Richard Bernhard Olsen probably in his 50s

Richard Bernhard Olsen

by Joy (Olsen) Barnsdale

The OLSEN clan in Seattle appears to have been 'out of touch' with each other since their emigration to America.

My Grandfather Richard Bernhard Olsen emigrated to the US on the ship 'Cymric' landing in New York on 27 July 1903. He is listed on the ship manifest as 'Richard DRAGLAND' and traveled with his brother, Mathias Olsen Dragland. They arrived with $12.00 in their pocket enroute to visit their brother, Rasmus, in Aneta, North Dakota. By 1910 Richard and his family had moved to Richmond Beach, Washington (just north of Seattle) as he was a fisherman and had no interest in farming. Grandfather Olsen worked as a fisherman making many trips each year to Alaska. He was always a crew member, never aspiring to own or operate his own boat. He married Margarite 'Polly' Rockfuss (Bodsoss) in North Dakota, and they had (I think…) 10 children. Their oldest son, Theodore Olson, was born in North Dakota, the other children in Richmond Beach, WA.

I am the daughter of their third child, Ralph Olsen (no middle name), born in Richmond Beach, WA in 1913 (d. 1982). He played minor league baseball, served in the Conservation Corps where he started a life long love affair with trees and the woods and served in WW II. He helped found US Plywood in Ballard, WA and worked in the lumber manufacturing industry all his life. He married my mother, Margaret Elizabeth Bright (b. 1923) and had 3 children. I am the youngest and only daughter.

My father never spoke of his family. It is only through this research that I have discovered that Mathias and Rasmus both lived in Richmond Beach. Mathias had one daughter, Myrtle G. Olsen. I've not found much on her yet. I was also surprised to see that RB's sister, Otelia Ellida, also moved to Seattle. My grandfather Olsen lived in Tacoma with his son Pete and his wife June, where I believe he died. He is buried in the Edmonds Community Cemetery (Edmonds, WA) along with his spouse and most of their children. My father is buried at Acacia Memorial Park in Seattle.

Richard Bernhard Olsen taken in 1914
with the 3 oldest children, his wife, and her mother

My first introduction to DRAGLAND was from Richard's Naturalization application. I had never known where the family came from in Norway. When I went to the passenger list of the Cymric there were no OLSEN's listed… It was only when I went through the entire passenger list I found Richard Dragland and Mathias Olsen Dragland. It was Amanda's family history that explained how family names worked in Norway. Very helpful!

As I have researched (mostly through Ancestry.com and Google) the Olsen and Dragland family in America I have been amazed that Richard Bernhard Olsen, Rasmus Valberg (Wahlberg) Olsen, Mathias Johan Olsen, AND Otelia Ellida Olsen-Sevald ALL came to the Seattle area. This is surprising as in all my life I had never heard of any of these family members. My mother remembers a 'Myrtle', I believe the daughter of Mathias and Anny, and an 'Einer' being talked about. Einer may be the spouse of Otelia Ellida as I've found an Einer Sevaldsen in the area, but have yet to confirm. I met my Grandfather Olsen once before the age of 5, so no good memory. My eldest brother, Michael, remembers our father taking him to Tacoma, WA once to meet his grandfather. Otherwise, there is no information on Richard's life. The Richard Olsen clan is buried in the Edmonds Community Cemetery, Edmonds, WA (except for my father and brother, David Ralph, who are at Acacia Memorial Park, Seattle, WA).

I hope you find this information of interest as I would like to learn more about my family and update the Dragland Family tree to reflect the "lost" children of Rikard Bernhard Olsen Dragland.


Joy (Olsen) Barnsdale

Sacramento, CA