Branch: U. S. Army

   Rank:  Corporal

   Status: Died of disease

   Date of Service: WWI

   Home Town: Leon Township

Andrew Larson Stortroen

Andrew L. Stortroen was born December 19, 1894 in Neby (near Climax) Polk County, Minnesota to parents Lars Oleson and Anne Knutsdatter Brandvold Stortroen.  Lars was a widower in Norway whose first wife Bertha Brenbaken had died and left him with three children to raise –- Ole L., born in 1876, Peder L., born in 1878, and Sigrid (Sarah or Siri), born in 1880. He met Anne in Norway and they married in 1887. The pair added five children to the family beginning with Bertha (1888), Knut (1889), Jens (1990), Ingar (1892) and Signe (1893) before leaving Norway for the United States. The family boarded S. S. Sarmation in Liverpool on April 21, 1893 and arrived in Quebec, Canada on May 4, 1893. Their first destination was the Crookston, Minnesota area to where two of Lars’ brothers, Anders O. and Ole Stortroen had already immigrated. While they were living in that area Lars and Anne added two more sons to the family:  Andrew L. in 1894 and Leonard in 1896.

The family had just moved to the Bemidji, Minnesota area and established a farm in Dewey Township near Wilton when Lars died in 1897 at the young age of 44.  The family buried him in the Wilton Cemetery. Anne met a farmer named John Martin Johnson from neighboring Clearwater County and married him in 1906.

Andrew was a farm hand on the farm of Ole Bruun near Eldred, Minnesota when he registered for the draft on June 5, 1917. He was a tall, slender man with blue eyes and light hair. The precinct he claimed as his home was Leon Township.

The next we know of Andrew he was a corporal in Company B of the 54th Pioneer Infantry boarding the Duca D’Acosta on August 30, 1918 with 2074 other enlisted men and 25 officers.

Also aboard was Carl G. Johansson of Clearbrook, another member of the 54th Pioneer Infantry. A “Pioneer” unit is made up of men experienced in life in the open, skilled in woodcraft and simple carpentry.  A Pioneer unit marches at the head of each battalion to clear a passage for it through woods or other obstructions, improves roads, makes bridges and does any minor engineering or construction work necessary.

The Duca D’Acosta left Newport News at noon on July 26, 1910. Neither Andrew nor Carl would ever return home alive. Carl was killed in France on October 2, 1918 and Andrew died of disease on February 11, 1919 somewhere in Germany. Anne, his mother, received notice as his next of kin at her address of RFD 2, Clearbrook.  Anne and family buried their son and brother in Wilton Cemetery by his father Lars.