Olof Krans was born in Tarnsjo, Sweden in 1838. When Krans was twelve years old his family emigrated to the United States. His family joined with a group of Swedes from northern Uppland to establish the Bishop Hill colony in Illinois.
During the Civil War Krans joined the Union Army. After the war he returned to Bishop Hill and in 1880 began painting a series of pictures that described everyday life in the early days of the colony. When Olof Krans died in 1916 he left the paintings to Bishop Hill. These paintings can now be seen in Tarnsjo Museum in Sweden.