This story about my grandparents is partly based on fact, partly based on memories, and partly surmised. Anyone having information that corrects or adds to the details is welcome to contact me at my address below.
Peder Johannes Svendsen was born in the tiny parish of Slaglille, Alsted, SorÝ, Denmark in a house called Sejehuset. The occasion of his birth was duly noted by the pastor of the picturesque church in the center of town. He was born in blustery March on the 29th in 1892 and was the ninth son in a row for Jacob Konrad Svendsen and Karen Marie Hansen who then had a daughter, another son, another daughter, and another son. Peder had two older brothers, Christian Konrad, and Carl August. They emigrated from Denmark in the spring of 1903, on the Danish steamer, "Hellig Olav," destination Racine, Wisconsin. Christian Konrad was born November 22, 1881 and Carl August was born in April 24, 1885. They were 22 and 17 years old when they left Copenhagen for America.
Upon arriving in the United States, the brothers Americanized their names to Conrad Svendsen and August Swenson. In 1914, August convinced his younger brother, Peder, to come to the United States -- it also helped, I suppose, that August paid for his brother's passage. There was a world war going on after all and at the time, Peder was 22 years old. He had moved away from Slaglille to a town just to the south called Broby. When he made the decision to emigrate, he traveled to Copenhagen and registered his ticket with the police. On the 14th of May he boarded the "SS United States" bound for New York. When he arrived twelve days later on the 26th, he had $40 in his pocket - enough to travel to Genoa Junction, Wisconsin to join his brother. Peder eventually changed his name to John Peter and settled on a farm near Genoa Junction. One year he and August planted cabbage and an early frost killed the entire crop. After that disaster, family tradition has it that August moved to Chicago.
John must have decided that the Army had to be better than the gamble of farming so he became naturalized in 1918 and served a stint in the Georgia Remount Division. It is not yet known whether John met his future wife, Gladys, before or after his military service. Maybe he met her before leaving and when he came back he found work in the Borden's milk factory in Genoa City. With a job, they could now get married. Gladys Mae Landon was born in Ontorio, Wisconsin on November 23, 1900 and her parents were Willis Landon and Charlotte Hayes. Her father and brother, Orville, worked in the same milk factory as John. At the time, John stood five feet, four inches tall. He had light hair and brown eyes. The couple were married on October 25, 1919 in Woodstock, Illinois. Gladys was 19 and John was 27.
Their first two sons, John, Jr. and Wesley, were born in Genoa City -- John, Jr. in 1921 and Wesley in 1922. After the birth of their third son, Victor, in 1925, the family moved to Orangeville when John was transferred to another Borden's milk plant. Later the family moved to Freeport, Illinois where John worked in a Stovess factory. There he galvanized parts for windmills destined for South America. In 1927, their first daughter, Audrey, was born. The growing family eventually moved to Browntown, Wisconsin, where John went back to work for Borden's firing the boilers. During his ten years at Borden's, the family celebrated the arrival of Doris in 1932, Alice in 1935, and then another son, Don, in 1938.
When the Depression came, John was farming again now that he had several sons old enough to help. He also worked at a sandplant for a dollar a day as a watchman. When Roosevelt created the New Deal, John worked for the WPA. They would pick up their shovels at Madrell's store in Browntown and walk down to Starks (about a mile) and start shoveling the snow off the roads. That was how the roads got plowed. In 1940 the final addition to the family arrived, another daughter, Elsie.
John farmed until he had a stroke in his fifties. Gladys nursed him until his death in 1953, two days before his daughter (and my mother), Alice's, birthday. In October, 1992, Gladys joined her husband for eternity. Here now is a list of their descendents.
A list of John Peter's Ancestors
Pictures of John
A list of John Peter's Descendents
I wish to thank my Danish cousins Preben Hartz for his generosity and help and Flemming Svendsen; and also B. Mathias Askholm.
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E-mail Carol Andrejak
|The latest changes are an update on the ancester page to reflect my most recent research findings.|