Guest blogger Bob Walter gives us some background on Eatonville’s early settlers, Pete and Maren Christensen.
N.P. (Nels “Pete”) Christensen and Maren Pedersen, both born in Denmark, met in the United States and were married in Neenah, Wisconsin in 1889. Awhile after reaching Tacoma in 1890, they walked all the way to Ohop Lake, N.P. carrying their baby, Katie, in his arms. They settled there but found they were on railroad land, so had to relocate; they moved several times before buying property in the town of Eatonville, where they remained. They raised five children, Katie, Anne (Haynes), Henry, Edward and Dan.
In 1912 Mr. Christensen bought the fledgling Mashell Telephone Company from Dye and Biggs; the Christensen family and descendents have been primary owners of the communications company ever since. It is now called Rainier Connect. There were about 30 telephones in Eatonville when he purchased the two-year-old company.
Pete Christensen was a key figure in the early days of Eatonville Schools, building the first school building with a furnace in it, then building another of the exact same design when the first one burned down barely a year after it was built. Pete was also a member of the school board that hired B.W. Lyon.
They were determined to have a school system second to none. Pete was on the school board from 1911 to 1917, and was re-elected to the board in 1936. He was a volunteer fireman and was part of the team pulling the hose cart to fires in 1920, at around 50 years of age.
Pete liked to drink one shot of whiskey each evening and smoke on his cigar. Maren sent him outside for that ritual.