John Syverson

John Syverson, who came to Cooperstown in 1884, made his mark in the community in many ways.

A highly successful merchant, he built a large brick store building on the corner of 10th and Burrell that still stands.  Old-timers still recall the grandeurs of the Syverson Store, or The Big Store, as it was sometimes called.

In 1896, when Cooperstown incorporated as a village, Mr. Syverson was elected the first mayor.

His financial contributions to the churches, lodges and other institutions of Cooperstown were also well known.

Yet, at his funeral service in the local Masonic lodge, his eulogist did not dwell on any of these points.  Instead, he predicted that the name of John Syverson would go down into Cooperstown history as a man who gave most of his life to beautifying the town.  His last public act before his death, in 1932, at age 83, was the planting of an elm on the high school campus in observance of the George Washington bicentennial.

Mr. Syverson personally planted hundreds of trees in Cooperstown, and it was estimated that thousands more were planted through his efforts.  Sometimes the efforts took the form of thrusting a spade and a small tree into the hand of a householder, with instructions on planting and caring for the tree!

Mr. Syverson landscaped the Masonic Temple, the school and gymnasium grounds as well as the grounds of numerous private homes, and his interest in horticulture occupied a large part of his time after he retired from store business.

Mr. Syverson was born March 17, 1849 at Vaage, Norway, and came to the United States in 1869, settling at St. James, Minnesota.  He worked in a store and was married there to Annie Odegaard in 1876.  Their three children died, apparently in an epidemic.  and they left St. James in 1883.  The following year he bought the store in Cooperstown from Knud Thompson.  After they moved to Cooperstown, three more children were born, all of whom survived to adulthood: 

1.     Theodore, John and Gertrude, who was married to J. Earl Fladeland.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976  Page 82

 
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