Maren Kjerstine Jensen (1863-1931)

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Maren Kjerstine Jensen was born on October 3, 1863. She was baptized and confirmed in Raarup church. Maren’s mother was Maren Andersdatter and her father was Jens Hansen Juul. Maren was born in Ostermark Raarup, Denmark. Her father owned a small farm of about five acres in Ostermark, Raarup. Maren’s mother died in 1880 when Maren was just 17 years old. Maren was working at that time as a milkmaid at Palsgaard, which was a manor close to her family home. She had a young brother named Karl who was just 5 years old so Maren’s sister, Birte Marie returned home from working in Skjold to take care of her father and little Karl. Two years later little Karl died.

There were 11 children in the Jensen family.

  1. Johanne Jensen b. 4/14/ 1854 in Denmark d. ?/? in Denmark.
  2. Hans Juul Jensen b.5/23/1857 in Denmark – d.1932 in Jewell, Iowa USA.
  3. Anders Jensen b.9/17/1858 in Denmark – Died sometime after 1890 in USA. It is known that he had made plans to meet two of his brothers at Story City, Iowa. However, he never showed up and they figured that somewhere his life was taken from him.
  4. Soren Jensen b.3/5/1861in Denmark – d.3/15/1905 in Denmark.
  5. Birte Marie Jensen b.2/9/1862 in Denmark – d.6/18/1943 in Denmark.
  6. Maren Kjerstine Jensen b.10/3/1863 in Denmark - d.1/1/1931 in Stephenson, Michigan, USA.
  7. Mads Jensen b.5/8/1865 in Denmark – d.1928 in Jewell, Iowa, USA.
  8. Soren Peter Jensen b12/21/1866 in Denmark– d.1947 in Jewell, Iowa, USA.
  9. Julie Katrine Jensen b.3/11/1869 - 11/20/1874 in Denmark.
  10. Ellen Jensen b.8/13/1871 in Denmark – d.2/14/ 1874 in Denmark.
  11. Karl Eller Jensen b.6/27/1875 in Denmark – d.2/7/1882 in Denmark.

Juul is a family name. Sometimes Juul is seen written as Juel or Juhl. It is just other ways to spell Juul. Usually it is spelled the way that it was written on baptism papers. When going back in ancestry we find that it was first seen around the year 1640 or before.

While Maren was working in the barns at Palsgaard, as a milkmaid, she met a young man named Soren Rasmussen from Skjold. He was a stable boy and worked with horses in the large barns belonging to Palsgaard Manor. Maren and Soren decided they would immigrate to America and also be married there. It has been told by Maren’s children that their mother had said her father was very upset about her going to America. Neither Soren’s father nor mother had raised him because his mother had died during childbirth. Soren often referred to himself as an orphan. It appears that as a young man working at the manor he was financially poor and Maren’s father feared that Soren might not be able to offer a secure future for Maren. He also feared that if Maren immigrated to America that he would never see her again, and that was true.

However, against her father’s wishes, Maren and her fiancée, Soren Rasmussen decided to leave Denmark. On October 10, 1888 they left by ship for Castle Garden, Manhattan New York. They had friends that immigrated to a town in America known as Stephenson, Michigan and it was that village where they too would join them. They eventually arrived in Stephenson, Michigan but we do not know if they arrived by rail or horse and carriage to the small Northern Michigan village. They moved in with Hans and Ane Jorgensen. The Jorgensen’s lived 2 ½ miles from the village of Stephenson. They were known to provide food and shelter for Danish immigrants. They too, had worked on Palsgaard and were eager to help people feel at home in the small but growing Danish American settlement.

There was no Danish church in the growing settlement so on December 11, 1888, the Pastor of the Swedish Covenant Church, Rev. Toansberg, preformed the marriage ceremony for Soren and Maren. Witnesses at the marriage were friends, Thomas Henriksen (Hendricksen) and Christian Matsen. Soren begin work at a lumber camp in Cedar River, Michigan (where Hans Jorgensen worked) and after a couple of years he and Maren had enough money to buy land. They built a small log home and a few log buildings. By 1900 they had built a large frame home and barn, which held a number of dairy cows, pigs and horses. Maren and the older girls did the milking and Soren and the two older sons worked at lumber camps during the winter but took summers off for clearing land and planting crops.

Maren’s children said she had dark brown hair and brown eyes. They also indicated that she was a little over 5 feet tall, rather small in stature, but very strong for her size. They spoke kinds words about their mother and said she was a gentle and caring person. One of Maren’s grandchildren said that he was told that on one occasion she gave birth to a baby in the morning and milked cows that night. Besides giving birth to 10 children Maren also served as a mid-wife to others in the area but only after her own child bearing years had ended. Her children were:

  1. Jens Juul Rasmussen b.2/21/1890 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.5/18/1962 in Stephenson, Michigan.
  2. Martin Christian Rasmussen b.12/27/1891 in Stephenson, Michigan. – d.4/7/1969 in Stephenson Michigan.
  3. Martha Kristine Rasmussen b.4/21/1894 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.5/16/1909 in Stephenson, Michigan.
  4. Bertha Marie Rasmussen (Alfredson) b.4/12/1896 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.10/13/1973 in Menominee, Michigan.
  5. Anne Marie Rasmussen (Anderson) b.6/21/1897 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.3/31/1984 in Anaheim, California.
  6. Ida Christine Rasmussen (Rian) b.3/20/1899 in Stephenson, Michigan – d,1/25/1988 in Stephenson, Michigan.
  7. Hannah Martine Rasmussen (Alfredson) b.4/16/1900 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.2/21/1988 in Menominee, Michigan.
  8. Emma Marie Rosalie Rasmussen (Herrild) b.10/27/1901 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.3/16/1983 in Menominee, Michigan.
  9. Rose Rasmussen (Behnke) b.4/13/1903 in Stephenson, Michigan – d.4/4/1985 in Bellevue, Washington.
  10. Soren Peter Rasmussen b.3/24/1905 in Stephenson, Michigan - d.10/2/1932 in Newberry, Michigan.

Note: Hannah and Bertha married brothers that came from Sweden in 1906.
Note: Emma’s husband’s (Rufus Herrild) father was Niels Johannesen Hjerrild (b.1857), who came to America from the Stouby, Denmark area. The spelling of Hjerrild was changed in America to Herrild.
In 1905 Maren and Soren were among the Danes in the settlement that helped to build St. Johannes Evangelical Lutheran Danish Church. The Danish settlers were cutting pine, hemlock, spruce, and cedar trees from their fields so as to clear the land for farming. As the cutting took place every tenth log was set aside for lumber for building a church. The Danish farmers donated help in the sawmills and in turn the mill cut the church logs into lumber and piled them in a selected place in the lumberyard. The church later purchased one acre of land for a cemetery. Maren’s third child, Martha Kristine died from a ruptured appendix when she was only 15. The doctor was called to operate. He preformed the operation on the kitchen table but it was too late. The appendix had already ruptured. Services were held for her in the small Danish church that was located in the Danish settlement and she was buried in the adjacent cemetery.

Due to cold weather and snow in the winter, which made traveling a problem, Maren and Soren decided to celebrate their 25th anniversary in early autumn of 1913. They had a large celebration at the Grange Hall in Stephenson, Michigan. A friend of the family, Olga Fraid-Walters said that she was present for the celebration and the room was beautifully decorated with greens and flowers. The main table had a white tablecloth with freshly picked green vines flowing down the middle of the table. Olga remarked that “It was beautiful and it looked very Danish.” Maren had three brothers that immigrated in the late 1800’s to America and one brother that immigrated in the early 1900’s. All but one (Anders) eventually settled in the Jewell, Iowa area. One of the brother’s, Soren Peter Juul Jensen came to help celebrate the anniversary. He and his brothers had gone together and bought Maren and Soren special gifts. One of the gifts was a silver teapot and the other a silver coffee pot along with creamer and sugar bowls to match. Maren’s son, Martin, said she and Soren were happy to see her brother. They knew that three of her brother’s (Soren Peter, Mads & Hans) had large farms in Iowa. Soren Peter’s son, Mervin said that he believes Soren Peter had went to Michigan soon after arriving in America and had worked in a lumber camp along with Maren’s husband, Soren. Mervin does not know how long Soren Peter stayed in Michigan but it was long enough to earn money to buy his first farm in Iowa. Eventually he owned three farms. Maren never did travel to Iowa but her husband and her two oldest sons did. Martin had bought his first car in 1914 and he drove to Jewell, Iowa along with his father Soren and brother Jens to visit the Juul Jensen brothers. The men were impressed with the land and the farms that the Juul Jensen brother’s were farming. The brother’s main crop was corn. Their main source of income was raising hogs to sell on the market.

The Danish settlers enjoyed dancing so in the early 1900’s Maren and Soren had a dance pavilion built on a small wooded area of their land and it remained active into the late 1920’s. Soren was active in the Danish Brotherhood and the organization enjoyed many picnics at the dance pavilion. The Rasmussen siblings mentioned that it was the wish of their father that they would meet and eventually marry young Scandinavians (preferably Danish). This was a good opportunity for the young Danish men and women to meet other Scandinavians. The dances were usually held on Sunday afternoons during the summer and fall months. It was attended by many of the members of the Danish Brotherhood from Menominee, Michigan. It seemed to be the favorite place for Scandinavians to meet. The pavilion was open-aired but had a wood floor and also a roof to shelter them from the rain and wind. Dancing was held during the picnics. A group of musicians from Daggett, Michigan and the surrounding area would frequently provide the music. A musician from Daggett Michigan, Arthur Sanderlin, was a member of the Daggett band that played at the dance pavilion and he remarked, “We didn’t get much pay for the music in the park, but they sure fed us well.”

Maren and Soren’s son, Jens married Katherine Rasmussen (no relation to Maren’s husband). However, to confuse the name even more, Katherine’s father’s name was also Soren Rasmussen. The two Rasmussen’s farmed close together, so Katherine’s father decided to add Holms to the end of his name. Jens bought a farm in the Danish settlement that was located only a couple miles from Maren and Soren’s farm. It was expected that the second son, Martin was to take over the homestead as Maren and Soren were getting up in years. On September 20, 1922 Martin married Rose Emilie Hendriksen (also known as Henriksen). She was the daughter of Tom Henriksen who Soren had for one of his witness’s in 1888 when he and Maren were married. Martin and Rose moved in with Soren, Maren and Martin’s youngest brother, Soren Peter. Soren Peter became ill and was hospitalized in 1927 and remained hospitalized until his death, which was several years later. Maren and Soren were growing older and could not help much on the farm. The farm was large (over 280 acres). In the spring of 1929 Martin and his wife Rose, along with their son, Thomas (age 5) moved off the farm and bought a much smaller farm that was located about 2 miles from the Rasmussen homestead. Maren and Soren’s daughter Ida and her husband Edward Rian along with their young child, Marian, then came to live with Maren and Soren and took over the farm chores.

Maren’s daughters worked in Menominee, Michigan cleaning houses or working in factories doing clerical work. Most of her daughters married and settled in Menominee. Maren’s grandson, Thomas Rasmussen, said that he remembers the Rasmussen siblings gathering at the Rasmussen homestead every Sunday noon for a chicken dinner. Most of the Rasmussen siblings were living in Menominee at that time but they made the trip to the homestead to gather together around the dining table that opened up large enough to seat the entire family. The common language among the family on those Sunday afternoons was Danish. Maren died January 1, 1931. She was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Menominee, Michigan. Her son, Soren Peter died the following year. On November 22, 1938 her husband Soren passed away. They were buried alongside of Maren.

Written by Dorothy Gerue

Look at The family album of Maren Kjerstine Jensen.