Sunday, August 5, 2018

Butryx Abdon Olson (1885-1957)

Portrait from "Mellette County, 1911-1961".

  Sporting a first and middle name combination that sounds as if it could be a gemstone or mineral, Mellette County, South Dakota resident Butryx Abdon Olson can rightly be considered one of the most unusually named men ever to be elected to the South Dakota legislature. A transplant to that state from Nebraska, Olson served in several local political offices in the town of White River and also held the post of mayor for one term. One of five children born to Christian and Emma Olson (name spelled Oleson in the 1900 census), Butryx Abdon "B.A." Olson was born in Washington County, Nebraska on July 29, 1885.
  Olson's early education occurred in the state of his birth and after earning a teaching certificate from the Nebraska State Normal School at Fremont began teaching school in the Spencer, Nebraska area. In 1912 Olson left Nebraska for South Dakota, and after locating in the town of White River in Mellette County began homesteading and took work in the abstract and loan business, partnering with C.S. Haight. Olson married in April 1914 to Esther Elvira Johnson (1889-1941) and the couple's near three decades of marriage saw the births of seven children, Laurance E. (1916-1980), Clifford (1918-2002), George W.  (1922-2001), Russell Curtis (1926-2017)Dorothy (1929-2015), Eugene R. (birthdate unknown) and John C. (birthdate unknown).
  In the years following his relocation to Mellette County, Olson entered local politics, serving at various times as deputy county treasurer and register of deeds. In the late 1910s he held the post of cashier for the White River State Bank and by 1922 was serving as its president. In 1921 Olson was elected as the mayor of White River and his one term in office saw the erection of a municipal hydroelectric plant on the Little White River. In November 1922 he was elected as Mellette County's representative to the South Dakota legislature and would serve one term (1923-25).
  In the 1924 Republican primary, Olson failed in his bid for renomination, losing out to J.A. Houseman, who garnered 230 votes to Olson's 144. Following his loss Olson was selected as Rural Letter Carrier for White River's route 2, having first been awarded a post office department contract in 1916. Olson continued affiliation with the post office for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1955. Widowed in 1941, Olson remarried in 1949 to Helen Chapin Strait (1901-1983), who survived him upon his death.
  After many years of service to the Mellette County community, Butryx A. Olson died at a Rapid City hospital on September 11, 1957, aged 72. He was survived by his wife and children and was interred at the White River Cemetery.

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