Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Charles Hven

CHARLES HVEN. The careers of many successful men indicate that it is not lack of opportunity so much as inability to make use of such opportunity as exists which holds back and handicaps men in their progress to suitable and useful stations in the world. Charles Hven, one of the leading business men in Garfield, Pawnee County, where he has lived for thirty years, was not born under a lucky star nor with a silver spoon in his mouth, and when he came to America at the age of twenty-one he would have been naturally looked upon as a poor Swedish immigrant. In getting ahead in the world he merely cultivated opportunities that lay beside his path and he has since attained some of the best prizes of life, business prosperity, established position and influence, and home and family.

Mr. Hven during his active career as a farmer in Pawnee County was closely associated as a partner with his brother, Peter E., who is also a well known resident of Garfield. These brothers were both born near the City of Eksjo in the District of Smoland, Sweden, Charles born on May 12, 1854, and Peter E. on January 16, 1857. Their father, J. P. Hven, after thirty years of service in the regular army of Sweden was discharged with a pension. The name Hven was given to him when he entered the army. He was from the Village of Hvenshult. When the officer gave him a surname in addition to Swanson, the family name, he added the first part of Hvenshult, and ever afterwards he was known as Hven, and the family name Swanson disappeared. J. P. Hven married Christina Zackrison. Their children were: Charles; Peter E.; Sophie, wife of Gus Lindborg, of Saronville, Nebraska; John E., of Lindsborg, Kansas; Gus, who also came to the United States and was last heard of in Chicago.

Charles Hven grew up on a farm in Sweden, and, while there had the advantages of the Swedish schools. During the last three years he spent in Sweden he worked on government railroad construction. At the age of twenty-one he left Sweden in company with other people from his home community, sailing from Gothenburg and after ten days on the Atlantic landed in Castle Garden, New York. He had not a dollar in his pocket when he landed but as his ticket read to Woodhull, Illinois, he traveled to his destination, where he joined his uncles. There he secured a job as a farm hand at $20 a month. After two months he went into the harvest fields of Iowa, where he was paid wages of $2.50 a day. The wages at that time seemed a small fortune in comparison to the rewards paid to labor in the old country. After the ending of harvest he returned to Henry County, Illinois, and worked in the broom corn fields at corn husking and other work until the end of the season. He continued to live there four years and worked throughout as a farm hand. He was thrifty and careful in money matters and on coming to Kansas from Illinois he had a small share of capital.

While living in Illinois he became acquainted with Doctor Swenson, who subsequently was president of Bethany College at Lindsborg, Kansas. Mr. Hven felt that the chief obstacle in the way of a successful career in America was his lack of education. On coming to Kansas he consulted with Doctor Swenson, who advised him to go through school and if he could not pay all his expenses the school would give him credit. "I know you are good," said Doctor Swenson. As a result of this encouragement and his own determination he entered Bethany in 1882, did four years of collegiate work and was graduated with a diploma in 1886 equipping him as a teacher.

It was only a short while after he graduated from Bethany that he came out to Pawnee County in 1887. He was then unmarried and locating in Pleasant Ridge Township he and his brother Peter began farming. They had enough money between them to pay for one quarter section of land and to make a payment on another quarter. The Santa Fe Railway Company sold them lands at about $7 an acre. As a result of bad crop years that followed the brothers were unable to finish paying out on one quarter section and had to give it up. Gradually the seasons became better and from the proceeds of their crops they subsequently bought another section in the same township, and this with sixty-five acres adjacent to Garfield comprised the holdings of the Hven brothers in Pawnee County. Mr. Charles Hven after leaving the farm became manager of the Rock Mill and Elevator Company at Garfield, and has built up that institution to flourishing proportions and is still conducting it.

Not long after coming to Pawnee County Mr. Charles Hven married Miss Selma Peterson, who was born on the Island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. She died in 1899. She came to the United States with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Peterson, who settled in Garfield, Kansas. Mr. Peterson for a time worked as a section hand on the railway, and later was a farmer. Both he and his wife died in Pawnee County. The Peterson children were: Hannah, wife of Oscar Dolquist, of Garfield; Lena widow of J. A. Nelson, of Garfield; Peter, a farmer near Garfield; Selma Augusta, Mrs. Hven; Emma, who married Aaron Nelson and lives near Garfield; and Charles, who is a farmer and is now serving as mayor of Garfield.

Mr. and Mrs. Hven have three children. Lydia is a graduate of Bethany College, has a life teacher's certificate and is now teaching in the high school at Garfield. Reuben also graduated from Bethany and after his graduation spent a winter in Colorado as a sugar chemist, then taught science in Antigo High School in Wisconsin, but is now at the Government arsenal at Edgewood, Maryland, as a chemist. The daughter Julia is now a member of the senior class in Bethany College.

During all his residence in and around Garfield Mr. Hven has taken an active interest in local affairs. For a number of years he served as trustee of Garfield Township, and for a dozen years has been clerk of the Garfield School Board. He is an active member of the Swedish Lutheran Church, in which he has served as deacon and church clerk, and also as organist for the congregation.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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