JOHAN GOTTFRID WIDERQUIST
From the best information I have my grandfather, Johan Gottfrid Widerquist, was born in 1858 in Vereda, a small village in South Central Sweden located west of Leckeryd. He was one of three children born to Carl Johan Widerqvist (b. 1813) and his wife Agneta Larsdotter (b. 1814).
The record of Carl Johan’s family is to be found in a book entitled DeFree, Lekeryd – Jarsnas – Svartorp, Ungiven av Lekeryds Hembygdsforening, 1972. I believe that the record is wrong however as it indicates that son Johan Gottfrid went to Hakarp and Carl Victor went to the USA. We know that Johan Gottfrid went to the USA. From research I did at the immigrant center in Vaxjo in the1980’s I believe that Johan Gottfrid Widerqvist immigrated from Gotenberg, Sweden to the US in 1880.
The spelling of the name varies in that “QU” and “QV” are interchangeable in Swedish. Sometimes “KV” is also used, giving three possible spellings: Widerkvist, Widerqvist, and Widerquist. Apparently at immigration, Johan, settled in the “QU,” choosing the most recognizable spelling to English-speakers. He also started using "John" as his first name after immigration.
According to information discovered at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Center at Augustana College Emma Charl Rydvall, Johan’s wife joined him in Chicago in 1881. Johan and Emma were married in 1882. Shortly thereafter their child, Ellen, was born the first of eleven children. They lived at 3619 Hernden Street in the Lake View area of Chicago and were members of the Lake View Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church.
Even though these were not the best of times, Johan soon found work in Chicago. He had been a machinist at the Huskvarna Arms factory in Huskvarna Sweden (now the company makes sewing machines, chain saws, snowmobiles, etc.). Apparently his experience there was found to be useful here as well and he was hired as a machinist at the Union Special Sewing Machine Company located on the near north side of Chicago about a city block from what is now the Merchandise Mart. He worked there until his retirement. (Union Special is now located in Huntly, Illinois).
Johan and Emma had eleven children, only eight of which are known to me: Ellen, Lillian, Ruth, Elsie, Myrtle, Gerda, Leonard and Reuben. At least one of the other children died at childbirth.
The last known address for Johan and Emma was a large “three flat” building at 1530 Elmdale Avenue in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. They had left the Lake View Church and joined the Edgewater Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church earlier. The account of that transfer is a family story in itself and is to be found in a paper I wrote about the history of Edgewater Covenant Church while at North Park Seminary in 1966.
A large 60th wedding anniversary was held for Emma and John at the Edgewater Covenant Church on May 6th 1942 when 300 guests were present to offer well wishes. The artist Warner Sallman composed a beautiful plaque commemorating the occasion.
Both Johan and Emma lived to be more than ninety years of age and were interred at the Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago in the section North of Peterson Avenue.
-Allan Leonard Widerquist, grandson.