Sunday, December 25, 2011

Whatever Happened to Lars? Part 2

Lars Theodor Ekman, born Jan 1855 in Sweden, immigrated to the U.S. for good in 1881.  After filing his "first papers" in Wisconsin, then moving to Minnesota, where he married Effie Bassett and had 6 children, he packed up the family (along with his brother Axel and his sister Amanda and their respective families) and moved to Roberts County, SD.

After Effie ran off with Jake Gifford, taking three of their children with her, Effie's mother, Hester Ann (Salley) Bassett sent for the other three children.  Lars sold his land and left, shortly after his brother Axel died.  The family never heard from him again.  So what happened to him?

On 15 Jul 1911, Lars Theodor Ekman filed his "second papers" in the naturalization process in Rolette County, North Dakota, nearly 30 years after his first papers were filed.

These papers establish several facts.  One is that he has been living in North Dakota since April 1901.  Another is his date of birth, which he lists as 14 Jan 1855.  This is the only record I have found in the U.S. in which his year of birth matches that of the Swedish parish record.  There is a discrepancy on the exact date of birth.  The parish record indicates his birth date is 4 Jan 1855.

The third fact is the location of his residence at the time of naturalization, which was Bachelor, ND.

Finally, he lists his family, a son, John William, who was born earlier in the year in Bachelor, ND, and his wife, Emma Marie Ekman.

The 1910 census record shows the following couple in Rolette County, ND.
This record indicates that Thomas Ekman is 44 years old, that he was born in Sweden, and that his father was Swedish and his mother German.  The age of Thomas Ekman would indicate he was born in 1866.  The record also indicates that this is his first marriage, and that his wife is 17 years old. 

The marriage certificate for Thomas Ekman and Mary Emma Hays/Hayes (her name varies from Mary to Marie and the order is sometimes Mary/Marie first, sometimes Emma first) includes a note from her father, John Hays, giving his permission for her to marry Tom.
Indian Census records taken annually for the 14 years prior to the marriage indicate that Marie was likely not 17 years old in January 1910. Her birthday was 1 Dec 1894, which would have meant she had turned 15 the month before she married, not 17.

This record, from mid-1896 indicates she is 1 1/2 years old.  Her older sister Mary Jane was born in 1892.

The 1915 North Dakota State Census shows the following:

Tom and Mary Ekman are listed with two children: John and Charlie.

The 1916 Indian Census Rolls list Mary (Hayes) Ekman, her son Tom, and their two sons, John William and Victor Charlie.  Note that Victor Charlie is a combination of the names of two of Lars  Ekman's sons from his marriage to Effie.

In 1916, Lars Theador Ekman and his wife Mary Ekman sold their land in Rolette County to Ole Bu.

In 1920, the couple can be found on the Federal Census living in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Lars is employed by the Coca Cola bottling plant. Victor Charley is not on the census, because he had died.

Mary Rosa Ekman ("Rose" in the record above) was born in Minnesota on 26 Jun 1919.  Her birth records can be found in the Minnesota Birth Index, as can one of two others born later.  Lizzie V Ekman is recorded on the Indian Census Rolls with a birth date of 26 Dec 1921, but is not found in the MN Birth Index.  Florence Irene was born 2 Nov 1928.

On these birth records, Lars's age gets progressively lower.  When Mary Rosa was born in 1919, her father's age is listed in his 50s.  The last child, Florence, born in Nov 1928, lists Lars's age at his last birthday as 49, younger than he supposedly was 9 years before. He was actually 73.

Marie Emma and the children cannot be found on the 1930 census.  Thomas Ekman, born in Sweden to a Swedish father and German mother, who immigrated in 1881, is on the census, unemployed and living in a downtown Minneapolis hotel, age 64 (making him born in 1866, not 1855, one of the birth years he often used after he was married to Marie.  He lists his marital status as Single.

Last but not least is a death certificate for Thomas Ekman, indicating he was born in 1877.  The day of birth is listed as 14 Jan, which matches the day of birth on his naturalization papers.  No other Thomas Ekmans can be found in the upper Midwest born between 1855 and 1877, other than a man who lived in a town in Michigan's upper peninsula for decades.  The mother's maiden name on this certificate, "Cloose" is very close to the known name of Lars Theador Ekman's German mother, which was "Kloose."

The cemetery where he was buried is eight miles from my house.  Eight miles.   The obituary notice in the paper had only the bare facts from the death certificate with no mention of family.

Lars Theodor (Thomas) Ekman lived to be just under 80 years old (although his death cert claims just under 60), had two wives and 12 children, 11 of whom (probably) survived childhood.  I drove up to the cemetery last spring and asked at the office for help finding the grave and if any other information was known about his funeral.  Like, who paid for it?   He died alone, buried in an unmarked grave paid for by the city.
I wonder if I'm the only one ever to visit his grave, or if any of his children ever discovered what had happened to him, maybe saw the notice in the paper or something.  I kind of doubt it.

And that's whatever happened to Lars Theodor Ekman, my great-great grandfather.