Photos link long line of Olson businesses; from general store to mens wear to chiropractic clinic
In a recent Pelican Rapids Press article, we touched on a family history that spans some 125 years in the Pelican Rapids-Prairie Lake area—and continues to the present.
Dr. Zena (Olson) Stussy comes from a long—long—line of Pelican area business owners, entrepreneurs and civic leaders. Stussy has reconnected the timeliine, with her practice—right on main street, where an Olson has been in business for much of the past century—and more. The extended family and descendents have also been visiting at the Olson cottage, across from “Peanut Butter Hill” on Prairie Lake, for six generations.
Olson-Stussy shared some photos from the family collection, which includes the familiar Pelican Rapids “Olson’s Mens Wear” which clothed boys and men for the farm, field and classroom, spanning several decades.
“I have been coming to Pelican Rapids/Prairie Lake every summer for my entire life,” said Zena, who opened her chiropractic office earlier this year—in a location also deep in local history, the former Walt Boe’s grocery corner. Even though Zena is a “metro girl” from the Twin Cities, “my roots are here, my family is here and our clan is buried at Ringsaker Cemetery.”
Going way back, her great-great grandparents Ole and Olia Olson were married in Wisconsin, after disembarking the boat from Norway. They settled in Becker County on a farm site and 80 acre homestead, next to Lake Ida, in the Cormorant area north of Pelican Rapids.
In the late 1890s they moved into a small house in the southwest part of Pelican Rapids to begin their retirement.
Her great-grandfather was Henry Olson, and great-grandmother Emma. He was a local merchant of a general store, fire chief and mayor. Emma purchased a cottage on Prairie Lake that has now been in the family for over five generations, the property was purchased for $750.
Zena’s grandfather Ferdinand Olson and grandmother Esther continued the Olson Pelican connection. Ferdinand was an accountant for Otter Tail Power Company and Esther was a local school teacher. Ferd’s brother, Orlando Olson was another merchant and owned Olson’s Mens Wear—a downtown business that will be remembered by many, from Pelican “baby boomers” back.
Finally, Zena’s father, Keith Olson, who graduated from Pelican Rapids High school, Class of ’49, and who married Joyce—an art publisher. They lived their adult lives in the Twin Cities metro area, but the Prairie Lake property was a constant in the extended Olson family—to this day.
“Now there’s actually a sixth generation enjoying Prairie Lake/Pelican Rapids,” notes Zena. Her 25 year old daughter, Lily Joyce (Olson) Wujek is also a summer visitor to the area. So strong were Zena’s sentimental connections to the Pelican Rapids area, that in 2012 she purchased the distinctive “Henry Frazee House,” a block southeast of the Post Office, with the intent of living in her “adopted hometown” in retirement years.
Many Pelican Rapids area residents will recall the local “haberdashery,” Olson’s Mens Wear.
An antiquated term that few may understand with modern vocabulary, a “haberdasher” usually described a merchant specializing in men’s clothing.
One of America’s most famous “haberdashers” was Harry Truman, a guy who wasn’t particularly successful as a merchant—but later became what most historians agree was one of the finest U.S. presidents.