Kulturarv Östergötland
Kulturarv Östergötland


Anna Nysten was one of the few Swedes who survived the great Titanic disaster out on the Atlantic.

Anna Nysten born on 22 January 1890, 
dead on 28 March 1977 in Des Moines, 

Anna Nysten Gustavsson was born in Hag, Västra Eneby parish, on 22 January 1890. When she was young she moved with her parents, who were farmers, to Höghult, Kisa parish and afterwards to Farsbo, Kisa parish. In 1912 she emigrated to America and she was unlucky to go with the new big and modern ship Titanic. The Titanic sank on 14 April 1912 and her parents then received the following message:

"Postcard to Mr S. A. Nysten, Nydala, Kisa
Gothenburg 19 April 1912.
I hereby have to inform you that today I have got a message telegraphically that Anna Nysten has arrived in New York on board the steamer "Carpathea"
Yours faithfully

Among the eleven inhabitants from Kisa who went on the voyage was she the only one who survived. Anna Nysten visited Sweden twice. She married a Mr Gustavsson in America. She lived and worked in Des Moines, Iowa, for 60 years and she was a member of the First Lutheran Church. At her pension she was a cook at Grand View College and she died on 28 March 1977 in Des Moines. She left three children and a sister in America, a brother and a sister in Sweden, six grandchildren, nephews and nieces.

Anna Nysten tells about the disaster in letters home to her parents.
(…)"I am now at my sister Klara, who is married. They are getting on very well. Their son, who is married and lives in a big house nearby, is a driver. He met us at the train and drove us by car up here. They are so kind to me, so you must not think that I am badly treated even if I met with such trouble during my voyage. I can hardly describe how everything happened. There were dreadful cries of distress, but you as well as I ought to thank our God that I am still alive. I was lucky enough to come with a lifeboat; I suppose my lifetime had not come to an end and that I should die but that I shall try more of the world..

You have probably read in the newspaper how everything happened but I can tell you something too. The ship struck an iceberg at twelwe o'clock in the night between Sunday and Monday. It was a terrible collision and we nearly fell out of our beds. But then they told us there was no danger and therefore the passengers kept quite calm until the ship started sinking and the decks were full of people. You cannot imagine how fearful it was from that very moment. Yes, I cannot really describe it. But how frightful it was when everything was dark! When the ship sank we were not far from it and we nearly went down with it. There was an awful cracking and roaring when the ship went down. We had to stay in the lifeboat from half past 1 in the night till half past 6 in the morning but fortunately the sea was calm.Believe me we were happy when we caught sight of the steamer Carpathia nearing us and we could go on board there. They were so kind to us: we got blankets about us and coffee and brandy as much as we wanted. But there was still a lot of groaning and tears, because most of them had lost some relative. I felt most sorry for those families that were broken up. Many people went mad".(…)

White Star Liner

Titanic, the ship that on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York late in the evening on 14 April 1912 in high speed struck an iceberg and sank. The Titanic disaster is known as one of the most serious disasters that have occurred. The ship, which was 259,8 m long and 28,2 m wide, was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast for the shipping company White Star Line. It was on a very high interior standard and did 21 knots. The ship was planned for a total of 3 300 people, 2 440 passengers in three different classes and 860 men belonging to the crew. At the disaster there were 2224 people aboard. More than 1500 people drowned. About 130 Swedes were present on the voyage, of which about 40 were rescued and among them the farmer's daughter Anna Nysten from Kisa. She was miracously rescued out of the sea still carrying her picnic hamper she had brought with her.

(…)"I have now however reached my destination and I am quite well. I wish that you have not worried too much about me, because I am content now. Klara came to meet me and she has found me a good job. All of them, who lived through the disaster, got almost everything they needed. I got a fine coat and underwear. I had my money on me and just think so strange, I brought my picnic hamper along. No one else but me had brought such a picnic hamper".(…)

A new letter from Anna to her parents
(…)"This Monday a new letter arrived from Miss Anna Nysten to her parents in Kisa. In this letter she tells her parents among other things that she has been specially well received in New York. Of the collected funds she had been given 60 dollars and furthermore fine clothes in such an abundance that she did not know when she would be able to use them all.
In her earlier letter she did not mention anything about the family Andersson from Kisa. Now she tells them, that she saw the family Andersson - husband, wife and five children - besides the family Danbom - husband, wife and one child - standing together on deck shortly before the Titanic sank. She believes that none of them could be rescued, and this has also been confirmed that they have drowned. She says that she has not been ill any time after the experiences of that terrible night and that she was to start a job at the dispatch of this letter".(…)

Postcard enclosed to one of the letters home to her parents.
"My Dear Mother keep so well
I want to send you a small card on your birthday but it will be much too late but better late than never. I still want you to have it.

Yes, on my long journey I have tried the great world
and thus I know what it is to leave my dear home
I have sent many thoughts to all those who have fallen in the great sea
but I must thank my Saviour so dear
that I am still alive and in good health and here are Greetings
A Memory from your Daughter
Anna Nysten".

Text from the Swedish obituary notice in the Östgöta Correspondenten on 1 April 1977 in which children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces write.

“You went out on the great sea
and had to try what life gives and takes
Now when you are sunk into the silent grave
We still have the memory of you left".

- The Archives of Local History
- The Museum of Emigration
- Press cuttings from the Kisa-Tidningen on 11 May 1912
- Nationalencyklopedin
- Titanic by Claes-Göran Wetterholm
- We dared to go west! The women´s emigration from Kisa to North America 1845-1915 by M-C (Lotta) Vikström
- Compilation and copies: Ing-Marie Wallin
- Translation Gunnel Asp


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