Larson Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Larson Meaning
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 in the
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 settled with
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

Larsons, Larsens, and Larssons Today

Numbers (000’s) Larson Larsen Larsson
Denmark   100
Norway    44
Sweden   135
America    63    27

Kirsten Larson the Doll.  Included among the American
line of 18-inch dolls released by Pleasant Company in 1986 was Kirsten Larson.

Kirsten Larson is a
Swedish immigrant
who settled in the Minnesota territory in 1854 with her extended
family.  She faced the hardships,
challenges, and adaptations necessary to adjust to life in America,
such as
learning to speak English.  Changes have
included making a new friend outside of her own “world” and the arrival
of a new baby.

Kirsten was one of
the first three dolls produced by American Girl in
1986.  Unlike many of
the dolls, Kirsten’s books have maintained their original illustrations.

Ole Larson – from Norway to Wisconsin.  In 1865 Ole Larson departed Norway with his widowed
mother and his two older sisters on the brig Atalana
for America.  At 24
years of age, Ole was the youngest but, as the only
male, undoubtedly the
leader of this family group.  After
landing in Quebec, they made their way by the Great Lakes and overland
western Wisconsin.

Their destination was the Norwegian colony at Coon Prairie in
Vernon county.  This settlement was not
only Norwegian, but was made up almost entirely of Gudbrandsadalers,
no doubt because of the distinctive dialect
spoken by residents of that region.

By 1870, five years after his arrival, Ole
had acquired 80 acres of land about 25 miles north of Coon
Prairie, in
what seems to have been a spin-off settlement of Gudbrandsdal,
Norwegians centered around the Brush Creek Lutheran
Church near the town of Ontario.  There
he operated a dairy farm on his land.

Ole and his wife Anne raised six
children, four of whom survived to adulthood.
After Anne died in 1885, Ole married Helena,
who may have been his housekeeper, and had seven more children.

Ole died in 1908
and was buried next to his first wife Anne at Brush Creek church.
Helena was
buried a few yards away.

Nels Larson – from Sweden to Minnesota.  Nels Larson, his wife Marie, and their three boys
departed Sweden in 1866 for America.
After a long and tedious voyage of seven weeks, they reached
Quebec and
from there went to Montreal and thence to Detroit, Michigan.

They were poor and
just starting in life in a new world.
But by doing such work as he could find along the way, Nels
managed to
get his family to the Mississippi river, where they took a boat to St.
Paul and
from there went to Carver county, Minnesota.

In the spring of 1867, the family came by team to Wright
county where
Nels secured employment on the railroad.
Later in the spring, his wife left one son there and walked with
other two sons back to Carver county, shearing sheep and working by the
day to
earn a little ready cash.

After the railroad came through, Nels secured forty
acres of land in Buffalo township and the family settled there. With an ox team they began to clear the land
and in time had a well cultivated farm.

Nels Larson was born in 1826 and died in
1914.  He was a deacon at the Lutheran

Carl Larsen the Gentle Dane of San Francisco.  Carl Larsen came to San
Francisco from Denmark in his late 20’s, around 1870, and worked as a
carpenter.  In 1879 he started the Tivoli
Café downtown on Eddy Street.  A popular
restaurant, the Tivoli Café was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of
Undaunted, Larsen rebuilt and opened the Tivoli Café and the Hotel

Larsen also became a large landowner in the Sunset
District of San
Francisco.   Plenty of land had become
available in these “Outside Lands” in the late 1800’s.
Larsen started buying in 1888 and by 1910 he
owned fourteen entire city blocks and lots that totaled about nine more
blocks.  At this time, all of the land
was sand dunes.  Few of the streets were
cut through and accessibility was difficult.

He operated a chicken ranch on one
square block in this district.  Each
morning a horse-drawn carriage took eggs from the chicken ranch to the
Café downtown, probably along the only through road in the Sunset, the
Ocean Road.  Tivoli Café ads boasted,
“Fresh Eggs from Sunset Ranch.”
Once a year at Easter, the Larsen chicken ranch hosted a large
party for
the neighborhood, with open bars and tables of food.

Larsen is best remembered
as the donor in 1926 of Larsen Park, two blocks between 19th and
20th Avenues and between Ulloa and Wawona Streets.
A bronze plaque, mounted on a large stone,
displays a bust of Carl Larsen in this park. 

Walt Larson, Saskatchewan Cattle Man.  The youngest child of Hans
Larson, Walt was born in 1891 in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota and came north
Saskatchewan in Canada for the first time when he was only thirteen

Soon he was working as a ranch hand with what became the
Famous 76
Ranch.  He had a natural way with horses
and that began a lifestyle that he would chase for the rest of his

remembered the young Walt at that time, a colorful figure in his big
Stetson riding tall and straight in the saddle.  He not only
cowboyed and
ranched, but often competed in stampedes and rodeos and would win money
in the
saddle bronco events and working as a pickup man.

In the winter of 1915-16 Walt
gathered cattle that had wintered on the Frenchman river south of
Shaunavon.  Walt would tell stories of
this devastating winter where temperatures dipped regularly down to 50
and cows were freezing right in their tracks.
Walt went to his grave with frostbite scars from that winter.

In 1922 he
bought his own tract of land along the Frenchman river. His cattle
began at that time with a load of “Manitoba doggies,” and grew over the
sixty years to one of the best commercial herds of Angus cattle in the
country.  He had introduced Aberdeen
Angus blood to his herd during the 1930’s. Over the years twelve head
were honored at the Toronto Royal Fair.
He also won a first pride in the heavyweight class at the
International show.

Walt remained on his ranch until 1968 and died in Montana
nine years later.

Larson Names

  • John Augustus Larson 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 history. 
  • Gary Larson is an American cartoonist, best known as the creator of The Far Side.

Larson Numbers Today

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


Select Larson and Like Surnames.

These were originally Scandinavian patronymic surnames, with conversion usually from the Scandinavian “-sen” and “-sson” to the American “-son” on arrival or soon afterwards.  Here are some of the Scandinavian surnames that you can check out.




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