The Enholm Saga in Chicago.
The story of the Anna Olivia Enholm, as a 14 year old immigrant to Chicago, must have been very familiar to their children Ida, Alice, Eva, Anna, Ingrid and Sven. Their grand children knew bits and pieces of the story, of which some pieces have been written down and used as the basis of the “Saga” which is here retold. A composite account follows:
Anna Olivia Enholm immigrated to America from Sweden when she was fourteen years old. She came from a small town in Sweden. The trip went from Göteborg, then to Hull and out of Liverpool (by train), then from Liverpool to New York. After arriving in New York, she went by train to Chicago. The year was 1887, as remembered in the family history.
Her daughter Anna Lovisa told this account of the trip: Anna Olivia’s parents had packed enough food for the journey, but the food ran out in New York. She then took the train from New York to Chicago. While on the train, she saw a couple of kids eating an apple across the aisle from her. She was so hungry and the apple smelled so good, that she could never again eat more that half an apple! When Anna Olivia got to Chicago, she got off at the wrong station. She had to walk back across the prairie carrying her suitcase. She saw a man coming the other way down the path, and it turned out to be her brother (Johan Oskar Enholm). So the journey had a happy conclusion!
Anna Olivia then lived for two years as a Swedish Maid with a German family having the surname “Hall” (according to Ingrid). After Anna Olivia and John Oscar Larson were married (1892), they lived in a two story “flat” owned by a family named Stockman. (“There was a big Mrs. Stockman and a little Mrs. Stockman”) The Larson’s were downstairs and the Stockmans upstairs.
The Enholm-Larsons were to have six children:
Ida Wilhemina (1893),
Alice Johanna (1894),
Anna Lovisa (1897),
Eva Wahlberg (1899),
Ingrid Elvira (1901) and
Sven Oscar (1904).
Anna Olivia returned to Sweden in 1908, to visit her parents. (Nobody remembered that the town was named Holmestad!) We have only recently discovered an account of her visit to Holmestad and meeting her father quite by accident!
Tragedy struck the family when Oscar Larson died in 1909 of typhoid fever. “And there he goes and leaves me with all these kids!” (Anna Lovisa’s recollection of her mother’s comment in 1909). Oscar's death was coincident with the so-called "Milk Wars" in Chicago in the early 1900's.
The Enholm Immigration Story.
Both Ingrid and Anna Lovisa agreed on these particulars of the immigration story:
Five members of the Enholm family had emigrated from Sweden and lived, in the early years, in the South Chicago area. They were:
Johan Oskar, Charles, Hilmar, Anna Olivia and Anton. Hilmar and Anton never married nor had children, but John Oskar Enholm, Anna Olivia and Charles had large families. While their original surnames had been either recorded as Svensson or Svensdottar (and the father had adopted the surname “Munter”), all of the immigrants selected the family name “Enholm” on arrival in America.
There was also uniform agreement that one member of the Enholm children had stayed behind in Sweden and never immigrated: Linus Enholm.
Johan Oskar Enholm: the Bromberg-Enholms.
The children of Johan Oskar Enholm and Blenda Bromberg:
Gerda (b Aug 1888)
Axel (b Mar 1890)
Walter (b Feb 1892)
Elvira Jemasma (b Jan, 1894)
Hulda (b Sept, 1896)
Ernst (Ernie) (b April, 1900)
Lawrence (b June, 1904)
During the summer of 1895 Blenda (then 28 years) returned home to Sweden with her four children: Elvira (1 year), Walter (2 years), Axel (3 years) and Gerda (4 years).
Tragedy struck this family when Johan Oskar Enholm died of shock and burns received in a fire in January of 1905. Uncle Anton came to their rescue!
Karl Wilhelm Enholm: the Karlsson-Enholms.
The children of Charles (Karl Wilhelm) and Hulda Kristina Karlsson:
Flora Margretta Christina (b Aug 1899 in Chicago)
Carl Hilding (b 1902 in Värmland)
Oscar Theodor (b 1905 in Chicago)
Olga Ingeborg Virginia (b 1910 in Holmestad)
Ingrid knew that there were four children in this family, but she could only name two of them: Flora and Carl.
“Uncle Anton” is remembered as having rescued the families of both Johan Oskar Enholm (d. 1905) and Oscar Larson (d. 1909) from disaster. Anton had a good income from his painting business, and he must have been instrumental in maintaining the two distressed families in rent and food for many years. The 1925 picture of the Enholm “gang” appears to have been their tribute to Anton on the occasion of his 50th birthday. Anna Lovisa remembered that Uncle Anton engineered the building of the store and that Uncle Charles (which one?) also helped. The store was built with insurance money. Anton was a bachelor throughout his life, and lived with the Larson family (Anna Olivia) for many years.
The character of Hilmar Enholm was quite different from his brothers. His brothers were content to be painters or carpenters or bartenders, but Hilmar would have none of that except to get started in life in America. He left Chicago at some point and settled in Wyoming where he supported hiself in some way. His favorite niece was Ida, who told of visiting him in Wyoming one summer and camping on part of the trip. We have a wonderful picture of Ida pointing her rifle in the air among the Douglas Firs. Later on in his life he moved to Minnetonka, Minnesota where he died in early 1962, age 90 years. We (Birgit and I) met him one Sunday about 6 months before he died.
In correspondence with Ida, she described how he claimed to have invented a new type of railroad tie and was seeking a patent for it. He also gave her advice on buying some Gold Stock which was sure to be profitable. He clearly considered himself to be an adventurer and an inventor!
I knew that one brother of the Halmestad-Enholm children did not leave Sweden. He was known to us as Uncle Linus. The only detail about him came in a letter from Ida in May of 1959. In this letter Ida wrote: "Not to be outdone, but also not to be pretentious, hope she (Birgit) knows you have a great-uncle who was professor at Uppsala and knighted by the King of Swden. He is my mother's brother, Linus Enholm, who lives in Stockholm. No doubt retired now as he is in this 70's".
This was all we knew of him (Bror Linus Enholm), and he was clearly promoted in the eyes of his niece, Ida. Nevertheless, he was looked up to with pride!
Conclusions to "Enholm Saga"
The collective memory of the descendents of the Enholms in Sweden had forgotten many of the salient features of the immigrants lives and times. Only some dedicated research can fill in some of the details of their lives and times! This Web Site is devoted to this endeavor, of recovering Lost History.