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Gunder J. Lee
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Gunder J. Lee, a leading citizen of Renville, was born in Sjorli, Yetere, Rendalen, Norway, April 24, 1847, oldest son of John and Kari (Halverson) Lee, the other children in the family being Martha, Regland, Helena, Johanna, Halver J. (for many years a prominent official of Renville county), and Kari. Gunder J. left Norway in 1868, found his way to Madison, Wis., and for a time lived in Lodi, in Columbia county, this state. There his sister, Martha, joined him. When his parents and the rest of the family came to this country, in 1870, Gunder J. Lee bought an ox team at St. Peter and drove with a covered wagon to Renville county, bringing two cows, supplies, and various household utensils. The parents located on one claim and he on another in section 10, Emmet township not far from what is now the city of Renville. The tract was all wild land and the family underwent many hardships in building up the splendid farm which was connected with their name in after years. The parents achieved prosperity, became honored members of the community and attained a good age, the mother dying in 1884 at the age of sixty-two and the father in 1899 at the age of seventy-eight. Though owning a claim in Renville county, Gunder J. Lee was actively connected with the business life of Granite Falls for several years. For a time he worked in lumber camps. For a period he was a clerk in a Granite Falls store. Later he engaged in business for himself in that village. During this time he made frequent visits to his claim. Once when going from Emmet to Granite Falls afoot he lost his way, and finally after wandering about for a day and a half found himself at Atwater. In 1885 he made a visit to his old home and other points of interest in Norway. After a long and successful business career in Granite Falls he engaged in the mercantile business in Renville, where he erected the Lee block. In Renville, Mr. Lee still lives. He has served on the council here and as councilman and supervisor in Granite Falls and has helped in many ways to build up the community. He assisted in reorganizing the Security Bank, now merged in the First National Bank, and was elected one of its directors. Fraternally he is connected with the Masonic and Odd Fellow orders. Like his father before him, who helped organize the first Lutheran church in this vicinity, he is an active church worker and deeply interested in its progress. Mr. Lee is married and has three children.
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