Ola Värmlänning

Ola VäRmläNning

Ola Värmlänning

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Ola Värmlänning is a drunken prankster whose legendary exploits were once very popular among the Swedish-American communities of Minnesota. A Swedish language book about him is in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Folk hero

According to legend, Ola Värmlänning was born in the Swedish province of Värmland. According to some accounts, he was the black sheep son of the Swedish nobility. He is alleged to have been packed off to America and provided a periodic stipend to remain away from his embarrassed relations (see Remittance Man). Other storytellers state that he came to America to forget a failed love affair. Still others describe his father as a minister of the Church of Sweden.

After working in the pine forests near Duluth, Minnesota, he is alleged to have arrived in Saint Paul via a private train. The huge crowd who had arrived to greet him was shocked to see Ola step off the train in the garb of an unwashed lumberjack.

Ola is said to have thrived in the Twin Cities of the 1880s and 1890s, living by his wits in a manner similar to Reynard the Fox or Till Eulenspiegel. In one popular legend, he tricks an officer of the Saint Paul Police Department into helping him steal a butcher's pig and sticking the unsuspecting lawman with the blame. Other stories tell of many other encounters with the police and with immigrants fresh off the boat, all of whom he frequently reduces to bumbling fools.

He is alleged to have died in a gutter and to have been buried...
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