Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paul Martinus Jensen

  • Name: Paul Martinus Jensen
  • Born October 7, 1820 Dronninglund, Hjorring, Denmark
  • Died April 8, 1898 Spanish Fork, Utah, Utah
  • Related through: Erin’s grandfather James W. Madson

The lives of these two people were affected by the history of their native country Denmark is a small place in relation to other Scandinavian countries. It is also a very old inhabited place. To me it seems important to know a few bits of information about those people who have gone before me. To begin, the Madsen family were full Danes. I have been told we have a tie to the Atterdag family, in particular to Valdemar Atterdag and Queen Margarethe. That may or may not be true. Our people seem to have been part of Droninglund for a long time.

According to Thomas Jefferson in 1784, Denmark had nine well defined layers of society with no escape from any one of them. ONLY PEASANTS PAID TAXES. At times, peasants gave their land to the state or church because the taxes were too high for them to pay and still support their families. Only land owners were taxed so some choose to become vassals.

When land was wanted it was not available until land reform began in 1788. At that time people could begin to own the land they were working. In 1805, it became possible for some people to buy land. Most of the land in Denmark belongs either to the state or to the Church.

Paul Martinus Jensen had two younger brothers, Christen and Johannes Peter, who we don’t know much about. Mette Kirstine Olsen had one brother and three sisters. All of Mette’s siblings joined the church in Denmark and gathered with them in Utah.

Because Paul was blind in one eye (we have not found how this occurred) he never served in the Danish Army. The Danish Army lost all their wars but one. James E. Madsen was in that one it was about the border between Germany and Denmark, a problem still not really settled. Danish soldiers were easy to bribe to return to their land and leave the army.

Paul was married three times. He was married first to Brigithe Christendotter who brought a five year old son to the marriage, Hans Christian Andersen. He was not Paul’s and upon the death of Brigithe, he went to her sister. She died in 1850, her son was ten and on half.

According to a probate at the death of Paul’s first wife, Paul was a very generous, caring person. He choose to give all of Birgithe’s possessions to her son, along with some additional financial aid. At this time he also choose to forgive some other debts, although he himself was not at that time a wealthy person.

At the time of Paul’s second marriage to our great grandmother, Mette Kirstine Olsen, on April 15, 1851, good fortune almost immediately smiled upon the newlywed couple with dramatically higher wheat prices. France attacked Russia in 1854-1856, seeking to reduce Russian power in what became known as the Crimean War. The focus point of that war was the large port of Odessa on the Black Sea from which much Ukrainian wheat was exported. At that time Russian wheat was very important to global demand. Over this time period and thereafter while Odessa was being rebuilt, global wheat prices rose dramatically.

It is likely that when Mette and Paul were married they received as a wedding gift from Mette's parents a small farm on the small hill just north of Orso. It was less than a mile from the home of Mette's parents.

Whether they were persecuted for their beliefs is unknown. Mette had joined the church one year before Paul and likely was a clear and guiding star to Paul in making their decision to leave Denmark. Life had never been better for Paul since he had married Mette. Prosperity, posterity and the gospel had followed his second marriage. Mette was comfortable naming their first child, a daughter, after Paul's first wife, Brigithe. They had two daughters Brigithe and Hannah.

In 1866, preparations were complete and this family left their homeland to gather to Utah. Paul at that time was pretty well off. Research by Duane Madsen indicates that the $2,000.00 mentioned in accounts of Paul Martinus Jensens' financial affairs in 1866 has a discounted, inflation adjusted present value in 2004 of about $40,000.00.

Paul and Mette sold their precious things and significantly distributed the proceeds to the poor who were without the means to immigrate to Zion. Not a solitary reference of complaint is known to have been uttered by Mette who may have felt a significant sense of loss at leaving behind the home she had bore and raised her children. Paul seemed to have taken upon himself the responsibility of helping as many friends and family as possible to immigrate to Utah.

While no personal records were kept we have the records of others who traveled with them as they crossed the Atlantic, continued in renovated cattle cars to Missouri, and then mostly walked the last 1,200 miles to Zion. We can only imagine the process Mette and Paul went through in deciding to leave their prosperous circumstances near Droninglund, North Jutland, Denmark. For more on their journey see Brigithe’s history.

We are fortunate to have been born into a family of truly converted parents and grandparents and great grandparents. It is written that more productive members came from North Jutland than any other part of Denmark. They came as group. Not all at the same time but close enough and settling close enough together that they were still a "community of believing friends" within their new environment.

Included among the members of the local congregation of newly organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was Gutzon Borglum, the sculpture of the Mt Rushmore faces of the four presidents. He left his homeland for the sake of the Gospel and joined with the people in Utah. However, he became disaffected but was not excommunicated.

Brigham Young said, in the Discourses of Brigham Young, "Those who leave their home land and for sake of the gospel, gather with the saints will inherit the Celestial Kingdom that is all that is required of them".

After coming to Utah they settled in Spanish Fork. The first winter in Spanish Fork was spent in a small space beneath the ground which was covered with wood, adobe and branches to provide shelter. Paul and Mette quickly became part of the Danish community. At age sixteen Brigithe married James Ephraim Madsen who was then twenty-five. They were blessed with nine children- eight boys and a girl, Bodelia who was named after Birgithe's favorite and famous cousin Bodelia Mortenson who froze to death at Rocky Ridge, Wyoming while caring for a small child in the Willy Handcart Company.

As their family grew Brigithe asked her son Enoch to live with her parents in Spanish Fork to care for them and deal with the English language issues for her parents who never learned English. Each week Brigithe walked the twelve miles from Salem to Spanish Fork to spend a day with her son and parents. To have such faithful and worthy ancestors is a heritage to emulate.

These two people never learned English and probably were not in the habit of doing much writing in their native Danish language but they were faithful to the end of their days in the new faith they had embraced in their native land. They made great sacrifices to leave their native land and familiar culture and make the arduous journey by sea and by land to gather with their friends and fellow believers in a new country.

Mette died in 1885. After Mette’s death Paul was married a third time to Karen Marie Madsen Ottesen. Karen’s husband died in 1882. A child Marie, who was born in 1882, was sealed to her and Paul. They were married October 16, 1889 in the Manti Temple. Paul died in 1898 and is buried in Spanish Fork.

Article by Rae Christina Madsen Kem and Duane Madsen taken from their book “A Good Man and a Good Woman – Paul Martinus Jensen and Mette Kristine Olsen”. I found this book in the Family History Library catalog. Thanks Kerns for doing so much research about the Madsons.

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