EHP Photo

Here and Then

If you missed the last post, I presented over 150 patrons from the families Swedish homeland [Jämptland, County]. As the blog continues, we'll look ahead and introduce another chapter of the Pearson story. Soon after Holger Pearson graduated boarding school he left SW Washington's Cowlitz, County, to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Washington. 

Living in Seattle he met his wife, Mary Mueller-Pearson. The two made many trips into the PNW wilderness. Hal and Mary documented every moment they could. Below are just four shots from two large photo albums I'm currently scanning. More will photos will reveal the couples shared love for adventure and mountains. Enjoy the remarkable moments captured here. In forthcoming posts I'll characterize Mary Mueller-Pearson and her life-time devout advocation for conserving some of Washington's most treasured areas. 

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!

Extended Biography


Eric Holger Pearson was born October 5, 1901 in Lit, Sweden. His father emigrated to the United States on May 12, 1903, settling in Longview, Oregon and began working as a carpenter in logging camps. In 1910 E. H. Pearson reunited with his father in Portland, Oregon. The family lived and worked in logging camps, eventually settling in Seattle’s Mountlake area in 1923. E.H. Pearson graduated from the University of Washington as an electrical engineer and worked for the Bell Telephone Company. 

E.H. Pearson was a lifelong mountaineer and carried his large format Graflex camera everywhere he went. This shop section on this site displays a select group of photographs taken from a collection containing over one-thousand. The photographs date mid-nineteenth century (Swedish) to early twentieth century (USA).  A majority of the photographic imagery depicts everyday life in undeveloped Pacific Northwest wilderness. 

In addition to the photographic documentation there is also a substantial chunk of historical artifact and ephemera; which includes hand-written real photo postcards, international correspondence letters and postcards, records, cameras and mountaineering equipment. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the collection please contact us via email

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.