Biography of John M. Danielson

The splendid development of the southern part of Saline County had been largely due to the presence of a colony of thrifty Swedish people who located there about 1869-70. This colony as a whole acquired many thousands of acres in what are now the Townships of Smoky View and Smolan, and the Swedish people have predominated in that section ever since the original colonization.

While for many years he had been one of the most conspicuous among. the Swedish people of Saline County, John M. Danielson had a special distinction as a settler there, since he was in advance by a year or so of the main colony. In fact he was a pioneer of pioneers in Saline County, and he is regarded almost as a patriarch among his people in that section.

He was born on a farm in the District of Smolan, Sweden, July 5, 1837, a son of Daniel and Anna (Peterson) Danielson. He grew up on his father’s farm and had meager advantages in the local schools, which were only fitfully maintained and were of meager quality as to instruction when he was a boy. In August, 1857, at the age of twenty, he sought a better destiny in the New World. He came to this country without capital. His first location was in Kane County, Illinois, where he put in two years working as a farm hand at wages of ten dollars a month. He was not only a good worker but also had the business judgment which enabled him to make his hard work count toward future prosperity. For ten years he engaged in the timber and wood business in DeKalb County, Illinois, and during three years of that time he was employed in a grain elevator in the City of DeKalb.

John M. Danielson arrived in Western Kansas in October, 1868. He took up a homestead in Saline County, and that homestead is still his place of residence, though his holdings have increased until it is now surrounded by 1,300 acres of valnable land under his individual proprietorship. He went through all the hardships to which early Kansans were subjected, but he never lost heart and he never lost faith in Kansas soil and climate. He had made a fortune by growing Kansas crops and raising Kansas stock, but his fortune had been wisely used and he had long enjoyed the position of a leader in the community.

In 1872 a new township was organized in his section of Saline County. It was given to him to select the name, and he designated it as Smolan, choosing the name to honor his native province in Swoden. Smolan Township it had since remained and is the home of some of the most prosperous and substantial citizens of Kansas. In 1886, when the Missouri Pacific Railway was built through the township, a postoffice and station were established on Mr. Danielson’s land. The post office and station also acquired the name Smolan. The first postmaster was C. P. Mattson, a brother-in-law of Mr. Danielson. Smolan is a prosperous and thriving village, and is almost exclusively populated by Swedish people. Mr. Danielson in such ways had done much to influence local development and improvement, but had never sought any public office. He is a liberal member and supporter of the Swedish Lutheran Church.

While living in Kane County, Illinois, he was married on March 20, 1858, to Miss Matilda C. Mattson. When they were married both were poor, and they had a number of years of struggle and hardship before they were established in the prosperous circumstances which they later enjoyed. Mrs. Danielson was born in Sweden August 20, 1836, and she died at Smolan, Kansas, April 13, 1895. To their union were born twelve children. Two sons and one daughter died in infancy, Those still living are: Adolf Marten, Anna S., Daniel P., John F., Carl O., Albert L., August W., Christina L. and Otto E. The sons Carl O. and August W. have a general store at Smolan under the firm name of Danielson Brothers.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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