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Clinton County >> 1911 Index

History of Clinton County, Iowa
ed. by P. B. Wolfe. 2 vols. Indianapolis, Ind.: B. F. Bowen, 1911.


Unless otherwise noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

Cornelius Petersen

As a farmer and stock raiser Cornelius Petersen holds a very high rank among those who make these lines of endeavor their life work in Waterford township. He is one of the large number of our enterprising citizens who have come from the famous province of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, having been born near Wick, October 7, 1848. There he spent his boyhood and started his education, but his parents brought him to America when he was ten years of age and here he finished his schooling. He is a son of Marks and Margaret Inga (Magratha) Petersen, both natives of Germany, the father of Rippen and the mother of Foehr. They grew to maturity and married in the fatherland, making that their place of abode until 1859, when they came to America, the voyage requiring eight weeks. They landed at New Orleans and went to Mobile, stayed until spring, then went back to New Orleans and came by steamboat to Lyons, Clinton county, Iowa, first locating in Center township, where they remained one year, then bought forty acres of timber land, which the father cleared and improved, adding forty acres more four years later, and there he remained until 1873, his wife dying on Christmas night of that year. He then rented his farm and moved to Clinton, and later returned to his native land, where he married, and soon afterwards came back to Iowa, buying a forty acre farm on which he settled. He also bought a farm of one hundred and twenty acres near Sabula, Iowa. He became very well established in due course of time, being a man of industry and a good manager. He bought large tracts of land, which he distributed among his children. In 1897 he again returned to the fatherland, where his death occurred and where he was buried. He was among the prominent and influential farmers of Clinton county, well known and accorded the highest respect. He had no children by his last marriage. Peter, who was born to the first union, lived on the old homestead where he died, leaving three children; Cornelius, of this review; Martin, who never married, traveled a great deal, spending a great deal of his time in the old country, finally disappearing, his whereabouts not being known; he was formerly a merchant of Clinton, Iowa.

Cornelius Petersen remained under the parental roof, assisting with the work on the farm during his youth. He was married on March 18, 1873, and settled to farming on the homestead, where he remained two years; then in 1875 he purchased ninety acres in section 10, Washington township, this county, later adding one hundred and sixty acres adjoining, still later adding another survey, thus owning a splendid aggregation of land to the amount of four hundred and ninety acres, which he brought up to a high state of improvement, and there remained, successfully engaged in general farming and stock raising, until 1908, when he bought the B. J. Monahan farm, containing three hundred and seventy-three acres adjoining the corporate limits of Charlotte, which is one of the most elaborately improved and one of the best farms in Clinton county. He keeps it under a high state of cultivation, carrying on general farming and stock raising, buying, feeding and shipping large numbers, being widely known as a stock man. He has sold a part of his Washington township farm, but yet owns two hundred and fifty acres of that farm. He has given his attention exclusively to farming and stock raising and his efforts have been crowned with abundant success. He has a beautiful home, in the midst of attractive surroundings and it is known as a place of old-time hospitality to the many friends of the family.

Mr. Petersen is a stanch Democrat in his political relations and he has filled, very acceptably, some of the township offices, such as school director, etc., though he is not an aspirant to public offices, being too busy with his large individual affairs. He is a consistent member of the Lutheran church and he contributes liberally to the support of the church at Charlotte.

Mr. Petersen was married to Anna Hansen, who was born in Germany, November 17, 1851, the daughter of Hans P. and Mary (Ohrms) Hansen, both natives of Germany, where they grew to maturity and were married, emigrating to America in 1866, coming direct to Lyons, Iowa, where they lived a year, later located in Center Grove township and engaged in farming, Mr. Hansen becoming well established, owning large tracts of land. His death occurred in 1890, his wife having preceded him to the grave in 1881. They became widely known, prominent and influential. Their children were: Sabina, who first married a Mr. Paulsen, by whom she had three children, her second husband being N. Holtz, which union resulted in the birth of three children; Peter first married Mary Petersen, and later Lena Bolt; August lives in Minnesota; Henry married Mattie Breiholtz and her death occurred in 1884; he then married Maggie Bock; Anna, wife of the subject.

To Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Petersen the following children have been born: Henry, a retired farmer; Johannis is an agent for Arkansas lands; Mark lives on the old homestead; Adolph is managing the home farm; Edward is at home; August, who is at home, was manager of one of Mr. Petersen's farms in Arkansas, which has recently been sold; Amanda is the wife of the Rev. Carl H. Olsen, pastor of the Charlotte Lutheran church; Malinda is still a member of the home circle.