Johan Ekström was born 29 July 1866 as Amandus, in Reftele, Jönköpings County, Sweden. He was the son of Johan Svensson (b. 1837), a farmer, and Brita Lisa (née Börjesdotter; 11 April 1837 – 6 February 1912) who had married 25 May 1860.
Hs known siblings were Janne Leander, b. 22 Ags 1870, Karl Agard August, b. 14 May 1874, Emma Lovisa, b. 29 August 1878, Oscar Frithiof, b. 22 July 1882, and Oscar's twin, who was stillborn.
Johan emigrated to North America on 20 February 1890. He married on 5 February 1894 to Annie Cecilia Larsson (b. 1874), a native of Minnesota (of Swedish parentage) in Carver, Minnesota. They would have Edgar Oscar (1894-1921), twins Lillie Marie (1898-1977) and Lulu (1898-1898), Myrtle Carolina (1900-1966, later Mrs Helmer Newman Eide), Robert Clarence (1902-1941), Mabel Concordia (1908-1991, later Mrs Carl Hawkinson) and Bernard Victor (1909-1985).
In 1900 the family lived at a farm in Effington Rut,1 Roberts County, South Dakota which he owned with his brother Oskar. His sister Emma Swanberg lived in New Jersey and his sister Maria Larson lived at 165 Chatham Street, New Haven, Connecticut. The 1910 census shows them in Hart, Roberts County (close to Effington).
Johan's mother Brita died on 6 February 1912 and he hastened back across the Atlantic to fetch his elderly father Johan and bring him back to America. Father and son boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers (he on ticket number 347061 which cost £6, 19s, 6d). Both men died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.
From the Red Cross files: 132. A farmer was returning to his home in South Dakota where he had lived for 23 years. After the death of other relatives in Sweden, he had gone home to bring back his aged father to live with him. Both were drowned. He is survived by his wife and six children, the eldest of whom is 18 and the youngest 2 years of age, and the woman's dependent mother, 80 years old. The farm consists of two quarter sections of land, upon which there was a mortgage of $3,600. The interest upon this mortgage, which had always been paid promptly, fell due a few weeks after the disaster, and the widow was unable to meet the payment. At this time, the Committee sent $200 to the family for immediate needs, and paid the interest, and paid the interest, amounting to $216. The husband had borrowed $400 from the bank to meet the expenses of his trip to Sweden, and there were some debts upon the farm machinery...The appropriation of $4,079 made by this Committee was used directly to cancel the mortgage....From relief funds other than Red Cross the family received $2,827.33
Johan's widow Annie never remarried. She remained in Roberts County, South Dakota and died there on 3 March 1949 aged 74. She was buried in Walla Church Cemetery, New Effington in Roberts County. His eldest son Edgar later joined the US Navy but was lost at sea in 1921. His last surviving child, his daughter Mabel, died in Hennepin, Minnesota on 1 February 1991 aged 82.