m  a  r  k    e  r  i  c  k  s  o  n    p  a  i  n  t  i  n  g  s

Frank Severin Erickson
Ernest Julius Erickson
Andrew Anders Sebran Erickson
American Expeditionary Force 1918 - 1919
Out West & North Dakota

Frank & Ernst Julius Erickson's 1917 Kodak Autograph Camera

A Kodak Autograph Camera kept through the ages by my Grandparents and then my Father is a treasured piece of history. It was first used in early 1917 by my Grandfather Frank and his older brother, my Uncle Ernst Julius Erickson. Though most specifically for our family, it holds in it's existence unique family adventures and photographic recollections. I received the camera from my Father Ernest Anders Erickson and he received it from his Father Frank, just as my father went off to serve combat duty with the 95th Bomb Group, in England in 1943.

My dad had mentioned the various stories connected to the camera and showed me the photographs it had taken from 1917 through the First World War. My father used it during the Second World War when he was stationed with the 95th Bomb Group at Horham Airfield. It was a marvel in capturing some unique images.

I finally decided to post this page when a friend in Holland, who I knew through our mutual interest in the Lost Battalion, contacted me. Peter and his son have visited the pocket in the Argonne Forest where my Grandfather Frank and his Company H, along with the rest of the 308th Infantry were trapped during the October 1918 'Lost Battalion' siege. Peter told me the news that he had just acquired Major General Robert Alexander's (Commander of Frank's 77th Regiment) Kodak Autograph Camera with Alexander's name monogrammed on the back of the camera. I considered that pretty cool and very coincidental, as it got me thinking that it was time to feature Frank and Ernst's camera here on the Family Archive Project website.

General Alexander along with Adjutant General Louis B. Gerow and Frank's Company H Commander, Captain William J. Cullen signed the accommodation below, which went along with Frank receiving the Silver Star in 1918.

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November 14th, 1918
General Orders No. 39
Headquarters 77th Division

I desire to record in the General Orders of this Division a tribute to the valorous conduct of the following Officers and Enlisted Men who have distinguished themselves by their splendid courage, service and sacrifice:

Pvt. Frank G. S. Erickson, #3143116, Company H. 380th Infantry who displayed extraordinary heroism in action in the ARGONNE FOREST, near BINARVILLE, between October 3rd and October 8th, 1918, when that Company, together with other Companies of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of this regiment, were surrounded by the enemy and cut off from communication with friendly troops. During this period, Pvt. Erickson was a runner between his Company and Battalion Headquarters.

Though completely without food during all this period, he cheerfully and courageously performed his duties as a runner. During a heavy attack by the enemy on October 3rd, 1918, he carried messages from his company Commander to Battalion Headquarters and Major Charles W. Whittlesey. All of this was under heavy fire from machine guns and trench mortars, Pvt. Erickson succeeded in delivering his messages and in guiding supporting troops to the left flank which was then being subjected to heavy pressure by the enemy.

On succeeding days of the siege, this soldier continued to perform his duties over exposed places and in full view of the enemy and always under heavy machine gun fire which raked the position on the least exposure. These duties he performed in absolute disregard of his personal safety.

Major General Robert Alexander - Commander of the 77th Regiment Adjutant General Louis B. Gerow Captain William J. Cullen - Company H - 308th Infantry American Expeditionary Force

The photographs that Frank and Brother Ernst Julius and my Father Ernest Anders Erickson took over the years with this camera, speak for themselves. The Family Archive Project website here features many. I will post a few of my favorites below. These images are a testimony of the incredible family history held in the shutter view of their camera.

With two North Dakota connections worth telling here, I will start with David Houston, who invented roll film for cameras. Houston lived near Hunter, North Dakota and his home has been restored and is now located at Bonanzaville in West Fargo, North Dakota. David Houston was born in Scotland in 1841. At a young age, he became interested in how photography worked. At that time, cameras were large and very heavy, and they used glass plates coated with chemicals instead of film. At this time the only people who owned cameras were professional photographers.

A major goal of Houston’s was to make a camera that anyone would be able to own. In 1867, he got his first patent on a camera improvement he had devised. A patent is a document, issued by the government, that gives only the inventor the right to make and sell his or her inventions. A patent protects the rights of the inventor so that no one else may copy the invention.

In 1886, Houston invented a device that totally changed photography. Instead of using bulky plates of film, this invention allowed film to be wound on rolls inside the camera. Houston sold the rights to this patent to George Eastman, another inventor. Houston received $5,000 and monthly payments from the sale of roll-film cameras for the rest of his life.

George Eastman started his own camera company and bought 21 camera patents from David Houston. Houston suggested the camera company be named after northern Dakota and called 'Nodak.' Eastman liked the suggestion, but wanted a name that did not mean anything in particular. He changed the first letter and called his company 'Kodak.'

Because of his inventions, David Houston became very wealthy. He owned a bonanza farm consisting of 4,000 acres. Many changes have been made to the Kodak camera since the time of David Houston’s inventions; however, he was the person who made it possible for anyone to own a camera.

There was David Houston's time in North Dakota and now we move fifty or so years forward, to a Kodak connection of my Father's side of the family. My Great Uncle Sture Albin Nelson Sture was born in Landskrona, Sweden on May 2nd, 1896. He and his family came to the States in 1903. He grew up along with his sister, my Grandmother Clara Amelia (Nelson) Erickson and three Brothers August Valentine, Anton Tony and Albert 'Bob' William Nelson. His parents are Gerda (Miljander) and Anders Nilsson Nelson and the entire family settled on a farm in Painted Woods, North Dakota in 1905.

Sture moved to Los Angeles, California in 1936, and starting in 1940, worked for Eastman Kodak for twenty two years. Sture was trained originally as an electrician and later became an independent photographer where he gained the skills to work for Eastman Kodak.

Second photograph taken by my Grandfather Frank below is of my Uncle Ernst Julius Alfred Erickson at the end of their Mt. Baldy, Oregon Deer Hunt taken on September 26th, 1917.

The transcription text of Ernst's Mt. Baldy, Oregon Deer Hunt (September 18th through 26th, 1917) diary entries are below also.

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My great uncle Ernest Julius Erickson wrote in his diary starting in September 18th and continued on till the 26th of 1917. He and my grandfather Frank Severin Erickson were on a deer hunting trip to Oregon from the Dakotas.

Ernest Julius Erickson’s diary begins:

My First Deer Hunt
September 18th, 1917 - Tuesday

Frank and I started out from Baker, Oregon at 8:35 in the morning and arrived at Sumpter at 10:30am. Got a car from there to Granite, Oregon for $2.00, a price arrived at this given place. 12:30pm had dinner and then started out for the mountains. Mount Baldy is our destination. I have our bedding which consists of a lean-to tent, 6 feet by 14 feet, one woolen blanket bundle, one small quilt and two coats in case of cold weather. And have my rifle, a Winchester .25-35. Brother’s (Frank) outfit is a knapsack with our grubstake and our loads weighted about 50 or 60 lbs and a sack of rifles and all. Frank has a .250-3000 (Savage rifle). Arrived at the foot of the mountain around 5 o'clock which was perfectly timed as we are not used to traveling with such a heavy load and not used to mountain climbing. had our supper and made camp, went to bed at 7 o'clock and that is all for the first day.

September 19th - Wednesday

Went out towards the mountain today and found out that we were not camped at the foot by any means. as it took us 4 hours to get anywhere near the mountain. there is lots of Deer tracks here, but it is too hard to do anything. it is too heavy timbered. we finally surprised one early in the morning, but never got sight of him. all we saw were his tracks, we split-up at the foot of Baldy and were to be back in camp by 4 o'clock tonight, but I got in at 5:10pm, after I had walked by camp about a mile. Frank got in at 5:40pm, just as tired as I am and with the same kind of luck.

September 20th - Thursday

Was planning to get back to the same place where we parted yesterday at 10 o’clock, but we arrived there at 12:30pm. these places are pretty hard to find as they all look strange even though we were there yesterday. crossed yesterday’s track only once going out and arrived just before we got to camp tonight. got here with the same kind of luck as yesterday. saw some grouse today, but did not get a shot at them. it is about the darkest place I have seen, you can’t hear a bird greet the sun in the morning and Frank and I are not very good singers or we would do our own singing. well we are both pretty tired so will smoke our pipes a little longer and roll in, had some supper tonight so we are feeling pretty good.

September 21st - Friday

Left our camp on Rock Creek this morning without seeing a Deer. got into Granite at 1:00 o'clock and had dinner and got some more grub, then started out for the country north of Granite that is supposed to be the winter feeding grounds for Deer. they are known to stay there all summer. arrived at Squaw Creek and went up the Creek about a mile from Granite River and pitched our canvas. pretty tired after walking 15 miles with our packs of 50 - 60 pounds each, but after having supper we are feeling first rate again. I like this country better than the Baldy country, far more open so we have a better chance to get a Deer. rolled in at 7 o'clock.

September 22nd - Saturday

Stayed in bed late this morning as it rained all last night and feel rather lazy. we started out at 9 o'clock and took the ridge along Granite Creek for about 2 miles, circled to the east where Frank and I parted. Frank taking the opposite side of the gulch. I did not see him or hear anything until noon when I found some new signs of Deer, the first I had seen all afternoon. a little while later I heard a shot not very far to my left, at least I thought it was and a few minutes later I heard Frank whistle. I went back to try and find him and to find out what he got, but the further I went the further the whistle sounded. So I decided that I was on the wrong track and came back to where I first had seen the Deer tracks.

Then it began to rain again so I sat down under a tree till the hardest rain was over and then came back to camp at 2:35. I started to cook as I was pretty hungry and thought Frank would be the same. we were to meet back at camp at 4pm, but here he came in at 3:20 all smiles and blood on his clothes. so I knew just what to expect, he had bagged a nice Buck of about 150 lbs. dressed. after supper which did not take so very long, we started out to bring in the Deer. Frank got him about a mile from camp and behind me. that was why I could not find where he was.

Well we found the buck all right, but Frank had forgotten his knife where he had dressed him, so we had to go up there. he had carried the deer down about 3/4 of a mile which was no easy thing to do, we found the knife and then started back with the Deer on a pole between us. I sure can say I was some tired before I got home and so was brother. got here and that was the end of a perfect day if ever there was one. so we sat down by our little camp and made some tea and cakes and then it had begun to rain again so we went to bed feeling that life is worth living after all.

September 23rd Sunday

Have not been out to day as it rained all last night and today so there has not been anything doing today except eat and watch it rain. had some healthy stew and it tasted mighty fine so there is about all there is to sunday. Praying for another buck. still raining.

September 24th Monday

We took in more territory than we expected today. we got into the roughest country I have ever seen and we did not know just where we were except that we knew we were in Oregon somewheres. so we just kept on a traveling. had a can of pork and beans at noon so we did not get so very hungry, but our stomachs felt pretty darned empty.

Well we struck up a stream after some hours travel, that is after 8 hours, and we followed that down for some time, but had to get back on the hills again so we could see some place. we got on the hill alright, but we did not know the country then, so we kept on going towards the sun thinking that we were some wheres east of our camp and after a little while we struck onto a higher stream yet. well there was an old saw mill on that stream,but we did not know the place, so we hunted around there. found a big road and Frank thought that he had seen the same road somewhere before, but it was so darned big that I did not think that they could up and moved it. You see I was completely turned around and did not know the bearings to save my soul.

Well Frank took the lead the way up that road and up it sure went. I did not think that we'd ever get to the top, but after our knees seemed to be almost all in from climbing that hill we got to the top and believe me I was sure some tired. but we was not home yet and thought sure we would have to sleep out that night, but we kept on walking and we finaly got to a place in the road where we could see a hill that we had went over that morning. so we hit out for that and that got us to the creek that we was camped on. we were then about 2 miles from our camp and made ourselves some supper and then we were glad to get in between our blankets.

September 25th Tuesday

This morning when we went out we got onto some tracks not over a 1/4 of a mile from camp, but we did not follow them and took another direction. did not even see any more tracks so we went to Mr Andersons, a sheep rancher and got a horse to pack our outfit and DEER to town. We then took some pictures of camp and departed. got to Granite about 3:30 and fed the horse and then Frank took it back to Mr Anderson. he got back at 7 o'clock so our hunting is over with for this trip.

September 26th Wednesday

Well we sure slept pretty sound last night as we had not seen a soft bed since we got out here. took the stage into Sumpter which cost us $5.00 and then we had to wait till 2:20 before we got to our horses and came in with the Game Warden. got in to Baker at 4:30 and that is the end of my first Deer hunt and I am well satisfied with the hunt although I did not get to see a live one, but we got one: Just the same, thanks to Brother Frank,

(signed) E.J. Erickson

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