Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Progressive, energetic, and public spirited, there are few if any who play a more vital role in the affairs of the municipality than Samuel J. CLAUSEN, grain and coal dealer of Clear Lake and former mayor of the place. Absolutely by his own efforts he has established himself securely, building up a fine business and enjoying the consideration of the community.

He was born on the Isle of Fano off the coast of Denmark, August 22, 1852, and the record of his earlier years has many of the elements of romance. He is a son of J. P. and Dorothea (GREGERSEN) CLAUSEN, and one of nine children, six of whom are living. They are Mrs. Karen NELSEN, of Denmark; Henry, living in Wisconsin; Jens J., a citizen of Denmark; Mr. CLAUSEN and his twin brother, Peter J., who resides in Germany; and, Mrs. Maria MARTINSEN of Wisconsin.

When Mr. CLAUSEN was fourteen years of age he left the parental roof and went to sea as a cabin boy, following that calling for the next seven years. The first two years were spent on the Baltic and North Seas and after that he was on the greater oceans. Three times he doubled Cape Horn and once Cape of Good Hope. When the seven years were up he returned home, where he remained a few months. In 1874 he and a friend left for America, with the intention of finding employment on the boats plying the Great Lakes.

When Mr. CLAUSEN arrived in New York he found himself without a penny and was under the necessity of borrowing twenty dollars from his companion. He suddenly changed his mind and decided to join the ranks of the "land lubbers." He purchased a ticket to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he remained about one month, then going to Fox Lake, that state, where he found work with his brother Henry, who was engaged in the grain business.

Two years later the brothers went into partnership, and in 1882, having been successful, they concluded to broaden out and Mr. CLAUSEN purchased from H. M. MESSER the Clear Lake elevator. In 1893 they dissolved partnership, Mr. CLAUSEN retaining the Clear Lake business. The present [1910] buildings were erected by him, the elevator having a capacity of 25,000 bushels. On an average of 100,000 bushels of grain are handled a year, not to mention quantities of coal, fee and seeds.

During his business career Mr. CLAUSEN has bought out five competitors, who have started up at different times. He also owns an elevator on the Mason City and Clear Lake Electric Road.

Mr. CLAUSEN has served in several of the most important offices in the bestowal of the people of the community. He served on the council nine years, on the school board for twelve and was mayor of Clear Lake for two years. He was one of the organizers of the Cerro Gordo State Bank in 1892, has been a director since that time and vice president since 1906. He owns two hundred and thirty acres in Clear Lake township on the lake shore, which he has nicely improved and he has bought and sold numerous other farms and town property. He is interested in the Western Lakes Resort and since 1893 has been secretary of the organization which controls it. When the Clear Lake Congregational church was erected at Clear Lake he was one of a committee of three in whose hands lay the responsibility. Mr. CLAUSEN and John HOLVERSEN [HALVORSON] built the Clear Lake opera house in 1890, but the former afterward sold his interest in the same. The first strictly modern dwelling in Clear Lake was built by this enterprising gentleman in 1891.

In his political conviction Mr. CLAUSEN was formerly a stanch Democrat but is now independent, believing in the infallibility of neither party. He belongs to Verity Lodge, No. 250, A. F. & A. M., and also to Chivalrie Lodge, No. 82, Knights of Pythias.

On August 11, 1879, at Madison, Wisconsin, Mr. CLAUSEN was united in marriage to Miss Carrie W. SUCKLOW, who was born in Pennsylvania, November 24, 1853. Five children are growing up beneath their roof, Dora E., Henry W., Bertle J., Samuel J., Jr., in the School of Mines in Golden Colorado, and C. Louise, attending the state university at Madison, Wisconsin.

SOURCE: WHEELER, J. H. History of Cerro Gordo County, Iowa. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. Vol. II. Pp. 473-75. 1910.



On a wild and stormy day in 1871, a Scandinavian bark was beating her way against stormy head seas; under close reefed topsails and with rails awash she was fighting her way in the teeth of the gale round that desolate and dangerous point, Cape Horn. Among the hardy crew there was a young sailor, blue eyes, bronze of cheek and stalwart of frame. He looked like a Norseman of old, a veritable Viking, standing on the foam-swept deck of the homeward bound ship. There was indeed good reason for such a likeness, for the blood of daring adventurers was in his veins. He was a descendant of the Jutes, the ancient sea-wolves who so long ago carried rapine and bloodshed to the shores of England and sent hardy navigators across the Atlantic before COLUMBUS discovered America. When a lad of thirteen with the same spirit of adventure and with the song of the sea in his ears, he was lured from his home and sent, like so many of his countrymen, wandering over every part of the known seas. Now only a boy of nineteen, he was doubling this stormy cape for the sixth time.

How little significance we attach to the oft-repeated phrase "Truth is stranger than fiction," yet in the lives of so many men is it abundantly verified. How strange that there should be any connection, any similarity between this boy with his love for the sea and a quiet citizen of a little town in an inland state. In this sketch of the young sailor in whose life had been crowded so much which smacked of the eventful and the romantic, no one would be likely to recognize him whom we know only as a prosaic, thorough man of business, an a genial, public-spirited citizen, Mr. S. J. CLAUSEN.

It has been said that in every man's life there is enough of romance to make an interesting book. Surely here there is enough of rolicsome adventure to make a book which the boys of the generation would clamor for.

Mr. CLAUSEN was born in Jutland, Denmark, in 1852. When but a boy he went to sea. During the first two years of this life he sailed back and forth on the Baltic and the North seas. It was during this time that he was shipwrecked on the coast of England. Shipwrecked in the North sea! A book could be written of that but we pass it on with a single word.

For seven years he served before the mast, and by the time he was little older than his son is today, twice had rounded the cape of Good Hope and ten times crossed the equator. Up the stormy Baltic his good ship ploughed he way through the sunny Mediterranean; next it is half a world away in the wide Pacific, visiting islands known to us only by name, and seeing half the countries of the known world.

In 1874, Mr. CLAUSEN came to America and went to Milwaukee expecting to form a partnership with his brother in buying a lake vessel, and sailing it in the grain trade.

Here however the tide of his affairs turned. He became interested in business and the change in his life came, and a great change it was, transforming the sea-rover into the steady, substantial man of affairs as we know him now. He started into the grain trade with his brother, and in 1882 he came to Clear Lake. Since then he has been one of our enterprising citizens, and has helped to make Clear Lake grow and thrive. Shortly after coming her he enlarged his business and built the large elevators which have become well known.

He has been eminently successful and his is a success which has been won by honesty and energy. That he labors not alone for himself may be seen by a glance at a few ways in which he serves his town. For nine years he has been a member of the council, and for six years he has served on the school board. He is an influential party in the Western Resorts Co., which has done much for Clear Lake in making it an attractive summer resort. He is interested in everything that makes for the upbuilding of the town. As a rule the man who has done well for himself does well for others. The man who by his energy and industry has succeeded in laying the foundation of a fortune is the man upon whose strength the weak and inefficient ones depend, and to whom they come for advice and counsel. Helpfulness should be the true measure of success, and that Mr. CLAUSEN is truly successful his many friends will testify.

The busy man, the man who has much work and many interests is the one who finds time and energy to give to his town, to the public, and to the good of the community in which he lives. ‘Tis he who is the good citizen because he is public-spirited and generous.

Not many years ago Mr. CLAUSEN built one of the largest and most costly houses in Clear Lake. Here he and his family live and enjoy the luxuries which are well won.

Perhaps he sometimes dreams of the time when he was as Viking of old, when he braved many dangers and tasted alike of the bitter and sweet of a sailor's life, but in such a home he cannot long for the "life on the ocean wave."

SOURCE: Clear Lake Mirror, Souvenir Edition. Issued by the Ladies of the Library Association. Clear Lake IA. Vol. 31, No. 10. March 29, 1900.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker



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