Tricounty News

Forest City Stockade: More recollections of the descendants of early settlers

Text from The Meeker REA Pioneer, October 1975. Laura Sundahl Crosby of Litchfield has vivid recollections of her grandmother, Laurina Olson, telling her stories about the Indians when she was a child. Laurina and Anders Olson (Mrs. Crosby's grandparents) left Norway in 1846. After 16 weeks on the Atlantic, they arrived in America. They lived for some time in Wisconsin. In 1858 they decided to venture into Minnesota and arrived and settled in Meeker County, and what is now known as Acton township. They lived on the farm now owned [in 1975] by Arthur Olson. The Anders Olsons learned of the massacre at Acton from Mrs. Jones, one of the survivors and wife of one of the five white people killed by the Indians. Mrs. Jones had walked over six miles to the Olsons (who had a blacksmith shop) to spread the news of the killings and to warn the other early settlers about the Indians. Anders Olson, together with his wife and three small children, walked to Forest City where they remained for some time. Olson helped with the construction of the stockade. One of the children was Christina, Laura Crosby's mother, who married Gunder Sundahl. The Olsons remained in Forest City until they were informed that the soldiers from Fort Snelling had subdued the Indians. Some of the men then decided to go back to their homes and see what was left of their property and to gather their cattle and (cradle) harvest their wheat. Anders Olson, Nels Danielson, Berger Anderson and Ole Amundson set out on foot to return to their homes. As they neared the Olson farm in Acton township, Olson parted from he group to go to his own home. The others hadn't gone far when they heard a shot. Anders Olson had been killed by an Indian's bullet. His body was buried on the farm, but later [was] transferred to the Ness Lutheran Cemetery where the other white people who had been massacred were buried. The Indians had visited the Olson farm on several occasions asking for food. The Olsons had always shared their meager food supply with the Indians upon such a request. Laura remembers her grandmother telling that one day she left the children at home and walked to Forest City carrying eggs to exchange for flour. When she had gone, the children saw some Indians approaching their home, became frightened and hid under the beds. The Indians came into the house and helped themselves to the food that was there, taking everything out of the cupboards. A monument was erected by the State of Minnesota in memory of Anders Olson who was massacred on his farm. This monument stands on the Arthur Olson farm in section 25, Acton township. If you missed the Oct. 28 Historical Society meeting, you missed an amazing journey back 150 years to Maine Prairie's earliest history, complete with Chautaugua-period costumes. We only had time for about two-thirds of the presentation, so perhaps Duane Stanley will return and perform "the rest of the story." You won't want to miss it! You can always watch for meeting announcements in this column. In the meantime, Kimball's Historical Society seeks the stories or photos you might have tucked away in boxes or attics, stories and photos that could be featured in this column. Imagine one of your treasured stories or photos from the past right in this history column. Hold onto the memories by sharing yours with everyone. What purpose do they serve if they're not shared? For more information, colunm stories and photos, comments or membership, please contact the Kimball Area Historical Society, P.O. Box 100, Kimball MN 55353, tel. (320) 398-5250 or 398-5743, or (800) 252-2521 if out of the area.