Originally published on Rockford Buzz.


When Oscar Olson died in December of 1910, many Swedish friends and family mourned the young man. Oscar was well known and liked by the Rockford’s close knit Swedish Community. He was a carpenter by trade and from all accounts quite a good one. 

Oscar went to Minnesota in the fall of 1910 to visit an uncle. He stayed six weeks or so before traveling to the Northern woods of Wisconsin. It was just before Christmas when the news reached Rockford that young Oscar had been struck and killed by a train in Minneapolis.

Though, as one can imagine, identification was made nearly impossible by the nature of the accident, someone identified Oscar and he was buried there in the local cemetery. The news of Oscar’s accident was reported in the paper and also wrote up in the Tribunen, a weekly Swedish paper. Many of the Swedes in Rockford had subscriptions to the Tribunen so the news made its way from Minneapolis quite quickly. The articles were quite lengthy about the accident so no one had any reason to doubt the stories.

So when rumors started to swirl that Oscar was seen walking around in Rockford, it made the good folks of Rockford very confused. Some even reported that the young man had returned from the grave. Though some of the most respectable Swedes would not listen to these stories they soon spread throughout the city. 

By April 21, 1911 the truth was finally revealed. Oscar though reported dead and buried in the little cemetery outside of Minneapolis was alive and well. It seemed that it was a simple case of mistaken identity. 

Oscar Olson’s relatives knew that he was in Wisconsin but couldn’t verify that fact immediately. Eventually Oscar was shown copies of the newspapers reporting his demise. It seemed that Oscar possessed a great sense of humor about the whole thing. He decided to return to Rockford and clear up the misunderstanding in person. He got quite a laugh about people’s reactions when he showed up on their doorstep!

Oscar later expressed surprise that some people took so much convincing before they would believe that he was really alive. It was much easier for his neighbors to believe that his ghost was wandering the streets of Rockford!



Copyright © 2019 Kathi Kresol, Haunted Rockford Events