Biography of Martin N. Trygstad

Martin N. Trygstad, born May 27, 1843, in Norway, moved to Minnesota in 1867 and to Dakota Territory in 1869. He settled in Medary Township, filing for pre-emption in 1872. In 1870, he married Caroline Johnson, and they had eight children. Trygstad became the first postmaster of Medary in 1871, served as a county commissioner for 12 years, and was elected to the territorial legislature in 1872 and 1878. In 1902, he was elected state senator from Brookings County. A devout Lutheran, he was instrumental in founding several churches and promoting community enterprises in Brookings County.

Martin N. Trygstad was born in Norway, May 27, 1843, his parents being Nils O. and Kristiana Trygstad. When eighteen years old, he enlisted in the army of Norway and served until 1867, when he came to Minnesota. He lived there until 1869, when he, with his parents and brothers, moved to Dakota Territory. He selected a piece of land in Section 9, Medary Township, but as the government had not surveyed any land in that locality, it was not until 1872 that he could file his pre-emption papers on that tract of land. In 1870, he married Caroline Johnson, who has been a good and true wife to him, and they have been blessed with eight children. The oldest boy, Norman, and the oldest girl, Ida, are married and have their own homes in the neighborhood of their parents. The other two girls, Emma and Catharine, are at home, as are also Carl and Ferdinand. Wilhelm, a graduate from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, is studying theology at the United Norwegian Lutheran Church, St. Anthony Park, St. Paul, Minnesota. Michael, the youngest son, studies at Augustana College, Canton, South Dakota.

In 1871, the subject succeeded in getting a post office established at his home and was made postmaster, it being called Medary. The same year, Brookings County was organized and he was appointed county commissioner, an office he held for twelve years.

In the interesting election of 1872, he was elected a representative from his district to the territorial legislature, and in 1878 he was again elected to the same office. In 1902, he was elected state senator from Brookings County. In all these years, he has taken the deepest interest in the development of South Dakota, and has contributed by words and deeds to the upbuilding of schools and churches. Although he has always been a hard-working farmer and stock raiser and extensively employed, as we have seen, in the public administration of his county, he has always found time and means to encourage moral and religious growth and development. Brookings County was but a stretch of undulating prairie when he came here, no one but Indians and a few trappers being met with, but soon a few families came and made their homes. Then Martin N. Trygstad opened his home for them on Sundays for the reading of God’s holy scriptures, the singing of the grand old Lutheran hymns, and listening as he read Dr. Martin Luther’s sermon for the day, delivered three hundred years ago, but yet as bright and inspiring of faith and hope as when the great man preached it in Wittenberg. Martin Trygstad taught the young to read, to pray to God, to be obedient to their parents, and to be good to their neighbors. He is still the superintendent of the Sunday school in Lake Campbell Church. The founding of this church on the then wild and bleak Dakota prairies was one of the first public acts he undertook, and it has grown from a small beginning till it now stands in our public records under the names of Brookings, Volga, Lake Sinai, and Lake Campbell Norwegian Lutheran churches. He has been the promoter of many enterprises for the betterment of the people in financial matters as well. The Volga Elevator Company, the Brookings Shipping Company, several creameries, and many other enterprises for the common welfare have found in him an earnest advocate.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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