ning wheel has been passed down through the family to her daughter Jorund Larson (about 1863), to Jorund’s daughter Johanna Peterson (about 1915), to Johanna's daughter Verna Dalbey (about 1938), and most recently to Verna’s daughter Kathryn Rettig (about 1992). Given the difficulties of trans-Atlantic crossings, cross-continental travel and pioneer homesteading in a rock shelter, it is remarkable that such an original possession would still remain in the family.

Bio Photo

The Honorable Nels Larson. Born in Bakka, Sogn, Norway. Came to America, 1854.

In 1970 some of their descendants placed a small marker on top of this protruding “rock" to commemorate their stay there. Many of her grandchildren played under it for years without knowing that Jorund had lived under it long ago. One may speculate if she who later lived but half a mile away for more than 50 years in a real house with curtains and a piano, ever went back to reminisce with this, her “first American home.”

Nels and Jorund had 12 children: Caroline (1863-1864), Caroline (1865-1916, m. O.L. Wennes); Nels (1867-1897); Louis (1870-1919); Maria (1873-1951, m. Ole Peterson); Henry (1875-1962); Albert (1878-1937); Johanna (1881-1964, m. PM. Peterson); Emma (1883-1891); Julia,(1885-1945, m. Olaf Tolo); Gustav (1888-1918); and Emma (1891-1973, m Oscar Tollefsrud). Most of them lived in Iowa.

We have heard that Jorund once bore a child in the forenoon, then cooked the noon meal for her working men. A true pioneer woman! A tiny lady, a hard worker with stout ideas.

Early biographers depicted Nels Larson as public-spirited, progressive-minded and concerned with education, politics and raising agricultural standards in his community. This is borne out by county records, i.e. 11 years as township assessor, 10 years as clerk, 4 years as treasurer in the Mutual Fire Insurance Co., 6 years as county supervisor and in the 1880’s two terms in the Iowa State

Legislature in Des Moines. There his colleagues jokingly called him “The Gentleman from Minnesota" because he lived very near the State line. Seriously, he was remembered there for his wisdom in committee work where the legislature discussed'and voted on issues for the people’s welfare.

In politics he was a county Republican Party Committeeman and delegate to State functions. He was once elected as Justice of the Peace, but did not qualify. Evidently he lacked the formal courses required for that post with so little schooling.

However, he served the county as school treasurer for 22 years and 15 consecutive years on the Board of Trustees of Luther College in Decorah.

Another colleague ends with “Last but not least, Larson was a true Christian, adhering to his church teachings, whose principles have always guided his actions. He was a forceful man of strong character, yet sympathetic and kind to the unfortunate ones and those in need.”

With others, he petitioned his national NLCA Synod Board to start a new congregation in Highland Twp. On 12 Oct 1894 he was a signer of the Articles of Incorporation for the Highland Lutheran Church and served on its building committee as treasurer. The church cost $1,763 to build. He often represented this new Highland and Big Canoe Lutheran Church at national synod conventions. Nels’s Johanna was in the first confirmation class; granddaughter Verna Peterson was baptized, confirmed and married in the Highland Church.

Bio Photo

Jorund Kjome Larson.

Born in Rollag, Numedal, Norway. Came to America, 1853.

He worked at bettering farming methods and raising high-grade livestock. Grandchildren recall him as an average-size man with very curly hair and beard, who often served them cold watermelon on hot summer days, but also required them to pluck currants when they were ripe for grandma’s jelly-making. In later years, Jorund, with her dark hair in a severe parting, and in a rocking chair,


Complete OCR transcription

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