Nels Alfred Olson was born in the village of Persnäs on the Swedish isle of Öland in 1862, the son of Ole Magnusson and Christina Marie Nilsdotter; he was the first of our Swedish relatives to immigrate to America, in 1883 at the age of 21. In 1884 he worked as a farm laborer in Minnesota, where his sister Emma Christine joined him for a short time upon her arrival in the U.S. They both soon moved to Chicago's east side, where Alfred went to work in the steel mills. In 1887 they were reunited with their younger brother Johann August.
Alfred became a naturalized citizen in 1888. (Switching the names as written in Swedish records, he went by Alfred Nels in the U.S.) In 1892, he returned to Sweden for his bride. He married 19-year old Augusta Wilhelmina Johnson (possibly a cousin whom he had known in childhhood), and they arrived in America in 1893, in time to attend the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
The following year their son David Alexander (known as "Alick") was born in Illinois, and a year later the family moved to Charlevoix, Michigan, a northern port and summer resort town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, about 350 miles from Chicago. They lived in a log cabin surrounded by evergreens in a valley some 7 miles outside of town. Alfred broke his new land for the plow and did some logging for the lumber mills. In April of 1895 the Olsons were joined by sister Emma and her husband Adolph Ecklund, whom she had met and married in Chicago in 1889. The Ecklunds arrived with four children and fifty dollars, but Alfred helped his sister's family establish themselves on the land. The Olsons' daughter Ruth was born in Michigan about 1896, and Mabel in 1898. John Edward Olson was born in 1908.
In 1910, Alfred moved his family back to Chicago and set out on a quest for a new home. He looked around in Tennessee, and was headed for Idaho when he stopped in Denver, Colorado, learning of the opportunities for homesteading in that state. In January of 1911, the Olsons moved to the small town of Akron, Colorado in Washington County, about a hundred miles east of Denver and twenty miles southeast of Fort Morgan on the Colorado plains. They settled and began to improve their homestead, building a sod house and claiming 320 acres. Alfred farmed, and supplemented his income by carrying mail between Rago and Pineo for the post office he had helped establish. Alfred was known to lead a Christian life, having been a member of the local Holiness Mission, which eventually became the Church of the Nazarene. Meanwhile the children Alick, Mabel, and John married and settled their own farms in the area, providing numerous grandchildren. Alfred and Augusta lived at the old homestead until 1928. After traveling to California, they returned and purchased another farm nearby. They lived there until 1943, when they moved to Fort Morgan. Alfred died in 1948 after several years as an invalid. Augusta Olson died in Fort Morgan October 30, 1965, at the age of 91. Daughter Ruth never married, and she ended her days in an institution.
Alick, Mabel, and Ruth Olson Alfred with sons and brother John:
John E., Alick, John A., and Alfred N.Olson
Alfred with siblings:
Alfred, Emma Christine Ecklund, John A. Olson
Alfred Olson's Funeral
Augusta Olson Augusta Olson
The Area the Olsons and Moreys settled was part of the Great Plains, teeming with buffalo and antelope. At one time claimed by both the Spanish and French, it was prime hunting ground for the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Sioux Indians. Trappers and traders from French Canada explored the Platte River Valley and its meandering streams.
In 1803 the territory became part of the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase. For decades, the Native Americans battled settlers and cavalry for the land. Some signed the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867, but others continued fighting until the Battle of Summit Springs ended resistance in 1869. With the Indian Wars over, cattlemen moved into the area, but settlement remained sparse. In dry years, the landscape resembled the "Great American Desert" labeled on maps. After Colorado became a state in 1876, the area became more accessible - wagon roads and railroads brought more settlers.
By the time the Olsons arrived in 1910, Washington County's borders had been redrawn several times. Small settlements were springing up with frame and mud-brick buildings, the family farms producing mostly corn, oats and wheat, while less arable land still ranged by cattle. The Olsons no doubt fit right in with their pioneer neighbors, who were mostly American-born, of Swedish, German, or Swiss descent.
Campbell Farm, Akron, 1912
Reuben Oman Cutting Wheat
Glen Post Office
Mail Day at Burdett Post Office
Olson and Morey Properties
in Clark Township
Alfred Olson Land Patent
Former Alfred Olson Property Olson Property
Alick (David Alexander) Olson was 16 when the Olsons moved into the sod house in Washington County, Colorado. By 1912 he was a married man himself and soon a homesteader in Morgan County. Their farm was south of Brush in the Gary area. He and his wife Lillian had six children:
Lillian died July 22, 1945. Alick's second wife was known as Goldie. Alick died December 16, 1972.
- Mabel Gladys Olson married Harold Marion Peed and had one child, Harold Edward. Harold married Mildred Blake and they have two children, Daphne and Jason, with a grandson Reis Bradlee.
- Mildred Olson married Ben Crossman and had one child, Stanley.
- Hazel Olson married Bryant Ekton.
- Elnora Olson married Mark McTaggart and had three children: Robert, Jerry, and Ted. Robert married Mary Wright and had three children. Jerry married Virginia Cross and had three children: Jerry Ray, Roberta, and Lance.
- Ethyl Olson married Walter Breece (deceased) and then Ollie Shrader.
- Alfred Olson married Irene Rhoades and had six children: Priscilla, David, Judy, John, Elaine, and Dianna. Priscilla married Kent Jolly (divorced) and had one child Pablo. Her marriage with Leonard Nickerson produced two children, Cristina and Clifford. David is married with children. Judy married Dave Mesmer and had two children. John was married and divorced with one child, and since remarried with children. Elaine is married with children. Dianna is married and has a daughter Jeri, who is also married.
Alick Olson with Goldie, Augusta Olson
and cousin Wanda Daschofsky
Alick Olson with prize Cucumbers Alick Olson family in 1920 Census Alick Olson family in 1930 Census
Mabel Olson met Clyde Morey when he came to the Olson farm to buy eggs, butter, and homemade bread. Clyde had left the family farm in Iowa with his brother, settling in the Brush, Colorado area in 1911. He and Mabel were married in 1915, renting a house in Brush for $10.00 a month. Within a few years they had their own homestead of 320 acres right across the road from the Olson spread, on Scherer's (Shears) Draw, a mostly-dry creek bed that would flood when the rains came. Their sod house was home to a family of eight children: George, Otto, Margaret, Augusta, Emily, Wilson, Pollyanna, and Mary Jane.
George Addison Morey (born 1916) married Pauline Stickley. Their children were Barbara, Donna, Wynona, Lorena Jo, Clifford, Glenda, and Paul. Clifford Morey had two known children. George's second wife was Dorothy. George died in Tacoma, Washington in 2004.
Otto Clyde Morey (born 1917) married Jane Blake. They had two children, Esther and Bonnie. Otto's second wife was Margarett. Their children were Linda, Ronda, and Debbie. Otto died in Golden, Washington in 2000.
Margaret Morey married Francis Hawkinson. Their children were Kenneth, who had three children; Marlene; and Carol.
Augusta Mae Morey, (born 1922) married Watson (first name not known); they had a son named Michal, who had four children. Augusta May's second husband was Henry Hillyer; they had two children: Henry, (Jr.), who had three children; and Debbi. A third husband of Augusta May was Jim Winston.
Emily Josephine Morey (born 1925) married Virgil Bowen. Their children were Shirley; Ronald, who had three children; and Roberta.
Wilson Shannon Morey (born Dec. 1925) married Arlene Furgason and had a son Tommy. Wilson's second wife was Betty Ogle. Their children were Larry, who had two children; Terry, who had one child; Vickie; and Timothy, whose child was Randie Morey. Wilson Morey died in South Prairie, Washington in 2001.
Polly (born 1932) married Walter Daschofsky, a career Air Force serviceman; their one daughter Wanda has two sons, Joshua and Michael. Mary Jane (Janie) (born 1937) married Dallas Cason and they have one daughter, Christina.
The Moreys and Olsons were active in the community: Mabel Olson Morey was a charter member of a local missionary organization; the women were often involved in community social events. The children went to the Rago School; even after Clyde got a car, it was still a long day's drive to and from Brush or the County Seat Akron. Years later the children remembered the harsh difficulties of growing up out on the Prairie.
Clyde and Mabel Morey sold their farm in 1938 and moved to Bonney Lake at Sumner, Washington, near Tacoma. They built a home there on Elhi Hill and spent many years in retirement gardening and visiting with friends, neighbors, and their children who remained close. Clyde Morey died in 1987 at the age of 104; Mabel Olson Morey died in 1995, aged 97.
Mabel Olson Morey Morey Family in Colorado, ca. 1930:
Augusta, Otto, George, Margaret, Mabel, Wilson, Emily
Morey Family in Washington, 1938:
George, Otto, Margaret, Augusta, Emily, Wilson, Polly, Janie
Clyde and Mabel Morey with Wanda Daschofsky Mabel Morey with Augusta Olson
Mabel Olson Morey Clyde and Mabel's 60th
Wedding Anniversary, 1975
George, Clifford, Mabel, Augusta
George, Wilson, Otto Morey Morey Grandchildren
Clyde's 100th Birthday Party: Otto, Janie, Margaret, George, Polly, Wilson, Emily, Clyde, Mabel, Augusta Morey Family at Clyde's 100th Birthday Party
Click on link in References below for complete text of Morey Family History from Pioneer Book II
Former Morey Property Former Morey Property
Former Morey Property Former Olson Property
John Edward Olson married a local girl Helen Larsen in 1929. He may have taken over his father Alfred's farm - the 1930 census shows John as head of the household at the property adjoining the Moreys, with Helen's brother in residence as a farm hand. John and Helen raised four daughters: Joann, who married Ed Hansen; Gail, who married Roger in 1958; Sharon; and Linda. John died in Colorado in 1991.
John E., Helen Olson with daughters
Gail's Wedding, 1958
Joann, Roger, Gail
Helen, John, Sharon
Joann and Husband
Helen, John E. Olson, Mabel Morey
1920 Federal Census 1930 Federal Census 1930 Federal Census
Former Olson Property
The author visited Washington County in 2006 to take some of the photographs shown here, using legal descriptions of the land to identify the former Olson and Morey properties. Without trespassing on private land, and without a local informant, it was difficult locating the original quarter-sections from the dirt roads on a windy day. I should have gone armed with the aerial maps from Google Earth! However, I think these are accurate pictures of the landscape, if not exactly the way the homesteads looked in 1917 or so. Now that I have a better understanding of the Alick Olson family, (thanks to Ed Peed), I look forward to more information about him and his family as they grew in Colorado. Most of the Moreys apparently moved to Washington with Mabel and Clyde; I have enjoyed hearing from Polly and Jim of that Olson Clan as well. I would still like to make contact with the descendants of John E. Olson, some of whom I believe are still in Colorado. Any information on the families - updates, corrections, and especially photographs -- would be most welcome.
REFERENCESMany thanks to all those who contributed to the research:
Correspondence from Mabel Olson Morey, May 1982 Polly Daschofsky Harold Ed Peed Jim Morey News Review, Vol. 83, No.9. "Bonney Lake's Clyde Morey to Celebrate 100th Birthday." Sumner, WA. March 2, 1983. Pierce County Herald, VOl.84, No.28. "Clyde, the Centurion." Puyallup, WA. March 6, 1984. "A Saga of Swedish Pioneers," Effie Lerner Manuscript "History of Clyde and Mabel Morey Family." Pioneer Book II of Washington County, Colorado. Washington County Museum Association, Akron, CO. 1976 Correspondence from Arlene Glenn of Washington Co, CO. February, 2008. U.S. GenWeb Project Archives, Washington County, CO Colorado GenWeb Project, Washington County, CO
- Family photos from Mabel Olson Morey's album - Polly Daschofsky
- Campbell Farm, Reuben Oman - Marion Monk
- Glen P.O. - Arlene Glenn
- Mail Day, Burdett - Linda R. T. Arnold
- Color Photos of Washington Co. - R. G. Ziemer, 2006
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This page was last updated on Saturday, 29-Nov-2008 08:40:23 MST