Some History…

Swedish Waving Flag-reversedSwedish Waving Flag

The back of the home page postcard photo reads…

“Founded 1898.  New home erected 1930.”

“Capacity 112 children.


A brief account of the work begun by Gustaf Kallman – a man impelled to help homeless children.  He did so much with so little (Based on condensation of data originally supplied by Mr. John Lindblom and review prepared by Mr. William C. Johnson for Forty-fifth Anniversary, and brought up to the present by the Secretary of the Board of Trustees in 1958)


In March, 1893, a young man of 28 passed through the portals of Ellis Island to face a new future in a strange country.  He was described as not unusual in appearance, a robust, “typical Swede” of medium height and build – a gentle man, kindly, but rather serious for his age.  He gave his name as Gustaf Kallman from Vermland, Sweden.


Like other immigrants of that day he was met by a Swedish immigrant missionary who found him a place to stay.  While others came to seek a fortune, or to obtain freedom from oppression, Mr. Kallman came determined to take up some form of Christian missionary work among the Scandinavians in America.  While in Sweden, he had devoted his spare time to visiting prisons and hospitals and spreading the Gospel.


Mr. Kallman decided to live in Brooklyn, which had a large Scandinavian population.  It was then a proud, independent city.  Transportation facilities were limited to elevated steam trains, horse cars and, for those who could afford it, horse and carriage.  Fourth Avenue was as yet unscarred by the subway and had in its middle a beautiful parkway.  Here he would often sit under the majestic trees, dreaming his plans.


One Saturday night, Mr. Kallman was shopping on Fulton Street where the stores were then kept open to accommodate the workingmen.  He was having difficulty making himself understood, and was gesturing rather ineffectually to the sales people, when a gentleman stepped up, asked if he was Swedish, and offered his services.  Thus did John Lindbloom and Gustaf Kallman first meet.  Little could they dream that Mr. Kallman would found a home for children, and that Mr. Lindbloom would be his successor.  On this occasion they met as strangers and parted as strangers.


The next morning, Mr. Lindbloom relates, he was surprised to see Mr. Kallman in the First Swedish Baptist Church on Dean Street in Brooklyn.  Blessed by the tie that binds Christian hearts in love, they became fast friends and shared a room for several years, until Mr. Lindbloom got married.


Abouit the time of Mr. Kallman’s arrival to this country, there was much distress among the Scandinavians due to the financial crisis of 1893.  He did what he could to help the needy and spent much of his time visiting the sick and reading the Word of God to them, humbly emulating Him “who went about doing good”.


Gustaf Kallman was very fond of children and was particularly grieved over the desperate plight of the Scandinavian orphans who were, in many instances, unfamiliar with the English language.  The immigrants worked practically from sunup to sundown, six days a week.  They were not acclimated to the hot summer, and health and safety measures had not yet been made compulsory.  Many succumbed to diseases and accidents.  There was no employees’ compensation,  no widows’ pension and, in fact, no relief except from private charity.


In October, 1897, Mr. Kallman felt a definite call to devote his life entirely to the Christian nurture of orphaned and destitute children.  He cared for a few in his home that year, supporting them by working at his trade.  About this time he concluded that, like St. Paul, he could best accomplish his mission by remaining a bachelor.  He decided the time had come to found a permanent Christian home for children, and, so Kallman Home for Children was started with five youngsters in a house on 67th Street in Brooklyn.


Friends came to his assistance and organizations were formed to lend their aid.  On July 13, 1898, the Home was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York.  Those who acted with Kallman as incorporators, men who had supreme confidence in him and possessed of the same faith, were (The) Rev. Thomas J. Frandsen, Dr. David L. Cederholm, (The) Rev. Henry W. Eklund, and (The) Rev. Herman Litorin, along with Kallman became the first Board of Trustees.


In 1900 sufficient progress had been made to enable the Board of Trustees to purchase the building which the Home then occupied.  The sale was consummated at a purchase prise of $13,500, and the Home continued at this location until 1903.


During these early years applications for admission were received in vast numbers and, although the property was continually improved to meet the increased demands, the Board of Trustees came to the conclusion that new and more spacious quarters must be found.


A very desirable location, consisting of fifty-five city lots, fronting on 18th Avenue and extending from 67th Street to 69th Street in Brooklyn, was found and an exchange was negotiated.  The terms of the exchange necessitated the assumption by the Trustees of a mortgage of $18,500 on the new property.  This property was improved with a building excellently suited to the purpose, and with little effort was renovated to accommodate eighty children, together with quarters for the manager and working staff.


In these new quarters Gustaf Kallman continued with renewed energy, but he was privileged to continue in his work for only four years more,  On July 17, 1907, following an operation for appendicitis, he was called to his reward.  He died within one day of his 43rd birthday.  His life was comparatively brief, but what he had accomplished in its span was to live on, for who can say how long, after him.   He left behind him an institution well founded, and gathered around him many friends who were to stand faithfully by in the years following his passing.


And so passed a man who came to a new country, founded a home for children at the age of 33, and in the brief space of ten years had, through faith, prayer, and hard work, been instrumental in expanding the capacity of the Home from 5 children to 80 children.


“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep yourself unspotted from the world.”  (James 1:26)


And now the man, who first met Gustaf Kallman, the newly arrived immigrant, in a store on Fulton Street one Saturday night, was chosen to succeed him as superintendent of the Home – yes, that very same John Lindbloom.  “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform,”


It must have been a difficult decision for the Lindblooms with their two children to turn their backs on a comfortable living and private family life to take up so stupendous a task.  But this was a call to do the Lord’s work and, prayerfully, like Samuel of old, their hearts answered: Speak! For thy servant heareth.”


Mr. Lindbloom knew this was to be no white collar job – he had often seen Gustaf Kallman “superintend” the job in overalls and, in fact, had spent much of his own time, in common with other good brothers, helping with repairs, decorating, and other hard work.  Mrs. Lindbloom had also been out often with the good sisters from the Swedish churches who helped with work requiring a woman’s skill and patience.


The Lindblooms knew, as most parents do, that it must be some job to get so many children off to school at one time, fed, clothed, and with faces and shoes shining, and it would, indeed, be a task to tuck them in at night after evening prayers.  And, even as you and I, they surmised that it would take patience with so many children who would, naturally, have their little spats and sorrows,, get bruised and scratched at play, and even bring home one of those notes from the teacher.  But they gained the wisdom to endure this daily rouitine for twenty-five years and were happey in the work.  Love, faith, and prayer saw them through.


And so, while Mrs. Lindbloom took charge of the kitchen, where she was to cook and nbake for the entire Home for many years with only girls of the Home to assist her, Mr. Lindbloom spent a good deal of his time in dungarees doing the chores requiring hard manual labor.  There were always repairs to be made, furniture to be refinished and a vegetable garden to tend.  Every Monday morning, bright and early, for many years, he would be found bending over the laundry tubs doing the Home’s “family washing” with the help of three of the largest boys.


Mr. Lindbloom, a jolly man who enjoyed to play pranks, fouind time to wrestle with the boys and romp with the children, and even with visiting brethren who wished to test his strength.


During the administration of the Lindblooms, the facilities of the aHome were greatly expanded.  In 1914 a large extension was added to the 18th Avenue Home at an approximate cost of $7,000.  New auxiliary societies wer formed and the Home benefited from bazaars held in regiment armories and other large halls in Brooklyn.


The grounds of the 18th Avenue Home were the scene of many outings and festivals and the Swedish population flocked there on holidays.  There were games for the grownups and the children alike and much lusty hymn singing.  No wonder the neighborhood children looked through the fence and envied the Home children.  Mrs. Lindbloom always managed to serve coffee and cake.


These pleasant get-togethers enabled Mr. Lindbloom to obtain donations of money, clothing, and food.  He relates that he asked a bachelor friend for a donation but was rebuffed with the objection:  “I have no children, why should I give?”  This bachelor married and, years later, his fatherless children were raised in Kallman Home.  It has not been unusual for Kallman Home to raise three or four children from the same family.  Sometimes we have been able to employ the surviving parent with benefit to both the children and the Home.


In 1917 we first learned that war affects even a children’s home because of the increased cost of food and labor.  In World War I seventeen boys raised in Kallman Home joined the colors.


January 27, 1923, was a memorable day for Kallman Home.  The occasion was the 25th anniversary celebration at Baptist Temple, when it was announced to a large audience that, as the result of a successful drive, the 18th Avenue Home was entirely free of debt.


Early in 1928 it became evident that the City of New York proposed to condemn the Home property for the purpose of extending 68th Street, which then terminated at 18th Avenue.  The Board of Trustees was confronted with the alternatives of physically moving the buildings or of abandoning the location in favor of another one.  Receiving an offer of $360,000 for the property, the Board of Trustees decided to sell and find a new location.  A building committee was appointed, consisting of Mr. David Woodworth, Chairman, Messrs. John Lindbloom and N.V. Nelson.  Mr. Eric Holmgren was engaged as architect.  Many possible sites were considered both in and outside of New York City.  However, the site on which the Home now stands (85-15 Ridge Blvd., Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY) offered so many advantages over other locations that a decision was soon reached and plans for the erection of the building went forward.


But the happy progress, which thus far had been made was soon interrupted.  The corporation under contract to purchase the 18th Avenue property  declined to consummate the contract.  The matter was submitted to an outstanding Real Estate lawyer who advised the Board of Trustees to release the purchaser from the contract and retain $12,500 of the deposit.


In the midst of this crisis word had come of the sudden death of Mr. Charles A. Ogren, who had served the Home for more than twenty-two years as trustee and chairman of the Board.  Mr. Gustaf Johnson was elected to fill the vacancy on the Board and Mr. N.V. Nelson became its chairman.  Mr. Nelson resigned in February. 1930, after twenty-six years of faithful service, and Dr. Theodore O. Peterson, a member of the Board since February, 1927, succeeded him as chairman.


Three months later, after long negotiations, a mortgage loan of $253,000 was secured from the Home Title Insurance Co., and bids for the erection of the new building were solicited.  Mr. Johnson, newly elected trustee, was awarded the contract and construction was started immediately.


The new Home was so far completed by December that the boys and girls, who had been boarded out in other institutions, were reassembled before Christmas and dedication exercises were held during the last week of January, 1931, in the completed building.


However, the 18th Avenue property had not been sold and the payment of taxes and interest on a large loan was a tremendous financial burden.  The depression, which had started with the stock market collapse in 1929 had by this time reached alarming proportions.  Real estate values were vanishing and a buyer for the 18th Avenue property could not be found, even at half the amount of the original offer.  Now, if ever, the Home was in need of the support of its friends.  The Board of Trustees appealed in a fund raising campaign that began in April and continued for about two months.  Again, as always, the friends of the Home responded and gave “of their spirit and their substance” that the great work begun by Gustaf Kallman might continue.  Hundreds of people volunteered as campaign workers and contributed both their time and their means toward the success of the campaign, and the continued existence of the Home was assured.


Early in 1931, Mr. Lindbloom, due to the illness of Mrs. Lindbloom, had expressed a desire to retire as manager but was persuaded to complete twenty-five years of service by remaining until June, 1932, with added assistance.  This raised a new problem, that of finding a successor to Mr. Lindbloom, which required the most careful consideration by the board of Trustees, for on their decision depended, in large measure, the future welfare of the Home.


The Rev. Mr. A.E. Smedberg and Mrs. Smedberg were selected to succeed the Lindblooms.  The Smedbergs came to the Home during the difficult time when our economy was still suffering from the depression.  They proved equal to the task and met the emergency nobly.


Then came World War II, on December 7, 1941, which resulted in labor and material scarcities, accompanied by an unprecedented rise in prices.  Operating expenses exceeded our income for a while.


Forty-three children brought up in Kallman Home were called to the colors to serve their country in 1943, three of them being girls.  Two of our boys were killed in action in the South Pacific.


After a long period of illness, The Rev. Mr. and Mrs. A.D. Smedberg tendered their resignation to take effect January 13, 1943.  Their daughter, who served as secretary, left with her parents.  This trio served the Home efficiently for ten years and we were faced with the difficult problem of replacing them at this critical stage.


Our choice from a field of numerous candidates was the Rev. and Mrs. O. W. Arell, who took office in the latter part of January 1943. they took over the administration at a time when food, clothing, and fuel were rationed and it took a lot of scurrying around on their part to keep the children properly fed and clothed.


Needless to say, the administration of the Home in the days just prior to World War II and during the war years became more and more complicated as the number of children sheltered in the Home increased, and relationships were established with the various social, Federal, State, and City agencies.  It became quite evident that additional trained personnel was required to share the growing burden of the Managing Director, and one step in that direction was the employment of the Rev. Harry Ekstam as Director of Programs, in charge of health, recreation, education, religious training, and discipline formerly under the direction of the Managing Director.


The Rev. and Mrs. Arell served the Home devotedly until early in 1948 and were then succeeded by the Rev. and Mrs. Harry Ekstam who continued until October 1949, at that time returning to the ministry.


No account of the history of Kallman Home could ever be complete without prominent mention of Dr, Theodore O. Peterson, who joined the Board of Trustees in 1927 and served as its President from 1930 until his untimely passing on January 15, 1950, a period of twenty years.  He left a glorious mark upon Kallman Home which will always live and serve as an inspiration.  During those many years his efforts on behalf of the Home were untiring, continuously giving of himself, his energies, his professional abilities , and most generously of his means.  Under his wise and able leadership the Home advanced and prospered in every way.  He was always most ably and graciously assisted by his charming wife who continues her interest in the affairs of the Home and is an Honorary Trustee.


In the loss of Dr. Peterson, the Trustees turned to Vice President Robert F. Nelson, and were fortunate in having him accept the office of President.  Mr. Nelson’s proven administrative capabilities were a distinct asset in that hour.


Facing the Trustees was the serious problem of finding a qualified person to fill the all important post of Managing Director following the resignation of the Rev. Ekstam.  The Rev. Wallace Cedarleaf, who had succeeded the Rev. Ekstam as Director of Programs, agreed to serve as Acting Managing Director until the post could be filled, and subsequently the services of Mr. Joseph Keating and Mr. Fred R. Sacher were temporarily employed in that capacity.  It should also be noted that in this difficult period Mr. Howard L. Colby, valued staff member, served as Acting Managing Director for a short time.


The press of business activities made it necessary for Mr. Nelson to request that he be relieved of the Presidency although he continued as a valued member of the Board.  In November, 1933, Mr. Clarence L. Sjogren was unanimously chosen as Board President and has led us to the present date (1958).  Mr. Sjogren is a teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School, and brings to his administration a keen understanding of young people, a deep-rooted dedication to his duties as they relate to Kallman Home, a sparkling sense of humor, and has the esteem and affection of all who are associated with him at Kallman.


On November 1, 1952 Mr. Fred Persiko, and his wife Linda, were engaged to assume the posts of Managing and Assistant Directors of the Home.  Mr. Persiko brought to Kallman Home high qualifications and valuable experience in institutional child care, and during his administration the Home benefited greatly by his splendid management, and grew in the esteem of the various City, and State social agencies.  It was with much regret that the Board received the resignation of the Persiko’s in May 1956, to accept a similar position with the Bonnie Brae Farm for Boys at Millington, New Jersey.


Again the matter of finding a Managing Director faced the Board, which was fortunate in the meantime to again have available the services of Mr. Howard L. Colby who filled in most efficiently.  After much searching we were most happy in December of 1956 in bringing to the Home Mr. and Mrs. Quentin D. Scott who took over the duties of Managing Directors.  They came to us from Gustavus Adolphus Children’s Home in Jamestown, New York, where Mr. Scott was Assistant Superintendent.  Mr. and Mrs. Scott are eminently qualified and it was good to again have a steady hand at the helm.  They and their own lovely children are a distinct asset to Kallman Home.


It should be noted that the Fifty-fifth Anniversary of the Home was marked by a dinner held at the Home on September 23, 1953, at which honored guests included His Excellency Osten Unden, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Lennart Nylander, Swedish Consul General; Mrs. Ulna Lindstrom, Swedish Delegate to the United Nations; Hon. Andrew G. Clauson, Jr., President of the Board of Education of New York City, who gave the address of the evening, and our own distinguished Board member, Hon. Arthur W, Wallender.  Mr. George P Johansen served as Master of Ceremonies.


This brief record of necessity has dealt mainly with those who during the past sixty years, beginning with Founder Gustaf Kallman and his successors as superintendents and managing directors, and those who served as presidents of the Board of Trustees, and have thus been especially charged with responsibility in the direction of the affairs of the Home.  It is regrettable that space does not permit the recording of the hundreds of names down through these sixty years of trustees, staff members, corporate members and affiliated and supporting societies and other friends who have dedicated themselves and their gifts to the interests of the children of Kallman.  It is interesting to note that the number of children admitted to the Home during these sixty-years to date (February 12, 1958) totals 1,649.


One thing is sure, the devoted effort, sacrifice, and service of all these dear friends has never been wasted – it has been and is today more than ever, a constructive and rewarding work.


The famous Boys Town in Nebraska has a motto which says, “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother.”  The Old Testament indicates that Cain had to learn the truth of that motto after it was too late.  How fortunate are we who have the opportunity to be the elder brother and sister to the children of Kallman.



There were many who gave of themselves to support the work of Kallman Home.  Some of these were members of one of the Supporting Societies of The Kallman Home for Children.

The Societies were:

Barnavannen Society

The Home Circle of Long Island

Kallman Aid Society of Manhattan

Kallman Home Society

Kallman Sewing Society

Goodwill Fund of Gosta Saga

Kallman Social Club of East Orange, New Jersey

Linnea Society

Kallman Home Society Enighet

Noel Club

Kallman Music Association

Kallman Klub of Brooklyn


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The information in history of The Kallman Home for Children is from the records provided by:


Ward, Dreshman, & Rhienhardt, Inc. Records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, University Library, Indiana University, Purdue University, Indianapolis


_____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____     _____


Further information can be obtained from Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives

755 West Michigan, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46202-5195   (Telephone: 317-274-0464)    Source:  Brenda L. Burk, Philanthropic Studies Archivist, Telephone:  317-278-2329

The following information submitted by Donald Lafayette pertains to the demise and closing of Kallman Home

As the years closed in on 1957 the Home lost their Swedish support of 12 societies  [I have their names]. The Home had to rely on Social Services [NYC]. The home had little say in the acceptance of children. They were out of compliance in many areas, especially staffing. At this time the emphasis was Foster Care not Congregate living.  Children were not referred to places like Kallman. For example dorms were prohibited. I know this for a fact because I opened Harmony Heights in 1974 & had to make all kinds of alterations & had to hire certified staff. We were required to have 1 social worker for every 8 adolescents. There had to be 3 shifts etc. Kallman couldn’t rely on the donations, it cost about $120 per day per kid. The City didn’t want to commit. Thus the DEMISE of Kallman in spite of the wonderful job they did in the past. Editor’s note:  This is very sad to learn about and I might add that the last Director, Quentin Scott, in my opinion, was a huge contributing factor to the home’s closing since it was reported by my mother that he had tapped into some of the bequests made to the home and was using those funds for his own personal, greedy gain.  What a disgrace…


A message from Darlene (Chiquita) Maneely Krowl

Hi Arnie,

I spoke with Linda Heggelund recently, and she sent me this photograph taken for a concert program. The year is 1956. It’s in bad shape, but was in even worse, so took it to my photoshop program and removed some of the creases. I think it’s a good find for the Kallman site.  In the back row, Norman Maneely, Linda Heggelund, Valerie Trnka and Bobby Persiko. In the front row, first boy on left I don’t recall, Lana Schettino, next I’m not sure, next is Annette Smarek, and not sure of the last boy.  Thanks and hope all is well by you. Darlene

1956 Concert Program at Kallman Home for Children

In the back row, Norman Maneely, Linda Heggelund, Valerie Trnka and Bobby Persiko. In the front row, first boy on left I don’t recall, Lana Schettino, next I’m not sure, next is Annette Smarek, and not sure of the last boy.



Some History… — 7 Comments

  1. My grandfather, Carl Lindblom was Jonh Lindblom’ s youngest brother. He and his family arrived in N.Y. Late 1890’s.

  2. Hi! I am looking for information on my grandfather and his older brother who were orphaned at the home in 1917. Is there an online record of the names of the children that passed through the home during it’s active tenure?

    • I found a letter dated 01/15/1949,from Rev.Harry J. Ekstam,written to me concerning a certificate to be sent. Can you shed light on what this would be about? My father was Nils G. Johnson

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