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Swift County, Minnesota 
Genealogy and History


Abel Anderson
Source: History of the Scandinavians and Successful Scandinavians in the United States, Volumes I & II (1900) submitted by cd

Anderson, Abel, clergyman and educator—Montevideo —born 5 Dec, 1847, in Dane county. Wis. His mother's ancestors had been officers in the Norwegian army for several generations; in 1830 she married Bjorn Anderson, a farmer's son and a Quaker, but a marriage between the daughter of an officer and a farmer was in those days, and to a certain extent is yet, looked upon with great disfavor; besides, the young couple had not only sinned against the social rank, but, what was worse still, Anderson did not belong to the state church, the Lutheran. To avoid all social and religious unpleasantness, they emigrated to the U. S. in 1836; lived a year in Rochester, N. Y., and four years in Illinois; settled in Wisconsin in 1841, being therefore among the very earliest Scandinavian immigrants in this country. Abel Anderson, who is a brother to the well known Prof. R. B. Anderson, attended Albion Academy two years and the University of Wisconsin for a couple of years; graduated from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in 1872, and two years later completed his theological studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo. From 1874-87 he had charge of a church belonging to the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod at Muskegon, Mich., being also school inspector for several years; took active part in politics; was a delegate to the Republican national convention which nominated Blaine for president in 1884, being one of the first Scandinavians in this country who was a delegate to a national convention of this party; was a candidate for representative to the state legislature twice, but his party being in the minority, was defeated both times. Anderson came to Appleton, Minn., in 1887, and settled in Montevideo the following year, having charge of churches at both places. He has been instructor in ancient and modem languages, in which he is considered to be quite proficient, at Windom Institute, and was one of its trustees. He has contributed frequently to the Chicago Tribune and other papers, both in the Norwegian and the English language. In 1874 he was married to Mary Olson, of Cambridge, Wis. Anderson has two brothers who are married to two of his wife's sisters. They have several children living, of whom two daughters have studied at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.

Isaac Anderson
Source: Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota. (Publ. 1907) Transcribed by Marilyn Clore

ANDERSON Isaac B, Benson. Public official. Born Mar 9, 1868 in Kjrkeide Stryn Norway, son of Anders Isaacson and Elizabeth (Ellingson) Anderson. Married Oct 16, 1899 to Bertha Bergee. Attended Swift Falls public school Benson High School and Willmar Seminary. Taught country schools 1885-97. Town clerk of Camp Lake 1889-1900; during same time held office of county comnr 5th dist 1892-96; county treas Swift county now serving the 4th term from 1900.

Thomas Beagan
Source: U.S. Census, 1905 Minnesota Census, IRAD Marriage records, online posting from the research of Paul J. McGough - Contributed by Maureen Buckley.

Thomas Beagan born in Ireland in 1845 came to America around 1870. He found work on the railroads which he followed westward to Minnesota. In 1876, he found himself working out of Joliet Illinois where he met Johanna Reardon born in Sussex, New Brunswick in 1840. They were married on Dec. 13, 1876.
They moved west to Minnesota in early 1877, and are recorded living in Kildare, Swift, Minnesota in census records for 1880, 1900, 1905 and 1910.
Thomas worked for James J. Hill's, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, and arrived in Benson Minnesota in 1878. At that time the tracks ended in Benson, Minnesota. He help build the stone abutment for the railroad bridge across the Chippewa River at Benson. While working in Benson, he became aware of the Irish settlement Archbishop John Ireland was setting up in neighboring DeGraff. They decided to take up a homestead and settle near DeGraff. Thomas Beagan farmed the land they homesteaded, but he also continued his craft as a stonemason by building the dam at Swift Falls Minn. and helping build the stone railroad depot in Benson.

Ambrose Countryman
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. Published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897) submitted by Diana Heser Morse

The paternal ancestors of Ambrose D. Countryman were Germans, and settled in the Mohawk Valley, New York, early in the eighteenth century. His great grandfather was a faithful soldier in the army of the revolution, and his father, P.F. Countryman, was still living in the empire state when the subject of this sketch was born, February 8, 1850. On his mother's side, Mr. Countryman comes of good old English stock, and the branch of the family to which she belongs were early settlers in Vermont. Her Maiden name was Elizabeth E. Gleason. When he was five years of age, young Countryman left St. Lawrence County, New York, his birth-place, and came with the other members of his father's family to Nininger, Dakota County, Minnesota, then a wild country on the frontier of civilization, and here it was that he passed his boyhood and youth, attending the country schools in the winter and working on his father's farm in the summer. The family was poor and Ambrose was the eldest of eleven children. In 1861 his father enlisted as a member of the second Minnesota volunteer infantry, serving until the close of the war, in 1865. During all these years, the oldest son, who, in 1861, was a lad of eleven, was burdened with a responsibility far beyond his years and compelled to undertake the work of a man on the farm. But this turned out to be good training. The war over, the husband and father resumed his place as the head of the family and the eldest son was permitted to finish his education. He went for one year to Hamline University, then located at Red Wing; one year to the state university and two years to Washington University, St. Louis, graduating from the St. Louis law school (Washington University) in June, 1874, with the degree of LL. B. Mr. Countryman earned his first dollar binding grain after a McCormick reaper, and taught school in order to earn money to carry him through college. In June, 1876, he settled in Appleton, Swift County, Minnesota, on a homestead, and in March, 1879, began to practice law in that place, which has ever since been his home. In addition to the practice of his profession, he has for a number of years been engaged in the newspaper business, first with the "Appleton Press," and later with the "Appleton Tribune." He always has been a Republican, and his party locally has honored him repeatedly. From 1878 to 1882 he was county commissioner of Swift County, and from 1882 to 1889 judge of probate of Swift County. For fifteen years he has been a member of the board of education of Appleton, and is now president of the board. Since 1884 he has been village justice of Appleton. For years prior to 1897 he was secretary of the Republican club organization in his home town. In 1897 the state senate elected him first assistant secretary, a position whose duties he discharged with marked ability. Mr. Countryman is past master of Appleton Lodge, No. 137, A. F. and A. M., and past chancellor commander of Appleton Lodge, No. 76, Knights of Pythias. Of both lodges he is a charter member. As a member of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Minnesota he is chairman of the committee on returns of lodges. He is a member of the Episcopal church, and senior warden of Gethsemane parish, Appleton. August 30, 1874, he was married to Miss Jane Beswick, and three children have been born to them. Helen L., December 23, 1876, Ernest A., March 23, 1882, and Peter F., September 21, 1885. Mrs. Coutryman was born in England.

Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota (Publ. 1907) Transcribed by Liz Dellinger 

COUNTRYMAN Ambrose D, Appleton.  Lawyer.  Born Feb 8, 1850 in Fine N Y, son of Peter F and Elizabeth E (Gleason) Countryman.  Married Aug 30, 1874 to Miss Jennie Beswick.  Educated in common schools; U of M; graduating from Washington Univ St Louis LL B 1874.  Settled in Minnesota 1855; reared on a farm in Dakota county Minn.  Taught school; commenced practice of law in Minneapolis in 1874; removed to Appleton, Swift county Minn 1876; has been engaged in practice of law in Appleton to date.  Member Board of County commissioners Swift county 1879-82; judge of probate 1882-89; asst sec Minn State Senate 1897-1905; sec Board of Education Appleton 1883-07; member Masonic fraternity; grand master Minn 1902-1903.

James Edwards
Source: Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota (Publ. 1907) Transcribed by Anna Parks

EDWARDS James N, Benson. Born Oct 18, 1846 in Monmouth, Warren county Ill, son of Berry W and Sarah A (Bevins) Edwards. Married thrice: Oct 12, 1879 to Ellen M Kepner; Feb 11, 1891 to Mary E Hunter; July 25, 1901 to Alvira A Turner. Educated in the public schools of Fayette county Ill. Clk in a country gen store until May 1864; enlisted in 143d Regt III Vol 1866; clerk in country store Loogootee Ill; worked in gen store St Elmo III 1870-75; took a trip to California and Oregon. Returned to St Elmo Ill and formed a co-partnership under firm name of Fogler Bros & Edwards; sold out 1877 and moved to Benson Minn residing on farm until 1879; entered the employ of Frank M Thornton, Benson 1879-82; clk in U S Land Office until 1886; appointed assignee for the firm of Wilkins & Buxton; asst cashr Swift County Bank 1887-96; resigned 1896 having been elected judge of probate Swift county 1894; has held office ever since. Local agent for Continental and Milwaukee Fire Insurance Co. Member G A R; I O O F, which order he joined in 1870; Masonic fraternity; K of P and A O U W.

Walter Foland
Source: Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota (Publ. 1907) Transcribed by Anna Parks

FOLAND Walter Alphonzo, Benson. Lawyer and editor. Born Mar 12 1846 in Dayton O, son of Solomon and Sarah Belle (Francisco) Foland. Married July 26, 1876 to Laura A Woodburn. Attended Terre Haute (Ind) High School; graduated from Ind State Univ 1870; law dept same LL B 1873. Moved to Willmar Minn and engaged in practice of law 1874 to date; county atty Kandiyohi county 1875; moved to Benson and practiced law 1876 to date; editor and publisher Benson Times 1885 to date, under firm name of Foland & McCune. Republican presidential elector 1888.

Alfred P. Hanson
Source: North Dakota Blue Book, 1913 Legislative Manual, Published under the direction of Thomas Hall, Secretary of State, 1913. Submitted by Linda R.

ALFRED P. HANSON, of the thirty-eighth legislative district, was born in Sweden, October 22, 1875. He came with his parents to the United States in 1876, locating near Benson, Minn., in which city he secured his education. He graduated from the Minnesota university in 1900. In 1903 he came to North Dakota as cashier of the First National Bank of Litchville, which is his home. He is married and has ne children. He was elected representative in 1910 and re-elected in 1912, as a republican.

Sanford Henry Hudson
Source: Little Sketches of Big Folks in Minnesota. (Publ. 1907) Transcribed by Nancy Overlander

Hudson, Sanford Henry, Benson. Lawyer and banker. Born Nov 29, 1857 in Janesville Wis, son of Sanford A and Sarah D (Canfield) Hudson. Married Jan 16, 1884 to Lorena McLaren. Educated in private school Janesville Wis and Univ of Wis Madison. Has been engaged in the practice of law in Benson since1880; v pres and part owner Swift County Bank, established 1876; mayor of Benson 2 terms; county atty Swift county 3 terms. Member American and Minn State Bar assns; and Minn Historical Society.

William M. Liggett
Source: Progressive Men of Minnesota, (Shutter, Marion Daniel, 1853–ed.) Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Journal (1897) transcribed by Vicki Bryan

William M. Liggett was born in 1846 in Union County, Ohio, a region where the farmers were among the most intelligent, enterprising and public-spirited men of the community. As a farmer's boy, Mr. Liggett's experience was not different from that of most farmers of thirty-five years ago, but he was scarcely in his teens before the intense political struggle which preceded the Civil War engaged the attention of every thinking man. A good farm is the best nursery for boys in any free country, but between 1856 and 1861, when every night round the fireside and at every neighborhood gathering national questions were discussed with a fervor and seriousness that prepared men for the fiery furnace of the impending war, a farm was a rare school for the development of character. Enlisting at the age of seventeen in the Ninety-sixth Ohio, young Liggett served with honor in the campaign of Red River under Banks, and was in the siege of Fort Gaines and Morgan, Spanish and Blakely. The capturing of Fort Blakely with seven thousand prisoners was the last engagement of the war. At the close of the war he declined a commission, and returned to the home farm. Afterwards accepting a situation in the Bank of Marysville, one of the most conservative banking institutions in his native state, he gathered a business experience and knowledge of affairs which has since served him well. Interesting himself in politics he became recognized as a local leader, and was twice elected treasurer of his county. In the meantime he had been prominent in the organization of the National Guard of the state, and at the time of the great riot in Cincinnati, when the court house was burned and the whole city terrorized, he was Colonel of the Fourteenth Ohio National Guard, and commanded the battalion that cleared the streets of the mob, ended the riot and restored peace and order to the city, being wounded severely in the brief time the street firing lasted. Soon after this episode, in 1884, he formed a business partnership with an old friend and comrade, Major Wilcox, who had already established Grandview Farm, in Swift County. Stepping into the management of this property he was soon recognized as one of the leading agriculturists and breeders of the state and found ample room for the exercise of all the administrative ability at his command, and use for both his farm and his business experience. His ideals in domestic stock were of the practical rather than the fancy type; his success was a foregone conclusion. During his seven years of residence on the farm, no farm in the Northwest made more sales or did more to improve the quality of farm stock. Several offices of honor have come to Colonel Liggett unsolicited. In 1888 he was appointed regent of the State University by Governor McGill, as a representative of the farmers of the state, and has since been chairman of the Agricultural Committee, and to him, as much as any other, is due the successful opening of the Minnesota School of Agriculture, now generally recognized as a model. He is also a member of the State Board of Agriculture, and the Board of Farmers Institute, and a member of the Executive Committee of the National Cattle Growers Association. In 1890 he was elected secretary of the State Agricultural Society, and the successful fair of 1890 was held under his management. He would have been his own successor if Governor Merriam, recognizing his executive ability, had not appointed him one of the Railroad Commissioners of the state, in which capacity he served a second term as chairman of the commission. In August 1893, he was asked by the Board of Regents to take the position of acting director of the School of Agriculture of the State Experiment Farm, giving all his spare time to the duties of the position. In October 1896, Colonel Liggett resigned as Railroad and Warehouse Commissioner to accept the position of Dean of the Agricultural School and director of the Experiment Station, to which he was elected by the Board of Regents, October 14, 1896. It is Colonel Liggett's strongest point that he never disappoints expectations. He has a genial and cordial address which wins friends, and the sterling qualities which retain them. With good judgment, a clear mind and rare executive ability, he easily takes rank with the leading agriculturists and breeders of the country, and as he is yet a young man it is reasonable to expect a long and useful life in his chosen calling.

Arnt Kjosnes Pederson
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. Published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897) submitted by Diana Heser Morse

A. K. Pederson is the son of Peder Olson Kjosnes and Helga Arntsdatter Vigen (Kjosnes). Following the usual custom of the Norwegian people, he adopted as his surname Pederson; that is, to say, Arnt, of Kjosnes, the son of Peder. He was born December 28, 1845, in the parish of Sielbo, near Throndhjem, Norway. His ancestors were nearly all tillers of the soil. On account of the father being in straightened circumstances financially, the children (of whom there were
eight) were compelled in early youth to help in the work on the farm. From his eighth to his twelfth year, Arnt alternately worked at his own home and for his neighbors, his younger brothers having grown up so he could be spared from home. He received his education in the common "religious school," which he attended until his fifteenth year. He then left home and commenced work in a saw mill, continuing in this occupation for four years, until he was unfortunate enough to have three fingers cut off. The following winter he drove a team, but in the spring started at work in a saw mill again, where he remained for five years, or until 1869, when he emigrated to America. Having no money of his own, he borrowed sufficient funds to cross the ocean, and arrived in Minneapolis May 16, 1869. He immediately commenced work at his former occupation, that of tending a circle saw in a saw mill. He kept steadily at this work for eleven years, when he was compelled to quit on account of the growing weakness of his eyes, caused by constant straining. During this time, however, Mr. Peterson had been frugal in his habits and had obtained a house and lot in Minneapolis. This he now mortgaged for two thousand and five hundred dollars, and getting a bill of lumber went to Appleton, Minnesota, where he engaged in the lumber business. In this he has been very successful, now conducting one of the most extensive lumber and hardware business, between Minneapolis and Aberdeen. At first, on account of the money he had outstanding among the farmers, Mr. Pederson was somewhat handicapped in securing credit for lumber, and remembers with grateful appreciation the assistance afforded him by the old Washburn Mill Company, and states that they were more beneficial to him than the commercial agencies. In connection with his lumber and hardware business, Mr. Pederson also owns a tin shop and a harness shop, and deals in lime, brick, paint, wood, coal, etc. He was instrumental in organizing the Citizens Bank, of Appleton, in 1892, of which institution he is president. In politics Mr. Pederson has always cast his lot with the Republican party, and is an enthusiastic supporter of its principles. His first vote he cast for General Grant for president. He has been active in local politics, but has held no office except that of town supervisor for two terms, and member of the village council for twelve years successively one excepted. On May 22, 1870. Mr. Pederson was married to Mary O. Fuglem, who was also born in Selbo, Norway. They have had ten children, of whom six are living; five boys and one girl.

Martin E. Tew
Source: Progressive men of Minnesota. Published by The Minneapolis Journal (1897) submitted by Diana Heser Morse

Martin E. Tew, editor of the Clarkfield Advocate, is of Norwegian extraction, though a native of Minnesota. His parents came to this country from Vallers, Norway, in 1863. His father was a man of fair education, physically strong, enjoyed rugged health and was of strong character. Mr. Tew's mother was a woman of strong intellectual traits and deep religious temperament. She died when he was five years old. The family was then living in the southern part of Winona County. It was here that Mr. Tew was born on February 11, 1869, in a log house on his father's farm. With an elder brother and sister, Martin attended the common school in the vicinity for a few months each winter, and worked on the farm at home and for the neighbors during the summer. When he was thirteen years old he moved with his father to Swift County, Minnesota, and during the first summer there, took charge of a herd of cattle. For this work he received fifty dollars for the entire season. It was lonesome work for a boy of thirteen, but while out on the prairie he made good use of his time, reading all the good books he could obtain, and studying faithfully. Later he attended the high school at Morris during two winters, making his way by doing chores for his board. In these short terms of three months each winter, he covered the full course, which was as much as the regular classes required nine months each year to finish. From the age of fifteen until he was nineteen he traveled considerably and engaged in various occupations, though making his permanent home in Yellow Medicine County. All this time he spent his spare moments in studying, and at nineteen he taught his first school. He was then in Day County, South Dakota. During the next two years he obtained a few months training at the Normal School at Madison, South Dakota, and by persistent outside work, succeeded in covering the studies of a three years' course in only four months of actual attendance, finishing all the examinations with some of the highest standings ever obtained in the institution. His excellent work obtained for him the special commendation of President Beadle, of the Normal School. Returning to Yellow Medicine County in 1891, he was nominated the following year for County Superintendent of Schools by the People's party. In the election of that year he received almost twice as many votes as the candidates of his party on the state ticket, but not enough to overcome the Republican majority in the county. This was his first entrance in political work. During that campaign he commenced stump speaking, and has since made many addresses in the interests of his party. In 1894 he had a debate with J. T. McCleary. In the spring of 1894, when principal of the Clarkfield schools, Mr. Tew was urged to become the editor of the Reform Advocate, a Populist paper, then published at Granite Falls. The paper was in financial straits. Mr. Tew took hold of it, moved the plant to Clarkfield, increased the size of the paper from four to eight pages, and has since secured for it a wide recognition. In 1895, H. P. Knappen, of Minneapolis, became his partner. His journalistic ventures brought Mr. Tew more than ever into politics. The the last few years he has attended nearly all of the state and congressional conventions of his party, and in 1896 was a delegate to the National Convention at St. Louis. Some of his friends requested him to be a candidate for congress from the Second District, but he refused to let his name be used. Mr. Tew has a decided taste for literature and is an admirer of Milton, Shakspere and other great authors. He has also written a number of poems and songs, several of which have appeared in publications of national circulation.

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