Written by Professor P. Lauritz Larsen
Translated by The Rev. George A. R. Gullixson
This is not an original biography of one of the Big Four of the old Norwegian Synod, but a translation of one written by another of the Big Four. It appeared serially in the Norwegian Synod Lutersk-Kirketidende in the early 1900s and in a book entitled Livsbilleder (Life-pictures) published by the Lutheran Publishing House of Decorah, Iowa. This was a volume of biographies that had appeared in the Evangelical Lutheran Kirketidende, life pictures of eminent Lutheran theologians that formed the conservative Lutheran Church in America.
The Big Four consisted of Pastors H. A. Preus and U. V. Koren, Prof. Lauritz Larson and Pastor Jacob Aal Ottesen. L. Larson was the editor of the Evangelical Lutersk Kirketidende in the years that this biography appeared, and he was a personal friend and contemporary of the man he writes about. My personal contact with the subject of this work was as a successor in office as pastor of the Western Koshkonong Lutheran Church. As a young boy it was my privilege to have met his daughter Hannah at the Synod meeting held at Western Koshkonong in 1921. The Rev. John A. Moldstad of Chicago, who served St. Mark’s Lutheran Church there, also served as guardian and executor of the Hannah Ottesen estate. Among other artifacts, he showed me two decks of playing cards from Ottesen’s student days at the University at Christiania, Norway. One was an extra large deck and the other a miniature deck, only one square inch in size. I also had the privilege of reading the letters he had received from his friend Dr. C. F. W. Walther of St. Louis, Missouri, that attested to the fact of their warm relationship. Many of his artifacts are located at our Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota, and formed the basis of the J. A. Ottesen Museum, just as the library of the sainted Reverend M. Fr. Wiese, his successor at Western Koshkonong, formed the basis of the Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary Library.
A word of appreciation is due the Rev. Adolph Harstad for his review of the translation, his corrections and suggestions. Many thanks! We trust you will enjoy the story of this eminent pioneer whose influence on the direction of the Norwegian Synod is not to be denied. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Hebrews 13:7.