You Asked About Olga

May 13, 2010

Swedish Covenant Church, Grovertown, Ind, circa 1916. The church was later moved to Donaldson. Photo provided by Larry Newburg.

I’ve always had a sentimental fascination with Olga.

It’s not like I knew her or anything. But I’d grown up hearing her story and seeing her picture. Olga was my grandfather George Larson’s sister and she died when she was only 32.

“My sis, Olga, got sick in Chicago,” wrote their brother, Arthur Larson, in a letter to me. Like George, Olga had moved to Chicago as a young adult and found a job. For many years, she and George lived together with a maternal aunt.

“A tumor had set in on her brain,” wrote Arthur. “At that time doctors claimed it couldn’t be operated on, fearing damage to her brain. She came back home and passed away. She died in 1927.”

My grandmother Ruth (George’s wife) never knew Olga. Olga died two years before she and George met. But I do remember Ruth saying she knew it was a very hard time for George and his family.

Lately, my fascination with Olga has magnified. As I learn of the Larsons, the Newburgs and the Carlsons—three extended families who lived in northern Indiana and together shared the joys and sorrows of life—I can imagine that Olga’s death touched not only her parents and siblings, but also a whole community of aunts, uncles and cousins.

And then there are these new pictures.

Thanks to my recently discovered cousin Larry Newburg, I have several new pictures of Olga. They’re beautiful.

I think she was beautiful.

Don’t you agree?

Swedish Covenant Confirmation Class of 1910.

Olga is sitting to our right of the pastor. Note her Newburg and Carlson cousins, particularly Edna (Newburg) Peterson, seated in back, second from our left.

Olga and her sister Esther, who was born in 1909

My sister Rebecca and I share an age difference similar to Olga and Esther’s. I remember Rebecca cried when I got married and moved away from home.

Olga Larson

Does her hair look bobbed? Do you think she was a free-spirited, bold, young woman, as described in this website?

Olga Larson

Beautiful dress. Beautiful pearls. Beautiful woman.


7 Responses to “You Asked About Olga”

  1. Dave Says:

    It’s interesting that the Newburg family seems to have more pictures of the Larsons than we have ever seen. I guess Grandpa wasn’t exactly sentimental about that kind of stuff.

    • adunate Says:

      Yes, the Newburgs seem to be wonderful historians. Larry has given me viewing access to his family tree and it’s amazing. To date, he has 311 photos and document images. We’re blessed to be on one of his branches, albeit an offshoot. Thanks Larry!

      Also Larry emailed me comments regarding the Larson siblings coming to Des Moines and then moving to Indiana. With his permission, I posted them in this post.

  2. Dave Says:

    Aren’t you curious why Olga never married? At that time, she must have been considered an old maid.

  3. Becky Says:

    She was very beautiful! Her face has some familiar features to our current generations.
    I agree with Dave; it’d be interesting to know why she never married. She looks very confident, and yes, definitely free-spirited with that bob!

  4. Terri Says:

    I think someone in the family ought to name the next baby girl Olga in honor/memory of the lovely, free-spirited Aunt Olga.

    • adunate Says:

      I’ll pass that along to the upcoming parents:-) However, it seems they’ve already picked out names, which they aren’t sharing until her day of arrival.

  5. adunate Says:

    OK, this is a bit anticlimatic…as I was going through my family tree stash for the upcoming week’s story, I came across a letter from my Mom (Carol). In it she’s talking about George’s mother. She also mentions Olga.

    According to Carol, Olga died just before her wedding. I guess that’s an answer to our questions about why she didn’t marry. She was going to, just never made it.

    Must have been very sad for her fiance. I wonder who he was and where he was from?

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