Biography of Soren Mortensen

Soren Mortensen, born April 21, 1846, in Denmark, became one of the wealthiest farmers in Yankton County, South Dakota. After emigrating to the United States in 1869, he worked on a farm in Long Island for seven and a half years before moving to South Dakota in 1876. Mortensen initially focused on wheat farming but shifted to livestock after several crop failures. He built a successful operation handling cattle and Chester White hogs, amassing 1,500 acres of farmland. Mortensen married Meatha Amelia Larson in 1874, with whom he had nine children. After her death in 1896, he married Nora Grant in 1900. A dedicated Republican and respected community member, Mortensen’s achievements reflect his perseverance and effective management.

Soren Mortensen—The world instinctively pays deference to the man who has risen above his early surroundings, overcome the obstacles in his path, and reached a high position in his chosen calling. This is a progressive age and he who does not advance is soon left far behind. By the improvement of the opportunities by which all are surrounded, Mr. Mortensen has steadily and honorably worked his way upward until he is today one of the wealthiest farmers of Yankton County. A native of Denmark, he was born April 21, 1846, and is a son of Morten and Mary (Christensen) Mortensen, who spent their entire lives in that country. Bidding goodbye to home and friends, the subject sailed for New York in 1869 and first located in Long Island, where he was employed on a farm for seven years and a half. He then brought his family to South Dakota and since 1876 has been an honored resident of this state.

In 1874 Mr. Mortensen was united in marriage to Miss Meatha Amelia Larson, who died June 13, 1896, leaving nine children, namely: George, who married Regina Olson and is now engaged in clerking in Gayville, South Dakota; Martin, a farmer of Clay County, this state; Matilda, now the wife of Ira Harden, a resident of Gayville; and Bena, Andrea, Giris, Edward, Mabel, and Melvin. All are being provided with good educations and the two oldest sons have attended the State University at Vermillion, South Dakota. Mr. Mortensen was again married June 23, 1900, his second union being with Miss Nora Grant, a daughter of H. N. and Catherine (Pearson) Grant. Her father is a prosperous farmer of Douglas County, South Dakota, and one of the leading and influential citizens of that locality. For two terms he most efficiently served as sheriff of the county, was deputy sheriff the same length of time, and also filled the office of city marshal in a most creditable and acceptable manner. During the dark days of the Rebellion he manifested his love of country and patriotic spirit by his service in the Union army.

On coming to the new world Mr. Mortensen’s capital consisted of but one dollar, but he always made it a point to save a part of his earnings and on his arrival in South Dakota had twelve hundred dollars, which he invested in an improved farm of one hundred and sixty acres. For a few years he gave his attention principally to the raising of wheat, but several times had his crops destroyed by grasshoppers and floods. In later years he has made stock raising a specialty and now handles about five hundred head of cattle and shipped two hundred and five head in 1903, while in 1902 he marketed one hundred and sixty-nine head. He keeps good horses and has a fine drove of two hundred and fifty Chester White hogs. As he has prospered in business affairs and his financial resources have increased, Mr. Mortensen has added to his property from time to time until he now owns fifteen hundred acres of fine farm land, seven hundred acres of which is under cultivation and well improved. In 1886 he erected upon his place an elegant brick residence and has also built good barns and cattle sheds, so that he now has one of the best-improved farms in the county. Upon the place are three artesian wells which amply supply his stock with water. His success in life is due entirely to his own well-directed efforts, good management, and untiring industry.

In politics Mr. Mortensen is a Republican. His wife, who is a most estimable lady, was educated in the schools of Armour, South Dakota, where her parents make their home. Socially the family is one of prominence in the community where they reside and their many friends are always sure of a hearty welcome at their hospitable home.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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