Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hans Peter Jensen (1844-1931) and Karen Marie Nielsen (1845-1926) histories, Part 11: Thoughts By a Grandson, Morris/Maurice J. Bissell

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Hans Peter Jensen and Karen Marie Nielsen
By a grandson, Morris J. Bissell
Feb. 9, 1966

When I was a youngster, I lived with Grandpa and Grandma a lot during the summer and some times during the winter; even after I started school, I spent a lot of my vacations with them.

They were an honest, law abiding, and very religious couple. As you all know by now, Grandpa went back to Denmark on two missions for the Church after he had come to this country. Grandpa wanted to take me with him on one of his missions, but Mother was afraid that I would have gotten homesick and caused Grandpa a lot of trouble--which I may have done (missionary calls were quite different in that day). I do not know why Mother objected so much; she always claimed that I was the ugliest baby that was ever born. She could have had Grandpa drop me over the side of the ship.

I look back on it today and wish I could have gone with Grandpa so that I could have gotten acquainted with some of our relatives and learned the Danish language as that was all that was ever spoken when the Jensen family were together. I got so I could understand the Danish language quite well but never could speak it.

Looking back, I wonder if Grandpa and Grandma ate to live or lived to eat. We had morning prayer and an early breakfast (and I mean early), then about ten o'clock, Grandma brought another big lunch out to the field, then at the end of the day, we had supper, another big meal. Before bed and after all the evening chores were done, we had another bowl of bread and milk. There was always a large coffee pot setting on the stove and a large bowl of lump sugar on the table so that any time of the day or night someone dropped in, they had to have coffee. (Us young ones got barley coffee that Grandma made out of roasted barley).

Then, at bed time, we all knelt down and had evening prayer, and Grandpa read to us out of one of the church books, mostly the Bible. Then Grandpa or one of the boys always went out to the corrals and barn to see that the livestock were all right and had plenty of food for the night. The Danish people took great pride in their livestock, and took great care with them. During the summer months when the weather was good, Grandma did all the milking--Grandma claimed the boys were too careless about it—and took care of the poultry. They raised an awful lot of chickens, ducks, and turkeys as well.

Grandpa did all the business for the family when he was home, but when gone, Grandma and the oldest boys stepped in. Grandpa was a very honest and upright man; his word was as good as his bond. He did not accumulate a whole lot of money, but he did acquire an awful lot of friends. I do not think he had an enemy in the world.

I think back and wonder how Grandma accomplished as much as she did. I do not know how she got through all her work and had time to take care of her church duties and do all the shopping. She always had a large amount of washing, ironing, and mending to do. She did not have an electric washer and iron in those days; it was all done by hand. And Grandma made all the bedding too. There were heavy quilts and bed ticks to make and stuff with feathers (which Grandma had saved when cleaning poultry).

On certain days of the week, Grandma traded her butter (which was always in great demand) and eggs to the store for groceries and staples. Everyone liked Grandma’s butter as she was very clean. I think Grandma was one of the cleanest persons that ever lived on this earth. I know that if you did not clean your shoes when you came in from outside, winter or summer, you were sure told about it. And Grandma liked to cook and have people eat at her table. Twice a year on Grandpa's and Grandma's birthdays, all the relations and friends would gather at the family farm and celebrate and visit and eat. If I had not seen it, I don't think I would have believed it, to see so much food on a table at one time. And Grandma was always running here and there to see that everyone got all they could eat.

I do not believe that I ever saw or heard of Grandma loosing [sic] her temper or getting out of patience with anyone. She had a good disposition and when Grandpa was away on his missions she was always cheerful and never showed her loneliness; she always believed that everything would turn out well in the end. One year the grasshoppers took most of the crops so the boys caught and sold grasshoppers (for bounty) at fifty cents a bushel. But Grandma still set a good table.

While I was living with Grandpa and Grandma, they used to get a lot of mail and papers from Denmark, but as I could not read or understand the language very well, I do not know much about their relatives in the old country. There used to be an elderly lady who came to visit with Grandma and Grandma [sic]. They called her Auntie but I never did find out what relation (if any) she was to the family. But I wish we had some of those letters and papers from Denmark now; it would make genealogy so much easier.

Grandpa was a very stern man and when he spoke everyone paid attention. He did not abuse anyone, but if you made a mistake, he did not lose his temper but would give you a talking to that you remembered. He was very religious and I know that he would be proud of a lot of his grandchildren if he were alive today, because of the interest they have taken in the church. And he has same grandchildren that he not be too proud of, although Grandpa never did condemn any one if they got in trouble or need but would do all he could to help.

Grandma was a very kind person; she thought a lot of all children. If any child suffered injury, no matter how slight, she always figured that a hug and a kiss and a piece of candy (which she always had) would always heal it.

Grandpa and Grandma raised a wonderful family and I can truthfully say that I am proud to be one of their offspring; any one else related should be proud as well. I am only sorry that all the relation could not have known them like I did. Words cannot express my feelings toward them.

I hope the younger generation will keep the name of Jensen alive by having a get together every year. And I want to wish them all the luck in the world and hope they keep after the laggards in the family so that they will take an interest so the remembrance of two most wonderful people, Grandma and Grandma [sic] Jensen, will be kept alive.

One of the Family
Maurice (Mully) Bissell

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