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Swede-Finn Farmstead Listed on U.S. National Register


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by Dick and Nancy Erickson

The Jonas and Maria Lovisa Erickson farmstead located near Rochester, Washington (USA) has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior effective February 21, 2002.


Jonas, Alfred and Maria Lovisa Erickson (about 1905)

Jonas Erickson (1853-1936) and his wife Maria Lovisa (Henriksdotter) (1852-1935) emigrated to the United States from Maans, Esse, Finland in 1895 with their son Alfred. The family settled in the Rochester (Independence), Washington area along with a few others from their homeland. Subsequently they were joined by many other Swede-Finns and Finns from the Vasa, Finland area.


Jonas and Maria Lovisa Erickson’s home at Maans, Esse, Finland (about 1893, before their emigration)

Maria Lovisa’s family - Alice Sundqvist, Håkan and Gunborg Sundqvist and Ann-Sofi (Sundqvist) and Leif Gäddnäs - continue to reside in Finland on the family property: Påvall, Ytteresse, dating from the 1500’s. Jonas Erickson’s home was moved from Maans, Esse to Lappfors in about 1905.

Margaret Forsman (1891-1976) was born in Kotka, Finland and moved to the U.S. when she was 8 years old. She married Alfred Erickson (1877-1948) and together they raised six children: Leroy, Gladys, Carl, Edward, Mildred and Donald, on the farm.

The Erickson property was listed on the national register for its significance in illustrating the development of a farm from previously forested area, also known as a ‘cut-over farm’. “These types of farmsteads were an important part of the agricultural history of Western Washington and particularly Thurston County which was initially heavily forested and drew many Scandinavian settlers,” according to Shanna Stevenson from the Thurston County Historic Commission.

Working on the Farm (1914)

Andrew Johnson, Jonas Erickson, Margaret Erickson, Leroy Erickson (child) and Maria Lovisa Erickson

Upon their purchase of the farm, originally 80 acres, the Ericksons slowly cleared the land of stumps to eventually grow hay and feed grains as well as to pasture dairy cows. Subsequently they purchased an additional 80 acres, for a total of 160 acres. All of the land was initially heavily forested and was slowly cleared using mechanical methods, explosives and burning. Over the years the family engaged in the production of various agricultural specialties including poultry, eggs and dairy. Other crops included potatoes as well as fruits such as apples, pears, cherries and walnuts.


Erickson Farmstead (1914)


Erickson Farmstead (1997)

The farm is still owned by Dick and Nancy, Edward, Mildred, and Stan and Sandy Erickson. Dick and Stan are the great-grandsons of Jonas and Maria Lovisa who purchased the property in 1897. It has been in the family since that time. The family has long been associated with the ethnic heritage of the area and historically participated in the church and community affairs. They continue to be actively involved in the local “Swede Day” events in Rochester which occur during the mid-summer celebration.

The farmstead features an 1890 era house as well as an historic woodshed, summer kitchen, granary, barn, milk house, chicken house, outhouse, tractor shed and garage, making it one of the most complete farmsteads in the county. All of the existing structures continue to be in excellent condition.


The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect the Nation’s historic and archeological resources. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service under the Secretary of the Interior. Properties listed in the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structure and objects that are significant in American History, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.

Designated properties contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundation of the United States. Americans, like others, are proud of their heritage and are honored when properties are listed in their communities. Historic properties are tangible links with the Nation’s past and help provide a sense of identity and stability.

The Erickson farmstead also has been listed on the Thurston County Register of Historic Places and the Washington State Register of Historic Places. In addition, the family received the 2002 President’s award presented by the State of Washington for outstanding achievement in historic preservation.

For further information, contact:

  • Dick and Nancy Erickson (253-941-8315) or
  • Shanna Stevenson, Thurston County Historic Commission (360-786-5222)

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