Friday, April 13, 2018

Dead End Branches: 52 Ancestors

Every family tree has them: aunts, uncles and cousins who had no children. When you come to the end of a line, how do you react? I feel disappointed, relieved and disoriented. There will be no new cousins and no new clues. Perhaps a child died, a women died in childbirth or a soldier in a war. Conversely, the research on that line is at an end, fortunately. What branch is next? How many generations back is the next branch to research?

The Swedish part of my tree is full of those dead end branches. One branch came to America, yet still ended with no living descendants. My great-grandfather's younger brother, Ernst Viktor Leonard Ekstrom, came to America in March of 1889. He was born at Kristineholm, Björsäter, Östergötland, Sweden on January 27, 1865. Ernst trained as a tailor and brought that skill with him to the thriving Swedish community in Chicago.

A Swedish seamstress named Maria Charlotta Wenberg found her way to America in 1893. Lottie was born in July, 1868, in a parish yet to be discovered. I don't know how Ernst and Lottie met, but it may have been through their work. They married in Chicago on July 18, 1896. To their union two daughters were born.

Grace M Ekstrom was born on July 25, 1898, and her sister Lillian Efrusine Ekstrom followed on October 21, 1899. Grace and Lillian were second generation Americans with one foot in Sweden and one in Chicago. They and their mother traveled several times between the two countries.

The girls, rather than marrying and raising a few children, instead helped raise hundreds of Chicago-area children. They both became teachers by the time of the 1920 census. Grace married Fredrick F Lech between 1932 and 1935. By the time of the 1940 census, she was no longer teaching. When I interviewed their cousin after her death, he said that Grace never had children. I've found very little about her online.

Lillian taught for many more years, as she never married. She attended Northwestern University during summer sessions and, in August, 1935, was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. She taught physical education at Kelvyn Park High School for many years. Lillian had signed the 1953 yearbook that was scanned into the Ancestry yearbook collection.

Lillian acquired from her parents the small apartment building that they owned at 4107-09 N. Greenview Avenue. The address is seen throughout the records for the family, starting in 1920. Based on the census, it appears the building had four to six apartments. Lillian lived there for most of her life.

Ernst Ekstrom died in Chicago on August 30, 1939. His obituary was carried in the Swedish American newspaper.
Svenska Amerikanaren Tribunen
Torsdagen 7 Sep 1939
På Ravenswood lasarett avled den 30 augusti f. skräddaren Ernest Ekström, boende i 4107 Greenview ave. Slutet föregicks av en tids sjuklighet. Den avlinde var född i Sverige och omkring 74 år gammal. Han sörjes av sin maka Lottie samt av dötterna mrs Grace Ekström Lech och Lillian Ekström. Hans begravning ägde rum den 2 sept. och omhänderhades av Edgars likbesörjningsbyrå i 4821 N. Damen avenue. Platsen för jordfästningen var Rosehill.

Lottie Wenberg Ekstrom died in Three Lakes, Oneida County, Wisconsin, in August of 1958. There was a brief funeral announcement in a Chicago area newspaper.
Marie C. Ekstrom. Three Lakes, Wis., beloved wife of the late Ernst; loving mother of Grace Lech and Lillian Ekstrom. Services Wednesday, Aug. 13, 11 a.m. at funeral home. 5303 N. Western avenue, corner Berwyn. Interment Rosehill cemetery.

Lillian Ekstrom died in Chicago on March 30, 1992, and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery.

Grace Ekstrom Lech died on April 28, 1993. No further information.

And so ends the Ernst Ekstrom branch of the Ekstrom family from Björsäter, Östergötland and Chicago, Illinois.

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