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Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company

Page 290

PETER P. GROSBOLL, a representative and prosperous agriculturist of Menard county, resides upon a farm which has become historic from the fact that it was upon this place, in an old frame building that Abraham Lincoln tried his first lawsuit. Mr. Grosboll is a native of Denmark, his birth having occurred in North Schleswig (now a part of Germany) on the 3d of November, 1855. His father was a dairy farmer and stock raiser and owned a good tract of land in his native country, where he spent his entire life. He married Magrady Rosenbaum, also a native of North Schleswig, and, like her husband, she spent her entire life in that country. The father was twice married and had nine children by the first union and five by the second. Three sons of the first marriage are now living in the United States: Jep P. Grosboll, who came to America in 1872, when nineteen years of age, and is now living in Menard county; Peter P.; and Martin who crossed the Atlantic at the age of eighteen years and is also a resident of Menard county.

Peter P. Grosboll acquired his education in the land of his nativity, attending school between the ages of six and sixteen years, and the following year, 1873, he came to the new world, making his way direct to Petersburg. He began to work by the month as a farm hand and was employed in that way for two or three years., at the end of which time he had gotten enough money ahead to enable him to rent a farm and begin agricultural pursuits on his own account. Later, when his industry and economy had brought to him sufficient capital, he purchased two hundred acres of land, west of where he now resides, known as the old Hatfield farm, and after conducting it for a time he sold that property and bought two hundred and eighty acres of rich land in township 18, range 7, on which he is now living. He is a stock raiser and cattle feeder and he has bred many fine animals. He always has high grades of stock upon his place and his farm is splendidly improved with modern equipments. His business has grown to extensive and profitable proportions and he is now classed with the well-to-do citizens of Menard county.

It was upon his farm, in an old house which has since been torn down, that Abraham Lincoln pleaded his first law suit. The suit gr3ew out of some trouble over a woman's misfortune. Lincoln was surveying at the time upon the place and the woman's friends asked him to plead the case and he did so. A lawyer from Beardstown was on the defense and regarded Lincoln as an opponent whom he could readily conquer. Lincoln, in his opening address to the jury, pointed to the man and said, "I will compare him to a white dress which can be soiled but made white again," and then, pointing to the woman, he said, "She is like a glass bottle, which, crushed against a stone, is ruined forever." Lincoln won the suit. Ann Rutledge was buried upon this farm but her remains were afterward interred in the cemetery at Petersburg.

On the 3d of August, 1880, Mr. Grosboll married Christina Kjar, a native of Denmark, whom he wedded while on a visit to his native country. They had been schoolmates in youth. Unto them have been born five children: Anna M., born May 16, 1881, was educated in the district schools and was married December 15, 1903, to Harry Shirding. They reside in Petersburg and he has large farming interest near the city. Ella R., born July 24, 1883, was also educated in the public schools and is at home with her parents. Matha Marie, born February 2, 1885, was graduated at the high school of Petersburg in 1903. Henry Cyrus, born January 5, 1887, attended the district schools and is now assisting his father in the cultivation of the home farm. Paul Harry, born May 23, 1891, is still a public school student.

In 1888 Mr. Grosboll and his family returned to Germany on a visit, but because he had refused to serve in the German army, or rather preferred leaving that country forever than become a soldier, he was notified by the government officials upon his return that he must leave the country within twenty-four hours. Being now a naturalized American citizen, he appealed to the American legation and Uncle Sam took up the case with the result that within a few hours he received notification that the German government recalled the order and he could remain until the following January. He still has in his possession the letters from the American legation and his passport.

Mr. and Mrs. Grosboll are members of the Lutheran church. Since becoming an American citizen he has given his political support to the Republican party, and for nine years he has served as a school director. His business career has been one of steady progression. Hoping that he might improve his financial condition in the new world with its superior business opportunities, he came to the United States, and his native energy, strong purpose and laudable ambition have enabled him to gain a fair measure of success, while his example proves conclusively that prosperity may be won through persistent labor, directed by the valuable quality of common sense.

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