Fred Nielson was twenty-six years old and Christina Marie Schmidt was twenty-one when they married on 08 March 1890 before the Justice of the Peace in Yankton, Yankton County, South Dakota.1 Both Fred and Christina had emigrated from Denmark as children, and for more than fifteen years their families had been neighbors as they farmed less than a mile from each other in eastern Bon Homme and western Yankton counties in southeastern South Dakota.2 Whether the couple first became acquainted as children or young adults is not known, but their first known photograph together, their wedding portrait, survives today.
In the photograph, Christina stands in a heavy skirt and bodice, perhaps wool, with contrasting velvet panels on the high collar, cuffs, and bodice. Her hair is styled without the frizzled bangs that she wore a few years prior, and is instead swept smoothly off her forehead. A horizontal pin at her throat appears to match the pin worn in the earlier photograph. She rests one hand on the shoulder of her husband, who is seated. Fred wears a three-piece suit that is rather tightly fitted, as well as a white collared shirt and tie. A watch chain affixed to his vest is also visible. Fred’s hair has been combed and parted neatly, and he sports a small mustache.
Posed before a painted backdrop of a pastoral scene that doesn’t quite reach the floor, the husband and wife look directly at the camera. Both sturdy, fair-haired Scandinavians, their expressions are serious as was typical in portraits of this era. Although this image is a photocopy, it can be assumed that the original portrait was a cabinet card, a style of photograph mounted on card stock emblazoned with the photographer’s emblem that was popular at the end of the nineteenth century.
Fred and Christina (Schmidt) Nielson would go on to welcome nine children into their family and would live to celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage together.3
Copyright © 2018 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
1 “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : 07 March 2018), Frederik Nielsen, birth, 15 January 1864, Rigsarkivet, København, “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : 07 March 2018), Christiane Marie Schmidt, birth, 11 October 1868, Rigsarkivet, København, and Certificate of Marriage, Fred Nielson and Christina M. Smith, Yankton, South Dakota, 08 March 1890; Adam Family; privately held by Melanie Frick, 2018.
2 1880 U.S. census, Yankton County, Dakota Territory, population schedule, Township 93 Range 57, enumeration district (ED) 111, p. 5 (handwritten), dwelling 40, family 40, Fred Olson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 07 March 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 115, and 1880 U.S. census, Bon Homme County, Dakota Territory, population schedule, Township 93 Range 58, enumeration district (ED) 96, p. 18 (handwritten), dwelling 40, family 40, Christina Smith; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 07 March 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 111.
3 “Fred Nelson,” Tabor [South Dakota] Independent, 31 October 1918, p. 1, col. 3; South Dakota State Historical Society.