Family History - Ole F. & Clara Oleson
Seated outside the Anderson homestead shack are, from
Martha Paulson, Clara, Owen and Ole Anderson and Gilbert Paulson,
Martha and Gilbert were neighbors of the Andersons when they lived on a
farm southwest of Ambrose.
She’s Odd One In Her Family
By LEONARD LUND
of The News Staff
Minot Daily News,
Minot, North Dakota
Saturday, December 29, 1984
CROSBY – Now that she has celebrated
her 105th birthday in the Crosby Good Samaritan Center, Clara Anderson,
ever planning for the future, hopes that she can return in the spring
to her home in Ambrose, which she refers to as the Bill Miller house.
Mrs. Anderson, who had a birthday party Dec. 11, still owns the house,
but came to the home in September 1978 after she cracked her hip bone.
A fall at her Ambrose home when she was picking up the paper has kept
her confined to a wheelchair. “I couldn't stay alone in Ambrose and my
daughter thought I should come to Crosby,” Mrs. Anderson says. “I hope
to get back in the spring, if I'm here,” she remarks, as she looks back
on a long and colorful life.
In honor of her birthday, her daughter, Burnie, Mrs. Harold Madsen of
Westby, Mont., arranged a party with a “great big cake” for the
residents of the home. Greetings came from many people, including Sen.
Quentin Burdick, D-N.D., and President Reagan.
Her other daughter, Nell, Mrs. Richard Harris, was unable to come from
West Point, Calif. Mrs. Anderson also has three grandchildren and four
Bertha Lervick of Crosby, who taught a rural school near Ambrose and
stayed with the Andersons on their farm many years ago, sent a plant,
which Clara cares for her in her room.
Mrs. Anderson has no particular explanation for her longevity except,
she says, poking fun at herself, that “I was so mean I couldn't die.”
“No one in the family has lived so long. There's an odd one each family
and I guess I was the one,” she remarks.
Mrs. Anderson still crochets, which she prefers over knitting, and
likes to make doilies for her friends. She also has crocheted a lot of
afghans. When she was younger, she did a lot of sewing and planted
“I don't like to sit and be a lady. I like to be busy,” she comments.
“I like to play cards once in a while, but I'm not a card player.”
While crocheting, she listens to the radio.
Born at Mazeppa in Wabasha County in southeastern Minnesota, Clara
Anderson was the third of nine children of Michael and Nicolina Oleson.
“My folks were glad for I was the first girl,” she recalls.
In her early years, her family lived east of a branch of the Minnesota
River. She recalls that flour, from a nearby mill, was put in sacks
from a shop, not barrels, but as long as she can remember her mother
had a flour barrel under a shelf in the pantry.
When chinch bugs destroyed their crop for two years in a row, the mill
and shops around Mazeppa closed. Consequently, in May 1886, when Clara
was seven and a half, her parents left that area with their six
children for land their father owned east of Montevideo, Minn.
Three more children were born at Montevideo. They include Ida Hutzel, a
blind retired teacher at Sierra Madre, Calif., and Albert J. Oleson,
who lives in Michigan, the only other survivors in the family.
Her three sisters were teachers but Clara, who went through the seventh
grade in a rural school east of Montevideo, stayed home and helped her
mother. She also worked outside the home.
Her father, who had clerked in a store in Norway, liked to tell about
his native land and would have gone back for a visit if her mother
would have gone with him.
Her father was on a sailboat for a week on his voyage to America. Her
mother was from Racine, Wis.
When she was 23, Clara married Ole Frederick Anderson at her parents'
home near Montevideo. They first lived at Maynard, Minn., where he
worked on farms and for the Great Northern Railway and she took in
With her brother, Ingemar Oleson, Anderson had gone to North Dakota
three falls for threshing before they decided to move to the Ambrose
area in 1910.
Anderson and her brother purchased a quarter with a small shack on it
southwest of Ambrose from Oscar Steen, who was returning to Norway
because his girlfriend didn't want to go to America.
When Clara came to Ambrose, she recalls that there was not a tree to be
“I didn't like it at first, but I got used to it,” she remarks.
Her mother, who didn't like to travel, came from Minnesota to Ambrose
once for a visit but she didn't like the wind and the treeless prairie.
Her father paid her two visits.
“I was glad to see them,” says Mrs. Anderson. Ambrose in those days was
a small growing town with a mixed train at the end of the railroad line
with a Y west of town for the trains to turn around. In 1913 the
railroad was extended to Outlook, Mont.
Mrs. Anderson says there were many strangers around town but not many
Indians, only rings from where they had their tents.
She recalls that during their first winter in North Dakota her husband,
who was working in Ambrose, was caught in a blizzard. He tied up the
lines of his black team of horses and they knew the way home.
“I tell you, it was no fun,” Clara declares.
Another time, she relates, they had gone to a neighbors place about a
mile away on Lincoln's birthday for coffee and stayed for supper when
the wind changed to the northwest.
“We had a hard time finding our way home,” Mrs. Anderson remembers.
They raised as many as 30 cattle with some poultry on their farm, which
now consists of four quarters.
“I did all kinds of work, shocked grain, but not much, stacked hay and
milked cows. Years ago a woman had to do a lot of things,” she reports.
Since the death of her husband December 13, 1955, the land has been
farmed by Emens Enerson and son.
Oleson, Clara's brother, with his wife, Louise, and daughter. In the later years
the Olesons left Ambrose to join their married daughter in Sierra Madre, Calif.
lngemar*, her oldest brother, was somewhat of a legend in Ambrose. where
he became postmaster in 1933.
During the Spanish American War he served in Georgia, but a maternal
uncle, Julius Hanson, died in Cuba when he was shot in the shoulder
while serving in the home guard.
After being discharged, Ingemar worked in the editorial department of
the Minneapolis Tribune before going to Ambrose.
In 1912 he moved a house onto a large lot on the south edge of Ambrose,
quit farming and worked for the Citizens State Bank until becoming
manager of the Northland Elevator in 1918. He was a grain dealer for
When he was named postmaster, he purchased the bank building and
converted it into a modern facility, for that day.
While in Ambrose, he planted thousands of evergreens, pine, fir and
spruce trees, and his yard was a showplace for the state.
He gave away and sold trees and raised strawberry plants for friends
and neighbors for many years.
In the early 1920s he purchased a large lot in the front of his yard
where he planted tulips. He ordered some of the bulbs from Holland.
People from all over the state ordered tulips from him. While he sold
some, he gave away most of them.
Some of his talents were inherited from his father, who raised fruit
trees in Minnesota and won a premium at a world's fair.
Ingemar also had one of the first radios in Ambrose and converted a
small building on Main Street into a shop, Ambrose Radio Service, where
he repaired radios. Clara's son, Owen, who died a few years ago, built
a radio with Ingemar's help.
Because of his interest in short wave, Ingemar was appointed to an
official ham listening post for North Dakota.
His interest in photography led him to take many pictures and he had a
library of thousands of books.
Active in both the Masons and the Sons of Norway, Ingemar was
projectionist for the movies in Ambrose when they were managed by the
He also found time to serve as justice of the peace and clerk of the
school board during the 1930s.
In 1946 he became blind and he and his wife, Louise, a Swede from
Zumbrota, Minn., moved to Sierra Madre, to be near their daughter,
Irene Carlson, and family.
After many operations and time in the hospital, Ingemar regained some
of his eyesight. He died in 1964 and his wife in 1959.
to read Clara Anderson's obituary
* Other reliable
sources show the correct spelling as Ingmar.