Pastor Ole Paulson Autobiography – Forward – Sven Oftedal



Pastor Ole Paulson;

1907 Autobiography.


Pastor Ole Paulson

A translation from the Norwegian language into the English language.

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


Time after time, friends have been after Pastor Paulson, our old “grandfather,” to gather recollections from his richly affecting life and let them be published as a lasting reminder of the old days and a touchstone and encouragement for the days to come.

The “old one” was, however, almost to the last, so occupied with work in his far-flung and strenuous call that it scarcely left him time for anything else.

After he came to some peace in Fargo, he could, little by little and as his energies allowed, begin a more comprehensive literary work.

The result is the “Reminicenses” at hand. He could not do much at one time, but he continued until the last—without entirely reaching the end or having time to review what he had written. His handwriting itself, and to a degree the content of the book’s final one-third, bear touching witness to his waning powers. He got as far as the completion of his work in the Willmar call in 1885. Because, in connection with that, he had thoughts about Eagle Lake and the two of his children who rest in the churchyard there, he expressed the wish to be allowed to rest together with them when he would soon lay down his staff. And so death came, quietly and gently, and he had to stop.

But thus was the most interesting portion of his life’s portrait preserved—the ’50s and ’60s, and in part the ’70s, with the journey to America, the new settlements, the awakenings, the Civil War, and the Indian unrest—all events that lie so far in the past and are so full of effervescent and remarkable life that they, so to speak, lead us into a new world. In that respect, it is a lesser loss, relatively speaking, that Paulson did not get time to write down his experiences the 19 years he worked in Blanchardville and the other congregations in Wisconsin,[1] since they are of such recent dates that most of us are more or less familiar with them.

It was decided to publish these “Reminisences” in book form, in part because they merit it as a remarkable personal and life story; in part because there are certainly thousands of the old settlers, and not a few of the younger relations, who long to hear these lively stories from our people’s springtime in this country; in part to place a small memorial marker over this man, who was known and loved by so many, both among the Norwegians and Swedes; and in part, finally and not least, to thereby gain for the surviving widow—to whom the proceeds of the book’s publication, if there should be any, will largely come—a little help, doubly valued because it is literally the fruit of her beloved husband’s last mental powers.

The undersigned, to whom review of the manuscript was entrusted, has to the greatest extent published it exactly as it was, with only such linguistic and grammatical corrections as the author himself would no doubt have made, if he had had time to review it. There was something in Paulson’s style that was so fresh and personal that it could not, without harm, be revised. When he wrote, it was as if we heard and saw “old Grandfather” as large as life among us. That is also the case with these “Reminiscences”; they bring the departed back among us, complete with the youthful life by which he might dwell in those bygone days.

Sven Oftedal

Minneapolis, Minnesota, the 13th of May, 1907

Sven Oftedal
Sven Oftedal

[1] Paulson served in Blanchardville, Wisconsin, 1885–1905, and in Fargo, North Dakota, 1905–1907. Source: Norsk Lutherske Prester i Amerika, 1843–1913 (Norwegian Lutheran Pastors in America, 1843–1913), by Olaf M. Norlie. See Paulson’s entry here:

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