Sarah Ashton

Publication Date



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH The Sonnichsen family started out in an area of Denmark that is now part of Germany. They immigrated to the United States because Momme-Melf, C.L. Sonnichsen's grandfather, did not want to join the Danish military. The Sonnichsens moved first to New York, and then to Iowa, because Momme-Melf did not feel safe in New York. Henry Matthew Sonnichsen (H.M.S.), son of Momme-Melf, was born in Denmark, but grew up in Iowa working very hard, as the family was poor. He met Mary Hults (M.H.S.) and married her in 1899. They first settled in Iowa where Charles Leland was born in 1901, but then moved to Hancock, Minnesota because of the better climate. Henry and Mary tried farming and would have been successful if not for Henry's allergies. While in Hancock, their second son Lloyd was born in 1903, and third son Harold in 1912. In 1916, the family moved to Wadena, Minnesota. Soon after moving, tragedy stuck the Sonnichsen=s when Lloyd died of a gunshot wound. In Wadena, the Sonnichsen family was involved in the community through both church and school. Henry worked at various jobs and Mary worked in the community through the Seventh Day Adventists, her church. Charles Leland graduated from high school in 1920. He went to the University of Minnesota for his bachelor's degree and Harvard for his Master's and Ph. D. He then went on to teach in El Paso at the Texas College of Mines, later renamed the University of Texas at El Paso. Harold finished high school in Wadena and went to Harvard and the Texas College of Mines for undergraduate work, then back to Harvard where he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry. After the winters got too bad for Henry and Mary Sonnichsen in Minnesota, they moved to El Paso to be near their son, Charles Leland (about 1950). Henry died in 1954, but Mary lived until 1971. Charles Leland lived until 1991, and at this time (1996) Harold is still living and working with his family in Massachusetts.