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2013 Centennial

Martin Jacobson

Martin Jacobson was born at Ridgeway, Iowa, November 17, 1863, the son of Jacob and Esther (Hanson) Knudson, both of whom were natives of Norway. In early life, however, they came to the new world and were married in Iowa where for many years the father engaged in farming and both he and his wife died and were buried on the old homestead in that state. Martin Jacobson was the sixth in order of birth in their family of seven children. He was reared in Iowa when the district was a pioneer locality and he pursued his education in a log school house near his fatherís place. He worked in the fields and assisted with cultivation until he was eighteen years of age. He arrived in the Dakota Territory in 1882. He worked one summer for John Miller, who was the first governor of the state, and later he returned to Iowa. When he was twenty-two he returned to North Dakota and homesteaded eight miles west of Minot.

The following winter Jacobson returned to Iowa, married Miss Annie Kittelson who was born at Ridgeway, Iowa and then brought his bride to their new home in Minot. Miss Kittelsonís parents were Albert and Aagaat (Mogen) Kittelson who were born in the same place in Norway. Both Mr. and Mrs. Jacobsonís parents were children together and came to American about the same time. To Mr. and Mrs. Jacobson were born six children. Earl H., Chester J., Alletie Christina, Mildred Almira, Alton Leroy, and Vernon Malcolm.

Mr. Jacobson later moved to into Minot, but still continued the ranch operation and farmed sixteen hundred acres, which were devoted to raising grain. Once in the city, Mr. Jacobson developed a hardware business on the northeast corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. He enjoyed a very lucrative business and employed more than twenty people. In 1902, he built the cities only opera house above the hardware store. His building also housed the Union National Bank, for which he served as the first vice president. In 1904, Mr. Jacobson built his stately residence on North Main, in downtown Minot, which still serves the community as the Thomas Funeral Home. He eventually sold out the hardware store to two of his employees who formed the firm of Fugelso & Jacobson.

Mr. Jacobson was prominent in Masonic circles, belonging to the blue lodge chapter and commandery of Minot, to the consistory at Grand Forks and to the Mystic Shrine. He was also active in the Sons of Norway. At the age of twenty-five he was elected as a county commissioner, being the youngest member elected for that position. For more than twenty years he served on local school boards, first at Burlington and afterward at Minot, and acted as chairman of the Minot teachers committee. He was also chairman of the building committee for the new high school at Minot (currently known as Central High School).

Mr. Jacobson was a member of the North Dakota state senate for two terms. He also served for two years as a member of the state normal board, which provided oversight to normal school operations within the state. The current landscape and building layout at the university were constructed largely from his plans. Mr. Jacobsonís name can be found of the cornerstone of Old Main, which was erected in 1913-14 He also had property that was under consideration for the normal school site; however, the property of Erik Ramstad was selected. He served on the city library board and for many years was a trustee of his church.

Photograph and Biographical information sources:
Crawford, Lewis. History of North Dakota, Volume III. The American Historical Society, Inc., 1931.
Ward County Independent, Minot, North Dakota.