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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Malmo -- Saunders County

Malmo, established as a Swedish colony, revolved around its church, school, and people - working together to "help each other."
Malmo's main street in the 1900s.

The town of Malmo and surrounding area is inhabited principally by Swedes. Pastor S.G. Larson came to Nebraska from Sweden in 1869, looking for a good location for homesteaders. He urged his countrymen to settle as a colony so they could form a church and help each other.

Levi Issacson was the first to arrive. Andrew Blomberg came two weeks later with 35 countrymen from Dalcadia. They purchased "moving wagons" covered with sailcloth. Their furnishings consisted of items such as, small iron cook stoves, a Swedish chest, a plow, heirloom possessions, clothing, a few utensils, a Bible, hymnal, and devotion book. When they headed west from Omaha, they were diverted by high water and found themselves in Saunders County. The area looked promising, so they proceeded to file their claims.

The other prominent names at this time were Ostenberg, Bredenberg, Helsing, Bostrom, Bruce, Rosenberg, Nelson, Larson, Ljungstrom, Olson, Frostrom, Ericson, and Person. Over the next 15 years, their numbers increased as more families earned passage to the new world.

Supplies had to be purchased from Fremont, North Bend, or Ashland. The Pawnee Indians caused some concern, but, as a whole, trouble was rare. The colony was excited when a railroad, engineered by the Omaha & North Platte Railway and leased to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, was built along Cottonwood Creek in 1886. A village was platted in August 1887 and named "Malmo," for a city in Sweden. The town was incorporated in June 1893.

Edensburgh Lutheran Church had been organized in 1870, soon after the first settlers arrived. When Malmo was platted, a new church was built in the town site. After a 1914 fire, the church was rebuilt. The 100th anniversary of this congregation was observed in 1970 and the 115th celebrated in 1985. Traditional parochial school was taught every summer.

A Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church was organized in 1876 as an outgrowth of the Lutheran Church, and an American Lutheran Church was established in 1884 by German immigrants. A Congregational Church was established in 1895 and a Presbyterian Church organized in 1904 by English-speaking families, with meetings held in the town hall and schoolhouse.

An early mail drop was at "Isla," and from 1883-86 it was at "Edensburgh." The Malmo post office was established in 1887 with Gustaf Bredenberg, as postmaster. An air mail flight was made in 1938, west of town.

Malmo School District 36 was started in 1872 just east of town, and in 1902 a four-room school with a full basement was built. It was an accredited high school from 1936-1958. In 1981 a new grade school was build and the old school building torn down.

A bank was founded in 1892 by W.H.Ostenberg, and also a state bank owned by J.W.Dailey from 1913-30. After the "Farmer's Holiday" a Farmers & Merchants Bank was formed (1934) and renamed "Security Home Bank" which serves us today.

Malmo had a newspaper called the "Malmo Clipper" in 1892 founded by J.T.Camp. There was also a cigar factory, a cement block factory, two photographers, two undertakers and furniture stores, three doctors, and several dentists. While Malmo's population is currently about 100, it is said that in 1916 the number of residents was close to 400. Malmo has a number of new homes and many new farm houses, which reflects progress and good management.

Malmo has an efficient fire department of 35 men. A proud and active Legion and auxiliary, of about 80 members each, hosts an annual benefit auction for eight charities. In 1987 over $4,000 was netted.

With modern transportation and marketing, the railroad line was discontinued in 1982. It is difficult for small towns to survive, but we like small town living, the simple pleasures, the friendliness found here, and appreciate the effort and hardships of those who established the community.

Malmo celebrated its centennial in 1987. Many events were scheduled to interest both the young and old, and all were well attended.

By Deloris Lindgren, Rte 1, Box 83, Malmo, NE 68040

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Malmo History, 1987 , a 92-page book.