Larson Surname Genealogy

Lars is a Scandinavian first
name derived originally from the Roman name Laurentius
meaning “crowned with laurel.” Lars as a
patronymic surname became Larsen in Denmark and Norway, Larsson in
Sweden, and
generally Larson in America.
Scandinavian surnames
were rarely hereditary in the manner of German or British surnames
until around
the 18th century at the earliest. In fact the use of hereditary
surnames passed down from father to son only became mandatory inthe
mid-19th century. Thus it was still the case that Lars Paulsen
who died in
Norway in 1855 could be the father of Ole Larson who departed for
America ten
years later

Larson Resources on

Larson Ancestry

numbers today
are around 280,000
in Scandinavia (Larsen and Larsson) and 90,000 in America (Larson and
to a
lesser extent Larsen). Larsons starting
arriving in America when the Scandinavian immigration began in the

America. Iowa, and in
particular Clayton county in
Iowa, appears to have been a first port of call for Norwegian Larsons

  • Peter Larson arrived at St.
    Olaf in 1849. His line was covered in
    Norma Gilbertson’s 1980 book Larson
    Family History
  • while Holga and
    Sarah Larson had arrived in 1848 and made their home in McGregor. Their son John had the leading boot and shoe
    store in the town.

Laur Larsen was a Lutheran minister and teacher who came
first to St. Louis before making his home in Decatur where he was the
President of Luther College from 1862 to 1902.

However, the main Larson influx
was to be into the Midwestern states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Minnesota. This state still has the
largest number of
Larsons in America. It was mainly Swedes
who came there. In fact Kirsten Larson was a fictitious
Swedish immigrant who settledwith
her family in 1854 in what was then Minnesota territory.

Among the real Swedes who emigrated to
Minnesota were:

  • Nels Larson
    and his family who came to Wright county in 1867. Here
    they cleared their land and in time had
    a well cultivated farm.
  • Lars and Anna Larson who came to a Swedish settlement at
    Lake Park in
    Becker county in 1876. However, they
    found farming in Minnesota tough and in 1887 moved onto another Swedish
    settlement in the San Joaquin valley of California.
  • while Bengt Larson arrived
    around 1890 and made his home at Little Falls in Morrison county. His son Paul started the Larson Boat works
    along the Mississippi river in 1925 and kept on going, building mainly
    boats, until his retirement in 1976. By
    then Little Falls was being called “the small-boat
    capital of the world.”

By contrast,
Wisconsin attracted immigrants from Denmark and Norway.
They included:

  • Hans and Karen Larson from
    Norway who came to Jefferson county in 1855 and farmed there for
    fifteen years
    before moving onto a new homestead in Minnesota.
  • John
    and Annie Larson from Norway who first settled in 1861 in Columbia
    county where
    John worked as a carpenter. In 1872 they
    too moved to Minnesota, settling in Yellow Medicine county.
  • Ole
    from Norway who arrived in 1865 and made his
    home near Coon Prairie in Vernon county. He
    lived there until his death in 1908.
  • James Larson, a ship captain and
    shipbuilder from Denmark, who came in 1871 and settled in Marinette
    county. He was elected to the Wisconsin
    State Assembly in 1913.
  • Nels Larson,
    also from Denmark, who came with his parents in 1874 and settled in
    county. He too served in the Wisconsin
    State Assembly, at various times between 1921 and 1937.
  • and Lars Larson, a merchant
    seaman from Norway, who came to Wisconsin in 1883 and bought farming
    land at
    Abbotsford in Clark county. His son
    Martin migrated north to a new homestead near Sturgis in Saskatchewan
    in 1912.

California. Larsons
also came to California, either
directly from Scandinavia or second or third generation Larsons who had
there from the Midwest.

Carl Larsen came to San Francisco from Denmark around 1870
and by the early 1900’s was a major landowner in the city’s Sunset
District. Larsen Park there was his
Charles Larson, who had arrived in San Francisco from
Sweden in 1887,
became by the early 1900’s a prominent merchant in the town of Eureka
north of
the city.

Further north in the 1950’s in
Tacoma, Washington lived Verner Larson, the son of a Swedish immigrant
Michigan around 1900. Verner was the
father of the cartoonist
Gary Larson, best known as the creator of The
Far Side.

Canada. The Canadian West opened up
later than the American West so that Larsons arrived there later.

Many in fact
came from America. Bernard Larson had
arrived in North Dakota from Sweden in 1878.
He left in 1902 for Saskatchewan where he founded the town of
Lang (by convincing the
Canadian Pacific Railway to locate a railway siding on his land).

Larson departed Minnesota for Saskatchewan in 1904.
His son Walt
was a cattle rancher near Braken from the 1920’s until
retirement in 1968. Henry Larson
meanwhile came from Yellow Medicine county, Minnesota to Fosstown,
in 1912

Larson Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Larson Names

John Augustus
was the Police Officer in Berkeley, California
who in the 1920’s invented the modern polygraph for use in forensic

Don Larsen
, pitching in the 1956 World Series, is the only
pitcher to have a no-hitter and perfect game in World Series baseball

Gary Larson
is an American
cartoonist, best known as the creator of The
Far Side

Larsons Today

  • 90,000 in America (most numerous in Minnesota)
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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