Biography of Hans Rushfeldt of Hawley Minnesota

Hans Rushfeldt, a Norwegian immigrant born on October 5, 1849, played a vital role in the development of Hawley, Minnesota. After arriving in the United States in 1869, he worked on construction trains and engaged in railroad projects. Eventually, he settled in Hawley and established a successful hardware store, which expanded over the years. In addition to his business ventures, Rushfeldt actively participated in fraternal organizations and was an influential figure in local politics. He married Helen Olson in 1882, and together they raised nine children. Their contributions to the community have left a lasting impact.

Hans Rushfeldt, a substantial businessman of Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota, who has aided in its development, was born in Norway on October 5, 1849. He acquired a limited education in his native land and when he was twenty years old, in 1869, he came to this country with his family. He began working on a construction train in southern Minnesota in 1870, and the following year, with his parents and two brothers, he came to the Red River Valley with ox teams and engaged in railroad work on contracts at Hawley, Glynden, and other sections for four years.

In 1875, he went to the Black Hills and spent several months hauling freight with ox teams from Bismarck, North Dakota, to that place. Tiring of the hardships of frontier life, he returned to Clay County and proved up his homestead and tree claim, and cultivated his land until 1880. He then left the farm and moved to Hawley, which was then a hamlet of 100 inhabitants with two stores, and opened a hardware store, later adding farm machinery and implements.

The business he started has since been conducted under various firm names. First as Rushfeldt, Southwell & Co., which in 1886 was changed by the sale of Mr. Southwell’s interest to N. Nelson and Charles Miller to Rushfeldt & Co. The business grew with the town, and new lines were added from time to time, including light and heavy hardware, farm implements and machinery of all kinds, and a full line of household furniture.

In 1905-6, the firm name was Rushfeldt & Nelson, but it changed again in 1907 to Rushfeldt & Burrill, under which the extensive business is currently (1909) conducted. Mr. Rushfeldt is also the president of the Hawley Mercantile Company and the Hawley Cemetery Association. He holds an interest in the flour mill and serves as a director of the State Bank of Hawley.

He has been active in fraternal and benevolent organizations for many years. In 1888, he became a charter member of Twilight Lodge No. 142, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and has passed through all the various chairs. He is also a member of the Yeomen.

Mr. Rushfeldt has always been a staunch Republican and has been active in the local councils of his party. In 1906, he was elected treasurer of Clay County. His religious affiliations are with the Norwegian Lutheran Church, where he has served as a trustee and on various committees.

On January 13, 1882, Mr. Rushfeldt married Miss Helen, a daughter of the late Bernard Olson. Mr. and Mrs. Rushfeldt celebrated their silver wedding in 1907. They have nine children. Eleanor, the eldest, is a graduate of the High and Normal schools and is now a teacher. Elisa is a student at the State University, Albert is attending the Business College at Fargo, Helen is a student in Hawley High School, as are Alma and Ruth. Their three younger children, Agnes, Nina, and Harry, are pupils in the grammar school.


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.

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