SOURCE: Compendium of History and Biography of Polk County, Minnesota, Major R.I.
Holcombe, Historical Editor; William H. Bingham, General Editor; W.H. Bingham
And Company, Minneapolis, Minn.; 1916; reprinted by Higginson Book Company;
Salem Massachusetts; (book no longer copyrighted)
Library of Congress control number 16009966
This book can be ordered from Borders Book Store or from Higginson.
Both companies have web sites.  The cost is about $70
and well worth the price.

pages 202-203

Martin O達rien, of Crookston, a prominent attorney and eminent citizen of the state, was born in Boone county, Illinois, October 15, 1867.  He is the son of Michael and Mary (Tighe) O達rien, who were natives of Ireland.  Michael O達rien was born in county Mayo and was married to Mary Tighe in her native county of Sligo.  They came to this country about 1850, locating in Boone county, Illinois, where he followed his trade of stone mason.  They continued to make their home here until their death.  Seven children survive them and three of the sons reside in Crookston.  Martin O達rien was reared in his native state and received his early education in the country schools.  After graduating from the high school in Belvidere, Illinois, he began the study of law in the office of Judge R.W. Wright, a pioneer lawyer of Boone county. 

In June, 1889, he was admitted to the bar and located immediately in Crookston and began the practice of law.  He has engaged in the general practice of his profession and from the inception of his career has met with noteworthy success, winning the regard and approbation of his legal associates.  For two years he was a member of the firm of Wilkinson, Schmidt & O達rien in partnership with A.C. Wilkinson and P.C. Schmidt.  Since leaving this firm he has conducted an independent practice. 

Mr. O達rien is a member of the Democrat party and is extensively identified with the political affairs of the state.  He has been actively interested in many of the important conventions, serving as delegate at large in national convention of 1908 and district delegate to the national convention of 1912 and was made the Minnesota member of the committee on resolutions in both national conventions.  He was elected chairman of the state democratic committee in 1912 and served in this office until his professional duties necessitated his resignation and forced him to decline re-election.  Whereupon he was elected vice chairman and made a member of the executive committee. 

He is at present city attorney of Crookston, having served in that office five terms.  His administration of public matters has been characterized by the same display of integrity and ability that has marked his private legal affairs.  He has also served the county in the capacity of assistant to the county attorney in important matters of litigation, in which the county was interested.  He has been E.R. [Exalted Ruler] of the Crookston Lodge B.P.O.E. [Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks] and a member of the Grand Lodge of that order.  He served for five years as member national board of Auditors, M.W. of A.  He was married in Minneapolis, in 1904, to Elizabeth Mealia, who is a native of Minnesota.  They have three children, Marion, John and James.

submitted Jan 17, 2003 Jon Raymond


pages 399-400

SOURCE: Compendium of History and Biography of Polk County, Minnesota, Major R.I.
Holcombe, Historical Editor; William H. Bingham, General Editor; W.H. Bingham
And Company, Minneapolis, Minn.; 1916; reprinted by Higginson Book Company;
Salem Massachusetts; (book no longer copyrighted)
Library of Congress control number 16009966
This book can be ordered from Borders Book Store or from Higginson.
Both companies have web sites.  The cost is about $70
and well worth the price.

Jens Ohnstad, M.D., of McIntosh, one of the leading physicians of the county, was born in Dane county, Wisconsin, June 20, 1868.  His parents were natives of Norway and came to the United States in 1846 and were pioneer settlers of Dane county, where his father is living at the close of a long and useful career, having reached his eighty-eighth year and being one of the few survivors among those who initiated the emigration of his compatriots to this county.  Two brothers and a sister are also living at advanced ages, all having passed their eightieth years.  Jens Ohnstad was reared on the Wisconsin homestead and was educated in normal school at St. Ansgar, Iowa.  He graduated in 1892 and in his early manhood engaged in teaching school in Fillmore county, Minnesota, using this work to secure the financial aid to attain to his professional ambitions.  In 1899 he entered State University for a four-year course of study in the college of physicians and surgeons and received his degree from that institution in 1903 and in October of that year located in McIntosh, where he has continued to pursue his practice with eminent success, with the exception of two years, during which time he transferred his professional activities to Minneapolis. 

Dr. Ohnstad has kept in touch with the progress of medical science and has taken post-graduate courses in advanced scientific studies, in Chicago.  He has gained a wide reputation for his skill and professional achievements and his able services have been distinguished by notable victories over serious epidemics of malignant diseases.  He has devoted every effort and interest to the duties of his vocation and has increased his opportunities for efficient service by the establishment of the Dr. Ohnstad Hospital, which is amply equipped, with professional nurses in attendance, and has proved of unmeasured benefit to the community in providing immediate relief for local distress, obviating the disastrous delays entailed in reaching city hospitals.  Dr. Ohnstad is that type who, by their broad, progressive and unselfish service, furnish the substantial support of the welfare of any community and has made a most honorable record as a physician and citizen. 

He is a member of the Red River Valley, the Minnesota State and the American Medical associations, and in fraternal societies is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.  He was married at Red Wing in 1908 to Mabel Hooverson, of that place, who had resided for a time at McIntosh.  Two sons have been born to them, Peter Rolf and Karsten Jerdee.

submitted Jan 17, 2003 Jon Raymond


Archie Olson Dies in Jap Prison Camp

(Red Lake Falls Gazette, March 21, 1946, p1) 

Brother of C.F. Olson Falls Prisoner of Japs in Fall of Battan died Feb. 12, 1945 

Mr. and Mrs. C.F. Olson received word during the past week that his brother, Archie Olson, who was employed here prior to the war, and was well known by a large number of local people, had died in a Japanese prisoner camp on February 12, 1945. 

The following account of his death appeared in last week痴 issue of the Fosston Thirteen Towns

      Archie Olson of the Fosston-Trail area was the first man from this area to be taken prisoner during the war.  He became a prisoner of the Japs when Bataan fell.  Little news was heard from him during the remainder of the war except that it was known he was being held in Japan towards the end of the war. 

Recently the family had word from the war department that he had died in a prison camp about a year ago.  Last week the family received the following letter from the commanding officer: 

Dear Mrs. Quam:

      I was Archie痴 C.O. in Japan.  We were at the Fukuolsa No. 3 camp, which you can find on the map at a place called Moji, at the tip of the island called Kyushu.  Archie was a grand big man, a man the men loved, he was quiet, easy going and happy.  He did not suffer, he became ill, went into a coma and then passed away.

      I do not recall that he ever was a victim of beatings, and as for food, he received enough of what we had to normally get along.  I believe that he just happened to be a victim of war.  It most likely was from malaria that he died.

      His doctor was Captain Charles Armstrong of Fletcher General Hospital, Cambridge, Ohio.  Dr. Armstrong was a very wonderful young officer, who worked hard for his men.  He took care of Archie.

      With every wish I remain.

            Sincerely yours,

            John L. Curran, O.P.

Submitted by Joy Paulson, October 2006

Bicentennial History of Polk County, Minnesota: Pioneers of the Valley,
Polk County Historical Society, 1976, Copyright 1976, Taylor
Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas

pages 161-162

Engebret C. Onstad was born in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway in 1865. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 16 and came to the Crookston-Nielsville vicinity in Polk county, where he worked at various jobs. Mr. Onstad married Olive Myrland, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Even O. Myrland, Traill county pioneers of Belmont, North Dakota, in 1892. She was born at Blooming Prairie, Minnesota in 1870. After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Onstad lived at Old Nielsville, located about one and on-half miles northwest of the present site of Nielsville.

Three children were born to the Onstads: Elmer in 1895 and Myrtle in 1897, both born at Old Nielsville; and Evelyn born at Esmond, North Dakota in 1903.

Mr. and Mrs. Onstad owned a hardware goods store in Old Nielsville, and the goods were shipped by boat on the Red River to Fisher Landing or other nearby landing points, and then hauled by wagon and horses to town.

When the Great Northern Railroad was built into Polk county, Old Nielsville was moved to the present site, and the store and house were moved into town. The old store was later sold and a new store was built in 1899. Besides the hardware goods, there were furniture, stoves, farm machinery, and windmills sold. About 1910, a gasoline burner, used to heat a soldering iron, exploded and demolished the store. It was rebuilt the same year. Mr. Onstad owned one of the first cars in the community a 田ase car.

Later, the store was sold, and Onstad and son (Elmer) built a garage and went into car repair, also selling cars and tractors. An electric power plant was installed in part of the garage, and electricity was furnished to the Nielsville homes and business places that were wired for electricity.

Visiting friends and family gatherings were usually on Sunday afternoons and holidays. Church and school picnics were annual events in the summer. Sunday afternoons, during the summer season, there were scenes of baseball games between the neighboring towns teams, and these always drew large crowds.

All the Onstad children attended grade school at Nielsville. Elmer Onstad went to Hanson Auto and Tractor School in Fargo, North Dakota, and was rural mail carrier at Nielsville for many years, using cars on the route.

On muddy, or snow blocked roads he had to use horses and buggy, or sled with a bus built over it. Teams had to be changed at midway of the mail route of about 28 miles.

Elmer married Lillian Lee, an elementary school teacher, of Nielsville. They had a daughter, JoAnn, who attended Milwaukee High School. She married Clark Luckman of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and they had one son, Lee. Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Onstad moved from Nielsville to Chicago, and to Milwaukee, where he worked for and retired from the Hadish Company.

Myrtle Onstad attended Crookston High School and Interstate Business College at Fargo, North Dakota. She was bookkeeper at State Bank of Nielsville, and later at Amenia Seed and Grain Company of Amenia, North Dakota. She married Parnell Smeby, a barber from Amenia. They later farmed at Hickson, North Dakota. He passed away in 1965. Mr. and Mrs. Smeby had two daughters, Phyllis and Marilyn. Phyllis, a teacher, married Eltoh McLeod of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and their children are Brian, Mitchell, Joel, Brenda and Rhonda. Marilyn, a legal secretary, married Melvin Smith, of Wheatland, North Dakota, and their children are Sheri and Sandra. Mrs. Smith passed away in 1971.  Engebret Onstad passed away in 1954 and Mrs. Onstad in 1919.

submitted July 28, 2003 Jon Raymond


See Bergdahl, Ole H.

ANDERSEN, Melkor Gurenus

I am searching for information on where my Grandfather lived while he was in the USA. Born 1872 in Ytre Rendal, Norway. Sailed from Kristiania (Oslo) Dec 4, 1891 en route to New York, and arrived there on December 21/1891.

Melkor's birth records list him as Melkor Gurenus ANDERSEN. His departure from Norway lists him as Melkior Andersen リIEN. Andreas went by the name Andrew, and stayed in the US until 1909, when he walked to what is now Oyen, Alberta in Canada from Spokane Washington.  Andrew is listed on the 1900 census as Andrew A. Oyen of Crookston, MN.  A fellow named Gilbert Undseth often signed documents for Andrew, and I think this may have been Bertin Olsen Undset who left Rendal, Norway at the same time as Andrew did (1889).  Another person who seems to be connected is Ted Momb, and maybe he was Tomine Momb who also the Rendal Region of Norway in 1889.  The Momb and Undseth families may also have gone to Canada to live later on.

Crossing into Canada seems to have changed the last name to OYEN from the OIEN spelling used in the US. Melkor and Andrew also had an older brother Gustav, born in 1867, who may also have traveled with them. Gustav is thought to have lived and died in the Chicago area. They all departed Norway at different times, as far as I know.

I am wondering if Melkor changed his name to Mike Anderson/Anderson and went to North Dakota to homestead.  There seems to have been a person in the Rugby or Brazil or  Devil's Lake Area of  Pierce County, North Dakota who has very very similar information, including a wife  named Bertine/Berntine Anderson by 1908.  This Mike Andersen/son started out in Aiken County, MN.  Persons named Halvor N. Vold, Edwin Hoff, and H. O. Fossum often signed documents stating that they were well acquainted with Mike Anderson.

Melkor returned to Norway somewhere around 1906? or 1907? and married Bertine/Berntine/Berthine BOLSTAD, the sister of his brother Simon's wife Synve.  Bertine also had another sister Alma and brothers Berent and Baard.  Alma and Berent stayed in Norway but Baard went to Canada to farm for a number of years, and later in his older years, returned to Norway.

In 1910, Melkior went to Canada where he became Melcor (Mike) OYEN/OIEN.  If anyone knows their whereabouts of any of these three brother during the 1890's until 1909 (the time period when they were in the USA), I would be very grateful for the information. I can be reached at or at Thanks, Sandy Oyen-Cumberford



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