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Niels Peterson (1878-1962)

Niels and Emma, 1888
Niels and Emma, 1888, (living at Moroni, Utah)

(also known as "Nels", see explanation below)

[from notes collected by Viola Lauper Johnson in conversation with her mother Emma, Niels' half-sister, and in correspondence with Niels' wife, Mabel Stoddard, and daughter, Afton Peterson Nelson]

[Niels is also discussed in Recollections at the 1998 Madsen-Lauper Reunion.]

The first son of Maria Sørensen was born out of wedlock; the parish record only records him as "dreng" (male child) of Søren Peter Jørgensen and Maria Johanne Sørensen. Family tradition notes that is name is "Niels Christian", but there is no official record to attest to that. He was born in 1878, in Horsens. Niels first few years were spent in the household of Maria's mother, Else Nielsen. With the general desire to emigrate to America, and fearing that they must take advantage of every possible opportunity, the family made the agonizing decision to send young Niels (four years old?) to Utah ahead of the others, in the company of friends. They were reunited when Else and Maria arrived in Utah in 1885. Niels first lived with Grandmother Else in Moroni, but he was a "difficult" child who ended up staying with other families in the area. When his mother married Hans Madsen and moved to Idaho, they sent for Niels. He went, but the arrangement didn't work out and Niels essentially set out on his own.

At some point during this period, he chose to call himself "Niels Peterson", and that is how he was subsequently known. (Both his marriage license, in 1907, and his naturalization certificate, in 1918, give this name.) Niels married in 1907 to Mabel Stoddard, and they had three children. Niels was never baptized as a child, and he was estranged from the Church for a number of years. However, he was baptized in 1922 and became an upstanding member. He occasionally corresponded with his half-sister Emma and eventually with his mother Maria. Both Emma and Maria wrote his name "Nels", and Emma is known to have pronounced it that way (short "e" instead of long). It is unknown why they used this variation on his name. As a consequence, the Lauper family have usually referred to him as "Uncle Nels".

Niels is known to have visited his half-sister Emma Vissing Lauper on at least two occasions: once in 1902, at Mercur, Utah, where he presented the photograph album that would become well-known in the Lauper family. He also visited Emma when she was recovering in the hospital at Tremonton, after the birth of her youngest son Ralph, in 1916.

Niels and Mabel, 1907
Niels Peterson and Mabel Stoddard, married 1907 at Burton, Idaho
Niels and family resided for a number of years at St. Anthony, Idaho, where Niels even became a member of the City Council. In 1953, wife Mabel writes: "My husband is very good to me and I am a semi-cripple. He has no bad habits, many nice friends. He is a fine brother, and even though he seldom writes, he talks of Emma often." Niels retired in 1956 and they moved to Burley, Idaho, where he died in 1962.

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