Thursday, July 26, 2018

Nordahl Winslow Nicholsen (1876-1964)

Portrait from the 1942 North Dakota Blue Book.

   The 1941-43 session of the North Dakota legislature could boast not one but two strangely named political figures, and following on the heels of the July 21st write-up on Anfin N. Kindem, another representative from that session is accorded his due, Nordahl Winslow Nicholsen of Mohall. Even more obscure than the man who preceded him here, nearly every period source mentioning Nicholsen records him by his initials, including his brief biography in the 1942 North Dakota Blue Book. However, a search through the 1920 and 1930 North Dakota census revealed his first name to be Nordahl, and a World War I draft registration card (presumably filled out by the man himself) yielded his full name. Needless to say, it is an unusual one!
  A native of Minnesota, Nordahl W. Nicholsen was born in Austin on April 24, 1876, and was a student in the public schools of that state. By 1900 he had left Minnesota to homestead in Bottineau County, North Dakota, and after settling in Renville township erected a sod house (pictured below) in which he would reside until removing to the neighboring town of Mohall, which had been founded in 1901. Nicholsen married to Rebecca (Rebekka) Bengstad (1875-1973) in the early 1900s and would later have three children, Clara Berdine (1903-1987), Dora (1905-1992) and Neivus L. (1906-1969). 

Nicholsen's sod house, from "Commemorating Mohall's 75th Anniversary", 1976.

  Following his removal to Mohall, Nicholsen quickly established roots in the still young town, and in addition to farming operated a hardware implement business for a number of years. A longstanding member of the Lutheran Brethren church, Nicholsen held both the presidency and vice presidency of that church's board in Mohall and in June 1917 was a delegate from Mohall to the 17th annual Lutheran Brethren Convention in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
  In April 1915 Nicholsen was elected to the first of two terms on the Mohall city council and later served two terms as president of the city park board. In November 1940 he was elected as Mohall's representative to the North Dakota state legislature and during his one term in office sat on the committees on Elections and Election Privileges, and Mines and Mining.
  Information regarding Nicholsen's life following his term in the legislature remains scant, excepting notice of his managing the hardware department of the Page Brothers store in Mohall. Nicholsen died in Bottineau County on March 7, 1964, at age 87 and was interred at the Mohall Cemetery.

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