No announcement yet.

What happened to Elvira Engström after immigrating to USA 1896?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    What happened to Elvira Engström after immigrating to USA 1896?

    I would really need some help with one of the hardest to solve brick walls in my research! I just found this site and it seems to be full of nice helfpul people so I can't resist taking the chance to beg for help!

    The person alluding me is my maternal grandmother's aunt, Elvira Cecilia Lovisa Engström, born September 15th 1879 in Mönsterås, Småland, Sweden. Here she is on my website (only in Swedish, though, sorry) where information about her family might be found:

    (I have asked for help on another online forum but got no response whatsoever there. The text below is mostly cut-and-pasted from that place.)

    Up until 1896 she lived in Mönsterås; May 8 she left Sweden to go to Chicago in America, then stopped briefly in England, left from Liverpool on board the ship Campania and arrived April 18 at Ellis Island. (For some reason their transcription says she's English, which she's obviously not.) Her last name was probably spelled Engstrom or Engstroem in the USA.
    I know next to nothing about her whereabouts after that. She was headed to Chicago - did she end up there? Granny told me that Elvira eventually married a man with the surname Karlsson (Carlsson/Carlson) and that they has three children (all daughters?), of which one daughter at some point came to Sweden and visited her relatives there. Granny couldn't remember any of their names, sadly.

    I have found one possible match in the 1930 Census, but I do not dare to take it for a fact. Here's her post from the census:

    Elvira Carlson
    Födelse: Ungefär 1880
    Hemvist: 1930
    Chicago City, Cook, Illinois, USA
    År: 1930
    Rulle: 0481
    Delstat: Illinois
    Län: Cook
    Kommun: Chicago City
    Folkräkningsdistrikt (FD): 16-1511
    Sida: 5a
    Familj nr: 85
    Namn Ålder
    Elvira Carlson 9
    Gustaf A Carlson 26
    Morris Carlson 16
    Roy Carlson 14
    Elvira Carlson 50
    Innar Carlson 6
    Swea Carlson 18
    Adolph Carlson 50
    Arthur Carlson 12

    I would deeply appreciate any help on her life and descendants! I have very limited experience of research in the US since I have remarkably few relatives that I know emigrated. Perhaps someone with access to Ancestry's databases might be able to help?

    Thank you,

    Hello Maritha and welcome to the forum.

    I'm afraid I can't access USA Ancestry, but the 1940 US census is on Familysearch, I've just taken a pot at the first Elvira Carlsen that looked a possibilty!

    Hopefully this link will take you to that site and then you should be able to click on people and view the image.

    Last edited by Janet in Yorkshire; 02-03-13, 16:48.
    Janet in Yorkshire

    Genealogists never die - they just swap places in the family tree


      There are many chicago resources online. You may want to start with this search on familysearch:

      Chicago marriages are on familysearch thru about 1920, so if she married there it should have been in those results.

      Sorry, I haven't gone to the website. Do the DOB & Parents from this death certificate match up with her?

      Looked at your site. I think that's not a match.

      you may want to try two other illinois sites:

      You might be able to identify a death certificate on the first.
      Last edited by PhotoFamily; 02-03-13, 17:24.
      My Families
      London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


        Thank you both for your response!

        Janet, thanks for pointing me to the 1940 Census. That's the same family as in 1930. I managed to find the birth record of the son Morris, and unfortunately it seems this is not "my" Elvira since her birthplace does not match. Well, at least this is one elimination from the list of possible matches.

        PhotoFamily, thank you. I've searched for both marriage and death records without any luck. The death certificate you found was unfortunately not the right one. :(

        What's frustrating now is that I have no idea if she did end up in Chicago. She might be anywhere. Well, nothing to do but to keep searching.


          Just remembered an old piece of paper I've scanned years ago, on which is written two addresses in Indiana. The paper was found in a box with old photos and memorabilia after my grandmother and grandfather.

          Of course I can't be sure the addresses have anything at all to do with Elvira and her family, but since we don't have any other known close connection to America other than through her, I think it's likely that this might be a clue in this mystery game.

          Below is the text from the paper. I have tried to google the whole text as well as parts from it with no luck.

          Mrs. W. L. Carlsson (to the right is also written the female name Frida)
          R. F. D. 1, Box 174
          Valparaiso, Indiana

          Ridge Lumber & Supply Company
          700 East 40th Avenue, Gary, Indiana


            I've been thinkin' the name may have changed in the new country...

            how about this one?

            still checkin' it out, but notice the immigration date is 1896

            -- 1910, Frida is married to A F Carlson, one daughter Blanch (9yo); he's a railroad engineer
            -- 1920, Frida still with ALEC and daughter Blanche. Edwin Peterson, age 17, born Illinois, nephew is living with them

            Not seeing two other daughters with them, but the location is so good...
            -- 1940 they're in San Bernadino, CA - his name is Alric! and Blanche is still with them.

            Nope, not your woman, wrong maiden name:

            Wait a moment - if you read all the information on the memorial page, it appears that the page creator came to her own conclusions. It is NOT clear to me that the records prove her MN is Swenson.
            BUT - the YOB is wrong for your woman - but I've seen that before. It appears the full DOB is not part of the gravestone. I'm reasonably certain that this Frieda/Alric/Blanche are the same that are in 1910/20/40 listed above. That Frieda was NOT born in Nebraska per three census records, and she only had one child.

            Just looked at the CDI (California Death Index, cited on the page) - it definitely indicates the MN is Swenson (but also indicates the birthplace was "Other Country"). With both YOB and MN wrong, I don't think she's your woman.

            BTW, Chicago is about 30 miles from Gary - when your relatives are a quarter of the world away, they might know Chicago but not Gary!

            Any postmarks on the letters, or are they dated?

            Last edited by PhotoFamily; 03-03-13, 01:30.
            My Families
            London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


              Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to help!

              I agree with all your conclusions. Too bad it turned out to be an unrelated woman, but I'm really glad you came to think of the fact that she might have changed her name. I have been so stuck on searching for the name Elvira I will gladly attack the problem from this new point of view.

              And yes, you are most likely very correct. My/Elvira's relatives back in Sweden would probably know at least a little about Chicago but less likely about Gary. I can picture Elvira's daughter coming to visit her relatives and when explaining where they live finding Chicago suiting better.

              No, unfortunately no dates or other information whatsoever, just the two addresses written on the back of a paper that I believe originally came from the place where my grandfather worked. If that is so, the addresses would have been written no earlier than late 1930's or early 1940's.

              I guess it's not entirely impossible that this Frida is in fact a daughter of Elvira, who just happened to marry a man with the same surname as herself. Considering the number of Swedish immigrants heading for Chicago and Carlsson being a rather common Swedish surname, I wouldn't be very surprised. I'll look into that possibility right now.



                Originally posted by Maritha View Post
                .... I'm really glad you came to think of the fact that she might have changed her name. I have been so stuck on searching for the name Elvira I will gladly attack the problem from this new point of view...

                I can picture Elvira's daughter coming to visit her relatives
                Any idea when Elvira's daughter visited?

                Another point in US census: enumerators interviewed residents, and did all the writing. They were not required to ask the resident to spell their name. I've seen some pretty creative variations on my ancestors' names!
                My Families
                London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                  I'm afraid I don't know when she visited Sweden. It almost certainly wasn't before the late 1930's, but I suspect it in fact was not until the midst of the 1940's or even later, but I am not sure. My suspicion originates from trying to recall what my granny answered to my questions and I do believe she was already married or at least engaged when the visit occured. By that time she lived far away from home and thus did not have the chance to meet this cousin of hers in person. She got married in 1947. That's my (qualified, I suppose) estimation.

                  Yes, I have noticed the spelling issue, and it can be sort of frustrating. Not an easy task for the enumerators to grasp the spelling of all the foreigners' names, though, since they came from so many different countries.

                  I spent a few hours today trying to follow the Frida clue. Not much of a result, though, however I did find an image of a house that might be the house of the W.L. Carlson family in the mid 1900s. To be found here:


                    I think the photo is quite promising.

                    One resource to try to locate: local newspapers. A few are online & free, some are in pay sites, many are at local public libraries. I'll nose around, but I don't have much access at home, and won't be at the library for a while.

                    I think of local newspapers as the twitter of their day: they have wedding announcements and obituaries, but they may include trivia like - Sue Carlson just returned from her trip to visit her relatives in Sweden.
                    My Families
                    London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                      I believe my heart actually skipped a beat or two when I found that photo. I felt like that was the first "real" step closer to the solution.

                      Well, I did search for local newspapers, but didn't have much time to dig deep, and just too often I ended up on a page with payment options. With my de facto very limited need for such subscriptions and a limited genealogy budget, the sad fact is that I simply cannot afford signing up for pay sites just in hope to maybe find something of use.

                      I cannot tell you how much I appreciate any amount of time, no matter how small, you can afford to spend looking around on my behalf. Thank you!

                      Oh, the thought of local newspapers as their twitter is so on the spot. There are loads of interesting tidbits in old Swedish newspapers as well. I guess people have always had a wish to tell others what they're up to - and others have always been keen to know about it too.


                        Public Library's genealogy page is down at this time, I think that's why some of the fs links are not giving results

                        Take a look at familysearch's info about porter and liberty - there are lots of links to chase:

                        Unfortunately, W Carlson is not listed in the 1937/43 enumeration of men in liberty:
                        My Families
                        London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                          I think these people may be a good resource for you - the home site of the photo:

                          And specifically, you can click the surname in question, and send an email to someone thru this link:

                          If it works out I hope you'll let us know.

                          I'm beginning to suspect that W L Carlson didn't own the farm until after 1940, and that your line may have married into it. I didn't find W L Carlson in the 1940 for Liberty. BTW, familysearch's website may be slow, but it's free & I think its index to 1940 is better (I indexed a lot of Illinois for them!).

                          good luck
                          My Families
                          London-area Coverly Family Finder DNA Project


                            Thank you for all those links and tips!

                            It's time for me to stop the hunt for today; feels like my head is spinning around and besides, I should soon put myself to bed, tomorrow being Monday and workday. I'll continue the hunt after work tomorrow. I'm so glad I posted my question here, it's really sparked my inspiration and imagination to get this mystery solved once and for all!

                            Of course I'll let you know if I find my elusive relative(s)!