MARTIN LARSEN. The Danish type is one which has found many representatives in the New World and has assuredly contributed its quota towards the onward march of progress. Of this nation was the late Martin Larsen, one of Stoddard county's leading agriculturists, whose memory is held in reverence in a community to which his influence was of definite benefit. It is indeed fitting that a review of his life and achievements should be incorporated in this volume devoted to representative citizens of Southeastern Missouri.
Martin Larsen was born November 24, 1835 in Denmark, and died October 24, 1910, thus being five years beyond the psalmist's allotted span of life when summoned to his eternal rest. He came to America before the Civil war, when a young man about twenty-four years of age. While in his native country he had had the advantage of military training and he had also had the advantage of some practical experience in agriculture. Upon landing on American shores he at once turned his face toward Missouri and located in the vicinity of Poplar Bluff, in company with nineteen of his countrymen. He took up a homestead, a part of which is now the site of the present town of Poplar Bluff. At that time it was uncleared land, covered with woods, and at first he could make but a small clearing. In a few months most of the little Danish colony had scattered, some going one place, some another. Mr. Larsen and Elias Heusner were among those who moved away, and they came to Stoddard county, where the subject secured work in a saw mill belonging to the father of Mr. Joe Sykes. He also worked in the logging camps near Bloomfield and in one way and another tried out his fortunes in the new world. For seven years Mr. Larsen worked with Henry Miller as a farmer, and he had a responsible position with that gentleman, being his overseer. He was thrifty, as well as capable and industrious, and saved his money to such good advantage that at the end of the seven years he found himself in a position to purchase eighty acres of land, and on this tract he lived about the space of two years. About the year 1870 he bought his late home, and eligibly situated farm of one hundred and sixty acres, which was about half improved, paying twelve hundred dollars for the same. Here he farmed in the summer, and in the lull between harvest and seed-time he hauled goods to Cape Girardeau for John Buck, making two trips to that point with merchandise each week and being on the road all of the time. This strenuous existence continued for seven years, but he eventually found it necessary to devote his entire attention to his farming, and he found such success and added to his land so frequently that he at last owned a splendid property consisting of 960 acres, this being less than six miles southwest of Bloomfield. His chief products were corn, wheat, hogs and cattle. It was his distinction to become the leading farmer in all Stoddard County, his methods being up-to-date and his success in all lines phenomenal. His acres were adorned with a substantial residence, and his barns and outbuildings were excellent.
About the year 1900 Mr. Larsen placed his land in other hands and removed to Bloomfield to enjoy in the leisure of retirement the fruits of his earlier years of industry, and here, happy in the enjoyment of hosts of friends and surrounded by all material comforts, he lived until his demise. He retained his interests, however, and at one time invested extensively in a bank at Dexter, this proving a financial loss. In addition to his principal farm he owned in other localities in Stoddard County seven or eight hundred acres, whose improvement he had brought about, some of this being bottom land. He was not one to be content with "letting well enough alone," as the old adage has it, but was constantly devising some new plan of improvement. Mr. Larsen was a stanch supporter of the policies and principles of the Democratic party, but his interest in politics was nothing more than that of the intelligent voter. His zeal for continual improvement was not limited to his lands, but extended also to his own education, for although he had been well educated in his native language, he made every effort to perfect himself in English and did not allow his studies to end with his school days. His religious conviction was that of the Lutheran church, of which he had been a member in Denmark, although he did not affiliate in this country.
Mr. Larsen laid the foundation of an independent household by his marriage at Bloomfield to Louisa Edwards, who was born in Tennessee and came to Stoddard county as a girl. She was a daughter of a Mr. And Mrs. Edwards once well known in this section, who died some thirty or more years ago. This faithful and admirable wife was called to her eternal rest January 10, 1892. Mr. Larsen's second wife was Sally Smith, daughter of James M. Clark. She was a native of Kentucky and came to Stoddard county with her first husband, who died some time later. Her father also became a Missouri citizen and lived where Henry Larsen now lives. Mrs. Larsen survives the subject and is a woman held in high regard in the community in which she is best known. The issue of the subject are as follows: Preston, who resides on a farm near Aid; J. C., who operates a part of the old homestead; Alma S., wife of W. A. Kirby, who also manages a part of the Larsen estate; and W.H.
William Henry Larsen was born on the old homestead in Stoddard county, February 3, 1877. He resided beneath the home roof until the age of eighteen, when he was married to Effie Timmons, daughter of Garret Timmons, of Kentucky. Mr. Larsen is one of the successful agriculturists of the county, and in the management of his affairs has already evinced the sound judgment and executive capacity of his father. In 1906 he bought his present farm, which is a part of the Clark estate above mentioned. He and his brother Preston both received from the parental estate a tract of bottom land near Aid, which they have cleared and improved. His farm is located four miles west of Bloomfield, consists of 240 acres and is a model of its kind. As a boy his fancy had been taken by the Clark farm and at the settlement of the Clark estate he bought it, thus making his early dreams come true. He raises high bred mules, graded stock and hogs, and also raises a good deal of corn. He takes little interest in politics, except to support to the best of his ability all measures likely to result in benefit to the whole of society. His wife is a member of Lick Creek Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. and Mrs. Larsen share their attractive and hospitable home with five children, -- Edgar and Edith, twins; Leslie, Lollie and Charlie.
History of Southeast Missouri, by Robert Sidney Douglass, p. 1098 - 1099.