Mystery Photo #45: Dr. Jern


Well, there he is, Dr. Jern, standing on a porch in Duluth way back in 1910. Who is Dr. Jern? Is that house still standing? These are the mysteries we hope to unravel.

One clue the internet provides is a brief note in The Journal of the American Medical Association, January – June 1909. In the Medical News section for Minnesota, under the heading “Physicians Exonerated,” appears this item:

“The jury in the Duluth District Court, March 24, decided that Dr. J. Hjalmer Jern, West Duluth, was not guilty of malpractice in his treatment of Hilding Gradine, who sued for $25,000, claiming that Dr. Jern had made an erroneous diagnosis.




about 8 years ago

Also apparently his wife remarried and lived to be almost 100, buried in Pipestone County. She maybe only had the one child with J. H. Jern, John August Jern, who lived until 1994. 


about 8 years ago

I'll be able to provide a lot more tomorrow, but tonight I have a crappy Internet connection and the World Series to watch. I can say this: in 1910, Dr. Johan Hjalmer Jern lived at 613 East Third St., and the house no longer exists. (That whole block has been swallowed by hospital sprawl.)


about 8 years ago

What I managed to find in the few hours I had free today: 

Dr. Johan Hjalmer Jern was a West Duluth doctor. He had offices variously on Central Ave (200-300 block), and lived at 616 N. 57th Ave West between 1903- 1909, then moved to East Third St. in 1910, which is probably shown above. (The photo is presumably showing him having “moved up” in the world by moving to what was once Ashtabula Heights?) He also shows up boarding in Superior with his sister Anna, circa 1905.  

He was born on Jul 10, 1873, in Lungsund, Vårmland Sweden. (Born Johan Hjalmar Jern Johansson). He came to US April 25, 1887. Eldest of four—three younger sisters. 

He and his wife both appear to have family connections living in Milwaukee and Superior, WI, and thus spend some time living in both locations. 

1900 Census: Hjalmer Jern is living in Two Harbors with his wife Hannah (nee Swanson, of Superior). (He is age 26; his wife age 19). They are just married. He’s a citizen who immigrated in 1887.  Profession listed as [unglytical?] chemist. They own their home free and clear, on Eighth Avenue. I find mention elsewhere of him working as a chemist for “the steel and iron company of Two Harbors.” 

The Jerns then moved to Milwaukee, working for “the great Illinois steel trust” The Eau Claire Leader mentions that he invented a type of cement, which gets him a royalty of $500 per month. 

DNT Feb 26, 1901: The Jerns (Mr and Mrs. Hjalmer Jern) come up from Milwaukee to Superior to visit Mrs. Jern’s mother, Mrs. Elvira Swanson

During this decade, Dr. Jern is a member of the Nora Club, probably a West Duluth Swedish social club of some sort. 

Summer 1905: there is a smallpox case found in West Duluth, and Dr. Jern is in consultation with Dr. David Graham on the case. 

DNT May 12, 1907: Dr. and Mrs. Jern return from Milwaukee after attending his brother’s funeral. 

Summer 1907: the Jerns spend a couple weeks camping on Grassy Point. 

DNT Feb. 8, 1908: Dr. Jern is charged with having driven William Johnson’s horse to death. (He drove the horse 42 miles.) Jury finds him not guilty. 

Summer 1908: the Jerns and their friends spend the summer camping out on Grassy Point. The group calls themselves the “Gadders”. 

He unsuccessfully ran for county coroner in the 1908 election. 

DNT Oct. 11, 1908: Dr. Jern is involved in helping with a typhoid epidemic at Coleraine. (There were 17 cases, and the suspected source was a construction camp.)

December 1908: Dr. Jern participates in a huge Anti-Tuberculosis exhibit at Irving School, which is attended by all the school children. (Several doctors and Mayor Haven were there as well.) 

March-April 1909: Dr. Jern is charged by Hilding Gradine for malpractice; Jern wins in court, Gradine has his lawyer file for a new trial or reversal. He sued for $25,000—says Dr. Jern treated him for “nervous prostration” when he should have treated him for appendicitis. This mistake led to the appendicitis getting to the acute stage before he was treated properly.  (The appendix burst and he got septicemia and a severe intestinal infection, which he claimed rendered him permanently injured and unable to work.) 

In May, the Jerns announce they’re moving to Chicago. 

Instead, the Jerns take a several month vacation to Europe and the East Coast, returning to Duluth in November 1909. 

December 1909, Dr. Jern moves office to the Phoenix Block. 

1910 Census: Dr. Johan Hjalmar Jern is living at 613 East Third St. with his wife Hannah. He is 35 yrs old and she is 29. They have been married ten years, with no children. He is a naturalized citizen from Sweden, immigrated in 1890. (SIC—it was actually 1887). His wife is from Superior, Wisconsin, also of Swedish parents. They rent this home. 

Circa 1911, Dr. Jern was a motorboat enthusiast and won the Northern Hardware cup from the Boat Club.

They left for Chicago, and their only child was born there Sept. 3, 1912. 

Dr. Jern died in 1917. 

By 1920, Hannah and her son John A. (age 7) had moved back to Superior, WI, living at 1609 N 17th St. and running a boarding house—the residents were all teachers in the Superior schools. 

His son John became a dentist in Neenah WI


about 8 years ago

So to be clear: that thing about Dr.. Jern's widow Hannah Swanson Jern Rydell: she did not marry Erick--she married Oscar Rydell, a veterinarian, and died in 1963 in Wheaton, MN.


about 8 years ago

(So that FindaGrave description is wrong. I find errors all the time--do not trust everything you read on the Internet.  :-)  )

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