Convention Member David Olmstead

Convention Member
No Party Specified
DAVID OLMSTED Born in Fairfax, Franklin County, Vermont, May 5, 1822. In 1827, Mr. Olmstead removed with his parents to Fairfield, in the same county, where he resided until he was sixteen years old, when, with the consent of his parents, he started to search for a home in the Great West. His opportunities for obtaining an education were very limited, his being less than the average New England boys on account of severe inflammation of his eyes having prevented his attending the district school for two years. His perseverance and with the aid of his mother, he succeeded in securing a fair knowledge of the common English branches. About the first of May, 1838, he started, with only about $20 in money and a change of clothing, to find a home in the West. He crossed Lake Champlain in a steamer to Port Kent, and from there he traveled on foot to Ogdensburg, thence deck passage to Toledo, mostly by steamer; from Toledo to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he arrived on June 15, 1838. Mr. Olmstead found employment with J. T. Lathrop, who kept a hotel, where he remained until September, when the hotel was destroyed by fire in the night. The following month he went to Grant County, Wisconsin, where he purchased forty acres of land near Burt’s Mill, on Grant River, where he resided until November, 1839, and where his brother Page visited him when very sick with fever. After his recovery he and his brother went to Prairie du Chien, where they found work the following winter, and in July, 1840, they started on an exploring tramp through the then unsettled portion of Iowa. After spending about two weeks in looking over the country as far west as Fort Atkinson (which the United States Government had commenced to build), they selected a claim in Monona Township. In 1844, Mr. Olmstead was elected to the first Constitutional Convention. In 1846, he raised a company of volunteers and tendered their services for the Mexican War. They were mustered into service and sent to Fort Atkinson, to relieve the regular troops, under Captain Sumner, who were ordered to Mexico. Mr. Olmstead, who had been commissioned Lieutenant, remained at Fort Atkinson with his company in charge of the Winnebago Indians about two years, and in June, 1848, removed the Indians to Long Prairie, Minnesota. After his company was discharged, he remained at Long Prairie, and engaged in trade with the Indians. In August, 1849, he was elected a member of the council, and at the organization of the first Legislature of the Territory of Minnesota, in September, 1849, was elected President of the council. In 1850, he was nominated for a delegate to Congress, but withdrew his name before Election Day. In 1851, he was married and in 1852 he quit the Indian trade at Long Prairie, and removed with his wife to St. Paul. In June, 1853, he commenced editing the Minnesota Democrat, at St. Paul, but about one year later he removed to Winona, where he had purchased a large interest in the town-site, which proved a very profitable investment. He died at Fairfax, Vermont, February 2, 1861. Source: History of Clayton County, Iowa, 1882