I knew that Louis was born Lars Erik Elg, on June 9, 1853, at Gravendal, Dalarna, Sweden. His father was Lars Elg (1823 – 1871), a blacksmith at the mill in Gravendal, his mother was Stina Carlsdotter, b abt 1820.
In November 1877 Lars Erik emigrated to the US, destination Iowa. I knew that he had lived in Helena, Lewis and Clark Cy. Montana, and at Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho.
In order to identify the photo I wrote a letter to the Montana Historical Society, who quickly responded:
Dear Mr. Elg,
I searched the Helena City Directories from 1895 through 1905. There is no record of a Louis Elge in Helena. The Directories do list Elges. In 1900, for instance, there is a Francis O. Elge and an Otto. Otto was the Sexton at the Swedish Mission Church in Helena.
However, I did find a Louis Elg in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 Census. He was enumerated in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The 1900 Census reported his wife’s name as Charlotte. He was born in Sweden about 1854. His occupation was listed as “Druggist” in 1900. In 1910 his occupation was “Proprietor”, and in 1920 he was living with a son, Edward, and his occupation was listed as “None”.
I believe the building in the photo must have been in Idaho Falls.
The Bonneville County Historical Society also provided a swift reply:
Dear Mr. Elg:
This is the information we have on Louis Elg: He came to the U.S. in 1874, stopping in Chicago; Boone County, Iowa where he worked in coal mines; and Omaha, Nebraska where he worked as a blacksmith and in a machine shop. In 1879 he was working for the railroad in Rawlins, Wyoming and he went from there to Dillon, Montana, also with the railroad. The first information about him in Idaho Falls was in 1895 when he opened a drug store on the corner of Front Street and Main Street. These streets have since been renamed Park Avenue and Broadway. The photo you sent is probably of this drug store. In 1904 a fire destroyed 20 businesses on the north side of Broadway from Park Ave. to the Snake River three blocks to the west. Central Drug Store would have been in this area. Later he owned another drug store called Eagle Rock Drug. His residence was on Chamberlain Ave. He was a well-known citizen of Idaho Falls, serving on the city council and as mayor of the city from 1910-1911. His wife was Charlotta and they had at least one child, Eddie.
Attached you will find photos of the Chamberlain Street residence, Mr.and Mrs. Louis Elg and Eddie.
Elg family residence on Chamberlain Street, ca 1900
The Elg family
Edward August Elg
With this information I was able to find a biography from “History of Idaho”, published in 1914:
LOUIS ELG. From Sweden have come many of the substantial and representative men of Idaho, some with poor equipments, according to the world’s estimation, and others, like Louis Elg, proprietor of the largest drug business in the state and for eleven successive years mayor of Idaho Falls, after they had secured a fair education , the only capital which their parents could afford them. Like many others from North, South, East and West, Mr Elg’s entrance into Idaho was in a humble capacity, a worker on that greatest of civilizing factors, the railroad, and with this as a stepping stone he entered into other opportunities, took advantage of them, and today is a man of wealth and influence, both won entirely by self-effort.