Niels Anderson

Born: April 17, 1831

NIELS ANDERSON, a leading citizen of Langlade county, and well known prosperous general merchant of Antigo, is a native of Denmark, born April 17, 1831. He is the son of Anders Christenson, a wagon-maker by trade, born in 1790, who married Bertha Christina Rasmussen and had ten children, four of whom died young , the other six being Rasmas, Christen, Hans, Niels, Mary Anne and Frederick, of whom, Rasmas died in America, Mary Anne lives in Brown county, Wis.; the others are living in Denmark. The parents, who are well-to-do, highly respected people, died in Denmark, the mother in 1842; the father (who was a son of Christen Christenson, a farmer) served as a soldier in his native land.

The subject proper of these lines, whose name appears at the opening of this sketch, received a fair education at the public schools of his native land, learning the trade of wagon maker with his father, and after the death of the latter took charge of the shop and business in 1872. He then sold out and came to America, landing at New York, whence he came direct to Green Bay, where he remained one year working at his trade. Proceeding from there to De Pere, thence at the end of another year moving to Mills Center, he there, in partnership with John Hanson (his future son-in-law), opened out a wagon maker's shop. After a couple of years, however, he sold out his shop and farm, and embarked in mercantile business in the same village, continuing same till 1878. In that year he sold his store and removed to Antigo, then a hamlet of some three or four families, and known as "Spring Brook," Wausau being the nearest railway point, a distance of thirty-two miles, all his merchandise having to be hauled from there by team. But by 1881 the railroad had reached Antigo, settlement increased, and our subject built his present store, in which he has since conducted a flourishing general mercantile business. His sales, the first year in the village, amounted to one hundred dollars, whilst he now turns over thirty-thousand dollars worth of stock. Mr. Anderson has also dealt largely in real estate, and now owns one thousand acres of land, besides a fine residence and other city property. For several years he owned and operated the Excelsior Factory at Antigo; was the first postmaster of the village, holding the office six years; was also city treasurer, two terms, and the first notary public in Antigo. When he built his present store the county had no county buildings, so he put up the store with rooms, ect., above for the county offices, also a public hall, the first in the county, and which in early days was used for Church purposes as well as a music hall.

Mr. Anderson has been twice married, both times in Denmark, on the first occasion, in 1851, to Miss Johanne Marie Anderson, by whom he had three children: Andrew, Caroline, and Christ. The mother of these died Sept. 16, 1868, and October 25, 1870, our subject married Miss Anna Catherine Anderson, who was born June 1, 1845, daughter of Andrew Hanson (a mason by trade) and Inger Sofie Larson, who were parents of two children: Hans L. and Anna C. By this marriage there is one child, Alfred Anderson, now a cigar maker at LaCrosse, Wis., and married. Since 1887, Andrew, the eldest son of our subject, has been in partnership with his father in the store, and also in his real-estate business, the son having full charge since the father's partial retirment, through the latter still maintains a partial supervision, giving counsel and advise. He is liberal to all his children, and even ready to lend them a helping hand.

Niels Anderson presents a worthly example of a self-made man, one who by industry honestly and judicious economy has risen from comparative obscurity as a poor boy to his present affluent condition and enviable position as one of the leading and most prosperous citizens of northern Wisconsin. In Denmark he served as a soldier three years in the artillery, and during the war of 1864 between Denmark and Prussia he participated in several battles, for which service he has a medal, presented by the King of Denmark. In the war between the same countries of 1848-49-50 his three brothers were soldiers in the Danish army. Hans being wounded in one of the engagements. Once has our subject visited his old Denmark home, his wife having made three visits, and he traveled through France and Germany, being absent some six months on the trip, during which time he visited, among other cities, Berlin, Paris and Copenhagen. Politically he is a Republican, and has often been urged to accept office, but has invariably declined; in religious faith he is a member of the Danish Lutheran Church, his wife of the Baptist, and his house was always the home of the early ministers of the M. E. Church and others. He has ever given liberally of his means to every denomination and to all enterprises tending to the public good. Of a verity he is a representative pioneer of this part of Wisconsin, for when he came to Antigo nearly twenty years ago he made the journey by way of Langlade, from which point he had to hire a surveyor and a couple of men to cut a road through the primeval forest to his destination.

Pg.278 Upper Wisconsin Commemorative Biographical Record