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1906 Biographies

OLE J. OSTRUS, FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP.


Coming to Cass county with almost no capital beyond his good health, determined industry and clear vision, some thirty-seven years ago, and being now one of the most extensive land owners and leading men of the county, all of which he has achieved by his own efforts, Ole J. Ostrus, of Franklin township, has proved in his career all that is claimed for the abundance of opportunity for thrift and enterprise in this section in the earlier days, and the sterling value of those qualities in any place. He is a native of Norway and was born in that country on September 13, 1847. His parents were Ole O. and Ingbor (Iverson) Ostrus, who also were naties of Norway, and who came to the United States in 1849, arriving at Chicago in August. They were many weeks crossing the Atlantic, but not disheartened by their long stay on the water, on their arrival in New York they proceeded up the Hudson to Albany, then took the Erie canal to Buffalo and thence a steamer to Chicago, by way of the Lakes.

. After remaining in Chicago a few weeks the parents of Mr. ostrus located in La Salle county, Ill., where the father entered a tract of Government land which he improved and made his homestead until his death in 1901, and on which the mother still dwells. They built a small log house and began to break up their land with ox teams. Indians were among their frequent visitors and were not always friendly; prairie fires wasted their substance, and were always hurtful; life's conveniences were few for them and were difficult to get; wild beasts threatened their safety, and the rigors of long, hard winters tried their patience and endurance to the utmost. Yet they persevered in their laudable endeavors to make a well improved farm out of their wild possession, and in time they succeeded, and saw, in addition, the country build up and improve around them. The promise of prosperity and comfort which had led them to America, although slow of arrival, was nevertheless amply realized in the end, and fully justified their faith in the country to which they came and the faculties they brought to it. The worthy couple reared a family of ten children, six of whom are yet living, but only one of them is a resident of this county. The parents belong to, and the children were reared in the Norwegian Lutheran Church.

Ole J. Ostrus grew to maturity in la Salle county, Ill., and received the limited common school education possible to boys in his situation at the time. Ue remained at home until he passed the age of twenty-one years, then, in 1869, came to Cass county and bought a tract of 120 acres of unbroken prairie land. The next year he came again, this time to remain, and settled on his farm in Franklin township, on which he built a dwelling sixteen feet long, fourteen feet wide and seven feet high. Taking up his residence in this uncanny shack, he began at once to break up his land and put in a crop. There were almost no roads in the neighborhood, and bridges were entirely unknown there. But in time the country was more densely populated, roads and bridges were built, crops improved in extent and value, and better times were at hand. The arduous struggle with Nature was over, and conquered by determined effort, she began to yield to the thrift of the husbandman as cheerfully as she had grudgingly done before.

Mr. Ostrus added to his domain from time to time until he now owns more than 800 acres of excellent land, nearly all of which is under cultivation. He has also been for years engaged in breeding cattle of superior grades, especially the strains best adapted to dairying. He was married in La Salle county, Ill., in 1868, to Annie Tompson, like himself a native of Norway, who came to the United States in 1862. They have five children -- F. Elvin, Oliver E., Oscar, Joseph T. and Russell E. In politics Mr. Ostrus is an independent Republican. He has served as township trustee and in various school offices. The members of the family all belong to the Lutheran Church, and in their several stations are all held in high respect by all who know them.


From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 460-462.

 
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