SWENSON, BIGEN, LEE, COLBY
Posted By: Peter Gausmann (email)
Date: 2/7/2010 at 08:07:42
Norway's contribution to the citizenship of Winnebago county is an important one, for those who have come from the land of the midnight sun have brought with them the characteristic diligence and enterprise which are the basis of substantial material development and which also constitute valuable factors in citizenship. Ole Swenson was for a long period actively and successfully engaged in farming in Newton township, and through his close application and good business management he acquired a competence that enables him to now live retired. He was born in Norway, October 24, 1848, and is a son of Swen and Carrie (Bigen) Swenson, both of whom were natives of Norway. The father was a laborer in the old country, and both he and his wife died in their native land.
It was there that Ole Swenson was reared and educated, and when his textbooks were put aside he began earning his own living at rafting and at farm labor. He was thus engaged until he reached the age of thirty-one years, or until 1879, when he came to the new world and took up his abode in Webster county, Iowa, where he was in the employ of others for a considerable period. However, he early grasped the elemental thought that industry wins, and industry became the beacon light of his life. It was his desire to own land and engage in farming on his own account, and therefore he carefully saved his earnings until his industry and economy enabled him to purchase a farm. He secured land in Webster county and there continued to reside for five years, after which he came to Winnebago county and purchased two hundred acres on section 24, Newton township. He at once began to further develop and improve that place, and his labors made it one of the highly productive farms of the county. This he continued to cultivate until 1909, when he retired and removed to Lake Mills. There he purchased a fine home and twenty acres of land at the edge of town. He is thus most comfortably and pleasantly situated and in well earned rest is enjoying the fruits of his former toil. He is also a stockholder in the Lake Mills Creamery Company but has no active business connections at the present time.
On the 6th of May, 1877, Mr. Swenson was married to Miss Sarah Lee, and to them were born four children: Carrie, who resides at home with her parents, her husband, William Colby, having passed away February 28, 1916; Nettie, who is keeping house for her brother on the old homestead; Olof O., who is farming in Newton township; and Gilbert, who is cultivating the old home place.
Mr. Swenson is a republican and keeps well informed on the political situation of the country. His religious faith is that of the Lutheran church and he has guided his life according to its teachings. It requires considerable courage to sever home ties, to leave kindred, friends and native land and seek a home and fortune at points far distant. But this Mr. Swenson did, and he has never had occasion to regret his determination to come to the new world, for here he found the business opportunities which he sought and has worked his way steadily upward. In America opportunities are afforded to every one who is willing to embrace them. Humble birth and poverty are no handicap to the American man. While opportunities slip away from the sluggard and tauntingly play before the dreamer, they surrender to the individual with high purpose, undaunted courage and indefatigable industry, and it has been through the possession of these qualities that Mr. Swenson has come to be ranked with the men of affluence in Lake Mills.
Source: History of Winnebago County and Hancock County, Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, Vol. II. Pioneer Publishing Company (Chicago), 1917. pp. 518-519.
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