Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Peder P. Moe - Short Biography

Peder Moe, North Dakota Pioneer

Peder Moe was born on September 28, 1858 in Hafslo, Norway. In 1864, at the age of six, he came to America with his parents, Peter Olsen Moe and Anna Augundsdatter Lad and a number of siblings. They first went to Black Earth, Wisconsin and then settled on Section One in the northeast corner of Town of Blue Mounds and just north of what would eventually become the village of Mount Horeb.

Peder Moe, about 1890.

Peder grew up on the family farm located on Section One in Town of Blue Mounds. The 1870 Federal Census shows six Moe children still at home with Peder being 11 years old. By 1880, he is 21 and boarding with the Samuel Thomson family in the Village of Mount Horeb. Both he and his host are listed as Blacksmiths. The 1990 Census shows Peder married to Maria with three young children, ages 1, 7, and 11. They are living in the Town of Vermont, with lies a bit northwest of the family homestead and Peder is noted to be farming. The 1899 and 1904 Plat Map of the Town of Vermont show the P.P. Moe farm on Section 20 and 21.

In 1887, Peder married Anna Maria Gjesme. She was born in Wisconsin to Knudt Gesme or Gjesme (b.1822,d.1902) and Margrete Larson (b.1829, d.1918) both of whom were born in Norway. Knut's parents were Ole Gjesme (b.1773, d.1839) and Abelone Alme (b.1788, d.1874). It is unclear exactly when this family came America but based on the records of the birth locations of Knudt's children, it was sometime between 1850 and 1854. They farmed in the Town of Blue Mounds and the Town of Vermont in Dane County, Wisconsin. Also of interest, the Gjesme family hailed from Hafslo in Sogn og Fjordane which is the same place the Moe family came from.

Peder Moe, age 11 on his parents farm in the 1870 Federal Census.

It is not know to this writer why, but in 1904, Peder would go west with a group of men via the railroad. This train carried 'land seekers' and Peder disembarked at the small town of Monango in Dickey County, North Dakota. Monango was founded in 1886 as a Milwaukee Road settlement as the railroad tried to entice folks to head west and settle along the line. At the time, the town had a population of around 200. Peder purchased 160 acres just west of town on Section 8 and 17 in Keystone Township. He then set about to bring his family from Wisconsin. His eldest son Arthur, only 16 at the time, can next via train with all of the family belongings, including household goods, farm machinery, livestock, and other essentials necessary to start farming. It has been noted that Peder was a trained blacksmith but he certainly new how to farm as he would have grown up farming at home in Blue Mounds. It is unclear exactly when the rest of the family joined him but it is certain that his wife and two remaining sons (ages about 5 and 11) would be in North Dakota soon after. It was reported that they had good success and abundant crops in the first few years. Everyone chipped in with Maria operating the binder while the rest of the family shocked grain. Homesteading was difficult and many families could not make a go of it and would often abandon their claim. Having success in their early years made it more likely that the farm could survive and the Peder Moe family seemed to benefit from that early success.

Form the 1909 Plat Map, the Peder Moe farm can be seen on Section 8
 and 17 in the Town of  Keystone and just west of Monango, North Dakota.

By 1913, the farm was thoroughly established with a nice group of farm buildings set in a grove of trees. Good years and bad years would follow. At one point, the barn blew down and had to be rebuilt. Some years later the house burned (at that time being rented out) and was also rebuilt. In 1923, the local bank failed which caused many hardships to people in the area. Peder and family where badly affected by this as he was a stockholder in the bank. Perhaps to help get through it all, Peder purchased a blacksmith shop which he operated for a few years. Sometime in the 1930's, with the kids grown and the parents getting older, the farm was sold. Peder and Maria would move into town and soon sell the backsmith shop and retire. Peder would die in 1941 at the age of 83. Maria would live to 85 and die in 1953. They are buried together at the Monango City Cemetery, along with their son Arthur.

A view of the prairie landscape of the Moe farm. The farm starts
about right at the crop line in the near distance. The tree line in
the far distance (top right) is at the western border of the farm and
also marks the location of the Monango Cemetery. 

Peder and Maria had three children, all boys and all born in Mount Horeb area.
  • Son Arthur Clarence (b.1888, d.1919) married Vivian Wyckoff (b.1889, d.1980) in 1911. They had two children, Mary (b.1912, d.2011) and James (b.1915, d.2007).  Arthur died as result of the great influenza pandemic. I have not found any record that indicates that Vivian ever remarried. Vivian's family traces back to colonial times in New Jersey.
Arthur Moe, son of Peder and Maria.

    • Arthur's son James served as a Captain in the 188th Field Artillery in France during World War II. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
James Moe, son of Arthur and Vivian, circa 1941.
  • Son Peter Amiel (b.1892, d.1979) married Kathryn Walton (b.1896, d.1987) in 1922, They had four children, Beverly (1924, d. 1925), Peter (b.1932), and twins Jean (b.1927) and Jane (b.1927). At some point, the family moved and settled in Santa Rosa, California. Peter and Kathryn are buried at North Hilmar Cemetery in Hilmar, California.
  • Son Milo Clifford (b.1899, d.1991) married Bernice Roth (b.1903, d.1992) in 1926. They had two children, Doris (b.1929, d.1977) and Karen (b.1941). Milo and Bernice settled in Spokane, Washington and are buried at Spokane Memorial Gardens.

Doris Moe, daughter of Milo and Karen.

Peder Moe family in the 1910 Federal Census

The outline of the Moe farm is clearly visible on Google Earth but it does not look like any of the farm buildings have survived. It is interesting to note that the cemetery is in the northwest corner of the Peder Moe property and it appears to be a very quiet place at the end of a long gravel road. Monango's population peaked in 1910s at less than 300 and today it is down to about 23. Most of the physical town has disappeared and what is left seems mostly in ruins and deserted, as has been the fate of many rural farming communities.

Peder and Anna, probably about 1938.

Additional Information:
Read about the complete Peterson / Moe saga here . . .
Read about Norwegian Naming Conventions here . . .

Research Notes: Some of the information for this post was found in a passage in a book titled: 'Monango - The Banner City 1886 to 1986' and posted on Find-A-Grave. Other sources include the United States Census and other web-based sources and my own personal family information.

This is one of a series of short biographies of individual ancestors. These will be undertaken, from time-to-time, when enough information becomes available about an individual.

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