Nels Nelson - Born Niels Nielsen at Odense, Denmark. August
3,1861 -Parents Anne Sophie and Knute Nielsen. Came to United
States in 1880 at the age of 19, landed in Baltimore, Maryland.
It was wintertime and he and two other young men who came with
him went to Janesville, Wisconsin. When they arrived there it
was very cold and they hired out to a farmer. He took them to
the farm in a bobsled. They wore hats and their ears froze. They
talked about it was strange that bees were out in such cold weather.
They thought it was bees stinging
their ears instead of the extreme cold. Their mothers had packed
food for them when they left Denmark. They were used to three
meals a day and on this farm they got three meals each day except
Sunday and they were so hungry they found an old soup bone and
chewed on. Later he came to Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and worked
on the "Big Farm." This farm consisted of several hundred
acres just west of Blooming Prairie and was owned by a man named
Thurston. He hired a great number of men and was glad to "new
comers", as they were good workers. New Comers were people
who had recently arrived from other countries. Mostly Danes,
Norwegians, and Swedes, as Minnesota was mostly Scandinavian.
They were very good to their hired help and Nels was Mrs. Thurston's
favorite, as he was handy at repairing and helping around the
house. One time he got very sick and Mrs. Thurston took care
of him. The doctor came and gave him medicine, etc., but he grew
steadily worse. So one day Mrs. Thurston said - now she was going
to try something. So when it was time for his medicine, she poured
the prescribed amount into a spoon and threw it out of the window.
It wasn't long before he got well. One time the "Big House"
caught on fire. Mr. Thurston ran into the house to rescue the
children, when he didn't come out Nels ran into the burning house.
He found Mr. Thurston in the pantry throwing things out of the
window. So Nels rescued him and the rest of the family. They
had a great number of cattle. Herds of cattle were kept on different
locations and when the grass got scarce on one place they were
taken to different pastures. Sometimes it took more than a day
to take a herd to other pastures and several men would go, some
on horseback others walked and one man drove the team on the
"chuck wagon", as they had to bring their food supplies.
There were two men who worked with him who remained friends for
life. They were Rasmus Petersen and Rasmus Miller.
He used to
tell of taking a herd to Taopi to graze. It took them several
days and by this time they could speak English fairly well. When
they would meet someone they would pretend they couldn't talk
or understand English and would just rattle off something and
make a lot of motions with their hands and arms. Everyone seemed
anxious to help them, but naturally they couldn't understand,
as these young men weren't talking any language. And the more
confused the other people became the more these "newcomers"
laughed, jigged, danced and acted crazy.
one sister, Abelone. She married Hans Nielsen in Denmark and
they died there. They had two sons Knute Christian and Johannes
(John in English).
- born in Odense, Denmark September 12, 1872. Came to the United
States in 1889. Landed at New York City with two other girls.
They were hungry when they came and saw other people buy bananas
and oranges so they did too. They didn't know they had to peel
them so they wondered how people could eat anything like that.
She went to Blooming Prairie as her uncle Fred Riger lived west
of town on a farm. In Denmark the sidewalks and streets were
always swept and washed and clean at all times, so when anyone
wanted to rest they would sit on the curb. Which she did and
had her luggage with her waiting for her uncle to come and get
her. Along came Nels and he laughed at her, as [this wasn't done]
people never sat on the curb here in the United States. He used
to tell us kids afterward that he never forgave himself for laughing
at her, as he didn't know then that she would become his wife.
Henriette had one sister Christine who had come here before and
saved money and sent to Denmark so Henriette could come and be
with her. Later Henriette went to Duluth to work and then came
back to Blooming Prairie. Henriette and Christine's mother and
father died of some epidemic, which swept Denmark when the girls
were small, so they were raised in an orphanage. Christine married
Gilbert Thompson. Henriette and Nels K. Nelson were married July
3, 1891. They lived at Blooming Prairie, and in ________ they
bought 80 acres of land about 5 miles northwest of town. They
lived there until 1919 when they moved to Bixby where they resided
until their death. Henriette died December 30, 1930, was buried
January I, 1931. Nels died July 6, 1935 and was buried July 8,
1935. Both are buried at Union Cemetery - four miles north of
Blooming Prairie and two miles west.
Stella Christine at birth. She was born September 29, 1892. Then
on March 25, 1893 Annie Sophie Knutesena was born. Then Dagmar
Hansen came to live with them. She was 9 years old and her mother
had died and left 8 children.
On May 22,1897
Nelvina Mabel was born. In 1904 they took a boy from the Lutheran
orphanage at Waupaca, Wisconsin. His name was Anton Frandsen
and he was 12 years old.
sister of Henriette, died and left five children. She died in
1908 at the age of 37 years. The children were:
Theodore (Buddy) Thompson
Alfred Thompson - died at age 54 in summer of 1960 in Chicago.
and Alfred came to live with Nels and Henriette. Their father
remarried and Evelyn went back to live. Later Theodore returned
home and Alfred who was not much over a year old when his mother
died stayed until he was nine years old. He didn't really know
his father or stepmother or sisters. Harold and Theodore used
to spend summer vacations on the farm. Their home was then at
Anoka, just outside of Minneapolis, Minn. Alfred couldn't get
adjusted to his new home so he ran away. He left one cold day
from school without coat or cap on. They thought he had started
for our home and phoned but we hadn't heard from Alfred. One
night we were all in bed and Gilbert (Alfred's father) and Gilbert's
brother from Austin, Minnesota came and wanted to search the
house. They thought Alfred had come there as they said when he
played he always kept repeating "Route 5 Box 15", the
address of the home he had loved. Alfred never came back until
in 1932. But he didn't stay. He was with some other young man
and Theodore was along. He said when he ran away he hid in a
barn and Clara and Harold would bring him food they had "swiped"
at home. He ate what he could find out of garbage cans in Minneapolis.
A man found him and took him along and Alfred cared for the man's
dog. They did a lot of traveling. He finally was heard from at
Chicago where he worked in a tattoo shop.
Glasses - When dark eyeglasses were first introduced
in our neighborhood, N. K. Nelson, my father, who was always
bothered with "watery eyes", bought a pair. When in
direct sunlight his eyes would water until tears ran down his
cheeks. He put them on and drove to visit Dagmar and family.
He decided that the sky was getting cloudy and it would start
to rain so he kept the horses on a fast trot. When he got there
Herman (Dagmar's brother) asked him why he had driven so fast,
as the horses were wet with sweat. "Well," he said,
"I sure didn't want to get caught in a real cloud burst.
It sure is cloudy." When he took his glasses off he was
surprised to see that it wasn't cloudy at all!
Larson - Out west of our farm was a couple named Nels
and Marie Larson. They didn't have any children and had very
odd ideas. When I was a little girl my father was going to Blooming
Prairie, a distance of 5 miles. He drove a team of horses on
a lumber wagon. This is the town we got feed ground for livestock
and got most of supplies for the farm and also groceries. When
I was helping hitch the team to the wagon I saw Nels Larson walking
on the road by our place, so my father had him ride along to
town. He had already walked 7 or 8 miles. He bought a 100 lb.
sack of "Red Dog" flour. They used it for baking bread,
etc. It was a very low grade of flour. When they were ready to
start for home Nels Larson put the sack of flour on his lap.
So my father told him to put it in the back of the wagon with
the rest of the feed. "Oh, No!" Nels said, "I
will hold it in my lap so it won't be so heavy for the horses
to pull." When Lars and Marie Larson came to church, Nels
always wore his wedding suit, which was supposed to be black,
but was green from age. But he always wore a pair of overalls
over his suit so it wouldn't get soiled. Then he hung them in
the horse barn until he was ready to go home. This horse barn
was a real long building and had stalls to accommodate 30 or
We had another
neighbor who was a bachelor, just kind of odd. Some of the neighbors
made fun of him and were mean to him. [One day he came] They
would tip his machinery and scare him at night. We felt sorry
for him as he was harmless and tried to do his best. One summer
day he came walking across the fields to see us. It happened
to be Eli' s and my birthdays, so I had baked a cake and we sat
in the back yard eating our lunch. So we asked him when it was
his birthday and he didn't know. A few days later he came back
all dressed in his Sunday best. He said, "Today is my birthday."
So I fixed a lunch and he was happy. He always drank water from
an old coffeepot. He said it tasted better. He told us a dream
he had. He dreamed he was standing on an oak leaf, which was
floating on the water in an old well. He said he was so scared,
he hollered for his neighbor, John Krell, to come and help him
but he never came.
We left Minnesota
in the winter of 1942. We purchased a "second-hand"
trailer house at Rochester, Minnesota. It was one of the coldest
winters we ever had. There was so much snow it was impossible
to get through. So we waited and one day we heard a snowplow
coming. We hitched our car to the trailer and Eli went out and
asked what roads the snowplow would go on. We followed him as
far as he went and got on a fairly good highway, but it was covered
with ice, and it was almost impossible to drive. We drove on
ice through southern Minnesota, all across Iowa and Missouri.
We stayed at Blue Springs, Missouri and next morning we started
out again. The roads were all covered with ice. When we finally
got to Waco, Texas, Eli was sick and had to stay there 3 or 4
days. Then we started out again. We got north of Alice, Texas
and we had a flat tire on the trailer house. Eli was sick and
I couldn't change the tire by myself. I got out and stood in
the middle of the road trying to get the cars to stop and help
me. The white people whizzed by and the Mexicans stopped. Most
of them couldn't understand English. I asked them to tell a garage
man to come out and help me. But no one came. Later on we learned
that they didn't believe what the Mexicans said. While I was
on the road I walked up a farmer's road and was going to ask
if they would call a garage man. They had two big dogs and each
time I tried walking on their driveway a woman would come out
and make the dog run after me. Eli [finally] felt better and
he helped me put out spare tire from the car on the trailer and
we got into Alice that night. The next morning we started south
Gypsies - When I was about
six years old, our cousin Amerda Riger from Minneapolis would
come and spend part of her summer vacations. We used to like
to walk over to the highway and railroad tracks. There were wild
strawberries and a lot of wild flowers growing on the railroad
right-of-way. One day we were so busy playing and picking flowers
we hadn't noticed a caravan of Gypsies on the road. In those
days Gypsies would come in covered wagons and sometimes as many
as 20 to 40 wagons all in a row. They were drawn by horses and
there were also men riding horse back. The Gypsies would go to
the farms and beg for food, feed for their horses, clothing or
anything else they saw. They would also steal anything they could
get their hands on. They were expert pickpockets. Some of the
men got out and ran after us and we were on the opposite side
of the tracks from home so we ran into a wheat field. We stooped
down and ran as fast as we could, but they were coming closer
so we laid down and crawled on our hands and knees or slid on
our stomachs. We were about 3/4 of a mile from the tracks and
near a big woods and they had all stopped following us so we
lay quiet in the wheat field. When they drove away we still waited
until they were quite a ways down the road then we ran for home
as fast as we could.