I will begin this week’s column by telling you a few things about John Reigstad Anderson who was born to Andrew and Martha Reigstad in Reigstad, Norway on February 6, 1863. When John was about five years old the entire family of three boys, two girls and the parents began the long journey by boat to America. One of the girls became sick and died on the voyage over and was buried at sea.
Once they made it to America, the family settled in this area.
As he grew into manhood John took up carpentry as a trade and built many houses and stores in the DeForest area. He built the first high school in DeForest. It no longer stands as it was replaced by a new high school that today is the Holum Education Center.
Being in business his name was often confused with that of his uncle of the same name, so he dropped the Reigstad name and took his father’s first name (Andrew) and added ‘son’ and thereafter was know as John Anderson. His brothers were Simon Reigstad of DeForest, Ole Reigstad of Dwight, North Dakota and a sister, Bertha Hards, Chicago.
In 1895 he married a seamstress, Anna Roisum, and brought her to a new home he had built at the corner of DeForest and Stevenson Streets. That big, old house still stands proud today.
He decided to try farming and bought about five acres, across from the high school which he had built. He gradually bought more land and specialized in dairying and tobacco raising.
As DeForest grew to the east from the railroad tracks towards Highway 51, his farm land became the site for the DeForest Grade School which no longer exists and the new Eagle Point School now sits on this parcel of land. Also the eastern 2.5 acres of Fireman’s Park was Anderson’s farm land. Over the years the Anderson farm land was sold off and many homes are now located there. The Standard Service Station was built on his land and is now the site for the DeForest-Windsor Fire Station.
The couple raised five daughters. John lived to a ripe old age of 89 years when he passed away in 1951. His wife died in 1931.
Congratulations to the DeForest boy’s cross country team on earning a team spot in the Wisconsin State Cross Country Meet at Arrowhead High School on Oct. 31. This was the first DeForest boy’s team to reach the state meet since 1999.
The girl’s team had only one girl competing in the state meet, freshman Logan Peters.
Remember if you lose a sock in the dryer, it comes back as a Tupperware lid that doesn’t fit any of your containers.
Dick Emerson is the former publisher of the DeForest Times-Tribune.