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1943: Lars Larson happy about immigrating

Bits By Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, Rock County Historian

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Aug. 26, 1943.
Claims made by friends that the United States was the ideal spot on the globe to live tempted Lars Larson, Hardwick, to leave his home at Aal Hallingdal, Norway, and come to this country. That their claims were not exaggerated in Mr. Larson’s mind was evidenced by the fact that he borrowed money to send for the remainder of the family the following year.
Mr. Larson was born January 12, 1863, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Knute Larson. His parents were farmers, living about 18 miles from the capital city of Oslo. Although he was only what is now a short driving distance from the capital, he never saw it until he embarked for the United States in 1882.
He attended school in Norway and stated that classes were held in the various homes of the community until later when a school building was built. The schoolmaster would room and board at his home where the classes were being conducted, and when the classes would be moved, he would move, too. Although children learned to read and write and do arithmetic, religion was one of the main subjects.
After he was confirmed, he began working away from home on farms. A day’s work was begun before sunrise and ended after sunset. Sometimes, when they went into the forests to get their wood for their winter fuel supply, they would start from home at about 2 a.m.
His arrival in this country was delayed by ice off the banks of Newfoundland. When the ship neared the shore, huge ice floes surrounded it, and for 11 days, it made little or no progress. What little headway was gained by the ship during the day was lost at night as the ice floated out to sea. Seals were thick in the vicinity he recalls, many of them sunning themselves on the ice close to the ship. The vessel finally docked at Quebec, and from there, he went by train to Claremont, Iowa, where he had friends.
He worked there seven years, and then at the late Rasmus Halvorson farm for about two years He bought some land in Battle Plain township, paying $12 per acre for 80 acres. Later he added another 80 acres for which he paid $30 per acre.
On June 24, 1897, he was married at the Blue Mound church to Barbara Julia Roen, and they farmed in Battle Plain township until 1914 when they moved to Luverne. After five years in town, they moved back to the farm, lived there one year, and then sold it and moved to Hardwick which has since been their home.
Many changes have taken place in farming methods, as well as in modes of living, says Mr. Larson. In the early days he would come to Luverne to do business because there was no such thing at that time as a village of Hardwick or Kenneth. Coming a distance of 10 or 12 miles with a team and wagon was not an everyday occurrence, Larson states, and when one did come to town, he did his business in a hurry and began the trip home.
He has walked behind various types of walking cultivators, plows, etc., and has helped bind grain on an old-fashioned harvester where two men had to tie the grain as fast as it was cut with a sickle.
During all his years of farming, he never had what could be termed a complete crop failure. Although there were some years when crops were small, there was always something that was raised for feed, even the year when there was a heavy frost late in June.
Mrs. Larson, who was born Nov. 28, 1869, in Mitchell county, Iowa, is credited by Mr. Larson as being the real pioneer of the family. She came to Rock county with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arne Roen by ox team and covered wagon in 1871. Their covered wagon was their home until her father broke sod and built a sod house that summer on his homestead, just east of the Blue Mound church. Later they “went modern” and lived in a stone cellar.
They twisted slough hay for fuel and often saw prairie fires sweep over the ground, cutting huge black swaths as the flames roared forward with the wind. She also remembers the year of the grasshopper plague how the swarms covered the sun, and ate everything in sight.
(Larson's story continues next week.)

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