Biography of A. T. Austinson of Ulen, Minnesota

A. T. Austinson, one of the founders and builders of the village of Ulen, Minnesota, was born in Norway, May 5, 1857. His parents were Torkle and Guri (Descud) Austinson.

A T Austinson
A T Austinson

Mr. Austinson came to the United States in 1868, and settled first in the town of Primrose, Dane county, Wisconsin, and the following year moved to Twin Lake, Freeborn county, Minnesota, where he remained for about two years, and then went to Goose Prairie township, Clay county, Minnesota, three miles east of Hitterdal, where he proved up a claim and assisted materially to organize the town of Goose Prairie. He helped survey the first county road from Tansem, the north line in eastern Clay county, and was identified with the entire development from the beginning. He was the first assessor in the town of Goose Prairie, Hagen and Ulen townships, which were attached to Goose Prairie for this purpose. He organized the first school district, No. 28, and was the first merchant in the village of Ulen, to erect a store, on December 23, 1886.

Mr. Austinson is decidedly a man of affairs, and as a business man and citizen has always been identified with the best interests of his town and county, and has devoted the greater part of his time, during his residence in Minnesota, to local politics. He was a member of the first board to organize the town of Goose Prairie, the others being S. M. Y. Nykrieum and Paul Van Vlissengen. He was one of the county commissioners and chairman of the board; he was a delegate to the convention that nominated Mr. Knud Nelson for congress, in what was termed the Fifth district; he was deputy sheriff under W. J. Bakken, from 1882 to 1885, and was a delegate to the state congressional and county conventions at various times, and member of the congressional committee when Frank M. Eddie was elected to congress, and a staunch supporter of the winner. He carried the first line of general merchandise in Ulen village, under the firm name of Austinson & Asleson. He secured the petition for the consolidation of the two schools of Ulen township and removal into the village, the old school houses are now used as private homes. The present school building of five rooms was erected largely under his personal supervision and instrumentality, and he also helped to issue the bonds for same, he being clerk of the school board for a number of years, and took great interest in the educational facilities of the village. Mr. Austinson was also connected with the establishment of the roller mill, and the $1,500.00 bonus required for this, was secured by his efforts and others; the water works and electric light plant bonds were also issued under his direction. He was for a time owner and manager of the first newspaper — the Ulen Union, and helped to organize the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge, in Ulen, and the Modern Woodmen of America. He was the second postmaster of Ulen, succeeding Mr. O. C. Melbye; he was connected with the telephone company, of Lake Park, was among the founders of the Synod Lutheran Church, and is inseparably connected with all of its improvements and one of its principal contributors.

Mr. Austinson is a staunch Republican, and in 1896, was candidate for sheriff of Clay county, against W. J. Botkin, but lost the election by three votes, and that in a Populistic locality. Mr. A. T. Austinson stood almost alone in eastern Clay county, as an advocate of Republican principles. During the time that the Populists had entire control of both county and state politics he was offered any position on the Populist ticket, if he would join them. This was refused, as principal was first in his actions. In the year of 1904, he was candidate to the house of representatives for his district, but was defeated in the primaries by a few votes, when Geo. E. Perley, of Moorhead, was nominated. He is contented however, in having the satisfaction that he has been a material help toward keeping Clay county in the fold of the Republican party, always taking an active part in the election of such men as Knud Nelson, Frank M. Eddie and others who have shown themselves worthy of the confidence of the people.

As a man Mr. Austinson is well respected in the community. He has always shown himself capable and trustworthy in any place he has been called to fill, and no man enjoys more public confidence and esteem than Mr. A. T. Austinson.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

Pin It on Pinterest

Discover more from Minnesota Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top