The Three Amigos


Peter Jorgensen, Fred Nelson, and Chris Callesen, Seven Falls, South Cheyenne Canon, Colorado; digital image 2014, privately held by [personal information withheld], 2014.

This souvenir photograph features three mustachioed men in sombreros posing astride burros in front of a rugged western landscape. In 1911, Peter Jorgensen, Fred Nelson, and Chris Callesen of Yankton County, South Dakota, pictured here from left to right, ventured west to Seven Falls in the South Cheyenne Canon near Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado. I can’t know for sure what brought them west; I do know that, decades earlier, brothers-in-law Fred and Chris had traveled at least as far as the Black Hills to sell eggs to the miners.1 It’s possible that this trip to Colorado, however, was purely an opportunity for sightseeing and adventure, rather than business.

Fred_Nelson_Seven_Falls_02The reverse side of the photograph, mounted on heavy card stock, provides printed detail about the South Cheyenne Canon, famed for its natural beauty and sites of historical interest. The Seven Falls Photo & Curio Co. was responsible for this photograph, which was “taken at the foot of the famous Seven Falls.” It was possible to order duplicates by referencing the number shown on the photograph. (The number on the mat came only recently.) Given the number 716, it seems that plenty of these souvenir photographs must exist; I spotted several on eBay and on The Henry Ford Online Collection.

Did the men ride to the Falls on the burros? As of 1911, there was, in fact, a Cheyenne Burro & Carriage Co. in operation,2 so if they weren’t part of the package when the men paid for their photograph, they may have opted to rent the burros independently to ease their exploration of the area – or just for fun. The same may go for their sombreros!

1 Harold W. Jorgensen, “Olsen, Niels,” in Ben Van Osdel and Don Binder, editors, History of Yankton County, South Dakota (Yankton, South Dakota: Curtis Media Corporation and the Yankton County Historical Society, 1987), 53.
2 “Colorado Springs City Directories: 1879-1922,” images, Pikes Peak Library District ( : accessed 26 March 2014); citing “Colorado Springs, Colorado City and Manitou City Directory, 1911 (Colorado Springs: The R. L. Polk Directory Company, 1911),” 224.

11 thoughts on “The Three Amigos

  1. gluepot

    I love this photo of the three amigos. I presume it’s a “found” photo? Great work deducung the story behind it, and I like the responsible referencing!

    1. Melanie Frick Post author

      Thanks for your comment! This is actually a photo from a family collection (the man in the center is my second-great-grandfather) but it’s one that is new to me. I have written about several “found” photos as well – those are always fun to research!

  2. Nancy

    This photograph enlarged so beautifully in feedly, I could almost see the buttons on their shirts and the whiskers on the donkeys. Because the men’s suits look so clean and dust-less I wonder if the donkeys and sombreros were part of a photo op — a photographer set up somewhere along the way with donkeys and sombreros at the ready. You’ll probably never know but it’s a great photograph.

    1. Melanie Frick Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Nancy! I’m glad the photo showed so well in Feedly – that’s what I use, too. You make a very good point about how clean the men’s suits seem to be!

  3. Mike

    I have a similar picture taken by the same photography company in the same spot. My great-grandmother and her sister are riding mules and posed at the foot of Seven Falls.

  4. Chris Callesen

    My name is Chris Callesen and my father is David Lawrence Callesen. My Grandfather is Lawrence Callesen and his Father is Hans Christian Callesen who went by Chris Callesen. My father was born in Yankton South Dakota. This is my Great Grandpa. 🙂

    1. Melanie Frick Post author

      Hi Chris, Funny to hear from another Chris Callesen! Unfortunately, I do not believe the Chris Callesen pictured here is your great grandfather Hans Christian Callesen, although I think this may be your uncle and perhaps adoptive great grandfather. The Chris pictured here was Christian Nissen Callesen (1854-1929), and as far as I’ve learned he had no biological children who survived to adulthood. However, he and his wife did adopt several children, including a nephew (perhaps great-nephew?) named Lawrence Callesen. According to a biography in The Yearbooks of the Old Settlers Association of Yankton County, Chris and his wife took Lawrence into their home in 1917 after Lawrence’s mother died a few days after his birth. In the 1920 census, Lawrence Callesen lived in the household of this Chris Callesen and according to the census was his nephew. Do you think this could be the connection? I’m happy to email you the information I have if you’re interested!

      1. Erik Callesen

        Thanks for writing this. My brother Chris posted this. We are a bit estranged from our family so information like this is really interesting. I did get some info in the past from an Aunt who knows a lot. Hans Callesen (I dont know his middle name) is our great grand father. He had three children Lawerence Hans, and Clarence and Leona. Lawrence’s mother died I think after birth but Hans went on to marry an Alma Callesen all of them were in Yankton. I dont know if Lawrence stayed with Christian Nissen Callesen but it might make some sense. If you have more info on the Callesens in that area and that genre, and what life was like I would love to learn more. I have no idea and this would be great info.

      2. erik callesen

        Thanks for posting this info its super cool and Chris and I grew up estranged from our families my self in a foster home so we dont have much info on our history. Now that I am getting older and have a child I feel this info is missing some times.

        Anyway my understanding (info from an Aunt from years ago who also provided me with some pictures and notes) is that Hans Callesen was our great grand father and he had three kids. Our grand father Lawrence, great uncle Clarence, and great Leona. Christian Nissen Callesen and his wife I think Christina raised Lawrence after our great grand mother died in child birth ( I dont know her name). Clarence and Leona are from Hans Callesen’s second wife Alma. Christina was an aunt or called “auntie” anyway.

        Please contact me if you have more info and I have one picture I think of Christian Callesen I can send to you Melanie. I would also like any info you have on the era, how people lived and info sources/references you could share so I could read up on the subject. I would be very thankful.

  5. Pingback: Feeding the Black Hills Gold Rush | Homestead Genealogy

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