The connections to Sweden
Ice cream makers, naval captains and investors
Two of the expedition members were Swedish and there were many Swedish investors in the venture including the Swedish ambassador to the United Kingdom Count Anton Magnus Herman Wrangel af Sauss.
It was Johan Millen who went to England to raise the funds for the expedition. Millen was a Swedish businessman who had tried his hand at different ventures including setting up Sweden’s first ice cream company. He had worked in Denmark and Belgium and had contacts in England. Millen moved to England during the expedition. However, he returned to Sweden a few years later. In December 1915, he gave a lecture about the excavations and the Ark at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The talk was not well received. He also wrote an account of the expedition which he published.
Axel Werner Hoppenrath
Axel Werner Hoppenrath was a Swedish captain who worked in the Belgian Congo for decades. His service in the Congo was only broken by his time on the expedition. He was a critical member of the Parker expedition. He negotiated the purchase of land and signed a contract with the Ottoman governor of Jerusalem.
The official biography of service in the Congo records that Hoppenrath worked hard and with ‘a rare competence’. His passengers also appreciated Hoppenrath’s qualities as a steamer captain. In 1894, when he was the ‘Stanley’ steamer’s captain, he carried a party of Catholic missionaries and nuns. One of these was Constant Pierre-Joseph De Deken. He was a Belgian missionary, anthropologist and explorer who later wrote an account of his time in the Congo. De Deken thanked the Swede for his tact and good manners, which lessened their long voyage’s monotony. He wrote that even if you travelled slowly with Hoppenrath, you could be sure of arriving.
The most famous depiction of the madness of the Belgian Congo is arguably in Joseph Conrad’s work Heart of Darkness. Hoppenrath played a part in inspiring its most famous scene:
“I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen—and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids,—a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.”
The official Belgian Biography of Colonial Service paid tribute to Hoppenrath:
‘During a fine colonial career of more than 30 years in the Congo, Hoppenrath rendered remarkable services to the Colony.”
On his retirement, he returned to Sweden and died in Stockholm in June 1932.
Henning Melander was a Swedish writer who published books and articles over many years about the Ark of the Covenant. He believed that the Ark was hidden in Jerusalem. In 1881, he had visited Jerusalem and researched the locations where he believed the Ark was hidden. He returned home and pursued a career as a surveyor in the Swedish army. He also wrote about his theories. Twenty years before Juvelius went to London, Melander had published a book entitled The Ark of the Covenant of Israel and its Rediscovery. He was also a friend of Theodor Herzl the founder of the Zionist movement and discussed with him organising an expedition to dig in Jerusalem for the Ark.
Melander later published The Hidden Temple Treasures of Jerusalem. He believed that the prophet Jeremiah, together with the High Priest Hilkiah, had hidden the Ark during King Josiah’s reign. He claimed they had buried it in a place called Hakeldama or Akeldama, in the valley of Hinnom, also known as Gehenna. Juvelius read the book and wrote to Melander saying that he agreed with his theories. He asked to cooperate with Melander. They exchanged information and Melander’s work was influential in where the Parker expedition ended up digging. He sent maps and photos of Warren’s Shaft and the Siloam Tunnel to Juvelius. At the end of the correspondence and before he talked to Johan Millen and Axel Werner Hoppenrath Juvelius wrote:
“I now believe that I have empirically proven the correctness of Henning Melander’s extremely ingenious deduction that the entrance (the one from the valley side) to Jerusalem’s temple archive is in Hakeldama! Also that the temple archive stands still untouched in its hiding place!”
However, Juvelius decided to exclude Melander from the project and this produced a great deal of bitterness later on. Melander accused Juvelius of stealing his ideas and worse.
In February 1914 after Clarence Wilson had gone mad and the expedition’s main source of funds has been closed down a delegation of Jerusalem creditors, including the mayor of Silwan, came to London. They were chasing money they were owed. Parker refused to meet them. Millen resolved the issue by selling some of his shares and giving the proceeds to the creditors. He sold £250 of shares, the equivalent of £30,000 today. Millen somehow persuaded the Swedish Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Count Herman Wrangel, to invest in the dying venture.
The Swedish Investors
Other than Johan Millen and Count Herman Wrangel there were eight other investors in the expedition who were listed as being Swedish residents. They were:
Oscar Bjorkman living in Wimmersby
Ada Uggla living in Stockholm
Victoria Wallen living in Stockholm
Edward Leffler living in Gothenburg
Gustaf Leffler living in Gothenburg
Anna Nilsson living in Arvika
Elin Allen living in Stockholm
Edith Sophie Carlsson living in Stockholm