Sam (Søren Kristian) Fredricksen Oral History Interview, 1983  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Fredrickson, Sam (Søren Kristian)
1983 (inclusive)
3 file folders
2 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Sam (Søren Kristian), a Danish immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
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Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Sam Fredricksen was born on September 23, 1885 in Auning, Jutland, Denmark to Jens Kristian Fredricksen and Kristine Rasmussen. He was one of ten children, and the family lived on a farm, where they grew rye and potatoes. The church was eight blocks away from Sam's house, and the family attended often. After Sam was confirmed at age fourteen, he began to learn how to bake from his uncle who owned a bakery. He worked there until his uncle passed away two years later. Sam then began farming and met his wife, Margaret Petersen, on one of the farms he worked for. Margaret was a cook. They were married April 28, 1923 and left for America on May 1. To avoid the quota in the United States, Sam and Margaret got papers for both Canada and the United States, settling in Calgary, Alberta first. In Calgary, Sam continued farming and later got in touch with his uncle in Granite Falls, WA. Sam's uncle had a threshing outfit, and Sam began working for him. Sam's uncle eventually went back to Denmark, and Sam began working in the woods at that time. He did this for two years, earning enough money to buy a house for himself and Margaret. Sam also worked on a dairy farm for six months in the Seattle area but later returned to Granite Falls, as did his uncle. Upon his return, Sam's uncle bought back a bakery he had once owned, and Sam began working for him once again. In 1934, Sam got the bakery after his uncle passed away and ran the business successfully until 1941. He and Margaret then moved to Everett, WA, where Sam owned the Colby Bakery until 1954 and a wholesale bakery in Granite Falls. After he sold his bakery, he worked for a friend's landscaping operation for twelve years and then did landscaping on his own. Sam finally retired when he was eighty-five years old. In addition to work, Sam has been very active in church and Danish organizations, including the Danish Brotherhood, the Eagles, Danish Club, the Danish drama club "Harmonien," and the Danish folkdance group. Sam has also served as the Washington correspondent for Bien, a Danish newspaper printed twice a week in Los Angeles. Sam's heritage has been very important to him. He has made five trips back to Denmark, and he and Margaret have maintained Danish traditions within their household. Their only child, Ann, speaks Danish.


Full Name: Sam Fredricksen. Baptized Name: Søren Kristian Fredricksen. Father: Jens Kristian Fredricksen. Mother: Kristine Rasmussen. Paternal Grandfather: Nils Christiansen. Paternal Grandmother: Anne Christiansen. Maternal Grandfather: Søren Rasmussen. Maternal Grandmother: Mina Haugaard. Brothers and Sisters: Mina Fredricksen, Karl Fredricksen, Petra Fredricksen, Hjerolf (?) Fredricksen, Evind Fredricksen, Dagny Fredricksen, Ester Fredricksen. Spouse: Margaret Petersen. Children: Anne Fredricksen.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Sam Fredricksen on January 10, 1983 in Seattle, Washington. It contains information on family background, marriage, emigration, occupation, and Danish heritage. The interview also includes two photographs of Sam at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in English.

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Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
218, side 1 018: Soren Kristian Fredricksen
Changed his name to "Sam" when he took out his citizenship papers. He's known as "Uncle Sam." Born in Auning, Jutland (Jylland) Denmark.
218, side 1 090: PARENTS
Jens Kristian Fredricksen and Kristine Rasmussen. They were both from Auning. Had a farm there. That farm had been part of a big estate at one time. The people who ran the small farms in the area then were sharecroppers. Sam's family grew rye and potatoes. Had some grazing land for cattle. Sold milk to the creamery in town. Milked about 6-7 cows. Had a team of horses, hogs, chickens. Grew almost everything they needed, fruit trees, vegetables.
218, side 1 169: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Ten children in the family. Mina, Karl, died when 17 from the Spanish flu, Petra lives in Aarhus. Has visited Sam six times. Her four children have also visited. Mina lives in Copenhagen. Hjernolf (?) lives in Helsingør across from Helsingborg, Sweden. Had three trucks for transporting goods before he retired. Evind had a little farm outside of Aarhus. Sister born after Petra died in early '62. Dagny passed away in 1979. She was a foot doctor in Copenhagen. The last two were twins. One died when three months old. The other, Sam's baby sister is still living in Aarhus. He was a machinist. Sister's name is Ester.
218, side 1 294: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal - Soeren Rasmussen and Mina Haugaard. They were farmers. Paternal - Nils and Anne Christiansen. They had a farm in the area too. Doesn't remember paternal grandparents. Grandfather died when Sam was young. Grandmother lived in the town where Sam was born. She was 92 when she passed away. That was long after Sam had come to America.
218, side 1 373: CHILDHOOD
Started working on the family farm when seven years old. Fed the cattle.
218, side 1 380: SCHOOL
Different then than now. Were only four grades when he went to school. The first two grades went to school two days per week during the winter and four during the summer. The last two grades went to school four days during the winter and two days during the summer. The older kids were of more use during the summer.
218, side 1 409: CHURCH
Was about eight blocks from Sam's house. Was a beautiful church. His family went to church often. Grandmother insisted on it.
218, side 1 423: CHRISTMAS
Wasn't always easy for his mother to go to church because she had to do all of the cooking. She did go on Christmas Day. They had a big meal on Christmas Eve. Had pork roast, ribs from the hog, sausage (medisterpoelse), red cabbage and brown potatoes. Had rice pudding afterwards. Put an almond in the pudding. There was a prize for the one who got the almond. Mother wold always have a present for each child. She could knit quite well.
218, side 1 499: BAKING
After Confirmation, Sam began to learn to bake. Had an uncle who had a bakery. Started when fourteen. Baked a lot of pumpernickel bread. Had a big oven for baking. When done baking at night, filled the oven with peat. Used a piece of paper to get the fire going in the morning. When the peat burned down, the bread was ready to go in. Went through 800-1200 pounds of rye meal a day. Couldn't pound it by hand. Had horses that drove the shaft of the "round machine." Put the horses in the barn when the meal was ground. Working the rough bread "took the hide out of your hands." Couldn't work with shoes or socks on. Wore wooden shoes when hauling fuel to the oven, otherwise barefoot. The uncle who ran the bakery died two years after Sam started working there. Sam's uncle, who had only two years left before he would become a building contractor, said he was going to America and would send for Sam when he had the money. He died of the Spanish flu before he left for America. This was in 1911.
218, side 1 693: FARMING
Had to quit in the bakery. Started working at different farms. Liked farming. Managed a 600-acre farm just before he came to America.
218, side 1 710: MEETING SPOUSE
Met her on one of the farms. She was a cook there. Had to cook for 30-40 people on a farm in those days. She had a few helpers. She was a good cook. Her name was Margaret Petersen.
218, side 1 733: MARRIAGE
They wanted to go to America. Sam still had it on his mind. Another uncle of his went over, promising to send for Sam. But then WWI started and he couldn't go over. Got married in the church on April 28, 1923. Left for America on May 1, 1923. Got married in the church in Skanderborg, about 20 kilometers south of Aarhus. Had the wedding party at the home of his wife's parents.
218, side 1 784: LEAVING FOR AMERICA
Had tickets to go to Canada. There was a quota in the US when Sam and his wife left Denmark. In order to beat it, they got papers to get them into both the US and Canada. Settled first in Calgary, Canada where there was no quota, then went to the US from there.
218, side 1 823: TRIP OVER
Some complications. Came on the Canadian Pacific. Started from Liverpool, England. Had just crossed the Irish Sea when a steam pipe broke. Went back to Belfast, Ireland. There were three other Canadian Pacific Liners in Belfast., The 1200 passengers on their boat were transferred to the other three boats. Ran into a storm on first night at sea. Moved slowly. Were going to Quebec. Ran into fog as they approached Newfoundland. Ship didn't move for forty-eight hours. Icebergs all around when fog lifted. Went up the St. Lawrence to Quebec. The first class passengers went on to Montreal. The others got off in Quebec. Had to go through immigration. Had to have $20 to come into Canada.
Didn't feel good. Had the feeling that it might be the last time he would see his parents. Took time to get over it. Neither he or his wife saw their parents again. His mother died in 1939. Father died in 1925 right after they had left. Wife father's passed away in 193. Her mother died in 1948. Sam and his wife didn't get back to Denmark until 1962.
Eastern Canada is quite rocky, The good land is quite a ways inland. Only rocks, woods, and lakes in Quebec. They were a little more satisfied when they moved to the prairie.
218, side 1 965: WORK
Had a job working on a farm. Got the job from Denmark. Worked 100 miles east of Calgary.
218, side 1 974: TRAIN RIDE TO ALBERTA
Immigration train was no good. No sleeping places. Had to sleep on benches. Not enough benches for everyone. Trains were dirty but there were facilities to wash up. No place to eat on the train. Trip lasted seven days. Had to buy provisions in Montreal. When the train stopped, one could get off and buy a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. Nothing to cook on the train except for a pot-bellied stove at the end of the car. Sam's wife used the silver coffeepot they got at their wedding for cooking coffee, tea, and eggs for herself, Sam, and the other twelve boys in the car. Sam still has the coffeepot. They were going to a town called Brooks. Someone was supposed to meet them but they came in the middle of the night. The depot engineer turned off the kerosene lamps and told them they could sleep on the benches. They were tired of sleeping on benches. Sam decided to go into town to find a place to spend the night. There were a lot of Orientals in Canada at that time. Saw only Chinamen, cowboys, and Indians. Sam was surprised to run into a Norwegian in the town. They had their luggage locked up at the station and the Norwegian helped them find a room. They slept for 14 hours. The lady at this place made them pancakes, potatoes, bacon, etc. Found a Swede who could talk to Sam and his wife. (Tape ends abruptly.)
218, side 2 065: FARMING IN CANADA
Swede said farm they're looking for was 40 miles away. They could get a ride with the mailman the next day. Sam didn't have much money. The lady at the hotel said they could eat and sleep there for two nights for $4.00. They got to the farm at the beginning of June and left for the US in the latter part of December. His wife cleaned the big farmhouse and Sam worked on the farm. They earned $50 a month and room and board. The farmer grew a lot of alfalfa. Many people from Tacoma and Seattle settled in that area. Met a farmhand on the neighboring farm who was an America. He asked Sam how much he was earning. He told Sam that he should earning $5 per day during the harvest season. Sam talked to his employer, Mr. Bend (?). He and his wife ended up getting $5.00 per day.
218, side 2 306: COMING TO THE U.S.
Got in touch with his uncle in Granite Falls, Washington, east of Everett. Took a train from Brooks, Alberta to Sumas, Washington. From there took a stage (a car with about six seats) to Everett and another stage to Granite Falls. Cost less than $10 for them to go from Sumas to Granite Falls.
218, side 2 386: LEARNING ENGLISH
Learned quickly. Wife had more trouble because she didn't get out of the house as much. Uncle had a "threshing outfit." Threshed for other people. Sam met a lot of people doing this. Would ask them what different things were called in English.
218, side 2 416: GRANITE FALLS, WASH.
Lived with uncle for three weeks. Then rented an "old shack." Uncle had a bakery. Wanted to go back to Denmark. At first wanted Sam to run it for him. Then decided to sell it. Said he could buy it back when he returned. Sam found work in the woods. Hard work. Helped get the logs on the trains, which would bring them to Snohomish where they would be dumped in the river. Did this for two years. Made good money. Bought a house within a year and a half. Paid $500 for it. Two houses on the property. A small house where a Swedish bachelor had lived and a larger house which he had rented out. Sam rented out the small shack to a moonshiner. Sam bought three more city lots for $7. Cleared the lots. Was going to raise chickens there.
218, side 2 547: MOONSHINE
While clearing the land, noticed a group of evergreens that had died. He cleared them out and discovered a big hole. There was a pipe running from the hole to the small shack. The renter had moved from the shack. Sam found several gallons of moonshine. The still wasn't there, but there were pipes for piping water in and pumps for pumping water out. Wrote about this in a Christmas issue of the Danish newspaper.
218, side 2 608: SEATTLE
Had heard about a Danish dairy farm in Seattle from Mr. Pallesen, a dairy farmer in Calgary, Canada. Pallesen had three hundred cows. Had about fifty horse-drawn wagons for delivering milk. Told Sam he could stay with Mikelsen (?), a dairy farmer in Seattle. Sam happened to know Mikelsen (?) from Denmark. Saw in an issue of the Danish newspaper that Mikelsen (?) was advertising for a milker. Sam wrote to him. Mikelsen (?) told Sam to come see him. Sam started milking for him. Had about sixty cows. Worked for about six months.
218, side 2 710: BAKING BUSINESS
Went back to Granite Falls. Worked in the woods for a while. Uncle bought back his bakery. Sam started working in the bakery. He wanted Sam to have the bakery. Sam got it in 1934, when his uncle passed away. Sam did pretty well for a few years. Had difficulties when WWII started. He needed three bags of sugar per month. Only got one and half. Closed the shop in Granite Falls. Moved to Everett, Washington in 1941. Baked in Everett and had an outlet in Granite Falls until 1954. Had a wholesale bakery. Had four trucks that would bring baked goods to the store. Earned commission. It was a good operation but too much work. Never worked less than eighteen hours a day. Got emphysema. Sold his baking business.
218, side 2 812: LANDSCAPING
Had a friend who did landscaping. Got a job from him. Worked for him for twelve years. Had a crew of four. His wife told him he was getting too old to work. It wasn't good for him to be outside during the winter.
218, side 2 835:
Did landscaping on his own for a couple of big estates in Highland (in Seattle?). The people there told him not to work himself to death. He could get help if he needed it. He had a man come and mow the lawn. Sam quit working there when he was 85.
218, side 2 870: FAMILY
Wife died in 1977. He has one daughter, Ann. She's married to Melvin Hallestad(?). They live in Seattle now. Have five children. He works for Time Oil Company now. Ann works in the eye clinic at Swedish Hospital.
218, side 2 911: CHURCH
Both Sam and his wife have been active. Sam has served on the church council several times. Was treasurer once. Helped build two Danish churches. In 1925, when he was working for the Danish man (dairy farmer?) he helped build St. Johannes Church. In 1955, when they moved back to Seattle, they built a new church on Finney Ave. across from Woodland Park.
218, side 2 944 : DANISH ORGANIZATIONS
Joined the Danish Brotherhood in 1925. Joined the Eagles in 1924. Has been president for the Danish lodge twice. President for the district lodge. Belongs to the Danish Club. Belongs to the Danish drama club, Harmonien and the Danish folkdance group.
218, side 2 972: TRIPS BACK TO DENMARK
Five trips. Has seen many changes in Denmark. Returned after thirty-nine years. There was nothing but dirt roads when he left. The country itself hasn't changed.
They spoke Danish at home. Daughter learned it too. Sam still cooks a lot of Danish food. He had his family over for Christmas Eve this year (1982) cooked traditional Danish food for his family. Has only been away from home at Christmas four times since his daughter was born. Went to daughter's house after his wife died.
218, side 2 1013: DANISH NEWSPAPER
Sam is correspondent from Washington for the Danish newspaper, Bien, printed once a week in Los Angeles. It's one hundred years old.
218, side 2 1032:
Speaks Danish.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Danish-Americans--Interviews
  • Danish-Americans--Northwest,Pacific--Social life and customs
  • Denmark -- Social conditions -- 1945-
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Ocean travel
  • Railroad travel
  • Personal Names :
  • Fredricksen, Ann
  • Fredricksen, Jens Kristian
  • Petersen, Margaret
  • Rasmussen, Kristine
  • Fredricksen, Sam (Søren Kristian)--Interviews (creator)
  • Corporate Names :
  • Canadian Pacific (Steamship)
  • Danish Brotherhood in America. Lodge 29 (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Harmonien (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Christiansen family
  • Fredricksen family
  • Haugaard family
  • Rasmussen family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Auning (Denmark)
  • Calgary (Canada)
  • Everett (Wash.)
  • Granite Falls (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Bakers and bakeries
  • Gardeners