Biography of Henry G. Solem

Henry G. Solem, a Norwegian immigrant, epitomizes the power of practical industry and perseverance. Arriving in the United States with minimal resources, he embarked on a remarkable journey of success. Starting at the bottom, Solem steadily climbed the ladder, acquiring land, becoming a prominent farmer and stock raiser, and venturing into business and finance. His influence extended beyond personal pursuits as he actively contributed to the community, holding township offices and spearheading public enterprises. From a poor laborer, Solem’s rise exemplifies extraordinary determination, mental acumen, and moral character, establishing him as a leading citizen in Minnehaha County, South Dakota.

HENRY G. SOLEM.— Practical industry, wisely and vigorously applied, seldom if ever fails of success; it carries a man onward and upward, brings out his individual character, and acts as a powerful stimulus to the efforts of others. The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means and the exercise of the ordinary qualities of common sense, correct judgment, and well-directed perseverance. The everyday life, with its cares, necessities, and duties, affords ample opportunities for acquiring experience of the best kind, and its most beaten paths provide the true worker with abundant scope for effort and self-improvement. These facts are strikingly exemplified in the career of the honored citizen of Minnehaha County whose name appears at the head of this article, a man who came to this country a number of years ago from his native land of Norway with barely sufficient capital to pay his passage and with no resources upon which to rely save his strong arms, resourceful mind, and determined will. Richly endowed with these, he resolutely faced the future, bent upon winning success if it were possibly attainable and of carving out for himself a destiny which, if not distinguished, should at least be worthy and honorable. Beginning at the very bottom of the ladder, he has steadily ascended the same, winning success with each succeeding step, until now from the topmost round, which was reached after long and persevering endeavor, he can look back over a well-spent life, to find therein little to criticize, but much to commend.

Henry G. Solem, farmer, stock raiser, businessman, and financier, was born, as already stated, in Norway, his birth having occurred in the northern part of that country on November 9, 1833. His father being a tiller of the soil, he too was reared to agricultural pursuits, and at intervals, he attended the schools of his native place, thereby acquiring a fair educational training in such branches as were taught. For some years, he assisted in cultivating the farm, but satisfied that better opportunities awaited young men in the United States than obtained in his own land, he finally severed home ties, and in the spring of 1872 sailed for New York, which port he reached in due time, after a pleasant but uneventful voyage.

From New York City, young Solem went to Goodhue County, Minnesota, where a number of his countrymen were then living, but after spending a few months there, he decided to go further west; accordingly, in the fall of 1872, he made his way to Minnehaha County, South Dakota, where he supported himself for some time following as a farm laborer. Continuing this kind of work until he had earned a little surplus money, Mr. Solem very wisely preempted one hundred and sixty acres of fine land in Sverdrup Township, for which in due time he secured a patent from the government and which he at once proceeded with his characteristic industry and earnestness to improve. Without following in detail his life and endeavor from that time to the present, suffice it to state that in the course of a few years, he had a large portion of his land under cultivation, with good substantial improvements, and in addition thereto purchased other real estate at intervals, until his home place in Sverdrup Township now embraces an area of eight hundred acres, besides which he owns land to the amount of six hundred and eighty acres outside of Minnehaha County. With the exception of five years spent as a miner in the Black Hills, he has lived from 1872 to the present time where he originally settled, and to say that he has been eminently successful as a farmer and stock raiser or that he has come prominently to the front as an enterprising, public-spirited citizen is only to repeat what everybody at all acquainted with his previous course of life and cognizant of his present high standing in the business world very well knows.

While primarily interested in his own affairs and employing every legitimate agency to promote the success of the same, Mr. Solem has also been deeply concerned in the welfare of the community, as his activity and influence in its behalf abundantly attest. He has filled nearly every township office within the gift of the people, has taken a leading part in nearly every public enterprise for the general good, and at the present time is vice-president of the bank at Baltic. In addition to which, he holds the dual office of president and business manager of the Baltic Creamery Company, having been the originator of the latter concern and the chief spirit in its organization. Mr. Solem has done much in different capacities for the growth and development of the thriving town of Baltic, the prosperity of which is attributed to him as much as any other man interested in its welfare, being now a director of the elevator company operating in the village, besides having interests in various other enterprises making for the material advancement of the community. It is not too much to claim for Mr. Solem precedence in the various undertakings in which he is engaged, as his leadership is recognized and readily acknowledged by his associates; nor is it an exaggeration to say that he is easily one of the leading citizens of his county and state, this too being cheerfully admitted by all who know him. His rise from a poor daily laborer to his present influential position in business and social circles demonstrates much more than ordinary mental endowment and energy, and his life, taken as a whole, affords, as already indicated, a commendable example of what a young man animated by high hopes and lofty purposes can accomplish in the face of circumstances calculated to discourage and deter. The ample fortune in his possession is the result of his own industry and correct business methods, and the high esteem in which he is held and the unusual confidence with which he is regarded show him the possessor of those moral attributes which characterize the true man and the upright citizen.

Mr. Solem was married at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in the fall of 1866 to Miss Lena Hoel, a native of Norway and a lady of beautiful character and womanly graces; two children have blessed this union, namely: Gust I., who died on March 23, 1904, and John E.


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

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