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J. P. Denmark HomesteadWhen J.P. Denmark settled in this area in 1875 he must have been drawn to the lush prairie and abundant wildlife that populated the area. Turkey Creek flowed through the locale, its sides banked by bluffs and ridges. The creek emptied into the Missouri River and was a natural conduit for game and wildlife that followed the creek up river where they could take refuge in the thick brush and towering Cottonwood trees. The rich black earth produced lush prairies that would later become prosperous cropland. No doubt J.P. Denmark thought he had found heaven on earth when he staked his claim and built his sod house.  And little wonder that when pheasants where introduced into the area at the turn of the century it was a natural fit as the birds flourished beyond anyone’s expectations.

J.P. Denmarks Story

Jens Peter Hanson was born in Denmark on August 24,1845. He married Christena, birthdate April 30, 1845, and to this union 5 children were born. Their oldest child Merinus was born in Denmark before they made their trip to the United States. They wanted a better life for themselves and their children so they braved the oceans vastness and followed their dream of owning a homestead in the Dakotas. They arrived in Michigan and from there made their way to South Dakota and settled in the Danish community of Viborg, named after Viborg, Denmark. As a young man, Jens Peter was very proud of his Danish heritage, so proud that he took Denmark as his last name. He became known as Jens Peter Hanson Denmark.

He set off on foot traveling west out of Viborg. He was determined to fullfill his dream. That dream was finding land with a large grove of good trees for lumber and a water supply near by, also good fertile soil where his crops would grow strong and tall. As he continued west he headed for a large grove. Once in the grove he noticed an abundance of wildlife. He sat down to rest on a hugh flat rock. As he sat there he heard the sound of running water. His prayers had been answered. He was right beside a bubbling natural spring. Behind the spring was a large hill. He walked to the top of the hill and knew this was the place he had dreamed about. He was home.

This is where he would raise his family. The first dwelling which was constructed on the homestead was a sod cave in the ground. This cave was where 4 of their children were born. They survived many years in this first dwelling and labored long and hard to finally finish a house constructed from lumber from the grove. They moved into their new home in November of 1891. On November 5th of 1892 at the young age of 42 Christena died. Jens Peter had a family to raise without a mother. He lived his whole life on the homestead where he singlely raised his 5 children. As he grew older he continued to live there with his daughter Lena, husband Alfred Knudsen, and granddaughter Ada. The windmill by the Lodge is the only landmark left of the Denmark Homestead. The vine growing to the top was planted by Lena, Jens Peters daughter.

We only knew him as Grandpa Denmark. He is our Great-Grandfather and we have grown up hearing his stories told to us by our Bestamore and Bestafore (Danish for Grandma and Grandpa) Lena and Alfred Knudsen. We have so many wonderful memories of our childhood years spent at the Homestead. We will always cherish these memories and they will live on in our hearts for ever.

Great - Grandchildren
David & Annet

 

 
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