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. 638-41.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  Ole Vanerstrom

Ole Vanerstrom, numbered among the early residents of Buena Vista county, has resided within its borders since the spring of 1869 and three years previous to that time came to Iowa.  He was born in Sweden on the 12th of April, 1837, and spent his youthful days on the farm there.  He was educated in his native language but his knowledge of English has been self-acquired.  He remained in Sweden through the period of his minority, being about twenty-nine years of age when he crossed the briny deep to the new world.  He had heard favorable reports concerning America, its business opportunities and the wages here paid for labor, and he believed that he could more rapidly acquire a competence in the United States than if he remained in the land of his birth.


Mr. Vanerstrom first located in Boone county, Iowa, where he worked as a farm hand, and in 1867 he went to Polk county, being there employed on a farm near Des Moines, Iowa, until 1869.  The latter year witnessed his arrival in Buena Vista county and he found a largely undeveloped district, much of the land being still in possession of the government.  There were still traces of Indian occupancy here and on the prairie were occasionally seen wild animals, while wild game could yet be found in abundance.  The country was almost one unbroken prairie, covered in June with millions of wild flowers, while in December there was one unbroken, dazzling sheet of snow.  The absence of trees and buildings allowed the wind to sweep unbroken and the blizzards of those early days were things never to be forgotten.  Land could be obtained from the government at the usual price and Mr. Vanerstrom secured eighty acres, on which not a furrow had been turned, but after entering his claim the plowshare soon broke the sod and he continued the work of tilling the fields until the entire tract was under cultivation.  His first home was a big sod house and he lived in it until he had opportunity and funds with which to erect another.  As he prospered in his undertakings he bought one hundred and twenty acres of uncultivated land adjoining his original claim.  This he also broke and improved and upon it erected a neat dwelling, two barns, cribs and a granary.  He also set out a good orchard, fenced his fields secured the latest improved machinery to facilitate the cultivation of his crops and altogether made a neat and well developed farm, pleasantly located within less than five miles of Alta.  Year after year he tilled the soil and gathered into his barns rich harvests.  The sale of his crops brought him a good financial return and now he is in possession of a handsome competence that enables him to enjoy life's comforts without further recourse to arduous labor.  In 1906 he removed to Alta, where he purchased a pleasant home but still looks after his farm and sees that it is kept up in good condition.


Mr. Vanerstrom was first married in 1870, in Des Moines, and there were four children by that union.  He was again married in Des Moines about 1889, his second union being with Albertina Erickson, also a native of Sweden.  His children are:  Charles, a blacksmith in Detroit, Michigan, who is now married and has one child; Alfred, who is living in the state of Washington; David, of North Dakota, who is married and has two sons; and Lester H., living in Washington.


Mr. Vanerstrom votes with the republican party for he believes that its platform contains the best elements of good government.  He is a member of the Free Mission church of Alta and has always been a supporter of progressive measures for the public good.  It seems hardly possible that when he arrived in Iowa, Storm Lake and Alta had no existence, while Des Moines was but a small town.  The growth of this section of the state has been rapid and it is lacking in none of the advantages and opportunities known to the old east.  Iowa leads today in the number of its public schools and its progress has been equally marked in other directions.  At all times Mr. Vanerstrom has been in sympathy with the development of the county and has borne his full share in promoting its agricultural progress.