Finding Bernt

A Christmas present arrived early for me today when I opened my e-mail from Monroe County. There was the marriage information I had requested, hoping to get closer to learning the mystery of “where in the world was Bernt.”

The information was a gold strike! On October 25, 1883, Bernt Borresen married Clara Agnete Hansen of Leon in Monroe County, Wisconsin. This Bernt was born in Norway, listed as the son of Borre and Maria Anderson, so he must be the right person, the brother to our great-grandfather Elias. The couple was married by E. Jensen of Coon Valley in a ceremony of the Norwegian Lutheran church.

At the time of his marriage and 11 years after serving as godfather to our grandfather Emil, Bernt was a workman living in La Crosse, Wisconsin (acc. to the marriage information). Apparently, he didn’t go west as the family had thought, or if he did, he had returned.

Now I am more certain of other information about his life too. I think he and Clara continued to live in La Crosse where they had three daughters: Bernice (b. 1889), Florence (b. 1892), and Cora (b. 1895).

In the 1895 and 1897 La Crosse City Directories, Bernt was listed as an employee of C B & N Railway, which was the Chicago, Burlington & Northern. He lived at 2132 Wood – as, I presume, so did his family. (By the way, the C B & N was incorporated in 1885, and 14 years later was sold to the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy. The C B & N became part of the Burlington route northwest to St. Paul, Minnesota.)

In the 1905 Wisconsin census, Clara (“Clarrie”) appeared as a widow along with her three daughters, meaning that Bernt had died prior to June 1st of that year but I don’t know any specifics. At his death he would have been younger than 50 years.

Six years later, both Clara and her middle daughter Florence were listed at separate addresses in the 1911 La Crosse City Directory and were serving as “domestics.” In 1913 Florence was a domestic at 928 King, La Crosse, generally a neighborhood of big old mansions. (I’ll have to check out the actual address.)

There is someone with family tree information on Florence on Ancestry.com indicating that she married a John Albert Landis in Minot, ND in 1920, so perhaps that source may yield more on Bernt’s descendants. We’ll see.

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