Olof Olson on coming to America from his native land of Sweden had only three dollars in money, and was in debt for his transportation across the ocean. He has been a resident of Champaign County nearly twenty years, and it is truly remarkable what he has been able to accomplish in the way of accumulating property and in the rearing and founding of a splendid country home and a family of most industrious children. No small share of the credit for this distinctive success is due to his capable and energetic wife.
Mr. Olson was born in Sweden, a son of Olof and Ella Olson. He had a public school education in his native land. He was twenty-one years of age when he determined to take advantage of the opportunities of America, and alone crossed the ocean on the ship Arizona. After landing in New York City he went direct to Henry County, Illinois, and was soon paying his debts and familiarizing himself with American traditions and customs and in time reached that place where he felt justified in having a home of his own.
In 1891 he married Miss Selma Norberg. She is also a native of Sweden, a daughter of Pierre and Marie (Dolstron) Norberg. Mrs. Olson came to America at the age of nineteen.
After their marriage they located on a farm west of Galva in Henry County, Illinois. They began with practically no money but had that hard working energy and thrift which are characteristic of the Swedish people. In spite of increasing expenses in the maintenance of the household, there was a steady accumulation against a rainy day and for the future, and success was only a question of time with them.
In 1898 Mr. and Mrs. Olson came to Champaign County and for fifteen years farmed as renters in Compromise Township. All those years they lived steadily on one farm, and that fact alone is a fine testimonial to their efficiency and general worth. Out of their slowly growing accumulations they were then able to buy eighty acres in Harwood Township and subsequently 135 acres in Compromise Township. These tracts of land they sold to buy their present fine farm of 320 acres in Compromise Township, formerly the Dickerson home in section 19.
In the meantime there had come into their hearts and home nine children: Emily, Elof, Albert, Fred, Selma, Oscar, Ella, John and Eric. All of them learned their lessons in the district schools, while Selma was a student in the Gifford High School. They made good records for themselves as students and they all speak and read English and Swedish and have a slight familiarity with the German language. The daughter Emily is now the wife of Henry Ackerman, and they have a son, Herman Ackerman.
Mr. and Mrs. Olson are active members of the Lutheran Church. In 1909-10 Mr. Olson served on the board of supervisors, and is a man whose judgment as well as action is entitled to the respect of the community. Politically he supports the Democratic Party. As a farmer he has been highly successful with live stock, and has a large number of cattle, hogs and horses on his place. During the past year Mr. Olson received his record price for corn, selling it at $1.78 a bushel. He is one of the most reliable farmers and citizens of Champaign County. While they take just pride in their farm and their home and live stock, they have a greater pride in the boys and girls who have grown up under their roof. The boys are manly fellows, true types of Americans, and are dependable workers in the management of the homestead. Mr. Olson owns his own threshing machine and sheller, and when confronted with a big job of work he has the boys to depend upon, each one able to take his place in handling machinery or the work of the farm. Mr. Olson in all his years of experience with his sons has never heard one of them say, “I don’t want to do that.” They have grown up with the realization that the interests of the family are all mutual, and this is no doubt one of the secrets of the success of the family. Another fact that should not be omitted is that in all these years Mr. Olson has had the cooperation and support of a good Christian wife, who has aided and counseled him for over a quarter of a century and has borne the chief responsibilities of educating and training her children. The Olson family has one of the most complete and attractive country homes in the entire county. Well back from the road is situated the house, surrounded by a splendid grove of trees and shrubs, and the whole constitutes a park, as though the master hand of a landscape artist had created it. The atmosphere of the farm and the home is also one compounded of industry and wholesome living, and all of this Mr. and Mrs. Olson have as their reward for many years of persevering labor, and labor has been the source of it all, since Mr. Olson has never once indulged in the speculative game and has taken only his just compensation for work honestly performed.