Some years ago I came by the 2-volume Dictionary of Evangelical Biography (1730-1860) which I admit is a bit obscure. But I thought I’d trawl its pages for entries on Swedish Christians to learn more about its notable figures and history.
Gustaf Palmquist (1812-1867) was a Baptist leader and a key figure among Swedish Baptists particularly in America.
Between 1851 and 1910 around one million Swedes emigrated to America (and in that time only around 100,000 returned). This significant minority began to form its own denominations and structures and Palmquist was instrumental among them.
Converted in 1844 he emigrated to Illinois in 1851 where he began a ministry of evangelism and social care among other Swedish immigrants. He was baptised in 1852 after a visit to the American Baptist Church in Galesburg and he was ordained just one month later. Palmquist was also influenced by FO Nilsson, another notable Swedish evangelist in America. He founded the first Swedish Baptist Church in Rock Island, Illinois. Although Palmquist returned to Sweden in 1857 the Swedish Baptists eventually formed their own denomination. As an interesting side note Bethlehem Baptist Church has its roots in the Swedish Baptist movement.
Palmquist was also a gifted musician and compiled several notable hymn books (in swedish) and translated hymns from Isaac Watts among others into Swedish.