Cottonwood County MN Biographies--John Villa
"History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties of Minnesota, 1916"



John E. Villa is a native of Norway, born on August 24, 1873. He is a son of Jens N. and Martha (Knutson) Villa, both natives of Norway. Jens N. Villa, followed the occupation of a ship-builder in his native country. He came to America in 1880 and located in Windom, Cottonwood county, Minnesota, and found employment working on the railroad for a year or so. After working in the vicinity of Windom for about two years he removed to Tracy, Lyon county, Minnesota, where he worked in the construction of a new railroad being built from Tracy to Marshall, Minnesota. In 1884 he abandoned railroad work and located on a homestead in Westbrook township, Cottonwood county, and engaged in farming, making this his home for the remainder of his life. In addition to farming he did carpenter work while living here. Part of the village of Westbrook now covers the homestead land of Mr. Villa. Mr. Villa died in 1895; his widow is still living in Westbrook. The children of this family were; Nels, Knut, Ole, John E., Marianna, who died young, and Bella. Mr. Villa was a Republican in politics. He was a member of the Norwegian Lutheran church.

After coming to America he attended school at Tracy, and also the school in Westbrook township, during his early years he worked with his father on the farm. Afterward he was employed for one year in the depot at Windom, and later was a clerk in a store in Windom. In 1901 he established a store in the line of general merchandise, in Westbrook, and continued this business until August, 1915, when he sold out. In 1902 he was one of the principal organizers of the Citizens State Bank of Westbrook. A year later he became one of the directors, and in 1907 he was elected vice-president; the following year, 1908, he was elected president of this institution. He has held this position ever since and is actively engaged in the management of the bank.

In 1889 John E. Villa was married to Inga Johnson, daughter of John Johnson. Two children have been born to this union, Jay C. and Glen R. Mr. and Mrs. Villa hold membership in the Norwegian church.

Politically, Mr. Villa affiliates with the Republican party. He has served as village recorder and as a member of the village council; has been mayor for three years and holds that position at the present time. His fraternal affiliations are the Masonic order, the Elks, the Royal Arcanum, the Woodmen and Royal Neighbors.