Father: Frederik Johansen Christiansen
Born: May 29, 1830 Lindelse Parish Langeland, Denmark
Died: February 14, 1909 Sioux City, Iowa Age 78
Parents: Christian Johansen & Karen Hansdatter
Mother: Maren Sophia Madsen
Born: February 6, 1836 Langeland, Denmark
Died: February 23, 1900 Sioux City, Iowa Age 64
Parents: Madse Olsen & Anne Jacobsdatter
Married: October 1, 1859 for 40 years
Buried: Old Danish (Drake) Cemetery.
St. Johns township, between Jackson and Hubard, Nebraska.
Located on private property and has been abandoned.
Frederik Christiansen was a ‘cooper’ by profession. This meant that he made wooden tubs and casks such as barrels for a living. He probably developed a solid work ethic from having a mother who worked as a maid.
Not much is known about Maren. Her parents never married and there is some question as to whether Madse Olsen, a blacksmith, was actually her father. It could not have been an easy upbringing.
After marrying, Frederick and Maren lived on the Danish island of Langeland. The tale of how they made it to America is a common one and says much about the closeness of their family. First their son Richard, an intelligent and talented man, left for the United States. He then saved up enough money to bring over his parents. Frederik joined his son working as a cooper, and together they helped the rest of the family made the journey.
The Christiansens settle around Sioux City, Iowa. Later, some of the children moved east to Eagle Grove, Iowa.
An old photograph shows Frederik and Maren as short, heavyset people. Both lived to what was then considered an ripe old age and this trait was passed on to most of the children as shown below.
Children of Frederich & Maren Christiansen Caroline Christiansen (Hansen) – Housewife Born: January 27, 1858Died: August 8, 1945 Age 87 Anne K. Christiansen – Housewife Born: 1860Died: 1920 Age 60 Richard Christiansen – Cooper Born: February 27, 1862Died: Unknown Louise Christiansen – Housewife Born: January 27, 1864Died: February 12, 1943 Age 79 Karintine Christiansen – Housewife Born: July, 1866Died: 1945 Age 79 Josephine Mary Christiansen (Nielsen) – Housewife Born: September 12, 1869Died: January 18, 1955 Age 85
Father: Andreas Nielsen
Born: October 22, 1830 Tulleboelle Parish Langeland, Denmark
Died: September 4, 1868 Langeland, Denmark Age 37
Parents (Father): Niels Godfredsen
Mother: Marie Anne Mikkelsen
Born: January 26, 1835 Lighteby, Tulleboelle Parish Langeland, DK
Died: Early 1916 Langeland, Denmark Age 81
Parents: Mikkel Mogensen & Ann Teterodatte
Married: Around 1856 for 12 years
Buried: On the island of Langeland, Denmark. Unfortunately, old graves are reused. Most likely, they would have been buried in the Tulleboelle Parish Cemetery. Monte Wilson did not find any evidence of their graves when he visited there in 1984.
Andreas Neilsen was a ‘smallholder’ which probably means that he farmed a meager portion of land. He was confirmed in 1845 with the records showing his knowledge to be “good” and his behavior “excellent”.
Marie was confirmed in 1849. Little else is known about her as her. Her son Hans left for America long before she passed away and any correspondence has been lost.
The 1860 Denmark census shows that as of February 1 of that year, the family consisted of the parents, two daughters and Marie’s father, Mikkel Mogensen. This was long before nursing homes, so the responsibility of caring for the elder family members fell upon their children. In the years following the census, another girl and son Hans were born.
In 1864, the German population of the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein rebelled against the new Danish constitution which has been imposed upon them the preceding November. War broke out with Denmark fighting the Prussians and the Austrians. Andreas was forced into service and subsequently shot in the lung during the battle made famous by the Danish drummer boy who carried the flag from the fallen flag officer. It was unfortunately the only battle worth remembering for the Danes as Prussia and Austria proved too formidable and the war was soon over. Under the provisions of the Treaty of Vienna signed on October 30, 1864, Denmark ceded the two Duchies to Austria. They are now part of Germany.
After being wounded, Andreas was sent back home to either recover or die. Rarely did the soldiers of that day receive medical care, and what was available would have been of little help in treating a lung wound. In spite of this, Andreas survived almost four more years which could hardly have been pleasant. His father-in-law probably assumed many of the family duties and responsibilities.
In December of 1866, Mikkel Morgensen died. Andreas passed away two years later. This left Marie with four children to raise. How she got by is unknown, but it must have taken plenty of hard work and persistence. In hopes of a better life, at least three of the children left Denmark for America. The other presumably stayed behind to care for her.
Special Note: As of July 2020, Marie’s date of death has been revised. Originally it was April 10, 1899 — taken from the church records in Denmark. However, a recently discovered item in the March 1, 1916 edition of the Eagle Grove Times-Gazette reports the following:
“H. P. Nielsen (Marie’s son) received word last week of the
death of his mother in Denmark. The old lady was eighty-two
years old.” (Actually eighty or eighty-one.)
Children of Andreas & Marie Nielsen Anne Catherine Nielsen Born: September 16, 1857Died: Unknown Marentine Stephine Nielsen Born: October 18, 1858Died: Unknown Caroline Andersine Nielsen Born: May 8, 1861Died: Unknown Hans Peter Nielsen Born: December 28, 1863Died: June 17, 1925
Father: Hans Peter Neilsen
Born: December 28, 1863 Simmerboelle Parish Langeland, Denmark
Died: June 17, 1925 Near Eagle Grove, Iowa Age 61
Parents: Andreas & Marie Nielsen
Mother: Josephine Mary Christiansen “Mary”
Born: September 12, 1869 Fodslette Parish, Svendborg County Langeland
Died: January 18, 1955 Minneapolis, Minnesota Age 85
Parents: Frederik & Marin Christiansen
Married: February 23, 1893 for 32 years
Buried: Woolstock Cemetery north of Woolstock, Iowa.
Nielsen Family Plot next to the road.
Hans Nielsen was born on the Danish island of Langeland. He was baptized at home on January 30, 1864. As a youth he would earn money by working on a fishing boat. The boys that worked these boats often had the responsibility of climbing the main pole to pull up or take down the sails. On a few occasions during stormy weather the unfortunate lad performing this task would be blown overboard and lost.
Hans also did most of the hard work around the home as his father died a few months before Hans’ fifth birthday. Those were hard times for the country as Denmark had in 1864 lost the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein during a war with Prussia and Austria. This amounted to a loss of 1/3 of Denmark’s land and population, not to mention the casualties suffered. Hans’ father died from a wound he received while fighting in one of the battles.
Hans continued to live with his mother and was confirmed in the Simmerboelle Parish of the Lutheran Church on April 28, 1878. A few years later, about the time of his eighteenth birthday, he packed his possessions and left for America, never to return.
There were many reasons for his departure. An older sister, Mrs. Al Smith, was already living in America a few miles northwest of the town of Eagle Grove, Iowa. Her letters back home painted a picture of a country of opportunity with plenty of available and rich farmland. Such descriptions could not have failed to excite the imagination and ambitions of a young, intelligent man looking to make a better future for himself.
A second reason was the condition of Denmark. After two centuries of gradual decline, the 1864 war left its’ fortunes at an all time low. Although the country would eventually reorganize itself, Bismarck’s unified Germany to the south prevented further territorial growth and proved to be an almost constant military threat.
With such good reasons to leave it still must have been a difficult decision. Hans never saw his mother again, and as he bid her farewell this could not have helped but be on his mind.
The trip over to America lasted four weeks and was replete with the usual nineteenth century hardships. Sea sickness was rampant amongst the passengers, many of whom had never set foot on a ship before. The story passed down from Hans is that sharks would follow the boats, somehow knowing that the dead had to be buried at sea before arrival in America. When this happened, the flimsy coffins would be torn to pieces along with the body inside.
Like most immigrants of the time, Hans was processed through Ellis Island upon his arrival in the U.S. and immediately began his long train journey to Eagle Grove. It must have been an awe inspiring ride for the newcomer as the car rolled through endless towns and mile upon mile of open fields.
Hans’ first night in Eagle Grove was spent in a hotel, most likely the Occidental. The following morning he struck out in the direction of his sister’s farm. This was springtime in the early 1880s and a storm had caused the Boone river to flood out the makeshift bridge. Tying his suitcase behind his back, Hans swam across. Once on the other side, he began stopping at farmhouses and repeating the name “Smith” since he did not know much English. This finally led him to the Al Smith farm and a happy reunion with his sister.
Mary was also from Langeland, but met Hans in America. Her talented brother Richard came over first, then saved up enough money so that his parents and the rest of the family could follow. They settled in the town of Sioux City, Iowa and later some of them moved to Eagle Grove.
At the time he met Mary, Hans was doing hired hand work with an eye towards purchasing a farm and starting a family. The fact that Mary was not only Danish but from the same island undoubtedly encouraged the courtship, and the two were married in 1893.
The first child born to them was named Andrew, presumably after Hans’ father Andreas. One summer afternoon while lying down, Mary dreamed that something had happened to Andrew. This premonition proved sadly true as a search finally uncovered the boy’s body in a horse tank where he had drowned. Three other children also died as infants and all of them are buried in the Woolstock Cemetery next to their parents.
Despite these experiences, Hans and Mary remained compassionate people as evidenced by their adoption of 9 year old Eric Anderson. Eric’s parents were dead, and he had been living with an aunt who was caring for him largely out of a sense of responsibility. One day in town while waiting for Mary to finish shopping, Hans ran across the boy, and after hearing his story was moved enough to offer him a home with the Nielsens.
Hans was a thoughtful, easy going, humorous man with a shrewd business sense. He did his best to treat each child fairly, encouraging them in their interests such as music and even taught some of them to waltz outside. He also believed in getting as much education as soon as possible, reasoning that the cost could only go up. (How true!)
Mary was a hard working woman and a versatile cook. One of her favorite ingredients was kale, which is a kind of cabbage from which she would make soup. She also had a talent for being a handy, neat housekeeper and the children were always well dressed, as was she. Being somewhat quick-tempered, it was probably a challenge keeping all the kids in line.
One time, one of the daughters wanted to purchase a dress, but Mary felt it was too expensive. After what was probably a rather spirited disagreement, the daughter saw her father Hans hiding in the spare bedroom, gesturing to her. There, he clandestinely gave her the money for the outfit.
Since both parents were from Denmark, the family conversations were in Danish and a few of the children retained this as a second language. It was particularly amusing when the family spoke on the phone. All the farmers in the area were on a single line back then, so an incoming call would cause the phone to ring in a number of homes. If the call was for the Nielsens, they would answer, then switch to Danish to have a bit of privacy. One could then hear the sounds of all the neighbors hanging up!
As Hans grew older, he began to have heart troubles, or ‘spells’ as they were called in those days. On one occasion, he grew sick while coming back from town and had to stay at a neighbor’s home until he felt better. His health grew gradually worse until he passed away in 1925. His skill with numbers and finance is evidenced by the possessions and property he was able to leave to his family.
Mary found living alone on the farm to be like a “prison”, so a few years after her husband passed away, she moved to Eagle Grove. Her modest house was (and still is) located just south of the post office. Her son Morse took over farming the home place.
Mary outlived her husband by almost thirty years. Longevity ran on her side of the family. Always recognizable with her red hair, she spoke in a careful manner with a distinct accent. Later in life she joined the Church of the Christian Scientist and became a staunch believer in a person’s ability to heal themselves without medicine. If one had a headache in her home, they had to be careful not to let Mary see them taking any aspirin!
In her mid 80s, Mary moved to Minneapolis to live her remaining months with her daughter Helen, passing away from cancer of the pancreas in early 1955.
Children of Hans & Mary Nielsen Andrew Nielsen Born: November 10, 1893Died: Summer of 1895 Drowned in a horse tank. Hilda Nielsen Born: July 20, 1895Died: July 30, 1898 Died of spinal meningitis. Luella Ann Nielsen – Housewife Born: July 18, 1897Died: July 17, 1972 Alice Louise Nielsen – Housewife Born: October 21, 1899Died: Late Summer, 1992 Blanche Josephine Nielsen – Housewife Born: December 27, 1901Died: June 7, 1962 Blanche and her husband were killed in an automobile accident at the highway intersection south of Blairsburg, Iowa. Harold Richard Nielsen – Farmer Born: February 1, 1904Died: November 24, 1967 Morse Frederick Nielsen – Farmer Born: July 5, 1906Died: February 7, 1995 Lillian (Lilly) Nielsen Born: July 24, 1908Died: July 28, 1908 Helen Carrie Nielsen – Housewife Born: October 9, 1909Died: November 16, 1979 Raymond Albert Nielsen – Accountant, Traveler Born: January 28, 1911Died: 1983 Ray’s first wife died a few years after they were married, leaving Ray with an infant daughter who was raised by Ray’s sister Helen. After retiring at a relatively young age, Ray spent most of his life (with his second wife) travelling the U.S. in a motor home. Edward Nielsen Born: April 25, 1912Died: August, 1912
Father: John Godfrey Vollenweider
Born: October 22, 1842 (?) Aarburg, Switzerland
Died: June 15, 1917 (?) Near Williams, Iowa Age 74
Parents (Father): John Jakob Vollenweider
Mother: Eliza J. Kaump
Born: September 29, 1848 Georgetown, Wisconsin
Died: March 14, 1896 Williams, Iowa Age 47
Buried: Williams Cemetery, west of Williams, Iowa. Vollenweider
family plot near the northwest corner.
John Vollenweider was born in the picturesque town of Aarburg, Switzerland. The records there show his date of birth as November 3, 1842 and that he was baptized on November 20. His tombstone in the U.S., however, lists October 22 as his birth date. This might be due to the difference between the Gregorian (or modern) calendar versus the Julian. At the time of John’s birth, they would have been twelve days apart, with the Julian lagging. However, Switzerland had officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700, so it is uncertain how the October date came about.
John came to American as a young boy and settled in Georgetown, Wisconsin where he met and eventually married Eliza. In 1875, the couple and their two daughters moved to Williams where John used his cabinet making skills to open up the town’s first furniture store. The family lived upstairs on the second floor. The store burned down in the disastrous Williams fire of 1882 in which everyone had to flee in their nightclothes. The store was uninsured, resulting in a loss of $1,400. After that, the family moved out to a farm. While in Iowa, three more children came along.
Although he was a creative individual, as left-handed people sometimes are, John was not very industrious. Eliza did almost all the work from keeping house to raising a garden. Soon after she passed away in 1896, John and the two boys moved down to a ranch in Texas. One of their diversions was hunting deer at night. ohn also once owned and played a rare Stradivarius violin, which lamentably has been lost to history. A somewhat eclectic mix of hobbies.
John later returned to Iowa, passing away in June of 1917. There is some confusion surrounding this date as well: The tombstone says June 15, but John’s granddaughter Lucille Caudle (Wilson) distinctly remembered him as dying on her ninth birthday which was a day earlier. It may be that both dates on John Vollenweider’s gravestone are incorrect.
Children of John & Eliza Vollenweider Eda Vollenweider – Housewife Born: Unknown Died: Unknown Emma Lulu Vollenweider (Caudle) – Housewife Born: April 5, 1873Died: November 22, 1950 William Vollenweider – Farmer Born: Unknown Died: Unknown William was the first baby born in the town of Williams, Iowa. Ida Belle Vollenweider Born: Unknown Died: August 12, 1878 Died as an infant. Adolph Vollenweider – Farmer Born: UnknownDied: Unknown
Father: Abraham Reece Sr.
Mother: Mary Owen
Born: January 22, 1786
Died: March 28, 1858 Age 72
Buried: Most likely somewhere near Yadkinville, North Carolina.
Abraham Reece was a rancher. Upon his death, he willed his family one feather bed, one cow and one bureau. Nothing is known about his wife Mary except that she and Abraham were opposed to their daughter Margaret marrying Abram Caudle due him being a decade younger. This displeasure did not stand in the way of love; the two were married nine months following Mary’s death.
Known Children of Abraham & Mary Reece Margaret Reece (Caudle) – Housewife Born: December 8, 1827Died: March 2, 1911
Father: Jacob Abraham Caudle “Abram”
Born: September 7, 1837 Boonesville, North Carolina
Died: November 15, 1899 Age 62
Mother: Margaret Reece
Born: December 8, 1827 Boonesville, North Carolina
Died: March 2, 1911 Age 83
Parents: Abraham & Mary Reece
Married: December 21, 1858 for 30 years
Buried: Radcliffe Cemetery, Radcliffe, Iowa. Caudle Family Plot
next to James & Emma Caudle, near the main gate.
Abram Caudle was a solidly built man who had great faith in his own judgment. Weathering the disapproval of his future in-laws, he managed to court and wed Margaret despite the fact that she was ten years his senior.
Margaret was a short, pretty southern lady who was once voted the “Belle of Yadkin County”. A little over four feet tall, she also chewed tobacco, probably a habit she picked up from her rancher father.
The death of Margaret’s mother in the spring of 1858 may have helped clear the way for the marriage of the two as they exchanged vows later that same year. Abram then assumed ownership of the Reece Plantation.
It was not the best time to be starting a family in the South. A little over two years after the couple had been declared man and wife, the state of North Carolina married itself to the Confederacy. Abram and his brothers ended up fighting for the South. One surrendered and was somehow shot later in the war while the other two deserted.
According to the family legend, Abram and his brother Abner became horrified by the scenes of death around them and decided to return home. Hiding behind a barricade of dead men and mules, they stole away from the scene of the fighting and made their way back to the farm. There they dug a hole under the barn, with the dirt taken by the children out to the field, and hid out for the remainder of the war. There also is a story of them breathing through reeds while hiding in a pond or river.
On the home front, all the slaves save one had left the plantation. Margaret gave birth to two boys. Raising a family during the Civil War was difficult. She was sometimes forced to cook for soldiers that passed through the area, both Union and Confederate. If troops were know to be in the vicinity, some of the food would be hidden by bending a sapling over, tying a ham to the end, then releasing the tree.
After the war, two more boys and a girl were added to the family. Abram and Margaret moved to Hardin County in 1868 (?), then in 1877 to a farm 6 miles northeast of Ellesworth, Iowa. Abram donated land for the Lincoln Church there of which he was a member. The Caudle farm ended up staying in the family for over 100 years. A grandson, Robert Caudle at one time farmed land that had been owned by both his grandfathers – Abram, and John Vollenweider.
Abram died just before the turn of the 19th century having been bothered for some time by an ulcer in his leg.
Margaret lived to an advanced age and her good looks never left her. She finally passed away due to cancer that had started in her mouth, probably a result of her tobacco chewing. Her granddaughter Lucille Caudle (Wilson) remembered seeing Margaret standing in front of a mirror trying to see how the cancer was spreading.
Ironically, although the family survived the Civil War unscathed, two of the sons later died violent deaths as noted below.
Children of Jacob & Margaret Caudle Abraham Reece Caudle – Minister Born: October 20, 1859Died: Unknown "Reece" moved to Nebraska and married a divorced woman. He and his wife were later murdered by the woman’s son from her first marriage. Sara J. Caudle Born: December 20, 1860Died: December 21, 1861 Aaron Caudle – Farmer Born: March 14, 1862Died: April 10, 1910 Aaron suffered through what we would now call a mid-life crisis. After becoming increasingly depressed, he finally shot himself in the corncrib. It is a known fact that the number of suicides increased during the "end of the world" stories that circulated prior to Earth’s encounter with the tail of Haley’s comet in May of 1910. It is interesting to speculate whether this was a contributing factor. John Henry Caudle – Farmer, Cattleman Born: April 28, 1864Died: May 5, 1927 John was named after John Henry Hoodsbeth, the one Negro who stayed and helped the family during the Civil War. James Jackson Caudle – Farmer Born: April 17, 1868Died: August 18, 1940 Mary Cornelia Caudle (Foster) – Housewife Born: February 28, 1871Died: March 19, 1939 William Caudle – Farmer Born: February 4, 1872Died: January 5, 1948
Father: James Jackson Caudle “Jack”, “Jim”
Born: April 17, 1868 Near Yadkinville, North Carolina
Died: August 18, 1940 Webster City, Iowa Age 72
Parents: Jacob & Margaret Caudle
Mother: Emma Lulu Vollenweider
Born: April 5, 1873 Georgetown, Wisconsin
Died: November 22, 1950 Goldfield, Iowa Age 77
Parents: John G. & Eliza Vollenweider
Married: December 21, 1893 for 46 years
Buried: Radcliffe Cemetery, Radcliffe, Iowa. Caudle Family Plot
next to the road, near the main gate.
Jim Caudle was a farmer and a cattleman. His handsome looks were enhanced by premature white hair. An energetic, rugged man, he would ride his horse long distances on purchasing trips. Amongst his neighbors, who called him Jack, he was regarded as somewhat of a cattle baron and eventually owned more than 1,000 acres of land in Iowa and South Dakota.
Emma was a large, pleasant woman who was often sick due to a bad heart. Like most farmers’ wives in those days, she had to cook for a veritable army of children and hired hands, especially at harvest time. In addition, Emma had to make due without modern conveniences. There was no telephone, for example, until the couple retired in town. While on the farm, the seed for the following spring was stored in an upstairs bedroom and it was a real challenge keeping the mice away and the house in order.
While courting Emma, Jim would periodically walk the few miles between their farms and on one occasion was attached by a pack of wild dogs. Had he not been carrying a walking stick to beat the animals off with, he would have been badly hurt. As it was, he escaped with jut a few bites and scratches although he clothes were torn up.
Upon getting married, Jim bought the Vollenweider farm from Emma’s father and the two settled down to start a family. Sadly, none of the first three infants survived more than a couple of days. The couple’s fear of never having healthy children was finally dispelled with the arrival of James Wylie in 1899.
Life in the Caudle household could be both affectionate and chaotic. Jim would often bounce Emma, who weighed close to 200 pounds, on one knee and his daughter Lucille on the other. The three boys were the usual rambunctious types. What one brother could not think of to tease Lucille with, another one would.
In 1927, Jim came down with pneumonia that slowed him considerably and left him susceptible to colds. A few years later the couple moved to Ellesworth, leaving the running of the farms to the children. The oldest son, known in the family as Wylie, tried to make a go of cattle farming in South Dakota for a few years, but ended up returning to Iowa. Jim’s son-in-law, Glen Wilson, took over working another farm which unfortunately led to some money disputes.
After a family reunion held at Brigg’s Woods near Webster City, Jim came down with a cold that developed into pneumonia and died the summer of 1940. His last words were “I think I ain’t gonna make it.” His daughter Lucille, who was in the room, then said the Lord’s Prayer next to his body.
Emma continued to live in town and tended a garden. She became a rather attractive woman in her later years, finally suffering a stroke and dying the day before Thanksgiving, 1950.
The four children who died in infancy are all buried in the Williams Cemetery. Two are on the Vollenweider lot, and the other two are nearby in the front row by the road.
Children of James & Emma Caudle Margaret Caudle Born/Died: March 1, 1895 Strangled on the umbilical cord during birth. Infant Son Born/Died: August 23, 1896 — Stillborn. Edna Grace Caudle Born: January 18, 1898Died: January 20, 1898 James Wylie Caudle – Farmer, Salesman Born: October 2, 1899Died: April 17, 1961 Wylie liked to boast that he was going to live to see three centuries, but only made it to two. He died at the age of 61. Ida Eliza Caudle Born: November 12, 1902Died: January 30, 1903 Crib death. William Frederick Caudle "Fred" – Farmer Born: October 28, 1905Died: 1967 Fred was a good businessman. He also died when he was 61. Emma Lucille Caudle (Wilson) – Housewife Born: June 14, 1908Died: March 30, 1987 Robert Lee Caudle – Farmer Born: May 16, 1911Died: 1992 "Uncle Bob" married Ruby Wilson, making his and sister Lucille’s children double cousins.