On the search . . . .

For many years now I've been searching my past in an endeavor to unfold the tales of my family. I've traveled (via the internet) to England, Denmark, Norway, Ohio, Nebraska, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I've spent time personally visiting historic Boston and their wonderful cemeteries and, or course, visited my ancestors right here in California. My ancestors have touched the world in many places... and I hope to enjoy some of their experiences. I want you to join me as I travel through my past... and uncover their stories..

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Eleonora Hedvig Margrethe Brøkner was my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born 23 February 1827 in Skanderborg, Vele, Stouby, Denmark. She passed away just before Christmas on 22 December 1904 in Ungstrup, Torning, Viborg, Denmark.  

 I never knew my great great grandmother Eleonora as she never left Denmark and she passed away many years before I was born.  But I do have a picture of her. 

 If you look past her frown and her tired eyes, you will see a woman whose hair is neatly pinned back, she wearing some type of bonnet or hat with flowers and/or a ribbon.  Also she looks bundled up with a scarf and/or high collar up around her neck.   I have no date on this picture.  I'm guessing mid-late1850's but that is only a guess. 

 I do know she married Rasmus Jensen March 12, 1854 and this photo I have of her  is taken from a photo I have of them together.  When I think of her getting married at the age of 27 that seems old to me, for the times.  But I am happy that she found someone to share her life with.  

So here's my great great grandfather.  No smile, like my great great grandmother, a bit of tired eyes, neatly cut and combed hair.  As I look at his neck I can't determine if that is his beard grown down around his neck (although I think it would be difficult to grow a beard that full there) or it's a furry neck warmer.  It appears he has a jacket on. 

Eleonora and  Rasmus had seven children;  Jens Rasmussen 1855- , Maren Rasmussen 1856-1941, Christine Rasmussen 1858- , Ane Rasmussen 1859 - , Christian Rasmussen 1861- , Clara Rasmussen 1867- , Andreas Rasmussen 1870-1949(my great grandfather). 

During the 1850's in Denmark brought to an end centuries of absolute monarchy. Danes could now form political parties, elect representatives to a parliament and were guaranteed freedom of religion, assembly and speech. Danish farmers, during this time, found it difficult with the low-priced grains offered in European markets by American and Russian exports. The Danes would turn to dairy and pork production. But agricultural change and the rise of industrialism were not enough to stop the rising anger and eventually one out of every ten Danes felt compelled to emigrate; most traveled to the United States.

I think about Eleonora, in Denmark, in the 1850's, with seven children, and her husband Jensen out working, as we know, as a day laborer.  Times must have been horribly tough but then again that's all they knew.

Eleonora's youngest son, Andreas (my great grandfather) at the age of 20, left Denmark and his parents in 1890 to find a better life in America.  Eleonora would have been 63, saw her youngest leave, and might have known she would never see him again. But he traveled here and did what he set out to do.  Began a new life and brought all the Danish traditions with him. 

So while I wonder what Christmas's were like for my great great grandparents in the 1850's.  I wonder how the family managed with their mother passing away just days before Christmas.  Here I sit over 150 years later, in another country, thinking of Eleonora and Rasmus.  I would want her to know that her name, and the names of her children, have carried down for several generations. I would want her to know that some of her Danish traditions continue through songs, foods, stories and owning a Danish flag. 

So on this Christmas Eve I wish you, Eleonora and Rasmus, a very merry Glædelig jul. 

Warm regards,


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