Lars Magnus early years

Lars Magnus Ericsson was born in 1846. His father died the year he turned 12. He lived on a farm called Nordtomta with his mother and two younger sisters. Life on their small farm had been meager and strenuous even when the father was alive, and with his death the situation worsened.

When Lars Magnus finished school, he helped his mother with all the chores that needed to be done on the farm. When he was 14, he worked during the summer at Borgvik, a nearby farm where he earned SEK 0.50 per day. He needed no money himself, so everything he earned was given to his mother.

The following year in 1861, mining director Larsson, who was an old friend of his father, called at Nordtomta and related that he was on his way to Egersund in Norway to survey iron ore deposits.

Lars Magnus thought that this was exciting and asked to join the group of 20 men who were traveling to Egersund. After a short discussion between Larsson and his mother, he received permission to do so.

Lars Magnus task in his new employment was to carry drill bits between the ironsmith and the various exploration sites and to help the ironsmith. Climbing down the dark and damp shafts to collect the drills was strenuous work for a 15-year old. The pay was relatively good, however, which meant that Lars Magnus could send money to his mother that was needed at home.

One day, the ironsmith suddenly disappeared from the mine. "He longed for the city, where he remained for an unacceptably long period," explained Lars Magnus later. His tasks were immediately assumed by Lars Magnus, whose pay was further increased, meaning that he could send even more money to those at home. Lars Magnus remained in Norway for more than a year, but one day the mining director announced that work would be stopped, since continued mining was not profitable. It was thus time to return home.

After a few months at home at Nordtomta, Lars Magnus was asked to lead work in prospecting an iron lode in Jösse Härad just north of Arvika. The lode proved to be without value, however, and Lars Magnus instead took a job as a railway worker near the Norwegian border. At the same time, he had a strong desire to learn a trade, preferably in the mechanical industry.

He therefore applied for an apprenticeship with the ironmonger Johannes Hilt in Grafås and was accepted. Hult was soon taken sick, but he arranged for Lars Magnus to move to another ironmonger, Nils Andersson. Andersson often traveled in his work and gave the task of running the business to his son and Lars Magnus. In this job, Lars Magnus began working on a lathe for the first time and soon became extremely skilled.

Nils Andersson fell into financial difficulties and moved to the iron mill in Charlottenberg, where he was in charge of nail manufacturing. His contract with the mill allowed him to bring Lars Magnus with him. At the mill, Lars Magnus worked with nail manufacturing, but he also learned a lot about the various machines at the mill. In addition, he acquired theoretical knowledge. "In the evenings I was able for the first time to read books and magazines on mechanics and physics," wrote Lars Magnus.

In 1864, when Lars Magnus Ericsson was 18, he packed his things and once more set out on his own. He traveled south and came to Arvika, where he began working with an iron monger named Smedman. To supplement his meager income, he engraved small brass seals in the evenings, which he then sold. Nordtomta was not far from Arvika, which mean that he often visited his mother and his sisters.

After a time, Lars Magnus took a new job with the ironsmith Knut Bergman in Karlstad. In his shop, he did various types of iron work. Here he also became friends with another apprentice, Carl Johan Wennberg. The two were often together during their free time, but Lars Magnus continued engraving seals in the evenings. The extra income for the sale of seals was now sufficient that could save money for himself.

The months passed, and the two boys began to talk about going to Stockholm to try their luck. Finally, in September 1867, they decided to start the trip, but when they had come half way, Carl Johan changed his mind and returned. He later started a large mechanical engineering shop in Karlstad. When the two parted, they were still friends. A few days later, the poor farm boy Lars Magnus Ericsson arrived in Stockholm alone.

No one, least of all himself, could imagine that he a few decades later would create a global industry.

Author: Kåa Wennberg

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2 comments
  • Correct contract parties in the english version.

    by Bengt Bergström

    Since I noticed that my comment regarding the swedish version of this article was published not only in conjunction to that text but also next to the english version of the article, I want to clarify that the english version is correct with respect to the contract parties in the section about the iron mill in Charlottenberg.

    Considering that the sources of information are swedish, written in local language, I can only conclude that it's a bit odd that facts are correctly reflected in what should be an english translation of an article published by a swedish author, while the same facts are erroneous in the swedish version, that should have been the original text. I can only assume that some editorial mistake have been made in the swedish version of the article and that both versions are based on the same source, in which the facts regarding the contract parties are correct.

    Best regards
    /Bengt Bergström

  • Fel kontraktsparter i stycket om Charlottenbergs bruk.

    by Bengt Bergström

    Ett smärre sakfel finns i stycket om Charlottenbergs bruk. Felet kan tyckas obetydligt men då denna text kan kan tänkas utgöra källa, om än en sekundär sådan, för andras forskning finner jag det trots allt lämpligt att påtala detta fel i syfte att undvika dess vidare spridning.

    I stycket uppges att: "Ett kontrakt som upprättats mellan Andersson och Lars Magnus gjorde att den sistnämnde kunde följa med till Charlottenberg." I kontrast till detta påstående kan anföras ett citerat stycke ur boken 'Berättelsen om Charlottenbergs bruk' av Wilhelm Törnblom (sid. 70-71), utgiven i Arvika 1953.

    »I sammanhanget kan det vara roligt att få tala om en händelse. Det var som sagt år 1863, som spikmaskinerna började gå vid bruket. I Helgeboda by, 1½ mil från Charlottenberg, fanns då en väl förfaren och vida känd konstsmed Nils Andersson, som emellertid börjat få det besvärligt med ekonomien; konstsmidet var väl inte så inbringande. Honom tog Sundström i sin tjänst och satte honom till förman för det nya spiksmidet. I sitt kontrakt, ett sådant upprättades tydligen, ville smeden göra förbehållet att få ta med sig en lärling, en sjuttonåring från Värmskog. Det godkändes, och det förlorade nog inte bruket på. Att det var en prima pojke förstår man, då man hör hans namn; det nämnes ännu idag med aktning och beundran över hela världen: Lars Magnus Ericsson. "Således kom jag att tillbringa mitt adertonde levnadsår vid Charlottenbergs järnbruk, där jag nog hade åtskilligt att lära" skriver han ganska erkänsamt i sina minnen, sedan han omtalat att "där drevs redan då spiktillverkningen med specialmaskiner". - Hos en vårt lands allra främste industrimän levde således vårt bruk ännu in i ålderns dagar i gott minne.»

    Enligt Törnblom var således kontraktsparterna inte Nils Andersson och Lars Magnus utan snarare brukspatronen Johan Oscar Sundström och smeden Nils Andersson. Även Törnbloms bok är dock en andrahandskälla, trots att han bitvis citerar Lars Magnus egna minnen, så vilken uppgift är då korrekt? I Ericsson Review nr 2 från 1946 finns, etthundra år efter Lars Magnus födelse, artikeln 'Lars Magnus Ericsson - några biografiska data' av Hemming Johansson, Ericssons tredje VD. I den artikeln finns bland annat följande citat av Lars Magnus själv:

    »På djupet tärde dock allt starkare längtan att få lära ett yrke, helst i mekaniska branchen, och hörde jag där på orten tvänne konstsmeder omtalas. Den ene var Hult i Grafås och den andre Nils Andersson i Heljeboda. Som jag då hade aflagt litet för eget behof, så fattade jag mitt beslut att söka plats som lärling samt begaf mig i detta syfte till Hult, där jag fick stanna; men som gubben var gammal och därtill sjuklig, så att han sällan kunde vara i smedjan, så insågo både han och jag det meningslösa i att stanna för någon längre tid, och genom Hults bemedling kom jag så till N. Andersson i Heljeboda och fick till en början ett gladt intryck. Smedjan var inrättad för vattenkraft och såg jag där för första gången en supportsvarf. Snart yppade sig emellertid åter en missräkning, däri att mästaren själf oftast var på resor och sällan i smedjan, utan fingo en yngre son till honom jämte mig sköta oss mest på egen hand. Snart visade det sig, att ekonomiskt obestånd var orsaken till, att Andersson fick gå ifrån allt, och flyttade han då till Charlottenbergs Bruk som ledare af spiktillverkningen, hvilken redan då drefs med specialmaskiner. I sitt kontrakt med Bruket hade han fastställt att som lärling taga mig med.»

    Hemming Johansson forsätter: "Ericsson synes ha varit nöjd med arbetet vid bruket, där han enligt egen utsago »hade åtskilligt att lära,»". Då det går att känna igen brottstycken av citaten från Lars Magnus i Wilhelm Törnbloms och Hemming Johanssons texter har de uppenbarligen användt samma källa. Av sista meningen i det längre av Hemming Johanssons citat framgår det att Wilhelm Törnbloms uppgift om vilka kontraktsparterna var är den korrekta.

    När Johan Oscar Sundströms systerdotter var tolv dagar gammal dog hennes mor i barnsäng. Systerdottern, som var min svärmors mormor, blev då omhändertagen av brukspatronen och hans hustru på Charlottenbergs bruk. Därav har jag haft anledning att läsa på om bruket och reagerade på den felaktiga uppgiften om vilka kontraktsparterna var.

    Med vänlig hälsning
    /Bengt Bergström