Mrs. J. E. (Mathilda C.) Engstad was born July 27, 1868, in Manistee, Michigan. She married John E. Engstad on September 27, 1887, in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He was one of the first physicians in the community and spearheaded a movement which led to the founding of the first hospital in Grand Forks, St. Luke's, in 1891. He was also one of the founders of the North Dakota Medical Society (later renamed the North Dakota Medical Association), organized in 1887. Mathilda was active in the community, especially with the Pioneer Club, Franklin Club and Thursday Music Club. The Engstads had two daughters: Valborg, who died in 1907, and Dagna Elsie.
Dr. J. E. Engstad died in 1937, while Mrs. Engstad died August 14, 1943 in Grand Forks.