My father’s history

[Nels and Alma were my great-grandparents on my father’s side of the family.  This family history was written by my great-aunt Grace.]

Nels Peter was born April 23, 1869 in Halmstad, Sweden and died February 25, 1950 in Fort Lyons, Kansas.  Alma Mathilda was born April 9, 1882 in Oland, Sweden and died January 8, 1971 in Denver, Colorado.

Nels came to the U.S. around 1890.  He was 21 years old as he came across the ocean en route from Sweden.  He lived in Ironwood, Michigan and worked there for a short time before coming to Denver.  His brother, John, made his home in Ironwood, MI.

In Denver, Nels was a bartender for P.J. Johnson.  then he enlisted in the Army and served in the Spanish-American War.  He contracted malaria and barely pulled through.  After being discharged he went to work for the Denver Tramway Co.  He was a motorman for 20 years on Route 61 and on Route 66 East Denver Division.  He was top man in coasting competition.  He also worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and the Denver Water Co.  When he worked for the water board, he was digging ditches and he wouldn’t quit when it was so hot.  He ended up with heat stroke and couldn’t work for a while.  He took a job as a carpenter in Pine, Colorado for a while and also worked for the W.P.A. carrying water to the laborers when they were working on the road to Arvada.  He started getting a pension from the government for being a Spanish American War veteran, and received $50 a month.

Nels died in a year which brought him 3 grandchildren: Don, Douglas and Wayne, and 1 great-grandchild, Sharon.  H went to Fitzsimmons Hospital first, and then was transferred to Fort Logan.  H contracted pneumonia there and after recovering he was transferred to Fort Lyons near La Junta in 1948.  He became senile and each time we visited him he thought he was at home in Denver.

Alma came from a large family and was put in an orphanage for a while.  She was raised by foster parents and had to hire out as a maid when she was 14.  She was 19 years old when she left Sweden.  She came by boat from Liverpool, England, and arrived in New York on September 20, 1900.  She had to sleep on the deck of the ship.  Someone had made a small wooden trunk for her in which she had one change of clothes.  She threw the soiled clothes overboard.  After arriving at Ellis Island, she took a train to Denver.  I believe she had a foster sister who lived in Denver.

She went to work as a maid for the Fontius family (of the Fontius Shoe company), and gradually learned to speak English.  She met Nels at a Swedish picnic at City Park in Denver.  Nels and Alma were married June 2, 1902 and had eight children.

Alma had surgery in August, 1950 for rectal cancer.  The operation was successful, but she lived with a colostomy the rest of her life.  She lived by herself after selling the house on High Street and moved into the house on 25th Avenue.  She was taking too much medicine, and one day after someone tried to reach her by phone, she was found on the floor, unable to get up.  It was then decided that she should go to a nursing home where she could be watched over and taken care of.  She resided at Valley Hi Nursing Home from November, 1962 until her death on January 8, 1971.


Nels and Alma’s children were: Amy Theresa, Theodore Winfred, Thelma Rowena, Lola Belle, Florence Angeline (my grandmother), Henning N, Alina Grace, and Willard Walter.

I remember visiting my great-grandmother in the nursing home before she died.  The nursing home used to scare me, but I enjoyed the visits with her.


Florence was born September 27, 1912 and died December 7, 1991.  She married Carl Tilton, who was born March 9, 1910 and died June 10, 1955.  Florence and Carl had 4 boys: Dwight Lee (my father), Fred Sherman, Leonard Allen and Wayne Stewart.


I’m still in the process of doing more research on my father’s side of the family, particularly his father, Carl.


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