Ole Larson's Folks

Family History by George Larson

With Myers, Moen, Drayer, Colby, Samuelson, Sprung, and others

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No close family anniversaries. Born in Zundert, Holland, on this date in 1853: painter Vincent Van Gogh. Top photo: “Wheat Field with Crows,” painted in 1890, shortly before the artist’s suicide. Below, one of several self-portraits he painted. Van Gogh was in the news just this month, when new research suggested a previously unnoticed religious-historical allusion in one of his famous paintings.  Read more …  

1893c Susan Colby

Died in Onawa, Iowa, on this date in 1893: second great-grandmother Susan M Eldridge (m. Colby). Susan presents one of my most perplexing hurdles. I am so far unable to find any trace of her parentage, nor corroboration of the statistics given in her obituary, that she was born in New York state on 19 May 1820. Susan is buried at Onawa City Cemetery, with her husband Harry Eugene Colby and other family members, beneath a tall, ornate monument.  

2012 Pinky Thiel

Born on this day in 1915: Keith Millard Beechel, Thiel’s uncle, known affectionately as “Uncle Pinky.” Shown above with Thiel, not long before his death in 2013. I remember Pinky for his positive attitude and quirky sense of humor. He also enjoyed cooking; his most famous creation was “Polish luau,” a kind of sausage stew that he prepared in a (clean) garbage can(!) R.I.P., Pinky!  

1859 Matea bapt

Baptized in Tretten, Norway, on this date in 1859: great-grandaunt Mattie Samuelson (her “American” name, as found on her marriage record). On her baptism record (top photo), it is Matea (Samuelsdatter), of the farm Klove or Klæve. Mattie was a sister of our great-grandmother Anne Samuelsdatter. I use Anne’s “Norwegian” surname, because it appears that way on her (American) marriage record. Mattie married her first cousin Pete Pederson, and was the mother of Atley Pederson, cousin of my grandfather and and friend of…


Died in Ringebu, Norway, on this date in 1871: third great-grandfather Gunder Johannes Opsalhaugen. Probably buried at Faavang church (top photo), although no marker survives. However, Gunder’s son Torger (who later emigrated to Wisconsin) built a stone fence surrounding the churchyard, and commemorated the family by etching his initials on the gatepost. The initials stand for Torger Gundersen Stenumgaardskleven, referring to the farm where Torger must have lived at the time.  That is also the farm where Gunder was born, while…

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