LARS S. OLSEN, FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP.
Norway, which has but recently shown the independence of its people by severing its connection with Sweden and choosing a monarch of its own, and which has contributed to every department of human learning and enterprise men of master minds, has given to the United States some of her best and most progressive citizens. Among those of this nationality who have helped materially to build and develop Cass county, Lars S. Olsen, residing near Wiota, Franklin township, is entitled to mention among the productive forces of the region. He was born in Norway on June 1, 18837, and is a son of Ole and Bertha Olsen, also Norwegians by nativity, and life-long residents of their native land. They died when their son Lars was about five years old, leaving a family of three sons and two daughters, all of whom but one daughter came to the United States. Their son Lars was but twelve years of age when he accompanied his brother Ole to this country, arriving in 1849 after a stormy passage across the Atlantic which kept them on the ocean five weeks. They did not linger on the eastern seaboard, but proceeded at once to La Salle county, Ill., where Ole purchased and entered eighty acres of land on which he lived until his death.
In the State of Illinois Lars grew to manhood and completed his education. There also he began life for himself by working on farms for others until the beginning of the Civil War, meanwhile making a prospecting tour through portions of Minnesota. In September, 1861, he enlisted in the Union army as a volunteer in Company A, Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry, and was soon after engaged in active service in the campaign of the West. His regiment took part in the battles of Corinth (first and second), New Madrid, and many others in the earlier years of the war, and did considerable skirmishing. The command was first known as Yate's Sharpshooters, but at the end of its term of enlistment was veteranized as a part of the regular force. It was in active service many months in Tennessee, and afterward was with Sherman in his famous march to the sea, taking part in all the engagements of that triumphant progress. Later it was arrayed against Johnston in North Carolina and Georgia, and finally marched with its battle-scarred banners in the grand review of the victorious armies at Washington, D. C.
Mr. Olsen had many narrow escapes and was in the very shadow of death on numerous occasions, but he escaped without wounds or other disaster, and was mustered out of the service in good health at Louisville, Ky., in 1865. He then returned to his home in Illinois, and in 1866 came to Iowa, locating in Marshall county, where he conducted a hardware store and tin shop until 1869. In that year he moved to Cass county and bought eighty acres of wild land which he at once began to break up and improve. Out of this, and a subsequent purchase of equal extent, he has made one of the best farms of 160- acres in his township, which is enriched with a fine modern dwelling and good outbuildings.
In 1870 Mr. Olsen was united in marriage with Hannah Sampson, a native of Norway. They had had seven children, five of whom are living: John L., of South Dakota; Mary S., wife of James Lind, of Cass county; Samuel M., now in the United States navy; Martha H., wife of Ole M. Olsen, of South Dakota; and Lena J., who is living at home. Mr. Olsen has served as a justice of the peace, supervisor and township trustee, and is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic. For a few years he lived in Atlantic, but the balance of his life he has passed on his farm. The family all belong to the Lutheran Church. In all the relations of life Mr. Olsen has shown himself to be an excellent citizen, and worthy of the regard and good will he enjoys on every had. In peace he has been industrious, thrifty and enterprising, both in his own behalf and the service of the county; in war he defended his convictions with valor and fidelity; in public affairs he has been public-spirited and progressive, and in private life beyond reproach.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 459-460.