Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 263-64.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Frithiof Ekstam

Frithiof Ekstam, who since 1884 has been successfully connected with the mercantile interests of Marathon as a dealer in boots and shoes, was born in Sweden on the 31st of December, 1849, his parents being John and Eliza (Cannon) Ekstam.  The father's demise occurred when his son Frithiof was about nine years of age, and the mother also died in Sweden in June, 1874.


The year 1869 witnessed the arrival of Mr. Ekstam in the United States.  He had gained a comprehensive knowledge of the boot and shoe business in his native land and on coming to this country sought employment in that line.  He first located in Chicago, Illinois, and was there during the great fire of 1871, at which time the firm for which he worked had their building and its entire contents destroyed.  All those in need from losses sustained in the fire were given free board for a short time.  Leaving Chicago, Mr. Ekstam went to Rock Island, Illinois, but after a brief interval returned to the western metropolis and again secured employment in a retail shoe store.  For several years he was connected with the boot and shoe trade in that city and at one time was general manager for a brother of the senior partner of the firm of Loeb. Koen & Company of New York city.


In the spring of 1884, Mr. Ekstam left Chicago and came to Marathon, Iowa, erecting the seventh building in the place.  At the fall election of that year there were only twenty-seven votes cast in the township, so sparsely was the county settled at that time.  Here he established business and prospered from the start.  As a dealer in boots and shoes he has gained an extensive and profitable patronage and has, moreover, won recognition as a most prosperous and public-spirited citizen of the county. He is likewise the owner of one hundred and sixty acres of valuable land on sections 22 and 32, Poland township.


In 1880 Mr. Ekstam was united in marriage to Miss Augusta Widen, a daughter of Gustavus Widen, a native of Sweden, who came to the United States in 1872, settling in St. Charles, Illinois, where he purchased some unimproved land at twelve dollars an acre.  Mr. Widen passed away in 1885, having for a number of years survived his wife, who was called to her final rest in 1878.  Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ekstam have been born seven children, namely:  Maude, at home; Victoria Elizabeth, who passed away in 1885, when sixteen months old; Esther, who is attending school at Cedar Falls, Iowa; Fred, a student in the Northwestern University at Chicago; Lydia, who is a school teacher; John Elmer, who is employed in a drug store; and Eva, who is also still under the parental roof.


In his political views Mr. Ekstam is a stalwart republican, while his religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Lutheran church.  He has never had occasion to regret his determination to seek his fortune in the new world, for here he found the opportunities he sought and in their utilization won the measure of success that now entitles him to representation among the prosperous and enterprising merchants of this county.