Image from 1896 when August Lindström traveled to the United States for the second time. Four years later, Edward – standing at the back – follows with the destination Leadville,Colorado. On the left is his little sister Hulda, who wondered all her life what had happened to her brother. Herman, front row, was only 20 years old when he died in 1912.
Strange are the ways of the internet and dna-testing. For more than 100 years, Edward Lindstrom from Tavelsas in southern Sweden has been missing and presumed dead. In 1902, the last sign of life came – then from Greeley, Colorado. But now it turns out he lived until 1933, leaving behind five children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A 16-year-old Edward takes this photo in Greeley,Colorado in 1902. Then he disappears.
For more than 25 years, I have been chasing him on and off. One late night in the fall of 2020, it got a message via messenger. A Shirley Lindstrom-Thomson wanted to have contact and claimed to be the granddaughter of Edward Lindström. She had dna-tested herself and got a hit on another Lindström who gave her my address.
Magni Gustafsson from the same area returned home from Colorado in 1903 and said that Edward had been shot. As a result, his disappearance was deemed to have been explained. When his father August Lindstrom died in 1930, he is not mentioned in the estate inventory.
As digitalisation and access to new databases increased, the search could be reopened. A match with the correct name and birth data appeared in a census record, but confirming the person’s identity was impossible. The U.S. censuses are available for 1910, 1920, etc. and this Edward disappears. The search continued for a while but has rested for a couple of years – until now!
How do you confirm that the Edward Shirley mentions is the right person? An intense emailing starts. It soon turns out that we have two stories that match:
One is about ”Emma mine” in Georgetown, Colorado. Brothers August and Emil Lindstrom from Tavelsas made a ”clip” in 1895 – so big that it was written about in The Swedish-American Western paper. On this we had coherent data.
The second was about the relationship between Edward, 16, and his uncle. Edward emigrated in 1900 and his father August Lindstrom returned to Sweden in 1901. His brother Emil, however, promised to take responsibility for the young Edward.
My grandmother Hulda’s version was that Emil did not fulfill the promise, which resulted in lifelong enmity between the brothers.
The version my new second cousin Shirley tells me is almost the same. According to her, Emil was stingy and mean to the point that Edward couldn’t stand it and left.
It’s a long way from Leadville, Colorado, to Benson County, North Dakota, where he eventually ends up. The year is 1902 and I have no idea how to get there. At the time, many resorts lacked names – they were just a number. He might have been a “cowboy” in Texas and travelled with a cattle transport north.
In the 1930 census, I can now find him in a place called Lund, Ward county in North Dakota. He works on a farm and has been married to Canada-born Jessie Anderson for a few years. She has three children with her in the nest and together they get another five. For example, he was reported to have immigrated in 1895, which caused problems in the search.
I am shure that Ed (as he was called) Lindstrom thought of his Swedish family when he named his firstborn to Elisabeth Betty. It is the same name as the mother at home in Sweden. That was emotional to read.
Why did he cut off contact?
What was it that made him forever break off contact with Sweden. Something must have left a deep mark, or was it just difficulties with the postal service, or that he was ultimately ashamed of the long silence? We’ll never know, and the grandchildren in the U.S. don’t know either. But it seems that both Edward and Shirley’s father David were quite stubborn, like several others in the family.
Unfortunately, none of Edward’s children live. Betty died in Denver in 2014. If the fate of the prodigal son had been revealed earlier, I could have met her. In 2012 I was in Denver twice.
Johan Edward* Mauritz Lindström
Born in Tavelsas Sweden Nov 17th 1884
Dead in Montrail, Ward county, North Dakota Nov 25th 1933 in a mine collapse.
Elisabeth Betty* Lindstrom
Born Sept 9th 1921 North Dakota
Dead July 29th 2014 Denver, Colorado
David* Edward Lindstrom
Born May 25th 1923 Parshall, North Dakota
Dead May 22nd 2006 Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Born May 18th 1925 Montrail, North Dakota
Dead Sept 11th 2004 Fargo, North Dakota
Elmer Odin Lindstrom
Born April 17th 1927 Parshall, North Dakota
Dead Jan 5th 2010 Fargo, North Dakota
Born Oct 12th 1928 North Dakota
Dead Nov 8th 1990 Denver, Colorado
Edward’s son David (1923-2016) a few years before his death.
There are no pictures of Ed within the family. One has appeared, showing him on his way home from work in the mine.