Beautifully engraved certificate from the Fort Dodge Telephone Company
issued in 1923. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an eagle. This item has the signatures of the Company's President, Olaf Martin Oleson and Secretary and is over 83 years old.
Olaf Martin Oleson was born on June 29, 1849 near the city of Stenkjer, Norway. Born the son of a teacher and farmer, O.M. enjoyed gardening and caring for the land. In 1870 he migrated to the United States with cash resources of less than one dollar, hoping such a move would afford him a better opportunity. O.M. came directly to Fort Dodge and after working on area farms and a retail drug business, he understood the importance of an education and decided to attend the Philadelphia School of Pharmacy. After graduating with honors in 1876, he returned to Fort Dodge and established the Oleson Drug Company, a company that remained in business at the same location until 1965. O.M. quickly became a progressive and successful businessman and was instrumental in the development of other local businesses such as the Fort Dodge Light and Power Company, O.M. Oleson Land Company, the Fort Dodge Hotel Company, the Iowa Trust and Livestock Company, and the Fort Dodge Telephone Company. He also had a keen interest in politics and served in the Iowa Senate from 1892 to 1896.
In 1907, O.M. married Julie Halsted Haskell, a Fort Dodge native, and together, they began a long and admired tradition of philanthropy. Combining their assets for the good of the community, O.M. and Julie were strong advocates for the advancement of the city providing significant support for the building of Lutheran Hospital and the new Congregational Church, as well as their gift of land for what is now Oleson Park, a renown city park in Fort Dodge. Over the course of their lifetime, many other community services and city ventures benefited from the generosity of the Olesons. In 1943, O.M. died at the age of 94. Following his death, Julie by virtue of her own inclination and by the expressed testamentary wishes of her esteemed husband, continued the Oleson tradition of philanthropy, supporting the YMCA, the YWCA, Friendship Haven, Lutheran Hospital and other public welfare institutions, both during her lifetime and at her death.
O.M. was elected to the Lutheran Hospital Board of Directors on June 4, 1926 and retained that position until his death on February 8, 1944. He was instrumental in the opening of Lutheran Hospital and has been credited with saving Lutheran Hospital from bankruptcy during the Great Depression. A highly respected businessman and civic leader, O.M. is also remembered for his gifts of leadership, character and judgement. At the time of his death, O.M. was recognized as "the most public spirited citizen in Fort Dodge’s long history."
History from Wikipedia.