Emil Atlanten Larson (Drageland) 1892 – 1974

Emil Larson Dragland (circa. 1940)
Emil Atlanen Larson Dragland (circa. 1940)

"A Family Mystery Solved"

By Anne Sanders

In 1984, I was in 10th grade working on a family history project. I was very discouraged because I didn't have much information to record for either side of my family. My mom, Hilma Higgs (nee Larson), very reluctantly shared that her father, Emil Larson, told her while on his death bed in 1974, that he had run away from home when he was 15. He also told her that he had changed his last name from "Drugan" (the spelling was unknown however, she pronounced it "Droogin") to Larson and that his father's name was Lars "Drugan". Another interesting tidbit was that Emil had lied about his age and joined the military. At that time, I was thrilled to have something interesting to include in my family history.

As I got older and had my own children, I began wondering more about my Pop's side of the family. I was just 6 when he passed so I didn't have many memories of him. I know that he was very proud of his Norwegian heritage and that my mom was named after one of his younger sisters. Pop also was a talented violinist who taught himself to play by ear. My father passed away in November 2012 and at his viewing, my husband was talking to my cousins about what Pop had said to my mom. They hadn't heard about it and asked if I could email the information to them. I decided that I would do a little research to see if I might be able to add some information to what I already knew to pass on to them.

Hilma Louise Larson
Hilma Louise Larson
(approx. 6 years old)

I started researching and mentioned it to my brother, Tom. He had done some research months earlier on Ancestry.com and found the name Lars Dragland who had married Karoline. On Familysearch.org, I found Lars and Karoline Dragland whose children included Emil and Hilma. I thought it would stop there, however, I decided to Google the name Lars Dragland. That is when I saw the story that Don Dragland had posted about his father, Chris. As I read it, I thought that maybe Chris' brother Emil, whom he mentioned, might be my grandfather because the dates were about the same. I realized that Don's story had been posted on the Dragland Family Site so I clicked on it and found Don's email address. I sent him an email with the information that I knew and after a couple of messages back and forth and exchanging pictures, it was very clear to us that Emil Larson was in fact Emil Dragland.

I didn't realize that on familysearch.org I could click on the picture of the census record and it would actually show it. I guess I was used to Ancestry.com prompting me to become a member in order to view documents. On the census, it has my grandfather's middle name spelled Atlanter (rather than Alanteen). It also has the last name spelled Drageland. I guess the 'e' was dropped.

The family is so happy with this discovery. We went from knowing virtually nothing to having an entire family tree!

Emil Larson Dragland married Mary Merritt in April 1923.
Their children are: Robert Lee, Virginia Caroline, Donald Emil, Audrey Elizabeth, Dorothy Mae, Catherine Anne, Rose Marie, Thelma (died as an infant), and Hilma Louise.

Emil Larson Dragland's daughters
Emil Larson Dragland's daughters - taken in 1991.
L-R: Rose, Catherine, Hilma, Dorothy, and Virginia. (Audrey was deceased.)

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