The importance of “e”

Ox Road South got a little love in the Washington Post’s Fairfax Weekly today.  Here’s the link

I appreciated the mention and the fact that the writer read up on me.  However, can the Post please spell my last name correctly?   Despite the fact nobody asked, here is the importance of “e” as in “Petersen.”

My grandfather Earle Alfred Petersen grew up in Marquette which is a speck of town on the Great Plains of western Nebraska  (Big Red fans holla at your boy!)

Grandfather Earle’s parents were immigrants from Denmark.  Arriving at Ellis Island, their last name was anglicized to “Petersen,” the standard name given to all incoming Danes.  From there, they migrated out West, although Earle’s father did return to Europe as a soldier with the AEF in World War I.   

Immigrant Danes inundated Nebraska in the early 20th century.  That’s why “Petersen” is one of the most common names in the state.  It is distinctly different from “Peterson,” which are the Swedish immigrants that settled in Minnesota and other points north. 

Back to our story …. Earle left Marquette to see the world.  He met a widow in Louisiana and married her, adopting her son George Chapman Gilbeau (nicknamed “Chap”).  My father John Petersen was born soon after. 

My dad went to high school in the suburbs of Chicago.  In college, where he worked weekends for a long-haul trucking company, he met a Virginia belle named Mary Livingston.  They married and moved back to Virginia a couple years later.  And it’s all been downhill from there!

I’m proud to be a “Petersen.”  We stick together. 

That’s the importance of “e.” 

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