Ed Jensen and Johanne Marie Jensen -- 58 years

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Ed Jensen and Johanne Marie Jensen -- 58 years.

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Ed and Johanne were both born near Løkken, in northern Jutland.. When Ed was five his mother died and shortly thereafter his father left for America, leaving his children with an aunt. By the age of 22 Ed was courting Johanne Marie and facing conscription into the Danish army. He decided to come to America, but was unable to access his savings for fear of alerting the military authorities. His relatives scraped together the 240 kroner needed for passage money and train fare and soon Ed found himself – knowing no English -- at the train station in Avoca, Iowa. The following day he walked the 30 or so miles to his cousin’s farm near Fiscus, where he worked for two years, saving up money to send to Johanne, the girl he had left behind. They were married on February 9, 1905, and settled down on a farm in rural Shelby County, where they lived until retiring and moving to Harlan. Of his wife, Ed was quoted: “She was a WOMAN. And pretty, too. A woman is the main one on a farm. A man has to work hard, but without a good woman, it’s nothing. She did everything. She cooked and sewed, all the other things, and we had nine children.” Ed paid back the money lent him for his passage and then continued to pay it forward, paying first the fare for his brother in 1907 and for 18 others in later years.. ~~ Ed was also famous for his knitting, which he learned at the age of twelve, “needing something to do in the evenings to keep him out of mischief.” A sheep-herder at the time, his boss’s wife presented all her hired men with a ball of yarn and knitting needles and told them if they could knit themselves a pair of socks they could keep them. Ed was the only one to complete his socks, and continued his hobby for well over 60 years, knitting only “by ear,” that is, by estimating the size needed for gloves or mittens. Some of his entries won first prize at the Shelby County Fair. Johanne too was renowned for her crochet-work, giving the couple many hyggelige evenings in their older years.

  • Photograph courtesy of granddaughter Gloria J. Campbell, Irwin IA.

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