The Early Years
From its early years after it began production in 1872, The Danish Pioneer was printed in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1893, it was possible to print 6,000 pages per hour. When the new building was erected in 1903, The Danish Pioneer had 16 employees.
Approximately 75% of the subscribers were Danish farmers. For many, The Danish Pioneer was the only contact with the outside world. The farmers needed to have information and to learn what was going on in society, so they subscribed to The Danish Pioneer. Some of the farmers did not speak English, but The Danish Pioneer brought them news, which was written in Danish, from Denmark and America.
Editor Sophus Neble realized the farmers needed him, so he even established funds to help farmers suffering because of the drought. Neble was educated in Stubbekoebing, Denmark. He was an active sportsman. He did a lot of hunting and fishing. He hired Indians and went fishing in the Everglades in Florida, where no white man had ever set foot before.
The Danish Pioneer covered World War I from 1914 to 1918 extensively. The Danish Pioneer was the dominating immigrant newspaper of the time. In some of the issues of The Danish Pioneer during the 1920’s, you could read about Danes, who had been successful in America and their subsequent visits to Denmark. In addition, many Danes found jobs through ads featured in this historical Danish-American newspaper.
After Editor Sophus Neble’s death in 1931, his wife Olivia and son Eyvind continued the publication of The Danish Pioneer. The newspaper moved to Elmwood Park, Illinois in 1958.
Issue from 1873
One of the few remaining issues of The Danish Pioneer from the 1800’s, this issue is dated October 23, 1873, when Mark Hansen was Editor and Publisher.
In 1887, Sophus Neble became Publisher and Editor until his death in 1931. His wife, Olivia, continued the publication with family members.In 1958, Den Danske Pioneer was moved to Illinois where Hjalmar Bertelsen became the new Editor and Publisher.
Moving to America
Over 50 million Europeans left to travel to America, Canada and other foreign countries during the period 1814-1914. However, 90% immigrated to America. Travel agents and shipping lines made huge profits because of the immigration. The agents promoted America. Only 2,000 Danes immigrated from 1820-1850. During that period, it was costly to travel. Teachers, preachers and tradesmen were mostly the individuals who could afford to travel.
Many Danes were impressed by letters they received from friends and relatives, who had immigrated to America. They decided to immigrate themselves. Now and then, an immigrant would travel alone and send for his wife and children at a later date. The Danish Pioneer’s editor Sophus Neble did just that, coming to America alone and sending for his girlfriend and his brothers at a later date.
From 1958 to Today
From 1958 until 1984, The Danish Pioneer was published in Elmwood Park, Illinois. Hjalmar Bertelsen, Editor and Publisher, passed away in 1981. In 1984, Chris Steffensen became the new editor. Chris Steffensen, who was born in Vinderup, Denmark, was educated in Denmark, Scotland and Canada. He passed away in 2001. Today his wife Elsa Steffensen serves as publisher and his daughter Linda Steffensen continues on as editor of The Danish Pioneer.
Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II visited The Danish Pioneer in Elmwood Park in 1976 during her visit to America. Queen Margrethe II appointed Mr. Steffensen Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog on June 21, 1996 and he received his knighthood in connection with the newspaper’s 125th anniversary in 1997.