Carl Abraham "Abe" Elfving 1886-1964
Agda Elvira Sjoblom 1887-1961
Carl Abraham "Abe" Elfving grew up the youngest of six sons of Swedish ship builder, Jonas Petter Elfving. He did not inherit a business, but built up his own in the US.
Carl Abraham “Abe” Elfving was born In Hogmarso, Sweden on Feb 21, 1886, the sixth and final son and next to last of 12 children born to his parents, Jonas Elfving and Margareta Helena Vickman.
Abe grew up among his large family on their property next to his father’s shipyard. As the youngest son, he “apprenticed” at the shipyard, but also found many odd jobs to be had around the yard as a young teenager. Abe attended a ship master’s school in Stockholm about 1906-1908, learning “skippering” as well as ship building.
YOUNG MEN OFF TO AMERICA
In 1909, he traveled to join his older brother, Fritz and older sisters, Hilda and Elin and their families in Astoria, Oregon, on the northern Oregon coast. Fritz had gone to Oregon in 1907, and encouraged Abe to come work with him in America. Abe arrived in the US aboard the “Orlando” in March 1909.
Fritz was 26 and Abe, 23 when they received work with the Astoria Alaska Packers Corporation and were asked to go to Alaska as carpenters. They sailed on a clipper ship through the Bering Sea. They left Astoria in May and returned August 15, 1909. The company purchased two ships and sent the brothers to San Francisco to repair a clipper ship for the Alaska trade. Fritz and Abe took on board the ship, “St. Francis,” sailing for Alaska with 125 Chinese and 62 Japanese to work there in the canneries.
Abe and Fritz sailed to Alaska aboard the clipper, St Francis
When work in Alaska was completed, Fritz remained in America, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1912, but Abe returned home to Sweden. Two loved ones brought him home. Sadly, his father, Jonas Petter died in March 1912, while Abe was still in America. He wished to return to his mother and the family.
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
But probably even more importantly, Abe had met a young girl from a neighboring island before leaving for America for work and had corresponded with her while gone for three years.
The family has a treasured postcard sent from Abe to a “Froken Agda Sjoblom” in Kopmanholm, Sweden on 19 May, 1912. Abe must have met Agda before he traveled to the US. Their courtship resumed when he returned home.
Abe and Agda were married in Kopmanholm on Nov 29, 1913.
They settled into one of the homes on his Elfving family complex in Hogmarso, and started their family while Abe worked in the shipyard.
When Abe fell in love with Agda, it was said his father was not entirely pleased. Agda’s family was of a “poorer class”. But Margareta Helena loved Agda then…. And would come to love her more even later as Abe and Agda lived on the family compound and started their own family of four children. It was said that Margareta Helena was particularly heart-broken to lose Agda’s company when the family immigrated to the USA in 1925.
Abe and Agda had their first child, a son, Jonas Abraham "Jonke" two years after their marriage, in November of 1915. A second son, Karl Gustaf, was born in 1919. Eleanora Agda, was born in 1921, and the following year, 1922, their final child, a second daughter, Dagny Margareta was born.
A CHALLENGING ECONOMY
After his father’s death, the shipyard was sold. In 1915, Abe entered into a “limited partnership” with his brothers, August, Adolph, Alfred, and Johan, brother-in-law Bengt Segersten (husband of Abe’s sister, Ragnhild) to run a smaller shipyard. But economic times were becoming challenging. The brothers continued on for several years, but August became a local merchant, Adolf and Johan became maritime skippers, and Johan bought his paternal grandfather’s farm in Hornon. Bengt would soon move to Solna with his wife and young family. It was becoming increasingly difficult to earn a good living on the small island of Hogmarso.
LEAVING ISLAND LIFE IN SWEDEN
It must have been a difficult decision, but once again Abe's brother Fritz was urging him to bring his young family to Oregon, where the promise of a better economic future awaited them. Fritz had started a ferry service between the shores of Oregon and Washington in 1919. By 1924, he had added another new ferry to his line, and he wanted Abe to help captain the ferries.
Abe traveled to Astoria first, arriving on Feb 12, 1924 in New York aboard the “Drottningholm.” His plan was to be to prepare a home for his family.
Agda and the children left Sweden on June 13, 1925, and arrived in New York on the 24th of June.
After a week-long train journey across the country they arrived in Astoria just in time to celebrate their first “Fourth of July.” Abe was 39 and Agda, 38 when they immigrated with their four children, ages 10, 6, 4 and 3.
As sad as the family was to leave Sweden, there was an excitement about this new life in Oregon. Abe quickly went to work for his brother, and the family was warmly greeted by their large family already residing in Astoria. They were to stay in Astoria for the next three years.
Abe and the children in Astoria, Oregon, about 1926.
A MOVE TO THE SOUTHERN OREGON COAST
Fritz’s ferry line was expanding, and he asked Abe if he would captain the ferry boat, Tourist 1, in a route over the Coos River, near Marshfield, Oregon.
The Tourist 1 which Abe captained in Marshfield, Oregon.
Abe agreed, and the family moved to Marshfield (now known as Coos Bay), in 1928, living on the corner of Central Ave and 10th Street there.
Abe and his daughters, Elly and Dagny, at the corner of 10th and Central in Marshfield, Oregon.
NORTH TO FLORENCE, OREGON
When a bridge was built over the river, Abe took over the ferry line over the Siuslaw River in Florence, about 50 miles north of Marshfield. He ran the ferry there until 1936, when the Siuslaw Bridge was built. The family lived not far from the ferry landing, in a beautiful home within walking distance of Abe’s work. (The home is now a Bed & Breakfast in Florence).
Agda especially enjoyed it in Florence and their oldest son, Jonas (Jonke) graduated from Siuslaw High School in 1932.
A DECISION TO RETURN TO MARSHFIELD
Abe and Agda had also enjoyed the Marshfield area and when Abe’s work was over with the ferry lines (bridges had replaced the ferries), they moved back to the Marshfield area, where they lived at 190 N 14th Street.
Abe started his own business, “Coos Bay Boat Shop.” (It would later be called “Elfving’s Marine & Building Supply.”) He purchased the building and equipment for his new business in June of 1937. He was now 51 years old but still had the energy of a much younger man. The original receipt for the property of the business shows us that Abe paid $2,000 for the business property which included an existing building and waterfront property on the docks in Marshfield.
Jonke joined his father at the business and together they built several fishing boats that still roam the seas off the Pacific Ocean today. The “Karen” was named after his first granddaughter (Jonke’s daughter) and was later known as “The Three Brothers.”
The “Winga” was another of his boats. Abe’s boats were known to be well-built, with a stunning amount of craftsmanship (he had learned from a master, his father, Jonas Petter Elfving).
Abe in his boatshop.
After the war his younger son, Karl, also joined him in the business and the emphasis shifted to the “Supply” end of the business. In 1952, his son-in-law, Marv Kaser, also joined the business. “Elfving’s” was known as the place in Coos Bay to get your Dupont Paint. They also carried Volvo inboard motors and Evinrude Outboard Motors.
Granddaughter, Jan Kaser Anderson, can remember many fond summer days spent on the docks at Elfving’s Marina when she was in high school. She would occassionally help out with bookkeeping or stocking chores... fond memories include sitting on the dock with a lunch, watching the fishing boats pass by. And the smells.... creosote on the pilings, sawdust mixed with marine oils, and paint being mixed. It was a wondrous place for a kid!” Another childhood memory is that the fishermen…. all friends of Abe’s…. dropped off fresh salmon and crab (when in season) for all the families each week. “We had free fresh salmon as often as we wanted.”
"I've often thought how sad it was to think of all the family my grandparents left behind in Sweden. But then I would think, too, of how fortunate they were to have all their own children and grandchildren close by in their later years. Sons Jonke and Karl and their families lived in Coos Bay; daughters Elly and Dagny and families lived in North Bend. The two communities 'ran one into another'. All families lived within a 10 mile radius. There were many good family celebrations… many meatballs shared."
Abe and Agda in 1956, celebrating Abe's 70th birthday with their children and spouses. From left, standing: Karl and Phyllis, Abe and Agda, Dagny and Phillip, Jonke, and Marv. Seated are Ellen, on left and Elly, on right.
Abe and Agda, December 1960, with their 10 grandchildren.
Abe built up his business and continued working at Elfving’s Marine until 1961, when he retired soon after Agda’s death. He loved Agda dearly and her sudden death due to a stroke in May of that year was a severe blow to his own health. He left the business in his sons’ hands. He was now 75 years old and he was beginning to have physical problems due to what was at that time called “hardening of the arteries.” Today, we would call it atherosclerosis.
Abe retired to a smaller home in Glasgow, across the bay from his former business, near his daugher, Elly, and her family. He enjoyed the company of all his family until his death in May of 1964.
ABE’S OBITUARY: Coos Bay Times, Coos Bay, Oregon ....
Carl Abraham Elfving, 79, founder of Elfving’s Marine and Builders Supply in Coos Bay, died this morning in North Bend. Born Feb. 21, 1885, in Sweden, he came to the Bay area in 1928 to operate the ferry to Eastside, and started the marine supply business in 1936. He is survived by two sons, J. A. Elfving and Karl Elfving, both of Coos Bay; two daughters, Mrs. Eleanor Kaser, of Glasgow and Mrs Dagne Sundbaum of North Bend; two sisters in Sweden and one brother, Fritz Elfving of Astoria, Oregon. His wife Agda Elvera died in 1961. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Mills Funeral Home in Coos Bay.
Jan has such fond memories of her “Mor Far.” She recalls how meticulous he was. She never saw him in clothing other than a dress shirt, slacks and a vest. Later, he would sometimes wear a flannel dress shirt, but always with a vest over it. She also remembers his pocket watch and watch fob. The watch would always reside in his vest pocket.
He was such a tease. He had early in life lost his left thumb in a saw accident. So he would greet you, with a hearty handshake and then grab your right elbow and get your funny bone. His grandchildren would slide to their knees and giggle every time. He always kept lemon drops in his pockets for all the kids. And when I would be visiting my grandparents (which was as often as I could) and he would come home for lunch, I would always hide behind the dining room hutch. Darn.... if he didn’t know where I was each time!
Education was important to him.... he had told my mother (she was a nurse) that he had always wanted to be a doctor, but knew that wouldn’t be possible. He read the morning paper, cover to cover, sitting at his desk in the living room every morning before going to work.
Grandpa Elfving was an extrovert.... he had a booming voice, a hearty laugh and he enjoyed people. He made friends easily and quickly. My grandmother was very used to putting one more plate on the table as he would bring a lonesome Swedish sailor or two home for supper.
He dearly loved his wife and enjoyed his family. He told all that "life had treated him well."
Swedish Emigration Records shows that “Carl A Elfving,” from “Lanna Stockholm Lan, Sverige departed Goteborg and arrived in Astoria, Oregon 31 Mar 1909. This was the earlier immigration. He was to return to Sweden and would immigrate again in 1925.
NY Passenger lists show that Abe immigrated on 12 Feb 1924 (he went ahead of his family). He traveled on the “Drottningholm”, arriving in New York. He was listed as 37 years old, and his occupation was listed as “joiner.”
CHILDREN OF ABE AND AGDA ELFVING and their SPOUSES
Jonas Abraham "Jonke" Elfving (1915) and Margaret "Ellen" Colter (1917)
Karl Gustaf Elfving (1919) and Phyllis Lea Kasperson (1925)
Eleanor Agda Elfving (1921) and Marvin Victor Kaser (1919)
Dagny Margareta Elfving (1922) and Carl Philip Sundbaum (1919)