Henry Olstrom
Occupation Farmer
Attack information
Date January 13, 1888
Location(s) Preston, Minnesota, United States
Target(s) Family
Killed 8
Weapon(s) Broadaxe

Henry Olstrom was supposedly a Swedish farmer who killed his wife and seven children at a settlement twenty miles from Preston, Minnesota, United States on January 13, 1888.

At that time a severe cold wave and a snow storm caused dozens of deaths in the northwest of the United States, and Olstrom reportedly decapitated his family members with a broadaxe, because he thought they would perish due to a lack of food and fuel. A 14-year-old boy was said to have been able to escape the murderer by jumping out of a window.[1][2][3][4][5]

According to the St. Paul Daily Globe there was no truth to the story,[6] instead it apparently was based on another incident which had occurred earlier that month in Nessel township near Rush City, in which a man named Erick Erickson had murdered his wife and left his six sons in destitute condition when he was imprisoned.[7]


  1. An awful crime, Janesville Daily Gazette (January 17, 1888)
  2. Saved from freezing, Salt Lake Daily Tribune (January 17, 1888)
  3. A family murdered, The Evening Post (March 17, 1888)
  4. Boreas to rest now - Death by cold too slow, Milwaukee Daily Journal (January 16, 1888)
  5. A Frightful Death-list, Ann Arbor Argus (January 20, 1888)
  6. A canard, St. Paul Daily Globe (January 17, 1888)
  7. Most Heinous Crime, St. Paul Daily Globe (January 7, 1888)
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