John J. Eklund

J. J. Eklund (Duluth Public Library)

Dr. J. J. Eklund has not only gained definite prestige as one of the representative physicians and surgeons of northeastern Minnesota, but he is also known as one of the most loyal and progressive citizens of Duluth, where he controls a large professional business and makes a specialty of surgery, in which his skill and experience have given him high reputation. His offices are at 7 East Superior street and his residence at 224 North Twenty-fourth avenue, East.

Doctor Eklund is a representative of the best type of the fine Scandinavian element that has played a most important part in the development and upbuilding of the state of Minnesota, of which state he has been a resident since his childhood days. He was born in Sweden on the 13th of March, 1861, and is a son of Nels and Wendla J. Eklund, who immigrated from their native land to the United States in the spring of 1866.

They came forthwith to Minnesota, and the father became one of the pioneer farmers of Chisago County, where he obtained land and reclaimed the same to cultivation. He developed a valuable property, and continued his residence in that county for many years. He finally disposed of his farm and removed to South Dakota, where he continued to be successfully identified with agricultural pursuits until his death, which occurred in 1898; his wife, who has been a devoted helpmate, having passed to eternal rest in 1894. They were folk of sterling character and strong mentality, and in the United States made good use of the opportunities afforded them, so that their measure of success was not stinted and they won that independence which was their just desert.

Both were devout members of the Lutheran Church.

Doctor Eklund was about five years of age at the time the family came from Sweden to the United States, and his boyhood and early youth were passed on the homestead farm in Chisago County, Minnesota. The public schools of that section of the state afforded him his early educational advantages. His higher academic training was acquired in Gustavus Adolphus College at St. Peter, this state, and in preparation for his chosen profession, which is one of the most exacting and responsible to which a man may turn his attention, he entered the Minnesota Hospital Medical College, now the medical department of the University of Minnesota, in which institution he completed the prescribed course, with close and earnest application, and was graduated as a member of the class of 1885. After receiving his well earned degree of Doctor of Medicine he forthwith established his residence in the city of Duluth, where he has since continued in successful practice—his zealous and self-abnegating services having covered a period of over thirty-five years and his practice being now substantial and of representative order. In later years he has specialized in surgery, as already intimated. In 1895 and 1896 Doctor Eklund further fortified himself for his profession by completing a thorough post-graduate course in the New York Polyclinic, where he devoted special attention to surgery in order to concentrate his efforts largely along that line. He is now a member of the surgical staff of St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth.

Doctor Eklund served ten years as coroner of Duluth; for three years was a member of the municipal water and light board; and has otherwise taken deep interest in local affairs of public order. He accords unequivocal allegiance to the Republican party and was a delegate from Minnesota to the Republican National Convention which nominated President McKinley for a second term. In 1908 he was presidential elector at large and was especially honored in being chosen to convey the vote of Minnesota to the national capital. The Doctor is a director of the Northern National Bank of Duluth and is president of the Duluth State Bank. He is a member of the Duluth Commercial Club and an earnest supporter of its progressive civic ideals and policies. He is a zealous member of the Lutheran Church, of which his wife, now deceased, likewise was a devout communicant, and for many years he served as an official of the Duluth Church, with which he is still identified in an active way.

In 1888 was solemnized the marriage of Doctor Eklund to Miss Nannie Asp, of St. Peter, Minnesota, and the supreme loss and bereavement of his life came when his cherished and devoted wife was summoned to the life eternal in 1905. She is survived by one son, William J., who graduated from Rush Medical College in the city of Chicago with the class of 1916. He served in the late war as first lieutenant in the medical department overseas and is now practicing his profession of medicine and surgery with his father in this city.

From Walter Van Brunt’s Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922. Available at the Duluth Public Library.


John J. Eklund, M. D., one of the most prominent and influential citizens as well as one of the leading physicians and surgeons of Duluth, came here in the year 1885, immediately after his graduation from the Gustavus Adolphus College and from Minnesota College Hospital, now the medical department of the University of Minnesota, and has since ranked among the first in his profession.

In addition to his large and lucrative practice of medicine Dr. Eklund is largely interested in other lines of business in Duluth. He is a trustee of the Northern National Bank, has been a member of the city water and light board, and a promoter in various charitable institutions of the city. He also served as coroner for ten years.

Dr. Eklund is a Republican in political views and a faithful worker in all movements tending toward the betterment of the community. He was a delegate to the national convention which nominated President McKinley the second term, and was also presidential elector-at-large in 1908 and honored by being chosen messenger to carry the vote from Minnesota to Washington.

Dr. Eklund is the son of Nels and Wendla Eklund, both natives of Sweden, who came to the United States with their son John in the spring of 1866 and located on a farm in Chisago county, Minnesota, where our subject was reared in the Swedish Lutheran faith.

Dr. Eklund was born in Sweden on March 13, 1861, and received his first education in the public schools of Chisago county, after which he entered college with an ambition for the professional career of which he is now master.

He was married to Miss Nannie Asp, of St. Peter, Minn., in the year 1888. Mrs. Eklund died in 1905, leaving one son—William J.


Dr. J. J. Eklund, emigrated from Sweden with his family in 1863 at the tender age of two, settling in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where he attended public schools.  He went on to graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota and also, in 1885, from the University of Minnesota Medical School.  He moved to Duluth the following year to practice medicine, where he remained until his untimely death. Eklund was president of the Duluth National Bank, almost since its organization, and was a director of the Northern National Bank for many years. He was heavily involved in local real estate, both commercial and residential, and was considered one of the leading Republicans in Minnesota.  Eklund’s life had a tragic ending as a front page article in the Duluth Herald newspaper reported in 1922:

“JOHN MAGNUSSON SHOOTS DOCTOR THREE TIMES AND ENDS OWN LIFE—Murderer calls at physician’s office for physical examination—Leaves son’s room and steps across corridor and commits deed—Believed Magnusson suffering from a form of nephritic insanity. Dr. J. J. Eklund, one of the city’s foremost professional men, with a record of many years of service in the medical world, was killed at 11:30 this morning by John Magnusson, a single man, 1918 West First street, who then turned the revolver on himself and committed suicide. Both men died within ten minutes of the shooting. The Eklund shooting, one of the most tragic in the history of the city, is supposed by the [police] to be the result of an insane impulse. About 10:30 o’clock this morning Magnusson entered the offices of Dr. J. J. Eklund and his son, Dr. W. J. Eklund at 7 East Superior street, was naked for a physical examination … Dr. W. J. Eklund examined the man and found him to be suffering from nephritis, a variation of Bright’s disease. After completing the examination, the younger physician dismissed Magnusson from the room. Fires Three Shots—Leaving Dr. W. J. Eklund’s office, the patient walked across the hall to the office of the father, who was consulting with a woman patient. Opening the door he fired three shots into the back of the veteran physician, then turned the gun on himself, firing two bullets into his own body. Immediate medical attention was powerless to save the veteran physician’s life. Magnusson also died almost immediately … The theory of Dr. W. J. Eklund is that the man was suffering from nephritic insanity which often accompanies the disease from which he was suffering. The crime was witnessed by Mrs. C. M. Peterson of Deer River, Minn. and her daughter, Marie. Dr. Eklund was examining Mrs. Peterson. Fired Without Warning—After the younger Dr. Eklund had finished his examination of Magusson, he walked out of the door, expecting Magnusson to follow. Magnusson, instead of following the young doctor, walked into the other office and without a word of warning fired three shots into the back of Dr. Eklund’s head. He then shot himself. The doctor was seated at his desk with his back to the murderer. Magnusson used a .32 caliber German automatic pistol. Lewis Johnson, jailer, was sitting in the doctor’s waiting room when the crime occurred.”


  • Larson, Jill. Intensive Survey of Historic Resources in Duluth’s East End (Part 1). City of Duluth, Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission, Duluth, Minn.: August 2007.
  • Woodbridge, Dwight and John Pardee, eds. History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1922.
  • Menu