My father’s grandfather, early years

I note the following account of the early years of Lewis Haugen Knutson, my father’s grandfather, which is contained in family historical documents. My son Anthony received his middle name, Lewis, in honor of Lewis Knutson. (Lewis’s father, Ole Haugen Knutson, was born in All Hallingdal, Norway, in 1839, and came to America in 1870.)

Lewis Haugen Knutson was born August 24, 1873 in Illinois to parents Ole H. and Olena Fransdatter Knutson. In the year 1877 he moved with his parents to Polk County Iowa. Shortly after moving, his mother died leaving seven small children, two of whom died shortly after their mother. Ole Knutson was married again to Martha Johnson in 1880. They moved with their family to Lyon County, Iowa the same year. This farm is known as the Lehalmen place. Lewis was seven years old at this time.

We are told that at the age of eight years he was an apprentice in a harness shop in Canton. This was arranged by his father and his only pay was room and board. His father agreed that this was better since life was hard where he was. At an early age he had lived on the range and had taken care of cattle over long periods of time in rain and bad weather. His clothes would get wet and they dried on his body. He developed an itch which made him so uncomfortable that he slept in the barn. He worked as a hired hand for some years.

Lewis aspired to become a Pharmacist and he spent a few months in a school located in a city east of Iowa. He had only a 3rd or 4th grade formal education. He tells of a test that he had to pass and he passed it with a perfect score which was outstanding. It was called the white powder test in which he had to identify twenty powders by taste. He was employed at Noid Drugstore, and he assisted Dr. Lewis on emergency cases. He was married to Hannah Tomain Olson on July 11, 1895, at the age of 22 years…

(Among his 10 children were my grandfather Raymond Knutson, born 1907, and Virgil Knutson, born 1914, who reminisced about his country school days in an earlier post.)

Leave a Reply