Sperstad, Engelhard K. "Ed"
1884-1954 | Homesteader and Salmon Fisherman
One of the early-day homesteader families in south Anchorage was the family of Engelhard "Ed" Konrad Sperstad. He was born in Rodoy, Nordland Fylke, Norway, on November 5, 1884. He immigrated to the United States sometime around the turn of the century.
Sperstad first arrived in Valdez in 1906, hoping to find employment in the Valdez district gold claims. He prospected for gold around Valdez and, while there, met and married Anna Serina Abrahamson. She was born in Valsoy, Norway in 1885 and came to Valdez as a domestic, like many other Scandinavian women who immigrated to the United States during this period. She was employed by Thomas J. Donohoe, a local attorney, as a cook and housekeeper. Two sons were born while they lived in Valdez, John A. (born in 1919), and Thomas W. (born in 1920).
In 1920, Sperstad and his family moved to Anchorage. He filed for a 160-acre homestead in the area which became Spenard, at the intersection of Arctic Boulevard and International Airport Road. The only access to the homestead at the time was the Alaska Railroad, which intersected their property near Campbell Station. Access by road was a branch off the present-day Spenard Road at Deadman's Curve. It was a pioneer, non-maintained road with two ruts suitable for wagons in the summer and bobsleds and horses in the winter.
In Anchorage, the couple had two more children: Evelyn Ann (born in 1922), and Hope Lucille (born in 1923). In Anchorage, the family lived a subsistence lifestyle, raising vegetables on their homestead, fishing for salmon in Cook Inlet during the summer, picking berries, and hunting moose, rabbit, grouse, and ptarmigan. Anna Sperstad’s expertise at preserving and canning kept the family larder full. It was a long way to school for their children, as the walking distance to downtown Anchorage was about four miles, and they frequently walked all the way to town and back to attend school.
Engelhard K. Sperstad died on February 21, 1954. Anna Abrahamson Sperstad died in 1970. Both are buried in Angelus Memorial Park, Anchorage. They were survived by two sons, John A., Thomas W., and two daughters, Evelyn Ann Watsjold, Hope Lucile Lowe. The Sperstad housing subdivision, located by International Airport Road and Arctic Boulevard, near the end of the east-west runway, was named after the family’s homestead.
 Draft registration card, Englehard [Engelhard] Sperstad, Draft Registration Cards for Fourth Registration for Alaska, April 27, 1942, NAJ Number 4504983, Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System, National Archives at St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed October 23, 2016); and Engelhard Konradi (“Ed”) Sperstad, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed October 23, 2016).
 John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 248-249.
 “Funeral Services for Pioneer Set,” Anchorage Daily Times, February 24, 1954, 7.
 Engelhard Konradi [Konrad] Sperstad, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed October 23, 2016); and Anna S. Sperstad, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed October 23, 2016).
 Paula Dobbyn, “Silence is Golden for Airport Neighbors – Runway Refurbished: Airplanes are Once Again Taking Off, Landing over Cook Inlet, South to North – Takeoff – and Aren’t You Glad,” Anchorage Daily News, September 25, 2003, A-1.
This biographical sketch of Engelhard K. Sperstad is based on an essay which originally appeared in John P. Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 248-249. See also the Engelhard K. Sperstad file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 7, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Sperstad family. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012. Note: edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, October 23, 2016.
Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, ed., “Sperstad, Engelhard K. ‘Ed’, “Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.
Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.