Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 1, 1890
Place of BirthWest Sweden, Polk, Wisconsin
CountryUnited States of America
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCarl J Elmgren, brother, 3223 22nd Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Service Details
Regimental Number4067951
Battalion56th Pioneer Infantry Battalion
ForceAmerican Expeditionary Forces
BranchUS Infantry
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 2, 1947
Age at Death57
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Elmgren, Albin

Albin Elmgren was born on 1 February 1890 in West Sweden, Polk, Wisconsin. West Sweden, organized in the mid 1870’s, was aptly named as it was a settlement of Swedes who were ‘west of Sweden’. It appears that Albin’s father Peter Elmgren had immigrated to the area in late 1876, and his mother Emmelia Christina (Emma) Magnuson/Hultquist had arrived in October of 1880 with their two sons Carl and Oscar. They were likely from the Kalmar area of Sweden. The family had a farm just north of the post office, very close to the settlement. Known children born in West Sweden were Hjalmer (1883), Albert (1886), Martin (1887), Albin, and Mabel (1892). Sadly Emma died in March of 1899 and although Peter married widow Martha Sundin in late 1900, the family unit disintegrated. In 1905 Albin was living/boarding in Chisago Lake in Minnesota.

Albin signed his WW1 Draft Registration card in the spring of 1917 in Baudette, Minnesota located on the Rainy River near the Canada/US border. Although he was homesteading in the Morson, Ontario area on Lake of the Woods at the time, his father Peter had been living in Baudette for the 1910 US census. Albin was described as tall and slender with light hair and blue eyes.

Albin was to serve with the 56th Pioneer Infantry Battalion from 26 July 1918 until 30 June 1919. Organized in July of 1917 as the Milliken Regiment, the unit went through a number of name changes. By February of 1918 the 56th was training at Camp Wadworth, South Carolina and in August moved to Camp Merritt, New Jersey in preparation to go overseas, strength of 3 450 men and 101 officers. The regiment embarked from Hoboken, New Jersey on September 4th, arriving in St Nazaire, France on the 13th. By October 2nd they were in Dombaste-en-Argonne. The different companies were scattered along the Argonne Sector during the last big drive of the war and were under constant shellfire. They worked in conjunction with the 21st and 25th Engineers. After the armistice the 56th was ordered to Germany as part of the Army of Occupation. Albin was listed as 1st Class Private on a 1919 roster.  He returned to the States aboard the Mexican, departing from St Nazaire, France on 10 June 1919 and arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey on the 22nd. The passenger list noted his rank as Cook and his brother Carl in Minneapolis as next of kin.

Albin returned to the Lake of the Woods area after the war and on 4 October 1924, in Kenora, he married Nina Sophia Paulson. Born in the area, according to the marriage record Nina was the daughter of Edward and Sophia (Burkis) Paulson, Edward a Norwegian immigrant. Other genealogical records suggested that her mother’s maiden name was Henderson. At the time of the marriage Albin was living in nearby Norman and his occupation was given as merchant. Unfortunately the marriage did not last, with Nina moving to the US, living in Minneapolis and New York.

It appears that Albin ended up living in Sioux Narrows, a village south of Kenora on Lake of the Woods. He was listed as attending a Kenora Board of Trades meeting in Sioux Narrows in 1940, known as operating a houseboat business for tourists. While in Kenora, Albin passed away on 2 January 1947 and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. He was predeceased by his father in 1911 in Tacoma, Washington. His brother Hjalmer died in 1952 in Alameda, California, brother Martin in 1953 in San Francisco, brother Albert in 1958 in Retsil, Washington, and his sister Mabel in 1973 in Multnomah, Oregon. The three brothers had signed WW1 Draft Registration Cards, with Albert serving at Camp Lewis in Washington.

by Judy Stockham

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