Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 476-81.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Guleck K. Stennerson

Guleck K. Stennerson, successfully engaged in fanning on section 8, Lee township, is one of the native sons of Buena Vista county, born August 1, 1864.  He represents one of the worthy old pioneer families, being a son of Knute and Ingeborg (Guleckson) Stennerson, both of whom were natives of Norway.  Their childhood days were passed in the land of the midnight sun and in 1848 the father came to America, while the mother arrived two years later.  They established their home in Dane county, Wisconsin, where they lived for about twelve years, Mr. Stennerson being employed in the lead mines and pineries of that region.  On the 17th of June, 1860, he arrived in Buena Vista county, which was then an unimproved frontier district, the seeds of early civilization having scarcely been planted here.  He purchased eighty acres of wild land, on which not a furrow had been turned nor an improvement made, and thus established his home in the new and unsettled northwest.


The story of the pioneer is always one of interest and there is ever an eminent degree of satisfaction in reverting to the life history of those whose identification with the county dates back to its pioneer period.  Few white settlers had located within the borders of Buena Vista county when Knute Stennerson arrived and his name should be honored as long as we recognize the worth of those who laid the foundations upon which has been built the present prosperity and progress of the county.  In this age of intense business activity, when men are absorbed either in the pursuit of wealth or in the endeavor to obtain with it every pleasure and comfort in life possible, they are apt to overlook the fact that much of their prosperity is due to the labors and struggles of those of earlier times upon whose efforts rests the present substantial development.  It is therefore that history becomes an enduring monument to the memory of those who have been the early promoters and builders of various localities and to this end the annals of Buena Vista county are being prepared, lest as the years go by we should cease to remember and honor those who bore the hardships and trials of pioneer life in this locality.  In this connection Knute Stennerson should be remembered as a man of sterling worth and integrity, whose word was as good as his bond.  He was ever an energetic, industrious man and whatever success he achieved was attributable entirely to his own labors.


On the 11th of March, 1861, Knute Stennerson was married to Ingeborg Guleckson, also a native of Norway, and they became the parents of three children:  Alena, the wife of Olof Severson, a resident of Lee township; Astena, the wife of Hans Wethal, also a farmer of Lee township; and Guleck K., of this review.  The father served as a soldier in the Union army with Company E, Sixteenth Regiment of Iowa Infantry.  This command was assigned to the Eleventh Corps and at the close of the war Mr. Stennerson was mustered out, having made a creditable military record in defense of the Union.  He then returned home and resumed the pursuits of farm life.  While at the front he had been ill for a time in the hospital and never recovered the physical strength and vigor that possessed him before he became a soldier.  As the years passed he prospered in his undertakings and added to his landed possessions until they were quite extensive, having altogether four hundred and eighty acres on sections 8, 10 and 17, Lee township.  He was a prominent member of the Lutheran church and his entire life was in harmony with his Christian professions.  He also belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic.  He died September 7, 1905, at the age of seventy-seven years, leaving to his children not only a goodly inheritance hut also the still more priceless heritage of an untarnished name.  His wife died June 4. 1902. At the age of eighty-five years.  The Stennersons come from a long-lived race of people, the grandmother of our subject being eighty-eight years of age at the time of her demise.


Guleck K. Stennerson was reared to farm life on the old homestead, early assisting in the arduous task of developing new land.  The lessons of industry and economy which were instilled into his mind bore fruit in later years and made him one of the substantial business men of the community.


On the 16th of October, 1901, Mr. Stennerson was married to Miss Emma Wethal, a daughter of Lauretz and Martha (Erickson) Wethal, both of whom were natives of Norway, whence they came to America in 1878, settling at St. James, Minnesota, where they resided two years.  Mrs. Stennerson was the second of eight children, the others being:  Mina; Alice, a hospital nurse who was graduated from a training school; .Marie, the wife of Bernard Knuteson, who is living in Butterfield, Minnesota; Ingeborg, a teacher in the public schools, living at home; Agnes, also a teacher; Anna and Helen, at home.  The father had always followed farming until about eight years ago, when he engaged in business at Butterfield, Minnesota.  Four children were born unto Mr. and Mrs. Stennerson; Inga Matilda and Lawrence Kenneth, who are still living; and Emil Gilford and another who died in infancy.


Guleck K. Stennerson assisted in the cultivation of the home place until his father's death, when the property was divided according to the terms of his will, giving to Astena the southeast quarter of section 16, to Alena the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 8; the west half of the southeast quarter of section 17 and the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter, while Guleck K. Stennerson inherited the east half of the southwest quarter, of section 8 and the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter and the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 17, constituting one hundred and sixty acres in all, which is the old homestead place.  It is a valuable farm, under a high state of cultivation, and everything about it is in keeping with the spirit of modern progress and advanced agricultural development.  For years Mr. Stennerson continued the farm work but has now rented his land and expects to retire from the more active duties of farm life.  He has long been an influential and representative citizen in the community.  He gives stalwart allegiance to the republican party, and the family are members of the Lutheran church.


The Stennerson family has been prominent here since the days of early pioneer development.  At the time the father came with his family there were few settlers in this portion of the northwest and they had to go to Boone, Iowa, a distance of more than one hundred miles, to mill, the trip sometimes taking from two to three weeks.  There was no market for what they could raise and the price of groceries was very high.  They passed through all the periods of Indian danger, financial panics and grasshopper scourges in addition to the usual hardships of life on the frontier.  Roving bands of Indians frequently visited the neighborhood, while elk, deer and other kinds of wild game was to be had in abundance.  The father would go long distances in the winter for wood and oft times the deep snows made it difficult to travel.  One day when starting on the home trip he found the ravines so filled with snow that he could not make his way, as night was coming on.  He was therefore obliged to camp all night in a hole which he made in the deep drifted snow and which protected him from the winter winds.  After the building of the railroad, however, markets were nearer and times began to improve.  The Stennersons bore with undaunted courage all of the hardships of pioneer life.  On the farm today there is a most valuable water system, supplied from an ever-flowing spring in a deep ravine, the water being forced up an elevation to the house and barns by a hydraulic ram.  Guleck K. Stennerson well deserves the rest which he expects soon to enjoy, for his life thus far has been one of untiring and well directed activity.