Emil Olson

Emil O. Olson was born August 27, 1890, near Benson, Minnesota.  When he was seven years of age his family moved back to Ellsworth, Wisconsin, after experiencing severe drought and hardship.  The financial situation of his family made it necessary for him to end his schooling at the age of eleven and go to work for others.  This was the extent of his education except for a short course at a business college in Mankato, Minnesota.  He worked for a short time at a store in Wimbledon, North Dakota.  During this period at Wimbledon he ate only two meals a day in order to save enough money to pay for his mother's cancer surgery.

The employer who had the greatest influence on his life was the owner of a general merchandise store in River Falls, Wisconsin, a Mr. Jenson, for whom he worked seven years.  Mr. Jenson was a self-made man, a very successful merchant and a demanding employer who trained his help extremely well.

Believing the climate in North Dakota would be better for an asthmatic condition that troubled him, he secured employment as bookkeeper with The First National Bank of Binford in May 1916 at a salary of $65.00 per month.  The fact that he could speak Norwegian was an important factor in securing this position.  Arriving by train in Binford, the village with its wooden sidewalks and unlighted streets, and the treeless prairie were a sorry contrast to the wooded area and modernized city in Wisconsin from which he had come.  The prospect was so gloomy that had he had enough money for train fare, he would have returned to River Falls.  However, as the years passed he became attached to the land, the community and its people.

During World War I he was drafted into the United States Army and he served several months in France.  He returned to Binford and continued in the employment of the bank.

On August 16, 1921 Emil married Rowena Rinde, a native of Hoople, North Dakota.  Miss Rinde had taught in the Binford elementary school for four years prior to her marriage.  During her teaching experience in Binford she had as many as fifty pupils of the lower grades in her room.  Desks were crowded so close together, there was hardly room for the aisles.  She was known as a good teacher and a disciplinarian even under those trying circumstances.  After their marriage they moved into their new home in Binford where Mrs. Olson still resides.

Early in 1926 he left the bank and sold life insurance.  After the death of bank cashier, Oscar Greenland, Emil returned to the bank and became cashier December 6, 1926.  The First National Bank under his management had the distinction of being the only one of thirteen banks in Griggs County that remained solvent through the farm crisis of the 1920's, the crash of 1929, and the drought of the 1930's.

In January 1954 he retired from the banking business at which time he sold his interest to L. A. Sayer of Cooperstown.

Emil died at his home July 30, 1969.  Survivors included his wife, a daughter, Mrs. Joel (Winifred) Goplen and three grandchildren, David, Cynthia and Susan all of Binford.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 28

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