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The Life of Anton Nelson


Kate Nelson


6th Grade 1997, Tri-County School, Karlstad,MN


3rd Place

Kittson County Historical Society Essay Contest


My story is about my great grandfather, Anton Nelson. Actually, his name was Nielson, but I'll tell you about that later. Hewas born on February 13, 1869 in Hjortheden Hjarning, Denmark. When he was20, he immigrated to the United States from Denmark, leaving his wife. At Ellis Island, when he was questioned about his name, he answered Nielsonbut the officer misunderstood it as Nelson. Anton replied yes when theofficer asked to confirm his name. So, from there on, he was known as Nelson.

Anton's original plan was to homestead in Canada, but whenhe moved, it flooded leaving him without a home or possessions. So, hemoved to Kittson County where his brother, Pete, was. There he homesteaded,improved the land, bought two horses, and built a one room house. His houseconsisted of: a stove, a table, and a place to sleep. Anton's farm wasabout sixteen and a half miles north of Hallock.

Since Anton's wife was still in Denmark, he asked a neighborto take care of his horses and went back for her. When they returned, Antonbought more livestock including: four heifers, more horses, some hens, anda rooster. Most of their food was provided by these animals. His wife,Anna Marie Christiansen, had a garden which also provided some food. Sometimes,he would buy some piglets and would raise them to eat. Anton grew mostlywheat in his fields, but grew some oats for his horses.

Anton had a lot of competition in farming because wheatwas the demand. But he made off surprisingly well. His family was notrich but he did not have a financial problem. Sometimes, he would lendmoney freely to neighbors who needed it in order to survive. When Antonreturned with his wife, he bought 160 acres of land to work up which hepaid off soon after he bought it.

Through the years, they had seven children (from firstto last born): Carl, Herman, Elmer, Johanna, Rudolf, Lyla, and Harvey. Carl, Anton's oldest, died of an infectious disease when he was a youngteenager.

Anton had learned some English before his children wereborn, but learned most of it through their school work. His children wentto school about one and a half miles away from the farm. When they wereyoung, they walked to school but when they got older, Anton let them takea team of horses, provided that they would take care of them. Each daywhen the kids brought home their reading or text books, he would read them. This is how Anton learned most of the English language and culture. Hehad gone to school in Denmark and was very intelligent. For that reason,it was easy for him to learn from his children's school books. When thekids woke at six, they had to bring the cows in from the pasture and feedthem.

When Harvey, Anton's youngest, was about sixteen, he legallychanged his name back to Nielson. He was the only child to change theirname back to Nielson.

His wife died when she was 42 of a heart attack. Thisleft Anton to take care of six children, most of them under 10. He wasclosest to his fifteen year old, Herman. He would trust and confide inhim. Most of the time he was pretty strict. All of his children got married. Anton died of cancer when he was 80. Both he and his wife were buriedin Sikar Cemetery.

He is a good example of how most men were in his days.


Interview with Herman Nelson

Interview with Elmer Nelson

T SIZE=+1>Interview with Elmer Nelson