Nels Anton Severin Sommer was born in Rosmus, Randers, Denmark on 21 May 1852 to Karen Nielsdatter Sommer. Karen told the pastor that Nels' father was a servant who had worked where she had, Peter Larsen Bonde. Nels took his mother's surname, Sommer.
Ane Marie Jonasen was born in Høver, Storring, Århus, Denmark on 26 Dec 1858 to master tailor, Anders Jonassen, and his wife, Jacobine Lærche Madsdatter. Ane Marie was the youngest of the couple's seven known children.
Nels was recorded in the census in 1860 living with his mother, step-father Mads Madsen, and two half-sisters, Madsine Marie and Ane Marie Jensine, in Balle, Rosmus, Djurs Sønder, Randers, Denmark in 1860, where his step-father was a day laborer.
Nels was recorded in the 1880 census working as a farm hand at Aarslevgaard in Aarslev by, Sønder Aarslev, Hasle, Aarhus, Denmark.
Nels had left rural Randers, an area northeast of Aarhus, before 1880, probably to find better work prospects. As well, having been born out-of-wedlock, he would always have been stigmatized in his local community. Moving away gave him a fresh start. In the 1880 census, Nels is living just a few miles away from Ane Marie, his wife-to-be.
Ane Marie was recorded in the 1880 census working as a servant at a large farm, Constantiborg #1, in Ormslev, Ning, Aarhus, Denmark. Her father had died the year before, and her mother died in 1880; I don´t know whether Ane Marie went to work as a servant before or after her mother´s death.
Nels Anton Severin Sommer and Ane Marie Jonasen were married in 1883. Nels was 31 and Ane Marie 25. I haven´t yet found their marriage record. They were not married in the city of Aarhus but probably in the parish where her family home had been located or in one of their parish churches.
Nels and Ane's first child, Carl, was born in Århus, Denmark on 30 Mar 1884 and christened at the cathedral in Århus 31 August 1884.
Nels and Ane Marie had their daughter, Andrea Jacobina Sommer, in Århus, Århus, Denmark on 29 Nov 1885. I do not have a record of her christening, but it was probably at the Århus cathedral like her brother.
Ane Marie Jonasen emigrated with the two children, Carl and Andrea, from Århus, Denmark, on the 25th of August, 1887. She was headed to Kirkland, Illinois, via Glasgow, Scotland; Larne, Ireland; and New York City, USA. The journey to New York lasted almost three weeks; the family arrived on the 14th of September. Nels had gone ahead of his family to get himself established, leaving for New York on the 16th of March 1887. Did he travel back to New York to meet them when their ship docked? I don't know, though it is possible.
A son, Frank Bernard Sommer, was born to Nels and Ane Marie in Kirkland, De Kalb, Illinois, USA on 12 Sep 1888, the first child of theirs to be born in the USA.
Before long, the family had moved to the nearby, larger city of Rockford, Illinois, where Mary Elizabeth Sommer was born to Nels and Ane Marie on 4 Jun 1890.
Dagmar Frances Sommer was born to Nels and Ane Marie in Rockford, Winnebago, Ill on 22 Aug 1893. Nels was working as a machinist around this time. The family was living at 1614 2nd Ave.
Her birth record states that she was the couple's sixth child but that only five were living. Nels and Ane must have lost a child before this date, though I know nothing about him/her.
Nels became a naturalized American citizen in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois on 31 Oct 1896. At the time, a married man's wife and children became naturalized when he did, so all family members born in Denmark became citizens at this time.
Edith Elaine Sommer was born to Nels and Ane Marie in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois on 4 Jun 1897.
Nels was still working as a machinist. Carl, though only 16, was already working full-time as a desk maker. Andrea, 14, was employed full-time as a knitter. Frank and Mary were in school, and the youngest children, Dagmar and Edith, were at home.
Nels and Annie had a son, Oscar, sometime after the 1900 census. He died young, and I don't know much about him.
Nels and Annie had purchased and moved into their own home at 1818 Charles St. by 1905. They lived there the rest of their lives, and various children of theirs lived there after them.
In 1910, Nels and Annie are shown in the census owning their home at 1818 Charles St. in Rockford. Nels is working as a machinist. Andrea, Mary, Dagmar and Edith are shown living at home, no employment mentioned. Carl and Frank have moved out.
In 1910, Carl is in the 2nd year of a 3-year stint in the US Navy. He is shown working as a carpenter's mate on the USS West Virginia docked in the Navy Yard at Mare Island, Solano, California.
Frank joined the US Army in 1909, signing up at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and serving until 1912, when he was discharged as a private in good standing at Ft. Riley, Kansas. In 1910 he was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.
Nels Anton Severin Sommer died suddenly after a six day illness from pneumonia contributed to by hepatitis, in Rockford, Winnebago, Illinois, USA on 13 Feb 1912. He was only 60. Edith, his youngest surviving child, was only 15.
His death left the family without a primary bread-winner. Annie, taking after her tailor father, became a dressmaker, and supported the family after this with a needle and thread.
On June 5th, 1917, all young men in the country registered for the draft in support of the US going to war in Europe. Frank was one of those who registered that day. The card says he was living in Rockford at the time, working at a dairy. He was married and had a wife (Marie) and child (Fern). His three years of service in the US Army, Artillery, are noted.
Carl was too old to register for the first round of draft registrations. The second registration in 7 Oct 1918 showed that he had moved to McCreary, Manitoba, Canada, where he was working as a farmhand.
Carl didn't stay in Canada long, however, as he was back in the US and living at home by the time of the 1920 census. His mother, Annie, is no longer working. He is noted as a woodworker at a sewing machine factory. His sisters, Dagmar and Edith, are both working on machines at a knitting factory.
By 1930, all of the children have married or left the house, and Annie is living alone at the 1818 Charles St. house, aged 71, no occupation.
Ane Marie Jonasen Sommer died 14 Mar 1940, a month before the 1940 census was taken. She died of throat cancer, but was also troubled by hardening of the arteries and alzheimer's; her mind became rather bad in the end.
Annie was buried beside her husband in Scandinavian Cemetery, Rockford, Winnebago, Ill on 18 Mar 1940. She was 81 and had lived 28 years after her husband's death.