The Ole Bull Colony
in Potter County, 1852 :
One Hundredth Anniversary Observed July 31-August 1, 1952..
The Ole Bull Colony in Potter County
Potter County Historical Society, 1952.

Transcribed by Nancy Piper for Genealogy Trails

The year 1952 reminds historians that it marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Ole Bull's colony in the southern part of Potter County. There have been so many exaggerated and distorted reports concerning this event that is is deemed necessary, so far as possible to separate the truth from the fiction and to record only what can be reasonably verified. Many persons are reluctant to discard the fantastic tales about the fabulous "castle" of Ole Bull, "built of stone, and hung with rich tapestries brought from Europe," which stir the imagination and lend color to this otherwise drap and dreary settlement.

Frequently an individual comes forward, firm in the belief that he possesses Ole Bull's favorite Stradivarious and wild are the tales which describe how it came into the possession of the present owner. Just why Ole Bull "planted" so many of these priceless instruments in various places in his adopted country is unexplained. Be that as it may, they have multiplied many fold.

It is the aim of this sketch to describe, as accurately as possible, the brief existence of Ole Bull's colony in Potter County. The principle source of this description is the People's Journal (now the Potter County Journal), edited in Coudersport by W. W. McDougall, John S. Mann and Edwin Haskell during the time that the colony existed in the county.

On Sunday evening September 5, 1852, the villages of Coudersport, numbering some 250 persons were astounded at the news that "the world renowned Ole Bull had arrived in town!" Many were skeptical of this rumor until they were informed that John F. Cowan, Esq., of Williamsport, Pa., had accompanied him. The astonishment of the citizens was greatly increased when they learned that "this celebrated man had purchased 120,000 acres of land in the southern part of Potter County with a view to its settlement by his countrymen." (The exact amount was 11,144 acres)

The editors of the People's Journal agreed that Ole Bull's reputation, genious, and wealth would enable him to settle as many of his countrymen on his new purchase as he might desire; they looked upon this movement as the most important event that ever had occurred in the history of the county.

Ole Bull's purchase lay in the Kettle Creek valley. Little Kettle Creek rises in West Branch township and flows south, across Abbott township, into the northern part of Stewardson township, where, at Oleana, it is joined from the east by the Main or Germania Branch and achieves the stature of Kettle Creek. From this point it flows southwest, receiving a tributary every half mile of its ten-mile course across Stewardson and leaving Potter County a short distance and finally joins the West Branch of the Susquehanna at Westport.

The Kettle Creek valley is narrow at its head with steep, rugged hills on either side, but gradually becomes wider as it nears the Cross Fork Branch. In 1852 these hills were covered with virgin timber of white pine, hemlock, and hard woods. Few settlers had made their homes in this valley. The population of Stewardson township in 1850 was 54, divided among eleven families. Abbott township was not established until January 8, 1852. and was not included in the 1850 census. Coudersport, the county seat, could count only 46 families with a total of 234 inhabitants.

A clearing was made at Cartee Camp in 1812 when the pack horse trail over what is now the Jersey Shore and Coudersport Turnpike developed into a wagon road. A post office was established at this place in June, 1851, with Thomas B. Abbott as postmaster. This was the fifth post office established on the mail route between Coudersport and Jersey Shore within two years, previous to which there were not between Lymansville (Ladona) and Jersey Shore.

Ole Bull and John F. Cowan arrived in Coudersport via Wellsville, N.Y. On February 8, 1851, the first train came into Wellsville over the Erie Railroad, then called the New York and Erie. On April 2, 1851, a weekly mail and passenger route was opened between the two towns and the following September it was expanded to daily service, except Sundays. This schedule continued until shortly after the arrival of Ole Bull, the 18th of September 1852, to be exact, when the citizens of Coudersport, "hearing an unusual sound of wheels, rushed out to observe the mail coming in a fine looking (..?..) horse post coach which Samuel Mills, proprietor of the Coudersport Hats, had lately purchased and would run it daily hereafter and up to time. The good time of Coudersport has surely come." Ole Bull's stimulating influence was already evident.

On Monday evening, September 7, 1852, "there arrived some thirty fine booking, robust and determined appearing sons of Norway on their way to Ole Bull's new possessions. These are the vanguard of the army which is to follow when these pioneers shall have prepared shelter for them." On the 17th of the month 105 more colonists arrived in Coudersport and started for the colony, twenty-four miles distant on the head waters of Kettle Creek. Unfortunately, the local newspaper failed to report any details of their arrival. Other local sources have related that they came from Wellsville in wagons under the escort of William Van Buren, one of the stage drivers. They spent one night in Coudersport and found entertainment in various homes and in the two hotels. The next day they purchased some stoves and other household equipment, some lumber and provisions and set out for the Kettle Creek region. The older members of the band rode while the younger ones walked or, perhaps, took turns in riding and walking.

One week later the editors of the People's Journal reported that the Norwegians were delighted with their locations. Then, catching some of the vision and enthusiasm which inspired Ole Bull, these editors exulted over the possibilities and prospects of a great future for Potter County. They declared that the Norwegians were just what was wanted to subdue the vast forests; that the benefit would be mutual because of the low price of land and its productiveness when cleared. They had no doubt that Ole Bull's colony would increase until every foot of land in the county would be settled. "Why not?" said they, "We can raise more and better potatoes to the acre than can be raised on any other land in the Nation! Fifty bushels of oats to the acre is an ordinary crop; two and one-half tons of hay is a medium; and forty bushels of corn to the acre is a common yield. As for sheep, we should like to see a county that can surpass ours in natural advantages for sheep growing." They also mentioned "our glorious springs of pure and delicious water, worth more to many man than the difference between the price of our land and the prairie of the West."

Since wild land could be purchased for two or three dollars an acre they saw no reason why a poor farmer, if industrious, should not get rich. They confidently predicted that Potter County would soon send the best and most butter, beef and mutton to the New York market of any county in the state. They pointed out that advantageous location of the new colony on the turnpike, between Coudersport and Jersey Shore, on the head waters of the Kettle Creek, one of the finest streams in Potter county.

On the second day of October, 1852, in Philadelphia, Ole Bull swore allegiance to the United States and abandoned all fealty to the King of Norway and Sweden. That this ceremony might be a sacred and imposing as possible he requested that it be held in Independence Hall, where, in true characteristic manner, he placed his hand over his heart and proclaimed that he desired to be deemed worthy of so great a privilege; that he had never sworn allegiance to the King of Norway and Sweden, nor to any other potentate, nor had he bowed his knee to any but his God. He declared that already a thousand Norwegians had settled in northern Pennsylvania and that he should induce "hundreds of thousands more to taste the blessings of liberty in that same locality."

This colony appealed to the romantic natures of some of the citizens of Potter County, as is evidenced by two poems, published in the Journal, each extending a welcome to the Norwegians.

The first appeared on October 22:

From forest and fiord that stretch toward the North

From the rock pillard pass of each deep mountain glen;

From ice-girdled islets and whirlpools come forth

The hordes of the Northland, brave women and men.

With the hand of Oppression shall Free Spirits grasp

The white hand of friendship or red hand of war,

When the wide arms of Freedom are open to clasp

In peace and glad welcome true souls from afar.

Nay! Sons of the Vikings! The billow that roll

Their dark stormy surges in foam on your shore,

In their ceasiess recoil shall bear back from the pole,

Your strong hands and spirits the dark water o'er.

The forest and mountain and valley lie spread

Untouched, save by sunlight and wandering breeze,

Awaiting to welcome the Northmen's free tread

To their echoing slopes and their shadowing trees.

Aye, a choir of echoes asleep on each hill.

And a bird chorus wait you, awake in each glen.

And the long practiced bands of wind, river and rill

Shall pour out your musical, welcoming strain.

The soul of the North with its pulses shall beat

In the veins of the forest one life-speaking throb

When our wood-haunting spirits will spring forth to meet

And to welcome your host to their leaf-sheltered sod.

Let the wizard of Norway but sound them one call

That the wind-spirits taught him far over the sea,

And the wood spirits will garland each arched forest hall

And wild and wide shall your welcome be.

Another poem, "To the Norwegians," composed by Miss R. E. Daniels, was submitted to the People's Journal November 29, 1852. The first and last stanzas follow:

Welcome the Norwegian band, a band so freely blest;

You're welcome to our native land if it will give you rest;

You're welcome to our home so rude; you're welcome to its cheer;

We do not think it an intrude; you are all welcome here.

We will give our cheers with cheerful heart for your brave leader's merit;

Our love to him we will impart and praise his noble spirit.

We know his mind is deep, profound; he's welcome to our land;

We know his judgment to be sound; he guards a noble band.

In December came this acknowledgment:

Reply to Miss Daniels of Ulysses:

We are all of us very much obliged to you for your song of welcome to us Norwegians offered in the People's Journal. We are also gratified on having neighbors who sympathize in our fate. And we assure you nothing will be spared by us to be good neighbors as well as worthy citizens of this free and powerful Republic.

S. Wang

Oleana, Dec. 23, 1852

Like this "Reply" the following lines form "The Ballad of Oleana", by Theodoare C. Blegen, illustrates the Norwegian spelling of the town.

I'm off to Oleana to lead a life of pleasure.

A begger here, a count out there, with riches in full measure;

I'm coming, Oleana, I've left my native doorway;

I've made my choice, I've said good-bye to slavery in Norway.

In the last week of January, 1853, readers of the People's Journal, were informed that the new settlers were delighted with their locations and were busily engaged in making roads. A steam saw mill and two water mills were under construction and a new school house had been erected at New Norway.

The following June the Journal carried a reprint of an article, published in the New York Tribune, which stated that "Ole Bull is personally making preparations to celebrate the Fourth of July in his colony on a grand scale. He expects a large number of his musical brethren to assist in the ceremony. He is fitting a grand concert room, 100 feet long and 30 feet wide, which will be in one of the upper rooms on his own dwelling. His colony seems to be progressing very rapidly for a new country. Ole Bull is certainly an extraordinary man. You can see him up at daylight in the morning, mounted on his famous Norwegian horse, riding around examining his lands. After his breakfast you will see him assisting his mechanics at their labor, raising buildings, etc. After dinner he may be found working on the roads with quite a number of hands. The schools of the colony are flourishing and are under the care and instruction of teachers from New England. These he visits daily. When he executes a deed for any of his countrymen, he inserts a clause, depriving them of the privilege of selling liquors except for medicine."

The following paragraphs chronicle the events of the Fourth of July celebration. They were reported by Hugh Young, of Coudersport, for the People's Journal.

"It had been rumored that on the Fourth of July a celebration on a grand and extensive scale would take place at Ole Bull's colony. As the day approached the hysterics lengthened and became more exaggerated until we began to doubt whether the whole might be a hoax.

We heard Ole Bull had bought and sent seven thousand dollars worth of lamps, while some maintained they cost only five thousand dollars. It was asserted that seven hundred dozen kegs of wine passed through Coudersport to that place; others, indignant at such apparent smallness argued that it was a thousand dozen. Same said that President Pierce and Cabinet, or part of it would be there while others seemed to think they would not. It was rumored that some great orator would be there and the Olean Journal said that Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, was expected there. We thought if this were part of the programme we would like to see it; so we booked our name and about two o'clock on Monday morning started for the colony.

About seven miles from Coudersport we entered the "Nine Mile Woods." So called because there is neither house nor clearing for nine miles. At the end of this we came to a clearing, upon which stands a log house and barn, known as the "Edgecomb Place" now "Shears," where we stopped for breakfast. (1952: Cherry Springs.)

About three miles from Shears' the road is along the top of a hill, the height of which we cannot guess as the forests on either side are impenetrable. This would be called by a fashionable tourist "a stupendous devation, picturesque in scenery and romantic in situation." But in this part of the country where pork is more admired than poetry it is known as the "Pog's Back."

About ten o'clock we arrived at New Bergen, the first village in the colony. It is composed of low, log cottages, neatly built, and presents the appearance of thrift and industry. On entering the village we saw the Star Spangled Banner and floating beside it the orange, white and blue Scandinavian flag. We gave three cheers which were answered by cheering and firing of guns.

At noon we arrived at the "Lion Tent," in Oleona, which is six miles from New Bergen. Lion Tent is the name of the hotel in Oleana and derives its name from the proprietor, Capt. Lowe, a Hungarian of the late Kossuth Guard, whose name means in the Magyar language, a lion. The hotel is a large, three story, framed house, and when completed will look very well. On the right of the building a dining hall had been erected for the occasion, capable of accommodating forty or fifty. On this there were four flags, the American, the Danish, the Norwegian and the Hungarian. On the hill, opposite the Lion Tent, was another flag, the Norwegian and American, blended in one.

It was now dinner time and the brave and the fair marched together into the hall and were seated while a dinner was set before them, in true Parisian style, to which everyone did ample justice. Other tables followed, each better than the last so it was said.

Dinner over, the question "How shall we celebrate?" seemed to be discussed, if not with ability, at least with much energy. Two fiddlers being on the spot, it was ruled that a ball should be the order of the day. Lieut. Col. John M. Kilbourn, William T. Jones, and Frank L. Jones, High Sheriff of Potter County, were appointed by the ladies as conductors of the ball, which to their credit, they did with much ability.

One of the fiddlers had an appointment at Andresen's where another ball was held, but under whose supervision we were unable to learn. At the Tent, a keg of beer was set out for the Norwegians while some of the Yankees called on the champagne.

At length tea was being prepared and the ball room was vacated to give place to tables. Tea was announced and as many as could be accommodated sat down. Mr. Lowe then called upon Attorney Crosby W. Ellis, of Coudersport, to offer a few remarks in behalf of the Norwegians. Mr. Crosby apologized for the absence of Ole Bull, spoke of the efforts of the Norwegians to make the occasion a success and promised that if Ole Bull should recover from his sickness he would at a future time give them a concert unequalled by any other.

In the evening we visited Ole Bull's summer residence which is situated on an eminence, about a mile from New Norway. It is a two-story frame cottage, 36-20 feet. From it we had a view of all the surrounding country and this seems to have been the object of its build built in that situation. A beautiful avenue leads to it through the forest and the visitor does not see it until he is beside it.

We returned and found the fireworks had been prepared on the side hill opposite the Tent. Unfortunately a storm was threatening and the rain fell continuously with flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. It was not quite dark when the fireworks were lighted. On the front of the Tent were illuminated letters "F.P." We asked what the initials meant and someone said, "Foolish People" which would be very appropriate. We learned that they meant "Franklin Pierce." Now followed stars, rockets, Roman candles, telegraphs, etc., all on a grand scale. As the rockets going up met the lightning coming down, there seemed to be only one thing wanting to make the scene romantic - this was Ole Bull and his violin.

We now had an opportunity to ascertain the number present; from our own estimate and that of several of our friends, we are safe in saying that there were not more than three hundred present, the Norwegians included.

The fireworks over, the company again assembled in the ball room where dancing was again resumed until the rain drove them out; whereupon the Norwegains took their places, notwithstanding the rain, and danced beautifully. Then they sang the national anthem of Norway and continue dancing until quite late.

At Andresen's ball an accident occurred which, fortunately resulted in no personal injury. Some of the gentlemen had retired to bed over the ball room and whether from the crowded state of the bedroom or the shaking of the house from dancing we are unable to say; but the effect was the breaking of a joist which let those in the bedroom down into the ball room on very short notice. Those in the ball room head the cracking and made a precipitate retreat else the consequences might have been more serious.

Breakfast over the parties began to disperse. And thus ended the Oleana Celebration. We dispersed to think that the affair went off well. When we consider that this is a new colony and the great Norwegian was absent and sick which made his countrymen feel anxiously uneasy, that the anniversary was ours, not theirs; considering all these things, it went off wvery well. They are attached to Ole Bull and consider his sickness a colonial calamity. We hope for their sakes he will soon return and cheer them by his presence." (End of Hugh Young's report.)

Ole Bull's absence may be explained in the record of his purchase of the tract of land in Kettle Creek Valley:

On May 24, 1853 John F. Cowan and wife, Rosetta, of Williamsport, Pa., deeded to Ole Bull for the sum of $10,388.00 eleven warrants of land in Potter County. In Abbott township there were 990 acres in each of the warrants 5631-5632; in warrants 5077 and 5078 there were 1,117 acres each. In Stewardson township there were 990 acres in each of warrants 5819, 5820, 5518, 5521, 5531 and 5523, a total of 11,144 acres with the usual allowance for roads, etc. This deed clearly defines three reservations: a plot of 230 acres in the southwest corner of warrant 5631, 5632 and 5633; also 171 acres in the northeast corner of warrant 5819, a total of 658 acres. (book F-194).

Previous to the execution of this deed four towns had been planned, laid cut in the wider portions of the valley, and improvements made upon them. These were New Bergen, at Cartee Camp, 24 miles from Coudersport and eight miles from Cherry Springs; Oleana, six miles south of New Bergen; New Norway, one mile south of Oleana. At this place 16 or 20 log cabisn and a log school house had been erected. The latter was in use until it was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1878 when it was replaced by a modern structure. One mile south of New Norway was Walkalla, in which was the high point or shelf, on the right of the stream, which provided an ideal stie for the "castle" of Ole Bull. In Norse mythology, Walhalla, or Royal Hall, was the Hall of Odin, the god of poetry, wisdom and war, who received the souls of the heroes slain in battle. The perpendicular cliff on which the "castle" was build was faced with stone, a specimen of patient and pains-taking workmanship which remained intact until recent years.

Immediately after accepting the deed from John F. Cowan and making full payment for his purchse, Ole Bull must have discovered or have been informed of the reservations contained therein for he wrote a letter to Robert Hamilton, the surveyor for the colony which was dated May 25, 1853, at Oleana: "Mr. Cowan having sent a deed to me, according to promise, I see that some exceptions have been placed therein that somewhat puzzle me as I am not acquainted with the form in such deeds; therefore I beg you to examine these carefully and explain matters to me. Hoping to be excused for the liberty I take I have to be with the highest esteem

Yours truly,

"Ole Bull"

On May 27, 1853, Robert Hamilton replied:

Ole Bull, Esq.,

Dear Sir: Agreeably to your request I have examined your deed from John F. Cowan and wife, also the exceptions or reservations in the sme, I herewith give you a sketch or plot of the lands reserved from data now in my possession and from notes taken some time since. One reservation will include New Norway and the garden and the nursery grounds; the other will include New Bergen; also some three or four lots that have been selected and partially improved by the Norwegians; the precise locations you will learn from the plot herewith given.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Hamilton

In this manner Ole Bull learned that a large part of the improvements made by the colonists had been made on land not included in his purchase. Some have censured his attorney, Lucius E. Bukleley, of New York City, for not informing him of these reservations. At the same time, it is apparent that all the improvements mentioned had been carried out prior to the execution of the deed on May 24, 1853.

On September 22, 1853 (Book F-206) Ole Bull deeded the same property to John F. Cowan for the exact amount of the purchase price and signed a receipt for the money.

On October 7, 1853, it was announced in the People's Journal that the celebrated Norwegian, Ole Bull, had sold out all his interests in the county. "He has doubtless discovered that although he can beat the world at playing the fiddle, yet he is not capable of managing to advantage the colony which he had projected; or perhaps he finds he does not have time to give it his personal attention without which it cannot prosper. We trust that the men who will step into his tracks will go to work and settle the land, purchased of Ole Bull, with thorough-going practical farmers. There is no better land in northern Pennsylvania for farming purposes, and all kinds of produce are ready sale at enormous prices. For instance, hay sold last winter, within two miles of the colony to lumbermen for fifteen dollars per ton! Oats for sixty cents per bushel and other things in proportion. Any industrious, able-bodied man, desiring to purchase wild lands in a good location will do well to make a visit to the Kettle Creek lands, lately owned by the great Norwegian."

The New York ATLAS of October 28, 1853, reported "We learn that Ole Bull will give another concert in Philadelphia for the relief of his settlers in northern Pennsylvania, immediately after his concert in New York. It will be seen by this advertisement that the members of the colony are in a state of the greatest distress and suffering. Ole Bull, with that forgetfulness of self and that humanity which has ever distinguished him, has promptly come forward to minister to the relief of his suffering fellow countrymen. Notwithstanding , he has himself, lost over seventy thousand dollars in this unfortunate affair, yet he no sooner hears of the distress of his countrymen than he forgets himself and his own wrongs and comes promptly to their relief. This is the noblest magnanimity and immeasurably transcends all the ordinary charitable appeals to which the New York public is every ready to respond. We venture to predict that the concert Ole Bull is about to give for the immediate relief of those poor, deluded and suffering creatures will present one of the most crowded and enthusiastic audiences that the genius and the great musician himself has drawn together. Truly, "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

Before the snows of another winter fell upon the Kettle Creek valley the Norwegians had given up their foothold in the colony. Some pushed westward to Wisconsin and Minnesota; others returned to their native Norway. But three families, the Joergs, the Andresens and the Olsons refused to forsake the valley of Kettle Creek and remained to accomplish the purpose for which they had come as settlers. There they successfully established homes and remained for many years.

The departure of the Norwegians was followed almost immediately by the sound of the woodsmen's axes as the lumber firms came into the valley to despoil the hills of the magnificent white pine timber which for centuries remained untouched. By 1880 these were practically exhausted and the attack began on the previously despised by handsome hemlocks, and hardwoods of ash, beech, cherry and maple.

The Joerg Family

Of the three remaining families, the Joerg family had probably the most important role in the brief life of the colony. Dr. Edward Joerg was bron in Leipsig, Germany, on January 19, 1807 the son of Johann Jorg, M.D., a distinguished physician who for forty years was professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Universityy of Leipsig and Director of Maternity Hospital. When a young man Dr. Edward Joerg came to Havanna, Cuba, to attempt to discover the Yellow Fever germ. It was one of the ironies of fate that his son, Rudolph Joerg, died of this disease in 1873, at the age of 25. Dr. Joerg became associated with Dr. Carlos Belot, a French physician and surgeon, who for many years was the owner and director of a hospital in Regin, a suburb of Havanna. In this hospital Dr. Joerg filled the post of head surgeon during the absence of Dr. Belot in France and Germany.

Dr. Joerg married Mary Agatha, daughter of Dr. Belot, on April 22, 1838. She was born on July 3, 1822. She possessed a decided musical talent, which was cultivated under most favorable circumstances. Their first child, Edward, was born February 15, 1842, and their second, Louisa, in January 1844

Soon after Ole Bull's arrival in Boston on November 20, 1843 he visited Havanna, which was then a gay capital and music center. He was invited to the home of Dr. Belot where the latter's daughter, Mrs. Joerg, played his piano accompaniments. It was considered a great honor when Ole Bull served as godfather at the christening of little Louisa Joerg.

About this time, Dr. Joerg, with his wife and two children, joined a colony of Germans who settled in western Illinois. There he became a member of Belleville Lodge, No. 24, F. and A.M. held at St. Clair, Ill. Four children were born in Belleville; Anna, March 22, 1846; Rudolph, 1848, Theresa, May 25, 1850; Martin, March 10, 1852.

In 1853 Ole Bull visited Dr. Joerg and persuaded him to dispose of his medical practice and come to northern Pennsylvania to take charge of a "large sanitarium" which he represented as existing in his colony. With his wife and six children, the eldest only eleven and the youngest a baby, Dr. Joerg undertook the difficult journey. They arrived at Kettle Creek to find instead of a magnificent sanitarium, a small unfinished log cabin littered with shavings. As related by a member of the family "poor Mrs. Joerg sat down, gathered her children into her arms and wept."

After the colonists abandoned the settlement, Dr. Joerg purchased from John F. Cowan warrant No. 5820, containing 990 acres at one dollar per acre. This purchase included Walhalla, but it was not a home for the gods. There were several buildings on this tract including the "castle"; but the deed, dated October 25, 1853, "reserved all the buildings now upon the premises, excepting the one now occupied by said Dr. Joerg, and one acre of land surrounding each house, the house being in the center; also the right to lumber for two years upon said tract." In 1857 Mrs. Joerg purchased these reservations for $100.

In 1858 or 1859 Dr. Joerg engaged Mr. Heuser (Conrad Heuser's father) and Plaster Miller, both of Germania, to build a stone dwelling house near the highway. Jim Herrit (sometimes called Herrod), young son of Widow Herrod, drew stones out of the creek with a yoke of oxen to build the walls of the house. It is said that Dr. Joerg dismantled the "castle: and used the interior wood, which was carved, in the construction of his dwelling. The kitchen was added many years later. On June 1, 1895, the Joerg family disposed of their property to the Lackawanna Lumber Company for the sum of $28,000, thereby realizing a handsome profit on the purchase price.

In the spring of 1903, when the house was occupied by C. H. Rexford, a lumberman, it was destroyed by a forest fire. As the walls remained intact it was rebuilt. The State Forestry Department came into possession of the property through its purchase of the Lackawana lands on April 7, 1909. The house was usually occupied by a state forester or a ranger until it was destroyed again by fire on March 8, 1925.

Two more children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Joerg in the Kettle Creek valley. They were Herman, on August 14, 1854, and Gertrude, on March 21, 1865. Gertrude died in Tampa, Florida, in October, 1938. In 1858, Dr. Joerg removed to Coudersport in order that his children might attend the academy there. He practiced medicine at that place until 1864, when the family returned to Kettle Creek, where he died August 17, 1866. His body was brought to Coudersport and the funeral was conducted from the home of Pierre A. Stebbins, on East Second Street, now the "Five Elms." This was the first Masonic funeral held in Coudersport. Dr. Joerg was a charter member of Eulalia Lodge, F. and A.M., held at Coudersport when it was instituted in October, 1861, and served as its first secretary.

Shortly after the first Baptist Church of Coudersport was organized in May, 1869, Mrs. Joerg requested baptism for herself and her three daughters, Anna, Theresa and Gertrude. As Anna was unable to attempt the long journey to Coudersport, a delegation of Baptists, consisting of Deacon and Mrs. J. W. Allen, Deacon Lucas Cushing, Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton and Miss Clara Hamilton (later Mrs. Martin Joerg), accompanied by the Rev. R. D. Hays, of Smethport, Pa., drove to Walhalla on Tuesday, September 29, 1869. On Wednesday, the Rev. Hays preached to a congregation in the community, after which he baptized Mrs. Joerg and her three daughters in the waters of the Kettle Creek (Baptist records.)

Mrs. Joerg always remained a consistent member of the Baptist Church and gave generously to its support. She died October 30, 1908, at the home of her daughters in Athens, Georgia. Her body was brought to Coudersport November 1, and funeral services were held the following day at the home of her son, Martin Joerg, on North Main Street.

During the period of friendship between Dr. and Mrs. Joerg and Ole Bull, the latter presented her with a large portrait of himself underneath which he had written two music scores and inscription which, translated reads: "Dedicated respectfully and affectionately to the Senora Joerg from her devoted servant, Ole Bull. Havanna, Cuba, April 15, 1844."

At the death of Miss Thersa Joerg at her home in Tampa Florida, December, 1915, Mr. Ezra Burt Olson, who as in the city at that time, accompanied her body to Coudersport. He was a grandson of the colonist Martin Olson, and a life-long friend of the Joerg family. In appreciation of his kindness, Miss Gertrude Joerg presented to him the long cherished picture of Ole Bull with his personal inscription. A few years later Mr. Olson gave it to the Coudersport Consitory of which he was a member, where it has been given a prominent place, safely guarded, in one of the reception rooms. No more fitting place could have been found for this priceless treasure whose associations are blended with one who assisted in establishing Free Masonry in Coudersport and whose family was so intimately connected with the great Norwegian violinist, Ole Bonnemann Bull.

The Andresen Family

Turning to the Andresen family, Beer's history of Potter County (1890) stated that "on May 12, 1845, Francis French and his wife, Mary, moved on the place now occupied by Henry Andresen. He built a log house and that year commenced keeping travelers, thus opening the first hotel at Stewardson township. This hotel continued the business until about 1862 when the Oleanoa House was opened. Henry Andresen built the first store in 1854 and the first grist mill in 1856" (p. 1122) The grave of Francis O. French is in the Oleona Cemetery; only the name with a Masonic symbol is now discernible, the stone having broken and obliterated all dates.

Mrs. Mary Andresen's reminiscences, published in the Potter County Journal in November, 1897, when she was 84 years of age, indicate that she had been a widow two years when the Norwegian colonists came in the Kettle Creek valley. She was employed as cook at their headquarters and there met and married Henry Andresen, a handsome young Dane whom Ole Bull had met in New York City and brought with him as secretary to the colony. Apparently he built a house of hewed logs in the settlement of Walhalla for this property, although purchased by Dr. Edward Joerg in 1853, has always been referred to as "the home of Ole Bull's secretary."

Henry Andresen was an enterprising young man. He purchased lands in Stewardson and in Abbott which totaled more than 8,000 acres. In 1869 he was listed as a miller, lumberman and dealer in merchandise. He was also the postmaster at Kettle Creek, as the post office was then called.

The first merchant on record in Stewardson township was Julius Johnson in 1854. He was succeeded in 1856 by Henry Andresen, who conducted the business until 1880 when his adopted son, Willard Andresen took it over. When the building burned in February 1888, the old log store building was pressed into service and the business was conducted under the name of Mrs. Mary Andresen until it closed in 1891.

The Andresen home is described as being "large, commodious, surrounded with large verandas." One large room, furnished with an organ, was set apart for weekly religious services, there being no church edifice in the community.

In 1877 Henry Andresen became involved in financial difficulties and assigned nearly 6,000 acres of his holdings to F. W. Knox of Coudersport for disposal for the benefit of his creditors.

Henry Andresen died at his home at Oleona on February 4, 1893, at the age of 75, leaving a wife and a adopted son.

The Olson Family

Martin Olson was born in the town of Grovingan, Hoffsotno County, Norway, as was his wife Hermania Brado, who was born June 2, 1802. They had three children, Ole, Marie and Burt. On April 24, 1854, Martin Olson was killed while working on a log slide in Layfield Hollow. After the death of her husband Mrs. Olson went to Germania, where she found employment as cook for Dr. Charles Meine and his assistants who were organizing that settlement. Her descendants relate that she was a woman of great strength and endurance, having walked the entire distance from Jersey Shore to Oleona when she came to the colony. On July 5, 1856, she was married to Ezra H. Pritchard, who, when a young man, had come from Connecticut to Potter County and built a hunting cabin at Jenkin's Hill, in Eulalia township. He later located at Kettle Creek and opened a blacksmith shop and a wagon repair shop. He was quite famous as an expert marksman and a successful fisherman, and had a reputation for being a good musician and fine dancer.

Marie Olson came to America on the ship "Northern" which was eleven days in crossing. It docked at Quebec and Marie came to Pennsylvania by wary of Buffalo. Her first employer was D. F. Glassmire, who built the hotel at colesburg in 1851 and who exchanged his property there with Samuel Mills for the Coudersport Hotel property in March, 1856. She married C. A. Burroughs, said to have been a first cousin of the great naturalist John Burroughs.

Ole Olson, son of the pioneer, came to America in 1869 and immediately settled in Kettle Creek valley. His wife was Ella ______.

Their children were: Mary (Olson) Hagman, Westfield, Pa.; Edward M. Olson, Michigan; Ezra Burt Olson, Oleona; Etta (Olson) Fegley, Gardeau, Pa.; Henry Olson, Oleona. Mrs. Ole Olson died at Oleona on October 22, 1904; her husband died February 9, 1905.

Their other son Burt Olson, married Catherine Steele of Wellsboro, Pa. For many years he was proprietor of the Oleona House, which he sold to Delbert Karhaa in June, 1891. He was elected County Commissioner in 1881 and served one term. When he became postmaster of the Kettle Creek post office in 1890 the name was changed to that of Oleona. In company with Josepth Gilbert of Coudersport he purchased the McKean County Miner which he edited and published until about 1900, when he disposed of his interest in the paper. He died in Chattanooga, Tenn., in December, 1902. His obituary states that he was a native of Potter County. His wife died in Coudersport, October 26, 1910.

Ezra Burt Olson, son of Ole Olson, died in Lock Haven, Pa. September 12, 1925. For years he traveled for the Simonds Saw Company. He visited Australia and many parts of Europe, as well as nearly every section of the United States. He was a member of the Coudersport Consistory and of the Galeton Blue Lodge.

The latter conducted his funeral at Westfield, Pa., where interment took place. He left no family.

Henry A. Olson, son of Ole Olson, was married to Mrs. Ida Bartholemew, widow of Theodore Wingert, December 22, 1915. They conducted Olson's Lodge at Oleona until his death in 1938, since which time Mrs. Olson has continued the business, assisted by her granddaughter, Mrs. Alice (Wingert) Hayes.

Other Settlers

One of the colonists, named Cosolowski, settled in Coudersport, where he opened a cabinet shop. He was a skilled craftsman and expert in the manufacture of furniture. Specimens of his work still exist in Potter County.

A Norwegian babe, the first child born in the colony, in October, 1852, whose mother died, was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Snyder of Sweden township. He acquired a good education and studied law at the University of Michigan. He practiced his profession in Port Allegany Pa., and in Buffalo, N.Y. Ole Lamoe Snyder died in Paris, April 28, 1929, while enroute to visit the home of his parents in Norway.

On October 23, 1927, Mr. Snyder addressed the Potter County Historical Society on the subject: "The Ole Bull Colony." He related that on his first visit to the West in 1879 he found that one of the colonists was Secretary of State of Minnesota; another was conductor of the St. Paul and Chicago Railroad, while a third, C. A. Salberg, was editor and owner of the leading Norwegian newspaper in the United States, published at Madison, Wisconsin. He interviewed some of the Norwegians and their families and learned that no colonist was permitted to board the ship which brought them to America without passage paid in advance and having in their possession at least three hundred dollars in gold. Among them were four college graduates besides an army officer, a graduate from the Military School at Guardner, Norway, and a lady who had graduated from the University at Copenhagen. All had an education higher than our present eighth grade. Under the laws of Norway men over 18 years of age were required to take four months of military training each year for four years. In 1852, when colonist crossed the ocean, the fare was $22 for adults and $11 for children, having been raised from $14 and $7.00.


The colonists liked Potter County and would have remained had Ole Bull stayed with them and perfected the title to their land. They left Pennsylvania by way of Erie and Chicago. Mr. Snyder also gave the names of several of the colonists who served with distinction in the Civil War.

On July 30, 1920, a pilgrimage was made to the site of Ole Bull's settlement. No efforts were spared by Dr. George P. Donehoo, founder and president of the Potter County Historical Society, to make this occasion one of outstanding interest and celebrity. He was ably assisted in his endeavors by members of the Society and with the cooperation of the State Forestry, Highway and Police Departments.

A group of local citizens spent the week preceding the Pilgrimage in improving the surface of the Coudersport and Jersey Shore Turnpike between Coudersport and Oleona.

Governor William C. Sproul and his party were guests of Dr. and Mrs. Donahoo the previous night. Early the following morning they drove over the historic turnpike to enjoy a delicious trout dinner at Olson's Lodge.

Automobiles and trucks to the number of 1,560 brought an estimated 10,000 people to the historic shrine. An interesting and inspiring program was opened by selections by the Boys' Band of Coudersport, an organization composed of boys from seven to sixteen years, directed by Lyman Cobb. "Ode to Ole Bull," an original composition, was read by J. H. Chatham, of McElhattan. Dr. Will George Butler, of Mansfield State Teachers College, rendered an original composition for violin, "Visions of Oleona." ……..

The Sunday North American described the Pilgrimage as one of the greatest events ever held in the Northern Tier, and the finest example of community spirit ever manifested in the state. In was an occasion worthy of the citizens of Potter County, an occasion in which all who participated will long remember.

A local movement was immediately organized to raise funds to erect a bronze statue of Ole Bull at the site of the "castle" but it never materialized. Because of its historic significance the Pennsylvania Forestry Department set aside a large area called "Ole Bull Forest Monument Park" whre member of a CCC camp, located at this spot in 1933, constructed a swimming pool and facilities for picnickers. Hundreds visit this historical place annually to avail themselves of these recreational privileges while they pay homage to the memory of the great Norwegian musician who led a colony of his countymen to the Kettle Creek valley a century ago.

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