Henry Sieling was born March 22, 1888 in Perham Township, Otter Tail County, the son of Fredrick and Sophia Shaffer Sieling. He started his schooling when seven years of age at a country school 2-1/2 miles from home.
As most children of that era, he did not finish the 6th grade, but took several additional courses at the Perham Public School. You can see his determination to get an education, as later he took a short course at the University Farm School.
Interest in his community began at the age of 12, when his father sent him with a petition to get Rural Free Delivery for mail in Perham and Edna Townships before it was made universal. They succeeded with this, so took another petition for Parcel Post Delivery, which was also a big help to the rural areas.
In 1909 he started as a trouble-shooter for the Perham Rural Telephone Company, and held that position until 1949.
In 1910, he moved to Section 11 of Pine Lake Township. He and his wife, Laura Meyer, daughter of William and Anna Johnson Meyer, whom he married in 1913, lived on the 760 acres until 1952. On this diversified farm, he raised certified seed grain, had chickens, hogs and a dairy herd.
In addition to his farming, he found time to help organize the Lake Region Coop Electric Assn. signing up members and getting easements. He was maintenance man of the Sub-Station out of New York Mills from 1938 to 1947, and served as director of the company until 1971.
His interest in farm organizations began about 1922, when he became a charter member of the Perham Oil Company, which became the Perham Coop Oil Company in 1933. He was president and director of that company for 34 years.
He also spent 34 years as a director of Land O’ Lakes District No. 11 and No. 13. He was a member of the Committee of the Boards of Review for the Midland Cooperatives, Inc., for 28 years; also director of District No. 13 of the Group Health, Inc. of St. Paul for six years: director of Midland District No. 4 for 10 years.
Township and county activities included being treasurer of Pine Lakes Township for 12 years. As County Commissioner for 12 years, 1940 to 1952, he instigated a $2,000,000 bond program to get roads in Otter Tail County.
Henry was a member of the Perham Historical Society as well as a director of the Memorial Hospital. All in all, his contributions to this community, county and state totaled 328 years of faithful and fruitful service. He was admired, respected and highly esteemed by all who knew him. Henry passed away Nov. 13, 1971
From East Otter Tail County History, Volume I, published in 1977 and now available on-line at www.historymuseumeot.com.
-Lina Belar is the founder and retired director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County.