Building the American Dream

Swedish immigrants Gustaf Adolph Johnson (1880-1947) and Selma Anna Sofia Carlson (Johnson) (1879-1937) built a family and a career in Moline, Illinois during the early twentieth century. Gust became a prolific carpenter and contractor, building some eighty houses in the area. Selma worked as a domestic for ten years before she and Gust were married in 1908. The couple raised two daughters, Dorothy and Elinor, who were graduated from college and took divergent paths as adults.

This book interweaves two themes: Gust Johnson's career and the Johnson family life. Utilizing a remarkably complete set of detailed records left by Gust, the book follows his work as he progressed through a 38-year professional career, including his working procedures, work places, finished products, and the people with whom he forged business relationships and with whom he labored. Simultaneously, the book tells the family story through diaries, letters, and other written documents, in addition to family lore. It describes everyday life for Selma and other family members, including life at home and in their neighborhood; church, social, and family activities; and travels to nearby as well as distant places. We thank the Moline Preservation Society for partial support of the project.


Reviews and Articles:

Quad City Times

Swedish American Geneaologist


On Sale At These Locations:

Model Printers, 301 15th Street, Moline, Illinois

Rock Island County Historical Society, 822 11th Avenue, Moline, Illinois

Trevor True Value Hardware, 2842 16th Street, Moline, Illinois


Order Online:

See our Shop to purchase through the Heritage Documentaries website.

Also available through the Rock Island County Historical Society.


Order By Mail:

Send a check for $20 (plus shipping/handling prices) to:

Heritage Documentaries, Inc.

2120 12th Street, Moline, Illinois 61265


Price: $20.00, shipping is $6 for the first; $2 each for additional book, shipped in the same package


Contact Curtis Roseman at (309) 764-6122 or email.