Land of Opportunity: Man Seeks Fertile Soil on Free Land

Selling Singer sewing machines leads man to walk across Dakota Territory searching for fertile soil on free land.

| Good Old Days

Soren Christian Anderson was from Vraa, Denmark. He came to the land of opportunity in 1872 and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. After working there for awhile he traveled to Atlantic, Iowa. There he secured an agency for selling Singer sewing machines. He did well at this, but he really wished to be a farmer. He knew the government was free land to homestead, but if he took some he wanted it to be good, fertile soil. He and a friend, A.P. Clemenson, decided to walk across the available land so they could choose what they wanted. They walked north into Dakota Territory and found good land with no rocks or stones in it. But they did not settle on it right away. They began walking westward, always on the watch for Indians. Several times they hid from Indian bands and then continued on their journey. After some months they arrived in Reno, Nevada. They were broke. Work was easily found there, and they stayed for nearly two years. When they left they were able to take a train back to Iowa.

Soren married his sweetheart, Dorthea Mauritsen, and presented her with a Singer sewing machine, which is still in our family.

In 1882, Soren decided to take up a homestead. He thought the best land that was left was near Conde, in Dakota Territory. He filed on a claim and moved into a sod house that same year. He lived on that homestead and added four more quarter sections to it before his death in 1934.

Eunice Hoien Dahlgren
Sweet Home, Oregon

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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