NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG4021.AM: Peter S. Petersen, 1861-1953
Reminiscences: ca. 1930s
Dannebrog, Howard County, Neb.: Postmaster, newspaper publisher
Size: 2 volumes
Peter S. Petersen, son of Jens and Dorthea Petersen, was born near Thisted, Denmark on September 13, 1861. He came to America in 1872 with his parents, sister and two brothers. The family first lived in Chicago, where his mother and youngest brother died. After staying in Chicago for two months, the Petersens arrived in Dannebrog, Howard County, Nebraska, on September 16, 1872. A few days later Jens Petersen filed on a homestead six miles west of Dannebrog.
During his youth, Peter S. Petersen worked as a hired hand around Dannebrog and St. Paul. While he was in his twenties, he worked for several years in Wyoming, spending some time working on the railroad and as a ranch hand. Around 1890 Petersen returned to Dannebrog, where he was employed in a general store and in a bank. On October 5, 1892 he was married to Anna S. Kjeldsen. They would have seven children.
In 1905 Petersen was appointed postmaster at Dannebrog. Shortly thereafter he purchased the Dannebrog News, which he published until the early 1920s. Retiring in 1934, he left his position as postmaster. During his retirement, he and his wife spent the winters in Omaha with their daughter’s family and the summers in Dannebrog. In 1952 they entered a rest home in Blair, Nebraska, where Peter S. Petersen died on June 19, 1953.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of the two-volume, 641 page memoir of Peter S. Petersen of Dannebrog, Nebraska. Written by Petersen (probably in the 1930s), the reminiscence covers the years 1795-1895, although most of the memoir describes Petersen’s experiences in Dannebrog and, later, Wyoming. The volumes extensively cover the years 1872 through 1895.
Beginning with his family background, Petersen then describes his childhood in Denmark and the family’s journey to America in 1872. After a short stay in Chicago, the family arrived in Dannebrog, Nebraska, and his experiences in Nebraska are described. He discusses his impressions of the area, homesteading, neighbors, the blizzard of 1873, his work as a hired hand, grasshoppers, prominent businesses and businessmen, local elections, celebrations and festivals, dances, schools, weddings, well digging, working on the railroad in Nebraska and Wyoming, ranch work in Wyoming, saloon-keeping, the blizzard of 1888, trouble between whites and Chinese in Wyoming, his work in general stores and a bank, and the economic problems of the 1890s. Interspersed among his own experiences are descriptions of the growth and changes in Dannebrog, Nebraska.
Note: An edited version of the reminiscences is available in the NSHS Library. See:
Petersen, Peter S., Peter S. Petersen’s memoirs, edited by John W. Nielsen in cooperation with Karsten Kjer Michaelsen. Blair, Neb.: Lur Publications, Danish Immigrant Archive, Dana College, 2003.
- Reminiscences, 1795-1884
- Reminiscences, 1884-1895
Blizzards — Nebraska
Child labor — Nebraska
Danish Americans — Nebraska — Dannebrog
Dannebrog (Neb.) — History
Dannebrog (Neb.) — Social life and customs — 19th century
Frontier and pioneer life — Nebraska — Dannebrog
Frontier and pioneer life — Wyoming
Homesteads and homesteading — Nebraska — Howard County
Howard County (Neb.) — History
Immigrants — Nebraska — Dannebrog
Labor and laboring classes — Nebraska
Merchants — Nebraska
Petersen, Peter S., 1861-1953
Pioneers — Nebraska — Dannebrog
Postmasters — Nebraska — Dannebrog
Publishers and publishing — Nebraska
Ranches and ranching — Wyoming
Revised 05-16-2008 TMM