Martin Emil Widegren was born on June 17, 1903 in Norberg, Västmanlands, Sweden, the only child of Emil Rudolf and Augusta Karolina (Lundgren) Widegren. His parents were Lutheran and so Martin was raised a Lutheran and baptized on July 26, 1903, when he was a month old. His father worked in the coal mines nearby. However, his father died of pulmonary tuberculosis when Martin was 4 years old. Less than two years later, his mother remarried to Karl Axel Wahlberg on January 23, 1910. His half-brother, Axel Edvin, was born in Norberg two years later 1912. While in Norberg, Martin received an 8th grade education. Sometime after completing school, he moved to the city of Västerås where worked as an electrician in the early 1920s. He was living at Klara 3 at the time he registered to leave Sweden on July 13, 1923.
At some point in the early 1920s, Martin made a decision to leave Sweden and immigrate to the United States and apply for citizenship. He had a friend, Ernst Westerlund who lived Chicago, and so he decided to join him there. With $50 in hand after paying his passage, he left Sweden from the port of Gothenburg on August 11, 1923, on board the steamship S.S. Kungsholm. After an eleven day journey, the ship arrived in New York City on August 22. However, for unspecified reasons, he did not stop at Ellis Island. Bound for Chicago, Martin most likely took a train from New York City to Chicago, Illinois, where he was to meet up with his friend.
Upon arrival in Chicago, Martin would have seen a bustling city. As a taxi driver, Martin would have experienced many of the things that define the Roaring Twenties. It us unknown how long Martin remained in Chicago. His maternal uncle, Albert Lundgren, had immigrated to the United States in early August of 1923 and had settled in the city of Jamestown, New York, where he found work. After only a couple years of living in Chicago, Martin left to join his uncle in Jamestown. By 1926, Martin was living at 213 West 2nd Street in Jamestown. He worked as a case maker at the Lundell-Eckberg Manufacturing Company. By 1928, he was living at 336 Foote Avenue.
Sometime in the mid-1920s, Martin met Elmira Sarah Harrison, a native of Pennsylvania who had come to Jamestown and was working as a sales clerk. They married on her parents’ farm in Kersey on June 6, 1928. As newlyweds, Martin and Elmira lived at 274 Prospect. On February 25, 1929, Martin was naturalized as a U.S. citizen at Jamestown. Martin is found on the passenger list of the S.S. Hamburg, sailing from Bremen, Germany on August 29, 1930 to New York City on September 6, 1930. Reasons for this trip remain unknown, but he may have gone to Sweden to visit relatives. From there, he would have sailed from Sweden to Bremen, which could explain why he set sail from Germany.
By 1934, Martin was working as a welder and they lived at 347 South Main. Around this time, they were living at 168 Stowe and Martin was working for the Jamestown Malleable Iron Corporation and would eventually work his way up to Chief Engineer, working on the mechanical side in electric and plumbing.
By 1940, the Widegrens were living at 17 Norwood Avenue. The rent was $20 per month. For the week of March 24-30, 1940, it was reported that Martin had a 40 hour work week as an inspector at a Metal Casing Company. Throughout 1939, Martin had worked a total of 36 weeks and had an income of $1,000. At some point, perhaps in the early 1930s, Elmira had a miscarriage. The Widegrens lived on Norwood up until the early 1940s. By 1942, they were living at 149 Hunt Road in West Ellicott.
In 1957, Jamestown Malleable Iron Corp. was shutdown for a 12-month period. On December 29, it was reported that the company would resume manufacturing castings on December 29, with 150 men working, according to an announcement by A. E. Schobeck, President and General Manager of the Company. The plant later closed. By 1963, Martin went to work for Blackstone Corp, which had been owned by Malleable Iron. His job was to assist in the design of the new Blackstone Georgia Foundry, in Statesboro, Georgia. Martin retired about 1973.
His hobbies included hunting, but mainly fishing. He built three boats and in the summer would be out almost all the time trolling for musky. Martin returned to Sweden in 1974 to visit family, perhaps his half-brother Edvin and his niece, Maj-Britt Wahlberg.
Martin and Elmira did everything together and were married for 62 years at the time of his death. They attended the Lakewood United Methodist Church, were members of the Swedish Society of the First Lutheran Church and the Celoron-West Ellicott Senior Citizens. Martin died at his home on November 19, 1990. His funeral took place at the Lind Funeral Home and the Reverend Gerald A. Haglund officiated. He was buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery.
- Swedish Births (Ancestry.com)
- Kungsholm Ship Manifest, 1923, Line #29 
- 1930 United States Federal Census, Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York.
- 1940 United States Federal Census, Jamestown, Chautauqua County, New York.
- Obituary, Jamestown Post-Journal, 1990
- Social Security Death Index