Smoky Valley Historical Association Lindsborg, KS 67456


Höglund Dugout - early Swedish Settlers, Lindsborg, KS

The dugout with a portion of the south wall from the house that was built around it.

Gustaf Höglund was one of the earliest Swedish pioneers of the Smoky Valley. He homesteaded 80 acres to the west of Lindsborg. Gustaf's first dwelling was this dugout located along a creek on the west side of his property. He later built a house around the dugout which was used until a large frame house was erected east of this location. A partial wall from the original house can be seen in one of the photos below. This wall, along with the archway above the entrance to the dugout, is no longer standing.

Gustaf married Maria Swensson in 1871. The two had eight children, 5 girls and 3 boys, all of whom lived to adulthood. None of the 8 Höglund siblings ever married and they continued to live together on the farm until the last and youngest, Alma, died in 1975 at age 87.

Three Lindsborg institutions benefited from the Höglund estate; Bethany Lutheran Church, Bethany Home for the Aged, and the Lindsborg Hospital. The dugout and the land surrounding it were given to the SVHA to be preserved for future generations.

The dugout is open for public visits 1 mile west of Lindsborg on Wells Fargo Road (continue west from Swensson Street in town), and approximately 1/4 miles south on 12th Avenue, or from Highway K-4 drive approximately 3/4 mile north on 12th Avenue. The dugout is on the east side of the road and there is ample off-road parking provided by the association.

Mr. & Mrs. Gustaf Höglund, as pictured in a 1909 history book of Lindsborg and the Smoky Valley by Dr. Alfred Bergin, then pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church.

Research for this article by Bill Carlson


LEFT: the entrance to the dugout as seen looking west. Notice the archway, which no longer exists, above the entrance.
RIGHT: the dugout as seen looking east.
BOTTOM: a close-up of the stairs leading into the dugout.

The Höglund Dugout: Digging into History

by Scott Fredrickson and Nancy B. Peterson
(Originally published in the 1991 Svensk Hyllningsfest program booklet.)

If you look in the American Heritage Dictionary, you will find the word dugout described as "a pit dug into the ground or on a hillside and used as a shelter."

Although the definition is simple, it says much about early life in the Smoky Valley. If walls and rocks and piles of dirt and debris could talk, we might have the opportunity to learn much about life in rural Lindsborg more than a hundred years ago.

Many of the early settlers spent their first months in dugouts, popular shelters on the prairie. As soon as they could construct more permanent dwellings, the early dugouts became basements, fruit cellars, even dumps. Such is the case of the Höglund dugout, located just west of Lindsborg.

Gustaf and Maria Höglund, a young husband and wife from Fernebo, Sweden, created their first home in a simple pit, or dugout, about 6 ft. x 12 ft. in the summer of 1868. They used their wagon as a roof. They lived in the dugout for two years as they built a larger stone structure adjoining the shelter. The dugout and a small part of a corner wall of the larger house remain.

The Höglund family grew to include seven children and they remained in the stone house for twenty years. They later built a much larger wooden home, which burned only a few years ago.

The last of the seven Höglund children, Alma, died in 1975. The Höglund land was willed to the Bethany Lutheran Church, the Bethany Home and the Lindsborg Community Hospital. While the land was to be sold, a one acre plot on which the original dugout and homestead were located, was deeded to the Smoky Valley Historical Association so that it might be preserved.

Serving on the Board of the Historical Association at the time of the acquisition was Barbara R. Buskirk, an archaeologist. Buskirk, who had taught both anthropology and archaeology at the college level, and who had participated in expeditions as far away as Mexico, Hudson's Bay Fort in Canada, Costa Rica, North Africa, and England, volunteered to supervise and salvage historical elements from the dugout.

Since that time, Buskirk has spent much time and energy "digging." She is a craftsman, a perfectionist, and a professional. She removed several feet of dirt (the original dugout was used as a part of a basement, then a dump) - all with a small trowel.

What fascinates Buskirk, who is a native American, is the size and style of the simple dwelling. A European-inspired keystone arch faces the East; what might have been a small hole faces the North. Within the dugout is a bench which may have been used for sitting/sleeping. Dirt and debris have been sifted - Buskirk has found buttons, spoons, glassware, a cup in good shape and a similar cup made with no handles. One of her favorite "finds" is a stub of a pencil - so very small it is almost impossible to hold.

As she has excavated the dwelling, Buskirk is reminded of how simple life must have been. She notes: "Imagine, coming to a strange country so unlike what you have left. What would you think of living in the ground, through winter storms and spring rains, not being familiar with the climate or the growing seasons? How could you know which plant or berry was safe to eat? Today, we sometimes think a trip to the laundromat is a hardship. As I work here, I continue to develop a sense of the past. I have a healthy respect for those who survived - they had to have had an incredible strength of spirit to tackle such a new beginning."