The Peter M. Petersen Family

Our Danish Roots

by Charles G. Petersen

Jeppe Madsen Skov Picture
Sophie Petersen Bager Picture

Jeppe Skov (35) took his wife, Sophie (29), and their three children; Peter (8), Cecilia (6), and Mads (4), probably to Hamburg, Germany in 1880 for passage to America. The exact date they sailed is not known, but they settled in Drummer Township, Ford County, Illinois near Gibson City where twin daughters, Anna and Carrie, were born on November 4, 1881.

Gibson was formed in 1870 and named after Margaret Gibson, the wife of the founder. The `City' part of the town name was added later when a post office was established. Drummer Township was named after a grove just north of town. The grove was named after an early settler's favorite hunting dog, Drummer. In 1880 the population of Drummer township was around 15,000. Ford County was the last county to be formed in Illinois in 1859; the county seat is Paxton. A group of Swedes came to the area in 1863 followed by a group of Norwegians, who formed the Norwegian Lutheran Church in 1866. There is no evidence of a similar Danish community in the area. So it is not clear why Jens Skow, Jeppe's brother moved to Illinois after spending two years in Mississippi.

name change
Upon immigration to the United States the Danish name Skov, which means forest or woods, was changed to, Skow. The `ov' in the Danish Skov is pronounced like the English hoe or row, not like the English sow or cow that it became with the change in spelling.

Jeppe had six brothers; the two younger ones, Jens and Mads, also came to the United States. (Jeppe's name is pronounced as Yep-puh in Danish.) In the Danish pronounciation of Mads, the `d' is silent but the `a' has the same sound it would have if the `d' were not silent.

Jens Hansen Skov was born in 1848 in Skudstrup, Jutland, Denmark. Skudstrup is not on the modern map of Denmark, but it's general area can be spotted by looking just south of a line from Kolding, on the east edge of Jutland, to Esbjerg on the west; it is located between Skodborg and Vamdrup. Jens immigrated to America in 1870 and lived for two years in Mississippi. He came to Illinois in 1872 and in 1874, he married Patrina S. Hostrup, who was also born in Denmark. His first daughter, also named Cecelia, was born in 1877.

Sometime in 1882, Jeppe moved his growing family to Rutland Township, Humboldt County, Iowa, where over the next ten years two more children were born, Chris (1885) and Lena (1892). His two brothers in Illinois also came to the same area about the same time, in fact all three families may have moved at the same time for their farms in Iowa were all adjacent to one another just three miles north of Rutland.

Mads Madsen Skov imigrated to the U.S. in the 1870's and lived with his brother Jens in Illinois until he had enough money to send home for passage for 18 year old Anna Wiuff. They were married on January 2, 1881, in Gibson City in Drummer Township in Ford County, Illinois. Anna's father, a cobbler in Denmark, died when Anna was quite young. Her mother remarried a man named Petersen. Anna became known in America as the best cook and housekeeper in Humboldt County. Their first daughter, Cecelia, was born in Rutland Township, Humboldt County, Iowa in 1884.

It is interesting to note that all three of the Skov brothers that came to the U.S. named their first daughter Cecelia. I'm told that the brothers' mother's name, Sidsel (pronounced Sea-sail), is the root name for Cecelia.

There must have already been some connection between the Skows and Ringsted in Denmark township of Emmet County prior to the time Jeppe moved there in 1892, because records show that Cecelia was confirmed on March 10, 1888 in the St. Ansgars Danish Lutheran church in Denmark township. The last of the eight children, Hans Madsen, was born in Emmet County, Iowa in 1894.
Jeppe Madsen Skov was born on June 5th in 1845 in Vamdrup Sogn, Denmark. The family was living on West Vamdrup Mark at the time. Vamdrup Sogn is in Ribe Amt. Ribe Amt is just north of the border between Northern Jutland and Southern Jutland; Southern Jutland being what was previously the northern part of Slesvig. I had originally surmised that Jeppe's father was Mads Hansen Skov from three facts: 1) because Mads witnessed the wedding of Jeppe to Sophie Petersen Bager on November 17th in 1871 in Rødding; 2) because of the name pattern, Madsen being Jeppe's middle name; and 3) because Jeppe's third child was named Mads Hansen. Jeppe's birth record confirms his parent's names as Mads Hansen Skov and Sidsel Nielsdatter Bonde, both of Aller Parish. Jeppe died in Denmark Township, Iowa at the Forsyth Creamery on March 12th in 1898.
Forsyth was a small community in the Southeast corner of Denmark Twonship and was located 1 mile east, 3 miles south, and a half mile east of what is now Ringsted. At the time it was the only place this side of Bancroft where farmers could get their supplies. When Ringsted was formed, some of the buisnesses moved from Forsyth to Ringsted and when the Ringsted Post Office opened and rural free delivery was established, the Forsyth Post Office, and thus the town, was abandoned.

Jeppe's oldest son was named administrator of the estate on February 17, 1899. At the time of Jeppe's death, he was very poor and had no real property. For example, his personal estate was estimated at $600, but he was also $550 in debt. Sophie received $250 for funeral expenses.

Sophie Pedersen Bager was born on September 14th in 1851 in Rødding to Peder Ebbesen and Karen Christensen. She had at least one sibling named Anne Kristine Pedersen Bager who was born on April 23rd in 1854, also in Rødding. They were both given the last name of Bager (pronounced Bay-air) apparently in honor of a friend of Peder and Karen, Christen Bager, who was a witness to their wedding on December 27th in 1850 in Rødding.

Sophie moved into Ringsted and in 1901 she bought Lots 2 and 3 of Block 6 for $225. The house on this property on Oak Street was built in 1914. Her son, Chris, had half interest in the house and property and in 1932, she sold the other half to him for $1. Sophie died in Ringsted, Iowa on September 12th in 1934 after living her last 36 years as a widow. She and Jeppe are buried in the St. John's Lutheran Church cemetery just east of Ringsted.

Note the names of the children. The first son is named after his maternal grandfather. The first daughter is named after her paternal grandmother, Sidsel (See-seal), which was a very common Danish name in those days and is the forerunner of the modern name Cecelia. The second son is named after his paternal grandfather. Tradition here was broken when the twins were born, although Carrie is close to Karen, her maternal grandmother.