Harold Horndahl was born in 1865 in Sweden and immigrated to
the United States in 1887. By 1888 he was living
in Lowell and working as a laborer and in 1893
was a clerk.
His most frequent early occupation was coachman
for two of the rich and powerful men in town. In
1890 he was coachman for Benjamin F Sargent.
From 1895 to
1903 he was coachman to George F.
“living in” with
his wife and family at Penniman’s home at 268 Liberty St for seven out
of those nine years.
Horndahl married Hulda
in 1890 in Lowell, She was a fellow Swede, born
in 1868 and immigrating in 1887. They had three
children, Harry E in 1892, Emmy Linnea in 1897,
and Raymond in 1906.
This one-story wood-frame building
with a flat roof has been greatly
altered since its original construction.
Behind it is a three story building at
190, on the corner of whose lot 188 was
built in the early 1900s.
Horndahls took the Lucania for 1897 trip
Liverpool to New York
their ties to Sweden must have been very
important to them. Hulda traveled to
Sweden for the birth of the first two
Ship’s records show Hulda, Harry, and
Emmy returning to the US in 1897
immediately after Emmy’s birth (she’s
reported as age six months) and then
Harold, Hulda, Harry, and Emmy returning
We can speculate that a child was
expected and died in 1903 since Hulda
reported having four children with only
three still living in the Census of
1910. It’s quite possible Hulda made
other trips on her own. The census of
1900 shows Harold living alone. When
Hulda returned in 1897, she brought
along two sisters: Freda Johanson, 21,
and Anna Johanson, 19. Anna often lived
with the Horndahls until at least 1930
and worked as a servant or housekeeper.
After 1903, Harold worked
as an inspector, janitor, hostler, collector,
He lived on 276 Walker Street, two
blocks away from his coachman job, from
1910-1919. In 1898-1899 and 1909-1910 an Otto Horndahl was a lodger with Harold. It’s
reasonable to assume that Otto was a relative
but it’s not clear how close. Otto was a painter
and this apparently influenced Harold. He
reported being a painter working in a cotton
mill in the 1920 census and in 1930 he claimed
he was a painter with his own business. Until 1939 he
took painting jobs operating from his home.
In 1920 Harold Horndahl purchased a two-family home on Viola
Street. He had saved enough money to purchase
this property without having to secure a
Hulda died in 1917 at age 39 and Emmy followed
in 1919 at only 22. Raymond died, also at 25, in
so only Harry was left to carry on the family.
In 1909, at 17 years of
age, Harry started work as a clerk at the
Fitzpatrick Grocery at 343 Westford, about a
three minute walk from the Horndahl residence
around the corner at 407 Walker. Edward S.
Fitzpatrick was a second generation Irishman who
ran a rather large store (judging by the ads in
the City Directory) with “provisions, grocery,
and meats.” After three years there, Harry moved
to the Charles Merrill Grocery at 2 Dover
Street, staying there from 1912 to 1917. From
1918 to 1920 he was a driver and a laborer at a
shoe factory but then returned to Merrill from
and again 1921 to 1923.
In 1922, Harry married
22-year-old Esther W. Wogander,
Massachusetts born daughter of Swedish
Harry had lived all his life with his father and
now moved with his bride downstairs to the first
floor flat of the two family house on Viola
They lived there until 1943 when they moved
upstairs to take care of his father when he
could no longer live alone (Harold died in 1944).
The couple had a son, Russell E. in 1925.
Harry started his own grocery at 188
Branch Street.A new building was erected on the corner
of the lot of 190 Branch Street, a house
at which his father had worked as a
coachman thirty years before. His old
employer no longer owned the place but
it must have been interesting for
Harold. Harry employed his brother
Raymond as a clerk at the store for
three at least three years (1924-1926).
Horndahl ran this grocery and meat
business almost twenty years, until
1942, at which time he became a
machinist for at least 1943-1945. Since
machinists were much in demand during
the World War, we might speculate that a
machinist’s job might have been more
attractive and profitable than a small
Although the elder Horndahl
worked only menial jobs early on, the immigrant
couple saved and were successful enough to make
return trips to Sweden so that their first two
children could be born there. By 1920, Harold
could buy a large house for cash. Their children
lived with them their whole lives and Harry,
also Swedish-born and the only surviving child,
ran a successful business for almost twenty
years. Harold’s grandson, Russell, became a
pharmacist and continued living downstairs from
his mother in the family home.
The building at 188 Branch Street was briefly
vacant until 1946 when Maurice L. Neustadter located his home contracting
business there. A succession of businesses
followed Neustadter when he moved out in 1953.
In recent years a Southeast Asian music and
video rental enterprise has operated at this