Westerlund, John A., fruit grower, businessman, member of the legislature — Medford — born in the vicinity of Orion, Illinois, on June 10, 1865, son of Peter Westerlund, one of the earliest pioneers in Henry county, Illinois. Westerlund worked on his father’s farm until he turned 18, after which he studied for six years at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. He graduated in 1891 and the same year moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he started in the real estate and insurance business. He was also involved in organizing colonies in the South and in the West. He lived in Alabama for five years, but maintained a home in Chicago from 1891 to 1909. Since 1902 he has been involved in large-scale real estate transactions in western Nebraska as well as in Oregon and Washington. He has been an immigration agent for the Union Pacific Railroad and was appointed Immigration Superintendent for the state of Oregon by Oregon Governor Chamberlain. In 1903, together with his brother William, he organized the Swedish “Western Oregon Orchard Co.,” a cooperative fruit growers association operating in the Medford, Oregon area. In 1904, on behalf of this company, he purchased (as mentioned on pp. 103 and 106), a stretch of land on which the well-known Monitor Orchard was planted. He also increased the size of the operation through additional land purchases and plantings.
In order to better serve the interests of the members and supervise the daily maintenance of the orchard, Westerlund moved to Medford in the spring of 1909. He quickly won enormous popularity and was appointed chairman of the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce; became vice-chairman of a fund-raising committee for an expensive road construction project from Medford to Crater Lake; and was, in the fall of 1910, elected the Jackson County member of the legislature with an 1,800 vote margin, a most remarkable event since there are very few voters of Swedish descent in this voting district. Westerlund has traveled to Europe a couple of times. He now lives in Medford, and is a member of the Elks and the Swedish Lutheran Congregation in Melrose, Douglas County. On February 23, 1898, he married Ella Cornelia Holmberg, the adopted daughter of the book publisher C. P. Holmberg (deceased in 1903), of Engberg-Holmberg Company in Chicago.