Lake Woebegone: A fictional city in Northern Minnesota populated by descendants of Scandinavians and Germans. Does not appear on maps of Minnesota due to the incompetence of surveyors in the 19th century. Described as a location where :”All the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are above average”. This description justly describes Chicago in the 19th and early 20th centuries, except that Chicago was founded by Germans, Irish, English and Scandinavians, including Swedes.

The Woes of early Chicago were many:

The Great Chicago Fire, 1871. Chicago had been a city of wooden houses and buildings mostly built of wood. The great fire of October 8, 1871 changed all that. The fire was out of control for 36 hours. Three hundred thousands of its residents lost their homes, and 300 lives were lost. Fire hazards nevertheless persisted after 1871.

Periodic epidemics of Typhoid fever, Cholera, Diphtheria were common. The germ theory of disease did not appear in Chicago until the latter part of the 19th century. Raising the level of the city and a new sewer system helped some problems, as well as reversing the direction of flow of the Chicago river.

The “Milk Wars”. An obscure but important part of the History of Chicago. (See “Challenging Chicago”, Perry Duis, 1998). The quotes that follow are from Milk Wars, a part of this book:

By the end of the 19th century ...milk became the focus ...of one of the most bitter struggles in Chicago’s history......Milk became an urban hazard when demand Dairies collected untested milk from many sources into huge processing tanks, making it difficult to identify which producer had contaminated the whole lot....In 1870 those under the age of five accounted for 65.8 % of all deaths (in the city of Chicago).....Worse yet, some dealers stretched the product further by adding water that was often typhoid laden and then thickening it with give the appearance of whole milk.

Chicago’s water supply had been the principle source of cholera and typhoid prior to 1900. With an improved water supply, the impure milk supply drew condemnation and pasteurization gained support as the solution to the problem.

The Dairy Interests led the opposition, calling on paid experts...who were willing to label pasteurization as valueless....In 1908, the city council took the bold step of requiring that all milk received in Chicago either be from cows tested for TB or be pasteurized. Downstate interests were furious. On March 27, 1909 members of the General Assembly denounced the Chicago law and asked that its enforcement be suspended. Another outbreak of typhoid appeared in Englewood (a Chicago suburb) in the summer of 1911. Finally in 1916. Chicago’s health commissioner...justified an emergency order requiring the pasteurization of all milk entering the City of Chicago. The edict was never repealed!

Note: John Oscar Larson died on March 6, 1909 due to Typhoid fever acquired from a glass of milk!


8740 Buffalo Ave. South Chicago

Oscar and Blenda Enholm Residence.

1900 - 1905

Karl Wilhelm Enholm Family

Karl Wilhelm Enholm, born 1869. Moved to Uppsala on 11 Jan, 1886 and returned to Holmestad on 20 Sept. 1888. Immigrated with Hilmar in 1889 to Chicago. Carl appears in the Chicago City Directory as Charles W. Enholm.

Karl’s wife was Hulda Kristina Karlsson. Hulda (Hylda) was born in 1877 in Södra Råda, Värmland. She emmigrated from Goteborg Län on Oct 19, 1884 at the age of 18 years.

Karl Wilhelm, Hulda and their first child Flolra Margretta returned to Sweden in about 1901, for a stay of over one year. Karl and Hulda returned to Chicago from Sweden on April 01, 1903. At that time they had two children with them: Carl Hilding, age 1 year, and Flora Margretta, age 3 years.

From the records in Sweden, it appears that Karl and Hulda Enholm returned to Holmestad in about 1909. The Holmestad forsamlingsbocker lists the following names in their 1910 records, living then at Kämpaslätten Lilla (a part of Holmestad):

Flora Margretta Christina, b Aug 1899 in Chicago. (Source: U.S. 1900 Census)

Carl Hilding (b 1902 in Värmland)

Oscar Theodor (b. 1905 in Chicago)

Olga Ingeborg Virginia (b 1910 in Holmestad)

Carl, Oskar and Anton had a good relationship doing the years that all three lived on Buffalo Avenue. Carl and Oskar worked for Anton (business at 8820 Buffalo Ave), and the Larsons were frequent visitors at all of the Enholms houses. Anton and the Larsons shared a house (or apartment) at the time of the 1900 Census (8221 Marquette Ave.)

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The Enholm Families in Chicago:

Johan Oskar Enholm Family

Johan Oskar Enholm (b. Aug 12, 1863) immigrated on 17 April, 1883. Married Blenda Bromberg (Illinois marriage index. 1763 - 1900)

Blenda Bromberg immigrated from Göteborg to South Chicago on 22 April, 1887. Blenda (then 20 years old) was accompanied by her younger sister Dorothea Bromberg (18 years in 1887)

Johan Oskar Enholm and Blenda Bromberg were married in Cook County, Illinois, on 16 Nov, 1887.

The children of Johan Oscar Enholm and Blenda Bromberg:

Gerda Enholm, b. Aug 1888 in Chicago

Axel Enholm, b. Mar 1890 in Chicago

Walter Enholm, b. Feb 1892 in Chicago

Elvira Jemasma Enholm, b. 07 Jan 1894 in Chicago

Hulda Enholm, b. Sept 1896 in Chicago

Ernst Enholm, b. 29 April, 1900 in Chicago

Lawrence Enholm, b. 17 June, 1904 in Chicago.

Enholm prosperity: During the summer of 1895, Blenda went home to Sweden with her four children at the time. They were Elvera (1 year), Walter (2 years), Axel (3 years) and Gerda (4 years). When they returned, they left Göteborg on 06 Sept, 1895 bound for Boston. Hulda was born 12 months later in Chicago.

Enholm Woes: Johan Oskar Enholm died Jan 17, 1905. (death statistics: City of Chicago). The death certificate from Cook Counthy Vital Statistics yields this information: Oscar Enholm age 41 years, lived 23 years in Illinois, died due to shock and burns received in fire at County Building Jan. 16th, 1905. Died on 17th of January at Passovant Hospital. His place of usual residence was 8742 Buffalo Ave.

At the time of Oscar’s death Gerda was 16 and Lawrence, the youngest, was 7 months old. Anton must have supported the Enholm family after Oscar died!

Chicago Woebegone 1870 - 1920