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Nina Köpman (Domestic Arrangements 1.5)


And so we have it: Miss Nina Köpman has come to live and work in the Archer household.


Miss Köpman was a native of Göteborg, Sweden’s second largest city and its major port. This map by Ludvig Simon dates from 1888, about the time she was born. [The wikipedia version of this is HUGE and exceptionally detailed.] So, combine the map with various postcard and other internet views and we can develop a sense of the city she knew as a young woman contemplating emigration. I chose “Köpman” as her family name for two reasons: #1) in Swedish, it means “Merchant”, a likely occupation in Göteborg, and #2) there’s a Köpman–gatan (Merchant Street) just north of the main canal.


This will seem remarkably odd to many of you, but there is actually a strong connection between Göteborg and Dakota Territory during the decade of the 1880s, when foreign investment here was extensive. Among our earliest large-scale investors was Richard Sykes (whose name lives on in Sykeston and the memory of five other townsites he promoted). At one time, Sykes owned 75,000 acres of Dakota land, which he sold in small farmsteads to both Americans and Europeans seeking to improve their lot. But he also sold multiple sections to a number of larger investors, speculators, many of them his relatives. Among the buyers of six, eight, or even a dozen sections was one Anders Magnus Prytz, an insurance and shipping agent from Bordeaux, France. Prytz was one of five sons of Mans Prytz, publisher of “Göteborgs Handels- och Sjöfartstidning” or the “Gothenberg Trade and Maritime News” which tracked international shipping and its insurance. Mans had the good sense to do the Rothschild thing and disperse his sons around the world as his eyes and ears, funneling shipping information back to Göteborg for dad’s newspaper. How Sykes made the acquaintance of Prytz is a mystery awaiting my attention. Give me a little more time.

But in the meantime, however, I get to scratch that itch and link my interest in Göteborg with the American Midwest.

Why couldn’t Herr Köpman have worked for Prytz? And then spoken at home with his family about opportunity in the heartland of North America.


  1. […] DA 1.5 not only identified Miss Nina Köpman as the occupant of that ground floor bedroom, it also tried to make her migration from Sweden to the U.S. both logical and interesting. […]

  2. […] 1.4 and 1.5 concerned the invention of Miss Nina Köpman, the young Swedish woman who emigrated to the United […]

  3. […] has been welcome and helpful. One in particular makes me smile: the story of Swedish emigrant Nina Köpman resonated with a graduate of many years ago who shared the remarkably parallel story of his own […]

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