NELSON, Peter & Mary (Jensen)
NELSON, Peter & Mary (Jensen), Family History


Written by their son, Henry Nelson
Peter Nelson and Mary Jensen were born in Denmark in a town about 30 miles from Copenhagen, a town named Ringstad. Mary's father was a coachman for some nobleman. Peter's father died when he was quite small and he was raised by foster parents.

Mary Jensen was born October 19, 1861 and Peter Nelson was born July 10, 1862. They came to America in 1883. Peter worked on farms out of Brewster,

Minnesota and later sent for Mary to come to America. She did housework for several families there. They were married in Worthington on March 28, 1885. They moved to Chandler where Peter worked on the Section. He was promoted to Section Foreman and moved to Edgerton, MN where they lived for about eight years.Born to this couple were eight children, Andrew, William, Laura, Clara, Henry, Albert, Walter, and Arthur. Arthur died as an infant.

They moved to Tamarack, MN in 1902. He got citizenship papers in Aitken County in 1903. They lived there until Peter died in 1951. Mary died in 1953 at the age of 92.


Written by Donald W. Nelson, June 1987
Peter Nelson and Mary Jensen were born and raised in the town of Ringstad, about 30 miles from Copenhagen, Denmark. We know almost nothing about their early life except Mary's father was a coachman for a Danish Nobleman. Peter's father died when he was quite small and he was raised by foster parents.

Peter came to America in 1883 and worked on farms around Brewster, Minnesota. Then he sent for Mary to come to America. She did housework for several families in the Worthington area. Peter and Mary were married in Worthington, Minnesota ion March 28, 1885.

They moved to Chandler, Minnesota, where Peter worked on the railroad section. Later, he was promoted to section foreman and they moved to Edgerton, Minnesota. They lived there for eight years.

Eight children were born to this couple. They were William, Andrew, Laura, Clara, Henry, Albert, Walter and Arthur. Arthur died as an infant.

Peter came to Minnesota in November of 1901 to locate some land. He was able to get an 80 acre homestead north of Tamarack , Minnesota. The following spring, on March 6, 1902, Peter and two sons, William and Andrew, arrived in an Emigrant car. They unloaded two horses, two cows, two pigs, two sheep and household goods.

They moved all of this out to their land and began to clear land, cut logs and build a house and barn. Mary and the other children arrived a short time later on the passenger train. The house was not finished when the family arrived so they ate their first meal, using an overturned tub as a table. The meal consisted of molasses and bread.

They cleared land, planted crops and worked in the woods. In 1903 they were granted U.S. Citizenship. In 1904 they built a new log house. It was two stories high, chinked with moss and had a hand split cedar shingle roof. That first winter they got our 40 railroad ties, much cordwood and many saw logs. They made $400.00 that first winter.

In three years they had helped organize the township, named it Haugen after Chris Haugen, the Aitkin County Sheriff. Peter Nelson and Frens Jacobsen got up a petition to establish a school district and built the first school house on Section 29.

The first meeting of the town board was held in Peter Nelson's home, and he was elected the first chairman. He also served for many years as the town clerk.

Peter and Mary lived out their lives on their farm. Peter died in 1951 at the age of 89. Mary died in 1953 at the age of 91. They are both buried in the Round Lake Cemetery, a few miles from their home.

In going over the Nelson family history, I found something quite interesting. Of the eight children, Arthur died as an infant William lived only 30 years, Albert only 33 years, and Clara but 45. But, those that lived to middle age went on to live very long lives. Andrew was 86 at the time of his death, Laura was 86, Henry was 82 and Walter was 87.

Then we look at their grandchildren. Mabel lived to be 72, Ruth is now 70, John is 67, Donald is 66, Clyde, Gerald and Dorothy are 63, Leone is 58,l Jean is 56 and Darlene is 53.

Edward was killed in action in France in World War II. He was only 27. We don't know how long he might have lived under normal conditions. Arthur died at 24, Robert was 49 and Vern at age 52.

It is a long way from Ringstad Denmark to Edgerton, Minnesota, but they made it in 21 years. It is also a long ways from Edgerton to Tamarack , but they made that in only eight years. They came a long way from such a humble start as eating their dinner out in the woods on an overturned tub to living on a complete farm that they built themselves. They were able to spend a half a century in the land of their own choice, building the community. They knew food times and bad times, joy and sorrow, some failure but mostly success. Theirs was a full and rewarding life.

The Nelson family will be remembered, along with the Bergs, Greens, Devlins, Andersons, Jacobsens, McGarvies, Hedstroms and Johnsons as the original pioneers that opened up that wilderness soon after the year 1900.

This biography was submitted by
Teri Gregg

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