SOREN and ANNA OLSON
Soren Olson was
born April 10, 1832 in Norway. (1)
Johnson in 1857. She was born Aug. 25,
1832 in Norway. (2)
in 1856. Married Peter Lund.
John O., born May
Bertha Mette, or
Bertie, born Aug. 8, 1865. Married
Anna Serina or
Sarah, born April 19, 1868. Married Ole Paulson.
Inger Alethe, born
July 11, 1870. Married Magnus Sandven.
Severin, born Oct.
or Lizzie, born April 2, 1875.
The 1900 Census
indicates that Anna gave birth to nine children, but only seven survived at the
immigrated from Norway to the United States in 1860. Soren became a naturalized
citizen in 1866. (4)
indicate that the Olsons had a daughter named Torkelanna, or Anna, at the time
of their immigration. Their other
children were born in the United States.
The Olsons settled
in Illinois sometime
before 1863, when their son John was born.
John’s obituary says that he was born in “Lee City, Ill.”
There’s a Lee in Fulton County. (5)
The family moved
to Benton County, Iowa, sometime before August 1865, when Bertha was baptized
at Benton Lutheran Church. The 1870
Census shows the Olsons living in Florence in Benton County. Soren is listed
as a tailor with personal
property valued at $500 and no real estate.
In addition to Soren and Anna, the household contained their children:
Ann, age 13, born in Norway; John, age 7, born in Illinois; Bertha, age 5, born
1865 in Iowa; and Annis (Anna Serina), age 2, born in Iowa. The household also
contained the family of
John Brown, who is listed as a laborer.
That family included John’s wife Susanna and daughters Arvilla, 4, and
The family lived in
Benton County until about 1877, when they moved to Norway Township in Humboldt
County, Iowa. (6) The 1880 Census of
that township lists Soren as a 48-year-old farmer. The household also included
Anna, age 47; John,
age 17; Bertie, 14; Sarah (Serina), 11; Ellen (Inger), 10; Christ (Severin), 7;
and Elizabeth, 5.
Soren took an
active role in the community in Norway Township. On June 19, 1890, The Humboldt
that Soren Olson was one of four Norway Township representatives at county’s
Republican convention, which selected delegates to the state, congressional and
It seems possible
that Soren was involved in the local schools.
The Humboldt Independent of April 18, 1894, reported, “Mrs. Holroyd has
begun school under sub director Soren Olson’s regime.” A sub director
was a school official below
the superintendant. The newspaper item seems
to indicate that a Mrs. Holroyd started a job as a teacher and Soren was the school
official over her. Mary Holroyd is
listed in the 1900 Census in Dakota Township, but she is not listed as having
The family worshiped
churches. The children born in Iowa were
baptized at Benton Lutheran Church in Norway Township, Benton County. John was
confirmed at Ullensvang Lutheran
Church in Thor. (7)
Soren was a farmer
until the late 1890s, when he appears to have retired. The Oct. 10, 1895, edition
of The Humboldt
Independent reported that “Soren Olson, one of the eldest settlers, of Norway
township, has sold his farm, one mile north of Thor, to J.M. Anderson for a sum
of $8,640.” Soren appears to have held
on to some of this produce for sale a few months later. The Feb. 6, 1896, edition
of The Humboldt
Independent reported that “Soren Olson loaded two cars of corn for New York
this week.” The Humbold Republican reported
on June 4 of that year, “Soren Olson, of Thor, has quit hauling milk from
About 1899, Soren
and Anna moved into the village of Thor.
The Humboldt Independent of Sept. 29, 1898, reported that “Soren Olson
will build a house on the lot north of the creamery.” And on June 29,
1899, the newspaper reported,
“Soren Olson is having a new coat of paint put on his new house.” However,
there seems to have been some sort
of problem regarding the new house. On Nov.
9, 1899, the newspaper lists Soren Olson among scores of property owners who
owed back taxes to the county and were threatened with sale of their land. He
owned Lot 27 in Thor.
The Olson family
appears to have been well liked, judging from a newspaper account of the
wedding reception for their daughter Lizzie.
The Humboldt Independent of Oct. 28, 1897, reports, “The double wedding
of Mr. Rhinard Orre to Miss Lizzie Olson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Soren Olson,
one of the oldest settlers, and Martin Watland to Miss Brita Lund, adopted
daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lund, was a great success in every feature,
nearly the entire county being present.
Rev. Gregerson officiated. After
the ceremony all partook of a grand dinner served in a temporary building fitted
up for the occasion. The Thor Cornet
Band was present and furnished some very choice music which was much enjoyed by
all. Many valuable presents were given
the newly married pairs.” The Mrs. and
Mrs. Peter Lund mention here were probably Torkelanna and her husband since the
only other Peter Lund appearing in the county in the 1900 Census would have
been only 3 years old at the time of the wedding.
It’s difficult to
determine what to make of the references to Soren being the “oldest” and “eldest”
settler. A check of the 1900 Census
shows about 30 people older than Soren living in Norway Township, which had a
popular of a little more than 1,000. The
1880 Census indicates that at least 512 people were living in the township. Perhaps
he arrived slightly earlier than
other who lived there in 1880.
In 1900, Soren and
Anna are listed in the census of Norway Township. Soren worked as a day laborer,
but had been
unemployed several months during the year.
Anna died Oct. 28,
The 1920 Census shows
Soren living with his
daughter Torkelanna in Norway Township, Humboldt County, Iowa.
Soren died July
30, 1921 of a hemorrhage. The Paulsons
are buried in Lot 39 at Ullensvang Cemetery in Norway Township, near Thor,
(1) Soren and Anna
Olson’s birth and death
dates come from Marcy Schramm. The years
are confirmed by Ullensvang Cemetery listing supplied by the Humboldt County
Genealogical Society. (2) Date
of marriage comes from 1900 Census of
Norway Township, Humboldt County, Iowa.
Anna’s maiden name is listed on the marriage certificate of her
daughter, Sarah, who was married to Ole Paulson on Oct. 20, 1889 in Humboldt
County, Iowa. (3) Birth dates for Bertha
and the younger children appear in the
records of Benton Lutheran Church of Norway Township, Benton County, Iowa,
which are available “Iowa, Births and
Christenings Index, 1857-1947,” at Ancestry.com. John’s date
appears in his obituary in The
Humboldt Independent of Sept. 26, 1869.
The names of spouses appear in an unpublished genealogy of the
Olson family supplied by the Humboldt County Genealogical Society, as well as
obituaries in Humboldt newspapers. The
name of Torkelanna’s husband comes from the 1920 Census of Norway Township,
Humboldt County, Iowa. (4) The
immigration year is provided by the 1920 Census of Norway Township, Humboldt
County, Iowa. The 1900 Census provides
inconsistent information. It mentioned
that Soren was born in Iowa but lists an immigration year, obviously a
mistake. Another possibility is that the
census information is incorrect and Soren was actually naturalized in
1869. The naturalization index from the Northern
District of Illinois lists the naturalization of a Soren Olsen who was born in
Norway about 1834 and went to the court in Benton County, Iowa, on Oct. 7, 1869. The
index is available through
Ancestry.com. (5) John’s obituary
appears in the Sept. 26, 1959, edition
of The Humboldt Independent of Humboldt, Iowa. The
1925 Iowa Census for Norway Township, Humboldt County, indicates that Anna Lund
– Torkelanna Olson – had lived in the United States for 45 years and in Iowa
for 43 years. While the overall totals
are off by 20 years, it probably indicates that the family spent only a few
years in Illinois. (6) Severin Olson’s
obituatary in the May 7, 1948, edition of the Humboldt Republican states, “He
moved to Humboldt county at the age of five years, and since that time has lived
in the community of Thor.” Severin was born in Benton County, Iowa, in
1872, according to the obituary. (7) Baptisms
for most of the children are found at “Iowa,
Births and Christenings Index, 1857-1947,” which is available through
Anestry.com. Severin’s obituary mentions
that he was confirmed at Ullensvang. (8)
Dates supplied by Marcy Schramm and year for Anna confirmed by cemetery
listing. The Humboldt County
Genealogical Society also
provided Soren’s death record from the Humboldt County Courthouse.