Nils Bottolson

Nils and Maren Bottolfson

Upon the roll of Allamakee county's honored dead appears the name of Nils Bottolson, who was numbered among the best known pioneers in Taylor township and a man who in promoting his individual interests made many substantial contributions to the general growth and development. He was born in Nordrehang presteggeld-benefice-Ringerige, Norway, June 22, 1826, and is a son of Bottolf and Martha. He grew to manhood in his native country and there acquired his education, crossing the Atlantic at the age of twenty-four years. He made the journey with his parents and his sister Karen, who later became Mrs. Knute Steen, and the party embarked at Drammen, Norway, May 30, 1850, on a sailing vessel. They arrived at New York city seven weeks later and went by canal and steamboat to Milwaukee and by post horses to Beloit, Wisconsin.

In the fall of the same year Nils Bottolson came on foot to Allamakee county, Iowa, where he settled in pioneer times, sharing with the other early settlers the privations and hardships incident to life in the wilderness. He remained an honored and respected resident of this locality until his death and bore a worthy and honorable part in the work of upbuilding, facing the stern and hard conditions of his life with confidence and courage and steadily carrying forward the work of improving and developing his farm. He joined Ole Larson in the purchase of a breaking team of four yoke of oxen and with this broke the tenacious blue joint sod and prepared his land for cultivation. His efforts were finally crowned with success and with the passing years he prospered materially, adding to his holdings from time to time and becoming the owner of an extensive acreage, his land lying on section 7, Taylor township. Upon this property he passed away July 23, 1912, at the age of eighty-six years, and his death deprived the township of a worthy, valuable and useful citizen as well as an honored pioneer.

On the 7th of November, 1856, Mr. Bottolson was united in marriage to Miss Maren Lovise Larson-Sjellebek, and they became the parents of a daughter, Mrs. O. H. Monserud. Mrs. Bottolson survives her husband and is well and favorably known in Taylor township, where her many excellent qualities of mind and character have gained for her an extensive circle of friends.

In the early days of his settlement in Allamakee county Mr. Bottolson became affiliated with the democratic party, and the Allamakee journal, espousing also the doctrines of that organization, was for more than thirty years his news medium. He was a Lutheran in religious belief and during his active years regularly attended the divine services in the United Lutheran church of Center township, never vacillating in religious or political matters. A biographer writing of him at the time of his death says:

"I have never heard my early friend and comrade speak an ill word of any person nor have I heard a word spoken derogatory to his moral worth. He was possessed of a God-given boon, a genial and equable temperament and never allowed himself to be ruffled by adverse fate. He held himself aloof from base and profane language but instead spoke kindly words and had a pleasing was of expressing himself. In his dealings with his fellowmen he was scrupulously honest and upright and his word proved better than gold as it did not tarnish. He was a kind and desirable neighbor, always ready when called on for aid. He was of a robust and healthy physique and endurance in labor, never evincing signs of fatigue in creating wealth that other generations may enjoy comforts and advantages that the early settlers had not in their ceaseless toil and drudgery. He preferred the company and relationship of laborers and mingled principally with those who 'ate their bread by the sweat of their brow;' was a benefactor to the needy in giving employment to them on his extensive land possessions and none ever left his doors penniless or hungry.

"The remembrance of his life of usefulness and many good deeds while incarnate - his honest features were met by us all - will live longer in the hearts of the Paint Creek prairie's people than monuments of chiseled granite or molded bronze, for he was truly a good man and a good man is better and more desirable than a great man - in this life as well as the next."

-source: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913
-transcribed by Jan Miller

-photo added September 5, 2009, contributed by Connie Bottolfsen Loftus

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