Walter Lawrence Olson, editor, owner and publisher of the "Tribune" at Solomon, was born at Galesburg, Ill., March 27, 1871, the third son of William C. and Margaret (Williamson) Olson, both were born in Sweden, the father on April 20, 1837, and the mother on Oct. 14, 1843. The father came to the United States at the age of about twelve years, settling with his parents, who were farmers, in Knox county, Illinois. He served as a private in the Civil war, being a member of Company I, Eighteenth Illinois infantry. This regiment originally rendezvoused at Anna, Union County, May 16, 1861, for the Ninth Congressional district, under the "Ten Regiment Bill." On May 19 it was mustered into the state service for thirty days, by Ulysses S. Grant, then state mustering officer, and was on the 28th of the same month mustered into the United States service for three years. On June 24 it was moved to Bird's Point, Mo., where it remained, drilling, doing guard duty, working on fortifications, removing railroad buildings and track to keep the same from falling into the river, making news roads, etc., until Aug. 5, when it was moved into the swamp eight miles west on the line of the Chicago & Fulton railroad to guard it and protect workmen making repairs. On Nov. 3 it formed part of a force which was sent to Bloomfield, Mo., to rout Jeff. Thompson and his band, which was accomplished. On Feb. 6, 1862, it was in the advance in General Oglesby's brigade at the capture of Fort Henry and was one of the first to enter the fort, but too late to meet the Confederates, who had flown. At Fort Donelson it occupied the right of Oglesby's brigade, on the right of the line of battle, and during the battle bravely and persistently maintained the position to which it was assigned in the early morning, and not until its ammunition was spent was the order to retire given. Its place that eventful morning was one commanding the road from the fort by which the Confederates essayed to escape, which daring attempt, however; was most signally frustrated by Oglesby's dauntless brigade. The regiment became early engaged in the battle of Shiloh, where the fight was fast and furious, and in the first day's fighting Mr. Olson was so seriously wounded that he was discharged from the service on account of total disability. In 1864 he was married to Miss Margaret Williamson, at Galesburg, Ill., and there engaged in mercantile pursuits until 1877, when with his family he removed to Kansas, taking up government land near Wakeeney, where he still resides. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Masonic order. To him and his good wife were born six children: Henry, born in 1865, died in infancy; Emma L., born in 1868, married William B. Kelly in 1891 and died in 1893; Oscar W., born in 1870, is a stock raiser in Trego county; Walter L. is the next in order of birth; Fred H., born in 1874, is engaged in the mercantile business at Wakeeney; and Margaret, born in 1877, died in 1879.
Walter L. Olson was six years old when the family came to Kansas, was reared on the homestead farm, and was afforded the advantages of the local schools. He later attended Kansas University, the Salina Normal, and spent four years as a student at Shenandoah, Iowa, where he completed the scientific course in the Western Normal College. After leaving school he worked one year at the lumber business at Wakeeney, and then for three years was engaged in the hotel business at the same place. In 1905 he established the Wakeeney "Independent," a weekly newspaper, eventually building up a prosperous business and continuing identified with this enterprise until 1904, when he disposed of the paper and purchased the plant, good will, etc., of the "Tribune" at Solomon, with which publication he is still identified, being one of the representative newspaper men of that section of the state. Mr. Olson is a man of sterling character and holds the confidence and regard of all who know him. His paper is an influential independent weekly and has a circulation of about 1,000. He served as police judge of Solomon three years, from 1906 to 1909, and in the last named year was elected on the Citizens' ticket as mayor of Solomon, in which position he served one term. He is a Mason and a Knight of Pythias, and he and his wife are zealous members of the Presbyterian church.
On June 22, 1892, Mr. Olson was united in marriage to Miss Lelia Grace, daughter of I. H. and Margaret Holcomb, of Shenandoah, Iowa, the former of whom died in 1894 and the latter in 1903. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Olson are: Walter Curtis, born April 4, 1893; Stanley Holcomb, born Feb. 15, 1896; and Stuart Reynolds, born Jan. 16, 1899.Pages 967-969 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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