Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Sigfus Olafson


Sigfus Olafson (November 1, 1897-February 28, 1987) was born in northwestern Minnesota, the grandson of Icelandic immigrants. He attended public schools in Minnesota and as a young man worked with surveying crews and gained practical experience in the field of geology. After serving in World War I, Olafson went to work for the Yawkey-Freeman Corporation and was sent to West Virginia to help find and develop the company’s coal and gas resources. In the mid-1920s, he settled in Madison, Boone County. Eventually Olafson was transferred to the Yawkey-Freeman New York office and became the corporation’s president. After retirement he moved back to Boone County.

As a geologist, Olafson came in frequent contact with the artifacts of West Virginia’s prehistoric inhabitants. Through his careful observations, research, and writings, he established himself as a competent amateur authority in the field of prehistoric archeology of the eastern United States. He was an early member of the West Virginia Archeological Society, served as the group’s president for many years, and wrote articles for the society’s journal. He also served as president of the Eastern States Archeological Federation. In retirement, Olafson helped to found the Boone County Genealogical Society and co-authored, with his daughter Jean, several books on Boone County genealogy. He was buried in Madison.

Written by Michael M. Meador


  1. Archaeologist Sigfus Olafson Dies at 90. Charleston Gazette, 3/2/1987.

  2. Youse, Hillis. West Virginia Archeologist, (Spring 1987).