English version:


 whose members emigrated from Denmark, where they  came from the city Vrensted in Jutland, to Dagmar in Montana. Click on the two picture files below. After the pictures you can read their personal stories told in 1970 to the Sheridan County Historical Society.

Statue of Liberty greeting arriving immigants as their ship enters

New York harbour.

The Sundsted family story is divided into two parts:



The Sundsted family story has been created by Gitta Bechshøft in Denmark in collaboration with her cousin, Peri Kaae in Amerika. Both have supplied a wealth of family photographs (copied) from albums beloning to their own branch of the extended family tree. The pictures are arranged in chronological order, including a description of the content as well as biographical information about the persons in the picture.

The files appear on: WWW.VRENSTED-HISTORIER.DK managed by Jens Otto Madsen, who over the years has written, collected and published hundreds of local stories and articles in a series of books available in bookstores,  libraries as well as on the internet.

This photo shows the 6 Sundsted brothers and sisters, who came to the US around the turn of the century. They first went to Racine in Wisconsin, and a few years later, they homesteaded in Dagmar, Montana.

Back row, fom left:  Four brothers –  Eric, Anton, Chris and Thomas Christensen Sundsted. Front row: Two sisters – Marie and Kathrine. (Photo ca. 1906)

 Click on the link for photos and text:



EARLY YEARS IN AMERICA – Life sketches told by members of the Danish Sundsted family

The following stories and information about the Sundsted Family – early years – has been submitted by a descendant, Peri Kaae (more info below) in the interest of keeping the family memories and stories alive.

The stories come from A collection of written stories for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, 1970. The Sheridan’s Daybreak was a document created by the county’s Historical Society with the intention of collecting and documenting the history of the early pioneers who settled the area.  A couple of stories from family letters have also been included which show the ties between the families, some living several states away.

Christen Christensen Sundsted

Life Sketch: by Niels Christensen Sundsted, son of Christen Christensen Sundsted, for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

My father, commonly known as C.C. Sundsted, came to what was then known as Racine Valley in the spring of 1908, after reading articles about Dagmar in the Danish-language newspaper, “Dannevirke” and “Den Danske Pioneer”. During the summer he constructed a house consisting of three rooms, a kitchen and clothes room. It was the only house in the neighborhood constructed of wood which had to be hauled by wagon from Culbertson.

My mother, Ane Marie, and I arrived on October 19, 1908, my sixth birthday. My father was born in Denmark and his first wife died in childbirth there. He immigrated to Racine, Wisconsin in the 1890’s. So many other people came from Racine to northeastern Montana that the community was called Racine Valley.

My cousins, Anton, Erik and Katrine, had homesteaded there in 1907. In 1909, my half-sister, Magdalene, and her husband, Christian Johansen, and cousin Marie also arrived and homesteaded in Racine Valley. My brother, Thomas, also arrived in 1910, but returned to Racine after about three years. My father’s homestead was 160 acres and he bought 160 acres of state school land adjoining the homestead. One of our neighbors was a man named Johnsen, who was a Danish Army officer and was known by the name “Obersten”, a nickname meaning First Lieutenant.

A schoolhouse was built on his land about 1912. It was known as the Lew Wallace School, and I attended school there. Johnsen sold out and returned to Denmark in 1913. After dark we always kept a lamp burning in our front room window. Our house was located so a light could be seen many miles to the south. People used the light as a landmark, especially when they were coming home from Culbertson with a load of supplies. On several occasions Indian families made night camp about a quarter mile from our house by a small waterhole. They would come to the house for various articles and my father believed in being friendly with them. Community activities mostly centered around the Danish Church at Dagmar. My father was president of the congregation for a time. My father died in 1921, and I now live in

Hans Christian ”Chris” Johansen

Life Sketch: by Hans Christian ”Chris” Johansen’s son, Carl Lehn Johansen (1911 – 1970)  for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Chris Johansen was born in Skovgaard, Jylland, Denmark in 1882 and came to the United States in 1899. Magdalene Christensen was born in Vernstad [Vrensted] , Jylland, Denmark in 1879. Because there were so many Christensens, the family changed their name to Sundsted, except Mother, who kept the original name.

She met Dad while she was teaching school in Iowa and they were married in Racine in 1905. Their first two children, Elsine and Agnes, were born in Racine.

In the spring of 1908, Dad and his father-in-law, Christian Sundsted, decided to take advantage of the Homestead Act. They filed on pieces of adjoining land some seven miles southeast of Antelope. They built a small frame house on the Sundsted land, began to erect a sod shack on our place and then went back to Racine for the winter. In the spring of 1909 they brought their families out to the Montana prairie.

Mother and Dad, with the two little girls, lived with Grandpa Sundsteds until the two room, two window, sod shack could be completed. I (Carl) was born in 1911; Chris in 1913; a daughter who lived only two months in 1917; and a daughter, Helen, in 1918.

NOTE: Hans Christian ”Chris” Johansen (b. 28.10.1882 Skovgaard – d. 12.4.1944 Sheridan Montana) . Emigrated to the USA 1899. On 19. juli 1905 Hans got married to Magdalene (Maggie) Johansen (born Christensen Sundsted) in Racine, Wisconsin, USA – 5 children.

Sundsted Family

By Jens Sundsted for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Erik was born in 1880 and Anton in 1882.  They homesteaded nine miles northwest of Dagmar in 1907.  Katrine (1887) homesteaded in 1908.  Marie (1886) took her homestead in 1910.  Thomas (1889) and their father, Knud (1840) came also that year with Marie.  Grandpa Knud died in 1911 and was buried in the Nathanael Lutheran Cemetery of Dagmar; Grandma Karen had died in Denmark in 1898.  Grandpa Knud said when he came to Dagmar, “This is good soil.”

Of course, they all worked but it seemed like Erik was the foreman, Anton was the mechanic, Thomas was the bookkeeper, and Marie and Katrine were the cooks and housekeepers.  In 1912, Marie married Mikkel Poulsen so that left four.

In the first winters Erik and Katrine would stay and take care of the claim and Anton would go out to work to finance the family.  Thomas spent one winter going to school.

Erik broke 400 acres with a walking plow.  Later with Moguls, Titans and Fordson tractors they ended up wit 1900 acres broke to farm.  Erik said the Moguls were a junk pile, the Titans were worse, but the Fordsons were heaven.

Katrine said the boys and the hired men would run the Moguls quite a bit at night.  The next morning maybe the Mogul had stopped; Anton would ask, “Is it out of gas?”  “No,” was the answer.  Then it should go that Anton gave the flywheel a spin and away it went.

In 1912 they bought their own threshing rig, a Case 36” separator powered by their Mogul.  Erik said the Mogul was good for that.  Several of the cooks were Marie Jacobsen, Anna Petersen and Esther Strandskov.  In that time, they had several separators and threshed until 1926 when they bought a 16’ Case combine.  Uncle Erik said one fall they cut over 2200 acres between their own and custom combining.  One steady job each year was cutting Henry Gronvold’s crop.

I want to mention that truly the mother of the family was Katrine.  She took very good care of them through those years.

 Thomas and Ella Sundsted

By their son, Jens Sundsted for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Thomas Sundsted and Ella Johnsen were married in 1916.  Children born to their family were Johanna (Mrs. Arnie Rasmussen), Carl, Dorothy (Mrs. Lorin Hart), Edith (Mrs. Erling Romstad/Harold Blair), Jens, Anna (Mrs. Russel Conway/Chet Sorenson) and, some time later Carol (Mrs. Henry Stokke).  Their wedding dance was held in James Johnson’s hayloft and Aage E Christen’s orchestra furnished the music.  It rained so hard that night that Aage and his group had to leave their instruments until the next day.

In 1912, Thomas bought and proved up the homestead of Mikkel Poulsen and that is where he and mother lived and raised their family.  Their house had been built in 1915 by Johannes Nielsen.  It had been built as a Sundsted Company house and it was planned by Uncle Erik.  Katrine Sundsted lived with them until 1926 when she married Jim Kaae.  Anton and Erik lived with them off and on, too, especially in the winter, until Anton married and Erik moved to his own home.

Mother tells of her birthday on Sunday, March 14, 1920.  It started as a mild day; the weather had been warm and the water was running in the coulees under the snow.  Many neighbors had come to help her celebrate.  Later that afternoon it started to rain; the wind went into the northwest and it started to blow and snow.  Willie and Grandpa Johnsons left and got home OK after tipping over in one of the wet coulees but 30 more had to stay.  The blizzard kept on for three days nights and two days and it wasn’t until Wednesday that they could all go home.  They ran out of potatoes but they baked break and pancakes and had a lot of eggs to eat.

During the storm Anton and Hansine Jorgensen felt very bad because they had eight fresh cows at home that didn’t get fed or milked those 2 ½ days.  Niels Sorensen’s had left some windows open in their house so the snow and dirt had blown in all that time.

Of course I have many things to remember Dad for, but I will just mention one.  The weather had been bad one summer and the crops weren’t doing so well, and at this particular time I felt kind of bad.  He told me, “It takes all kinds of weather to raise wheat.”  That comment has cheered me up many times since then. (Dad died in 1964 and mother now lives in the Pioneer Manor in Plentywood. )

Anton Sundsted

By Anton Sundsteds wife, Helga Sundsted for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Anton and I, Helga Schultz, were married in November of 1922.  We made our home on the place where Carl Sundsted now lives.  Here is where our first three children were born:  Erik, Knud (died at four years) and Carl (died at three).  In the spring of 1928 when the Sundsted Brothers decided to farm separately, we traded land with Erik Sr., the land that Erik, Anton, Katrine and Marie homesteaded.  Here we built a new house and our last three children were born: Karna (Mrs. John “Jack” Town), Doris (Mrs. Arnold Larsen) and Anton (Tony).

Just to mention one incident, I will tell how Anton taught me to drive a Ford.  One evening we were coming home; not many roads were graded and we were driving on one that wasn’t.  We were coming along in our old Model T as nice as you please until we came ta low place full of water.  We’d crossed it before but not this time; the Ford sunk in and we were stuck.  We talked for a while about how to get out.  I insisted I couldn’t or wouldn’t drive a Ford (my dad had an Overland that I was used to driving).  “well,” Anton said, “the only way to get out of this is if you get over in my place and drive and I’ll get out and push.”  And he got out – nothing for me to do but obey orders.  I started up and with a push and a lift from Anton I landed on dry land.  From that day on I have been able to drive a Ford.

(Note: Among other things Anton was known for was his mighty strength.  Many took joy in watching him if they could talk him into demonstrating any feat that required strength.  One day he was at Grayson’s store in Antelope.  There among other pieces of equipment sat a big cast-iron flywheel gas engine.  They had to know if Anton could stop that if it were started.  The engine was started and after some encouragement, Anton got a gunny sack to protect his hands.  Then with his shoulder and his hands he bore down on the flywheel.  The engine went slower and slower and finally with one final cough it died.) I now live on the farm as does my son, Erik, and his family.  Erik farms the land.  Anton died in 1964.

Erik Sundsted, Sr.

By family friend, Henry Jorgensen for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Erik Sundsted, Sr. built two living monuments to himself in the Dagmar community.  These were in the form of attractive groves of trees on the farmsteads now occupied by Erik, Jr. and by Carl Sundsted.  In the earlier years his first grove of trees was one of the finest in the area and was the site of large Fourth of July celebrations when people would assemble in the trees for picnic lunches, speeches and lusty singing.  Then would follow baseball games, horseshoe playing and all forms of races with case prizes for the winners.

Erik was one of a number of bachelors in the community who never married.  His birthday was one of the big events of the year.  Ladies from the community would descend on his house, which incidentally he kept in immaculate condition and great quantities of food would be brought and served by them to the assembled guests.  With space being somewhat limited the men were relegated to the large garage where they spent the evening playing penny-ante and “seventsel,” a game they apparently had brought with them from the old country.

A spirit of generosity to others often characterized Erik.  I recall one winter when I was in need of housing for my family.  Erik’s house on the farm was unoccupied at the time and I inquired about its availability for us.  To this he readily consented.  When I offered to pay rent for use of the place, he not only flatly refused to accept money for this but also refused to accept anything for the supply of coal in the basement which he had suggested that I use.  Erik now lives in the Nursing Home in Plentywood

Jim Kaae

By Jim Kaae for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

My family and I arrived at Dagmar in the spring of 1918.  My first recollection is when my emigrant railroad car arrived in Antelope from Clifton, Kansas.  I had to pay $200 more before they would allow me to unload my stuff.  The agent promised to try to help me get the extra money back.  The extra charge was because they didn’t rout it right and it was overweight because the car they sent was a stock car with two or three feet of frozen manure in the bottom.  I was unable to get this out so I laid canvas and some hay on top of it and piled in my furniture and machinery.

Several of my near neighbors had come into town, so they helped me unload and haul the stuff out.  It was a beautiful sunny day and snow was disappearing fast; so as fast as we could get the sled loaded, they struck out for home.  I moved some alfalfa hay into a shed at Mr. Courtney’s and then loaded up my lumber wagon with different things.

I started for home and all went well until I got to the coulee east of where Emil Grimsrud used to live.  It was filled with snow and water.  I got out in the middle and there the wagon went down to the hubs.  I got the ponies unhitched and on dry land.  When I got the wagon unloaded, I tied some old chain harnesses together with baling wire onto the wagon tongue and snaked the wagon out.  By the time I got the wagon reloaded it was dark.  The only time I had been over the road was that morning.  I worried a little bit but I let the ponies go their own way and we got home in good shape.

Niels Rungborg and Jens Holm had helped me unload, but they left long before I did.  They still weren’t home when I got there and I hadn’t seen them on the road.  By golly, those two old gezards had gotten themselves lost on the way.  Finally they saw Conradsen’s light and had to go find out where they were.

The day after that venture we got our furniture in the house.  My family at the time was my wife, Velma (Stay), and son, Kenneth, born in 1914.  Another son, Glenn, was born in June of 1918.

In the fall of 1917 I bought Alberti Andersen’s homestead quarter for $5000.  In 1920 the wheat price dropped from $2 to $1 per bushel.  I well remember because I had been out threshing while there was a chance to earn a dollar.  I had harvested 400 bushels of which I could have sold for $2 per bushel, but by the time I was through threshing, I had to take $1.  However, I made $400 threshing so came out even and got a lot of good exercise.

In 1923 I had the misfortune of losing my dear wife.  Our son, Velmar, who had born that year was taken and raised by relatives in Kansas.

About 1923 we started a fair in Dagmar.  The Fair Board consisted of Mrs. Anton Winther, Mrs. Hjalmar Madsen and myself.  Our displays were mainly garden produce such as potatoes, cabbage, carrots, etc.  Our only premiums were ribbons which the Dagmar Store generously paid for, besides letting us use a building to display our stuff in.

I married Katrine Sundsted in 1926.  We bought Daniel Pedersen’s place which had a fairly good house and other buildings on it.  Our sons, Knud and Erling, were born in 1927 and 1931.

In the spring of 1931, it was dry and windy.   Glenn was discing, Kenneth was seeding, and I was picking rocks when a big dark cloud rolled in from the northwest toward evening.  The storm struck and my horses got lost on the way home because their eyes were filled with the dirt.  The boys and I couldn’t start the Model T truck because the wind had pushed thistles and dirt solid under the hood.

In the fall of 1944 Kenneth got married.  We rented him the farm and built ourselves a new house.  We stayed on the farm until the fall of 1955 when we bought property in Plentywood where I am now sitting writing my recollections of what took place in the north Dagmar community over the years since 1918.

Mikkell and Marie (Sundsted) Poulsen

By their daughter, Ann Poulsen Gleason for the Sheridan’s Daybreak, Sheridan County Historical Association, 1970.

Mikkel Poulsen was born in 1886 in Tim, Denmark.  As a young brick mason, immigrated to San Francisco, California in 1906.  He came to northeaster Montana in 1908 to claim a homestead for his young brother, Cristian, who was unable to come as early as required.  This homestead was located where Jens Sundsted’s farm is today.  However, soon after Christian arrived, he became ill with typhoid fever and died.  Marie Sundsted, who had a homestead a mile west of his, came over to help Mikkel take care of his brother during his illness.

Marie Sundsted was born in Denmark in 1886.  She worked in Racine, Wisconsin a few years before joining her brothers, Erik and Anton, and homesteading in Dagmar.  Their father, Knud Sundsted, sister Katrine and brother Thomas also joined them in Dagmar.  When Marie came to Culbertson by train, her brothers met her there in a sled.  They informed her that the big beautiful hat she was wearing was not suitable for this country.

In 1912, Mikkel Poulsen and Marie Sundsted were married by Pastor Svend Jorgensen.  Due to a clause in the Homestead Act, they were unable to keep both homesteads when they married.  They decided to keep Marie’s, which is located where Erik S. Sundsted farms today.  Marie’s brother, Thomas, got Mikkel’s land.  Three children were born to them on this homestead.  Knud C. Poulsen was born in a sod shack, their first home.  Karen Poulsen Pedersen and Ann Poulsen Gleason were born in a little two room house they had built.  In 1918 they sold their homestead to the Sundsted brothers and bought a farm five miles northeast of their homestead where there was more room for expansion.  Kenneth Kaae has their farm now.  When they retired in 1956, they were farming over 200 acres.

Mikkel Poulsen’s trade as a brick mason was put into good use.  He was often called upon to build chimneys and cisterns for people in the community.  During the Depression, he went back to his trade which enabled him to keep up expenses on the farm and avoid going on relief.

The Poulsens were active members of the Nathanael Lutheran Church, the Danish Brotherhood, and other community interest.  Mikkel Poulsen worked hard to get rural electrification for the community and was one of the original board members of the Sheridan Electric Cooperative, serving from 1941 – 1948.  In 1956 they retired and moved to Plentywood.  Mikkel Poulsen passed away in 1963 and Marie still resides in Plentywood.

“Emigrating – Denmark to the USA: A Story of our Father, Christian Peterson, son of Peter C. (Pedersen) Peterson and Metta C. Sundsted Peterson”

( Written by Alice Peterson Berger in a letter to Peri Kaae in 1991.)

The is quite a story concerning our father’s emigrating to this country.  Our grandfather, Peter C. Pedersen left Denmark for the U.S. before our grandmother Metta C. Sundsted Pedersen followed one year later.

Our grandmother (Metta) accompanied by her sister (Christiana) was in Hamburg, at the dock with her two little boys, Christian and Thomas, ready to board ship.  When Christiana saw the conditions on board, she could not see how Metta could handle those two on that ship, so our father, little two-year-old Chris stayed with her, until a later date.  Grandma Metta reluctantly agreed, but as Christiana had no children of her own, she would no doubt have time to take good care of him.

So it was ten years later when our father Christian Peterson, then 12 years old, finally left Denmark to join his parents in S.W. Iowa.  In the meantime, he had lived with his Aunt Christiana as also did his cousin Maggie (daughter of Uncle Christian Sundsted), because his first wife, Maggie’s mother, had passed away.  Therefore our father and cousin Maggie (first cousins) grew up almost as brother and sister.

It was with Uncle Christian Sundsted and his second wife, Ane Marie, and their children, our father 12 years old, joined and they came together to the U.S.  They no doubt traveled as far as Racine where our father left them to travel on to Iowa.  Our father thru the years, was very close to Uncle Christian and Aunt (Ane) Marie.  He kept contact with them in Racine and finally in Montana.

 “The Visit of Uncle Christian, Aunt Ane Marie and Maggie, her Husband and Kids to Iowa Around 1915 or 1916”

(Written by Alice Peterson Berger in a letter to Peri Kaae in 1991.)

They drove down from Montana in a Ford car (as we recall) to visit all of us, namely – Our grandma Metta and grandpa Peterson, our dad, Christian Peterson, our Uncle Thomas Peterson and all of us kids. We loved all of them. Great Uncle Christen looked so much like our grandmother Metta, his sister. His wife, Ane Marie was so nice, so pleasant. I was just a kid then, but I realized she knew my dad as a small boy in Denmark, so any little stories she knew would be of interest to me. She sure did.

The cutest one being: He had made a toy merry-go-round, quite an accomplishment for a young boy, but when all finished, it would not run.  In her Danish, which I could well understand, she said: “Hi blew sa gol, hi rooken e stoker” (English phonics for the Danish .. Ha! Ha!) He became so angry he tore it to pieces!

Of course they were all special to my Dad.  As said, he had crossed the ocean to America with Uncle Christian, Aunt Ane Marie, his daughter Maggie, and the rest of their children.  My Dad and cousin Maggie had been raised practically as brother and sister by their Aunt Christiana.


My name is Peri Kaae, a grandson of Katrine Sundsted Kaae and Jens Peter Nielsen Kaae. My grandmother, one sister, and three brothers were among the first settlers in Dagmar, a Danish community established in Northeast Montana in the early 1900’s.  My parents, Knud and Elinor (Poulsen) Kaae raised three children, Valeri (b. 1957), Brian (b. 1958) and me (b. 1963) on the same farm my grandparents had purchased when they were married in 1926.  My parents, grandparents, and great aunts and uncles instilled a sense of pride in my heritage and passed along several family traditions that they brought with them from Denmark.

I am happy to share recollections and pictures from my grandmother’s photo albums, taken in Denmark or from the family’s early homesteading years, in a collaborative effort with my cousin, Gitta Bechshøft. I have also included the original stories that were written about the Sundsted families in “Sheridan’s Daybreak,” a book published by the Sheridan County Historical Society in 1970 to preserve the memories of those who homesteaded there.

If you are interested in learning more about the Sundsted family who settled in America, or you are a distant relative who would like to introduce yourself, I would enjoy hearing from you!