A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
WALTER P. JENSEN. The City of Waterloo, judicial center of Blackhawk
County, has long been known for the high standards maintained by the members of its
bar, and one of the representative law practitioners of the city at the
present time is he whose name initiates this paragraph. Mr. Jensen, member of
the firm of Mears, Jensen & Gwynne,has been here established in the practice of
his profession from the time of his admission to the bar, in 1914, and his
law business is one of substantial and important order - the best voucher of
his technical ability and personal popularity.
Mr. Jensen was born in a pioneer log house on the farm of his father, near
Rolfe, Pocahontas County, Iowa, December 1, 1880, and the date of his nativity
was considerably later than that which marked the settlement of his father
in that county. He is a son of Peter Jensen, who was born in Odense, Denmark,
where he was reared and educated, he having been the only representative of
the immediate family to come to the United States. Peter Jensen was a youth
when he thus severed the ties that bound him to home and native land, and
crossed the Atlantic Ocean to establish himself in what he believed to be a land
of broader opportunities for gaining success through individual endeavor.
From New York City he continued his westward journey to McHenry County,
Illinois, where he found employment at farm work. He carefully saved his earnings,
and with the same as his financial fortification he came to Pocahontas
County, Iowa, and purchased a tract of wild prairie land in Des Moines Township,
near Rolfe. On this embryonic farm he erected the log house in which his son
Walter P. was later born, and with ox teams he reclaimed his land to
cultivation. On the occasion of a memorable scourge of grasshoppers most of his
crops were thus destroyed, and he took the twenty-eight bushels of wheat that he
had saved to a mill several miles away, where it was manufactured into flour
for the use of his family. While he was absent on this mission a prairie
fire destroyed all buildings on his farm except the log house, his wife having
feared that the house too would burn and having taken her infant daughter to a
nearby field for safety. Mr. and Mrs. Jensen were not discouraged by these
losses, and in the course of time substantial prosperity came to them as a
result of their earnest efforts. New buildings were erected on the farm and the
land was placed in a high state of productiveness. In 1902 Mr. and Mrs.
Jensen retired from their farm to the nearby village of Rolfe, and there the
wife died in March, 1913, at the age of sixty-eight years. Thereafter Mr.
Jensen was a member of the home circle of his son Clarence, on a farm on the
opposite side of the road from his old home place, and he died in January, 1921,
at the venerable age of eighty-one years. His wife, whose maiden name was
Christina Paulsen, likewise was born in Denmark, she having been a young woman
when she came to the United States and her parents having passed their entire
lives in Denmark. She was the devoted helpmeet of her husband in the labors
and struggles of the pioneer days in Iowa, and the names of both merit place
on the records of those who did a worthy part in the civic and industrial
development of this favored commonwealth. Anna, eldest of their children, is the
wife of J. H.. Pollick, of Plover, Pocahontas County; Mary s the wife of W.
H. Shackelford, of San Diego, California; Clarence still resides on his farm
near the old family homestead in Pocahontas County; and Walter P., of this
sketch, is the youngest of the number.
Reared to the invigorating discipline of the farm, Walter P. Jensen
supplemented the discipline of the little district school by a course in the Iowa
State Teachers College at Cedar Falls, in which he was graduated with the degree
of Master of Didactics. He thereafter served one year as principal in the
public schools at Ionia, Chickasaw County, and then followed the course of his
ambition by entering the law department of the great University of Michigan.
After there continuing his studies one year he gave six years of
constructive administration as county superintendent of schools in his native county,
Pocahontas, and from that county he was elected, in 1913, in the Thirty-fifth
General Assembly of the State Legislature, in the Lower House, of which he
was made chairman of the committee on state educational institutions and a
member of the important judiciary committee. At the close of the session he
returned to the law department of the University of Michigan, and in the
following year he received therefrom his degree of Bachelor of Laws. In the same
year, 1914, he opened his office in the City of Waterloo, and here he has since
continued in active general practice, with secure prestige as a resourceful
trial lawyer an dwell fortified counselor. In the year 1927 the firm of Mears,
Lovejoy, Jensen & Gwynne was formed. Mr. Lovejoy was appointed, in January,
1930, as judge of the District Court. A sketch of Judge Lovejoy will be
found on other pages of this work. The firm now continues as Mears, Jensen and
Mr. Jensen is a Republican in political alignment and is significantly loyal
and progressive as a citizen. He and his wife are zealous members of
Westminster Presbyterian Church in their home city, of which he has served as a
trustee and in connection with which he is now a member of the board of
sessions. He has membership in the Blackhawk County Bar Association and the Iowa
State Bar Association, and in 1927-28 he served as city attorney of Waterloo. In
the Masonic fraternity Mr. Jensen is affiliated with Waterloo Lodge No. 105,
A. F. and A. M.; Tabernacle Chapter, R. A. M.; and Ascalon Commandery,
Knights Templar. He has membership also in Blackhawk Lodge No. 72, I. O. O. F.;
Helmet Lodge, Knights of Pythias, and the local Kiwanis Club, of which he is
a past president.
June 9, 1909, recorded the marriage of Mr. Jensen to Miss Anna I. Moody, who
was born at Plainfield, Bremer County, Iowa, a daughter of Clark B. and
Nettie (Rogerts) Moody, her mother being of English ancestry, established in
America in the Colonial days.
Representatives of the family were patriot soldiers in the War of the
Revolution and thus Mrs. Moody is eligible for and affiliated with the Daughters
of the American Revolution, as is also her daughter Mrs. Jensen. Capt. J. Mr.
Roberts, maternal grandfather of Mrs. Jensen, was in command of a company
that gave valiant service in defense of the Union in the Civil war.
Debbie Clough Gerischer
Iowa History Site