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Helen (Halverson) Christiansen Collection/ Mat Matson Murder materials

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: H2018-004

Content Description

The collection consists of original materials and digital files relating to Helen (Halverson) Christiansen, her family and the murder trial of Mat Matson. The items generally date from the 1890s to 1960s. An extensive finding aid created by Tim Hoheisel was included with the donation. The scope and content of this accession form was taken from that finding aid. Mr. Hoheisel also scanned and transcribed the various items held in the collection. Helen Halverson’s maternal grandparents, Math and Anna Peterson, immigrated from Sweden to homestead in Clay County, South Dakota in the 1860s. They had four children, three of whom were born in Sweden: Peter in 1844, Mat in 1849, and Christina in 1864. Youngest son Olin was born in Wisconsin in 1868. In 1891, three of the siblings, Mat, Christina, and Olin, applied for land grants through the Homestead Act and were granted north-south adjoining plots approximately thirty miles south of Chamberlain in Lyman County on the west bank of the Missouri River. Oldest brother Peter remained in Clay County and took up a homestead there. Olin stayed in Kimball and operated a photography studio while Mat and Christina worked the land. In 1893, Mat Matson was murdered by local cattle rustlers Henry Schroeder and Frank Phelps. Soon after Mat’s death, Christina, who went by Christine, moved to Kimball to partner with her brother Olin in several business ventures. Olin also partnered friend Halvor C. Halverson, who had a homestead claim northeast of Kimball. Halvor was born to Christopher and Elizabeth Halvorson, who immigrated to Wisconsin from Norway in the 1850s. They had four children, all born in Wisconsin: Halvor in 1858, Todd in 1859, Bessie in 1863, and Julia in 1865. In 1885, Halvor and his brother Todd moved to Willow Lake Township in Brule County, South Dakota, to homestead. In 1904, Halvor moved to Kimball and went into business with Olin and Christine Matson. That same year, Halvor and Christine were married and had one daughter, Helen Ione Halverson, who was born in 1905. Helen Halverson grew up in Kimball and began college at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. She transferred to Wisconsin and completed her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1926 and a law degree in 1929. Helen became one of the first women lawyers in South Dakota. While Helen was at home in Kimball on Christmas break in 1924, her mother Christine died on January 1, 1925. After Helen finished her bachelor’s and law degree in succession, she returned to live in Kimball and help her father Halvor and uncle Olin with the family business, buying land and renting farms in the area. In 1939, Helen completed a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of South Dakota. Helen Halverson married Platte, South Dakota, rancher Melvin “Dewey” Christiansen on June 18, 1953. They adopted one child, Christine, who was born in 1955 in Omaha, Nebraska. Helen died 2001 at 95 years old and left the family estate to her daughter. Christine, who married Dr. Edward Hamilton in 1998, continues to live on family land near Oacoma. They maintain an office in Kimball for their business, Christiansen Land & Cattle, Ltd. Christine also operates a non-profit organization established after Helen’s death in 2001; the Matson, Halverson, Christiansen, Hamilton (MHCH) Foundation. Included is correspondence to Helen Halverson Christiansen when she was in college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and later residing in Kimball, South Dakota, from her mother, uncle and father, close personal friend Frederick Woolrich, and other relatives and friends. Enclosed with some letters are newspaper clippings, travel brochures, and financial reports. Collection also includes various greeting cards, postcards, photocopies, and a master’s thesis. Bulk of correspondence is from between 1925, when Helen’s mother died, and 1953, when Helen married. Scans of additional glass plates, photographs and documents (originals retained by the donor) were also included with the collection. All digital items were run through the State Archives, Digital Preservation Program.

Acquisition Type


Restrictions Apply



  • ca. 1890s to 1960s



6.0 Cubic Feet

9890 Megabytes


Box 5053A (1-12) Folders 1 – 37 (1893 – 1928) Box 5053B (2-12) Folder 38 – 57 (1929 – 1939) Box 5054A (3-12) Folder 58 – 92 (1940 – 1944) Box 5054B (4-12) Folder 93 – 116 (1945 – 1946) Box 5055A (5-12) Folder 117 – 140 (1947 – 1948) Box 5055B (6-12) Folder 141 – 162 (1949 – 1950) Box 5056A (7-12) Folder 163 – 177 (1951 – 1965, Undated, and Miscellaneous) Box 5056B (8-12) Three-dimensional objects Box 5057A (9-12) Transcripts [1-3] 1893-1947 Box 5057B (10-12) Transcripts [2-3] 1940-1949 Box 5057C (11-12) Transcripts [3-3] 1950-1965 Box 5058A (12-12) Mat Matson Trial Transcript volume N:/Archives/Digital Collections/ACCESSIONED