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Pederson, Albert & Jensine

by Koggie File

Albert and Jensine Pederson immigrated from Norway with their only child William at the turn of the century. They came with the intent to be dairy farmers. They resided at 724 Sixth Street the first few years in Juneau. Albert worked as caretaker of Evergreen Cemetery, and Jensine worked as a seamstress.

In 1907, the family began homesteading a parcel of land west of the Mendenhall River and established the Pederson Dairy. Pederson Hill is named for Albert. Jensine became well known for her vegetable gardening. Albert delivered their milk and produce to Juneau by their boat the Helena which he kept moored in Mendenhall River.

Jensine was instrumental in getting the first school established in the Mendenhall Valley for the children of the homesteaders. It was located in the Duck Creek-Airport area. On one occasion, a homesteader decided to withdraw his children from school because he needed their help at home. Jensine feared the school would close for the lack of students so she went to the governor and he assured her as long as one student attended daily, the school would remain open. She continued to send her son William, and eventually, the other students returned. William rowed a skiff across the river to school before the first bridge was constructed.

One evening while the Pedersons were rounding up the cows, they discovered a duck hunter on the Mendenhall tide flats who was very ill. Jensine took him home and nursed him back to good health. He was a surveyor for the Geological Survey working at the Mendenhall Glacier. He credited Jensine with the saving of his life and asked if there was something he could do to make their pioneer life easier. They expressed a desire and a need for a bridge across Mendenhall River. He agreed to do whatever he could when he returned to Washington, D.C. He told her that the bridge might not be totally adequate, but once a bridge was built, it would always be replaced if it washed out in a flood. History confirms that to be true. The Pedersonís celebrated the ribbon cutting with a reception at their farm house.

Albert and Jensine bought the first automobile insurance policy ever issued in Juneau. It was purchased from the Allen Shattuck Insurance Company in 1916. The original paper is carefully preserved by their granddaughter, Koggie File.
In 1929, Albert died following a long illness. Jensine along with her son William continued to operate the Pederson Dairy until 1940, when it was sold to Curtis and Gladys Sherwood. They renamed the dairy the North Star Dairy and operated it until the early 1960ís when dairy farming was discontinued. Today the barn is the location of Harbor Plumbing.

In 1932, William was able to develop the homestead adjacent to his parentís farm. In the mid 1930ís he married Emelia Sivertsen, and they had two daughters, Koggie Elizabeth and Ellen Emelia. William died in April, 1956. The lower portion of his homestead has been developed as the Mendenhall Golf Course by his daughter, Koggie, and her husband, Tom File. The Family Practice Clinic is located on the portion located on Glacier Highway at the foot of Pederson Hill. Pederson Street on Engineerís Cutoff is named for William.

Although Jensine remained a devout Lutheran her entire life, she was one of the women who became known as the Chapeladies. They were instrumental in establishing a Sunday school for Auke Bay and valley children in the mid 1930ís which we know now as the Chapel-by-the-Lake.

After the farm was sold, Jensine retired to a small home she built on a portion of the farm where she raised her granddaughter, Koggie. The house is located on Jensine Street.

In 1956, Jensine was one of the first women to be accepted at the Sitka Pioneerís Home where she resided until her death in 1959. Jensine, Albert and William are buried in Evergreen Cemetery.

Albert, Jensine and Wilhelm Pederson, taken as they left Norway.

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