Strömsund in 1919

Modern Times in Strömsund in the Year of 1919

One of the first settlers in New Stockholm, Saskatchevan, Canada, Mrs Gunilla Zakrisson recently passed away in her home. She was born in Ström, Sweden in 1847, and she is one of those persons who left Sweden for a more tolerable life in the West. By the time of her death, the large emigration westward has slowed down due to a better situation in Sweden. After a long time of suffering, when the effects of the first World War such as starvation, the Spanish flu, typhoid and diphtheria have been part of everyday life, things are getting better also in the small town of Strömsund, despite some small outbreaks here and there of the Spanish flu.


This is a steamship from 1900 - 1919, in Strömsund


In this year, the total population is about 6 500 individuals, of which 188 are newborn citizens and 350 have moved into the town. 250 people moved out from the town during this year, and about 100 people died here. This means that the population has increased by approximately 190 people.
Possibly, the peace treaty will be signed in a few months and it seems that prospects for entrepreneurs are getting brighter. On February 11, the fair in Ström was well attended and sales were good. Plans about setting up a bank in the city are being discussed. The new railway truck is constructed right through the sports field. Among others, the successful soccer team in Strömsund demand that a new sports field be constructed. People are of the opinion that it is especially important for the young people because the district needs a healthy and strong youth.
Yet another sign of better times for the inhabitants of Strömsund is the fact that food restrictions are relieved. As from February 24, you get two lumps of sugar with your coffee instead of just one in cafés and restaurants. At this time, the Government has also abolished the prohibition of sifting rye; that is, you can sell sifted rye because times are now better. You are even allowed to by 50 grams more butter than usual.


Trade and Industry

The professional category which is still considered the most important of all are the strong and healthy lumberjacks, who are the "backbone" of the industry of Northern Jämtland. Another important category is the farmers, who provide families with all the necessary staple food they can ever think of. The hard struggle in the charcoal stacks is continued as need for home produced charcoal is high.
The rapid development of the Sulphite Factory has awakened the local people's interest in the opportunities of the home district and they are willing to help with financial support and labour, which will be the corner stone in the industry of Northern Jämtland. Now, material as well as spiritual life is pulsating in a faster pace, outlooks are broadened due to the construction of the inland railway line which also creates more vacant jobs.
The eight-hour working day is introduced, but a few companies apply for exemption, among them the Sulphite Factory, because they are of the opinion that they cannot carry out reorganisations that rapidly. Their apply is responded to and they are granted exemption to July 1, 1920.
Not only is the municipal nurse granted rent-free living and free firewood but also 1000 SKr. more a year in wages. The other local government employees also receive their share - maybe not as much as a thousand krona but at least some hundred krona more a year.

Help to Poor People

The Poor Relief Committee in the municipality proposes that additional pension benefits should be paid to those who are less well off. On November 27, a proposition is put forward that those who have lived in the municipality for the last 10 years should get 100 SKr. (men) and 85 SKr. (women) respectively.
The local government committee and the local councillor's committee propose a change that people who have been living in the municipality for 5 years should be entitled to 125 SKr (men) and 110 Skr. (women) respectively. The proposal is accepted, as are other proposals, which support the poorest people in the municipality.
On Children's Day, on July 27, 1.662 Skr. has been collected and the children's holiday camp are allotted 1.000 Skr., lay worker's organisation gets 400 Skr, and the rest, 262 SKr. is used for buying clothes for infants.


The Election on April 24, 1919
'The farmers' party' ( Lantmannalistan) received 724 votes, workers' party (arbetarepartiet) 517 and the liberals (frisinnade) 293. Among the 14 elected councillors, there are 2 women. The youth is advancing and are founding a youth association in the beginning of May. The association covers Strömsund and its surroundings. Their goal is to create an open, national spirit and a growing sense of responsibility towards the country and the society. When the youth convention was held on July 15 at the church of Ström, one thousand people from Östersund attended the meeting. The subject for discussion was 'women and society' and the youth's attitude to the new times.
Women's role in the temperance movement is significant and meetings are held where it is discussed whether we should allow liquor at all, at the same time as the farmers in Skåne (Scania) propose that it should be allowed to make aquavit out of remaining potatoes. However, for moral reasons, the temperance movement does not accept the proposal as long as people are starving in the European countries suffering from war.
On the whole, the position of women has strengthened also in such a small town as Strömsund. It is possible that the Government's benevolence towards women's right to vote has increased her self-confidence and engagement. However, two more years will pass before she will be allowed at the ballot box.


Infrastructure

There are two steamboats frequenting lake Vattudal. One of them is the "Turisten" (Tourist), owned by Mrs. Hedvig Bylund. Besides, it gets licence to serve wine, spirits and beer. The other steamer 'Virgo' is nice and spacious after a reconstruction which was lead by captain Åström.
The steamer "Viking" is a passenger steamer, frequenting lake Flåsjön, with its timetable adjusted to the departing and arriving trains in Lövberga.
The somewhat more primitive cable-ferry is frequenting the short distance over the sound of Stamsele (Stamselesundet). It can take one automobile, two horses and 20-25 people. It is not quite safe to take that ferry, especially not in the autumn and there have been some accidents, since security is not always the best.
The contrast between the new and the old gets significant when you think about the farmer, who, as so many generations before him, drives his loaded cart on the ice-covered lake, at the same time as the 'aeronaut' captain Saunders is flying over the same lake Vattudal at the speed of 108 kilometres per hour.


Some houses in Ulriksfors and close to them we can see the railwaytracks and the station.
In 1919


After the aeroplane, the fastest vehicle is the automobile, but there is still not that many in the streets of the town. Automobiles are considered luxury articles and it is only the rich people who can afford them.
There is still some excitement when an automobile is seen, and especially the children are curious. A power main is developed at high speed and every household will have electricity within a few years time. The railway system is developed in all parts of Sweden and the inland railway line reaches every small place in Northern Jämtland.
The telephone has made its appearance but just like the automobile, it is not yet the property of everyone.


Night Life is Harmful!

Just as in our days, there are protests about the unhealthy night life of the youth. Therefore, it was decided that a parents and teacher's meeting should be held on Sunday, November 20, 1919. The person who summoned the meeting was Rev. Löfvenmark who emphasises the need of a stronger co-operation between school and home. At the same time, it was pointed out emphatically that the youth should be thought to show greater love and reverence to their home and parents, as well as to obey them and their spokesmen.
A general prohibition of school children to stay outside after eight in the evening is issued and shopkeepers are forbidden to sell tobacco and cigarettes to under juveniles.


The Most Fashionable Street in Town

Despite the fact that Strömsund is a small town, it can boast of city-like buildings at Storgatan (Main Street). A century of development has given Storgatan a quiet dignity - a dignity that is the result of the hard struggle of making Northern Jämtland what it is. The street is an important meeting point, especially when something important happens, such as for instance when people walked in procession and celebrated the Peace of Versailles on June 30, 1919. People were riding and carrying banners and flags, and those who did not walk, stood by the side, watching the procession and smiling happily.
On Sundays, you walk up and down this street, window-shopping. Centrally, close to the church is the jeweller's shop owned by R and S Sunding - a shop which ladies might like to visit. The men are looking at the modern suits in O. Ohlsson's tailor's shop and men's outfitter's, which by the way is the largest tailor's shop in Northern Jämtland.
Storgatan has many shops to offer - booksellers, shoe shop, garment's shop and a butcher's. The most modern building in the town is the Grand Hotell, which has heating, water closets and even telephones in the rooms. The hotel is much frequented especially during winter, because the area can offer a wide range of winter sport activities.

The new times involve a lot of change and, above all, improvements for the population in Strömsund. In conclusion, it can be argued that the foundation of a democratic society is laid during this year, as well as the foundation of the secure and safe Swedish Welfare State.

Written by Maud Holmberg and Tina Fagerstöm


Sources:

Internet: Strömsund´s webpage.

Strömsboken b. Arne Rosenberg.

Interview with and old man who lives and was raised in Strömsund