John Syverson

JOHN SYVERSON was born March 17, 1849 at Vaage, Norway.  He was the son of Syver and Margit Jacobson Bergum. His father was a shoemaker on an estate there. Mr. Syverson was tutored with the children of the owner of the "gaard." With the first money he earned later he came to Minnesota in 1869, he bought a gold watch and sent it to the lady who had been kind enough to let him learn with her own children,

In 1876 he married Annie Odegaard, who had come to Minnesota with her parents in 1860's. Mr. Syverson worked in stores in Minnesota, Iowa, and at Norfolk, Nebraska. It was in Norfolk that he lost three children-all his children-by diphtheria.  Heartbroken, it was then, in 1883, that he came to Cooperstown to work for his brothers-in-law, Knud Thompson and John Odegaard, who owned the first store in Cooperstown. In about one year he bought out Mr. Thompson and later Mr. Odegard.

Three children were born to Mr. Syverson in Cooperstown, Theodore, John Jr. and Gertrude (Fladeland).

Mr. Syverson had a great interest in Cooperstown. At his own expense he planted trees completely around several blocks in Cooperstown, including the one where his house was built, and the block where the hospital now stands.

When Cooperstown was organized as a village August 23, 1892, he was elected "Trustee" for the 3rd District (Ward), and when it was incorporated as a city, November 6, 1906, Mr. Syverson was elected as the first mayor.

In the period of May and June, 1887 when the county paid a 3 cent bounty on gophers he took in, in trade, gopher tails amounting to $900.42 in his store. 

He built the Syverson Block in 1894, the brick office building, east, across the street from the store in 1899, and the "Newell House"-a $1.00 a day hotel-in 1896. This he named for Dr. George Newell, a Civil War army surgeon who was here in 1893. This building became the "Rebecca Home" in 1956.

The time while Mr. Syverson was mayor saw the beginnings of cement sidewalks to replace the rotting board sidewalks in town.

Mr. Syverson planned the landscape work of the grounds of the Gymnasium and Grade School, the High School, the Bethlehem Church, and the Masonic Temple.

Mr. Syverson died here in 1932, and Mrs. Syverson in 1934.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 62

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