Louis & Thora Skarison

Louis Mathias Skarison was born in Tonsberg, Norway in 1840. A sailor in his early adulthood, he sailed for America in 1859 and landed in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His destination was St. Louis, Missouri. On his way there, he was robbed of everything he had. Arriving in St. Louis penniless and in a land that was unfamiliar to him, he enlisted with the 40th Missouri Regiment in 1864, and served with the Union Army until the end of the Civil War.

He received his discharge from the army in 1868, and made his way to Chicago. From there, he came to Iowa, where he became a farmer at Lawler.

In Lawler, he married Thora Hendreka Christofferson, also a Norwegian immigrant. Their first child was Albert, who was born at Lawler, Iowa. They were later to have nine additional children.

In 1881, the Louis Skarison family traveled to Fargo, North Dakota, where Louis worked as a painter. In 1883, they moved to Mayville, which was then only a year old as a community. Two shacks put together served as their home.

The Skarison children were expected to earn their spending money, and they did so by picking and selling gooseberries door to door for five cents a quart.

In Mayville, Louis Skarison began a tradition each 4th of July. Early on the morning of the 4th, he would go to the blacksmith shop, spread gunpowder on the anvil and, when he was ready, he would shoot it off. Before long, this became a regular event that the town looked foreward to each Independence Day.

After living in Mayville for twenty years, Louis moved his family to Velva, in McHenry County, in 1900. There, on the North Prairie, he filed a homestead claim.

Even after living in Velva for many years, Louis would try to arrange so that he could get to Mayville for the Decoration Day Parade. It was an event that he took great pride in, marching down the street in his blue uniform of the G.A.R. with his many medals gleaming on his chest, at the head of the parade.

Louis Skarison took an active part in the G.A.R. organization, and was once Commander of the North Dakota G.A.R. He was also a member of the American Legion, being made an honorary member of the American Legion Post in Velva.

On July 16, 1936, Louis Mathias Skarison passed away, at the age of ninety-five.

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