WASHINGTON, D.C. - Negaunee resident Glenn Bjork received a special bonus when he took part in the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., last week.
Not only did he get to see the World War II Memorial alongside 78 other U.P. veterans of that war, he had the chance to meet some of his family for the first time.
Greeting him and his daughter Linda Bjork Anglin - who accompanied her father on the trip - when they arrived in the nation's capital were Janeen Bjork of Greenwich, Conn., and Karleen Bjork Escobar of Vienna, Va., granddaughters of Carl Uno Bjork.
Negaunee native Glenn Bjork was accompanied on the U.P. Honor Flight by his daughter, Linda Bjork Anglin, back left, a North Carolina resident, and the two met Karleen Bjork Escobar of Vienna, Va., middle, and Janeen Bjork of Greenwich, Conn. The four Bjork family members met in person for the first time ever at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Thursday. Karleen and Janeen are the granddaughters of Carl Uno Bjork, who was orphaned along with his four brothers and taken in for a time by Glenn Bjork’s grandfather, Karl Eric, in the early 1900s. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
Carl Uno Bjork emigrated from Sweden to the United States in 1902 with his four brothers, his mother and his father, Adolph Bjork. Adolph Bjork was joining his older brother, Karl Eric Bjork, to work in the mines in Ishpeming.
Glenn Bjork, 87, is the grandson of Karl Eric Bjork.
Tragedy united Glenn's family with Adolph's: Adolph died in 1908 of tuberculosis, just four years after his wife passed away, leaving Carl Uno and his four brothers orphaned. Glenn's grandfather, Karl Eric, took in Adolph's five orphaned boys for a year, including Janeen and Karleen's grandfather, Carl Uno.
"It has been 100 years," Glenn Bjork said with a smile as he and his daughter were greeted by Janeen and Karleen.
The five sons of Adolph Bjork were split up, the two eldest adopted out for farm labor and the younger three sent to an orphanage in Joliet, Ill. These Bjork brothers made their own way in the world, the last contact with the Upper Peninsula coming when Carl Uno Bjork visited in 1936 from his home in Syracuse, N.Y., and met up with Glenn and his father, Everett E. Bjork.
The descendents of these brothers have always been curious about their family back in Michigan. Janeen said she had been doing research on the Ancestory.com website since Nov. 25 and when she found Glenn in her family tree, "I found the keeper of all things Bjork."
The two spoke by phone, Janeen said.
"I knew he was all about God, family and country and when he told me about the Honor Flight, I made plans to be there," Janeen said.
She drove down from Connecticut and stayed with her sister, Karleen, Wednesday night. Bright and early Thursday, they were at the WWII Memorial to welcome Glenn and Linda, who were excited to meet their long-lost family members.
"I have often wondered about the five orphan boys," Linda said. "I know that my great-grandmother wasn't able to keep the boys and it broke her heart. Those were tough times and tough decisions had to be made."
Glenn said the miners had taken up a collection to help the five boys, but it wasn't long before the money ran out and the orphans had to be sent away.
He, Linda, Karleen and Janeen swapped family stories and looked over family photos while together.
"It meant so much to me," Glenn Bjork said. "I haven't seen that part of the family since 1936 (when their father visited). That's a long time.
"They looked like Bjorks to me," Glenn said of Janeen and Karleen. "It was just so great to see them. The day (on the honor flight) was a double-whammy for me. It was beautiful."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.