[1855–1881 Manuscript Account Book owned by Swedish-American, carpenter and cabinetmaker, Olof Peter Ahlgren in Sweden and Chicago].
In Swedish & English, from carpenter to (bookbinder?) to cabinetmaker
Olof Peter Ahlgren (1823-1906) is listed as a carpenter at the rear of 90 Front Street in Chicago in the 1876 Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago.
By the 1880 US Federal Census, Olof’s occupation is recorded as a cabinet maker. Olof lives with his wife Bingta (1826–?) but with no children. The couple board a plumber. Two next door neighbors are also cabinet makers, one from Sweden, the other Germany. One of Olof Peter’s children, Olof H. Ahlgren (1851–1917) emigrated to America in 1871. He became a Chicago grocer and tea merchant and then a prominent proprietor for over twenty-five years of the Hotel Stockholm at 52–56 East Chicago Avenue.
From his son’s biography, we learn that, in Sweden, Olof Peter was a farmer, parish school master, and legal counselor, but in America he was known as a carpenter. Olof Peter’s accounts are divided into income on one side and, in reverse and inverted, with expenses. Both sections span approximately twenty-five years. We speculate that Ahlgren began his account book in Sweden and then continued with it once in America. Since we know Ahlgren was a parish school master in Sweden, this seems logical; we see numerous entries for school books that he apparently sold in the year 1858, and possibly an entry for bookbinding.
By 1880 we see entries for making bureaus, show cases, cornices, putting marble tops on tables, and cabinetry and carpentry. It also appears as if Ahlgren’s wife took in some money as a washerwoman. The expenses are dense and numerous.
By a number of printed and manuscript Chicago billheads and receipts, clearly, the Ahlgrens were settled in Chicago by the mid-1870s. Of note, loosely inserted is a string-tied 12 page letter, in small 8vo format, from Olof Peter Ahlgren to a son, Johannes Samuel.
Description: [1855–1881 Manuscript Account Book owned by Swedish-American, carpenter and cabinetmaker, Olof Peter Ahlgren in Sweden and Chicago].
[Sweden & Chicago: 1855–1881]. About 185 manuscript pages. Narrow folio. 13½ x 4 inches. Calf-backed spine, marbled boards. Densely written in Swedish and English in black and violet purple ink. Laid in: a letter, billheads, receipts, notes, partly-printed form, trade card, etc.
Ref. Olson, The Swedish element in Illinois… (Chicago, 1917), p. 503.