Pastor Ole Paulson Autobiography – Chapter Eighteen – 1866; Farm Life



Pastor Ole Paulson;

1907 Autobiography.

Chapter Eighteen

Pastor Ole Paulson

A translation from the Norwegian language into the English language.

Copyright © 2022 by Gary C. Dahle, all rights reserved.

On the Farm Again

Once at home, it was my firm determination to become a farmer.

As long as my savings held out, I equipped myself on the farm the best I could. As such, I bought myself a pair of horses and two foals. There were oxen on the farm, as well as cows and other animals. I found peace in my present choice, as I was fully convinced that it could not be God’s will that I should become a pastor. He had, without a doubt, had a hand in the way things played out, that I had, in such a remarkable way and against my will, come into the Army.

Now I set about farming with “head and hands,” as well as I could and with a clear conscience.

It went sluggishly, where the heavy work was concerned. My powers were diminished on account of my ruined digestive organs.

In my naiveté, I thought that heavy work would be a good cure for me and took to the heaviest there was on the farm, namely clearing or grubbing. There was a good piece of land that came right up to the walls of the house that was thick with centuries-old oak roots and brush. On these old and age-hardened oak roots I declared a “war of the knife.” But there were not many of these old champions that I felled in a day. Still, I slathered myself with the well-known salve and kept on, until the victory was won and the land broken.

The farm was rented out, so I had time to take things slowly.

Later in the summer, I tore down the house and moved it to another place and built it up again, for the most part with my own hands. It became a pretty nice-looking and good house.

I rented out the farm again, to a bachelor who lived with us.

The next summer, I set up part of the house as a schoolhouse and held a Norwegian religious school with about 40 students, most of them Norwegian, but also a few who were Swedish.

From this, one can understand that my desire to farm was not particularly great. I held Sunday school every Sunday and served as the sexton for the congregation.

The next autumn, the autumn of 1865, I received, together with Pastor Andrew Jackson, a call as teacher at the St. Ansgar Academy,[1] a school that had been placed with this[2] congregation. The old church was equipped as a schoolhouse. A large new church was being built.

I grew very weary of farming, all the more so as I was again and again reminded of my past decision and asked if I believed it was God’s will that I become a farmer. No matter how I tried to lull my conscience and its reminders, I had no peace from this. I suffered greatly; my wife also saw that I suffered. One day I came to the decision to sell, bag and baggage, and go back to school, and I told my wife, who agreed this time.

One day in the harvest time in 1866, as I walked in the field and busied myself with something, I saw a man on the road, a military person. He sprang over the fence and came to me in the field. It was my brother, Captain John Paulson, who was still in the Army. He was here on leave. We greeted each other and he asked about the state of my health. I told him about my decision, to go back to school and to sell everything. Did he want to buy the farm? He asked about the price. Two thousand dollars. “I’ll pay that much,” he said, and the deal was done. It took no more than five minutes.

The afternoon of the same day, we went to a justice and drew up a purchase contract. The same justice was also an auctioneer. I set the date for an auction. In 14 days, everything was sold and I was on my way to Paxton, Illinois, where the Augustana Seminary and College had moved. My brother, John, followed me to Paxton, which was on the route he would travel to his regiment in Texas.

Herewith ended my farming for good.

[1] St. Ansgar’s Academy was a forerunner of Gustavus Adolphus College. The school was founded by Pastor Eric Norelius in Red Wing, Minnesota, in 1862. It was moved to King Oscar’s Settlement (later called East Union) in Carver County in 1863, and then to St. Peter, Minnesota, in 1875. A 1988 application to place the site on the National Register of Historic Places gives a history, as does the website of Gustavus Adolphus College:  and

[2] Paulson means his home congregation, East Union Lutheran Church in Carver County.

Translation of chapter from the Norwegian language into the English language, and preparation of footnotes, by Denise Logeland.