Biography of John M. Larson

John M. Larson, born near Throndhjem, Norway, on April 17, 1862, emigrated to the United States in 1881. Settling in Yankton, South Dakota, he married Guri J. Rye in 1884 and managed a successful farming enterprise, expanding his land holdings to 360 acres. A dedicated Lutheran and Republican, Larson actively participated in local politics, serving as a deputy assessor and state legislator from 1900. He was known for his legislative contributions, including reducing school fund interest rates. Larson’s life exemplified industriousness and community service until his death.

John M. Larson.—It is astonishing to witness the success of young men who have emigrated to America without capital and from a position of comparative obscurity have worked their way upward to a position of prominence. To this class belongs Mr. Larson, who is now so ably representing his district in the state legislature. He was born near Throndhjem, Norway, April 17, 1862, a son of Lars Olsen and Berit (Johnsdatter) Kongsvig, who were farming people of that country, where they spent their entire lives. The father died in 1864, and the mother subsequently married again. Her death occurred in February, 1891. Both were earnest and consistent members of the Lutheran church. Mr. Larson is one of a family of five children, the others being Karren, now deceased; Anne, wife of Ole Lykken, a farmer of Union County, South Dakota; Ole, who is married and is a successful farmer and prominent politician of Charles Mix County, South Dakota; and Maret, who is married and successfully carries on farming in Norway. All were well-educated and are now quite prosperous citizens of the communities in which they live.

John M. Larson passed the first nineteen years of his life in the “land of the midnight sun” and then crossed the Atlantic to become a citizen of the United States. In 1881 he arrived in Yankton, South Dakota, and during the following three years he was employed on a steamer plying between that city and Fort Benton, Montana, on the Missouri River. He also worked in Yankton one summer. On the 30th of August, 1884, he was united in marriage to Miss Guri J. Rye, also a native of Norway, and to them have been born nine children, as follows: Lena, who died at the age of four years; Albert, who died at the age of one year; John; Lena; Albert; Bertha; Mary; Carrie; and Louis. They constitute a very interesting family.

In the fall of 1884 Mr. Larson located on his wife’s homestead in the northeast corner of Yankton County, and he later bought the right to one hundred and sixty acres of land and filed his claim. After erecting a shanty, he began to break the land with ox-teams and to the cultivation and improvement of his farm he has since devoted his energies with marked success. He has added to his property from time to time until he now has three hundred and sixty acres of land, all under a good state of cultivation. Most of this he has broken himself. For his first reaper he paid one hundred and twenty-five dollars and as time has passed he supplied his place with the latest improved machinery of all kinds, making his farm a model one in its appointments. He carries on general farming and stock raising, expecting to ship two carloads of cattle and one of hogs to the city markets in 1903, and he is also interested in a creamery at Center Point.

In religious faith both Mr. Larson and his wife are Lutherans and they are people of prominence in the community where they reside. As a Republican, he has taken a very active and influential part in political affairs and he has been honored with important official positions. For six years he served as deputy assessor of his township and has held a number of other minor offices. In 1900 he was elected to the state legislature and so acceptably did he fill that position that he was re-elected in 1902, being the present incumbent. During his first term he introduced and put through the bill to cut down the interest on school funds from six to five percent, and the following term introduced four bills, three of which were passed. His official duties have always been most capably and satisfactorily performed and over his public career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil, while his private life has been marked by the utmost fidelity to duty.


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