Honored and respected by all there is no man who occupies a more enviable position in commercial circles in Paxton than C. A. Larson of the P. Larson Company, owning and controlling the largest mercantile house in Ford county. His position in public regard is due not alone to the success which he has achieved but also to the honorable, straightforward policy that he has followed. It is true that he entered upon a business already established but he has enlarged and extended this and in so doing has displayed the strong traits of character of the successful merchant, who recognizes and utilizes his opportunity and upon the substantial basis of diligence and commercial integrity builds his success.
Mr. Larson was born in Attica, Indiana, February 1, 1859. His father, Peter Larson, was the founder of the present business, to which his three sons succeeded upon his retirement. The father was a pioneer merchant tailor of Paxton. A native of Sweden, he was born in Olmsted, Jonkopings lan, December 12, 1833. He was reared and educated in his native land and learned the tailor's trade prior to his emigration to America in 1854. He first became identified with the business interests of Attica, Indiana, and while living there was married in 1857 to Miss Lovisa Gustafson, a daughter of Jacob Gustafson, a native of Linderas, Sweden, whence she came to the new world in 1853.
In 1864 Peter Larson removed with his family to Paxton, where he began business as a merchant tailor and dealer in ready-made clothing in company with William Lindberg and John Nelson, under the firm name of Lindberg, Larson & Nelson. From 1870 until 1883 he was alone in business and succeeded in building up a profitable trade. In October of the latter year he sold out to his sons, Charles Albert and J. T. Larson, and C. A. England, who continued under the firm style of P. Larson & Company. Mr. Larson made an excellent reputation for business probity as well as enterprise, and was the founder of what has become the leading mercantile house of Ford county. He possessed the strong characteristics of the Swedish nation — the perseverance and unfaltering industry and the thorough reliability which have ever marked the people of that peninsular country.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Peter Larson were born six children, of whom four survive: Charles Albert, Jacob Theodore and Peter Edward being associated in mercantile interests; and Ida Otillia, of Paxton. Two children, Emil and Ida Otillia, died in infancy.
Charles Albert Larson, the eldest son, was but five years of age when brought to Paxton by his parents. He acquired his education in the public schools and was early trained in the work of the store. He gave close attention to the business and remained as assistant to his father until the latter's retirement in 1883, when, with his brother, J. T. Larson, and C. A. Englund he succeeded to the business. They retained the firm name of P. Larson & Company for business advantages accrued therefrom, the partnership remaining the same until 1887, when a younger brother, Peter E. Larson, was admitted to the firm. On the 27th of February of that year a branch store was opened at Gibson City, with Peter E. Larson in charge, and in August, 1891, another store was opened at Watseka, the youngest brother at that time assuming the management in the latter city. In October, 1901, they disposed of the Watseka, store and on the 6th of February, 1903, the company was reorganized as a stock company, under the name of the P. Larson Company, with Peter E. Larson as president; C. A. Larson as secretary and treasurer; and T. J. Larson as vice president. This company owns and controls the Paxton store, while the Gibson City branch is under a separate management, with the name of the P. Larson Clothing Company. Of this latter business organization C. A. Larson is the president. In September, 1905, a branch store was opened by the incorporated company in Hoopestown, which proved to be very successful from the beginning and is now profitably conducted. During the early years of their business career the brothers also operated a branch store in the town of Roberts but later disposed of that.
On the 13th of January, 1887, C. A. Larson was married to Miss Anna Larson, a daughter of Andrew Larson, of Paxton, and unto them have been born four children, of whom three are now living: Clarence R., who is attending Culver Military School at Culver, Indiana; and Mabel A. B. and Grace V., both at home. The second son. Noble, is deceased. The father is a member of Paxton Lodge, No. 210. I. O. O. F., and Patton Lodge, No. 398, K. P. He also belongs to the Court of Honor, the Independent Order of Foresters, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Yeomen of America. In community affairs he is deeply and helpfully interested, being a member of the board of trustees of the public library of Paxton, a member of the Swedish Lutheran church and a cooperant factor in many measures for the public good. He is one of the most prominent of Paxton 's successful business men and one of its foremost citizens.
T. J. Larson, vice president of the P. Larson Company, and also of the P. Larson Clothing Company of Gibson City, was born in Attica, Indiana, September 26, 1861, and was therefore but three years of age when his parents arrived in this city in 1864. At the usual age he began his education, passing through successive grades in the Paxton schools until he became a high-school student. His business training was received under the direction of his father and as a salesman in the store. He continued in active connection with the business until 1883, when he became a member of the firm that succeeded to the father's business.
T. J. Larson was first married to Miss Nellie Nelson, a daughter of August Nelson, of Paxton. The only child of that marriage is deceased, and the mother has also passed away. In 1887 T. J. Larson was again married, his second union being with Emily Peterson, by whom he had four children, three yet living: Harry P., who is attending the State University at Champaign; Edna and Orville, at home. Fraternally he is connected with various branches of Masonry, with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America, while his wife is connected with the ladies auxiliary of the last named. For a number of years T. J. Larson served as a member of the board of aldermen of Paxton and his official support was ever given to those measures which tended to promote municipal interests and upbuilding. He is a man of genial nature whose friends are many, while his record in business circles commands for him the confidence and admiration of all.
Peter E. Larson, the youngest of the three brothers, was born in Attica, Indiana, in August, 1863. Like the others, he was a student in the public schools of Paxton and later he continued his education in Rice Collegiate Institute. He, too, received his business training in the store established by his father, and in 1887 became a member of the firm, in which year the Gibson City store was established and he became manager. In 1891 on the opening of the store in Watseka, he removed 1o that city and took charge there. In Watseka he wedded Mary E. Netterville, and to them has been born a daughter, Marguerite L. They still reside in Watseka, where Peter E. Larson is numbered among the leading and public-spirited citizens.
The Larson brothers are extensive owners of farm property in this state and Iowa, having made judicious investments of their surplus earnings in real estate. They are numbered among Ford county's most successful business men and belong to that class of representative American citizens who promote public progress in advancing individual success. Perhaps no history published in this volume can serve as a better illustration to young men of the power of honesty, integrity and unabating industry in insuring success. They are men of broad capabilities who have recognized and utilized opportunity and while making constant progress along the pathway of success they have at the same time manifested a public-spirited devotion to the general good that has received tangible evidence in their substantial aid of the various measures that have contributed to Paxton's upbuilding and prosperity.

Extracted 16 Oct 2016 by Norma Hass from History of Ford County, Illinois, From Its Earliest Settlement to 1908, author E. A. Gardner, Volume 2, pages 482-485.

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