Anton Gravesen


Danish immigrant, education, Danish businessman


Anton Gravesen (1870-1952) became a well-respected merchant in Tyler, Minnesota, and banker in Askov, Minnesota. This autobiographical excerpt, provided by his daughter, Dagmar Gravesen, first records his experiences as a young immigrant and then describes his fast rise as a successful businessman. It ends with his philosophical acceptance of his losses during the Great Depression. Gravesen was born on a small farm on the Jutland heath. The death of his mother when he was 10 made him selfreliant and industrious. He not only worked for his father but also hired out to neighbors and his uncles as a sheep and cow herder and farm helper. An omnivorous reader in his teens, he studied politics, and briefly joined with the Socialists, but soon he found they did not appeal to him. Inspiration came rather from Ernst Trier, leader of the Vallekilde H0jskole, which he attended for six months. As he later wrote of himself and his fellow students: "We realized that it mattered for good or for evil the part we took in the life of the country, and we were taught to strive for the ideal and exemplify it in all our deeds." Thus he dreamed of making Denmark "an earthly Paradise." To earn enough money to fulfill that dream, he sailed to America. But there he stayed. The excerpt has been arbridged and edited by Olga S. Opfell.