Ours is a nation of immigrants. Peter Linden was one such immigrant.
Peter and his wife, Mary, entered the United States in 1864 and settled in the Baileytown area of northern Porter County. The Lindens entered through Minnesota to Chicago and on to Porter County.
The Swedish came to America for religious freedom and employment opportunities. Between 1851 and 1930 1.2 million Swedes migrated to America. An estimated 25 percent of the Swedish population left that country by 1900. By that date, Chicago had more Swedish residents than Stockholm. At the beginning of the 20th century, approximately 44 percent of all Swedes in Indiana lived in its northwest corner.
Joseph Bailey laid out Baileytown by the 1830s, but it continued to be a rural community. Baileytown was located near and around Joseph Bailey's home. The Swedes of Baileytown were drawn to the settlement because of its agricultural acreage — once logged off. It is reported that Bailey recruited Swedes to log and work his sawmill. These early Swedish loggers' reputations were not very flattering.
The Augsburg Church was built in 1864, which drew more families to the area. The area retained its Swedish language, religion and customs. By World War I, the Augsburg Church service changed to English from Swedish, but not without struggle.
By 1870 Linden owned 10 acres of cultivated land and 90 unimproved. In 1869 Linden produced 10 tons of hay and 300 pounds of butter. He owned two horses, four milk cows and two swine. In 1880 Linden planted Indian corn, wheat, hay, rye and Irish potatoes.
The Linden home is a distinctive example of folk architecture using unique Swedish cabin construction methods. I would estimate that the Linden cabin was built between 1865 and 1870. The home has been altered over the years. It originally was built as a two-room, hall-and-parlor log cabin and later modified to a L-shaped building with a side gable roof and covered with both lap and asphalt siding.
The Linden cabin was moved twice within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and in 2007 it was moved to Countryside Park in Portage. Due to lack of restoration funds, the cabin was offered to any person or organization that would restore it. The Kankakee Valley Historical Society offered to save it. The Linden cabin is similar in size as the 1836 Eaton Ferry cabin at Baum's Bridge. By June 2013, the Linden cabin was disassembled and moved to the Collier Lodge site at Baum's Bridge.
Now begins the work of restoring the cabin. KVHS plans to accomplish this through volunteer donated services and monetary contributions. New timbers are needed to replace those lost through deterioration. We are seeking the volunteer services of all classes of tradesmen for this project, especially those with traditional historic home or cabin experience.
This is will be a community project requiring the efforts of those interested in preserving our Hoosier pioneer history. I invite you to visit our KVHS website and view our Linden cabin web page. Please, contact me with your offer of help with this project.
Much of the material for this column was contributed by the National Parks Service, Judith Collins and Eileen Starr.