The C. A. McAdams Family

The C. A. McAdams Family

Our American Roots

by Charles G. Petersen
Charles and Lillian's Daughter

                       Charles        Lillian 
                       Andrew          May
                       McAdams       Whitcomb
                          |             |
Clara May McAdams
Family Group
Early Years
My mother graduated from Swea City High School in 1919 at age 16. The following year she appears in the 1920 U.S. Census living at home with her parents and two siblings, Paul and Alden. She had apparently been taken under the wing of her aunt Stella McAdams for both of them were working for the local newspaper, The Swea City Herald. Their job at the newspaper was Linotype Operator.

The Linotype machine has a typewriter keyboard and produces a metal line of characters used by the newspaper printing press. These fascinating machines were invented in 1884 and used in newspaper offices up into the 1980's. I remember Mother showing me one the machines she had worked on in Estherville. More detailed information about Linotype is available online, try Google or Wikipedia.

First Marriage
In 1921 Clara moved to Estherville, Iowa and worked as a Linotype Operator for the Estherville Daily News. It was there that she met and married Carl John Nelson in March of 1922. According to the 1920 U.S. Census Carl was working as a fireman for the railroad. It was an ill fated marriage that lasted but one year when they divorced. Divorce in the 1920's in Estherville was a rare occurrence, so it must have been a traumatic experience. There are no records that indicate any children from that marriage.
Second Marriage
The 1930 U.S. Census shows Clara as divorced and still employed as a linotype operator for the local newspaper. In July of 1934 she married my father, Thorvald Petersen (picture) from Ringsted, Iowa. The question arises, how did a small town bachelor shopkeeper meet a big city career girl with her own apartment and her own car. The answer came when I saw the picture of Clara's High School graduating class and recognized the girl sitting next to Mother, it was Ella Saxon. Ella married Jens Norgaard Petersen in December of 1923, Jens is Thorvald's older brother. I believe Jens and Ella were the match makers. Thorvald and Clara were married in Akron in Plymouth County, Iowa. Why is Arkon and not Swea City or Ringsted? They eloped?
Family Life
They had two children, Charles (1936) and Edward (1937), and the family lived in a small 4 room house just a block south of Main Street in Ringsted. Here is a picture of Clara with her two young boys. Clara remained a housewife the rest of her life. We frequently made the 16 mile trip to Swea City for Sunday dinner with my maternal grandparents.

In 1942 Thorvald became the bookkeeper for the Farmers Co-op Elevator in Ringsted, which began a life long career as a grain dealer. In 1946 we moved to Terril, Iowa where Dad became the Manager of their Farmers Co-op. This picture shows Clara and Thorvald standing in front of our Terril home on a cold winter day.

In April of 1953 Clara became ill and died two days later of a stroke, age 50. She is buried in the Fairview Cemetery two miles east of Terril.

Second Marriage
In August of 1954 Thorvald married his bookkeeper widower Mabel Newby. She had 3 children of her own and we became a family of 7. In 1956 Thorvald took the job as Manager of the Churdan Farmers Co-op. Churdan is a small community in Green County, Iowa about 100 miles south of Terril. Thorvald retired in Churdan in 1966.

After a year's retirement he was asked to help a small financially-troubled Farmers Co-op in Aredale, Iowa. This led to a full-time position as their Manager and he and Mabel moved to Hampton, a city in northern Iowa a few miles from Aredale. On 10 February 1969, Thorvald suffered a heart attack and died. He is buried beside mother in Terril's Fairview Cemetery (picture).

Children of Thorvald Petersen and Clara May McAdams

Charles Glenn born January 17, 1936 in Ringsted, Emmet County, Iowa.

Edward Alan born October 27, 1937 in Ringsted, Emmet County, Iowa.

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