Day 386 - Shickley
In the early 1870s Swedish immigrants began settling in Fillmore County between the present towns of Shickley and Ong. About two and one-half miles west of Shickley on Route 74, a Nebraska state historic marker identifies the Stockholm Lutheran Church and Swedish Cemetery. The marker reads, in part: “As the settlement grew these pioneers considered the need for a church, organized a congregation in 1875 and purchased six acres of land, although meetings were held in a school house and member’s homes until 1881, when the first church was built… By 1900 the old church was too small… The present church, a thirty-six by sixty foot frame structure with Gothic-Revival detailing, was constructed in that year at a cost of $3549. The congregation continued to use the Swedish language occasionally for worship until 1937.” The church and the Swedish cemetery are located one mile south and one-half mile west of this marker.
The congregation has dwindled, but the church is being lovingly preserved. The interior walls and ceiling of the sanctuary are covered by white embossed tin. There is a particularly attractive carved balcony balustrade. The altar, altar rail, and pulpit, white with gold trim, are original to the building, but the old pews were stolen by vandals. The sanctuary is graced by a large Olof Grafström altar painting of Christ in Gethsemane. The buildings exterior is white clapboard with a central bell tower and red-shingled steeple, visible for miles across the flat Nebraska farmland. The cemetery is well maintained with impressive gravestones, some with Swedish inscriptions.
In contrast to the well-preserved Shickley church, the nearby town of Ong is in a serious state of deterioration. Its red-brick, Gothicwstyle Lutheran church is now abandoned, as is the local school formerly used by Swedish Americans.
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