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Wennes, O. L. 1856 1949


Posted By: Joy Moore (email)
Date: 5/14/2015 at 08:46:04


A mile south of the state line, on section 17, Highland township, is the home of O. L. Wennes. It was here that he was born July 17, 1856, in a little log cabin fourteen by sixteen feet, which was built by his father. His parents, Peter L. and Tarine (Gjerstad) Wennes, were both natives of Norway, the former born June 11, 1819, and the latter on the 27th of May, 1822. The father arrived in this country in 1850 and the mother in 1852. Both made their way to Wisconsin and in that state they were married in the latter year. They began their domestic life there, but in 1854 came to Winneshiek county, settling on the farm which is now the old Wennes homestead. They were in limited financial circumstances and for two years lived in a dugout but afterward built a cabin, which was later replaced by a modern frame residence. In connection with a relative Mr. Wennes purchased eighty acres of land and later became sole owner of that tract. He also secured government land later and at the time of his death was the owner of one hundred and thirty acres, constituting a rich and well developed property. His wife died May 27, 1901, and he survived her for little more than a year and a half, passing away December 15, 1902. He was a quiet, industrious man, living at peace with his neighbors, possessed a genial disposition and won friends wherever he went. The Lutheran church numbered him among its active, consistent and faithful members. The family numbered but two children, the younger being Ellen Johanna, now the wife of John Halseth, of Mabel, Minnesota.

O. L. Wennes has resided at the place of his birth throughout his entire life and early became familiar with the best methods of developing the home place and carrying on the work of the farm. In 1886 he purchased the old homestead from his father and has added to it until he is now the owner of an extensive tract of three hundred and ninety-five acres, covering parts of sections 8, 14, 15 and 17, Highland township, his residence being on section 17. All of the present substantial buildings upon the place were erected by Mr. Wennes and his farm is exceptionally well improved, showing all the accessories and conveniences of the model farm property of the twentieth century. In the midst of the place stands a large, fine residence, erected in 1909, and this is surrounded with a fine grove of sugar maples. The place is known as the Highland Stock Farm, for hereon he raises a high grade of stock for feeding purposes and annually sells a large number. He has some full blooded cattle and hogs. He also raises many horses, keeping seven brood mares.

While known as one of the leading, enterprising and successful farmers and stock-raisers of the county, Mr. Wennes also has other important business connections. He has been a director of the National Bank of Decorah since its organization and he has been one of the directors of the Norwegian Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Winneshiek county for fourteen years. He is likewise a stockholder in the Cooperative Creamery of Highland township and he is identified with various interests of a public or semi-public character. He has served as a director of the Winneshiek County Agricultural Society and for twenty years has been school treasurer of his township. He was county supervisor at the time the new courthouse was built and acted as chairman of the building committee. His name is on the cornerstone, together with the names of four other supervisors. In politics he has been a lifelong republican, yet was in sympathy with the progressive movement at the last election. He has held nearly all of the township offices and his service as county supervisor covers six years, with two years spent as chairman of the board. He has also been a member of the republican county central committee and has labored earnestly and effectively to promote the interests of his party.

On the 15th of May, 1889, Mr. Wennes was married to Miss Caroline Larson, who was born in Highland township, February 11, 1865, a daughter of Hon. Nels and Julia Larson, residents of Highland township. Mr. and Mrs. Wennes have seven living children, Peter, Jennie, Edgar, Nels, Carl, Theodore and Tilda, and they lost two sons in infancy. Mr. Wennes and his family are members of the Lutheran church and are earnest supporters of all that tends to promote the moral progress of the community. He is very energetic, persevering and reliable and his substantial qualities have won him the high and enviable position which he occupies in the regard of friends, neighbors and business associates.

Source: History of Winneshiek County, Iowa Vol. II Chicago the S. J. Clark Publishing Company 1913

Highland Lutheran Cemetery

Winneshiek Biographies maintained by Bill Waters.
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