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Morton Petersen, 1841-1912


Posted By: Emmet County IAGenWeb Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/5/2011 at 12:48:28

Morton Petersen was born in Gosmer Parrish, Jutland , Denmark, July 18, 1841. He was married to Karen Marie (Rasmussen) in Denmark. Three children were born to this union. Christina, Robert Peter and Chris M. He came with his family to America in 1870 and located in Manistee, Michigan where the home was maintained for three years. It was here the wife and mother died in 1873. Subsequently the father and children lived in Chicago for two years where he was engaged in the furniture business. He had been similarly employed at Manistee. He moved to Clinton, Iowa where he resided for eight years and was employed in a sawmill. In 1878 In Clinton he married a second time, choosing as his wife, Anna Petersen, also a native of Denmark where her parents passed their entire lives. Three children were born to this union, Peter Wilhelm, Thorvald B. and Marie (Mrs. Sirl Nelsen). The mother also had a daughter by a former marriage Augusta, the widow of Laua Juhl.

In 1883 the Petersen family came to Emmet county becoming one of the first of the Danish settlers in the county. He bought land in section 1 in Denmark township known as the Marius Henriksen farm. Many Danes came from Chicago, Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs and many families came from Clinton. Most of them had bought land from the Chicago and Milwaukee railroad before they came here. After the Danes began to settle they made an effort to organize the township into an independent township. Before this Armstrong Grove and Denmark township were united. Morton Petersen circulated a petition for this cause. 15 signatures were needed and were secured by January 1884 when Denmark township became an independent township.

Morton Petersen was also instrumental in getting schools started. The first school election was held in March 1884. He was elected one of three Directors. In the summer of 1884 a small school was built on the corner just west of the Petersen farm on section 2 known as district one. Another one was built a couple of miles further south.

The first Ringsted postoffice was in the home of John Larsen. The name he selected for the postoffice was Ringsted. Mr. Larsen's wife lived in Ringsted, Denmark before coming to America. Morton Petersen carried mail from Seneca to the Ringsted postoffice from the year 1886 to 1890, a distance of five or six miles.

We have some information from an early church book which tells that church services were held in the Morton Petersen school house, but as the settlers had come from Denmark and were accustomed to worshipping in a church, many never felt entirely at home in a school house. A Sunday school was started by Morton Petersen, l. P. Flint and Mrs. Christen Pedersen. A church was built near the Black Cat creek known as St. Ansgars church. It was dedicated in September 1881. Everything appeared to be well until 1897 when members could not agree to which synod the church should belong to. It was evident that this was the parting of the ways. Morton Petersen was chosen as a member of the committee to represent, St. Paul's church. He was also a member of the first church council of St. Paul's, he served as treasurer, they together with the pastor drew up a new Constitution. He served as Sunday school teacher for many years.

Morton Petersen farmed until 1902 when he retired To Ringsted. He and his wife lived in the house now occupied by Julius Hansen, about half a block west of St. Paul's. He died in 1912 and his wife died In 1914. They are both buried in St. Paul's Cemetery.

Source: History of Emmet County and Dickinson County Iowa: A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement, The Pioneer Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1917.

Interment in St. Paul's cemetery

Emmet Biographies maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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