Biography of Nels J. Thysell of Hawley Minnesota

Nels J. Thysell, born in Sweden, became a prominent citizen of Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota. Arriving in the U.S. in 1873, he initially settled on an 80-acre homestead near Hawley, expanding his holdings to 1,100 acres over time. A pioneer Scandinavian settler, Thysell experienced and contributed to the region’s development. After decades of farming, he moved to Hawley and acquired his brother’s business, forming Thysell & Sons. He was active in public service, including roles on the board of supervisors and school board. Thysell married Inga Thorkeelson in 1874, and they had seven children.

Nels J. Thysell, a substantial citizen of Hawley, Clay county, Minnesota, has risen from comparative obscurity to an honored place in his community by patient, persistent, and faithful work. He is a native of Sweden. On coming to this country in 1873, he settled on an eighty-acre homestead in Clay county, near Hawley, and had for his first home a dug-out sixteen by twenty feet, for which was substituted a log cabin a little later. Here he began in a small way, working early and late, gradually increasing his possessions as he could, until he owned in his own right some 1,100 acres of valuable land, finely improved, with good buildings and equipped with all the accessories of the modern farm.

He was one of the first Scandinavian settlers of this region and his reminiscences of the trials and hardships and struggles of the early days, many of them thrilling in character and all oJ them replete with interest, would fill a volume. He has seen the village of Hawley grow from a hamlet of a few straggling shacks and ten inhabitants to the thrifty and populous city of today. Where then were marshes and swamps and desolate wastes are now to be seen fertile farms; commodious buildings have replaced the shanties of early days, and everywhere are the evidences of progress and prosperity.

In this advancement Mr. Thysell has done his part, and lives to enjoy the rich fruits of his labors. After thirty years spent in general farming, he purchased the business of his brother, Mr. C. E. Thysell, and moved from his farm into the village of Hawley.

Although his life has been a busy one, Mr. Thysell has always shown an interest in public affairs. He has served twenty years successively on the board of supervisors, for nine years as clerk of the school board of the township.

A Democrat in politics, he is active in the local councils of his party and has served as a delegate to numerous county and state conventions. He is a consistent member of the Lutheran church under charge of Rev. Hauge.

On September 5, 1874, Mr. Thysell married Miss Inga Thor-keelson, a native of Sweden. Mrs. Thysell was a woman of noble Christian character, a true helpmeet, a devoted mother and wife, and to her devotion and self-sacrifice is in large measure due the success that has attended Mr. Thysell. She cheerfully shared with him the trials and hardships of their earlier married life in the dug-out and the log cabin, and with him toiled in the field while keeping up her household duties. She was a woman full of good works, and the memory of her life of sacrifice for others is cherished by all who knew her, remaining like the sweet influ-ence of a hallowed benediction to comfort and bless their lives.

To Mr. and Mrs. Thysell were born seven children, viz. : Olga, who was the wife of Mr. Charles Johnson and who died May 12, 1903; Amil and Carl, twins, born in the “dug-out” in January 1878; Albert, born in 1880. These three— Amil, Carl, and Albert — are associated with their father in business under the firm name of Thysell & Sons. The fifth child, Annie, born in 1883, is the wife of Mr. John McDonold; and Marie, the sixth child, and Fred, the youngest, are living at home.

The firm of Thysell & Sons deals in light and heavy hardware and farm implements, machinery, and also conducts an under-taking business, in all its various branches, and is among the prosperous business houses of the thriving town of Hawley.


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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