Nils Johan Almquist (or Almqvist) was born on 1 April 1825 at Hylte, Almesakra, Jonkoping, Sweden. His father, Anders Niklasson Almquist, was a "hemmansgare" or a free farmer who owned his own farm, called Hylte. His mother was Ingrid Danielsdotter. Nils was the youngest of eight children. On 22 Sep 1850, at the age of 25, he married Anna Charlotta Johansdotter. She was from the nearby village of Sodra Ving.
Nils and Anna Charlotta had a farm called Hallen in Brunn, another village not far from either Hylte or Sodra Ving. They had the following children: Johan August born 1851, Anders Wilhelm Ludwick born 1852, Hulda Josefina born 1857 and Emelie Maria born 1859. He is listed simply as a farmer. The 1860's in Sweden were a period of famine and apparently all did not go well for Nils. The family story is that he wanted to emigrate to America but Anna Charlotta did not want to go. He was determined to go, though, so one day he left with the children and without his wife. She sent the police after him and they caught up with him in Goteborg as he was about to get on the boat. The police told him that he could go but the children had to stay. So he left for America while his children went back to their mother. the Swedish Emigration records give his date of departure as 14 Jun 1864, sailing from Hamburg, Germany. They give his occupation as "Landtmann" which I believe means farmer (land meaning land or farm). I found him on the New York Passenger lists arriving on 15 Aug 1864 on the ship Nord. The family story goes on to say that he met and married another woman on the ship to America. He did marry again but I find no evidence that he met or married her on the ship.
In 1865 he is recorded in the Minnesota State Census in Dahlgren, Carter Co., Minnesota, with a family next door to one that his brother, Anders, was boarding with. In 1869 he married Anna Elisabet Finstad in Ramsay Co, Minnesota. In the 1870 Census he and Anna (called Sahra in the Census) and their son, Claes, as living in Swan Lake, Meeker Co. his son Johan had already come to America but left for Texas by 1870. His second son came before 1880 when he married Julia Kneeland and lived in Cokato, Wright Co., Minnesota. His daughter, Hulda, arrived in 1881. Emelie stayed in Sweden. By the 1880 Census Nils and Anna were living in Dassel (the new name for Swan Lake) with their three sons, Claes Alvin, Gustaf Emil and Nils E. I have not been able to determine if he ever actually divorced Anna Charlotta. Her Swedish records name her as divorced but I am not sure if that is from him or a later marriage. I'm sure he felt he was divorced whether he had the official papers or not.