Ola Okeson
1836 - 1922

FACTS AT A GLANCE
BORN: 1836, Bjock-ho-lager-Skaning, Sweden
MARRIED: Bengta Augusta NILSDOTTER
DIED: 1922, Henning, Minnesota


Ola Okeson was born in the Bjock-ho-lager region of Skane in 1836. He was a farm hand.

Ola married Bengta Augusta Nilsdotter. Bengta was from Bran-sla, also in Skane. Together they had four children between 1867 and 1877: Anna, Ingrid, Nels and August.

Ola eventually saved enough money to buy a farm in Malmohus-lan. It was described as being "16 tunne large", or approximately 29 acres. To cover the remainder of the land's price Ola borrowed money from a bank with the understanding that as long as he made improvements to the farm, the loan could be renewed. Ola thought that the buildings were in good shape so he focused his efforts at removing the many large rocks from the fields.

When the loan became due the following year, Ola did not have the money to pay it so he asked the banker for a renewal. When the banker saw that the rocks had been removed from the fields, he was so impressed that he foreclosed on the land and moved onto the property himself. Ola became so angry he decided to quit Sweden entirely and emigrate to America.

Ola sailed for America in 1882, changing ships once in Liverpool and finally making landfall in the New World at the Port of Quebec. From there he took the train to Battle Lake, Minnesota and walked the remaining 20 miles to the town of Henning in Ottertail County. There he bought a quarter section from an old name called "Old Yankee" for $250. The land contained a single sod shack to live in.

Bengta and the children sailed for America the following year, taking much the same route that Ola had. In Quebec, Nels wandered off and Bengta had quite a time finding him. Once they reached Battle Lake, they too had to walk the remainder of the way. Bengta and Anna, who was 15, each carried a large bundle of clothes. Ingrid's job was to carry August, who was only 4 years old, except that he was so heavy that she could only carry him part of the time. Eventually Ingrid refused to carry August anymore and laid him down on the road where he fussed and pouted as the others walked on. When August looked up, the others were out of sight and he became frightened, running until he caught up.

Ola and Bengta worked the fields, binding bales of wheat with twine. Both girls worked as well, with Ola coming behind them to collect whatever wages they earned. The first money Anna ever remembers having is when she went to work for a couple that spoke only English. Since Ola didn't understand anything but Swedish, he couldn't collect the money for her. Times were hard for the Okeson family, and Bengta often wished they had never left Sweden. She died in 1895.

Ola eventually made a good living as a farmer and built a beautiful two-story home on the land, but refused to live in it, preferring his old sod shack to the newer house.

In November 1916, when Ola was 80 years old, he went for a walk outside and Nel's dog ran into him, causing him to fall and break his leg. Ola refused to let a doctor set it. Unable to sit or stand, Ola remained bedridden for the next six years until his death. Nels took care of Ola those last years and inherited everything upon his death.

Ola, Bengta and Nels are buried on a family plot somewhere near Henning. The only marker is for Bengta.



WIFE of Ola Okeson:
    Bengta Augusta NILSDOTTER

     1846-1895

PARENTS of Ola Okeson:
    Ake OLSSON
    Lusse OLSDOTTER


CHILDREN of Ola Okeson:
   1. Anna (PETERSON)

        1867-1937
   2. Ingrid (SWENSON)
        abt 1872-
   3. Nels OKESON
        abt 1875-
   4. August OKESON
        1877-1951



OKESON FAMILY HOMEPAGE