Monday, January 19, 2015

Thrond Torsteinsen Morken (1852-1932)

Portrait courtesy of the Minnesota Digital Library.

   Two-term Minnesota state representative Thrond Torsteinsen Morken joins a shortlist of oddly named Norwegian natives who've had a profile posted here, the last of whom, Marthinus F. Hegge, being featured back in December. A probate judge prior to his legislative service, Morken had previously served as County Commissioner for Polk County, Minnesota in the early 1900s.
   The son of Torsten and Carrie Lunde Morken, Thrond T. Morken was born in Norway on July 8, 1852. Little is known of his early life in his native country, excepting that he was "educated in the common schools" of Norway. In 1874 Morken immigrated to the United States, settling in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where he would engage in farming. He would also farm in Nelson County, North Dakota for a period of about ten years and in 1883 married to Bertha Karene Strandsness (1859-1947), later having one son, Thorsten (1888-1971).
   Morken continued to reside and farm in North Dakota until 1892, when he removed back to Minnesota, settling in Polk County. Eight years after his resettlement Morken was elected as a member of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, subsequently holding that post from 1901-1905. Two years after leaving that office he was appointed as Judge of Probate for Polk County, and would later be elected to a term of his own, serving a total of seven years on the bench (1906-1913). Towards the end of his term as probate judge, Morken was elected as one of Polk County's representatives to the Minnesota state legislature in November 1912, taking his seat at the beginning of the January 1913 term.
   Morken's first term as a state representative saw him serve on the committees on Claims, Labor and Labor Legislation, State Hospitals, Telephone and Telegraph, Temperance Legislation, Workmen's Compensation, and was chairman of the committee on Logs and Lumber. As a candidate for reelection in 1914, Morken faced off against John Clementsen, and on election day triumphed in the vote count, garnering 2,597 votes to his opponent's 2,096. During the 1915-17 term Morken held seats on the house committees on Claims, Elections, Forestry, Labor and Labor Legislation, Reapportionment, State Normal Schools and Workmen's Compensation, and is also recorded as having supported the " county option and all temperance laws, equal suffrage, repeal of the Elwell law and semi-monthly pay day."
   Little else could be found on Morken's life after leaving the legislature. He died a week after his 80th birthday on July 15, 1932 at his home in Crookston and was later buried at the Oakdale Cemetery in that town. Morken's wife Bertha was also interred here following her death in 1947. 

Morken's legislative portrait from 1915-16.

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