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Manuscripts by Subject - Agriculture - #10140

Title: Pauline Krogen Olson Diaries

Dates: 1926-1969

Collection Number: 10140

Quantity: .5 feet

Abstract: Diaries contain accounts of threshing crews operating in Bottineau County, 1899-1912, including the Backman Threshing Company, Lars Olson and Company, Lars Olson Threshing Company, Olson Threshing Company, and entries concerning farming, weather conditions, and oil industry development in Bottineau County.

Provenance: The Pauline Krogen Olson Diaries were donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota in June 1973 by her son, John J. Olson and daughter, Mrs. Luella Sjordal.

Property Rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights:  Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researcher should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94‑553, Title 17 U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection name, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.



Pauline Krogen was born March 12, 1885 at Oak City, Minnesota, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Johannes Krogen. The following year the family moved to Bottineau County, Dakota Territory where her father took up land and started a small family farming operation. On June 7, 1905 she married John Jacob Olson at the new village of Carbury, ND.

John J. Olson was born in Torsby, Sweden on June 3, 1881 and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1887. They settled in the vicinity of Wheaton, MN. The following summer they homesteaded in Bottineau County.

John Olson began acquiring land in 1904 and after their marriage the couple spent most of their lives engaged in farming in rural Bottineau County. Olson was for a time director of the Farmers Union elevator at Bottineau, ND. His death occurred February 16, 1965.

Four children were born to the couple: John J. Olson, Jr., Evelyn Olson Wunderlich, and Luella Olson Sjordal. One child died in infancy.


The collection consists of five journals containing handwritten entries by Pauline Olson and other individuals.

Volume one was apparently first used to keep financial accounts of a threshing company or crew which probably operated in Bottineau County from 1899-1912. Many of the references in this section are in Norwegian. The threshing crew over the years was known as: Backman Threshing Co. (1899-1900), Lars Olson & Co. (1901-1902), Lars Olson Threshing Co. (1903-1904), and Olson Bro. Threshing Co. (dates unknown). It seems likely the book was originally the property of a Lars Olson, who died on October 24, 1927, since it contains references to his estate on pp. 74-75. The relationship between Lars Olson and Pauline is uncertain; he may have been related to her husband.

The diary begins on page 77 of the first volume, with an entry dated January 1, 1926. The handwriting for the entries through mid-August 1930 varies significantly enough from the remainder of the journals suggesting that someone other than Pauline kept the daily entries to that point.

Thereafter, Pauline Olson’s entries, typically terse and cryptic, appear almost every day until about 1968. She invariably commented on the weather and events connected with her family. She seldom commented on events outside her community until just before World War II. Then with higher wartime agricultural prices improving life on the farm and the enlistment of her son John in the Army Air Corps in February 1943, she gradually became aware of what was going on outside of North Dakota.

The volumes chronicling the 1950s tell of family tragedies as well as the impact of the oil boom on North Dakota. Several oil wells were drilled near the farm in September 1952 and she comments on the sale of mineral rights.

When Pauline was hospitalized for several days in June 1968 following a heart attack, the journal entries were kept by her daughter Luella Sjordal. Following Pauline Olson’s death on August 1, 1969, her daughter also wrote a short memorial in the final volume.

The diaries also contain several special; sections or notes. They are as follows:
Vol. 1, p. 292 - Record of the blood line of a bull purchased by the family in 1937.
Vol. 1, p. 295 - birth dates of friends and relatives
Vol. 1, pp. 296-298 - record of milk and cream production, 1933-1934 and livestock sales, 1934
Vol. 2, pp. 134-135 - account of gifts and church dues, 1944-1946
Vol. 3, p. 150 - church dues 1949-1950
Vol. 4, pp. 139-149 - necrology of friends and relatives, 1949-1957
Vol. 5, pp. 180, 183 - farm accounts, 1959-1960, 1962, 1964


Box 1:

1. Threshing crew accounts 1899-1912
Diary January 1926-July 1941
2. Diary August 1941-January 1947
3. Diary January 1947-December 1951
4. Diary January 1952-December 1957
5. Diary January 1958-December 1965
6. Diary January 1969-August 1969

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