Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Nelson P. Olson

NELSON P. OLSON, banker and member of the Ryan Lumber Company of Alexander, has been identified with Rush County most of his life, and for many years was a successful farmer.

He represents a sturdy family of Norwegian descent. His grandfather was Ole Anderson. In Scandinavian countries a son takes his father's first name with the additon[sic] of the syllable "son," and thus the American descendants of Ole Anderson acquired the family name of Olson. Ole Anderson brought his family from the south of Norway to the United States, and is said to have homesteaded a forty acre tract of land in Cook County, Illinois, including a valuable part of the present City of Chicago. He spent the rest of his days in Cook County. His children were four in number: Andrew A.; Iver A., who lives in Blue Springs, Nebraska; Rachel, who became the wife of Rev. Mr. Fulcomer and died in Nebraska; and Nelson, who died as a Union soldier during the Civil war.

Andrew A. Olson, father of Nelson P., was a small child when brought from Norway, and he spent his early life in Chicago. He enlisted from there as a member of Company K of the Ninety-Fifth Illinois Infantry during the Civil war, and though he saw much active service he escaped wounds or capture. From Illinois he moved to Iowa, followed farming near Decorah, and in 1879 came to Kansas. He traveled by railway as far as Hays City, and then sought a homestead in Bazine township of Ness County. Andrew A. Olson made his start in Kansas with a capital of not more than $120. His first home was a dugout. He proved up his farm and developed a half section of land. He lived on that farm about twenty years, and in 1903 he and his wife moved to LaCrosse County where they died. Andrew Olson died in May, 1914, at the age of seventy-six, and his wife in 1904. Andrew Olson had all the experiences of the pioneers of Western Kansas. When he could not make a crop from his land or when the crops were destroyed by dry weather and grasshoppers he went to the eastern counties and worked in the harvest fields and at other occupations in order to buy sufficient groceries and clothing for his wife and children. He also would bring back from Eastern Kansas enough wheat to sow his fields. His first team were oxen, and in the early days he freighted goods to Alexander from Hays City and Larned. So far as regular profits were concerned he made more from stock raising than from field farming. Andrew Olson was a high type of citizen, thrifty, energetic and public spirited, and a liberal advocate of schools and churches. He was clerk of his school board in District No. 6, was an active republican and a member of the United Brethren Church. Andrew Olson was married in Iowa to Anna Thompson, who was also of Norwegian ancestry. Their children were: Nelson P.; Sadie, wife of C. W. Talbott, of Kansas City; Ella, who married E. J. Gates and lives in San Francisco, Bertha, wife of O. M. Bennett, of Berkeley, California.

Nelson P. Olson was born on a farm near Decorah, Iowa, March 1, 1869, and was ten years of age when brought to Kansas. He had received his first advantages back in Iowa, and in Kansas attended a sod school house. He lived at home with his parents until he reached his majority, and then started out as a renter near Alexander in Rush County. Having the ability to work hard and to live frugally and thriftily he prospered as a farmer, and continued the vocation until 1910. By that time he had accumulated 480 acres, all of it fenced with stone posts and wire, had built a splendid country residence of fourteen rooms and a barn 30 by 42 feet.

On leaving the farm Mr. Olson engaged in the lumber business at Alexander, associated with George A. Ryan, and they bought out the interests of the Ryan Lumber Company of McCracken. They handle coal and lumber and are also extensive buyers and shippers of grain. With the organization of the Alexander State Bank Mr. Olson became a stockholder and is now its president and a director. He has served as a member of the school board of Alexander for twenty-seven years and is clerk of Belle Prairie Township. In politics he is a republican.

Mr. Olson was married in Ness County, Kansas, October 30, 1894, to Miss Edna Robins, daughter of Benjamin F. and Alice (Hyde) Robins. Her father came from Pennsylvania to Rush County, Kansas, about 1869, and was one of the very earliest settlers there. He spent the rest of his days as a farmer and died near Alexander in 1902. His widow still lives at Alexander. The Robins children were: Aden A., Mrs. Olson, who was born in June, 1873; Isle, who died in young womanhood; Pearl, wife of William Keller; and Belle, wife of O. J. Durand. Mr. and Mrs. Olson have five children, Lloyd, Allen, Paul, Willard and Grace. Lloyd is in France, a member of the Three Hundred and Thirty-Ninth Machine Gun Company, Eighty-Eighth Division, and wagoner for the company. Allen is in military training in one of the Kansas educational institutions.