Larson Family

1821 - 1893

Larson is an Americanized form of the Danish and Norwegian Larsen, which is derived from the personal name Lars (a nickname for Lawrence).

Our Larson family is Norwegian, beginning with John Larson, who was born in Norway, possible the county of Telemark, on December 12, 1821. Sometime in 1840, John immigrated to Norway, Racine County, Wisconsin. There, he met and married Anna Karina Narum on Christmas Eve 1848 when he was 27 and she was 21.

They had six children:

  1. Mary (b. 1852)
  2. Julia Anna (b. February 26, 1854)
  3. Albert James (b. 1858)
  4. Louisa (b. 1862)
  5. John Jr. (b. 1864)
  6. Edmund C. (b. 1868)

The family spent their lives in Norway, Wisconsin where John worked as a farmer, owning property worth $3,100 in 1860 and $21,000 in 1870. By 1873, he owned a total of five lots of property amounting to at least 500 acres, possibly closer to 600. Others by the name Larson, including an Ole Larson and R. Larson, held smaller properties nearby and may have been related to John, though Lars was a popular Scandinavian name and so Larson was not an uncommon surname in 19th century Wisconsin.

When daughter Louisa was about 11 years old, she was peeling apples when her knife slipped and struck her in the eye. As a result of the accident, she had a glass eye for the rest of her life. She later married Thomas E. Hanson and had four sons in Racine County. John Jr. unfortunately died in an accident in 1913 while working at a tile factory owned by Lewis E. Friis (his sister's brother-in-law). He had never married though he was 49 years old. Albert James married a woman named Margaret and had two surviving children before moving to Sampson, Chippewa, Wisconsin. Edmund sadly died when he was only 19 years old, before he’d had a chance to marry. Mary’s fate is unknown, she may have died young.

Auburn haired Julia Anna was a young girl in the 1860's when an Indian chief who visited her father's farm was very fond of her but she did not care for him and would hide in the barn loft when he came to see the family. Around this time, the Larson's had a few boarders by the name of Christensen living with them: Mathis (21 yrs old), Bryngel (13) and Maren (15). They may have been from Anna's family, possibly cousins on her mother's side, given that her mother's maiden name was Christensen. However, her mother’s parents did not immigrate and Christenson was a common surname so there may not be a relation. The Larsons, Narums and Christensens all seemed to live near or next to each other so it was not surprising to see them also living with each other.

In 1870, the Christensen's had moved out but the family now had two teenaged farm laborers living with them by the names of John Oleson and Martin Britson, 19 and 17 respectively. Between 1870 and 1880, Anna and John adopted a son by the name of Hogen who may have also been a Christensen or Christoferson (surname is unclear). His parents must have died while he was still a child or young teenager. There was a Christian and Mary Christianson living in Norway Township in 1870 and 1873 who appear to have either died or moved out of the area by 1880 so this may have his Hogen’s birth parents. However, it doesn’t explain his absence from the 1870 census. Equally, there was a Christofferson family in Norway Township in 1870, Andrew and Louisa, who could have been Hogen’s parents.

When Julia was 24, she married Gilbert Adams Fries on December 19, 1878 and John gave or sold his new son-in-law a large portion of his property, the lot which was sandwiched between Waubeesee Lake and Wind Lake. This land has since been developed into mostly a residential area, including a senior citizens complex, and also an elementary school. See the Friis/Fries Family Chapter for more on Julia and Gilbert’s married life.

On November 22, 1893, John died only one month shy of his 72nd birthday. His wife had died a year earlier on April 8 when she was 64 years old. Both are buried at Norway Lutheran Church Cemetery in Norway, Wisconsin where a large family plot headstone stands with smaller individual markers for each, titled "Father" and "Mother".

© Robin Bauer 2010-2013

Sources:

Larson Photos and Documents

A photo of John Larson, probably taken around 1865 - 1870.

John Larson’s wife, Anna Karina Narum

An 1873 map of Norway Township, Racine County, Wisconsin with John Larson’s property outlined in red.

An 1887 land ownership map of Norway, Racine County, Wisconsin overlaid onto Google maps showing outlines of John Larson’s property (the four blocked south of Wind Lake and one east of it). The other outlined properties are that of Gilbert Fries (Julia Anna’s husband) and his mother Abelone (Gundersdatter) Fries. Unmarked can also be found several properties of Han Narum, the brother of Anna Karina Narum, John’s wife.