Karl Hjalmar Sigfrid Nystrom (1887-?)


The notes for this photo say, “Swan’s brother Carl (lived in Texas).” This would be my great-uncle, the brother of Sven (Swan) Eugene Nystrom, my grandfather. Annoyingly, my grandfather had two brothers named Karl: Karl Edvard Emanuel Nystrom, born 15 Sep 1892, and Karl Hjalmar Sigfrid Nystrom, born 20 Sep 1887.

We know through records that Swan and Karl’s grandparents, Lars and Johanna Wedholm, immigrated to the United States from Sweden in November of 1897. With them were their daughter, Edla Charlotta; Edla’s husband, Carl Fredrickson; Edla and Carl’s daughter, Marget; and 8 year-old grandson, August Nystrom. August must be Johan August Mauritz Nystrom, Swan’s brother, born 11 Sep 1889. Swan was just a newborn at the time so he probably had no memory of these people since it’s doubtful that he ever met up with any of them once he made his own way to America in 1914.

In other words, the mother of Swan, Karl, and August was Karolina Wedholm Nystrom. Karolina’s parents were Lars and Johanna. Karolina’s sister was Edla. August was traveling with his grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin. All of them were heading to Edna, Texas to meet Gustaf Wedholm, brother of Karolina and Edla, son of Lars and Johanna, uncle to Swan, August, Karl and Marget. Lars had $130, about $3,600 in 2017 money. Edla and Carl had $30, not quite $850 in 2017 dollars.

So what does this have to do with Karl?

By the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, everyone was living and farming in Ganado, Texas – Lars, Johanna, Gustaf, Edla, Carl and Marget. With them were 10-year-old grandson, August, and a 12-year-old grandson named Fritz. Who was this Fritz? Swan had no brothers named Fritz.

There is a record of a Karl Hjalmar Sigrid Augustsson Nystrom born 20 Sep 1887 leaving Stockholm for America in July of 1897. The name and birthdate fit and Karl’s father was indeed August Nystrom so the Augustsson makes sense. Karl was nine when he left for America. Three years later a 12-year-old “Fritz” shows up in the census. Are Karl and Fritz the same? I think so.

This would mean that Karl left Sweden in July, four months before the rest of the family. Did the nine-year-old Karl travel alone to meet his uncle Gustaf in Texas?

Ganado, Texas depot. Perhaps the Wedholms and Nystroms came through here. Caption says early 1900s. Retrieved 24 Jun 2017 from http://www.historictexas.net/image/jackson-county/depot-ganado-texas-early-1900s.

Why Texas, with a climate completely unlike Sweden? Well, we do know, thanks to Wikipedia, that Ganado was originally a cattle ranching community, until Scandinavian immigrants bought land and started farming in 1891. Gustaf departed Sweden in 1891. It might have been hot but at least there were other Swedes.

By the 1910 census, almost everyone is living in Manistee, Michigan with its more familiar climate and geography – Lars, Johanna, Gustaf, and Edla’s family. Everyone except grandsons August and Fritz/Karl. I have yet to find out what happened to the two of them but it appears Fritz/Karl must have remained in Texas at least for a while if my grandparents had a photo of him as a grown man, noting that he lived in Texas.

I put this out there, hoping that maybe someday someone comes across this, someone who knew what happened to Karl Nystrom.

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