Swedish, generations


What the population of Jämtland at the turn-of-the-century was I'm not sure, but here are over 150 members of the counties population, some dating to the late 19th century. These types of portraits are called Carte de Visite's, which were traded amongst family and friends. Many of the portraits are legibly signed and some dated. I will begin adding additional name tags and info as time permits.  While scanning these I noticed a handful of people who are pictured in the wedding photograph. The first block of photos has a mix of unknown's and select members of the Persson, Thilander and Eriksson families. I've been wanting to invest the time and scan all these, it's been well worth it. Enjoy!

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.  


Godt Nytt År

Happy New Year readers! Expect many more enlightening posts in 2015. We've just scratched the surface of my family's collection and there's great momentum for the New Year. It's now 112 years after Erik Andreas Persson set foot on new soil. This postcard was sent from Persson's late wife's sister in Krokom, Sweden. Addressed to 1902 Oak St., Brainerd, MN and forwarded 73 miles N. to Box 1786 in Laporte, MN.

Persson's first wife Kristina Erika Thilander died Jan. 28, 1902. Kristina was raised on the Slater farm in Rödön, near Krokom, Sweden. After her death Erik Andreas was left with his 1 year old son John Erik Petrus Holger Persson, born Oct. 5, 1901.  Soon after [his] startup hardware and blacksmith business failed in Lit, Erik Andreas left his infant son with his dead wife's sister Ottolina Thilander in Rödön, May 7, 1903.  On May 12, 1903 Erik Andreas emigrated to the U.S., stopping briefly in Minnesota before settling in Portland, OR. 

Ottolina and Holger addressed this New Year's card just 7 months after E. A. Persson left his homeland -- presumably he had made it as far as Laporte, MN. It would be 7 more years before the family would reunite again in Oak Point, WA. There are dozens of postcards sent to and from Rödön during the years 1903-1909.  

Godt Nytt År - 2015!

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. 


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. 

The Beginning

This story unearths a substantial collection of Swedish American family history. Over time this blog will chronologically unravel an archive of photographs that depict a family's deep rooted bond with Pacific Northwest life. 

In 1910 Eric Holger Pearson arrived in Portland, Oregon to be re-united with his Swedish father, Eric Andreas. Eric Pearson the elder emigrated in 1903 and began working as a logging foreman who was responsible for transporting ancient timbers by way of railroad to local sawmills. 

Eric Pearson the younger, pictured here (far right) just after his arrival to the new land, lived and went to school in remote logging camps just outside of Longview, WA. The Skookum Terrorists (as they were dubbed on a note pinned to the photo) experienced a rare and wild life in the Pacific Northwest wilderness. These developmental years would later shape Eric Holger Pearson's love and need for adventure as a photographer and climber.