Historically speaking

ALBERT BJORK: Funeral home established in city of Ishpeming

ISHPEMING — Karl Albert Bjork was born on March 11, 1882 and lived nearly his whole life in Ishpeming.

His father, Karl Emil, emigrated to the U.S. in 1880 as Karl Emil Jansson, but upon arriving in Ishpeming decided there were too many Janssons (Johnson) and changed his last name to Bjork.

Karl would change his name also, somewhere along the way he switched his first and middle names and became Albert Carl Bjork.

In the 1900 census, he was 18 years old and living with his mother and several brothers in National Mine.

He worked as a shipping clerk for one of the iron mines. He went to school in Ishpeming, but did not graduate, like so many of his peers who had to leave school early to work and help support his family.

In 1901, he became an undertaker.

In 1904 he was the undertaker of record on his uncle Adolph’s death certificate. Adolph had been killed in a mining accident.

At some point, Bjork started to work for John Lindbom, who owned a hardware store. Whether or not this was before or after Bjork married Lindbom’s daughter in 1909 is unknown.

The two continued in partnership, although by 1930 Bjork had assumed most of the duties of the business and Lindbom was living with Bjork and his family.

When Lindbom passed away in 1932 it did not take Bjork long to dispose of the hardware business and shortly thereafter remodeled the structure and turned it into a modern funeral home.

Funerals were usually conducted either in the deceased’s home, at a church or if the deceased belonged to a fraternal or social organization, in the club rooms. Bjork’s son Vining, joined him in the funeral home business.

“Mr. Bjork, who was elected Marquette county treasurer in 1916, had just completed his 25th year as a member of the Ishpeming board of education, the longest anyone has served in that capacity.

He was a member of the Bethany Lutheran church, the Order of Vasa, United North Lodge, the Knights of Pythias and the Ishpeming Town club.” (Mining Journal, July 5, 1945)

“A number of years ago Mr. Bjork became interested, in partnership with Frank Lundin, in the old Ropes Gold Mine property and they carried on considerable exploratory and experimental work there.

They later organized the Ishpeming Gold Mining company, the stock of which was later acquired by the Calumet & Hecla Consolidated Copper company, with the two local men, and their associates, receiving for their interest stock in the larger organization.

In recent years, Mr. Bjork took an active interest in the Michigan Funeral Directors Association and served as director for the Eleventh District, comprising the western half of the upper peninsula.

His duties required that he make several trips to Lansing each year.” (Iron Ore, July 7, 1945)

On the 4th of July, 1945, Bjork suffered a heart attack and passed away shortly after.

“The news of Mr. Bjork’s passing arrived as a distinct shock to his many Ishpeming friends. He had not been ill and was attending to his duties as usual on Tuesday. That night, his son, Vining, serving in the Navy, arrived from Chicago and there was a family visit prior to returning.” (Iron Ore, July 7, 1945.)

Vining would take over the funeral home. In 1948 a fire on Pearl Street destroyed the funeral home and it was rebuilt in its present location on Third Street.


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