Odebolt - Introduction
Odebolt, 1930

The above panoramic view gives a general picture of Odebolt's business district in 1930, showing from the right, 1st, 2nd and Main Streets.  The photo was taken from in front of Memorial Park, by A.W. Dahlstrom.  From the right (in 1930), the Odebolt Elevator; the First National Bank building (now  "Odebolt State Bank");  across Second Street is Cammack Hardware, formerly Swanson’s;  on the opposite side of the street is Peterson’s Store.  (Photo Source – The Odebolt Chronicle Progress Edition, October 29, 1953, Volume 65, Number 44)


Odebolt is a lovely small town in Sac County, northwest Iowa.  In 1877 when the town of Odebolt was platted, it had been only a few years since the area was virgin prairie.  It took the coming of a railroad to open up the land for settlement.  Settlers from states to the east, as well as Swedes, Germans and other nationalities of immigrants came to settle in Clinton, Richland, Wheeler and Cook townships near the new town.

Odebolt was incorporated on Monday, May 13, 1878.  The population grew from 637 in the 1880 census, to 1400 in 1895.  In 1877 there were 12 houses in the town, compared to 208 dwellings by 1885.  The Cook Ranch, north of town, and the Wheeler Ranch (later the Adams Ranch), south of town, provided opportunities for new arrivals to work and earn money toward acquiring land of their own. Many businesses sprang up to provide services for the expanding farming community. Churches and a school were built, and the town grew.

One of Odebolt's claims to fame is that it was the "Popcorn Center of the World" for a period of time.  My personal claim to fame is that I am an Odeboltian born and bred.  Odebolt celebrated its 125th anniversary in June, 2002, and I thought these pages would be a fitting tribute to the town of my childhood in honor of its 125 year.  My sister, Bonnie Ekse, soon became interested in the project and volunteered to help.  She has been invaluable, contributing uncounted hours researching and typing from microfilm of old Odebolt Newspapers and other publications.

Besides excerpts from the microfilmed newspapers, much of what you will find on these pages are from "Fifty Years of Progress", issued as a supplement to The Odebolt Chronicle, August 25, 1938; from the 1953 "Progress Edition" supplement to The Odebolt Chronicle; and from the 1977 Odebolt centennial book, "As Time Goes By."  We thank The Odebolt Chronicle for permission to transcribe from  these publications, and to all the people of the past who have put so much work into writing down the history of our community for us to access.  Thanks also to Mayor Ron Rex and the Odebolt City Council for their approval of the project, to the Odebolt Historical Museum Association for their support, to Chuck Hanson for his wonderful photography, and to all the people that have contributed to both the history site and www.odebolt.net.   (See all the contributors!)

Please check back once in a while for updates.  This is a large project and we will add history as we have time.  If you have suggestions or corrections, or wish to contribute histories or photos, type the following into your email to contact us:

I expect "Odeboltians" from around the country and the world will eventually find these pages, and to you we give a warm welcome.  Come and share in our history!

Ties to Odebolt - Our Great-grandparents, Olaus and Britta Stina Anderson,  came from the area around Skallmeja and Saleby parishes, Skaraborgs län, Vastergötland, Sweden to the Odebolt area in 1882 with 3 children.  Their daughter, Anna Mabel Anderson, our grandmother, was born in 1884 in Wheeler Township. Father Olaus died in 1886 and Britta (known as Bertha) raised her family on her own in a new land.

Our Grandfather Sigurd Carlson came to Odebolt from Stjälkhammar, Ukna Parish, Kalmar län, Smöland, Sweden in 1898.  Four of his brothers, Oscar, Ed, Albin and Axel Carlson, also emigrated to the Odebolt area between the years of 1894 and 1902.  Sigurd married Anna Anderson in 1911, and our mother, Dorothy Carlson, was their first child.

Our father, Robert McCulloch Girvan was born in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland and grew up in Paisley, Renfrew.  He "came over" to Pennsylvania in 1930, and traveled on to the Odebolt area a few years later to work for his aunt and uncle, Mary (McCulloch) and Duncan Currie.  The Curries lived near the Carlsons in Richland township, and Mom and Dad met and married.  Bonnie is their 3rd child and I am the 4th.  We lived in the very last house on the west side of North Main until 1957, and then moved to a farm in Wheeler Township where we spent our remaining childhood.  Our parents spent their lives in the Odebolt community.

We dedicate these pages to the memory of our Swedish grandparents, and to our Scottish father who passed away July 2000 at the age of 89. 

Barbara (Girvan) Horak
Bonnie (Girvan) Ekse

July 6, 2001

Barb and Bonnie Girvan, circa 1952

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