Huxley-Where First Norwegians Settled
By Mrs. Ora Hansen
The town of Huxley is situated in the south part of the county, one mile northwest of where the first Norwegian pioneers formed a ring with their caravan, to spend the night on June 7, 1855, when they migrated here from Lisbon, Illinois.
The Huxley site was owned by Thor Oleson who claimed such damages that the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul Railway Land Company bought him out and laid out the town of Huxley in February, 1882.
In the year 1890 there was a population of 50 to 75 Norwegians. Thor Oleson and Knudt Mikkelson, under the firm name of Oleson and Mikkelson, was the town’s first business place from 1882 to 1885. Jacob Stenson was the town’s first blacksmith. He was also postmaster from July 1882 to May 13, 1890. He built the town’s first residence. A. L. Kloster and N. J. Thompson started a general merchandise store on August 25, 1884. Mr. Kloster was appointed postmaster on October 1, 1890 and was postmaster until his death in 1916.
The Bank of Huxley was established on May 6, 1901 with L. O. Larson, president; A. V. Eklund, vice president, Ed Johnson, Ben Johnson, E. C. Johnson, T. A. Richardson, N. R. Sydnes, S. Tesdal, Andrew Nelson and A. L. Kloster, directors. E. S. Tesdall, cashier.
Huxley Farmer’s Creamery was established in the years 1896-97. Palmer Severeid has been employed in the Creamery for the past 20 years. He has been manager for the past twelve years.
The Huxley Mutual Telephone company was started in 1902 in the A. E. Nass Hardware store. The first two operators were Siri Oswald and Minnie Eide. The officers now are Wier Sydnes, president; Olen Tesdell, secretary and treasurer, Ole Brendeland and S. B. Sheldahl. Charles Busby is lineman and Mrs. Busby and Ella Heggen, operators.
O. J. Severeid bought the Drug store from Anfin Apland on June 6, 1904, and is still in business. He will celebrate 50 years in the drug business in June 1954.
Other Early Business
Other men in business at the beginning of the 19th century were: A. E. Nass, hardware; Ole Dobbe, implements; Sydnes and Chelsvig, livery and dray; John Valen and Sons, grocery and butcher shop; H. O. Peterson, restaurant; H. J. Thompson, general merchandise; A. Gunderson, automobile business; Ole Heggen, shoemaker; Peder Seversike, blacksmith; Faltin Kalsem, real estate; Martin Hansen and Lars Fjelland, butcher shop; O. M. Johnson, grain and lumber; Mr. Johnson also served the town as mayor.
On November 24, 1919 a fire destroyed five business places including Roy Elliott’s restaurant; Leon Sabo, harness shop and post office; Saben Sydnes‘ livery barn; W. R. Richardson and Andrew Wenos, Implement store, and an Opera House.
Roy Elliott started in the restaurant business on December 22, 1909 when he purchased it from J. R. Sydnes. When the building burned he started on the west side of the street and continued in business until May, 1937 when Elmer Dobbe took over the restaurant. Mr. Elliott and Orville have been in the Oil Station business for the past 20 years. L. L. Kampley has been a home decorator in Huxley for 51 years. He is a relative of the pioneer settler Jacob Stenson. Weir Sydnes, mayor of Huxley for the past 17 years, has been a home decorator for 52 years. Albert Johnson was postmaster from 1920 to 1946. Mrs. Albert Jacobson was acting postmaster from 1946 until July 1949 when Robert Christopher was appointed as postmaster. He was 26 years of age when he took over this position. Huxley has its own Fire Department Chief, Palmer Severeid; assistant chief, Beverly Hill; Captain, Tilden Fjelland. The remainder of the Huxley fire department are volunteer firemen. Huxley now has a population of around 400. Has a good Consolidated school. The district was Consolidated in 1918, the new school built in 1921. It now has a staff of 18 teachers. Superintendent, Earl Stephenson.
Huxley Community Club
The Huxley Community club was organized, December 8, 1941 as a continuation of the old Huxley
Commercial club. The temporary board of directors met on Feb. 16, 1942 and at this meeting permanent officers were elected: President, Dr. O. F. Freed; Vice President, Weir Sydnes; Secretary and Treasurer; Orville Kalsem. Messrs. John Larson, Sophus Berhow, Dennis Ingram, and R. B. Helland, board members. Projects accomplished through the years include:
1. Community Shelter House erected in 1947. It is a busy place during summer for community and family picnics.
2. Sponsored 12 annual Horse Shows. Entrants from five surrounding states. State quarter horse champions have been selected at Huxley Show the past two years. The Show has been a great success growing larger each succeeding year. The 1953 Horse Show will be held June 18.
3. It is the second consecutive year for the County F. F. A. Tractor Rodeo, which selects senior and junior division for State Competition.
4. Various Community projects such as sponsoring ball teams. Christmas Lighting and decoration. Planting of a permanent Christmas tree in the park.
Huxley Lions Club
Organized Nov. 24, 1952 with 33 charter members. Meets the 2nd and 4th Monday at 6:30 p.m. in School lunch room. President, Earl Stephenson, Secretary and Treasurer, Kermit Freeland and Weir Sydnes.
Projects: Sponsored organization of new Boy Scout Troop with Dick Leth as Scoutmaster. Work with Community club and City Council to decorate main street for Christmas.
1953 Huxley Officials
Mayor – Wier Sydnes
City Clerk – O. M. Tesdell
Councilmen: Ole Legvold, E. Freeland, E. D. Hall, T. B. Fjelland, Henry Steel
Law Enforcement Officer – Norris Sydnes
Postmaster – Robert Christopher
Health Officer – D. H. Nord, M.D.
Railroad and Station Agent – Milwaukee R.R., Orval P. Byrd
Other transportation facilities – Interurban R.R. and Bus lines.
Oldest Merchant – O. J. Severeid, established June, 1904
Biggest Industry – Huxley Creamery
Community Club president – Orville N. Kalsem
Lions Club – Earl Stephenson, president
Churches – Palestine Lutheran church – Harry Stoutland, pastor. Membership 440.
Fjeldberg Lutheran Church – M. Harold Rye, pastor. Membership 510.
Chapter 54 - The Stavanger And Hordaland Colony In Central Iowa
History Of The Norwegian Settlements; A General Survey Of Norwegian Immigration To America’s Northwest And To Its Settlement, From The Discovery Of America To The Indian Uprising In The Northwest, With Index Of Places And Names. Ephraim, Wisconsin: by Hjalmar Rued Holand, 1908, 603 pages. Chapter 54: The Stavanger And Hordaland Colony In Central Iowa, pp 458-467. Translated from the Norwegian by Jacob Hodnefield. Copy obtained courtesy of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Compiled By Elmer Dickson.