|THE CHRIS JORGENSEN FAMILY HISTORY|
Mr. & Mrs. Chris Jorgensen, Chris 34 and Anne 30 with their family left by boat in 1882 from Rodby, southern Denmark to join relatives already in Albert Lea, Minnesota.
The water passage over, took seven days and was uneventful as I recall being told, but comfortable. The passengers were good help to mother in caring for the children, Jorgen (George) 7 years old, Caroline 5, Hans 3 and year old Hulda.
In New York the family boarded a train for Albert Lea to be welcomed by Anne's brother Lars Hansen and two sisters and families - Stina and Karen (?). Here Chris found day labor till he bought a forty acres for $3.00 an acre in Tenhassen Township, Martin County.
In the spring of 1886 Chris and Anne came with their family and settled on this farm, in a house up on a hill one half mile off the road (this road was the same practically as the present East Chain to Dunnell highway.)
The family now included Margarete and Agnes born in Albert Lea. Robert the youngest was born on the Tenhassen farm December 8th, 1888.
Lars Hansen of Albert Lea referred to above, about this time bought a piece of land near by and this he sold to one of Chris's boys - Hans when he was ready for it. This was originally the Decker place.
Away from all family connections and among English speaking strangers Anne became homesick. It helped when they found a Danish couple living nearby in the Tenhassen woods - The James Boyes, Martha Boye proved to be a good and helpful neighbor; also the older children were in school and picking up the English language readily, adjustment to the new country soon became easier.
Father got some of his farm training at a sort of Farm School in Denmark called the Folks School, very much like Minnesota's Farm School connected with the University of Minnesota formerly, now I understand this Minnesota school is abandoned.
Father was of an optimistic and cheerful disposition, and too took to the ways and some new foods agreeably. He loved children and had a way of reciting and singing fun ditties to them in play. His hard of hearing problem slowed up his learning the new language somewhat. Mother found it easier and soon was reading newspapers and books. To fill the gap for them, they subscribed to Decorah Posten a newspaper, and "Ued Arnen" (by the Fireside) a story paper - both in Dane.
There was no Danish Lutheran church hereabouts, but from time to time services were held in the schoolhouse by Congregational or Free Methodist preachers.
The Sunday school held in District 17 was a live one and good workers in it were John Neal and daughters Emma Baum and Sarah Runyan and husband. Sister Caroline was Superintendent for a time.
Here and at school we came to know the Runyans, Fred Merry, Rodney Johnson Neal, Detert, Woolcutt, Kately, Will Wallace and other families.
To the northeast of us about a mile in a woodsy place with Little Tuttle on the north and Ten Mile Creek winding around to the east into Big Tuttle on Lake Okemanpedan, lay a little village consisting of a schoolhouse - District 17, next Old Lady Decker's general store, farther on, the Woods store and Post Office, and south of the road Elmer Wiltse's blacksmith shop. I am told about where Clair Clark's orchard now is, George Smith earlier kept a store.
This was our inland town till the train came in about thirteen years later 1899, this was west of our village over a mile. They called it Tenhassen at first. In 1900 it received its seal and was named Ceylon.
Chris, our father, worked for Joe Alton for a time to be able to add to livestock and machinery, later we moved to the Simon Personius place (now the Ralph McKean place) and rented this additional land. We enjoyed the log house here and the shorter walk to school.
By this time father was able to purchase another forty acres at $10.00 an acre adjoining Johnny Neal on the north.
Part of this was still virgin prairie and many wild flowers could be found. The Pink Ladyslipper (our state flower) and a red cup-shaped lily were two especially rare ones, and eventually almost non-existent in our area. Crocuses were common along the roadsides. In spots Margarete, Robert and I would run across a bed of wild strawberries.
I can still see in minds eye a hillside covered with yellow buttercups, this special one was just east of the hedge between Neal and what is now Marjorie Jorgensen's farm. Our wild prairie plot had to soon see the breaking plow, but there was a forty acres of virgin prairie belonging to Jack Woolcutt (later to Bill Leiding Sr.) that Bill Leiding Jr. reports was not broken up till the mid thirties.
In the 1880's and for many years following, the lakes and prairie provided a generous supply of good food free for the taking. There was pickerel and other fish to seine or angle for, ducks, geese and quail for the hunter and besides for this family of Danes there was often in the pantry a wooden pail of pickled herring or perhaps some smoked codfish.
Soup was an important part of our menus, though some not always appreciated. Green wrinkled cabbage cooked with salt pork was one. Another was buttermilk soup, including raisins sweetened and boiled togerther.
Mother brought a large silver spoon, holding over half a cup from Denmark, this was the serving ladle. I have it now, a prized possession.
Remembering the common drink in her native country, my mother one year started brewing ale in the cellar. When ripe it seemed to please the palates of the boys especially, and mother noticed they were frequenting the celler too often. She put a stop to that and never again did she engage in that practice. Not one of her three boys acquired the habit of drinking liquor of any kind.
Other native dishes I recall were frikdeller a sausage, also sweet fruit soup thickened with tapioco.
There were no orchards yet in our area, they came later, namely Duchess, Wealthy and Whitney crabs. Till then a barrel of Russets or Ben Davis would be bought to be put in the cellar for winter eating.
Trees for shelter for the farmstead were started by sticking willow cuttings into the ground for quick growth. Later cottonwood and boxelder were started.
Water for cattle in pastures was a hand dug well boarded up with a bucket handy for pulling up the water.
As early as the older four children of our family were able they worked out to provide some of their clothing and keep without having finished country school. The younger three finished the eighth grade and so were home to help on the farm.
I remember the depression of 1893 - 1894 a very dry summer and of helping my father sack up a load of grain, oats probably, which brought 5 cents a bushel.
Tenhassen families in the 1890's and early 1900's suffered some devastating hail storms. One of these was on a Sunday in wheat harvest time. My parents were out trying to haul in the bundles of wheat and failed to get to shelter till at least my father had his felt hat cut through with the stones.
District 17, our school, was the center of our interests and of the social life of the community.
Much emphasis was put on spelling and penmanship. Spell downs were held often and with other schools, these were eagerly looked forward to. Burr Alton and Dove Trimbie were beautiful penmans, as well as born teachers.
Jack Woolcutt our schools good neighbor and friend, considered us almost his property and at recess time in summer we drowned out gophers and buried them with ceremony. He treated us each spring term closing with a picnic, he and Louise furnishing the treats.
Those were the happy days and the time for the making of friends. Now they are only with us in memory.
My brothers married and farmed in the county. George and his wife Sophia Haney lived on their farm in Lake Belt near Buffalo Lake with their three children, Zola, Frank and Hulda. Here now live Mr. and Mrs. Garry Heuman Zola. Son Frank and wife Luella Prust live on their farm adjoining the town of Dunnell near some of their children. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Schultz, Hulda, live in Ceylon where he has a locker and butchering plant. George passed away at an early age and his wife Sophia after many years still running the farm, moved into town where she had several years of active life.
Hans and his wife Minnie Gideon farmed for many years on the Decker place before mentioned, till they moved with their daughter Marjorie to the Cities for her schooling and finally settled in St. Paul where Marjorie now lives with her mother and does part time secretary work for Northwest Airlines. Hans passed away at 92 years.
Let us look at the Gideon family who came up from Seneca, Iowa and bought out the Woods store and Post Office. They had a family of six children about the ages of the Jorgensen's and we became good friends. Minnie and Mattie taught school in the county a few years before marriage. Brother Robert the youngest worked in the Drummond furniture store for a time, then he and his wife, Vera Gray, moved to Granada, Minnesota and farmed there till his early death in 1933 at the age of 44 years. Their son Dean and wife June Rogers and family survives them, and serves the R.E.A. as manager in Harlan, Iowa.
Caroline became a fine seamstress serving hereabouts, and in Welcome ran a millinery store and on the side sold some of her oil paintings. About 1905 she married John Johnson, Fairmont's shoeman and they moved to Sawyer, North Dakota to run a lumberyard. Here they lived all their years with and near their children, Lloyd, Ronald, Clyde, Beatrice and Lawrence. Ronald served in World War II in the states.
Lloyd the oldest married Emma Flammaug, a teacher, and bought and ran a farm out of Sawyer.
Ronald became a bookkeeper for __ later served in World War in the states. Died at about 70 years of age while serving the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad as clerk in Washington D.C.
Clyde also was a bookkeeper in Minot then moved to Portland, Oregon where he continued that work. He and his wife Fern both still live there.
Beatrice married Richard Varney and lived in Minot till his early death. She is now living in Butte, North Dakota.
Lawrence was the youngest and afflicted with dwarfing of his limbs. His mind is keen and at Grand Forks Business College he went by the name of __ . He married a like midget in Seattle, Elizabeth Kranz, they now live in a lovely home in Enurnclaw, Washington. He was an accountant till trouble with his back finally caused him to sell that business. She continues with the annual selling of car licenses, etc.
Hulda left the country school at age twelve and did housework for families till able to go to Toland's Business College in Fairmont, then was cashier for the First National Bank in Ceylon. She served her church in any capacity she could wherever she was. Around 1920 she married Charlie Thomas who ran the Harvey, North Dakota newspaper and later they moved to Washington D.C. where he became a Government Printer, here they lived till his retirement. They had no children. He died at 98 and she at 89 years.
Margarete the most adventuresome one of the seven children, after several years of clerking in Ceylon and Harvey, North Dakota proved up on a claim in Montana. She married another like settler Carl Halverson, a carpenter and contractor. Asthma caused her to seek relief in Sunland, California where she lived with her daughter Jean for many years till her death at 89. Jean married Wayne Baker and they now live in Canoga Park, California. Daughter Lois and husband, Mr. and Mrs. J. Denham, run a motel in Sacremento. Gilmore, the son, lives with his family in Great Falls, Montana. Gilmore served in North Africa and Italy in World War II through the duration.
This completes the history except for the youngest Jorgensen daughter Agnes. She taught for several years till she and her husband Cole Belknap settled on his father's family farm just north of her old home, then known as the Johnny Neal place. Here they lived with their four children. Ward, Hobart, Kenyon and Marian till the oldest son Ward, married Esther Voight and took over the farming.
Cole and I retired to Ceylon where after almost twenty years he left us at age 91 years. Our dear daughter Marian died in 1957, a sad loss to us all. Son Hobart and wife Both Rogstad lived in Galesburg, Illinois where he served Doane Agricultural Service as farm manager. Later they moved to Austin to be nearer their families and worked for Doan and Hormel Institute and now for Austin Seed Company.
Kenyon our youngest married Betty Krafve while working for __ in Seattle then joined Minnesota Mining Company as an engineer, is in White Bear Lake where he has served the 3M for 23 years.
Hobart served in World War II in Port Moresby Philipines for the duration. Kenyon served in the states till hurt on the firing line and released because of ear damage.
Chris and Anne Jorgensen retired to Ceylon, Chris died at 75 years. Anne when unable to live alone came to us for her remaining two or three years, died at 81.
Thus this Danish family came and helped settle our beautiful and beloved country, were accepted, and each one I'm sure gave his best in service and loyalty, and I'm sure we all can feel we have a goodly heritage.
Written by Agnes Jorgensen Belknap in the spring of 1974