ellen Claire Anderson Angela Michelle Haupt
Lisa Kristin Haupt
Eric Christopher Haupt
Susan Lynn Anderson Murgesh Ananda Hutson
Shabda David Hutson
Roger Haynes Anderson Jacob Adam Anderson
Sara Eden Anderson
Kristie Lee Anderson Daniel Henry Bartlett
William Joseph Bartlett
David Hamilton Bartlett
Esther Kyle Swenson Virginia Marie Olsen Carol Ann Hubbard Sam Houston Lane IV
John-Patrick Allison Lane
Virginia Sue Hubbard Morgan Camille Tarlton
Jean Ellen Hubbard David Jackson Warren
Robert Clinton Warren
John Barry Hubbard Jr John Barry Hubbard III
Austin Palmer Hubbard
Stuart Kyle Hubbard
Annis Louise Olsen Bruce Lane Wiland ---
Jill Lynn Wiland Robin Renee Allen
Amanda Michelle Allen
Lorra Kyle Allen
Carroll Emmanuel Swenson John David Swenson Christine Swenson ---
John David Swenson Jr Chelsea Swenson
Ellen Kay Swenson ---
Wilma Gladyce Swenson Rea Mortimer Berry Kathleen Diane Berry Mary Kathrene McCoy
Kelley Wren McCoy
Rea Mortimer Berry Jr Erica Rose Berry
Rea Mortimer Berry III
John Andrew Berry ---
Barbara Ann Berry Mark Elwood Brown David Elwood Brown
Michael Bennett Brown
Holly Lyn Brown Kristen Lyn Bainbridge
Chad Richard Bainbridge
Courtney Ann Bainbridge
Camden DaeHan Bainbridge
Barton Berry Brown Berry Thomas Brown
Nathan Douglas Brown
Meredith Brown
Elisabeth Anne Brown
Kelly Lee Brown Graham Walden Foster
Nolan Clemens Foster
Harper Rye Foster
Mamie Olena Swenson --- --- ---
John Glenn Swenson --- --- ---