Tuesday, December 13, 2011


(Source:  Photo by J.H. Beers and Co. 1906 Biographical Record of Prominent Men of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin)

Matt A. Rasmussen
The laudable ambition which prompted Matt A. Rasmussen to seek the broader business opportunities offered in the new world when but sixteen years of age has characterized his entire career and has led him from humble surroundings into a field of marked business activity and his efforts have been crowned with a most gratifying and substantial measure of success.  He is today at the head of the Somers Produce Company and his business activities have made him widely known in Somers Township and throughout his part of the county.
He was born in Langeland, Denmark, February 17, 1876, and is descended from farming people in Denmark, his grandfather being Jorgen Rasmussen, an agriculturist of that country, while his father was Robert Jorgensen Rasmussen, who likewise followed farming in Denmark, where he passed away in 1885 at the age of sixty-seven years.  He married Cathrina Albertsen, a daughter of Albert Albertsen, who was the owner of several vessels but in later years retired to a farm.  Mrs. Rasmussen long survived her husband and was a life-long member of the Lutheran Church, to the faith of which Robert J. Rasmussen also adhered.  They had three children:  Marie, who became the wife of Peter Petersen, of Herringe, Rudemer Fyn, Denmark; and Matt A. and Robert M., both living in Somers, Wisconsin.
Upon his father's farm on his native isle of Langeland, Matt A. Rasmussen was reared to the age of sixteen years and attended the common schools there but at that period in his life there occurred a momentous change.  He determined to try his fortune in the new world and, bidding adieu to home, family and friends, he sailed for the United States.  For eight years he was employed as a farm labor in Mount Pleasant township and during six months of that period he attended Castleton's Business College Racine, being earnestly desirous of thoroughly equipping himself for life's practical and responsible duties.  Frugality as well as industry brought him the capital that enabled him to purchase a farm of fifty-five acres in Somers township, adjoining the village of Somers on M Street on the north.  He still owns that property, upon which he has erected a beautiful home.  He continued to engage actively in farming until March 1900, when he turned his attention to the growing, buying and shipping of produce in partnership with Peter M. Anderson and Jacob Barrows.  At later dates he purchased the interests of his partners and is now conducting business alone under the title of the Somers Produce Company.  From time to time he has added to his landholdings, his additional purchases including a one hundred and four acre tract one mile south of Somers; thirty-five acres located across the road from his home place; one hundred and sixty acres, known as the Rhodes farm; two hundred and sixty acres near Truesdell; and a forty acre tract in Somers on which a hotel is located.  Altogether he is now cultivating six hundred and fifty-five acres of land.  He has built up a produce business of mammoth proportions, buying from farmers for miles around and specializing in the handling of cabbage, onions and potatoes.  He ships over fifteen hundred carloads of cabbage alone each year and is the largest grower and shipper in the state and probably in the United States.  The year round he employs over fifty men and during the shipping season as many as one hundred.  He has been given the title of the "Cabbage King" and his success as a dealer in produce has made him known in trade circles throughout the country.  He has two large warehouses and an ice house at Somers, two warehouses at Truesdell, and one at Stanley and he also ships from Corliss.  He is willing to pay a good price for labor and is a keen judge of men and their ability, and although the average farmer is constantly deploring the shortage of help Mr. Rasmussen never has any trouble in securing as many men as he needs.  His achievement in building up a business of such large proportions is in itself proof of his untiring industry, his enterprise, his ability to successfully manage large interests and his keep business insight.
On the 12th of December, 1905, Mr. Rasmussen was married in Somers Township to Miss Emma M. Donsing, who was born in the town of Lake, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, March 26, 1888, a daughter of Frederick Henry and Mary A. (Lorig) Donsing, residents of Somers township, where her father follows the occupation of farming.  He was born in 1859 and his wife in 1860 and both have long been loyal members of the Lutheran church.  They became the parents of five children:  Minnie, the wife of William Lauer of Somers Township;  Frederick who married Laura Polling and is now operating one of the Rasmussen farms on shares; Emma M., now Mrs. Rasmussen; Hattie, the wife of William Bose of Somers; Elsa the wife of Curtis Smith of Somers.  Mr. and Mrs. Rasmussen have two children:  Dorothy, born June 28, 1908; and Bernice, born February 21, 1912.
Politically Mr. Rasmussen is a Republican while fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America, and in religious faith with the Presbyterian Church - associations which indicate much of the nature of his interests and the principles which govern his conduct.  His home is a modern residence built in an attractive modern style of architecture, supplied with hot and cold water throughout, with electric light from his own plant and hot water heat, while hardwood finishing has been used in every room.  The charm of the home, however, above its tasteful material comforts is its warm-hearted hospitality, which is cordially extended to a large  and growing circle of friends.  The life history of Mr. Rasmussen contains much that is inspirational, showing what may be accomplished through determination and energy and proving, moreover, that success and an honored name may be won simultaneously.
(Source:  City and County of Kenosha Wisconsin Record of Settlement by Frank H. Lyman, Vol. II, Chicago, S.J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1916)

Emma Donsing Rasmussen
View Emma Rasmussen obituary and grave marker. Click on this link.

Rasmussen marries Wirtz
"The marriage of Miss Isabel Wirtz to Mr. M.A. Rasmussen is announced for Thursday, July 10, 1919."
(Source:  Racine Journal News, July 9, 1919)

Matt A. Rasmussen U.S. Passport Application
Sailed from Hamburg March 15, 1890.

Matt Rasmussen Death December 2, 1932
"Matt A. Rasmussen, 56, of Somers, recognized leader of farm produce industry in southern Wisconsin, was found dead in a shed on one of his farms, just north of the village of Somers, today.
He had died from a bullet wound in his right temple, apparently self-inflicted.  A revolver, with one cartridge discharged, was found lying on the floor near his body.
In ill health for months and harassed by financial difficulties, he had been extremely despondent for the past two weeks, authorities were informed.   He is believed to have become temporarily deranged by the mental strain under which he has been laboring.
Rasmussen had been missing from his Somers home since early Friday afternoon, when he started toward Racine, ostensibly to fulfill a business engagement there.
At an early hour last night, members of the family became alarmed at his continued absence and started a search for him.  Sheriff's officers were given a description of the car he was driving and deputies joined in the hunt.
Throughout the night, no trace of him was found.  At 10: o'clock this morning, his wife, Isabelle, accompanied by her two daughters, discovered the automobile parked on a road north of Somers.  In the seat they found a new gun carton.  It was empty.  Gripped with foreboding, she walked to a nearby shed.  There, she found her husband's body.
Deputy Coroner Ernest Knoedler, acting in the absence of Coroner A.B. Schmitz, was notified immediately and took charge of the investigation.  He pronounced death due to a self-inflicted bullet wound.
Knoedler said death occurred sometime during the night.  Rasmussen had been dead for several hours when the body was found.
Rasmussen had never owned a revolver, members of the family said.  The gun found beside him was new.  It is believed he drove into Kenosha and purchased the gun at some business place here.
Two shots had been fired from the revolver.  One, officials believe, was fired to test the gun.  Four unfired cartridges were still in the cylinder.  The body was removed to Hansen's Funeral Home.  Funeral arrangements will be announced later.
Mr. Rasmussen was head of the Somers Produce Company, one of the largest dealers in farm produce in this section of the country.  He has been an outstanding resident of the Somers neighborhood for the past three decades.
Matt A. Rasmussen was born in Langeland, Denmark, February 17, 1876, a son of Robert Jorgensen Rasmussen and Dorothea Albertsen Rasmussen, both natives of that country.
He was reared on his father's farm on his native Isle of Langeland and attended the schools there.  At the age of 16 years he left the family home to seek his fortunate in America.
He came direct to  Wisconsin, and for the next 8 years, he was employed as a farm helper in Mt. Pleasant Township, Racine County.  For several months of that period, he left his work to secure business training at Castleton's Business College in Racine.
He then purchased a farm in Somers Township, a place of 55 acres adjoining the village of Somers on the north.  There he erected a home and laid the foundation for his huge business.
In March 1900 he entered into a partnership with Peter M. Anderson and Jacob Barrows and engaged in the growing, buying, and shipping of farm produce.  Within the next few years, Rasmussen purchased the interests of his partners and assumed complete control of the business.
As the years passed, he increased the scope of his enterprise and enlarged his farm holdings.  For the past decade he has been known as the outstanding dealer in farm produce in southern Wisconsin.
He purchased products from farmers throughout the Lake Shore territory, dealing especially in cabbage, onions and potatoes.  He built warehouses and other business places in Somers, Truesdell and other communities in the district and shipped his product to all sections of the country.
He built up a produce business of mammoth proportions, shipping thousands of carloads of cabbage alone each year.  He was reputedly the largest individual grower and shipper of cabbage in the state and probably in America.
He had been given the title of "Cabbage King" and his success as a dealer in produce made him known in trade circles throughout the United States.  For many years, he had yielded a big influence in establishing the price of cabbage in southern Wisconsin.
Mr. Rasmussen was affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.  Fraternally, he was connected with the Modern Woodmen of America.
On December 12, 1905, in the Town of Somers, he was married to Emma M. Donsing, a resident of Milwaukee County.  She was claimed by death a few years later.
About fifteen years ago he was married to Isabelle Wirtz.
He is survived by his wife, Isabelle, and four daughters, Mrs. Dorothy Hawkins, of LaCrosse, Mrs. Theodore Ludwig of Kenosha, and the Misses Virginia and Patsy Rasmussen, of Somers.  He is also survived by one brother, Robert Rasmussen, of Truesdell.
(Source:  Kenosha News, publication date December 4, 1932)

"Services for Prominent Somers Man to be Held at 8 o'Clock"
"Funeral services for Matt A. Rasmussen, prominent Somers produce broker, who was found death on one of his farms Saturday morning, will be held Tuesday morning.
Services will be held at the family home in Somers at 8 o'clock in the morning, followed by rites at St. George's Catholic Church in Kenosha at 9 o'clock.  Interment will be in the family plot in St. George's Cemetery, Kenosha.
Rasmussen's body was found by his wife, Isabelle, after he had been missing from his home since 2:30 o'clock Friday afternoon.  He had died from a self-inflicted bullet wound in the right temple.
Coroner A.B. Schmitz, following an investigation into the death, announced today no inquest would be necessary.  The fatal shot was fired from a .32 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, which Rasmussen had apparently purchased only a few hours earlier, he said.  It has not been determined where he secured the weapon.
Death occurred shortly after 4 o'clock Friday afternoon, it is believed.  The body was found in an abandoned shed at 10 o'clock Saturday morning after a widespread search for the missing man had been launched.
School children en route home noticed Rasmussen's car parked near the shed a few minutes before 5 that afternoon.
(Source:  Kenosha News, publication date December 5, 1932)

Matthew A. Rasmussen of Somers Township, Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Buried in St. George Cemetery, Kenosha, Wisconsin (Wirtz family plot)
(Source of photo:  USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin by Larry & Linda Kopet)

Isabel A. (Wirtz) Rasmussen, daughter of John Wirtz (see blog for additional information on Wirtz)
wife of Matthew A. Rasmussen
Somers Township, Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Buried in St. George Cemetery, Kenosha, Wisconsin (Wirtz family plot)
(Source of photo: USGenWebArchivesProjectWisconsin by Larry & Linda Kopet)

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