Samuel Olson Forthun, now deceased, lived in Mower County from the closing year of the Civil war until the time of his death, and his example and influence were ever for the good.
He was born at Sogn, Norway, March 3, 1830, son of Ole and Annie Forthun, natives of Sogn, Norway where they both lived and died.
Anna and Samuel Forthun (View larger image of photo)
Samuel O. received his education in his native country and in 1855, at the age of twenty-five he came to America, living the first seven years in Wisconsin where he worked on farms in Dane and Iowa Counties. Then he went to South Dakota for a time.
In 1865 he came to Mower County and located in LeRoy Township. A few years later he purchased eighty acres of wild land, which he broke and improved, carrying on general farming and increasing his holdings until he owned 240 acres in the home farm, and other tracts of land which he divided among his children. In 1899 he retired from active life and purchased a lot in the village of LeRoy, on which he built a pleasant home where he lived until his death, May 5, 1903.
Samuel O. Forthun was married May 23, 1863 to Anna Thompson, who was born in Norway August 14, 1846. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thorsten Thompson were native of Norway, came to America in 1860, lived in Wisconsin for a while and still later went to Grand Forks, N.D., where the father died in 1895, and the mother in 1907.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Forthun has been blessed with thirteen children: Ole lives in Thick River Falls, Minn., [Thief River Falls]; Thomas is in California for his health; Anna is the wife of H.H. Bither, of LeRoy village; Samuel is dead; Christian is at Cresco, Iowa and is deputy county auditor of Howard County; Elias lives in the state of Washington; Rachel, a milliner by trade is home with her mother; John lives in Barnsville, Minn.; Martin, a carpenter, lives in Minneapolis; Serena is dead; Christina teaches in South Dakota; Gena teaches in Iowa; Peter is a student at the Southern Minnesota Normal College, Austin. The family faith is that of the Norwegian Lutheran Church.
When Mr. Forthun and family moved from Wisconsin to South Dakota they with six other families made the move in covered wagons drawn by oxen, driving through the wilderness. There were very few roads. Bridges were also very scarce and often they had to ford rivers. They made the journey in about thirty days and settled near Yankton, which was then only a small town. During the summer the grasshoppers came and destroyed completely all the crops in that locality in two or three hours. After that the settlers had to drive ninety miles for provisions. In the spring the danger from hostile Indians drove them out. They then migrated to the vicinity of LeRoy, Minn. Here Mr. Forthun bought eighty acres of land. As money was very scarce at that time, they lived in a cellar four years. Then they built a small frame house, in which they had lived only two days when it was burned to the ground and everything destroyed. When their three children saw the outcome of their play, they ran to a cornfield near by for safety.
Then they were compelled to set up housekeeping to the best of their ability in the old cellar again until another house could be erected. When he came to America Mr. Forthun had just enough money to buy his ticket.
History of Mower County, 1911, pp 979-980
Transcribed by K. Pike -- January 2008