Minnesota Family Group Sheet for the Jacob Stecher OHLSEN Family
Husband: Jacob Stecher OHLSEN
Birthdate: October 4, 1873
Birthplace: Gammendorf, Fehmarn, Holstein
Death date: December 5, 1961 P
lace of death: Luverne, Rock County, Minnesota
Father: Joachim STECHER
Mother: Emma BERGLUND
Marriage date: January 5, 1898
Marriage place: Davenport, Scott County, Iowa
Wife: Louisa BOCKWOLDT
Birthdate: February 24, 1879
Birthplace: Durant, Cedar County, Iowa
Death date: November 22, 1968
Place of death: Luverne, Rock County, Minnesota
Father: Peter Matthäus Bockwoldt
Mother: Christina Schnare
Child No. 1: Emma O. OHLSEN
Birthdate: November 21, 1898
Death date: October 20, 1993
Place of death: Los Angeles, California
Child No. 2: Ella OHLSEN
Birthdate: November 12, 1900
Death date: March 28, 1993
Place of death: Luverne, Rock County, Minnesota
Child No. 3: Olive OHLSEN
Birthdate: February 28, 1903
Death date: December 28, 2000
Place of death: Luverne, Rock County, Minnesota
Child No. 4: Wilbert Jacob OHLSEN
Birthdate: August 13, 1909
Death date: January 1, 1995
Place of death: Los Angeles, California
* Jacob Ohlsen
December 7, 1961
The Rock County Star-Herald (Luverne, Minnesota) Rock County's "Mr. Democrat", Jacob Ohlsen, 88, of Luverne, died at the Community Hospital here at 2 pm, Tuesday. The man who had headed the Rock County Democratic Party for many years, had been bedridden since he suffered a stroke seven years ago. Despite the fact that he had been partially paralyzed ever since, he was alert mentally and kept abreast of daily happenings. He had a number of strokes since his first one and had been hospitalized several times, but was able to return to his home. However, a seizure on Monday proved too great for his weakened condition.
Funeral services will be held for Mr. Ohlsen at the Engebretson Funeral Home at 2 pm, Friday, the Rev. Wesley J. Drummond officiating. Interment will be in the Maplewood Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Martin Jensen, Paul Campbell, Wesley Winkler, Dwight Cummings, Earl Glaser and Louis Shelby.
Jacob Ohlsen was born on the Isle of Fehmarn, Germany on October 4, 1873, the son of Hans and Emma (Berghlund) Ohlsen. His father was a common laborer and his mother also had to work hard to help support the family.
As a boy, he worked with his mother gleaning heads of grain from the field where his father was employed as a harvest hand.
The family came to the United States aboard the ship Polaria to New York in 1882, settling at Stockton, Iowa. Mr. Ohlsen's father died a year after coming to this country, with the result that Mr. Ohlsen had to support the family. He herded cattle, worked as a section hand on the railroad and later obtained a position with the late Henry Bierkamp, who operated a feed barn, tavern and hotel.
He married Louisa Bockwoldt on January 5, 1898 in Davenport, Iowa and together they operated the Stockton Hotel and restaurant. They operated similar businesses in the years that followed at Durant, Hartley and Melvin, Iowa, before coming to Luverne in 1915. Mr. Ohlsen opened the Luverne Cafe on the north side of Main Street between Cedar and Freeman Avenues. He operated this and eating places in other locations in Luverne, until receiving his appointment as postmaster in 1934, a position he held about 20 years.
Because his parents came to this country in search of political freedom, Mr. Ohlsen took an early interest in politics and government. After coming to Luverne, he was active in the Democratic Party. He became a naturalized citizen and cast his first vote for William Jennings Bryan, democratic candidate for President in 1896. He was never a candidate for public office, however he did serve as chairman of the county organization from 1924 to 1934 and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1928. In 1933 he was a delegate to the convention, which passed the proposed amendment to repeal the prohibition amendment. When former president Harry S. Truman visited here during the campaign in 1956, he interrupted a luncheon appearance to pay a special visit to Ohlsen's bedside.
Mr. and Mrs. Ohlsen were the parents of four children, all of whom are living. They are: Mrs. Claude L. (Emma) Cameron of Beverly Hills, CA., Ella Ohlsen and Mrs. Dale F. (Olive) Barnes, both of Luverne and Wilbert Jacob Ohlsen of Los Angeles, CA. He is survived by his widow and children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His parents, two sisters and three brothers preceded him in death.
* Story from the 1944 Rock County Herald Newspaper of Luverne, Minnesota.
"You might say that my life since coming to the United States, has been a cross country trip, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with a few detours in between," declared Jacob Ohlsen this week. Mr. Ohlsen, who is Luverne's postmaster Says that his one great ambition after crossing the Atlantic and landing in New York was to cross the nation and see the Pacific. His wish was fulfilled in 1938, but during the time that had made trips both north and south, each of which provided him with experiences which he will never forget.
In Rock County, Mr. Ohlsen is best known for his affiliation with the Democratic party, and to give the background for his political views, it is necessary to trace his life from the time he was born in a humble home on the Isle of Fehmarn, Germany, October 4, 1873. His father, Hans Ohlsen (stepfather), a common laborer, was born in Denmark, but later moved to Fehmarn where the spoken language was German. His mother was Emma Berghlund, a native of Sweden who had moved to Germany at the age of 15.
LIVED IN HUMBLE HOME
He recalls that his first home was his grandmother's house, an old type peasant dwelling with a clay floor, and without a chimney. Old fashioned bake ovens were used, which Mr. Ohlsen described as being made of brick.
Coals were burned in the ovens until the heat had reached a proper temperature, then they were taken out and the bread was put in to bake.
As the doors were opened to take the coals out, the smoke was allowed to leave the house through an open door, as there was no other outlet. He doesn't recall how the home was heated in winter, but somehow, the occupants managed to escape freezing.
"Conditions were so deplorable that you just can't imagine what it was like," Mr. Ohlsen declared. "The people gave no thought to sanitation.
Those who had any wealth at all had goats, and chickens, and no one thought anything of having them in the same building where the owners lived. Everything -- the barn, granary and dwelling house -- was all under one roof. "
HOUSE HAD CHIMNEY
"When father got around to have a house of his own, it was modernized to the extent that it had a chimney," he continued. "It was the custom for two families to live in the same house, a kind of a duplex apartment connected with a long hall."
Families such as the Ohlsen family survived on the roughest types of food. White bread was the exception, rather than the rule, and if served at all was used as a Sunday delicacy. Only time the family ever had butter was when there was a little goat's milk left over after the family requirements had been used. The cream was saved, and later churned by the thrifty housewife.
His father worked for a farmer at a very small wage, and it fell on Mr. Ohlsen's lot to work for a living early in life. "You've seen the painting of the gleaners, haven't you?" Mr. Ohlsen asked. "well, I've been one of those gleaners myself, and know just what it's like. I've helped my mother pick up heads of grain in the fields on the farm where father worked. I had an apron on with pockets, and I'd go around picking up what I could find. When I had a pocket full, I'd take it to mother who had a sack in which we carried it home. We would later thresh it by hand or with a flail, and the grain would supply us with our flour needs."
FATHER A LIBERAL
Mr. Ohlsen claims that he inherited what he terms his liberalistic views from his father who decided to leave Germany for a land of free enterprise. He pointed out several instances where his father might have done something different if he had been permitted to do so. "When I was about four weeks old, I was taken to a Lutheran church where I was baptized," said Mr. Ohlsen. "I have no complaint to make against any denomination as I respect all creeds, but I'm saying this to show what religious freedom really means. I was taken to that particular church not necessarily because my parents wanted to take me there, but because it was the law of the land. They had no other choice; they couldn't have taken me into another church if they had wanted to. I still have the certificate, and on it is shown the community standing of my father -- that of laborer. If he had remained there, he'd never have advanced above that position and my chances of improving myself beyond that stage would not have been much better.
"In school," he continued, "we were always taught to pay respect to those above us in authority. We had to tip our hats or make some kind of salute whenever we met our school teacher, for instance. About the time I started school I began to feel that I wanted independence and one time I failed to salute the schoolmaster when I ran past him on the street. The next day in school, I received three slaps across my hand with a ruler but it still didn't convince me that anyone was superior to me."
"I remember when the tax collector called at our home. He probably wasn't making more than 35 cents a day, but he had a badge or some gold braid distinguishing him from the ordinary class of people. The minute he came in the door, we children stood up straight against the wall, as our mother had ordered when she saw the man coming. The lowest official in the village some distinguishing mark, and it was our duty to act humbly in the presence of such a person."
CAME TO U.S. IN 1882
Mr Ohlsen's father had a sister living in Iowa, and her letters telling of the freedom in the United States caused him to decide to leave Germany. In the spring of 1882, when Mr. Ohlsen was about nine years old, the family left the island in the Baltic sea and went to Kiel where they boarded a train for Hamburg. There they remained two days and one night before they went aboard a ship in the harbor there. The vessel being a new one, did not make as good time as some of the older ships and they were on the water 19 days before they reached this country. (The ship was the Polaria, sailed 4/26/1882 and arrived 5/10/1882 in New York.)
Considerable happened during the voyage, Mr. Ohlsen reports. A child was born on the ship; a person died and was buried at sea and one couple was married. Most thrilling moment of the entire trip was seeing land. After they docked in New York harbor they went Castle Gardens, now Ellis Island. "There we were driven like so many cattle into a stall," Mr. Ohlsen said, " as also were the others. Each family was given a stall of its own. From there, we went by train to Stockton, in Muscatine county, Iowa."
His aunt's husband was employed as a section hand by a railroad company, and Mr. Ohlsen's father obtained a similar job immediately after coming to Stockton. Although the job paid only $1 per day he saved enough in a year to buy a small home for the family of four.
LEFT TO SUPPORT FAMILY
They had been here only a trifle more than a year when Mr. Ohlsen's father died (possibly in a railroad accident), leaving Mr. Ohlsen, who was the oldest of the of the children, to support the family, which since their arrival had increased from four to five children. As he had to work during the summer months, his education was limited to five winter terms. The rest of his education, he says, he has attained through the reading of books, newspapers, magazines and experience.
His first job, that of herding cattle, paid him $3 per month. As he grew older, his wages increased, first to $5 per month, then even more. He worked on farms most of the time until his mothers' death. However, he did take a job as a section hand one time at $1.10 a day for the Burlington-Cedar Rapids railroad, this salary later being raised to $1.25 per day. Another time he worked with a railroad fencing gang for $1.5 per day. He obtained the job with the understanding that he would dig as many post holes each day as each of the other members of the crew. Had it not been for the kindness of the 'straw boss' who occasionally dug one for him the first couple of days on the job, he would likely have been 'fired'. He increased his speed, however, and by the end of the week, he was able to keep up with the rest of the men.
WORKED FOR BIERKAMP
After his mother's death he worked in Stockton for Henry Bierkamp who owned a feed barn, tavern and hotel there. He had a job there for five years receiving $20 a month and room and board. His day would be from 10 to 16 hours long, depending on how rushing the business was, and how long the tavern patrons stayed.
It was when employed there that he attained a milestone in life that he had long dreamed about, that being the day when he could cast his vote as an American citizen. He has been naturalized, and had attained his 21st birthday in 1895. The following year was a presidential election year and as he favored most of the stands taken by William Jenning Bryan, the Democratic candidate, in his platform, he cast his first vote for him.
Two years later, on January 5, 1898, he married Louisa Bockwoldt, at Davenport, IA, a native of Fulton Township, Muscatine County, and together they operated the Stockton hotel and restaurant for one year.
Their next venture was of a similar nature in Durant, Iowa, and from there went to Hartley and Melvin, Iowa, before coming to Luverne in 1915.
Here he started the Luverne Cafe in the building where the Coast to Coast store is now located. Later he operated the Palace confectionery for eight years, and had restaurants of his own in several other locations in the city.
RODE ORIGINAL FERRIS WHEEL
During the intervening years, however, he had taken the aforementioned detours. In 1893, he went to the Chicago Worlds' Fair where he rode on the original ferris wheel. In 1904, he attended the world's fair in St. Louis and at the same time served as an alternate delegate from the state of Iowa to the Democratic national convention which nominated Alton B. Parker to oppose Theodore Roosevelt.
Prior to that, he went on several land excursions into Oklahoma in about 1900, and while living in Hartley, went on several land excursions into Canada, going as far north as Medicine Hat, Manitoba. In 1928, he was elected a Minnesota delegate to the national Democratic convention at Houston, Texas.
And, speaking of conventions, he was elected by popular vote in 1933 as delegate to the convention to pass on the proposed amendment to repeal the 18th constitutional amendment of the United States. During his traveling and affiliation with politics, Mr. Ohlsen states that he has met a large number of interesting people, and several very unusual people.
CANDIDATE PUSHED WHEELBARROW
Among the latter, he signals out Andrew Townsend Heissey, the Iowa presidential candidate, who wore a silk at and pushed a wheelbarrow. He stayed at Ohlsen's hotel in Hartley, and at that time , Mr. Ohlsen took a picture of him.
Another was Robert G. 'Bob' Cousins, silver tongued congressman from the fifth district Iowa who served 20 years as an Iowa statesman. A native of Tipton, Iowa, Mr. Ohlsen recalls that Cousins got his start as an orator when the barker for a medicine show died, and a lecturer was needed in a hurry. Cousins was recruited hastily to fill the position, and the show did one of its biggest businesses in history. Years later, after his career at the Capitol, Cousins came to Luverne with a chautauqua unit. Mr. Ohlsen asked him what his lecture was to be and he answered 'The American Flag'. Ohlsen when to hear him and found that it was the same oration he had heard the man give 25 years previous.
Mr. Ohlsen received his appointment as postmaster in Luverne on August 15, 1934. His second appointment, which was made after the civil service system went into effect, making it a permanent appointment, was made in September, 1938.
NEVER A CANDIDATE
Although interested in politics and government, Mr. Ohlsen has never been a candidate for public office, but he adds, ''I've worked hard for a lot of other candidates". He served as chairman of the county Democratic committee from 1924 to 1934, and previous to coming to Luverne, had served as precinct Democratic party officer in all of the places he lived. He claims better government as his hobby, and states that his advice to any young person approaching voting age is to 'take advantage of your citizenship, and vote in every election for the person or party of your choice, no matter whether its a school, township, village, city, county, state or national election. The precinct is the lowest of the governmental bodies but that is where government starts, and it is entitled to the same attention as the larger governmental units.
Mr. Ohlsen has a family of four children. His son, Wilbert J. Ohlsen lives at Long Beach; a daughter, Mrs. Claude(Emma) Cameron, lives at Beverly Hills; another daughter, Ella , is in the WAC stationed at Clovis, New Mexico, and a third daughter, Mrs. Dale (Olive) Barnes, resides in Minneapolis. He has 2 grandchildren. He has three brother living. Albert resides at Davenport; Johannes at Durant, and the whereabouts of Cjris are not known, as nothing has been heard from him since shortly after World War 1(Spanish American War).
He attributed the fact that he has passed the three score years and 10 mark and is still active to 'being in love with life, and associating with people who have a like feeling toward life in general.' Mr. Ohlsen states that he has never been much of a 'joiner'. "For 40 years, though," he continued, "I have been a member of the Elks lodge whose motto is; 'The faults of our friends we write on the sand, and their virtue on the tablets of love and memory.'"
He enjoys reading poetry and he says his favorite poetry is that of the Irish bard, Thomas Moore, and the
plowman poet of Scotland, Robert Burns.
One of his favorite passages is by Moore, who said: "As we journey through life let us live by the way".
Copyright © Paul Frost. All rights reserved.
Submitted by: Paul Frost
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