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Fridthgof George Arntzen, a retired merchant of Serena, was born in the parish of Flagstad in the northern part of Norway, December 19, 1847. His father, Andrew Arntzen, was a merchant, and our subject was reared and trained in that line of business. At the age of nineteen years he left school and became a bookkeeper in the office of a merchant at Bergen, Norway. Upon finishing his engagement there, in 1869, he joined a company of young people who were emigrating to the United States. He embarked from Bergen on the sailing vessel Valkyren, bound for Quebec, and after five long weeks of water journey he landed, on the 16th of June. He continued his journey by rail to Chicago, went to Wisconsin and found work on a farm that fall and winter. He had heard so many roseate accounts of the south that he went to Mississippi, where he secured work on a plantation. This was too far south for a man born in sight of an iceberg and reared in the pure air of pine-and-hemlock-perfumed Norway; so, by the middle of the following December, he made his way back to Chicago. In the spring of 1871 he came to LaSalle county, Illinois, and clerked for a time in the village of Norway. He came to Serena, March 13 of that year, and then began clerking for Mason & Schlenbusch, and later for Mr. Mason. In 1882 Mr. Arntzen succeeded Mr. Mason, by purchase, and conducted a general merchandise business just ten years, retiring in 1892.

The date of Mr. Arntzen's marriage was June 27, 1882. He chose for his companion Henrietta, a daughter of John D. Hoxsey. The latter was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, August 3, 1812, and came to Illinois about 1840, settling in Serena, and became one of her prosperous and progressive citizens. He was a fine business man and became, in general standing, one of the first men in the place. He died February 23, 1881. His wife was by maiden name Elizabeth Beem. Their children were: Henry, who died in the army during the civil war period; Frances E., deceased; Henrietta, born April 10, 1849; Fremont; Lincoln; Fannie E., the wife of Ed. S. Jacobs. Mrs. Hoxsey died October 27, 1886. Mr. and Mrs. Arntzen are the parents of John Decatur, born 1883; Mary E., born in 1884; and Richard, born in 1891.

In national matters Mr. Arntzen has identified himself with the Republican party. By his strict attention to business, as well as by his dealings with his neighbors and friends, he has shown himself to be a gentleman of the first order and one worthy of the confidence of the public. He adopted American ways and habits and early became as thorough an American as if born in this country. He has never sought nor favored publicity for himself, preferring to remain a quiet and modest man of affairs. Unlike many other foreign-born people, the Scandinavians come gracefully under the flag of this nation and prefer to become as one among us. They are a portion of the best of our adopted brotherhood.

Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 371-372.

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