When Sigrid was 19 years old in 1908 she left family and friends to go and visit her sister in America. After a long a dreadful journey at sea during which she had been constantly seasick, she finally arrived in Boston, unable to speak one word of English.
She had a piece of paper in her hand with the address to her sister in Denver and by showing it to people, she was placed on a train.
After some time of traveling, the train suddenly came to a stop at a station in the middle of nowhere. The conductor had her get off there with her luggage and the train continued without her.
Alone and scared, Sigrid stayed there for 13 hours without anything to eat or drink or anywhere to go. Finally another train stopped and let her on. Later she learned that she first had been put on the wrong train, but since she didn't understand English, nobody could tell her why she was left off the first train.
She arrived in Denver, stayed for a year with her sister, learned English as a nanny for children - the best teachers she said - and then went on to Los Angeles where, at church, she met John Strandlund. He courted Sigrid for five years. Like her, he was raised on a farm in Sweden
John bought a piece of desert land where nothing wanted to grow in the sand-like dirt. He worked it until it became fruitful and brought his bride there in 1920. Out of their hard work they soon harvested vegetables, citrus fruit and corn.
Sigrid and John Strandlund did well for themselves when still many around them lived in tents. They pioneered the Brawley Valley which today is one of the most fertile grounds for vegetable growing in California
The humble little church they helped to found, The Presbyterian Church of Brawley,has branched out into multitudes of congregations, and is today known as the Evangelical Free Church.
With the same desire for adventure that brought Sigrid to America, she at age 93 returned to her native Sweden to see her family in Småland one last time.
Maybe it was her young spirit, proud accomplishments, homegrown veggies or lots of love from all her grand and great grandchildren that gave Sigrid a lifespan of two months short of 103. A lifetime of historical events on which she could look back and with ease say "been there, done that."
As many California immigrants in the early 1900's, Sigrid Stranlund (here with her two children), helped lay foundations for generations to come, by helping to build up communities.
Raised on a farm in Sweden, John Stranlund made Brawley in the Southern California desert his home and life's work, laboring the land, building a ranch and making infertile land fruitful.