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Travis County TX
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Travis County, Texas Hill Country

30į 24' 31" N, 97į 30' 47" W (30.408611, -97.513056)

FM 973
East of Austin
5 miles NE of Manor
Population: 60 Est. (1990)

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New Sweden, Texas - distant view of New Sweden Luteran Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2006

History in a Pecan Shell

New Sweden dates from 1876 when the community of Knight's Ranch took its name from the New Sweden Evangelical Lutheran Church. New Sweden has a dignified ring to it and we should all be glad they didn't choose "Little Sweden" like they have with "Little Mexico," "Little Havana," and "Little Saigon." New Sweden's population never went higher than 104 souls according to the Handbook of Texas.

It lost its post office in 1902 when they started receiving their mail through Manor. Even the sign in front of the church lists the church's address as Manor. Later, school consolidation helped hasten New Sweden's demise as a distinct community.

The Church is quite striking with its unusually steep steeple, and it is certainly worth the short drive north from Manor, or even the drive south from Taylor.
New Sweden Evangelical Lutheran Church steeple
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2006
New Sweden Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Sweden, Texas
1983 Photo by Randy Green, courtesy TXDoT
New Sweden
Evangelical Lutheran Church

Driving Directions to
"The Most Photographed Church in Texas":

From Austin:
Take highway 290 East for until you come to FM-973. Turn left (watching traffic) and drive 4 and 8/10ths to New Sweden Church Road. Here youíll see the cemetery and a historical marker. (This was the site of the first church.) Turn right and follow the road for the remaining 2 miles. Just keep the steeple in sight. At 104 feet tall, itís easy to do.

From Elgin: Take highway 290 W and turn right onto FM1100. After 5 miles, turn left onto Manda Road and drive for about a mile until you see Manda Carlson Road. Turn right and drive 6 /10ths of a mile to New Sweden Church Road and drive the remaining mile and one tenth. Donít forget to take a photo.

Kimbro Cemetery, Texas

Kimbro Cemetery with a distant view of the New Sweden church
TE Photo, 2000
Nearby - about two miles East, you'll find the Kimbro Cemetery - all that's now left of that Swedish community.

Cotton Field
Cotton fields near New Sweden
TE Photo
The rolling terrain allows one to see for miles in any direction and the cattle and tilled fields make it easy to imagine what life was like here. Don't let the openness fool you. Without a good county map, you can still get lost.

New Sweden Chronicles

A Swedish family in Texas by Mike Cox

"... Swedish immigration to Texas had begun in 1848 and gathered momentum following the Civil War. As word of Texas and its agricultural opportunities spread in Sweden, the pace picked up in the 1870s. By the time of the first world war, some 11,000 Swedes made their home in the Lone Star State, many of them in Williamson County and northeastern Travis County.

William Smith came to Texas first. Liking what he saw, he paid for his brother's passage to the U.S. in the late summer of 1878.... more

New Sweden, Texas Forum

Subject: New Sweden Church

  • A co-worker of mine was unfamiliar with the New Sweden church and this article described and illustrated it very nicely. About the Readers Comments additions at the bottom of the page, a reader described the Manda school building near Kimbro, an old 2 room school. My father also attended classes there as a boy. I think it was used in a movie in the 1980ís, the Robert Redford, Waldo Pepper, or something like that. Very nice website, really enjoyed it. - Mark Thompson, January 13, 2006

  • ... As my name suggests I have some German background. My dad came to the US with his family in 1956 from Hamburg, Germany. The first town in America they lived in was New Sweden. They attended the New Sweden Lutheran Church, which we visited again a few years ago. This is where my dad and his family got used to living in America. My grandparents are buried at the Kimbro Cemetery, my grandmother died in 1965 and my grandfather in 1983.

    Did you ever see the "Manda" school building? This is a little 2 room school house which was used for students in New Sweden. My dad attended class at this school. It's in ruins sadly now, when we went back to New Sweden we went inside and walked around the building. That was a unique experience to see where my dad went to school for the first time ever in America. I'm enjoying your web site! - Kevin Lehnhardt, Austin, Texas. January 08, 2002

  • Travis County TX 1907 Postal Map
    Travis County 1907 Postal Map showing
    New Sweden, Manor and Kimbro
    (in NE Travis County)

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office
    New Sweden , Texas Area Towns:
    Austin | Manor | Elgin
    See Travis County | Texas Hill Country

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