Peter Atzen, who now lives retired in a beautiful home in Denison, is one of the self-made men of Crawford county. Thrown upon his own resources in his boyhood. he bravely met every obstacle and as the years passed became one of the successful farmers of this county.
He was born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, December 14, 1857, a son of Broder and Josina (Jessen) Atzen, both of whom were natives of Germany. The father was a laboring man, and, seeking to improve his condition, he came to America in 1875 and began his career in the new world at Clinton, Iowa, removing nine months later to a farm in Olive township, Crawford county, where he died in 1897, at the age of sixty-nine years. He was a soldier of the German army from 1847 to 1852, participating in the war of 1848. His wife lived to be eighty-one years of age, passing away in 1908.
The paternal grandfather of our subject, Christian Atzen, was a farmer of Germany and his wife was Christina Jessen. They were the parents of three children, Broder, Christina and Martha. The maternal grandfather died when young and his history is lost, the mother of our subject being the only child in his family. She was a remarkable woman. At nineteen years of age she lost one of her limbs and for sixty-two years thereafter could move 'about only with the aid of a wooden leg and yet she reared her children and performed her household duties with a spirit of cheerfulness seldom witnessed even in those not called upon to suffer from bodily affliction. Her father died when she was an infant and her mother married Henry Clausen, four daughters being born of this union, namely, Hannah, Christina, Frederica and Sophia.
The following children were born to Broder and Josina Atzen: Minnie, who became the wife of Erich Matsen, of Chicago, and is now deceased; Henry, of Maquoketa, Iowa; Peter, the subject of this review; Josina, now Mrs. Fred Walk, of Chicago; Carl, now a practicing physician of Omaha; and John, deceased.
Peter Atzen was educated in his native land and nine days after his confirmation started for America, arriving in New York on the 26th of April, 1873. He grew to manhood on a farm in Clinton county, Iowa, working for himself from the time he arrived in this country. After renting land for three years in Clinton county he moved to Ida county. and continued renting for two years, at the end of which time he came to Crawford county and purchased two hundred and forty acres in Hanover township, which he broke, cleared and improved. He continued upon his farm until March, 1908, when he removed to Denison, where he now resides. He still owns the home place which is one of the most valuable farms in the township and also a half section in Jackson county, Minnesota. His land in this county originally cost him twelve dollars and a half per acre but it is now worth at least one hundred and fifty dollars an acre.
On the 1st of January, 1883, Mr. Atzen was united in marriage to Miss Justina Christiansen, who was born in Risum, North Schleswig, Germany, April 1, 1865, a daughter of M. F. and Hannah (Petersen) Christiansen. The family came to America in 1872 and for five years Mr. Christiansen was a teamster at Clinton, Iowa. In 1877 he removed to a farm in Scott county but seven years later came to Crawford county and acquired a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Hanover township. Subsequently he sold his farm and took up his residence in Denison, where he now lives in retirement. He is seventy-seven years of age and his wife is three years his junior.
In their family were eight children, six of whom are now living: Anna Christina, the wife of Gust Rusing; Justina, now Mrs. Peter Atzen; Sibbern; Julius; Amelia, the wife of Henry Kolls: and Hannah, now Mrs. John Jacobson.
The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Atzen was Sibbern Christiansen, a wagonmaker of Germany. He was twice married and by his second wife had two children, Christian and Anna. Hans Petersen, the grandfather on the maternal side, was the head of a family of five children, Hannah, Bertha, Lena, Niss and Christ.
Ten children came to bless the union of Mr. and Mrs. Atzen: George, of Washington township, who married Emma Foss and has one son, Raymond; Fred, now living on the home place, who married Bertha Foss and has one daughter, Lilian; Carl; Minnie, who married Meinhard Thompson, of Goodrich township, and is the mother of one son, Henry; Henry, who died at the age of four years; Hannah, Josina, Hilda, Walter, and Bernhard, all of whom are at home.
As head of a large and promising family Mr. Atzen has set an example of industry and perseverance which cannot fail to influence the lives of his children long after he has departed this life. He and his excellent wife are members of the German Lutheran church and politically he is affiliated with the democratic party. A man of strong individuality and great determination, he has attained a goodly measure of success in business affairs. By nature genial and social, he has readily made friends and few men of his age can claim a greater number of sincere admirers in Crawford county.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.