CLARENCE A. YOUNGGREN. The oldest Swedish settler and resident of Stevens County, and a man who has played a positive part in the agricultural development of the county, Clarence A. Younggren came here from McPherson County, Kansas, November 29, 1885, choosing this locality because of the presence here of many of his countrymen. His early years here were filled with hardships and discouragements but he kept perseveringly at it, with the result that today he is one of the substantial men of his community. His service to the county and his immediate locality in public positions has been a valuable one, and he is accounted one of the most desirable and useful citizens of his region.
Mr. Younggren was born in the State of Smoland, Sweden, County of Westra and Town of Redeby, July 4, 1844, a son of Jones Magnus and Gerta Rosenquist. His only brother, Axel, died at Cadillac, Michigan. In his native land he acquired a liberal education, finally attending the University of Jankopeng for six years, and his course there included instruction in the English language, so that he was splendidly equipped in mind for competition in the new world, although not so well as to the matter of finances. In 1868, when twenty-four years of age, he immigrated to the United States and located in the vicinity of Andover, Henry County, Illinois. His education had been used up to that time merely to compete with his fellowmen in the affairs of his sphere, and his first work in Illinois was as a farm hand cultivating corn, at a wage of $15 a month for the first month, although later, during harvest times, he earned $3 a day. He also had a brief experience as a merchant's clerk. He worked by the month or by the day for several years, frugally saving his earnings and loaning his money out on interest at times, and when able to do so became a renter on shares. Although this was little better than wageworking, financially, it was more independent and satisfied him. About this time he was married, and the subsequent removal of his wife's people to Kansas gave him the idea of migrating to this state.
Accordingly he went to McPherson County, Kansas, and in Dolmor Township became a renter, which was his status during the time he remained in that county, but making progress was a slow process, and while he raised a fine wheat crop in 1884, the price, 35 cents a bushel, was so low that it brought him little profit and in addition he was compelled to haul it forty miles to find a market. He had made a practice of feeding his corn to his hogs and other animals, and thus won what profit there was to be gained out of that grain. Mr. Younggren, while he had no friends in Stevens County, decided to get away from the practice of renting and to secure a "gift" home through the generosity of his adopted land. Following the suggestion of Judge Simpson of McPherson, he filed on a claim two miles north and five miles west of Hugoton, without seeing the land, a homestead and tree claim in section 5, township 33, range 38, the east half of the section. When he drove in, with his team and four cows, he measured the distance to the locality with his wagonwheel, by the method of tying his bandanna handkerchief around a spoke in the wheel and counting the revolutions until they totaled just the miles he wished to go, and it is a remarkable fact that he missed his corner by only two rods by this method.
Mr. Younggren's claim was decorated with a dugout as his pioneer home. One room was all he built to begin with, and his wife and children lived in this primitive home for eight or nine years. He made an effort at farming like he had in McPherson County, but had no marked success until he began raising broom corn. He has grown this crop almost every year since, and although he has occasionally had to sell it for less than it cost himas low as $15 a tonhe has also sold it as high as $75 a ton until the banner year of 1917, when he sold at $260 a ton, and it has proved a paying crop. He started in as a cattle raiser with the cows which he drove in here, gradually increased his herd to 500 head, and in 1916 sold out his herd and quit the business. He bred the Shorthorn stock and he has also exercised economy by raising his own horses.
There was scarcely anyone here when Mr. Younggren came. There were nothing but dugouts on the Hugoton Townsite, and while Mr. Sharp was running a real estate office there was no land proved up. In the spring of 1886 the people flocked into this township and all the desirable claims were filed on, so that by 1887 there was someone on nearly every quarter-section of land with the exception of the tree claims. The country was full of young men seeking an opportunity in a financial way under the pre-emption laws, and they commuted in six months, got their patents, and placed mortgages of from $500 to $700 on each quarter, and an additional $100 for a well with water, and then almost without exception abandoned the country. It is stated as a fact that some of these youngsters dug a hole, hauled water and emptied into it and called it a well for the purpose of getting the Government money offered for a well.
Mr. Younggren was urged to prove up his pre-emption and take a loan on it, but this he declined to do, and he has never placed a mortgage upon any of his land. He began buying property with the achievement of such a financial success as to warrant it, and his first tract bought was practically for taxes, according to a scheme evolved by the board of commissioners applying to delinquent lands. He continued to buy from time to time, and $2,000 is the most paid by him for a quarter section adjoining his home. He now owns seven quarter-sections, 1,120 acres, of which he is farming about 200 acres, and always raises his own meat.
Mr. Younggren has served his township as justice of the peace fourteen years and for ten years was postmaster of the rural postoffice at Clarence. He has been on the school board as either director or clerk for the past twenty-six years. Mr. Younggren took out his papers of naturalization in Henry County, Illinois, and cast his first vote there in 1872, giving his ballot to General Grant, and since that time has never missed an election or failed to vote for a republican candidate for president. When solicited to vote for Greeley instead of Grant, he replied: "I am too much of a black republican for that." In religion Mr. and Mrs. Younggren are Lutherans, having been brought up in that faith. Mr. Younggren became a Free Mason in Sweden, but never affiliated with the order in the United States.
On February 8, 1877, Mr. Younggren was married to Miss Sophie Ericson, who was born July 26, 1854, a daughter of Andrew Ericson, who came from Westergothland, where Mrs. Younggren was born. She has one sister, Mrs. Eliza Nelson, of Reno County, Kansas, and the sisters were the only children to grow up in the parental home. To Mr. and Mrs. Younggren the following children have been born: Hilda Victoria, who married Charles M. Weissert, of Fort Morgan, Colorado, and has three children, Emily, Carrie and Leona; Hugo, an extensive ranchman of Stevens County, Kansas; Amos, a farmer and ranchman of that county, married Gladys Milburn and has two children, Alice and Amos Vincent; Mabel, who married George Hodges, of Stevens County, and has three children, Ervin, Edith and Eula; Pearl, the wife of Orville Rich, of Stevens County; and Minnie, who is single and resides with her parents.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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