that the Captain is an exponent.
To the credit of Cook County, it may be said
that he was born within its limits, the date of his
birth having been November 7, 1847. John
Lawson was his father, and his mother's maiden
name was Ann Pierson, both being natives of
Norway, from which country they came to Chi-
cago in 1836. They settled upon a farm in the
town of Thornton, Cook County, and reared a
family of six children, only two of whom Peter
and Albert are living. The mother died Janu-
ary 13, 1882, and Mr. Lawson, Senior, on the
same date in 1887. The coincidence is rendered
yet more striking by the fact that both died at
nearly the same hour of the day.
Peter Larson's early education was obtained at
a country school house, and through a brief at-
tendance at one of the Chicago public schools.
He learned the trades of carpenter and roofer,
but April 8, 1869, he joined the city fire depart-
ment, and has ever since followed the perilous
life of a fireman. He was made lieutenant in
1880, and in 1892 promoted to the captaincy of
Engine Company No. 70, of Ravenswood, being
its first Captain. In 1897 he was transferred to
his present post, and made Captain of Company
His record as an officer is one of personal
courage and marked executive efficiency, as a
long series of promotions attest. He is a member
of the Firemen's Benevolent Association and of
the Mutual Aid Society. He takes comparative-
ly little interest in politics and usually votes in-
dependently of party lines. In religious belief
he is a Lutheran.
In 1870 he was married to Catherine Roze,
daughter of Charles and Catherine Roze, natives
of Germany, who came to Chicago in 1852.
The latter is still living here. Mrs. Lawson was
a native of this city, and became the mother of five
children, two of whom are living Ella and Vic-
tor. Mrs. Lawson died in 1894, and October 27,
1897, he married Carrie M. Sprecht, who was
born in Chicago, of German parents.
RASMUS JENSEN was left an orphan while
yet a child of very tender years, his mother
dying when he was but three years old, and
his father two years later. Both his parents
were natives of Sjelland, Denmark, where he was
born August 25, 1840. His father, whose bap-
tismal name was Hans, was a small farmer,
widely known and universally respected, who
served with distinction during the war of 1807.
After the death of his parents, Rasmus Jensen
was reared by an elder sister until he reached
the age of eleven years. Since that time he has
buffeted with the world alone. That he has suc-
cessfully resisted the manifold temptations and
overcome the innumerable obstacles that beset
the pathway of boys and young men thus situ-
ated, is due to his indomitable pluck and his high
moral sense. He enjoyed the advantages of the
public school until he reached the age of fourteen
years, although during two years he was forced
to attend evening sessions, being compelled to
earn his own daily bread and nightly shelter.
At the age of fifteen years he quit the farm
where he had been employed and worked at any-
thing he could find to do until 1864,' when he
entered the army, and took part in that memor-
able struggle between Denmark and Germany.
On his return to Copenhagen he took ship for
Greenland, where for one year he was employed
in a mill, and from that land of perpetual snow
and frost he came to America, settling first at
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two years later, in
1870, he resolved to go further west, and came
as far in that direction as Chicago, which has
been his home since that time. For four years
he had no steady employment, working for a
contractor on carpenter work, and again at any
honest toil that offered.
In 1874 he obtained a position with the late
James H. Rice, from whom the present James H.
Rice Glass Company takes its name. For eleven
years he remained in Mr. Rice's employ, and in
1882 he started in business for himself at No.
5716 Wentworth Avenue, where he still remains.
He has, however, replaced the old structure by
a handsome, two-story building, the upper floor
of which he occupies as a dwelling. He carries
a general line of hardware, as well as lamps and
other household necessities.
August 4, 1872, he became the husband of
Christiana Andersen, a resident of Chicago, but
a native of Denmark. Four daughters have
been the fruit of their union: Maria, now Mrs.
August Moller, of Chicago; Annie, the wife of
Louis Oppel, of the same city; Lizzie and Hattie,
who live at home.
Mr. Jansen has had his home in Chicago for
nearly thirty years, and may be properly called
JOHANNES TOPP. OLE NIELSEN.
an old settler. Here it is that he married and
reared his offspring, and here he has valiantly
fought his own way to financial success, and,
which he values more highly, to the sincere
respect of his fellow-citizens. He is a member of
the North Congregational Church of Englewood.
(JOHANNES TOPP, who is commonly known
I as James Topp, was born at Copenhagen,
Q) Denmark, January 26, 1871, and is the only
child of Jacob and Marsine (Ditlewsen) Topp,
both of whom were born in that city. His father
was a well-known photographer, and served in
his country's army during the war with Germany
in 1864. He died in Copenhagen at the age of
forty years, his widow is still living, and makes
her home with her son in Chicago.
Mr. Topp left school when he was fourteen
years old, and was apprenticed for four years to
a grocer of Kjoga, Denmark, to learn the busi-
ness. On leaving his employer he opened a
store of his own in another town, but after a
year he concluded to emigrate to America. In
1890 he reached these shores and went at once to
Clinton, Iowa, where he began work in a saw
mill. In 1892 he removed to Chicago, and found
employment in a coal yard. Mr. Topp looks
back upon these days as the darkest in his life,
but his is not a nature to succumb before difficul-
ties such as might easily dishearten a weaker
nature. He next secured the position of wagon
driver for the Chicago Public Library, his work
being the delivery and collection of books to and
from stations. This occupation he followed for
three years, and then engaged in the sale of oil,
which he carried on for two years and one-half.
He was married in 1899 to Miss Christine
Hendricksen, who, like himself, is a native of
Denmark. At the same time he engaged in his
present business, that of expressage, in connec-
tion with conducting a place for the sale of coal
and feed. His business is prosperous, and he
runs four wagons for moving furniture and the
delivery of coal and express matter.
He is a member of Atlas Lodge No. 261, Inde-
pendent Order of Odd Fellows, and of the Wal-
halla Society. He has a wide circle of acquain-
tances and is highly respected by all who know
0LE NIELSEN, the son of Jens and Petrea
(Smith) Nielsen, is a native of Schleswig-
Holstein, having been born at Skjobeck,
September 14, 1865. He inherits his rare musi-
cal talent from his father, who was for twenty-
five years director of a band in the Danish army,
and a musician of recognized ability. He (the
elder Nielsen) is still living in the land of his
J. C. H. SMITH.
birth, at the advanced age of seventy-five years,
as is also his wife, mother of the subject of this
sketch, whose hair has been silvered by the frosts
of eighty winters.
Of the six children born to this couple, two
sons and a daughter are yet living: Ole Nielsen,
a brief sketch of whose life is here given; Niels
A., a resident of Pontiac, Illinois; and Bodil
Aliene Sydicksen, whose home is still in the old
country. Ole is the fourth child and second son.
Until twelve years old Ole Nielsen attended
the common schools of his native village, acquir-
ing the rudiments of a general education. His
musical genius having early begun to manifest
itself, his father then sent him to Copenhagen to
study music under better masters than were to
be found in the country districts of Denmark.
For a year he was a pupil of Professor Forup,
and then resolved to cross the ocean and seek a
home in another hemisphere. He was but thir-
teen years of age when he landed in New York.
From that city he went at once to Chicago; and
after a brief stay there, to Decatur, Illinois, and
later to Dwight, in this state. There he re-
mained four years, during which time he passed
through the grades of the grammar school. From
Dwight he went to Elkhorn, Iowa, where for a
year he was a pupil in the high school; and then
returned to Chicago.
His natural bent led him to seek employment
as a musician, and this, skill native and culti-
vated soon secured. For several years he played
in various bands, and in 1889 he organized one
himself, becoming its director. Since then he
has continued in this line of professional work, in
which, although not yet thirty-four years of age,
he has already won distinction. The organiza-
tion of which he is at present (1899) the head is
a handsomely uniformed, well equipped body,
allied with the Federation of Labor, and its serv-
ices are in constant request, because of its justly
In 1899 Mr. Nielsen was married to Miss
Laura Andersen. Mrs. Nielsen was born in
Denmark, but her girlhood was passed in Clinton,
Iowa. He is an active member of the Walhalla
Society and of the Danish Brotherhood, No. 35.
In the latter body he has served as trustee.
JOHN C. H. SMITH.
(JOHN CHARLES HENRY SMITH was born
I at Kenosha, Wisconsin, December i, 1848.
G) His parents, Theodore and Mary Schmitz,
were natives of Prussia and settled in Southport,
now Kenosha, the year before his birth. The fa-
ther carried on gardening there until he removed
to Chicago, where he died, in 1896, at the age of
Mr. Smith's boyhood was passed in assisting
his father and attending the district school, and
at the age of fifteen years and two months he en-
listed in Company B, Seventeenth Wisconsin In-
fantry Volunteers. His regiment was attached
to the Army of the Tennessee and followed Sher-
man to the sea, participating in the siege of At-
lanta and many of the engagements which pre-
ceded. He was mustered out July 18, 1865, and
returned to Keuosha.
When he reached the age of nineteen years he
learned the trade of a blacksmith, and later found
work in the wagon factory of E. Bain, until
1875, when he decided to remove to Chicago. On
arriving here he formed a partnership with his
brother, A. A. Smith, and opened a grocery at
the corner of Ohio and Noble Streets. Their
business prospered, and three years later they
S. P. PKTERSEN.
built a store at the corner of Cornell and Holt
Streets, and two years afterward Mr. Smith sold
his interest to his brother. He next opened a
grocery and saloon at the corner of Paulina
Street and Chicago Avenue, which he conducted
seven years. His next move was to his present
place of business, at the corner of Chicago Ave-
nue and Robey Street, where he has built up an
extensive and profitable trade in liquors and also
in horses. He is an enthusiastic sportsman and
expert in the use of the rifle.
In politics he is a Republican, but although an
active party worker, he has never been an as-
pirant for office. In religious faith he is a Ro-
man Catholic. He is a member of the Knights
of Pythias, and of Winfield Scott Post, No. 445,
Grand Army of the Republic. In the year 1872
he was elected an alderman in Kenosha, being
the first native resident to receive an elective
office in that city, and said to be the first native
He was married August 3, 1872, to Miss Eliza-
beth Neiderprim. She was born in New York
State, of German parents, who removed to Keno-
sha when she was a child. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
have had three children, one of whom died at the
age of two years. The names of those yet living
are: John T. and Mary K.
SORN P. PETERSEN.
(3ORN P. PETERSEN is one of those Danish -
?\ American citizens whose success attests at
\) once their capability and the rugged persis-
tence which seems to be inherent in the rugged,
resolute Scandinavian character. He was born
on the peninsula of Jutland, April 8, 1869. His
father, Andrew Petersen, was a common laborer,
and young Sorn's educational advantages were
no greater that his father's purse allowed. The
elder Petersen died in Denmark, at the age of
forty-four years. Sorn's mother's maiden name
was Marie Christine Christensen. She survived
her husband, and is still living in Denmark, aged
fifty-nine years (1899). Nine children were
born to them, of whom Sorn P. was the fourth
in order of birth, and the only son.
At the age of fourteen years he was duly ap-
prenticed to the miller's trade, and after serving
a term of three years resolved to emigrate to a
land where better opportunities offered themselves
to the rich and the poor, the capitalist and the
mechanic. In 1888 he landed on these shores,
and his first halting place was at Oconto, Wis-
consin. For three years he worked there as a
common laborer, and in 1891 came to Chicago.
For some time he found little better here, but be-
fore long he began handling the beer of several
breweries as a commission merchant. In 1899,
such had been his success, and so thoroughly
had he demonstrated his ability, industry and in-
tegrity, that he was given the general agency of
the Monarch Brewing Company for the Wood-
lawn district. He also does general teaming on
his individual account.
In 1895, at Chicago, he married Kittie Ag-
holm, a native of Denmark, like himself. She
crossed the ocean in 1891, and settled in Chicago
the same year. He is a prominent member of
the Maennerchor, and has been president of the
Danish Brotherhood, as well as treasurer of that
order. For two years he was a trustee, and he
has also served on many important local com-
mittees. At one time he was a member of the
Mr. Petersen's success is the result of his own
untiring effort. Throughout his entire life he
JAMES SMITH. J. A. KNUDSEN.
has been an industrious, indefatigable worker.
While young in years, he has achieved an expe-
rience of rare practical worth, and in the broad
school of experience he has more than compen- ,
sated for any latent deficiencies in his early
(I AMES SMITH, a respected member of the
I Danish- American colony in Chicago, is the
(2/ eldest child of Jacob and Sophia Smidt, of
Schleswig-Holstein, in which principality he was
born September 7, 1841. His father was a tin-
ner by trade, and served in the Danish army dur-
ing the war of 1848. He died in his native coun-
try at the age of fifty years, leaving a widow and
children, and the former still survives. To this
couple were born two sons and two daughters.
James' early life did not greatly differ from
that of most youths of his native place. At the
age of fourteen he had completed his scholastic
training and for eight years thereafter he worked
upon a farm. In 1864 he formed the resolution
to begin a new career across the sea, where num-
bers of his countrymen had already found a home
and competence. From New York he came at
once to Chicago, and here his first employment
was as a common laborer in connection with the
building trades. He was industrious, willing
and observant, and it was not long before he had
mastered the details of the plasterer's trade, which
he yet follows. That he has succeeded is due to
his own unaided efforts. He also mastered the
intricacies of brick laying and is at present a
He has been twice married. His first wife was
Martha Nielsen, to whom he was united in 1870.
She bore him four children who are now deceased.
After her death he married Anna Bundesen, a
native of North Schleswig, Denmark. By her he
became the father of nine children, six of whom
are yet living Andrew, John, Charles, Arthur
Jens and Anna. All were born in Chicago and
still reside in this city.
In politics he is a Republican and in religious
faith a Presbyterian.
He ranks among the old settlers of Chicago,
hardy men and women who are rapidly passing
away. Perseverance, pluck, probity and indus-
try have been the guiding principles of his life.
JENS A. KNUDSEN.
(TENS ANDERS KNUDSEN was born in
I Aarhus, Jutland. Denmark, October 6, 1868.
O For a somewhat detailed account of his par-
entage and family relations the reader is referred to
the biographical sketch of his brother, Knud R.
Knudsen, which may be found upon another
page. He is the youngest living child of a fam-
ily of twenty-three born to Rasmus and Anna
(Martens) Knudsen. On leaving school he en-
tered upon an apprenticeship of five years to the
butcher's trade. After serving his full term he
went to Germany, where he worked at his trade
at various places four years. He then returned
to Denmark, but once again visited Germany
and sailed from that country for America in
Chicago was his first objective point, and
thence he went to Hammond, where he worked
for a time at his trade, and later entered the em-
ploy of Swift & Company, at the Union Stock
Yards. In 1896 he formed a partnership with a
Mr. Schmoor, and embarked in business for him-
self. After twenty-one months Mr. Knudsen
bought his partner's interest and has since then
conducted the business alone, being the proprie-
tor of a grocery and market at No. 3140 Cottage
Grove avenue, where he has built up a remuner-
ative trade through integrity and strict attention
He is well known in both business and social
circles, and enjoys an enviable reputation for
honesty in his dealings, as well as for his fidelity
to his friends. He has been the architect of his
own fortunes, and has been in every way success-
ful. He has been a member of the Walhalla So-
ciety since 1891.
In 1892 he married Miss Olivia Larsen, who
was born and reared in Copenhagen, but came to
Chicago to reside in 1888. Mr. and Mrs. Knud-
sen are the parents of two children Harry and
Walter both of whom were born in the city of
EHRISTIAN STERNDORF, one of the old
settlers of Chicago, residing at No. 2932
Calumet Avenue, was born in Schleswig-
Holstein, Denmark since become a part of Ger-
many December 3, 1846. He is the son of
Hans and Anna K. (Damp) Sterndorf. Hans
Sterndorf served as a coachman many years and
was also in the regular army of his country, and
died when about seventy-one years of age. His
wife died at the age of about seventy-eight.
They were the parents of six children, all but one
of whom lived to adult age.
The subject of this article is the oldest son and
second child. His education was obtained in
the public school before he was sixteen years old.
At the age of twelve years he became indepen-
dent of parental restraint and left the neighbor-
hood of his nativity to work out his own fortune.
In the winter months, from that time until he
was sixteen, he attended school, working before
and after school hours to pay his board. Subse-
quent to this he enlisted in the Danish army,
where he served two years, and after his dis-
charge returned to his native place. There he
became foreman on a large farm, continuing in
that capacity eight years, when he changed his
location, serving in another place a period of
In 1877 he married Hannah C. Thorsmark,
who was born in Schleswig, January 20, 1846.
They left Denmark in 1881, and reached Chicago
May 30 of that year. They first located on the
North Side, and then removed to what is now
No. 3740 Armour Avenue, subsequent to which
they removed to Wisconsin, where they remained
one year. Later they returned to Chicago, where
they have since resided.
Mr. and Mrs. Sterndorf became the parents of
three children: Hans, born in Denmark in 1878;
Mattie J., born in Chicago, died at the age of
O. A. HANSEN. N. C. MATHIESEN.
four years; and Jennie, born in Chicago, Febru-
ary 3, 1890. Mr. Sterndorf has established a
reputation for fidelity and conscientious work
and has served various persons as janitor in their
establishments. He has been a member of the
Walhalla Danish Society for about fifteen years,
during which time he has taken an active inter-
est in its work.
OLUF A. HANSEN.
0LUF ANDREW HANSEN. This promi-
nent Danish-American citizen of Chicago,
who has achieved success because he was
resolved to know no such word as fail, was born
December 27, 1869, at Svaneke, on the island of
Bornholm, Denmark, where both his parents
were born. His father, Anders Hansen, was a
shipbuilder, and still conducts the business in the
same yard in his native land, although advanc-
ing years and an accumulating competence have
combined to bring about his partial retirement
from active work. He was in the naval service
of his country during the Danish-German War
of 1864, as a ship's carpenter. His wife, Anna,
Mr. O. A. Hansen's mother, is also still living.
She bore her husband four sons and two daugh-
ters, all of whom are yet living. Of the sons,
two Peter and Christian are shipbuilders, and
one Anthon is first mate on an ocean steamer.
Oluf A. Hansen, the youngest son, a prosper-
ous business man of Chicago, is engaged in
blacksmithing and wagon-making, at Nos. 240-
242 West Forty-seventh Street. After leaving
school, at the age of fourteen years, he served
an apprenticeship of five years at the blacksmith's
trade. After working one year as a journeyman
he bade adieu to parents and native land, and set
sail for his new home. For some time after
reaching Chicago he worked for day's wages at
his trade, but he was not content to spend his
life as a journeyman. He opened his first shop
at No. 3757 State Street, and after carrying on
business there some eighteen months, removed,
in 1897, to his present location, where he con-
ducts a large and profitable trade.
Although a man of warm heart and social dis-
position, Mr. Hansen has never married. He is
a member of the various societies, among which
may be named the Walhalla and Heimdal Sing-
ing Society, and has served as assistant cashier
in the latter organization. In politics he has
always supported the Republican party until re-
cently, but is now wholly independent of party
NELS C MATHIESEN.
CHRISTIAN MATHIESEN. By
ry birth Mr. Mathiesen is a Dane, yet his
|/3 adopted country has no more devoted son.
He was born August 25, 1867, at Branderup,
North Schleswig, Germany, the second son and
third child of a family of seven children born to
Mathies C. Mathiesen and his wife, Christina
Petersen. His father was a farmer, and died in
his native country, at the age of seventy-one
years; his mother lived to be about sixty years
of age. Of the seven children born to Mr. and
Mrs. Mathiesen three attained majority.
The early life of Mr. Mathiesen presented no
features materially different from those which
attend the lives of other Danish-German youths
of his circumstances. He left the public school
at which he was educated, at the age of sixteen
years, and worked upon a farm until he was
twenty-three years old. Then he resolved to
seek fortune under new skies, and, accordiugl}',
came to America.
He followed the steps of hundreds of his coun-
trymen who had preceded him, and settled at
Chicago. His first employment here was in and
about a livery stable, and he continued at this
work for some nine months. He next learned
the trade of a plasterer, which he followed three
years, when he bought out the milk business of
L. H. Holdt. He has since continued in this
line of trade, in which his industry, energy and
honesty have brought him deserved success.
About four years ago he established himself at
his present location, No. 2531 Calumet Avenue,
where he carries on a profitable business.
January 15, 1895, he was married to Miss
Laura Holdt, a sister of Jacob, John and Lars
Holdt, biographical notices of whom appear else-
where in this volume. Mr. and Mrs. Mathiesen
have one son Ralph.
Soon after reaching Chicago Mr. Mathiesen
joined the Walhalla Society, and for eight years
has been an active member. He also belongs to
the Independent Order of Foresters, being affili-
ated with Court Fearless, No. 1 10.
(JACOB LUND is by nativity a Dane, al-
I though he has been a resident of the United
Q) States since 1891. He was born in the coun-