Swedish Emigration, logging

New Land

The next chapter in the EHP's first years as he assimilated into Pacific Northwest logging and mountain culture.  A class photo below features a handful of children introduced earlier; Astrid Thorén and the younger Baldridge boys.  Written evidence shows that many Swedish families did not colonize in the Northwest by chance.  Word grew in the old world that the long journey to America was worthwhile, and little at a time - friends and relatives would reunite, sometimes years after their loved one's said goodbye.

Eric Holger Pearson arrived in Portland, OR, with his late mother's sister Ottolina Thilander in 1910.  As pictures will show in future posts, Swedish dress was unlike the clothes being worn by sons and daughters of early century American loggers. Hal was reportedly teased by peers for his 19th century Scandinavian garb.  He and Ottolina reportedly arrived dressed in lace and velvet, with chests of wardrobes, bedding, silver and dinnerware. 

As mentioned, Hal's Swedish mother Kristina Erika Thilander would die just 3 months after his birth.  I trust in forthcoming translations Kristina's exact cause of death will be revealed, but given the time period there was most likely tragic birth complications with Holger.  Little is known about Kristina's earlier life prior to her death on Jan. 28, 1902.  Erik Persson would wed Kristina's sister Ottolina in Washington State just months after her arrival from Rödön, Sweden.  In short time Erik and Ottolina would also have a child, Holger's new baby sister was named Brita Pearson, born April 28, 1910.  A picture below shows my great grandfathers new family in Portland, OR.  Erik and Ottolina would remain married until Erik's death in 1945. Ottolina would visit Sweden once more in 1947, she passed in March 1958. 

Eric Holger Pearson (second from right, middle row) and classmates, around 1912-13, photographer unknown. 

Eric Holger Pearson, 1912-13. 

Pearson family (Holger, Ottolina, Erik and Brita) 1912-13, Portland, OR, photographer unknown. 

Eric Holger Pearson in traditional Swedish shirt, pants and boots days after his arrival to the Pacific Northwest woods, photographed by Erik Andreas Persson, 1910.  

railroads, logging

Another Reunion

More interconnectedness revealed tonight. Referencing my last post, you'll learn that E. A. Persson and Kinsey Brothers Photography had a grande 100 year reunion. Most interestingly it continues, as I've established yet another clear link between them. Going through this collection is like putting together a monster puzzle; slowly making connections and feeding the engagement level. 

My inclination that Kinsey(s) and E. A. Persson were at some point touring the W. L. & T Co. grounds together has come into better focus. In these photos you will see rows of bunk houses, which lodged unmarried W. L. & T. Co. workers. It is known that E. A. Persson shot the first two photographs, one near ground level and another from higher up on a hill. They depict two separate camps, as I cannot identify coinciding geographical points of reference along the camps parameters in each photo. 

The last photograph was shot by a Kinsey brother and is part of the brother's archive at University Libraries Digital Collections at University of Washington. The Kinsey(s) photo is of the same W. L. & T. Co. camp taken by Persson from the hill looking down, as there is a railroad track cutting along the far side of the longest row of bunk houses. One can also see the lieutenant headquarters in each photograph (middle right) and adjacent water tank. Although there are differences in either camps layout, there is a definitive correlation between the two. Persson's photograph was obviously taken a season or two prior to Kinsey's, there are many more felled trees and brush yet to be cleared along the camp parameters. 

These discoveries are wonderful for me and my family. Any rewards are appreciated in research and these completely exceed what I've expected to find. With more than 1500 photographs and as many postcards yet to comb through, I'm confident this temporal reunion won't be the last. 

Photo by E. A. Persson of W. L. & T. Co. camp, near Oak Point, WA. Two girls playing far right. (1906-10)

Photo by E. A. Persson of W. L. & T. Co. near Oak Point, WA. Lieutenant headquarters middle right. (1906-10)

Photograph by Kinsey Brothers (courtesy University Libraries Digital Collections). Lieutenant headquarters far middle right. 

railroads, logging

Timber Railroads

As the railroad carved deeper into the ancient Cascadian forest, logging camps proliferated. Most dwellings were made so to be picked and transported via locomotive to the next location. Erik Andreas was making a name for himself as a carpenter and crew member building trestles.  He later became superintendent of the Basin Lumber Company owned and managed by J. S. O’Gorman out of Portland, OR.  All in all it is said this outfit raked in nearly 120 million board feet of lumber. The company would establish for it’s time, the longest and highest known stretch of railroad in the upper Columbia (Cascade region). 

A junction of converging tracks snakes through this larger sized logging community. I used this image to inform a drawing of my own

Yards like this housed tools/equipment and provided shelter from long periods of PNW rain. 

A dog stands on the tracks next to a line worker, somewhere deep in the Cascade Mountains. 

First of two photos depicting a trestle construction in progress, taken around 1910.

Another perspective from the latter, this time from topside.. 

Another perspective from the latter, this time from topside.. 

logging, railroads

Building of Railroads

Erik Andreas Persson  (upper left)  posing for a photograph on a newly finished railroad bridge. (1903-4)

Erik Andreas Persson (upper left) posing for a photograph on a newly finished railroad bridge. (1903-4)

Soon after Erik Andreas Persson landed in the Northwest he became employed with the building and maintenance of railroads, transporting timber and lumber to nearby mills. This post begins with a photograph of him perched high on a massive bridge construction made of old growth Douglas Fir logs.  Resourceful and perhaps practical for it's time, this engineering monstrosity is linked together with enough board feet to make a modern lumber tycoon big money. 

Below, features snapshots of an everyday working mans life in the Northwest timber industry. In the latter photograph we see Erik Andreas as a person of seemingly unstoppable power, while in another we see him cuddling two small kittens in front of his home. It was an extraordinary time for manual labor, looking closely at the Heisler locomotive climbing the grade (pictured below), one can pick out dozens of white shirts catching a lift up the hill to work a long day.

Heisler steam locomotive climbs with several teams of workers on its back. 

Erik Andreas shares a softer side with two kittens.

Without the shade of an ancient canopy, these two workers bake while shaping hand hewn ties. 


Erik Andreas Persson

Erik Andreas Persson, father of Eric Holger Pearson, was born May 1, 1897 in Nyby, Sweden. It is believed he left his dead wife's sister Ottalina and infant son Holger to leave for America in 1903. Erik Andreas emigrated to the USA and settled in Portland, OR where he built and maintained railroads for the timber industry. 

Sometime around 1910 Ottalina and young 9 year old Holger emigrated to America.  It is said that she arrived with lace sheets, white table cloths, china and silver. Holger was dressed in a velvet suit with a lace collar. Neither the newcomers nor their belongings fit into the new surroundings. 

Reunited in the new land, the family spent the remainder of a decade in logging camps. These are a few pictures from this period, which in no doubt was an historic time in Pacific Northwest history. In one photo Erik Andreas Persson shows off orphan Black Bear cubs, most likely their mother killed in defense. 

Erik Andreas Perrson, portrait taken at Churley's // 145.5 Third St., Portland, OR. (1903-5)

E. A. Persson pictured before his departure on the family homestead in Lit, Sweden, (1898-1900). I visited here in 1994 and stayed in the big two story farm house. The son of E.A. Perrson's brother, Nils Erik was still living. We drank Swedish beer and gin, ate   Lutfisk and chewed tobacco most days and nights.    

E. A. Persson pictured before his departure on the family homestead in Lit, Sweden, (1898-1900). I visited here in 1994 and stayed in the big two story farm house. The son of E.A. Perrson's brother, Nils Erik was still living. We drank Swedish beer and gin, ate Lutfisk and chewed tobacco most days and nights.  

Novel for the time, melancholic today. Erik Andreas poses with orphan Black Bear cubs. (1903-05)

Persson also designed 3 man houses that could load onto trains and moved to the next logging operation, (1910-12). Link provided by The Oregon Historical Society

Detail from the latter photo. 

E. A. Persson and a work partner standing on newly finished gravity fed water tanks. (1910-12)

Detail from the latter photo. 

logging, Swedish Emigration

Swedish Translations

A local writer and scholar has agreed to translate E. H. Pearson's collection of letters & correspondence postcards from Swedish to English. Very exciting news, this will shed light onto the daily lives before and after E. H. Pearson's emigration to Pacific Northwest logging camps. I've started scanning postcards -here's a taste- earliest postmarked 1902. 

Front 1a

Back 1b

Front 2a

Back 2b

Front 3a

Back 3b