Select Larson Miscellany

Here are some Larson stories and accounts over the years:

Larsons, Larsens, and Larssons Today

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Kirsten Larson the Doll

Included among the American Girl line of 18-inch dolls released by Pleasant Company in 1986 was Kirsten Larson.

Kirsten Larson is a Swedish immigrant who settled in the Minnesota territory in 1854 with her extended family.  She faced the hardships, challenges, and adaptations necessary to adjust to life in America, such as learning to speak English.  Changes have included making a new friend outside of her own "world" and the arrival of a new baby.

Kirsten was one of the first three dolls produced by American Girl in 1986.  Unlike many of the dolls, Kirsten's books have maintained their original illustrations.

Ole Larson - from Norway to Wisconsin

In 1865 Ole Larson departed Norway with his widowed mother and his two older sisters on the brig Atalana for America.  At 24 years of age, Ole was the youngest but, as the only male, undoubtedly the leader of this family group.  After landing in Quebec, they made their way by the Great Lakes and overland to western Wisconsin.

Their destination was the Norwegian colony at Coon Prairie in Vernon county.  This settlement was not only Norwegian, but was made up almost entirely of Gudbrandsadalers, no doubt because of the distinctive dialect spoken by residents of that region.

By 1870, five years after his arrival, Ole had acquired 80 acres of land about 25 miles north of Coon Prairie, in what seems to have been a spin-off settlement of Gudbrandsdal, Norwegians centered around the Brush Creek Lutheran Church near the town of Ontario.  There he operated a dairy farm on his land.

Ole and his wife Anne raised six children, four of whom survived to adulthood.  After Anne died in 1885, Ole married Helena, who may have been his housekeeper, and had seven more children.

Ole died in 1908 and was buried next to his first wife Anne at Brush Creek church. Helena was buried a few yards away

Nels Larson - from Sweden to Minnesota

Nels Larson, his wife Marie, and their three boys departed Sweden in 1866 for America.  After a long and tedious voyage of seven weeks, they reached Quebec and from there went to Montreal and thence to Detroit, Michigan.

They were poor and just starting in life in a new world.  But by doing such work as he could find along the way, Nels managed to get his family to the Mississippi river, where they took a boat to St. Paul and from there went to Carver county, Minnesota. 

In the spring of 1867, the family came by team to Wright county where Nels secured employment on the railroad.  Later in the spring, his wife left one son there and walked with her other two sons back to Carver county, shearing sheep and working by the day to earn a little ready cash.

After the railroad came through, Nels secured forty acres of land in Buffalo township and the family settled there. With an ox team they began to clear the land and in time had a well cultivated farm.

Nels Larson was born in 1826 and died in 1914.  He was a deacon at the Lutheran church.

Carl Larsen the Gentle Dane of San Francisco

Carl Larsen came to San Francisco from Denmark in his late 20’s, around 1870, and worked as a carpenter.  In 1879 he started the Tivoli Café downtown on Eddy Street.  A popular restaurant, the Tivoli Café was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906. Undaunted, Larsen rebuilt and opened the Tivoli Café and the Hotel Larsen.

Larsen also became a large landowner in the Sunset District of San Francisco.   Plenty of land had become available in these “Outside Lands” in the late 1800’s.  Larsen started buying in 1888 and by 1910 he owned fourteen entire city blocks and lots that totaled about nine more blocks.  At this time, all of the land was sand dunes.  Few of the streets were cut through and accessibility was difficult.

He operated a chicken ranch on one square block in this district.  Each morning a horse-drawn carriage took eggs from the chicken ranch to the Tivoli Café downtown, probably along the only through road in the Sunset, the Central Ocean Road.  Tivoli Café ads boasted, "Fresh Eggs from Sunset Ranch.”  Once a year at Easter, the Larsen chicken ranch hosted a large party for the neighborhood, with open bars and tables of food.

Larsen is best remembered as the donor in 1926 of Larsen Park, two blocks between 19th and 20th Avenues and between Ulloa and Wawona Streets.  A bronze plaque, mounted on a large stone, displays a bust of Carl Larsen in this park.

Walt Larson, Saskatchewan Cattle Man

The youngest child of Hans Larson, Walt was born in 1891 in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and came north to Saskatchewan in Canada for the first time when he was only thirteen years old.

Soon he was working as a ranch hand with what became the Famous 76 Ranch.  He had a natural way with horses and that began a lifestyle that he would chase for the rest of his life.

People remembered the young Walt at that time, a colorful figure in his big black Stetson riding tall and straight in the saddle.  He not only cowboyed and ranched, but often competed in stampedes and rodeos and would win money in the saddle bronc events and working as a pickup man.

In the winter of 1915-16 Walt gathered cattle that had wintered on the Frenchman river south of Shaunavon.  Walt would tell stories of this devastating winter where temperatures dipped regularly down to 50 below and cows were freezing right in their tracks.  Walt went to his grave with frostbite scars from that winter.

In 1922 he bought his own tract of land along the Frenchman river. His cattle ranching began at that time with a load of “Manitoba doggies,” and grew over the next sixty years to one of the best commercial herds of Angus cattle in the country.  He had introduced Aberdeen Angus blood to his herd during the 1930's. Over the years twelve head cattle were honored at the Toronto Royal Fair.  He also won a first pride in the heavyweight class at the Chicago International show.

Walt remained on his ranch until 1968 and died in Montana nine years later.

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