John Erickson > Daniel Erickson
John Erickson, also known as Per Johan Erikson, was born on March 1, 1875 in Borgsjö, Västernorrland, Sweden and was the eldest son of Erik Person and Juliana Marta Persdotter. John came to America on June 2, 1893 with 2 of his siblings. Their immigration was arranged by their father’s brother, Nels Utterberg of French Lake, Minnesota. John and his siblings traveled from New York by train to meet their uncle and his family. I wonder what thoughts were going through John’s mind as they set out on their voyage. He was only 18 years old and responsible for his 16-year-old brother, Erick (aka Conrad) and 14-year-old sister, Anna. They were traveling to an unknown land to meet an uncle they probably hadn't seen in over 10 years.
John worked his first American winter as a logger near Deer Creek, MN in order to raise money. Using the money he earned, in 1896 he purchased an 80 acre farm from Andrew Johnson of French Lake. The following year, John sent for his parents and siblings, Edward, Julia and Ella, and they joined him in French Lake. The original house on his farm was just a two-room log home. In 1910, John built a framed home and also built a home for his parents. The land John farmed has been in the Erickson family ever since. John lived on his farm until he was 89, when he moved in with his sons Clarence and Lawrence.
John's wife, Emma Larson, was first married to Edward Erickson, John's brother. Edward died of tuberculosis in 1907 and Emma married John on July 2, 1908. John and Emma’s household included their 8 children and 2 children from Emma’s first marriage. Sadly, Emma died following the birth of son Edwin in 1923. Being left to raise an infant, along with his 9 other children, John decided to have Edwin raised by John and Hazel Larson (Emma’s brother and sister-in-law). Although he wasn’t part of the immediate household, John made sure Edwin was often included as part of the Erickson family.
Although he only attended school for three years in Sweden, John worked to educate himself and loved to read. He was first received to the Grace Lutheran Church on May 13, 1900 and was an active member. He taught Sunday School (and one of his young pupils was his future daughter-in-law, my Grandma), and he served as Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years. He also served on a number of boards including creamery, school and town boards.
John died on September 20, 1968 and is buried alongside wife Emma in the Grace Lutheran Cemetery. At the time of his death John had 43 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.
Following the death of Emma in 1923, John placed a “thank you” in the local paper to thank the community for the $549 that was presented to the family. He wrote, “May God help me bring [my children] up for Him and His Kingdom, and to be worthy citizens of this great country of ours.” I like to believe Grandpa John would be proud of his Erickson descendants. I know I am.
Sources: Grace Lutheran Church Records, Cokato Museum; Newspaper clippings, Cokato Museum and Wright County Museum; family recollections and photographs