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So, this is Dad and Mom. Ray is the son of Conrad Herrmann and Kate Bundock. He is the step-son of Edith Armstrong and Wally Hewitt. ...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hilmar Eugen Bjerkmann

Hilmar Eugen Bjerkmann (my grandfather) was the 5th son, and the 9th and last child of Andreas and Gustava.
We know he worked at Spigerverk, for a time, along with his father and brother. 
In 1912, he accompanied his sister, Nora, and her children to the U.S. Nora's husband, Harald, had arrived in 1909 and settled in Waukegan, Illinois. Harald sponsored and paid for passage for all of them.
Some facts gleaned from the passenger list of the Franconia - Hilmar arrived with $2.00 in his pocket (Nora reported no money, but her daughter, Esther, had $5.00). Hilmar reported his occupation as painter and his next-of-kin contact was his mother, Gustava (Nora reported her sister-in-law, Davida, as her next-of-kin).  Hilmar's physical description was 5'6" with brown hair and gray eyes (Nora reported herself as brown hair and blue eyes and her children were all blonde hair and blue eyes). All reported their health and physical condition as good; and all reported their destination as Harald's residence in Waukegan (naturally). 
Hilmar's finacee, Ragnhild, would arrive seven months later, her passage being paid for by Harald, mistakenly recorded as her Uncle rather than her (future) brother-in-law. She recorded her next-of-kin as her father, Herman, and listed her physical description as brown hair and brown eyes; in good health, and with $25.00 in her possession. Her destination also being Harald's residence in Waukegan.
Hilmar and Ragnhild (now known as Gene and Emily) married a month after Emily's arrival in the U.S. The following year, the first of their four children was born - Rollie. Ivan would follow two years later; and two years after Ivan, Earl was born. Ester, their only daughter, would arrive about 2 years and 4 months after Earl.
Gene and Emily would raise their family in Waukegan and Lake Forest, suburbs in the Chicago area. Gene would also build a house there. He joined the Swedish Glee Club, traveling around with the club and performing at various functions. Gene was a painter by trade, but there was another occupation that very few knew about at the time  - an agent in the Secret Service.
The extent of his duties in the Secret Service are not fully known, but Mom used to tell the story of vacations with other families at Turtle Lake in Wisconsin. She talked about how wonderful those vacations were, only to discover years later that the purpose of them was actually part of Grandpa's job in the Secret Service. You see, while families of the Secret Service vacationed on one side of the lake, Organized Crime families vacationed on the other side of the lake. 
I have seen Grandpa's Secret Service I.D. badge, but I'm not sure where it is now. While Mom told me she gave it to my brother, my brother said he doesn't have it. It's one item that I'd really like to find and scan. It was such a cool badge.
Tragedy did strike the family when their son, Earl, died in a car crash in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I will blog about Earl next.
Shortly after Earl's passing, Gene and Emily moved to Southern California. Their daughter, Ester, was living there at the time, so I imagine this played a role in the move.
Their son, Rollie, stayed in Illinois. He was married with children of his own. Ivan, also married and also living in Illinois, would later move his family to Southern California, too. Emily's sister, Judith, and her family would move to Southern California after their arrival from Norway.
Nora and her family would move to Florida.
Gene passed away in 1953. Emily passed away in 1974. They are buried together at Mt. Hope Cemetery in San Diego.

This is Eva. Mom said she arrived from Sweden and lived with Grandpa and Grandma to help take care of their children. She also said that Eve was like a sister to her and that she thought she was a member of the family from the "old country". I am still trying to find out who she was, what her full name was, and what happened to her.

The Bjrokman family. Grandma (holding Mom), Rollie, Grandpa, Ivan, and Eva (holding Earl).

Mom kept this photograph of her father on her dresser for as long as I can remember.

Gene Bjorkman. This photograph was in his Memorial Card. 

The Hilmar Bjorkman Family

Gene, Emily, Rollie, Irene, Beverly, Ivan, Millie, Earl, Esther, and Welch (Rocky)

The Swedish Glee Club. Grandpa is in the middle row, second from the right.

The house Grandpa built on N. Butrick. It is still there.

The Bjorkman Children at Turtle Lake.