Norfolk‘s Famous Horse Breeder, G. L. Carlson, Became Interested in Animals at an Early Age
G. L. Carson, Norfolk’s scientific horse breeder and farmer of world-wide fame, became interested in the horse when he was a very small boy on his father’s farm in Iowa, and it is probable that his early environment had much to do with his lifetime study of embryology of the horse, in which he is now recognized as the foremost authority in the world.
The accompanying picture was taken from a scene on the old homestead in Lee county, Ia., near which place Mr. Carlson was born, The small boy in the picture is Mr. Carlson himself, interested even at that early age, it is apparent, in the study of the horse.
From that day up till the present time Mr. Carlson’s life was given over entirely to the study of this animal. Further in the distance in this picture is the Carlson home. Near here Mr. Carlson was born on January 1, 1853.
Shortly after this picture was made Mr. Carlson’s parents moved back to the old home in Scotland where his mother died. In 1861 the father returned to the United States and settled on a farm in Pottawattomie county, Ia. During the civil war he was one of the blue army and three or four times he was discharged for disability and as the results of wounds received in actual service he died when the son was but 14 years old.
It was hard sledding for Young America in those days, but Mr. Carlson graduated from an Iowa county school and his natural gift in the knowledge of animals aided his progress toward higher studies. He attended the Keokuk, Ia., university and later crossed the Atlantic to resume further studies in embryology in the universities of Berlin, Scotland, Vienna and Paris.
Mr. Carlson’s first visit to Nebraska probably links him with his decision of settling in Norfolk. In 1874 he was appointed inspector of live stock in the government employ. His headquarters were at Springfield, Mo., but his territory was an extensive one. Three times he traveled on the same mule from Springfield, Mo., to the Gulf of Mexico and return. These trips brought with them many hardships, the effects of which, however, Mr. Carlson does not show today. On several of these trips to the gulf, Mr. Carlson’s hotel consisted of his “dog” tent, saddle and saddle blanket. “The more rain and mud, the softer the bed,” he declared, when asked how accommodations were in those days.
In 1874 Mr. Carlson rode into Norfolk with a number of government cattle for the forts north of this city. “There were only a mill and a store and probably a house or two here then,” he says.
For seven years he continued in the capacity of inspector, and in the meantime he farmed on a small scale in Yankton county, South Dakota. His office at Springfield, Mo., has since been abandoned by the government. After leaving the government service he took up ranch work and experimental work in Butte county, South Dakota, and a few years later he settled on his ranch in Holt county, Nebraska. Horses for experimental purposes were cheap in those days and hundreds of them were used by Mr. Carlson in his pursuits of further knowledge of scientific breeding.
Mr. Carlson has many interesting occurrences to relate dealing with his experiences with Indians. Among the most interesting is the story about friendly Indians. It was during the time of Custer’s trouble. Mr Carlson, with a party of government men, was making his way in the Buffalo Gap vicinity with a large bunch of cattle. The watchers during the night reported Indians were following the white men and trouble was expected. It was discovered later that the Indians were really friendly and were following the government men as a protection to them, having discovered another band of hostile reds were arranging to massacre the white men.
Mr. Carlson has done much to editorial work for magazines and journals, mostly dealing with scientific subjects. Some years ago he won a $50 prize for an article he had written on Alaska.
Just why Mr. Carlson came to Norfolk, he has not yet made clear, but he has declared on various occasions that Norfolk is the logical point for the breeding of pure bred horses and that because he neither desired to locate in a small town or in a large city, he chose Norfolk.
Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Sat. April 8, 1911, page 6.
G. L. Carlson, 100, Is Dead, Rites Thursday
George Lloyd Carlson, Norfolk’s oldest citizen who celebrated his 100th anniversary Jan. 1, died of old age complications at 7:47 Monday night in a hospital here.
He was admitted to the hospital Thursday after apparently recovering from a stomach disorder.
Funeral services will be conducted at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Norfolk Home for Funerals by the Rev. E. G. Brinkmeyer, First Congregational Church minister. The body will lie in state from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Home for Funerals. Burial is to be in Prospect Hill Cemetery
Born in Iowa
He was born Jan. 1, 1853, at Montrose, Ia., his father being the Rev. Edwin George Carlson, a Presbyterian minister. The father died Feb. 24, 1867, of wounds suffered in the Civil War. His mother was Edith Lloyd Carlson, who died June 9, 1856, three days after the birth of a daughter.
In the spring of 1858, the family located in the Sugar Creek District near Council Bluffs where they lived for 12 years. Mr. Carlson’s education began in the home under the supervision of his father. After finishing rural schools, he attended various colleges, a semester here and another there, as he could find work to pay for board and tuition.
Most of his college work was done in Highland Park College at Des Moines , and Presbyterian colleges at Keokuk, Ia., and Forest Hill, Ill.
In the spring of 1874 he took a job in the livestock bureau of the Indian service as an inspector. His salary was $1,200 a year. He worked seven years for the government. He said the three most outstanding events were his first trip over the Chisholm trail from Mexico to Dodge City; his being a few miles south of Northfield, Minn., the day the James and Younger brothers robbed the bank, and the driving of 3,500 head of cattle across the Missouri River between what is now Niobrara and Santee.
He gave the world the idea that artificial insemination of horses could be successfully done. The idea came to him 72 years ago when he saw a woman purchase medicine in capsule form in a drug store at Yankton.
Studied in Europe
In the fall of 1881 he entered the University of Scotland in Edinburgh, where he studied four years. When he arrived there he had $118, and when he finished his university work at Heidelberg six years later he had $2,200. He did special work in biology at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1885, and in 1887 made a four-year contract with the Russian government to take charge of research work in geology of the Russian empire.
He later worked for the British government in China and India, and in the Amazon River basin. He also worked for the British in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Mesopotamia, Asia Minor.
In 1897 he located in South Dakota after making a contract with a livestock firm at Rapid City to deliver 300 Indian ponies.
In the early part of this century Mr. Carlson built a large barn at Norfolk to demonstrate the economic value of artificial breeding. There a world’s record that still stands was established. It was the mating of imported Nicolas,21997 (433-94) with 747 mares during one breeding season, resulting in 529 foals being born the following season.
That gave to Nicolas the record of being the only stallion, living or dead, that ever produced 500 or more foals in a single season, Mr. Carlson often said.
He held an international school of horse breeding in Norfolk in August 1910, which was attended by 300 men from Canada, Belgium, Great Britian, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and 26 of the States.
He issued a magazine, Carlson’s Rural Review, for three years at Norfolk, wrote and translated other literary work and lectured for three years at the University of Nebraska.
During the summer of 1949 he visited Minnesota and gathered enough material to complete records of more than 2,300 pioneer families in the Northwest. He turned these records over to the American Anthropological Society—-gratis.
His health was excellent until recently. He took daily walks of three to four miles until recently because he found walking maintained his excellent body condition. He was rejected for a U. S. Military Academy appointment when a young man because of a weak heart.
On his 100th birthday anniversary Mr. Carlson predicted the war in Korea would end in 1953, but added that the “cold war” would continue for some time. He saw no swift change of policies for the United States; no quick cuts in expenses for the government.
“It will take President Eisenhower a year to get his administration ready to put forward a new policy,” he said.
He greatly enjoyed visits with his friends, and until he entered the hospital wanted them to come often to his home, where he lived with his secretary, Mrs. Alice Holt.
He had never married and had no living relatives at the time of his death.
Mr. Carlson often said: “The number of years we live is not important, but how we live them is very important.”
Source: The Norfolk Daily News, Tues. April 7, 1953, pages 1 and 9