Biography of Peter Mathisen
Audubon County, IA Biographies

Not only those whose lives are spent in the teeming cities, and in the world's centers of industry and commerce, are worthy of classification among earth's great and useful, but he who has been a good husband, a loving father, a true neighbor and a loyal citizen is great as a man, even though his praises have not been sung in press and pulpit. Every man who has held public office and who is honest, has given to his community time, attention and service which the salary paid him cannot cover. Many are the demands made upon such a one, and yet would not come to him as a private citizen or business man. When, therefore, it is said of a man that he has filled any office with credit, this may be taken to mean that he has given the best that was in him for the public good.

Peter Mathisen, ex-supervisor and retired farmer of Audubon, Iowa, is a native of Denmark, having been born there on October 21, 1845, in the province of Schleswig.

His parents, Peter and Christina (Stephensenl) Mathisen, also were born and brought up there. The father, a farmer, died when he was sixty years of age, and the mother came to this country in 1877, lived with her children in Sharon township, this county until her death in 1903. Both Mr. and Mrs. Mathisen were members of the Lutheran church. Peter, whose name appears at the head of this brief record, was the eldest. The others were: Catherine, who died in Davenport, Iowa; Carrie, now the wife of Jens Werner of Audubon, Iowa; Sophia, who passed away while the family lived in Davenport; forgen, a farmer living in Sharon township, Audubon county, Iowa, and Maria, the youngest daughter, who died in Denmark.

The eldest son, Peter, was ambitious for education, and received his early schooling in Denmark, but he was compelled to leave school for the farm, and as a young man, worked out on a farm. Being ambitious to advance, and while still a young man of twenty two, he started for America, at first taking up the occupation he had followed in the old country, this time, in Davenport, Iowa. From 1869 until 1872, he lived in Cass county and worked on the Rock Island railway.

In 1870, he was married to Sophia Sorensen, who was born in Denmark and who came to this country in 1869. In the year 1872, preferring the farm to railroad work, Mr. Mathisen purchased a tract of prairie land belonging to the railway company four miles north of Atlantic, Iowa, and began clearing his forty acres. Four years later he removed to fackson township. Shelby county, the same state, bought one hundred acres, and made this his home for seven years, living on the farm which he improved. In 1883, Sharon township attracted him, and he became the possessor of a piece of unimproved land, a portion of which was partially improved, and after expending several thousand dollars for improvements, began stock raising. He specialized in a good breed of cattle, Poland China hogs, and draft horses. For the two years following 1896, he lived on a farm which he owned in Leroy township. Audubon became his home in 1900, and it was on the west side of the town that he built his present home. Besides the site on which it is situated, he owns two other lots. A farm which he owns in Cameron township is rented to tenants.

Owing to having held three prominent county offices, Mr. Mathisen is unusually well known, not only in the vicinity of his own home, but in adjoining neighborhoods. For several years, he was trustee of Sharon township, and a school director, and was elected county supervisor in 1891; he served in this latter capacity for three years. An active politician, he was a leader in the Democratic party, and his judgment was relied upon by other politicians. He has been identified all of his life with the Danish Lutheran church. In matters concerning current events, Mr. Mathisen is always well informed, and his interests are not limited to local subjects.

The children born are four in number. The eldest, Christina, is married to Andrew Knudsen of Sharon township, and they live on the old homestead of her father. Their children are Mary, Johanna and Sophia. The second child of Mr. and Mrs. Mathisen died in infancy, and Maria, the next in order of birth passed away while young. Stephen is a farmer in Sharon township. He married Christina Nelsen, and their children are named Anna Marie and Laura.

These are the important facts concerning the life of Peter Mathisen, but one must read between the lines to realize that success and honor among his fellow men did not come without effort and just cause. Those pioneers who have become prosperous, are strong, sturdy characters, undaunted by conditions which would dismay less stalwart minds, and so when the goal has been reached, and they can cease the more strenuous activities, it should not be forgotten that the way has not always been so easy, nor the conditions of life pleasant. No one more deserves a life free from care, comparatively speaking, than he who has known what it means to work for long hard hours, and to keep at it when the end seemed far away.

History of Audubon County, Iowa
Its People, Industries and Instutions
H. F. Andrews, Editor
B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Indianapolis - 1915

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