The Peter M. Petersen Family

Our Danish Roots

by Charles G. Petersen

Cecilie Skov Picture

Ninth Child
My grandmother married Peter M. Petersen on July 14th in 1893 in Ringsted, Denmark Township, Iowa. She was also Danish and was born on a small farm in the southern part of what is now Denmark. On that fateful day in 1909 when her young husband was killed she had eight children, the oldest being 16 years old and the youngest was only two. To compound matters even more, she was five months pregnant with her ninth child. She didn't have the safety net that we have today, there was no social security and no welfare state to protect her.
Ringsted house
On October 7, 1910, she bought a house and two lots (Lots 11 & 12, Block 8) for $175 in Ringsted located on the corner of 3rd and Ash, just four block from downtown. Where she got the money is not known; the farm they had lived on was rented land, but they must have owned farm animals and various pieces of farm machinery and they could have been sold to provide the funding for the house. The house, which was located on the lot 12, was built in 1905.

T. W. Doughty of Armstrong was named guardian of the children and he held in escrow a small estate of around $700 for the children. He died in December 1920 and in February of 1921, Cecelia was named guardian of the minor children. She sued the Doughty estate to recapture the money he was holding and settled out of court for $900.

She and her oldest daughter Sophie raised the younger children; they supported themselves by taking in laundry and the older boys worked doing odd jobs in town and on the nearby farms during the summer months. I am told that lot 11 was used primarily as a large garden area on which the family raised much of the food they ate. The last seventeen years of life for Cecelia Skow Petersen had to have been a struggle.

When she died in 1926, her son, my father, Thorvald, was named administator and guardian of the two minor daughters of Cecelia, Alma and Petrea. Her estate at the time was estimated to be worth about $3400. The property owned by Cecelia was not sold until 1937 and brought $1000.

Petersen family
The picture of the Petersen family was taken in front of their house in Ringsted probably around 1915, judging from the age of the children. Seated on the porch steps from left to right are Sophie, Petrea, Alma and Cecelia. To Cecelia's left are Jens and Alfred. Sitting on the ground from left to right are Soren, Albert, Martin and Thorvald. The women standing on the left is Peter Olling's sister, Caroline.

Petersen girls
The second picture gives a better view of the front of the house and features the Petersen girls, Sophie, Petrea and Alma.
Petersen boys
The third picture is one of all of the boys in the Petersen family. It was taken at an earlier time, probably in 1909 in Ringsted at the time of their father's death. Soren, upper right, was the oldest boy in the family at 14 years. The next oldest at age 12 was Martin in the upper left. Jens Norgaard, although taller than Martin, was only ten years old and is standing in the upper row between his two older borthers. Alfred was 9 years old and is in the lower right. Albert, who was 6 years old is in the lower center. My father, Thorvald, in the lower left, was only 4 years old
Cecilie Skov (Skoe) was born on April 10th in 1874 on a small farm near Rødding (Roo-thin). Rødding is located in the center of the southern part of the Jutland peninsula, equidistant on a line between Esbjerg (Es-bee-yair) on the west coast and Haderslev (Hath-air-slave) near the east coast. Rødding is now in Haderslev Amt Southern Jutland; the amt capital is Aabenraa (Åbenrå, pronounced Awe-been-row). At the time of her birth, in 1874, this southern part of the country was part of Germany. Cecelia Skow died in Ringsted on May 24th in 1926.