Biography - PETER A. OLSEN
It is a fact continually receiving greater recognition that the Scandinavian race is playing a very important part in the development of the great west and northwest, and equally certain it is that no more patriotic, honest, industrious citizens can be found in the length and breadth of this fair land. For many generations the people of the Scandinavian peninsula have been noted for their peaceful, law-abiding qualities, for their uprightness of word and deed, for sincere trust in God and fraternal regard for their fellow men.
Peter A. Olsen is proud of the fact, and well he may be, that he comes of this noble race of "hardy Norsemen." His birthplace was in the picturesque town of Molde, Norway, on the same line of latitude as, and not a great distance from, the Shetland islands, north of Scotland. The date of his birth is April 1, 1868. His father, Ole Olsen, is a jeweler by trade and for thirteen years plied his calling in Chicago, thence returning to his native land, in 1893. The mother of our subject died when he was twentyfour years of age.
The education of Peter Olsen was acquired in the excellent public schools of Bergen and Christiania, Norway, and was completed in Chicago. The young man's love for journalism manifested itself when he was scarcely out of the school-room, and he served an apprenticeship to the business in the office of the Norden and later in the office of the Skandinaven, a newspaper which is published in Chicago. Having thoroughly mastered the trade and become familiar with the various departments connected with the publishing of a paper, Mr. Olsen established the Afholds-Vennen, which was first issued in Chicago, March 30, 1894. Subsequently he removed to Ottawa, in 1896. and the first local edition of this now popular journal bore date of April 4, 1896. Thus it is now entering upon the seventh year of its existence, and is no longer an experiment, as it has won its way into the hearts and homes of about fourteen or fifteen hundred Scandinavians in this vicinity and in the adjacent territory. The paper, comprising four pages, is devoted particularly to the interests of the Norwegian people and is sound and progressive in tone, advocating righteous causes, such as temperance and disinterested American citizenship, the purity of the ballot and the nobility of labor. A brilliant future is opening before the young and ambitious editor, who seems peculiarly fitted to stand in the attitude of a leader of thought among his beloved people. In politics he is an uncompromising Republican, believing heartily in the policy of the party under whose wise guidance the ship of state breasted the stormy weaves of the troublous civil-war period, and rode through breakers, scarcely less dangerous, of the "reconstruction" and great financial crises of 1873 and 1893.
On the 4th of August, 1888, Mr. Olsen and Miss Marie A. Solem were united in marriage in Chicago. They have two interesting little girls, Caroline and Viola. Mrs. Olsen is a lady of culture and good education, and in innumerable ways she is of assistance to her husband in his important undertakings.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 208-209.