Biography of Ole H. Smith

Ole H. Smith, born on May 11, 1846, near Christiania, Norway, moved to America in 1869. Initially settling in Rushford, Minnesota, he later moved to Dell Rapids, South Dakota, in 1876, where he became a pioneer merchant and eventually president of the Granite City Bank. Smith also excelled in the livestock industry, raising Hereford cattle and Poland-China hogs on a 900-acre farm. A staunch Republican, he served as mayor of Dell Rapids from 1896 to 1898. Smith was married three times, first to Albertha Olson, then to her sister Jacobina Olson, and finally to Anna Strom, with whom he had a child, Bergliot M.

Ole H. Smith is another of the citizens of foreign birth who have attained success in connection with the commercial and industrial development of South Dakota, of which state he is a pioneer, having come here as a young man and without capitalistic resources and being today numbered among the representative and influential citizens of Dell Rapids, Minnehaha county, where he is president of the Granite City Bank and prominently identified with the livestock industry.

Mr. Smith was born near the city of Christiania, Norway, on the 11th of May, 1846, and is a son of Ove R. M. and Sophie Smith, both of whom passed their entire lives in Norway. Our subject received his early educational training in the schools of his native land, where he remained until he had attained the age of twenty-three years, when he came to America, in 1869, believing that in our great republic were to be had greater opportunities for attaining success through individual effort, while it is needless to say that he has found his faith amply justified. He first located in Rushford, Fillmore county, Minnesota, where he was for three years employed as clerk in a general store, and he then established himself in the same line of business in that town, where he continued operations for four years, at the expiration of which, in 1876, he came to what is now the state of South Dakota and became one of the pioneer merchants of Dell Rapids, where he conducted a general store until 1889, having built up a large and prosperous business. In the year mentioned he disposed of his store and business and effected the organization of the Granite City Bank, of which he has been the president during the entire period of its existence, directing its executive policy with marked ability and discrimination and making it one of the solid financial institutions of this part of the state. For the past five years he has also been prominently interested in the livestock industry and is one of the leading stock growers of this part of the state, giving special attention to the raising of registered Hereford cattle and Poland-China hogs and having a finely improved stock farm of nine hundred acres, one mile north of Dell Rapids. He came to the state as a poor man and is today one of its substantial capitalists, having attained success through his own efforts and by properly availing himself of the opportunities presented. Mr. Smith has ever shown a deep appreciation of the state and nation of his adoption and has been loyal to their government and institutions, while he has manifested much public spirit and civic pride. He is a staunch Republican in politics and in 1896 was elected mayor of Dell Rapids, giving a most creditable administration and being chosen as his own successor in 1898, so that his regime as chief executive extended over a period of four years. He has shown a lively interest in the party cause and has been a delegate to numerous territorial and state conventions, besides those of minor order. He and his wife are valued members of the Lutheran church, and fraternally he is identified with the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

In 1873 Mr. Smith was united in marriage to Miss Albertha Olson, who died in the following year. In 1876 he wedded her sister, Miss Jacobina Olson, whose death occurred in 1892. Of the children of this union we record that Rammel M. is a resident of New York City; Gina A. is at the present time taking a course of musical instruction in Berlin, Germany; Henrietta J. is a student in the University of Chicago and is also a student in the Chicago Musical College; Vilborg S. is attending Smith College, at Northampton, Massachusetts; and Henry M. is a student in the high school of his home town. On the 29th of April, 1896, Mr. Smith consummated a third marriage, being then united to Miss Anna Strom, of Dell Rapids, and they have one child, Bergliot M.


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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top