Erik Olsen, one of the leading citizens of Cedar township, came to this country from Denmark as a poor young
man, but he possessed assets more valuable than capital, having a strong determination to succeed, business ability
and untiring industry. He readily recognized the opportunities that presented themselves and was prompt in their
utilization, with the result that as the years passed he gained a place among the substantial men of Saunders county.
He is now living retired in his beautiful home in Cedar township, which is conceded to be the best farm residence
in the county, and he is enjoying a period of richly deserved leisure. He has not only gained marked individual
success but his life has also been a factor in the development of his community as he has always displayed remarkable
Mr. Olsen was born on the Island Ferno, Denmark, November 11, 1846, a son of Mat Olsen, who was a farmer and also
a contractor for the government, supplying nearly all of the horses used in the army. Our subject attended school
every second day, the alternate days being devoted to work on his father's farm and to learning the cabinetmaker's
trade. After serving his apprenticeship and becoming a master workman he decided to emigrate to America and when
nineteen years of age he came to this country, settling in New York city, where he worked at cabinet making for
two years. In 1868 he made his way westward to Omaha, Nebraska, where he was similarly employed for two years.
While there he was foreman on the construction of the Paxton building and discharged his responsible duties with
credit to himself and satisfaction to his employers.
During this time, in the spring of 1869, he walked from North Bend to Lincoln and on the trip saw only two houses,
one a log house on Wahoo creek and one about eight miles from Lincoln. He took up a homestead of eighty acres in
Cedar township, Saunders county, and at length he located thereon, turning his attention to agricultural pursuits.
His first horn; which was a building twelve by sixteen feet, was burned not long after his removal to the farm,
and he then built what was at that time considered a very large frame house at a cost of one thousand dollars.
Through careful management and hard work he was just getting a good start when in 1874 his entire crop was destroyed
by grasshoppers and he had to begin over again. He was not discouraged, however, and persevered in his efforts
to win success and in time retrieved all that be had lost and gained much more. He is now one of the extensive
landowners of the county, owning seven hundred and fifty one acres of as fine land as there is in this section
of the state, all of which is highly improved. His residence, which he erected twenty years ago, is still the finest,
if not the largest, country home in the county, containing seventeen rooms. He spared neither thought nor expense
in making it both beautiful and convenient, and the interior is decorated with fine frescoes in oil. The barns
and outbuildings are also built of excellent material, are well designed and commodious, and he has a large cedar
grove that will supply the farm with posts indefinitely. He set out the grove himself and the care which he takes
in everything that he does is indicated by the fact that the alignment of the trees is perfect. He also has an
orchard of over seven hundred apple and plum trees and the most beautiful cedar hedge in the county, there being
fifteen hundred cedar trees, twenty years old, upon the place, which is probably the largest cedar grove in the
state. He carried on general farming, finding that more profitable than specializing in the raising of either grain
or stock. He was at once practical and progressive in his methods, used the latest machinery and in the conduct
of the business of farming displayed unusual astuteness and soundness of judgment. In addition to his valuable
farm holdings he has other extensive interests, including the ownership of the Cedar Bluffs Opera House, of which
he also serves as manager. He also owns lots in that and other towns and has over two thousand acres of land in
various parts of the United States.
In 1874 Mr. Olsen was married to Miss Anna Nelson, a native of Sweden, by whom he has had six children, five still
living: Albert; Jennie, the wife of Charles Williams; Emil; Charles; and Teckla.
Mr. Olsen is very much interested in everything relating to the general welfare but has never been an office seeker.
He has always been willing to give of his time and thought as well as of his means to the carrying out of projects
for the public advancement and has done a great deal for the upbuilding of his community. He is a consistent member
of the German Lutheran church and his integrity is above question. He is known and respected throughout the entire
Past and Present Saunders County, Nebraska
A Record of Settlement, Organization,
Progress and Achievement
Charles Perky Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Saunders County, NE
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