All Their Sorrows

Emil and Gina Borreson managed to raise all ten of their children from infancy to adulthood. Not one death. I’ve always thought that quite remarkable; I read of other Pigeon Falls families not so fortunate. For Emil’s parents, in fact, the story was different.

Elias and Kari Borresen were the parents of six children, three boys and three girls. Emil, Selma, and Charlie all grew to adulthood, married, raised families, and died at a full old age. For the other three, each story was unique and tugs at the heart in its own way.

Eldest child Syverine Marie, whose story and the questions it raises appears elsewhere in this blog, was regarded as mentally deficient, but there are doubts about that diagnosis: perhaps she was deaf or very hard-of-hearing from birth and that handicap harmed her development. Eventually, she entered Northern Colony at Chippewa Falls where she lived until her death at 48 years of age. I could believe that placement at the Colony was both necessary and emotionally difficult for her family.

The third child Bernt, three years younger than our grandfather Emil, died in 1885 at the age of 10 years. Was the cause of death an illness? an accident? Someday I must go to the church Pigeon Falls and see if I can learn more from the record. Losing a child is hard for any family, even, I’m sure, for pioneer ancestors who faced it far too often.

The fifth child Emma grew to adulthood and married Carl Olson in 1907. Some time after their marriage Carl and Emma moved to the Dakotas. Less than two years later, Emma drowned after falling into an open well while pulling up water. Our aunt Clara writes in Homestead that our grandfather went to the Dakotas to accompany Carl as he brought Emma’s body back to Wisconsin and burial in the church cemetery. A third life had been cut short.

When Elias died in 1928, his wife Kari had preceded him by seven years, which meant that both were witness to these sad events. Yet, like folks of every generation, they found solace in their faith and strength to carry on.


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