The life story of Margrethe Bruun, my 3X gret grandmother, begins far across the ocean in the small town of Flade, Hjorring, Denmark, located in the northern tip of Denmark. Flade borders the bigger town of Frederikshavn and both are almost directly across the sea from Gothenburg, Sweden.
The theme of family loss, which has appeared in most of the family sketches of my maternal ancestors, continues in Margrethe’s story, too.
Margrethe Bruun, born 1 May 1843 in Flade, was the first of two children born to Niels Thomsen Bruun and his wife, Ane Amalie Christensdatter Moller. Note the double surnames. Denmark was beginning to move towards families using a single surname, but hadn’t quite gotten there yet.
Niels was the son of Thomas and the family added Bruun to their names. Ane was the daughter of Christen, who was a miller, thus Moller was added to her name.
Now, back to Margrethe. Her brother Peter was born on 13 April 1845, also in Flade.
However, Niels disappears from Flade records after his son’s baptism. He was a fisherman and it is assumed that he died at sea, probably c1846, as there is no burial record noted for him in the church books.
Ane Amalie married (2) Jens Marinus Hansen on 24 October 1847 in Flade and had five more children with her second husband. Their youngest, Anton August, died in infancy.
Margrethe likely had no memories of Niels so Jens would be the only father she ever knew. She grew up in a home with her brother Peter, 2 half brothers and 2 half sisters, all of whom lived at least long enough to be confirmed.
Margrethe would have gotten a job in her teens, as children were expected to work. She was a month past her 24th birthday when she married Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen, son of retired soldier Johannes Jensen and Johanna Elisabeth Molin.
The Jensen family lived in Copenhagen, where Frits was born, but when Johannes retired from the Danish army, the family moved north to Saeby, a town close to Flade and Fredrikshavn.
Exactly how the couple met is unknown.
Margrethe had led a stable life growing up, in spite of losing her father when she was a toddler. After marrying Frits, life was never to be the same again.
Frits’ father, Johannes, died on 9 April 1865. Frits’ sisters both married and remained in the Saeby area. However, Frits, his mother and eldest sister seemed to prefer Copenhagen life and left Saeby.
Margrethe followed her husband and their children were all born in the Copenhagen area, where Frits worked as a prison guard.
- Anna Elisabeth, born 30 September 1872; died 4 March 1916, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Hartwell Thomas Coleman, 14 July 1892, Calais, Washington, Maine
- Ida Julie, born 4 June 1876; died 19 July 1876
- Henry Robert, born 10 March 1878; died 16 may 1916, Calais, Washington, Maine; unmarried
- Elfrida Ingeborg, born 2 November 1879; died young
- ?Elfrida, born c1882; died before 1900
Margrethe buried daughter Julie, who only lived for six weeks, in Denmark. There is some confusion about daughter Elfrida Ingeborg. The family left Denmark in 1884, with Canada listed as their final destination. Frits, Margrethe, Anna and Henry were all on the passenger list. Daughter Elfrida, born c1882, was also listed. No baptism has been found for her, nor has a death record been found for Elfrida Ingeborg. Whether they were two different children or the port officials listed her age incorrectly is unknown.
Frits and Margrethe must have had strong hopes for a better life in the United States, but that was not to be. They have not been found in any Canadian records, but Anna’s death certificate indicated that she last lived in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook, Maine before Calais so the Jensens lived there at least for a short time.
Margrethe and Frits lost either one daughter named Elfrida or two, both in childhood. Margrethe’s death notice was published in the Eastport Sentinel, Washington County, Maine. She died at the young age of 47 years. Cause of death is unknown.
Margrethe didn’t live to see Anna married and, thankfully, didn’t live long enough to see her 43 year old daughter bleed to death from surgery performed at home or to experience her son’s death from TB two months after Anna’s demise.
Margrethe (Bruun) Jensen has descendants today, but her life story is a sad one. Frits was the lone survivor of the family after the move to Maine. He passed away on 26 November 1920, in Calais, Washington, Maine.
There are no known photos of Margrethe or Frits.