Select Larson Surname Genealogy

Lars is a Scandinavian first name derived originally from the Roman name Laurentius meaning “crowned with laurel.” Lars as a patronymic surname became Larsen in Denmark and Norway, Larsson in Sweden, and generally Larson in America.

Scandinavian surnames were rarely hereditary in the manner of German or British surnames until around the 18th century at the earliest. In fact the use of hereditary surnames passed down from father to son only became mandatory in
the mid-19th century.  Thus it was still the case that Lars Paulsen who died in Norway in 1855 could be the father of Ole Larson who departed for America ten years later

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Larson numbers today are around 280,000 in Scandinavia (Larsen and Larsson) and 90,000 in America (Larson and to a lesser extent Larsen).  Larsons starting arriving in America when the Scandinavian immigration began in the 1840’s. 

   Iowa, and in particular Clayton county in Iowa, appears to have been a first port of call for Norwegian Larsons in America: 
  • Peter Larson arrived at St. Olaf in 1849.  His line was covered in Norma Gilbertson’s 1980 book Larson Family History.  
  • while Holga and Sarah Larson had arrived in 1848 and made their home in McGregor.  Their son John had the leading boot and shoe store in the town.
Laur Larsen was a Lutheran minister and teacher who came first to St. Louis before making his home in Decatur where he was the President of Luther College from 1862 to 1902.

However, the main Larson influx was to be into the Midwestern states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

.  This state still has the largest number of Larsons in America.  It was mainly Swedes who came there.  In fact Kirsten Larson was a fictitious Swedish immigrant who settledwith her family in 1854 in what was then Minnesota territory. 

Among the real Swedes who emigrated to Minnesota were: 

  • Nels Larson and his family who came to Wright county in 1867.  Here they cleared their land and in time had a well cultivated farm.
  • Lars and Anna Larson who came to a Swedish settlement at Lake Park in Becker county in 1876.  However, they found farming in Minnesota tough and in 1887 moved onto another Swedish settlement in the San Joaquin valley of California.  
  • while Bengt Larson arrived around 1890 and made his home at Little Falls in Morrison county.  His son Paul started the Larson Boat works along the Mississippi river in 1925 and kept on going, building mainly pleasure boats, until his retirement in 1976.   By then Little Falls was being called “the small-boat capital of the world.”
Wisconsin.  By contrast, Wisconsin attracted immigrants from Denmark and Norway.  They included:
  • Hans and Karen Larson from Norway who came to Jefferson county in 1855 and farmed there for fifteen years before moving onto a new homestead in Minnesota.
  • John and Annie Larson from Norway who first settled in 1861 in Columbia county where John worked as a carpenter.  In 1872 they too moved to Minnesota, settling in Yellow Medicine county.
  • Ole Larson from Norway who arrived in 1865 and made his home near Coon Prairie in Vernon county.  He lived there until his death in 1908.
  • James Larson, a ship captain and shipbuilder from Denmark, who came in 1871 and settled in Marinette county.  He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1913.  
  • Nels Larson, also from Denmark, who came with his parents in 1874 and settled in Winnebago county.  He too served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, at various times between 1921 and 1937.  
  • and Lars Larson, a merchant seaman from Norway, who came to Wisconsin in 1883 and bought farming land at Abbotsford in Clark county.  His son Martin migrated north to a new homestead near Sturgis in Saskatchewan in 1912.
California.  Larsons also came to California, either directly from Scandinavia or second or third generation Larsons who had come there from the Midwest. 

Carl Larsen
came to San Francisco from Denmark around 1870 and by the early 1900’s was a major landowner in the city’s Sunset District.  Larsen Park there was his legacy.  Charles Larson, who had arrived in San Francisco from Sweden in 1887, became by the early 1900’s a prominent merchant in the town of Eureka north of the city. 

Further north in the 1950’s in Tacoma, Washington lived Verner Larson, the son of a Swedish immigrant into Michigan around 1900.  Verner was the father of
the cartoonist Gary Larson, best known as the creator of The Far Side.

The Canadian West opened up later than the American West so that Larsons arrived there later.

Many in fact came from America.  Bernard Larson had arrived in North Dakota from Sweden in 1878.  He left in 1902 for Saskatchewan where he founded the town of Lang (by
convincing the Canadian Pacific Railway to locate a railway siding on his land).

Hans Larson departed Minnesota for Saskatchewan in 1904.  His son Walt Larson was a cattle rancher near Braken from the 1920’s until his retirement in 1968. 
Henry Larson meanwhile came from Yellow Medicine county, Minnesota to Fosstown, Saskatchewan in 1912.

Select Larson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Larson Names

John Augustus Larson was the Police Officer in Berkeley, California who in the 1920’s invented the modern polygraph for use in forensic investigations.
Don Larsen
, pitching in the 1956 World Series, is the only pitcher to have a no-hitter and perfect game in World Series baseball history.
Gary Larson
is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of The Far Side.

Select Larsons Today
  • 90,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota) 
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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