The Man Who Raced The Train

Simon Johnson Ouren (also known as Simon Johnson Auren) was born in Totten, Norway, September 10, 1850 and died October 5, 1937.  By the time he was 11 years old he had his first job as sheepherder at Hammerstead, but it was without wages.  At 21 he got the "American Fever" and as a result arrived in New York in August of 1871.

His first journey to America was marked by an event, which has gained a place in history.  He arrived in Chicago September 10, 1871 just at the time of the great Chicago fire.  The result was that he had to return to Buffalo, New York and from there go to Milwaukee and LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and later to Fillmore County, Minnesota where he worked on a farm, and later married his boss's daughter, Sophia Brusrack.  She died October 14, 1891.  Later he married Bertha Johnson Rood of Tonsberg, Norway, who emigrated to the United States.  She died April 26, 1945.

In 1881 he and his family set out for Valley City using horses and a prairie schooner for transportation and settled on his homestead June 15, 1881.

Buffalo bones sold in Cooperstown for $15.00 a ton, and he sold many loads.

In addition to his farming operations, he freighted from Valley City until the railroad proved too tough competition.  On these trips he crossed the river near the Ashtabula crossing.  In those days wolves caused trouble in the winter by attacking the horses and driver.  Simon had poles sticking out of the sides of the sled to protect himself.

He was known as a good horseman and a man with a well-developed sense of humor.  He was proud of his horses and declared he could drive a mile in three minutes with a pair of his favorites.  One story he liked to repeat was of his race with the train from Hannaford to Cooperstown in 1893.  When the train arrived in Cooperstown, Simon stook on the depot platform waiting - he had won!

Another time he made a trip from Grand Forks to Cooperstown in one day.  He was driving a team that he did not like.  A cousin of Mr. Hammer rode home with him from Grand Forks and wanted to buy that team that could make such a trip in one day and Simon sold the team to him.

Another story was told of him and his horses.  He and his family were driving to Sisseton, South Dakota to visit relatives.  Somewhere along the way they met up with an Indian lady driving a team and the spirit of competition started.  She just could not pull away from his team.  When they arrived in town, she talked to her husband who was the police chief and said she wanted him to buy that team which could run so fast so far even after such a long journey.  Of course, Simon would not sell them.

In 1925 a news item appeared in the paper saying Simon was taking the same harrow into the field for the fifty-first year.  He used a hoe drill for all his seeding operations except flax for which he used a shoe drill.  He used a walking plow during his farming operations up to the time he was 76 years old in 1926.

He planted many of the box-elder trees by the courthouse.

Living descendants of Simon Ouren include:

Lester Fogderud

His son Gordon

His daughter Mrs. Reynard Lyngby (Marilyn),

Mrs. Senora Ryan

Mrs. Lila Torson


And the children of Oscar Ouren:




Thelma (Mrs. Otto Watne)


Claire (Mrs. Kenneth Lunn)


And their families

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 247

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