John G.  & Anna Flann
by LaVonne Bomsta Hookom

(Notes from the Flann History Book and our research)

posted here 22 December 2016

edit 17 January 2016

Hattie Flann Bomsta’s father, John G. Flann was born on March 7, 1844 in Rennebu in South Trøndelag, Norway. He was baptized at the Innset Parish, Norway, south of Trondheim on April 8, 1844. His parents Halvor Halverson and his wife, Randie Ingebrigtsdatter lived with their family on the farm Jernaabakken near the town of Ullsberg in South Trøndelag. He attended school until age 14. He and his sister Annie went north to work on farms. They worked on a farm called Flaa so she was called Annie Halvorsdatter Flaaen and he was called John Halvorson Flaaen. Somehow, one "a" and the "e" was dropped to arrive at the name Flann. After a few years he went north of Trondheim to Namsdalen where he found work with a logging contractor. Later he went further north to work with another logging contractor. Then he went even further north to work in the large sawmills at Vefsen of the fylke (county) of Nordland until he came to America. In 1868 he sailed with a number of emigrants in a sailing vessel "Johan" from Namsos, Norway, in May and arrived in Quebec on July 14. They traveled to Red Wing, Minnesota, to work in the harvest fields. The next year the Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Railroad was building track to St. Paul and he was hired to work on a construction crew that summer. He worked his way up to be a foreman, and soon began taking grading contracts for the Railroad Company.

On January 28, 1873 he married Anna Christina Rehn Swenson who was born at Luveryd, Norregård, Rydaholm, Jönköping, Smaland, Sweden to Sven Jeansson Rehn and Ingrid Andersdatter. Anna came to America in 1868. She worked as a domestic servant in Cannon Falls and Hastings, Minnesota until her marriage. Pastor P. Sjoblom from the First Lutheran Church in Red Wing, Minnesota, married them. Witnesses were Ole Flann and John E. Raak. They had their honeymoon in Vasa, Goodhue County, Minnesota. Afterwards they located at Etter Station, north of Red Wing. They lived in Ravena Township near Hastings, Minnesota in Dakota County where he continued as a contractor in grading and road construction.

Their oldest daughters, Randie and Mary were born in Hastings. In 1877, John came to Lake Lillian, Minnesota in Kandiyohi County to look for a farm on which to establish a home. He bought some land and built a one-room house. In 1878 he moved his family in a covered wagon drawn by one team of big brown mares with three cows tied behind. Shortly after their arrival, Edward was born. John had to go back for more items so he had to leave the family and everything went well due to kind neighbors who watched over Anna and her little children. They were able to get some crops planted that year in the very rich and productive soil. Trips to St. Peter, Minnesota were made to replenish the flour barrel, food and other supplies. These long distance trips were a hardship for them. The first store was built on the shore of Lake Lillian Lake next to Andrew Anderson's farm in 1891.

John and Anna raised eight children: Randie, Mary, Edward, Helen, Charles, Emily, Annie and Hattie.

Edward, Helen and Charles were born in the one room house. In 1885, an addition was built to the house and then another addition in 1896.

Flann family gathered in yard

This original house was taken down sometime after 1971.

At present the farm consists of 400 acres. Howard Flann’s family live on the farm now at 18610 98th Street SE. They have built a new house next to where the old structure stood for 93 years.

John's brother, Ole, went back to Norway to bring their parents, Halvor and Randie Flann, and sister Marit to America in 1892. They came to Bird Island on the train.

Halvor and Randie Flann

Halvor and Randie lived at John Flann's home until their deaths. Randie died in 1910 and Halvor died in 1911. They are both buried at Tromso Memorial Lutheran Cemetery.

John and Anna were among the early members of the Tromsø Lutheran Free Church. They both served in many roles of leadership. John served as secretary for 31 years. They opened their home for church services before the church was built. John was Town Board Clerk for 36 years, served on the School Board, Lake Lillian Creamery Association Board; he was a County Commissioner and was active in the County Republican Party.

John and Anna Flann family with names

John and Anna Flann

John died May 18, 1925. Anna died December 27, 1929. They are both buried at the Tromso Memorial Cemetery north of Lake Lillian, Minnesota.





A memorable gathering occurred at John G. Flann's place in Lake Lillian last Sunday afternoon. Over four hundred people gathered from far and near to give Mr. Flann and his estimable wife a surprise party. Mr. Ole E. Erickson was the chief conspirator and his lead was joyously followed by a host of friends whom were glad to do honor to so deserving people. Mr. Flann had been told that a young people's meeting was to be held at his place, but when, after his return from church old friends came from far and near---a dozen well-filled autos from Bird Island and others from other points rolled into the yard, and neighbors came out en masse, Mr. Flann began to feel that something extraordinary was on foot. And he surmised correctly. Seats were improvised on the lawn. The organ was brought out. Mr. Ole E. Erickson, who officiated as the master of ceremonies in his usual witty and emphatic style, summoned the crowd together and first called on Gov. A.E. Rice of Willmar to do his part. Gov. Rice first told how the "live wire" of Lake Lillian in this undertaking had enlisted him and how gladly he had responded to the call. He referred to the nine stalwart Erickson boys who all stood over six feet tall, and who constituted a squad that would have gladdened the heart of Charles the Twelfth. He then addressed the object of the gathering, complimented him on his public service of thirty-five years as town clerk and in other capacities, and on behalf of those present, presented Mr. Flann with a fine Howard gold watch, suitably engraved with the initials J.G.F. on outside of cover and with a likeness of Mrs. Flann engraved on the inside. He also presented Mrs. Flann with a handsome handbag.

Mr. Matts Walner was next called upon to sing, and he sang a special song for the occasion accompanied by Mr. Walter Skoglund on the trombone and Miss Helen Lundgren on the organ.

Thereupon Judge G.E. Qvale was called and made a neat speech in which he extended his congratulations and paid tribute to Mr. Flann as a peace-maker, one who would use his influence to settle disputes and discourage people from going to law

Hon. P.A. Gandrud, of Sunburg, who had come forty-five miles to be present, was the next speaker. He was glad to be present and participate in honoring a friend and worthy old pioneer of the section. Such occasions as these make for good fellowship and enable one to take a better view of life.

Mr. Matts Walner, the poet laureate of Lake Lillian, next read a composition, which we are privileged to print herewith in the original:

Jag ser en skara vänner, som samlats har i dag,

De flesta jag ock känner; de bära glada drag.

Vi samlats ha som vänner, till Townclerk John G.Flann,

Och alla honom känner så hjärteligt igen.

Han alltid varit trogen, han gjordt sin skyldighet,

det bästa för allmogen; ibland dock fätt förtret.

Gemytlig dock han varit hur saken än han stått.

Vi alltid ha erfarit han gjort allt rätt och godt.

Vi vill dig hyllning gifva för tid bäd lång och god,

och må du än förblifva vid styrka, kraft och mod.

Om hjässan hvit än blifver du klara tankar har,

Och goda råd du gifver lik en förståndig far.

Hos dig man aldrig finner en tid båd lång och svår;

du folkets kärlek vinner för hvarje dag som g†r.

Vi hoppas du vill vara ibland oss ännt kvar.

Till stan du ej må fara - i Lake Lillian godt du har.

A rough translation of the above poem.

I see a bunch of friends I bring here today,

Most I know are happy to be here.

They have been friends to town clerk, John Flann.

Everybody knows him to heart, always faithful & doing his duty (part)

Does best for everybody sometimes upset someone

Always good humor however he stood

Always felt he has done all right and good

We will congratulate you for this long & good

And that you will have strength, power & good spirit

Even when your hair turns white you will have clear thought & give good advice like our understanding Father.

Will you never find time long & difficult

Will have people’s love in the future

We hope you will be with us a long time and don’t leave.

Stay in Lake Lillian where you have it good.

Atty. Chas. Johnson followed with a ringing speech in the honored and heroic language of the Northland, but closed in the language of this country with a plea for good citizenship.

County Supt. W. D. Frederickson spoke as an old friend of Mr. Flann, and paid him a fine compliment. Troubles he has experienced have only served to bring out the good mettle of his life.

Samuel Nelson sang a solo, “Onward Christian Soldiers," and was followed by County Attorney Otterness who spoke on true success in life.

H. J. Ramsett was introduced "as the man you must see if you want to get married" and made a congratulatory speech. Hon. N. O. Nelson and Mr. A. O. Nelson followed him. The chairman, Mr. Ole E. Erickson then explained a certain story, which Gov. Rice had sprung, about him, telling how he got into trouble while a boy at school in Mockfjörd.

H. And. Lobnitz spoke and said he was "glad to live to see the day" that his old friend, Mr. Flann was given some recognition he deserved. He told of Mr. Flann's unselfish efforts for the community, his innate modesty, his good common sense, and his store of knowledge, not acquired in any school but that of experience.

Rev. Hoyum, the pastor, then paid a tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Flann as parishioners, and closed with a prayer invoking the blessings of God on the occasion.

Mr. Flann was almost overcome by his emotions and at the close thanked all the friends for their kindness shown. He said he would be reminded of the occasion every time he looked at the watch given him.

Ice cream and cake was served to those present, and a photographer took a picture of the assembled people. There were 170 contributors to the surprise fund and many had their families with them. There is a surplus in the fund, we understand, and it is being planned to use it to provide another pleasant gathering of those who were present on this occasion.

Flann Familly Reunion 1916

Click the image to load a very Large version

numbered from left mostly




1844 - 1925

Mr. John G. Flann, one of the pioneers and time-honored settlers of Lake Lillian, has passed to his last reward. He died on Monday, May 18, 1925 at 11:30 A.M.

John G. Flann was born Rennebu, South Trøndelag, Norway, on the 7th day of March 1844, of the parents Halvor Halvorson and wife, Randie Ingebrigtsdatter. He was baptized the same year in the Innset Church, of which his parents were prominent members.

In his 7th year he began attending the public school, and continued until his 14th year, when he went north to Rennebu Parish, where he finished his confirmation and was confirmed the year after. Here he worked on farms a few years, and then he went north the next winter and found work with the logging contractors in Namdalen, and remained with them for several years. Later he went north and worked in the large sawmills of the English Syndicate in Vefsen, Nordland, until he made up his mind to go to America. In 1868 he shipped with a number of emigrants in a sailing vessel from Namsos in May and came to Quebec on the 14th of July. A week later they arrived in Red Wing, Minnesota, and went to work in the harvest fields.


The next year the C.M. & St. Paul Railway was building their lines to St. Paul and he worked with a construction crew that summer. In the following years he continued in the work and became a foreman, and soon began taking contracts of grading for the railway company.


In 1873 he was married to Miss Anna Christina Rehn Swenson from Sweden in Hastings and they had their honeymoon in Vasa, Goodhue County, Minnesota. Afterwards they located at Etter Station, north of Red Wing, where he continued some years as a contractor in grading and road construction.

In 1876 he came west and settled in Lake Lillian on the farm that he had bought. Here he farmed in good years and bad years with the same fortitude that always characterized his life, as his neighbors so often heard him say: “Aa, De Gaar Nok.”

In 1879 he became Town Clerk of Lake Lillian and he held that office for 36 years, besides being school officer for several terms and County Commissioner and other positions of trust in his home county. He was one of the charter members of the Tromsø Norwegian Lutheran Church and served as its secretary for 31 years. In the latter years his health began to fail and since last fall his sickness became more and more complicated, so that he felt the nearness of death. He sometimes suffered pains that became more frequent in the winter, and drained his strength, yet he lingered on till Monday, May 18, at 11:30 when his life ebbed away into eternity.

The deceased leaves his wife and seven children, who were all present when he passed away. The children are: (Mary) Mrs. Erick Nordin, Lake Lillian; Edward of Lake Lillian; (Helen) Mrs. Andy Anderson, Markville; Charles S., Lake Lillian; (Emily) Mrs. M.C. Mattson, Duluth; (Annie) Mrs. Albert Bengtson, Lake Lillian; (Hattie) Mrs. Henning Bomsta, Lake Elizabeth; Ellsworth, Lake Lillian; besides 43 grandchildren, two brothers, Ole A. Flann of Thief River Falls, and Michael Flann of Minneapolis; three sisters, Mrs. Nels Mattson of Bird Island; Mrs. Fred Westling of Cleve, Canada; Mrs. Evan Johnson, Rice Lake, Wisconsin.


The funeral occurred on Wednesday afternoon, May 20. Services were held at the home and at the Tromsø Lutheran Free Church of Lake Lillian. Rev. A. Arntzen, the pastor of the Tromsø Lutheran Free Church and Rev. A. Anderson of the M.E. Church of Lake Lillian spoke in Norwegian and O.L. Christenson of Eagle Lake spoke in English. Miss Myrtle Nordin sang, “Om Jag Ogde Allt Man Icke Jesus”. At the house Miss Bertha Anderson sang “Jesus Dig Kalder”. Mrs. Harry Hawkins sang “Face to Face” and Mr. Mats Walner sang a song of his own composition. Henry And. Lobnitz and Ole Krogstad presented a written appreciation of their deceased friend.

The active pallbearers were Anton Larson, Nels J. Lund, A.H. Vick, Elling Johnson, J.W. Hanson and Ole E. Erickson, all old friends and neighbors. The honorary pallbearers were Nels. S. Swenson, James Sanderson and George H. Otterness of Willmar, Ole Krogstad and H. A, Lobnitz of Bird Island, and Ingebrigt Johnson of Lake Lillian.

Among others from a distance who attended were Ole A. Flann, Thief River Falls, Michael Flann, Minneapolis, Mr. And Mrs. M.C. Mattson and two children and Miss Harriet Anderson of Duluth, Mrs. Andy Anderson of Markville, Mr. And Mrs. Nels Mattson and daughter, H.A. Lobnitz, Ole Krogstad, H.W. Meilke, Dr. and Mrs. R. Adams, all of Bird Island, Amund Dahl of Olivia, Ed Sanderson, Ed Selvig, Judge G.E. Qvale, Mrs. G.H. Otterness, Mr. And Mrs. Chris. Otterness, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Miner, Mrs. John Otterness and Chas. Hallin, all of Willmar.

To have known the departed Mr. Flann intimately was a rare privilege. He was one of the “Salt of the Earth” whose character helped restore faith in humanity.

“Mourn not the dead who calmly lie

by God’s own hand composed to rest

for hark! A voice from yonder sky

proclaims them blest – supremely blest

with them the toil and strife are o’er

their labors end, their sorrows cease;

where dwells serene eternal peace.”

(From a newspaper clipping)


1823 - 1911

Halvor H. Flann, father of John G. Flann, died at the home of his son in the town of Lake Lillian on Friday, February 24,1911 age nearly 88 years. He was a native of Norway but had lived in this county many years. His survivors are a daughter in Norway and four other children living in America. Halvor and his wife are buried at the Tromso Memorial Cemetery.

(Willmar Tribune – January 8, 1930)


1844 - 1930

The death of Mrs. Anna (Swenson) Flann, the widow of the late well-known Lake Lillian pioneer, John G. Flann, passed from this life Dec. 27, 1929. She had been failing for the last two years, but was confined to her bed for two months.

Deceased was born in Luveryd, Norregård, Rydaholm, Jönköping, Småland, Sweden, on December 16, 1844. She came to this America in 1868, first residing near Cannon Falls and Hastings of this state. At the last named place she married John G. Flann in 1873. In 1878 they moved to Lake Lillian, where they lived the remainder of their lives. Her husband died May 18, 1925. The following children survive their mother: Mary (Mrs. Erick Nordin), Edward Flann, Charles Flann and Ellsworth Flann (an adopted grandson) all of Lake Lillian; Annie (Mrs. Albert Bengtson) of Cokato; Helen (Mrs. A.H. Anderson) of Markville; Emily, (Mrs. M.C. Mattson) of Duluth. Two daughters, Randie (Mrs. William Johnson) and Hattie (Mrs. Henning Bomsta) are deceased. There are 46 grandchildren. Mrs. J.M. Jensen of Hopkins is a niece.

The funeral occurred December 31. Services were held at the home and at the Lutheran Free Church of Lake Lillian. Revs. A.M. Arntzen and O.C. Helland spoke. At the home a vocal duet was sung by Olaf C. Helland and Edwin Peterson, and one by Misses Myrtle and Lillian Nordin. At the church vocal duets were sung by O.C. Helland and Edwin Peterson, by Misses Doris Hawkins and Lillian Johnson, and by Misses Myrtle and Lillian Nordin. There were many flowers. The sons and daughters gave a memorial gift of $25 and the Ladies Aid of the church gave $10 to the mission in her memory. The pallbearers were six grandsons; Ellsworth Flann, Richard Johnson, Emery Bomsta, Harry, Chester and Arthur Nordin. Two granddaughters, Edna Flann and Deloris Bomsta, carried flowers.

The deceased woman with her husband was among the early pioneers of Lake Lillian and went through all the trying privations and experiences of that period. They contributed their full share of effort to the building up of the community. Peace to their memory!