Ole Larson

Ole and Anne (Stenerson) Larson

Ole Larson, honored as one of the early pioneers and worthy citizens of Allamakee county, took up his abode in this section of the state in 1850, at which time he settled in Taylor township, Allamakee county. From that time until his death he was closely associated not only with the material but also with the moral development of the region and left the impress of his individuality for good upon the community. He was born in Hallingdal, Norway, in 1811, was there reared and in that province married Miss Anne Stenerson, who was also a native of the same locality. At length he determined to try his fortune in America, believing that he would have better opportunities in the United States, the voyage being made under hard and trying conditions. The vessel in which they crossed was known as the Draphna, and Captain Ekersberg, who was in command, told Mr. Larson to take a goat on board the vessel in order that they might have milk to mix the medicine for the sick. This was accordingly done and the precaution proved its value in the course of the voyage. At length the Draphna dropped anchor in New York harbor, and from the eastern metropolis the Larsons proceeded by way of the Erie canal and the Great Lakes to Chicago. They found very poor accommodations were accorded emigrants there. The children slept on a corded bedstead and in the morning all were on the floor, having slipped through the cords during the night.

The Larsons spent the first winter on Rock prairie in Rock county, Wisconsin, and in the spring of 1850 came to Allamakee county, their home being established upon a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of wild land on sections 9d and 17, Taylor township. With characteristic energy the father began the improvement and development of this property and each year witnessed his increasing prosperity until he became one of the substantial farmers and extensive landholders in his vicinity. He made good use of his opportunities and not only achieved individual success but contributed to the upbuilding and uplifting of his section.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ole Larson were born eleven children. Birgitte, who was the eldest of four children brought by the parents to America in 1849, was born at the family home, Unde Bergo, which in peasant parlance means "below mountains," in Gol, Hallingdal, Norway, in 1839. In early girlhood she attended public schools and later continued her studies in Madison, Wisconsin. In common with all pioneer children she assisted in the early '50s in all kinds of farm work, in which men and women engaged, including the milking of the cows and hunting the herd in the primitive pastures which nature provided at that time. In common with girls and women of the period she made her dresses by hand no experienced modiste being needed to fashion the cheap calico garments. The daughters of the household had no time to spend on music and the only musical instrument in the home was the father's monochord "salmodikon," which he played at their Sabbath morning devotions. Arriving at years of maturity, Birgitte Larson, whose name was anglicized to Betsey, taught school for some time and in 1860 she was joined in wedlock to Peter S. Olson (Noes), the wedding ceremony being performed by Judge White in Waukon. For some years they lived on section 35, Center township, and then removed to Rose Creek, Minnesota, afterward to Holt county, Nebraska, and later to Alliance, where Mrs. Olson passed away in 1898, leaving a large family of children and a husband, who followed her to the grave in 1913. Louis O. Larson, christened Lars, was the second in the family. Stener, called Stanley, another of the family, is deceased. Vineberg, called Isabelle, born in Norway, February 22, 1845, was the fourth and the youngest of the children born in Norway and brought to America by their parents in 1849. She spent her girlhood in the Larson home in Taylor township and in early womanhood taught school for some years. She afterward followed others of the family to the county of Saline, Nebraska, where she became the wife of John V. Ainsworth, who conducted a mercantile business at Friend there for some years and afterward removed to Tobias, Nebraska, where he operates an elevator. He also owns a half section of land joining the town. Mr. and Mrs. Ainsworth have a son, Frank, who is married and lives near his parents, while a daughter, Anna May, is the wife of Dr. W. S. Wiggins, of Dewitt, Nebraska. The other children of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Larson, Sr., were as follows: Brigitte and Ragnild, known as Betsey and Rachel, twins, were born January 5, 1850, in Rock county, Wisconsin, and were the first addition to the family of Ole and Anne Larson in America. They spent their girlhood at home and after attaining womanhood Betsey engaged in teaching for a number of years, after which she became the wife of Julius Englehorn and lived in Lansing township for several years. She afterwards accompanied her husband to the west, the family driving a team to Hoquiam, Washington. There Mrs. Englehorn and her two daughters, Mrs. Ada Crawford and Mrs. Eva Johnson, still reside. The husband and father has left home and is presumed to be dead. Rachel, twin sister of Mrs. Englehorn, also taught school in Allamakee county in her girlhood. She became the wife of George Campbell and they removed to Saline county, Nebraska. Mrs. Campbell owns a farm near Milford but lives in the city, where she also owns property. Her husband died about a year ago. One son, Washington, lives on a ranch, and another, Andrew, is a resident of Chicago. The only daughter, Lilian, is now matron in the Soldiers' Home at Milford, Nebraska. Ole, Jr., called Olen, the next member of the family of Ole and Anne Larson, died and was buried in New Mexico. Extended mention is made of him on another page of this volume. He was the first of the family born in Iowa. Ambjor, called Emily, was born April 21, 1853, at the family home in Taylor township and in early womanhood engaged in teaching school. She was married on the first of July, 1874, to John S. Englehorn and they lived on the Lansing ridge for a number of years, after which they removed to Alliance, Nebraska, where Mrs. Englehorn passed away, in April, 1903, leaving a son and two daughters, the latter being Minnie, now the wife of Odie Shofield, and Mrs. Hattie DeVenny, of Seattle, Washington. Anne Larson, the next of the family, was born June 17, 1854, and like the other sisters, engaged in teaching school. She became the wife of O. A. Dalberg, at Baldwin, and died at Dorchester, Wisconsin, in July, 1888, her remains being there interred. She is survived by her husband, a son, Arnold, and three daughters, Edith, Hattie, and Grace, the last named being Mrs. Louis Crane. All of these daughters are graduates of the Stout School at Marinette, Wisconsin, and are domestic science teachers. Sophie Larson was born September 9, 1856, and lived at the parental home until her marriage to Hans Moe in Paint Creek township. Her husband died ten years ago, leaving four young sons: Arnold, Herbert, Olvin, Clement, and two daughters, Hattie and Alice. The family reside on a quarter section of land in Paint Creek township, save Clement, who owns a farm in Amanda, North Dakota. Andreas, called Andrew, was the youngest in the family of Ole and Anne Larson, and after reaching mature age he turned his attention to mining in Colorado. After a few years, however he abandoned that pursuit, was married and took up his abode upon a ranch, but is now in business in Antonito, Colorado. They became the parents of four children, but one girl Navada, died in early girlhood.

The father of this family died upon his farm in Taylor township at the age of eighty-seven years, and the mother passed away when eighty-two years of age. He was a man of more than ordinary ability and intellectual force, was well educated and widely read, and took a most active and helpful interest in religious work. He made it a custom to hold religious services for the benefit of the children in his neighborhood, and largely through his influence Christianity received its first impetus in this section. He was numbered among Allamakee county’s earliest and most worthy pioneers, for at the time of his arrival here the house at Thompson's Corners was the only one between his homestead and Lansing, a distance of ten miles. In his death the county lost one of its most honored pioneers, a man of high integrity, of unquestioned honor and exemplary moral character.

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

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