William C. Christensen, now living retired at Topeka, had well earned a niche in the honorable and industrious citizenship of Kansas. He was one of the real upbuilders of western Kansas, and his family played a specially notable part in the development of Cloud County.
A native of Denmark, he was born November 7, 1857. At the age of eight years he was brought to this country by his parents Stephen and Anna Christensen. They settled in Freeborn County, Minnesota, where they lived on the frontier and where the mother died. The father married again and in 1870 brought his family to Kansas, locating in Cloud County. The home was twelve miles west of the present site of Concordia. Cloud County was then practically on the frontier. There was a Swedish settlement near Lake Sibley. The Christensen quarter section had as its nearest white neighbor a family living four miles to the east. Four miles west was a temporary camp of a band of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians. The permanent camp of those Indians was about twenty miles away on White Rock Creek. The first home of the Christensen family in Kansas was a typieal sod house. It was built into the side of a hill. The Christensens had no trouble with the Indians, though the red men had committed some depredations, including the stealing of a white woman, about the time the Christensen family located in Kansas. After about two years Stephen Christensen replaced his sod house with a substantial home built of the limestone which is found in such great abundance in that section of the state. All the wood material that entered into the house was hauled by a team of oxen from Waterville, a distance of some seveaty miles from Concordia. Stephen Christensen was well fitted for battling with the circumstances of a new country. He was hard working, industrious, a devout Christian and a force of moral uplift in his community. He was strictly temperate, and was an active member of the Baptist Church. While living in Minnesota be became a naturalized American citizen, and while never an office seeker he steadfastly supported the republican ticket. His industry and economy enabled him to accumulate considerable property, and at one time he owned 1,400 acres, all well improved and well stocked. Stephen Christensen died in 1892, leaving to his family and descendants an honored name. By his first marriage there were seven children, four sons and three daughters. He had no children by his second wife.
During the first eight years of his life spent is Denmark, William C. Christensen had some limited school advantages. After coming to the United States he lived in communities where book learning was less esteemed than practical ability to cope with necessitous circumstances. Therefore he seldom attended school when there was work fitted for his strength and ability. He remained at home with his father until he was twenty-one.
At the age of twenty-two he and a brother drove to the San Juan mining district of Colorado, and there undertook a contract for the delivery of a certain quality of wood to a quartz mill. They had completed their contract when winter set in, and they then returned overland to Kansas by the same route they had taken going out. They brought with them about $1,000 which they had earned in Colorado, and this money they invested in school lands. That was the beginning of the notable prosperity of the Christensen brothers. From time to time they added new purchases, and at the present time William C. owned as his share 420 acres in Cloud County, a part of which is the original homestead preempted by his father. In addition Mr. Christensen owned a tenth interest in the Jamestown State Bank, which he helped organize and of which he was at one time a director.
Years of hard and unremitting toil and battling with many privations gave to Mr. Christensen and his noble wife a good share of material prosperity. Thus in their later years they have been able to take life somewhat more leisurely. Some years ago they visited the World’s Fair at St. Louis and spent the greater part of that year in the old home in Denmark. After returning to this country they located in Topeka, where they built a fine home at the edge of the city, where Mr. Christensen had twenty-acres of land. In that home and in looking after his little suburban farm he now finds ample occupation.
In 1882 Mr. Christensen married Lottie E. Burnes. At her death in 1886 she was survived by two danghters: Alice and Blanche. The daughter Alice had been a successful school teacher in Kansas for a number of years. The daughter Blanche is now an office assistant in Kansas City.
In 1888 Mr. Christensen married his present wife, Mary E. Eskelsen. A republican in politics, Mr. Christensen had never held public offices except those in his home township in Cloud County. For fourteen years while a resident of Cloud County he was a member of the school board.