Gems in the hunt of history

Sometimes I find great pieces of Swedish history, which is out there online, well worth to be announced on other forums.

Like this little story about two Swedes, who left Sweden and went out west in the world, to another continent, to search for other qualities in life.

I am following up a small note in a digital magazine, which tells me about the death of Ernest Julius Alfred Erickson, who fell in the Great War in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, when he fought for 361st Infantry Regiment, 91st Division in American Expeditionary Forces.

Ernest is in this case buried back home in the United States, and not at the Western Front, but I think it is nice anyway to mention him and his family within my project, even if I dont put him in my database, as he falls outside my criterias of the project.

Ernest was born in Torpshammar parish, Ånge, Sundsvall, Sweden, in January 9th, 1889 and were raised together with his siblings by his mother Britta Kristina Olofsdotter and his father Anders Alfred Ersson.

Below I will present the text that I found on the web page and the photos I found are in the credit of Mark Erickson and Brian Backes. I find them great as they are in colour, and are supposed to show Ernest and his brother Frank, which I will describe later on further down.

The family description can be viewed in a larger version through this link.

The text below are assumed to be written by Mark Erickson:

In early 1917 my grandfather Frank Severin Erickson and his older brother Ernest Julius Erickson had gone out west by train from North Dakota together seeking adventure and warmer climates. Also on their minds was buying some land along the west coast. Deep into Winter when they arrived on their first stop at Astoria, they were surprised how cold it could get in Oregon. Over the next months they considered how the Great Northwest was similar to where they had come from in Dakota.

Frank and Ernest Julius were working by mid Summer as deputies on the Oregon Railroad out of La Grande. Both had joined the army in June and had full intention of becoming members of the American Expeditionary Force that was being formed at hundreds of army camps all over the states.

An excerpt from Ernest Julius’s diary dated Tuesday, June 5th, 1917 goes simply:

Went and signed up for Uncle Sam today, so if he wants me, I’m ready to go.”

Ernest Julius would be first to enter service in late 1917 and train at Camp Lewis near Tacoma, Washington. He shipped out to England from Brooklyn Harbor on July 6th, 1918 and ported in Liverpool. By September of 1918 Ernest would find himself in the Argonne Forest in France serving with the 361st Infantry.

By late September of 1917 Frank and Ernest Julius went deer hunting up near Mt. Baldy, Oregon. They camped and cooked outdoors and enjoyed the time together up in the woods.

My uncle Ernest Julius Erickson September 25th, 1917 standing in front of his horse with a deer packed aboard and rifle in hand after a successful deer hunting week up in Mt. Baldy, Oregon.

By the end of 1918, with Ernest Julius already at Camp Lewis training, Frank would move to Tacoma and await his induction into the AEF. Soon enough he would be at Camp Lewis preparing for combat duty.

On August 8th, 1918 Frank like his brother would ship out of Brooklyn Harbor heading to England. In September he along with other members of his Company H of the 308th Infantry would be preparing to take part in the Meuse Argonne Offensive. An odd twist of fate was in store for Frank by early October. On October 2nd Frank along with roughly 553 men of the 77th Division led by Major Charles White Whittlesey launched an attack into the Argonne Forest, with the incorrect knowledge that French forces were supporting their left flank and that two American units including the 92nd Infantry Division were supporting their right. With this all in collapse, the 77th was isolated by German forces. Frank would serve during this time as a runner rifleman for Captain William J. Cullen.

Fortunately Frank would become a surviving member of the Lost Battalion when 194 men would escape through a pocket in the Argonne. The 356 remaining men were either killed, went missing in action or were captured by the Germans.

The quality of photographs unlike the one below taken by Frank and Ernest Julius in September of 1917 are superb with two examples here:

The photo posted here along with others had quite a life. One hundred years old and they have gone through the mill as Frank would say. Forty years in a photo album and then in 1952 the Missouri River, North Dakota Flood hit Bismarck and my grandparents house was waist high in Missouri water. They told me of items floating out the open windows and things lost or damaged.

It is quite fortunate that these photographs even exist. This and other similar images taken on September 25th, 1917 up in Oregon all faded and water damaged, but still stunning and in my opinion true Cowboy gems.”

So interesting to also read about Ernest brother Frank, who fought in Company H, 308 Inf Regt, 77th Div, and survived the fights in the Argonne Wood, in the battalion which later was called “The lost battalion”

In the text above Ernest and his brother Frank are mentioned, and their real names are Ernst Julius Alfred Ersson and Frans Gustav Severin Ersson. The family left Sweden in March 30, 1903 from the farm in Sweden called Klöstre, in Torpshammar parish, Ånge, Sundsvall, Sweden.

I will probably find more facts about those Swedes who were brought back to their new home area in the US, after they fell at The Western Front, and this facts brings very much knowledge to me, when it comes to our Swedish Emigration history, which I carry very close to my heart.

May Ernest and his family rest in peace. We will remember them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *