Sunday, July 10, 2011




Jens Peter Peterson
Jens Peter was the second son of Peter and Johanna Maria Jensdatter.  He was born 7 May, 1857, seven years after one war with Germany and a child of six when Denmark fought and lost another war.  Losing Holstein, Sleswig, and part of Jutland to their ancient enemy the Germans.  The family suffered from German occupation at Lille Grontved, the village where the Peder Halvorsen family lived.  Mariah, the oldest daughter tells how the German soldiers came into their home three different times to steal all of their food and possessions.  Jens tells a little of life in Denmark in a letter to America later in this story. 

Peder had fought in two wars and believed there would always be wars here especially after Germany had just fought and won another war, the 1871 Franco-Prussian War.  When Peder's two oldest boys became of age when they would be drafted into the army, the opportunity to go to New Zealand presented it's self.   Peder promised the boys that he would come as soon as they made a place for him.  Halvor was already in New Zealand having sailed there a year or so earlier under a different plan.  But his promise would eventually be broken,  after many years of waiting the Peder Halvorsen Family sailed to America with the help of the Mormon Church.  Peder was 64 years old now and Johanne who was quite sickly now would be unable to leave if they waited any longer. 

Jutland was spiritually and materially devastated and the people were tired of being dominated by the wealthy classes.  40 acres of land and passage was now being promised to those wishing to make New Zealand their new home.  Many wonderful things had been told of this new land.

Ane Katrina Nielsen Peterson
In May 1874 Jens left his family in Denmark, never to see them again.  In Jen's letter dated 2 February 1929, he said, "I left home 54 years ago.  Ane Mary was only three months old laying in the cradle.  I had a peep at her the morning before I left at two o'clock and it was an awful dark morning.  Poor older mother cried when I went.  Dear old mother, she was a good mother to us all.  Our parent's had to struggle to find food and clothes for us all, but they did the best for us they could." 

Jens had enlisted as an immigrant under Julius Vogels public works and immigration scheme.  They were contracted to clear the land in the Wairarapa for farms, roads and rail, the Seventy Mile Bush had prevented all travel in the area.  The work would earn them the money to pay for his passage here and the 40 acres of land he would own.   

Jens arrived in New Zealand at Napier on the 24 August, 1875 on the Friedeburgh.  Authorities were warned about sending Danes on German ships.  The Danes went out of their way to infuriate the Germans and fights were common.  The German ships were noted for poor organization and poor health care.  This was a sail ship and had very cramped living quarters.  It must have been a very long journey.   It should have only taken about three months, family stories said it was nine months.  Maybe this included the time from Denmark to Liverpool, England.  

He landed at Napier at a place now called Corunna Bay.  From here they walked up the hill to stay at some military barracks built to house the troops used many years ago in the Maori Land Wars.  All the gear - rations, clothing and possessions were loaded on large horse-drawn wagons and transported over the Rimutaka Mountain Range and across many rivers, over 70 miles away to a place called "The Scandinavian Camp" now called Dreyerton (Dreyer's Road).  All the emigrants walked and helped clear the way for the wagons. 

William,  Jens,  Ane Katrina,  Oliver,  Mable,  Earnest,
When Jens landed, he was supposed to meet Halvor, but he wasn't there.  Jens couldn't speak a word of English so he couldn't make esquires.  Not knowing what to do he hid in some shrubs.  W e are told how happy he was when he heard some women speaking in Danish.  When and how he finally he found Halvor is unknown to us but it must have been a very happy reunion, the brothers were always very close.  Halvor already had a farm in Wainuiomata near Wellington and Jens was under contract to receive land in Mauriceville at least 70 miles away.

The Government's purpose in bringing these Danes to New Zealand was to develop the 40 mile bush section of the Wairarapa from Kopuranga to Woodville where it would meet the seventy-mile bush to Napier and then to cut the bush to clear their farms.  Clearing this bush was almost an impossible task - this was a thousand year primeval old forest.  The green canopy of forest roof was supported by colonnades of tall trunks of Matai, Rata, Maire, Rimu, Kahikatea, and Totara.  The moist earth was perpetually hid from the sun and was covered by an impenetrable tangle of ferns, shrubs and creepers and the tangle dead fall of old giant trees.  The clearing of this beautiful forest took many years of cutting and burning. Sir Julius Vogel and the New Zealand government made a hard bargain with these new settlers.  The government had not provided for them as they should, but the government had little money at the time and now New Zealand was suffering from the same depression as United States had experienced.  They had to pay one pound per acre and this was bush on forest covered acres.  Earlier Halvor and other settlers in Wairarapa paid only five shillings an acre for cleared and grassed lands.  To make matters worse the cost of the stores and tools that were used to build the roads and railroads were deducted from their pay.  It is a credit to these hardy people that within the prescribed time the cost of the land and passage was paid in full.  The cost of the passage was thirteen pounds, thirteen shillings.  

Jens   Ane Katrina
When the land was cleared in the Danish settlement  in Mauriceville and Eketahuna Districts, the settlers had to remain in their barrack-like slab huts under the most primitive conditions for two more years until the government got around to surveying and allotting the plots of ground.  They were 40 acre farms.  Jens' farm was Plot #49.  When the settlers were finally allowed to build their homes and farms, there was a scarcity of sawn lumber and brick and lime were in great demand.  Out of necessity most of their homes were "slab huts". 

These fun loving Danes and Norwegians also built slab floors for dancing in the forest under the stars with lanterns as lights.  Music was usually a concertina or a Jews Harp.  The Danish were great hosts; they enjoyed the visits of friends and family.

Churches, schools, and business houses were soon built.  Danish was spoken in the home and around the towns for many years.  The speaking of Danish by the children in the school and playground was forbidden by the teachers with little success.

Jens assisted in the laying of the railway which was being constructed across the Rimutaka's to link up the capital city with the Wairarapa and ultimately connected up with the Napier line at Woodville.

In 1885 after ten years of toil in this new land, Jens was attracted to the Scandinavian Camp where he met and married Ane Katrina Albertina Nielsen.  He was 28 and Ane was 16.  She was only two years old when she immigrated with her family - what a trip for a little girl. 

It must have been quite a task then to clear the land, build a house, and turn it into a home. 

Add caption
Colin Petersen, son of James Henry who was a son of Jens, has give me a wealth of information and I thank him dearly for it.  He states "My grandparents Jens Peter Petersen and Ane Nielsen eloped from Mauriceville and took up temporary residence with his older brother (Halvor) who lived at Wainuiomata."  On their marriage license Anne is listed as a sixteen-year-old spinster.  Colin said "It must have been quite a journey in 1885.  I have been told that her father Niels Nielson was very religious and a bit of a hard old guy, although not unkindly."  I believe the elopement may have tested his patience.  Her mother was listed as Sofie Christine Tange.

Walter Chisholm, general storekeeper, insurance agent and Justice of the Peace, said this of Jens when he was applying for citizenship for the colony of New Zealand. "He had nearly 100 acres of Freehold land and calls himself a farmer.  He makes the largest part of his living from the carpentry trade.  He is a very sober and industrious man, a good husband and father and a good citizen."  This document was dated 8 October 1896.

Jens and seven others risked their time and fortunes in August 1889 in starting the Mauriceville West Cooperative Factory, Limited to manufacture butter and cheese and cure bacon.  It was a struggle for the next ten years to make it successful.   Jens was a Chairman of the School Committee (board, trusty) as well as Chairman of the Dairy Cooperative.  I must say that Halvor, Jens, Andrew and Thomas, all helped build and establish the schools in their respective countries, they were well educated in Denmark. 

In 1889, their first child Mabel was born, followed by William Andrew in 1891, James Henry, 1893, Ernest Peter 1896, Thomas Oliver 1898, and George Conrad 1900, Rose 1903.
Add caption

Mabel eventually grew up and married Arthur Wallis.  In 1908 Mable, now 19 years old died giving birth to her first child, Arthur Wallis.  Arthur was then adopted by the Petersen's. 

Uncle Jens and his family resided here in the Wairarapa until 1915.  He left the farm to make his living from his carpentry trade.  He later moved to Newman and then to Palmerston North where he retired.  He worked for his son William Andrew in the house building business for awhile.  Jens made a good recovery from a severe illness not long after his letter to America. 

Three years later he died of a stroke on March 2, 1934 at the age of 76 and his beloved wife Ane Katrina died six years later in 1940, also 76 years old. 

Gwenda B. Thomas remembers her grandfather as a kind and loving man.  She remembers how he would protect his grandchildren by not letting his daughters-in-law chastise them. 
JENS' LETTER to J.C. Nielson,  Jens' letter was a letter about his brother Andrew when he died.
"Tell my sister, Mary how sorry I am for her, and "If your wife (Elda) takes after her Grandmother she will be a good wife so now be good to her, I am sure you will".   He said, "When we have reared our family, we have done our duty in this world so we can pack up (and leave it).  All of our children are married now and we are on our own.  Four of them are carpenters, one is a clerk in a Railway Station.  The youngest is a lawyer and has a practice of his own.  They are all doing well so far.  They have a better chance than I had when I came here to this little Island.    "I have just sold a big house in Church Street and bought a four room house here in Lyndhurst Street because now there is only two of us.  A small house is more suitable." 

Your Uncle, J. P. Peterson  
Add caption

Colin Petersen said, "He wrote a good letter with fine penmanship considering how stoved up with arthritis he was". 

JENS PETER PETERSEN;  Page 2 of "The Descendants of Jens Peter Petersen and Ane Katrina Albertina Nielsen" by Colin Petersen.

Born in Sindale, Denmark, on 7 May, 1857.  Because of illness, he was baptized at home on 28 April, 1857 and presented in church on 7 June, 1857.  He was the second child of PEDER HALVORSEN (1820-1905) and JOHANNA MARIE LARSEN (JENSDATTER), (1832-1905).   He arrived in New Zealand at Napier on 24 August, 1875 in the ship "Friedburg" and then made his way to to Mauriceville West, Wairarapa where he lived many years.  It was about 1917 when he and his family left the Mauriceville area and took up residence in Palmerston North. 
Jens Peter Petersen died 2 March, 1934 at Palmerston North and is buried in the old cemetery, Terrace End, Palmerston North. 


Born in Vordingborg, Denmark, on 24 May, 1870.  She was the thrird child of Niels Nielsen (1841-1918) and Sofie Christine Tange (1840-1902).  She arrived in Wellington with her family in the ship "Halcione" on 14 July, 1873.  The family settled in Mauriceville West.   She died on 18 September, 1946 in Nelson and is buried with her husband in the old cemetery, Trrace End, Palmerston North. 

Jens Peter Petersen and Ane Katrina Albertina Nielsen were married in the Registar's Office, Wellington, on 7 September, 1885. 
The couple had seven children and also adopted a grandchild. 

No comments:

Post a Comment