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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Svente Parker Hallengren

The life which this narrative delineates began in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1836, and closed in Sonoma county, Cal., March 17, 1896. The sixty years elapsing between the dates of birth and of death included an era of painstaking toil and intelligent management, beginning at an early age under stress of family poverty and continuing until the activities of the earthly existence were swallowed up in the grave. From a boyhood of self-denial, hardship and laborious struggle there developed the maturity of material success, in a region far removed from the scenes of early days and in a climate far milder than that of storm-bound Scandinavia. The Hallengren family was one of high social standing, but the father, a lawyer by profession, had saved little from his practice and at his early demise the family were left to face the world in the midst of hardships and destitute circumstances.

It therefore became necessary for the boy to forego educational opportunities and earn his own livelihood. At an early age he had acquired a thorough knowledge of the blacksmith’s trade. Leaving his native land at the age of twenty years he crossed the ocean to the United States and secured employment at his trade in New York state, where he remained for several years, meanwhile learning the English language and gaining familiarity with the customs of the people. It was during 1863 that he entered upon another ocean voyage and came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. This trip was far more enjoyable than the ocean voyage from his native land, for at that time he had started from Sweden in a sailing vessel (Nuna) and had spent six weeks on the water. Meanwhile the provisions were reduced to such a small quantity that ere land was reached the crew almost starved and the passengers had begun to suffer the pangs of hunger.

Bodega and Eldorado county marked the first locations of Mr. Hallengren in California and there he worked at his trade. During the year 1866 he came to Sonoma county and settled near Geyserville, where he spent his remaining years and where his family still reside. Farm pursuits occupied his entire time and so devoted was he to his work that he allowed himself no vacation except during the year 18889, when on the 22d of July he left home for a trip to Europe and for the ensuing three months he renewed the associations of youth. While the visit was pleasant he returned to California more than ever delighted with the chosen home of his maturity. In politics he always supported the Republican party after he became a citizen of this country and his ballot was given to its candidates in local and national elections. Movements for the material advancement of Sonoma county received his stanch support. In pioneer circles he was prominent, while among the younger element he enjoyed the respect due to his honorable character and industrious life.

Mr. Hallengren’s marriage united him with a lady who in maidenhood was known as Henrietta Brightenstein. Besides her at his death he left five children, Lottie, Lillie, Lind, Lenore and Lloyd, all at home excepting Lenore, who is married and living in Inyo county. Mrs. Hallengren was born in 1839 in Nassau, Germany, and at the age of eight years came to America with her parents, who were also of German birth. Their first home was in Maryland and they also made a sojourn of three months in Virginia, after which they came as far west as Missouri, and seven years later removed from that state across the plains to California. The journey was made with wagons and ox-teams and six months were spent on the road, after which the family settled in Eldorado county. After her marriage Mrs. Hallengren promoted her husband’s success by her economy, thrift and sagacious council. Her death occurred December 4, 1910, and was deeply lamented by her children and the many friends who had been attracted to her by her true womanly nobility and depth of character. Throughout her life she had lived up to the teachings of the Bible. After the death of Mr. Hallengren the family remained together and continued his policy in the management and care of the ranch. By dint of energy and economy they purchased adjoining land until they now own twenty-six hundred acres of land, in two ranches, almost all of which is adapted for grazing of stock. One hundred and forty acres have been planted in a vineyard of thrifty vines producing fine varieties of grapes. In connection with their vineyard a winery has been erected, in which they manufacture wine from their own grapes as well as from those of adjoining neighbors. Cattle and horses are kept on the land in limited numbers. Sheep are raised for the markets and at this writing there are one thousand head on the land. During 1909 the fleece from seven hundred sheep brought $1,080, and was considered the best wool brought to the markets. Two hundred acres of the land is in redwood and pine lumber and is quite valuable. Under the judicious management of the family a neat income is received from the estate and the returns are well merited by their energy, industry and perseverance.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011