Lee County Biographies

Ole J. Prestegard
Alto Twp.


Ole. J. Prestegard Residence

Ole J. Prestegard, an extensive farmer, residing in Alto Township, stands among the most able and progressive men of his class in Lee County. He was born in Odde, Hardanger, Bergensteft, Norway, April 23, 1841. His father, Jorgen Oleson, was a native of the same place. He was reared to agricultural pursuits, and after marriage settled on the Prestegard farm, and therefore, according to the custom of that country, his name became Prestegard, which name his children bear. He was a resident of Norway until 1869, when he came to America and settled in Alto Twp. where he died at a ripe old age in 1886. The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Gunild Buer, and she was a daughter of Heije and Gunild Buer. These are the names of the six children that she reared to lives of usefulness; Ole J., Gunild, Heije, Guro, Bertha and Jorgen.

Our subject commenced to work when very young and at 13 years of age the stout, self-reliant little lad began life as a sailor in a fishing vessel. He was employed in fishing off the coast of Norway until 1864. Ambitious to see more of the world and to make his way to a competence under more propitious circumstances than in the hard life he was leading before the mast, in that year he left his native land and sailed for America in the the good ship "Victor Emanuel." A voyage of five weeks brought him to Quebec, but he did not tarry in the Queen's dominions, hastening instead to the States, coming directly to Chicago, wher ehe landed June 1. He then made one trip on a lake vessel, and the following six weeks was employed in a lumber yard in Chicago. After that he came to Lee County, and began his new life here as a laborer in the harvest field at $2 a day. When the crops were gathered in he found employment at $21 a month for three months, and later worked by the day or job, turning his hand to anything at which he could earn an honest living.

In the spring of 1865 Mr. prestegard, in company with another man, purchased 80 acres of prairie land, of which 20 acres were broken, and that constituted the entire improvements. During the same year his partner died, and the following year he purchased his interest in the tract of the heirs and erected a frame house on the place. He was actively engaged in farming until 1871, when he removed to the village of Lee in order to engage in the lumber business, which he carried on until 1887. Then returning to his farm he has since devoted his energie entirely to agricultural pursuits. He has bought other tracts of lands at different times, and his farm now comprises 320 acres of well improved land. In 1888 he erected his present residence. It is a commodious brick house, of a modern style of architecture, conventiently arranged and well appointed. He has a large frame barn and other building, which rank with the best in the township.

He found a wise and able helper in his marriage in Dec. 1868 to Jound Peterson Maakestad, who is all to him that a true wife can be. She was born in Hardanger, Norway, and is a daughter of Lars and Segri Peterson Maakestad. She came to America with her parents in the same vessel with her husband. Their marriage has been productive to them of 12 children, three of whom are deceased and the following survive; Gunild, Lrs, Jorgen, Sarah, Anna, peter, Olaf, Bernt and Henry.

The family are all members of the Lutheran Church, and their standing in the community is high. Mr. Prestegard is a true Republican in politics and is loyal in his citizenship to his adopted country. He has a thoughtful, intelligent mind, has always been a reader, and is well informed on all matters of general interest, while the appearance of his fine farm demonstrates his ability as an enlightened farmer.

Portraits & Biographical 1892 Pg 736

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