A Brief History of Charles E. Olson (Compiled by his son, Lester, with the help of my brothers, Arnold and Elmer, my sister, Gladys Dahlquist, Aunt Esther Westerburg, Aunt Selma Berquist, and Iona Olson, and presented at the Olson Family Reunion held at Bear Lake, Utah, Friday, June 24, 1949.) Also Aunt Hulda Peterson, and A. G. Lundstrum.) As my father kept no written record of his early life, most of this history is written from the memory of stories he told us at various times. Dates were hard to establish, so few are given. If there are errors, they areof our memories, and not of his telling. *********************************** Charles E. Olson was born in Vingaker, Sweden June 25, 1870. He was the third child of Lars E. and Anna Persson Olson. He immigrated to America with his paents in 1884. Charles was, in the true sense, self educated. Being rather frail as a small boy, he did not start to school at the usual age as it was necessary to skate long distances to school in Sweden. As a result, he had only three years of schooling in that country. Upon arriving in America, he soon felt the necessity of earning his own living and thus relieve part of the family burden. He recieved little, if any, schooling in this country. He was not content, however, to remain illiterate, so he soon wnet to work teaching himself to read and write English, and to continue his work in Arithmatic. The first book he read was "Uncle Tom's Cabin". He did not care much for Fiction, so all of his reading from that date forward consisted of newspapers, news magazines, and the Bible which was a cherished gift from his parents. That Bible was given in 1938 by our mother to Stanly Olson who was later killed in WWII. Charles educated himself so well that upon his death, his business was found to be in first class shape. Charles loved his parents deeply -- especially his mother. After leaving home, he went to work hearding sheep near Grace, Alexander, and later near Bear Lake. While hearding sheep, he met A. G. Lundstrum who later became Mayor of Logan. Charles and Mr. Lundstrum were life long friends. Charles would ride bareback most of Saturday night across the mountains so he could spend Sunday "with Ma", and ride back again over the mountains Sunday night in order to be at work Monday morning. Later he went to work for the Rail Road. I have been unable to check on dates, but I believe that the Oregon Short Line was being built at that time. It was this job that eventually brought Charles to Wyoming and the town of Opal where he met Charles F. Roberson. Mr. Roberson owned a ranch in Opal, and Charles soon went to work for him. This was his first experience as a Cowboy and a Ranch Hand. It was also in Opal that Charles met Bridget Gorman who, at that time, was cooking at the Roberson Ranch. Miss Gorman was born January 28, 1870 in Osceola, Ontario Canada which is near Ottawa. She came to Opal, Wyoming about 1892 to keep house for her brother, Patrick Gorman, who owned a ranch near there. It was after the marriage of her brother that she went to work for Mr. Roberson. Charles and Bridget fell in love and were married May 2, 1898 at the South Side Catholic Church in Rock Springs, Wyoming. After their marriage, Charles and Bridge t moved to Station Creek, Idaho where they bought a farm near Charles' parents. Although Bridget was of a different Nationality and Religion, she adapted herself well to her new surroundings and soon loved and was loved by her new relatives. She often remarked that they filled the gap she felt for her own parents so far away in Canada. She became known as Bea and later as Aunt Bea. However, Charles and Bea did not live long in Idaho. The squirrels were bad that year and the call of Wyoming was in Charles' blood. After the harvest was in, Charles returned to Opal, Wyoming and fed cattle for Mr. Roberson. Bea remained in Idaho that winter where she gave birth to their first son, Arnold, February 26, 1899. In the mean time, Charles had leased the Fontenelle Ranch from Mr. Roberson, and when spring came, he returned to Idaho long enough o sell his farm to ALfred Westerberg, take his wife and child and thei few belongings back to Wyoming. His farm is now operated by Russel Westerburg. Three more children were born while they lived at Fontenelle: Anna Gladys, June 10, 1901: Lewis Elmer, September 25, 1904; and Lester Gorman, April 8, 1909. Charles' love for his parents did not die with his marriage. Not long after moving to Fontenelle, he had his father, Lars, spend a summer with them. He planned to have his Mother visit at a later date, but Aunt Anna's illness and later Aunt Selma's prevented her from making this visit. This, however, did not prevent Charles and his family from visiting his parents as often as possible. At firstit was by train which was a ling hard trip with small children involving two train changes either way they went. They could go by McCamon, Idaho, Cach Junction, and then to Logan, or by Green River, Wyoming, Ogden, and to Logan. In 1912 Charles bought his first cat -- a Model T Ford. By 1914 Charles felt he had learned to drive well enough to venture forth to Logan to attend the first Olson Family Reunion which was held Saturday, June 27, 1914 at Uncle Lee's home in River Heights. To the modern driver, this does not seem like much of a trip, but in 1914 it was a major achievement. One had to carry ones own gas and oil, and to be sure and have plenty of tire patches. If one traveled 50 miles without a blowout, it was entered in the Record Book. To topthings off, a cloudburst hit in the Bear Lake area, washing out what roads there were. After fighting mud all the way from Sage to the top of the Divide above Bear Lake, the old Ford stoped, and crank as we would, it would not start. A newly married couple from Sage came along in a buggy. They tried to help, but when Lizzy refused to start, they left us with a Quilt and instructions to leave it at the Hotel in Lake Town. The nest morning, Lizzy started with the first flip of the crank. When we stated down the mountain, we thanked God that she had refused to run the night before. The road was completely washed out. We had to move boulders in places to get by, and Mother, Arnold, and Gladys had to ride the upper running board most of the way into Lake Town to keep the old Ford on its wheels. After a time we arrived in Logan and enjoyed a much needed rest at Grandmother's, and a pleasant Reunion. At last came the day when we must start for home. Knowing it would be impossible to return the way we came, we started north by way of Grace, Alexander, Soda Springs, etc. It was on this trip that Charles pointed out the places he had worked as a boy and a young man and told us of his long rides over the mountains "to see Ma". The ice was now broken. The Model T took us yearly to Logan until 1917 when Charles bought a new car -- a 7 passenger Chandler. The trips continued yearly until the death of Lars and Anna. Anna died April 22, 1922. Charles was a good neighbor. He was always ready to give a helping hand to a neighbor in distress -- to the underprivileged whom no one else would help -- or a young person desirous of an education. He loaned many dollars which he knew would never be paid back rather than hurt someone's pride. Charles' family was growing up. His daughter, Gladys, was the first to marry. He aided his son-in-law, Ernest L. Dahlquist, get started in the garage business in Fort Bridger, Wyoming. As his boys left school, he considered them a part of his business, considering their ideas as valuable as hs own. They seemed inclined to follow in his footsteps in the Ranching business, so in 1918, Charles bought the George Ross Ranch 15 miles east of Big Piney, Wyoming. This ranch is now owned and operated by his son, Arnold. In 1932, son Elmer was married, so Charles bought another ranch adjoining the home ranch on the New Fork River. In 1937, Charles and Bea were planning to retire, but before doing so they planned to provide a ranch for their third son, Lester. Charles was dealing for a ranch across the New Fork from Elmer's a the time of his death, October 22, 1937. His heirs, however, completed the deal. Charles was a shrewd business man. He never made a decision in haste, but when he did make on, it was usually right. An example of this was during the hard winter of 1920 - 21. Many ranchers were shipping their stock to New Mexico, Texas, etc., but Charles shipped as close as possible and bought all the local hay, straw, etc. that he could. He came through the winter without loss, while those who shipped south, lost heavily due to climatic changes and disease. Charles was much interested in the welfare of the community in which he lived. He served several years on the school board while living in Fontenelle. He was also Fontenelle Postmaster for 14 years. He was very active in the organization of Sublette County, and was one of the first elected County Commissioners in 1924. (The first Comissioners were appointed by the Commissioners of Lincoln and Fremont Counties from which Sublete was formed.) He was elected by the largest majority of votes cast in that election. Churches of any denomination were few and far between in Wyoming in the 1800's and early 1900's. For this reason, there is little of a Religious theme in this narrative of the life of my father, Charles E. Olson. However, I feel it only fair to him to give a brief history of his spiritual life. (The following information was taken from the "History of Erick Lehi Olson given by his daughter, Ella O. Davis at the Olson Family Reunion held Sunday, June 1, 1947".) "Lars and Anna and their family were members of the Luthern Church until Charles was about 11 years old. At that time, he and his brothers and sisters were baptized into the Morman Church by his father, Lars E. Olson". who had joined a short time before. This was rather confusing to Charles. Why was the religion of his boyhood suddenly wrong and this new religion right? They both worshipped the same God ye differently. Upon coming to America, he went out into the world to earn a living at the tender age of 15 or 16. The men with whom he worked were of many different religions -- some with none at all. Can you blame him for being confused? Charles read his Bible in an attempt to find the answer. At last he arrived at this conclusion: "All Churches led to the same Heaven though by different roads." Though in erroe, he had not lost Faith. Then he met and married Bridget. She was a staunch Catholic. She was a good woman -- jus like Mother. Why not let her raise my children in her church? (Thank God he did.) Charles continued to read his Bible and went occasionally to Church with his family. They prayed for him, but did nothing to force him to join their Church. That decision must be made of his own free will. Often when Bea was teaching their children, and they would ask a question, Charles would get his Bilbe and them the story from it. Years went by and Charles, Bea, and their son Lester were visiting at the home of Mr. and Mrs, John Newman in Ault, Colorado. On Sunday, September 19, 1937 they went with their host and hostess to their Church -- a Luthern Church -- the Church that Charles had known as a boy. Chales was very attentive, following every movement. He was at home at last. I sincerely believe he made his peace with his God that day. Little did any of us hink, that happy day in Ault, that less than 5 weeks from hat day, Charles would be facing the Judgement Seat of his God. The horse he was riding fell with him breaking his neck October 22, 1937. May God have mercy on his soul. It is a matter of record that Charles' funeral was the largest attended single funeral ever held in Big Piney. The one time there ws a larger crowd was when three young men, just back from World War II, were killed in a car accident near Daniel, Wyoming. Their funerals were held jointly in Big Piney. Charles was laid at rest in Saint Patrick's Cemetery, Kemmerrer, Wyoming, October 25, 1937. ******************************* Thus ends the story of my father, Charles E. Olson, the son of Lars E. and Anna Olson. Those two great pioneers made possible this reunion here today, so for their family, Lars' and Anna's, I offer the following prayer: "We consecrate to Thee, O Jesus of Love, the trials, the joys, and all the happiness of our family life. We beseech Thee to pour out Thy blessings upon all its members, absent and present, living and dead. And when one after the other we have fallen asleep in Thy Blessed Busom, O Jesus, may all of us, in Paradise, find again our family in Thy Sacred Heart. "May the Divine Assistance remain always with us, and may yhe Souls of the Faithful Departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. AMEN."
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