The Last Soldier Project: Racine County, Wis.
Lewis Rolfson

Lewis Rolfson was born February 9, 1841, near Oslo, Norway. He was the son of Engebret and Esibell Lagesdatter Rolfson. His name was Lars at birth and was Americanized and spelled Louis.

The family emigrated to America around 1850 in sailing ship "Vesta." The Vesta was built in 1851 at Arendal, Norway. The ship first sailed with emigrants from Norway was in 1851, when she sailed out of Langesund and arrived at New York on September 2, carrying 155 passengers.

Lewis was mustered into Federal service as a Private in Co. C of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment for a three year term of service on Jan. 1, 1862, at Camp Randall, in Madison, Dane County, Wis. He was recorded as being 22 years old, not married, a farmer by occupation, and a resident of Norway Township, Racine County, Wisconsin. The 15th Wisconsin was commanded by Col. Hans Heg. The 15th Wis. served in battles including Island No. 10, Murfreesboro, Perryville, Chickmauga, and Kenesaw Mountain. Pvt. Rolfson mustered out of Federal service along with most of the other surviving members of Company C on December 31, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, upon the expiration of his 3 year term of service.

After the war Lewis went to work as a sailor on the Minnesota, a three-masted schooner based in the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which carried cargo on the Great Lakes. After two sailing seasons (the Great Lakes freeze-over in winter) he returned to farming in Racine County, where he purchased land adjojning Lake Denoon.

He married Betsy Haugan in 1875. The couple had four children: John Elmer (1879 - 1879), Edna (1882 - 1962), Ada (1884 - 1976) and Clarence Eugene Rolfson (1888 - 1972).

Lewis Rolfson died January 7, 1936, Town of Norway, Racine County, and was buried at the Town of Norway Church cemetery. He was the last veteran of the 15th Wisconsin regiment and the last Civil War veteran to pass away in Racine County.

In 2017, Rolfson's grave was marked with a "Last Soldier" plaque by Col. Hans Heg Camp 15, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Information Sources:
Norway Heritage - passenger lists and emigrant ships
Facebook Post by Col. Hans Heg Camp 15, SUVCW accessed 17 Sept. 2017

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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Last Updated: 18 Sept 2017