New Sweden, Maine

New Sweden, Maine
—  Town  —
Location of New Sweden, Maine
Coordinates: 46°57′34″N 68°6′17″W / 46.95944°N 68.10472°W / 46.95944; -68.10472
Country United States
State Maine
County Aroostook
 – Total 34.7 sq mi (89.9 km2)
 – Land 34.7 sq mi (89.9 km2)
 – Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 636 ft (194 m)
Population (2000)
 – Total 621
 – Density 17.9/sq mi (6.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 04762
Area code(s) 207
FIPS code 23-49415
GNIS feature ID 0582625

New Sweden is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, United States. The population was 621 at the 2000 census.



Starting in 1870, a Swedish-immigrant colony was established by the State of Maine in Aroostook County. The State of Maine had appointed William W. Thomas, Jr., who had served as American Consul in Sweden during the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, to be State Immigration Commissioner. On March 23, 1870 the Legislature passed an Act authorizing a Board of Immigration and Thomas was named Commissioner of Immigration. Thomas went to Sweden, recruited the first 51 immigrants, and led them into the township that became New Sweden. Early hardships were overcome and the colony prospered and grew into the neighboring townships of Westmanland (1879), Stockholm (1881) and the surrounding areas.[1]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 34.7 square miles (90 km2), of which, 34.7 square miles (90 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.09%) is water.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 621 people, 247 households, and 179 families residing in the town. The population density was 17.9 people per square mile (6.9/km²). There were 319 housing units at an average density of 9.2 per square mile (3.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 95.17% White, 0.16% African American, 1.29% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 0.16% from other races, and 2.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.25% of the population. 33.4% were of Swedish, 16.9% French, 14.5% English, 9.6% Irish and 6.0% German ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 247 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.3% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.5% were non-families. 22.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 31.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 102.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $29,625, and the median income for a family was $42,563. Males had a median income of $30,625 versus $22,500 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,534. About 10.4% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over.

Historic buildings and sites

Sites and buildings located in New Sweden, Maine which are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places include the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church was organized August 1871.[3]

2003 poisoning

The town made national news headlines in 2003 when a man poisoned the coffee urn at the local Lutheran church, sickening 15 parishioners and killing one. On April 27, 2003, 78-year-old Walter Reid Morrill, known to the town by his middle name, died of arsenic poisoning after drinking coffee at the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, and 15 other, mostly elderly churchgoers became ill, three of them seriously. Five days later, church member Daniel Bondeson, 53, was found after apparently shooting himself in the lower-chest with a rifle, and supposedly leaving a suicide note in which he confessed to having something to do with the poisoning, but the note has never been released to the press or even to his sister.

Maine Attorney General Press Release

The crime was chronicled in Christine Young's 2005 true crime book A Bitter Brew: Faith, Power, and Poison in a Small New England Town and on the show, Mystery ER, which aired an episode on this incident from the point of view of the youngest victim, then 30 years old.


Other sources

  • The Story of New Sweden as Told at the Quarter Centennial Celebration (University of Michigan Library. 1896)
  • Lenentine, Charlotte The Swedish People of Northern Maine (University of Maine. 1950)
  • Hede, Richard Maine's Swedish Colony 1870-1970 Centennial Book (1970)

External links

Coordinates: 46°56′30″N 68°07′14″W / 46.94167°N 68.12056°W / 46.94167; -68.12056

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