also known as Ekstrom and Ekström

Carl Melcher Eckstrom (1897 - 1968)

Carl was born on 7 February 1897 to Richard Ekstrom and Johanna Albertina (Carlsdotter) on the family farm in Odin Township, Watonwan County, Minnesota near the town of Butterfield. Although he was the sixth of eleven children, four of his siblings died in infancy. He had an older brother, but Oscar died  at the age of 21 in 1913 after a short illness. He never married. As the oldest son surviving son, Carl worked the farm with his father. Upon his marriage in 1928, Carl brought his new bride to the farm and his parents retired to the nearby town of Odin. By that time, his siblings had married and were raising families on their own. Upon their fathers death in 1933, Carl bought out his siblings shares of the farm and his mother moved back to the farm. Carl and Cora raised four sons on the family farm through the Great Depression and WWII, but none of their sons remained in farming. Although she moved “to town” in Saint James after Carl died, Cora remained the owner of the farm until her death. When her sons sold the farm to the long-term leaser, the farm passed out of “Eckstrom hands” for the first time in 120 years.

Both of Carl’s parents were born near Väderstad, Östergötland, Sweden and emigrated as adults to America. His father Richard Ekström had emigrated in 1879 following three of his brothers. The four Ekstrom brothers came at different times and had different stops along the way, but by 1887 all four had farms in rural Watonwan County, Minnesota within 3 miles of each other. Richard returned to Sweden in 1887 to represent himself and his three brothers for the settlement of their father’s estate. On this trip to Sweden, he married Johanna Albertina Carlsdotter. When he returned to America he brought back not only a new (and pregnant) wife…. but a wife for his brother also!

Richard's brother Per Otto and Johanna Wilhelmina must have known each other in Sweden since they grew up within miles of each other. It is speculated that Johanna Albertina and Johanna Wilhelmina were childhood friends. This is a great example of clues leading to more clues. Johanna Wilhelmina’s tombstone is in the cemetery where many of my relatives are buried, but following Swedish custom, it has her maiden name and in Swedish states she was the wife of P.O. Ekstrom and from Dhalbo. After some cogitation, my Uncle recognized the name from the passenger list for Richard and his wife returning to America. We connected the dots and discovered that Dhalbo is a farm in the parish adjacent to where Richard and his brothers grew up.

It was Carl and his siblings (Richard’s children) that changed the family name to “Eckstrom” by adding a “c” to make it “Eckstrom”. Apparently, this was an attempt to “Americanize” it.  The family name in Sweden was “Ekström”. Richard's brother’s families kept the old spelling so now there are related Ekstrom and Eckstrom families in Watonwan County. There is also an unrelated Ekstrom family in another part of the county.

The following tree opens with Carl’s parents and siblings.

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© Eric Eckstrom 2017, 2018