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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 187


This is the grave of John Nordstrom.

Born Johan Nordström in Alvik, Sweden, just south of the Arctic Circle, in 1871, Nordstrom immigrated to the United States in 1887, near the peak of Swedish migration. Like most migrants, he worked hard, in lumber camps, in shipyards, in mines. He was just a guy. An immigrant. Like millions of others. In 1898, he followed his fortune to the Klondike in Alaska. But he got a bit lucky up there, unlike most miners. He and his partners had a claim with some gold. It was contested. Might have been legit, maybe not. But the other side offered him $30,000 for it. Nordstrom took it. He took his share and moved back to Seattle. There he opened a shoe store. He didn’t even care about shoes. But it seemed a good business opportunity. This became the department store by his name that eventually gained a national following selling goods to the upper-middle class. Wallin & Nordstrom opened in 1901. He eventually bought out these partners, grew the business, and sold it all to his sons in 1928. He retired then and lived for nearly a half-century. In 1950, he wrote an autobiography about his immigrant experience. He would show up to the store occasionally to chat. But he didn’t die until 1963, at the age of 92.

John Nordstrom is buried in Lake View Cemetery, Seattle, Washington.

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