New Year, New Discoveries

Documentation for the death of Bernt Borresen, our grandfather Emil’s uncle and godfather, continues to elude me, but a recent return to led me to a host of discoveries about his children.

For some time I’ve know that Bernt and his wife Clara lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the fading years of the 19th century, but only days ago did I learn that they also had a son as well as four daughters. Bernhard Hjalmar, born in 1885, was the first of their five offspring, a fact I might have discovered if I’d dug deeper into the old records of Trinity Lutheran Church in North La Crosse. (These five would be second cousins to Emil and Gina’s children.)

All seven members of this family had left La Crosse by 1900, a move that I found when I located them in census records for nearby Monroe County. They were farming, renting actually, near Leon, in the area where Bernt’s Clara grew up. Perhaps they were even back on her home farm, but that would only be a guess. By 1905 Clara is a widow and remarries. What happened with Bernt, when or where, I am still trying to learn.

I have discovered, however, information about all five of his children. Four of them ended up in North Dakota and a fifth one in Canada.

Josefine, second in the family order, married Hjalmar Olson while she was still in La Crosse, but some time in the next decade, this family traveled, via Minnesota, to New Rockford, North Dakota (where they were residing at the time of the 1920 and 1930 censuses). New Rockford’s a small place maybe 60 miles north of Jamestown.

An old photo of Kenmare

An old photo of Kenmare

Bernice, two years Josefine’s junior, married Cleve G. Beehm between 1910 and 1915, and they were off to Kenmare, North Dakota, perhaps 30 miles south the Canadian border and NW of Minot. Cleve was a hotel cook in little Kenmare in 1920, but ten years later, he was at a restaurant in Minneapolis (living on well-known Hennepin Avenue).

Florence, born in 1892, must have found her way to North Dakota, too, (perhaps with a sister’s family) because in 1920, she married John Albert Landis in Minot. They appeared to have lived many years in Kenmare, the same town where Bernice and her husband started out.

Cora, the youngest born in 1895, is more of a puzzle. By 1915, she was in North Dakota, too, living with sister Bernice and husband Clete in Kenmare. But where after that, I’m not sure. Perhaps she’s the Cora Borreson who shows up in a public records index in Williston after 1950, but I’ve yet to determine that.

That leaves just one, the son Bernhard, the most surprising discovery.

A recent Ponteix area photo

A recent Ponteix area photo

My search yielded a U.S. Border Crossings from Canada for the summer of 1937. There was Bernhard Hjalmar Borresen (born 10 Jan 1885 in La Crosse) entering the U.S. at Turner, Montana, by auto, with his wife Edna for a ten-day visit. He was identified as a farmer from Ponteix, Saskatchewan, who had been in Canada since 1909, and was now a citizen there. (Elsewhere I learned that he had lived at Swift Current, too, for a time.) I found that his wife’s maiden name was Stevenson and she had been born in Ontario. Both Bernhard and Edna died at advanced ages in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1974 and 1977, respectively.

About the families/descendants of these five siblings, I know little. Josefine and Hjalmar Olson had a son and a daughter, and Florence and John Landis had a daughter. If there are other children, I am not aware of any at this time.


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