Mrs. J. E. (Mathilda C.) Engstad was born on 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 re-named 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. Mrs. J. E. Engstad died on August 14, 1943 in Grand Forks.