Otto Pedersen

Ahh, there’s a lot of dead folk in the world.

A chronicle

The woman below is Ane Margrethe Jensdatter, she was born May
24, 1828 in  Hjardemål, Thisted, Denmark.
She married a Pedersen, Peter Andreas Pedersen.

Ane Margrethe Jensdatter, born May 24, 1828. From a collection of family photos.

On Sept. 18, 1861, when ane Margrethe and Peter were 33 years old and living on their farm in Denmark, Margrethe gave birth to their daughter Ane Katherine Pedersen.

Otto’s Parents

Ane Kathrine Pedersen married Niels Peder Pedersen, and together, they had fourteen Pedersen children:

  • Nikoline Kristine Pedersen
  • Peder Krough Pedersen
  • Ane Margrethe Pedersen
  • Petrea Katherine Pedersen
  • Peder Andreas Pedersen
  • Mathilde Pedersen
  • Martinus Pedersen
  • Otto Frank Pedersen
  • Nikolaj Johannes (John) Pedersen
  • Elisabeth Pedersen
  • Martine Pedersen
  • Viktor Immanuel Pedersen
  • Theodor Dusinius, and Viktoria Amelia Pedersen
The entire Pedersen family at the best of my knowledge. The two sisters unnamed at the top
Nikoline and Ane Margrethe.

Otto Frank Pedersen, the eighth child, was born on Christmas eve 1894 in Vigso, Thisted Denmark; he told us he was named Otto because it meant eight.

Otto Frank Pedersen Born Dec. 24th 1894. Died Dec. 16th 1990

The birth certificate for Otto has the occupation for Niels, his father, as “crofter” and Ane Katherine, his mother, as “wife”. Otto always said his dad was a pig farmer. I visited the farm when I was nine, I think it was still being run by a Pedersen, I can’t remember which one, but there were pigs.

Niels and Katherine Pedersen in front of their home around 1927

Otto was a stern man. He often bragged that back when he was a child, kids were expected to get a job at 10 and move out at 18. I found something he wrote about his brother Nikolaj Johannes: 
“…being one of 7 brothers and 7 sisters, he was hired out at the age of 10, and at 18, like the rest of us boys, he was self-supporting.”
Apparently, this “go to work when you’re ten” value was quite important to Otto and was passed on to my dad, I was badgered into taking a job around that early age, the summer after turning 11, I had my first job.

Otto wanted to leave Denmark, because, as he always reminded everyone, 25 cents of his telephone company salary went for taxes. He and his brother John were working for the Danish federal government maintaining telephone and telegraph lines along the railroad. In 1923, when Otto was 29 years old, and John, 27, they decided to come to America. They arranged passage and left for New York. While aboard the ship, they met a couple of experienced Danish immigrants that recommended they head for the Midwest; speaking only Danish and not having jobs would make New York city a tough place to start, so, soon after arriving there on Sept. 28th, 1923, they headed for Iowa. 

Nikolaj (John) Johannes Pedersen was born in Vigso, Thisted Denmark May 22nd 1896. He died in Solvang California Feb. 1984

They landed in Audubon Iowa, where they got a job working for a bridge builder. After three or four months in Iowa, the brothers moved on to Chicago were they heard rumor that plasterers where needed. They knew nothing about plastering. They answered an ad in the classifieds, got an interview, lied, and were hired. They floundered their way through and became quite good at it. Feeling confident with their new skill, they moved to Milwaukee Wisconsin and became contractors.

John was able to buy a house in Milwaukee, and was doing well, but wasn’t cut out for success, and with the depression hurting the economy, he loaded his bicycle with a change of clothes and his bowling ball, then peddled his way to Miami Florida. He lived there, just getting by, until the early 1970’s when he became blind from untreated Glaucoma. He was brought to Solvang and lived with my parents until he died.

Otto and John in search of the American dream, circa 1926

Otto on the other hand, was clearly cut out for success.  He was building spec homes, plastering, investing and doing quite well. Milwaukee was growing, land was being annexed and subdivided; and lots were cheap.  Milwaukee, also is where Otto met his future wife Christine Andersen.

When Otto met Christine, she was attending a beauty school. She graduated in 1925 with a certificate of completion.  

Christine Andersen at 20 years old, right after graduating from beauty school and one year before getting married to Otto.

Christine Andersen

Christine was born in Denmark, January 26, 1906, to Peder Christian Andersen and Martha Line Jorgensen.

christine parents
Christine’s parents: Martha Line died in 1909, soon after Christine was born. Eleven years later Peder will come to America, with his youngest daughters: Ellen, Dorothy and Christine.

The birth date for Martha Line, Christine’s mother, is not clear, written on the back of her photo is 1863-1909.  Another record says Aug, 28th 1863. Two records have her born August 31st, 1861. There is no argument about when she died.
She had a a son from a relationship with a man before she married Peder Andersen, this son’s name was Christian Marinus Jorgensen. Peder Christian Andersen, a widower, was left with a son named Andrew C. Andersen. I cannot find any records about his mother or her death
Christian Jorgensen and Andrew Andersen left Denmark for the United States in the early 1900s. Christian Jorgensen was  an early settler of Viborg S.D.,  where he farmed. There is nothing about his father.

Martha line married Peder Christian Andersen on June 1st, 1888, they had eleven children:

  • Christian Marinus Jorgensen, Dec. 28, 1880
    (son of Marthaline born out of wedlock)
  • Andrew Christian Andersen, Feb. 24, 1887
    (the son of Peder from previous marriage)
  • Soren P., Oct. 16, 1888;
  • Ann Margarethe, Oct. 18, 1890
  • Lars Christian, Jan. 24, 1893
  • Kristen P., Sept. 26,1894
  • Dorthea, Oct. 1, 1896
  • Dreng, Jan. 30, 1901
  • Ellen Marie, June 1, 1903
  • Christine, Jan. 21, 1906

Martha Line died at 47 in 1909, Christine, the youngest, was three years old and never knew her mother.

Andersen family photo ca. 1899, taken approx. 7 years before my grandmother Christine was born.

Christian M. Jorgensen

Photo taken 1916: Christian M. Jorgensen and Matilda Jorgensen with their children, Lewis, Harold, Elnora, Doris, and Pearle. Matilde died the year this photo was taken.

Ellen, Dorthea, and Christine were very close.
They stayed in close contact throughout their lives.

chrisine pedersen 1920t
Christine At 14 years old. One year before coming to America

On a Friday, July 22nd, 1921, 15 year old Christine and her 60 year old father, Peder Andersen,  boarded the S.S. United States and steamed across the Atlantic to join up with her sister Dorothy.  Dorothy at 24, had already arrived three months earlier on May 11th and was staying with their half brother Christian Jorgensen in Hurley, South Dakota. Ellen came later, she was suppose to travel with Dorothy, but for some reason arrived about a year later on April 20th, 1922, she was 18.

1923 Viborg South Dakota: standing and holding a wrench is Christine’s half brother Andrew Jorgensen, then half brother Christian Jorgensen, and father, Peder C. Andersen. Sitting and wearing the coat with the fur collar is Christine, then brother Kristen Andersen and kneeling is  Dorothy Andersen.

I would never meet Peder, Christine’s father, my great grandfather, he died 10 years before I was born;  but I know from stories told, he had red hair and a red beard; he read a lot and spoke little, and when he did, it was danish.  During his senior years and after retiring from farming in Viborg South Dakota, he moved in with with Ellen’s family and was always with them until he died.  

Peder Christian Andersen, died in Miami Florida on an unspecified day in April 1943

From Miami Herald, April 10th, 1943


“The gang is all here”
Viborg S.D. 1922

Ellen, Christine’s sister, married Fred Scott on Dec. 20th 1922 in Viborg, South Dakota. There are no wedding photos. 
In the photo below, Ellen is standing next to a man holding a baby. I have every reason to believe it is Fred, Ellen’s husband, he is holding their son Bert. One day, Bert will grow up and marry my dad’s sister.
The three children in front, belong to her half brother Andrew Jorgensen.

Photo, ca.1924, from Christine’s photo album.
Peder Andersen at the left; then Andrew Jorgensen; the man in the center is unkown; Fred Scott holding his new son Bert; then Ellen.
The three children in the front belong to Andrew

When I met Aunt Ellen and Uncle Fred the first time, I was probably around five. They were old. Ellen had black hair and red lips that were colored-on, colored outside the lines with an incredible amount of red lipstick. They were well defined and made to look big. She kissed me with them. Fred was sitting in his chair by a low table with a pot of coffee on a tray, there were cookies. Ellen’s ears, I could not take my eyes off  her ears, they were pierced, gaffed by earrings made with heavy amber stones, they dangled from a short chain and tugged, stretching the holes in her lobes to the floor. Ellen escorted me to greet Fred, he didn’t get up; he had a blind eye, grey and absent, perhaps it was glass, I don’t know.  Ellen poured coffee into small porcelain cups on saucers. Fred offered me a cookie.


Dorothy Andersen  married Axel Juel around 1925. They had no children.

Axel was a carpenter and a butcher, I don’t know if Dorothy worked. It is amazing the wealth and luxury they seemed to have, they moved and traveled a lot. For a while, they had a nice home in Santa Barbara in the hills looking over the city.  They would frequently visit Dorothy’s brother Soren in Denmark and bring along their big American car.

I was with my parents in Santa Barbara on a shopping trip, I might of been 16. Dorothy and Axel lived in a small apartment nearby in Goleta, we stopped by to pay them a visit. Dorothy answered the door wearing an apron, she was thin and grey, I think she had lung cancer. Axel wasn’t there. We followed her to the kitchen; on the stove there were pots boiling with lids rattling out steam. A pile of chicken bones and egg shells were heaped on a drain board near the sink. While we visited, she lifted portions from the pile and filled her Osterizer blender. Whenever my dad spoke, she would turn it on. Then she would do it again. This made my dad angry; on the drive home he was furious, he was sure that Dorothy didn’t like him. He was probably right.  

Otto and Christine Combined

Otto having found fortune, it was time to find a wife.
Otto and Christine met at a Danish Brotherhood dance in 1925. Christine was 20 years old and Otto was 31.

In 1926 they got engaged and started making plans for their future together.

Otto in the center of women, one year before he marries Christine. Christine is holding her hand out with a big ring on her finger.

On November 12th, 1927, Christine and Otto were married

Otto and Christine around the time they got married