VICTOR and MARY NELSON
PICTURE ABOVE...VICTOR AS A BABY (PHOTOS DONATED BY CAROLYN KETTLER JUVLAND)
Victor was born in 1878 on a farm near Kerkhovan, Minnesota. He was next to the youngest in a family of ten children. As a young man of fifteen, he learned the blacksmith trade from his older brother. Mary Abrahamson was born in 1879 on a farm twenty miles west of Princeton, known as Glendorado, Minnesota.
Victor moved to Great Falls, Montana when he was about twenty years of age. He had a sister living there who was married to a foreman of the Copper Smelters. Victor got a job in the copper smelters through his brother in law. About that same time, Mary decided to go to Great Falls with her cousin. They both got a job in the laundry. Somehow Victor and Mary met through mutual friends and were married October 1, 1901. They lost their first child, Lawrence, who died of pneumonia at the age of one.
When the Copper Smelters went on strike, Victor was out of a job. However, Victor's brother Alfred, who lived in Peever and had a mercantile store, told Victor that a blacksmith job was open in Claire City, SD. While working there he heard that he could buy a blacksmith shop at Frank Post Office near Eden. This was about forty miles northwest of Peever. All that was there was a Catholic Church, a parsonage, a post office, blacksmith shop and a little shack of a house. While living there they had three children, Orle, Wallace, and Ella. There was no high school in that area and Victor wanted his children to have a high school education. It so happened that his brother, Alfred, told Victor that there was a blacksmith shop for sale in Peever, so in 1910 they moved to Peever. They lost another baby boy Walter, from pneumonia in 1913. Viola was born that same year and Floyd in 1916.
Around 1916, Victor and his nephew Ted Nelson, an auto mechanic, formed a partnership and built a combination garage and blacksmith shop. During WW1 grain prices shot up and Victor and Ted let out a great deal of credit to farmers. After the war the bottom of the grain market fell so the farmers could not pay their bills and Victor and Ted were in debt. In 1923 both banks went broke and Ted Nelson went to California leaving Victor and Mary to struggle alone. Mary took in boarders and roomers to help supplement their income.
In 1934 at the height of the depression, the garage and blacksmith shop burned to the ground. In trying to save money Victor had dropped his fire insurance. He lost his car and $100.00 in new tires plus his business. However the two gas pumps were still okay.
There was an old lumber yard building across the street that belonged to the County. Victor was completely broke, but somehow he talked the County Commissioners into selling him the building. He got the local house movers to move it where the garage used to be. One of the town carpenters, Pete Nickstad, remodeled it into small living quarters, and an office for the business. At the age of fifty six, Victor was starting all over.
Victor sold his business to Alvin Tuff in 1952 after being in business in Peever for forty two years. After Victor retired he worked for Harold Hortness part time.
Victor was very loyal to the town of Peever. If anyone spoke negatively about the town they were soon set straight.
(Written by Floyd Nelson and published in the February, 1999 issue of the Peever Pilot 2001.)
Joel Hortness tells this little story about his Grandpa Victor as remembered by his mother, Viola. After the garage had burned, someone asked Victor if he was moving to Sisseton now. His reply was "If we had wanted to live in Sisseton, I would have taken Mary by the hand and walked up the tracks."
AFTER THE FIRE