Louis O. Larson

Louis O. and Mary (Ingebretson) Larson

Louis O. Larson has been a resident of Allamakee county since 1850 and is therefore numbered among its early pioneers, while his business qualifications have won him a place among its substantial and valued citizens. He has witnessed almost the entire growth and development of this section of the state, for few settlements had been made within the borders of the county at the time of his arrival. He was reared amid the usual conditions and environments of frontier life and experienced the hardships and trials incident to pioneer existence.. Since attaining manhood he has thoroughly identified his interest with those of this section and in the course of a long, active and honorable life has made substantial contributions to its agricultural development.

Mr. Larson was born in Rotnem, Gol, Hallingdal, Norway, March 25, 1841, his parents being Ole and Ann Larson, of whom extended mention is made above. He was christened Lars, but later Americanized the name into Louis. The parents brought their family to the new world in 1849, when the subject of this review was a lad of eight years, and at nine years of age he came with the family to Allamakee county. He attended the district school and afterward continued his studies in the Lansing high school. In his childhood he divided his time between the duties of the school room and the work of clearing the land and developing and improving the homestead. He was ambitious to advance intellectually and made such good use of his opportunities that he became a successful teacher, following that profession for ten terms following his graduation from the high school in Lansing, where he had studied under Professor Haven in 1861-2. In the fall of the former years he obtained a teachers’ certificate from Professor Loughran, of Waukon, who was then superintendent of schools. He secured the position of teacher for six months in the Climax-Excelsiour district and in succeeding years he taught in the Storla, Dahl, Waterville, Little Paint and Climax schools. While teaching in the winter seasons and farming in the summer he also hunted the Virginia deer in the open seasons and trapped the predatory animals for fur and bounty, deriving also much sport therefrom in the ascents and descents of the precipitous hills in the townships bordering on the Mississippi river. In fact there are few phases of pioneer life with which Mr. Larson is unacquainted. Thirty years ago Tom Dunlevey, associated publisher of the Allamakee Journal, dubbed him “the mighty hunter with sword and pen” and the sobriquet has clung to him in the same manner as “magniloquent vagueness” has been pinned to President Wilson’s coat-tail by a Chicago Inter-Ocean cartoon. Mr. Larson has also been designated “the peacemaker” because of his settling lawsuits which had been taken to the district courts, and furthermore has been termed “ the savant of Little Paint” because of his contributions to the newspapers. Eventually he concentrated his efforts upon agricultural pursuits, in which he has met with a gratifying measure of prosperity, success steadily rewarding his well directed efforts through the years., he now owns and controls four hundred acres of land on sections 17 and 9, Taylor township, operating a quarter section and renting the remainder. Upon the homestead he has made many substantial improvements. He employs the most modern methods in carrying forward his farm work, using the latest labor-saving machinery. He rejoices in his success because of what it enables him to do for his family, yet he has never regarded the acquirement of wealth as the real end and aim of life, the education of his children being his chief endeavor, and he has made heavy sacrifices to achieve this end. That he has realized his ambition is evident from the fact that at the Rema Grove Fourth of July celebration his was pronounced the “nicest family” and Judge L. E. Fellows, of Lansing, said to him: “What a fine family you have raised!” The Larson family have ever been noted for their interest in those things which have a broadening effect and are of educational value. Eleven of the family visited the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, three saw the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis and one the Portland Exposition. In 1905 Louis O. Larson rode over the trails in Idaho as an Arrogant in company with his brother Stanley, viewed the interior of the Mormon Tabernacle in Utah and swam in the great Salt Lake.

Mr. Larson married, on June 29, 1862, Miss Mary Ingebretson, a daughter of Thore Ingebretson, an early settler of Center township, Allamakee county. Mr. and Mrs. Larson became the parents of thirteen children. Edmond Victor, the eldest, born December 9, 1863, is a graduate of Slack’s Business college of Decorah. He was married at the age of twenty-one years to Miss Caroline Ellefson (Turkop) and lives at Pierre, South Dakota. He has a family of one son and four daughters. Clarence Othello Theodore, the second son, was born in Taylor township, February 3, 1866, was there reared and after attaining his majority became a solicitor for the Ladies’ Home Journal, traveling in the interests of that publication in every state in the Union and receiving a two thousand dollar prize for getting more subscribers than any other agent in the United States. He had first made his headquarters in Fremont, Nebraska, where he attended a Sunday school class taught by William Jennings Bryan, our secretary of state of Washington, D. C., and he always spoke in the highest terms of praise of Mr. Bryan. He was afterward in Portland, Oregon, and frequently visited his early home in Taylor township. After a visit to his parents he started for his Portland home January 2, 1899, and in the spring of that year started with some Young Men’s Christian Association comrades for the Klondike. He was not in search of gold but in quest of knowledge concerning this country., His health succumbed before the rigidity of the Alaska climate, following his arrival in Dawson City, and he returned to Seattle, Washington, spending seven weeks in a hospital there. During his convalescent period he purchased a team of burros and started for Arizona, thinking that the climate of the southwest would benefit his health., He seemed to improve greatly there for a time, but he was extremely ambitious and energetic and indulged in long walks in the hot sun. During one of these he overtaxed his strength and passed away at Tucson. It is said that to gain strength he would daily walk down the valley for a mile and a half to see a friend. C. Brady, in the cool of the afternoon,. Not arriving at the usual hour, on the 24th of May, 1900, Mr. Brady proceeded up the road and to his horror found his friend's lifeless body. In all the relations of life Clearance O. T. Larson was known as a man of integrity, manliness and kindliness, which qualities won for him the fullest confidence and the highest esteem. His life was well worthy of emulation and his works and deeds will live in the memory of all who knew him, more enduring than any chiseled monument or table of bronze. The Bible was his constant companion and guide and he lived a model Christian life. He belonged to the Young Men’s Christian Association and to the Christian Endeavor Society. With the craving for knowledge, he possessed a very retentive memory and was as well versed in the history of the world as upon topics of current interest. His remains were returned to Allamakee county for interment and the large funeral cortege indicated how highly he was esteemed by those among whom he had been reared. Emma Victoria Larson, the third of the family, was born February 14, 1868, and after attending the home school she studied in the high schools at Waukon and Nora Springs. After teaching for several years she married a cousin, Peter Bieber, of Rock county, Minnesota, where she now resides. She owns four hundred acres of land there and also a house and lot in Jasper Minnesota, where she and her three sons, Edgar, Clarence and Lloyd, live. Her husband died about five years ago. Lily Idelia, the next member of the family, was born January 12, 1870, attended the home schools and in early womanhood became the wife of David W. Martin. They lived in Waukon for a time, after which Mr. Martin went away. Mrs. Martin is now living in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where she is engaged in dressmaking, while her daughters, Ilvarine and Naomi, are attending the State Normal School. Another son of Mr. and Mrs. L. O. Larson was Louis Edward Larson, who passed away in St. Paul in 1907. He was born June 5, 1872, at the family home on section 17, Taylor township, Allamakee county. Thirteen years of his life were spent in St. Paul, five years as a street car conductor and eight years on the police force. He occupied a lofty place in the police department, being known as one of the most reliable men on the force. Others were dropped from the payrolls when incapacitated by sickness from duty but when the condition of L. E. Larson was mentioned the chief would reply: “Don’t worry about Larson, we will take care of him,” and this proved true, and his pay was continued until his death. It was written of him: “He was loyal and true to all trusts committed to him, for honor was his guiding star and he trod the path where virtue walks.” For four years he battled with the dread disease tuberculosis but at length succumbed to the arch enemy of man, and his remains were interred in the cemetery of the Old East Paint Creek church in Allamakee county. The profuse floral offerings sent at the time of his death indicated how highly was he esteemed among those who knew him. Following his demise the Policemen's Association of St. Paul acted in the capacity of pallbearers, the chief of police also escorting the remains to the St. Paul depot, where they were shipped home for interment. He made friends of all with whom he came in contact, for his salient traits of character were such as men everywhere admire and honor. The sixth member of the family was Orange A. Larson, who died in childhood. The seventh member, also named Orange, died in infancy. Helen Annelia, born April 26, 1877, attended the public schools and also the schools of Waukon and Decorah. She successfully engaged in teaching for a number of years and then became the wife of Henry Hanson, after which they conducted a store in St. Paul, Minnesota. They are now residents of Lewiston, Montana, and have a family of three sons, Henry, Harold and Russel. Minnie Cornelia Larson was the first of the five daughters of Mr. and Mrs. L. O. Larson to be called from this life, her death occurring in the Swedish Lutheran hospital, Bethseda, St. Paul, December 2, 1911. She was born in Taylor township, November 12, 1878, and in her girlhood regularly attended the public schools and also studied at Waukon, Decorah and the Iowa State Norman. Following her graduation from the last named, she taught school for several years in Allamakee county and in Minnesota. She was ever the pride and joy of the family and a favorite among her schoolmates. At the Normal it is said that the faculty as well as the students clustered about her, being delighted to be near her owing to her sweet and loving disposition. It was on the 18th of October, 1905, at the home of her brother, Orange, near Jasper, Minnesota, that she became the wife of A. M. Fields, then of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and entered upon a most happy married life covering six years. She never knowingly offended or wronged anyone nor deviated from the path of rectitude throughout her entire life, so that she did not fear the coming of death. It was said that she was the most perfect embodiment of all those virtues which are the jewels of the soul and which reflect a pure and noble heart. She left beside her husband four children, Helen, Charles, Dorothy and Minnie, and the parents, brothers and sisters with whom she was once so closely associated in the old home in Allamakee county, where her remains were interred in the family burying ground. William Orange, born July 1, 1880, supplemented his study in the home school by a course in the Waukon high school and in the Iowa State Normal and for a time he conducted a store at Hardwick, Minnesota. He now owns a section of land near Regina, Sakatchewan, Canada, which he has rented out while he makes his home with his parents. Clara Luella also studied at Waukon and in the State Normal School and is now the wife of J. J. Martin, of Chicago, and the mother of one son, Jack. Wilier Lawrence, after attending the district school became a student in the Central high school of St. Paul, from which he was graduated. He also spent some time in the medical department of the Minnesota State University and is now teaching school nears Lewiston, Montana, where he owns a quarter section. Lester Arlington, born May 28, 1887, was also a student in the St. Paul central high school and in the Iowa State Normal School at Cedar Falls. He is now at home with his parents. The father lived a strenuous life as a farmer in order to provide for and educate his children and has certainly done a good part by them.

Mr. Larson has been a lifelong member of the Lutheran church. Loyal to its teachings and exemplifying in his life his Christian faith and belief. He gives his political allegiance to the republican party. He inherits his father's love of learning, is an extensive reader, a student and deep thinker, and is considered one of the best educated men in his section of the state. His well developed qualities and talents have made him one of the forceful, representative and honored men of his community. He delights in recalling the incidents of pioneer times, which are still fresh in his memory, and since 1850 he has lived in Allamakee county, his life forming a connecting link between the primitive past and progressive present. He is a most public-spirited citizen, taking an active interest in community affairs, although he down not seek public office as he is too independent and would never condescend to importune anyone to vote for him as a reward for party fealty. He has given hearty cooperation to many movements for the general good and Allamakee county owes her development to such men who have dared to face and endure the hardships of pioneer life and who have reclaimed this region for the purpose of civilization.

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

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