Spicer entrepreneur was no stick in the mud

William (Bill) Olson hasn’t been with us for some years, yet his story lingers on. He came to Spicer when he was in his early 20s and devoted himself to the community, with a special interest in tourism.

He was a young bachelor in Chippewa County where he had a homestead when this story happened. His homestead was in Woods Township about 25 miles from the county seat, Montevideo, which meant that county business ended up requiring quite a bit of travel. Not everyone owned transportation, which meant that there were a lot of neighbors looking for rides almost any time.

It so happened Bill, as he was called, heard that two school ma’ams were looking for a way to get to Montevideo so they could take the exam for teaching certificates, which was required for every teacher in Chippewa County.

Being the gentleman he always tried to be, Bill offered them the 25-mile ride to Montevideo, since he was going there himself.

It was a happy pair of young ladies who boarded Bill’s carriage that Monday morning.

Bill climbed up to the driver’s seat, cracked his whip over the heads of the team and they were off!

Now at the time this happened, 1881, there were few roads in Chippewa County so travel was a matter of following tracks or trails, whichever gave the best driving surface.

Everything went nicely until they heard Bill pushing the horses to try harder to get the carriage out of a knee-deep mud hole since there was no one nearby on whom Bill could call for help. With a bit of luck Bill’s Montevideo passengers could still take the exam.

Finally he decided that he’d have to carry them to the dry spot way ahead. Then he realized that his two young passengers would each tip the scales at at least 150 pounds!

Bill knew when he had lost. He invited the first young lady to let him carry her to a relatively dry spot. When that had been accomplished he did the same for her friend, but that was the end of it. Carrying 150 pounds in knee deep muck is not recommended.

Bill’s passengers finished their tests in time to ride back with him; there is no record of their going anywhere else with him — ever.

He became interested in Kandiyohi County real estate, particularly in Green Lake for its development possibilities. He promoted summer places, fishing and other water sports.

He brought the first steamboat to Green Lake, and the railroad started running excursions which, in turn brought more people, and a bright future for Spicer.