Last week, I wrote a post about my 2nd Great Grandfather, Andreas Nielsen Jessen. This week, Michael Kirchmeier, Director of the Jackson County Historical Society in Jackson, MN, sent more information my way. Family oral history and written biographies mention that Andreas was ill and an invalid for about a year before he died. Sadly, today I learned of the extent of his illness.
Find out the sad truth about what he experienced and the impact on his family…
It seems that Andreas and his family moved from Fon du Lac, Wisconsin to Belmont Township, Minnesota in the Fall of 1884. By then, Belmont Township had been settled for almost 20 years. Within the year, Andreas’ health started to decline. This post in The Jackson Register, June 25, 1886, reveals that the nature of his illness was a severe palsy.
–Andrew Nelson (error in last name – should be Jessen) a Dane who came from Wisconsin about two years ago and located on the Sugar Chesterson farm in Belmont last January was stricken with the disease known in the medical profession as “progressive palsy” and the flesh on his arms and legs has since rapidly withered away leaving him entirely helpless and disease is now rapidly encroaching upon his vital organs. Dr. Gould has visited him on behalf of the county, as he is in poverty-stricken circumstances with a large family, and pronounces the case almost necessarily hopeless. Mr. Nelson (Jessen) says he awaits death with feelings of satisfaction.
On October 4, 1886, Andrew Jessen passed away. He had just turned 35 years old. His death notice appeared in The Jackson Register on October 15th, 1886.
–Andrew Jessen, the “living skeleton,” an account of whose peculiar case was published in The Republic a few weeks ago, died recently at his home in Belmont. Although a man of large build, at the time of his death he doubtless weighed less than sixty pounds.
These are so hard to read, aren’t they? It just hurt my heart to learn how much he and the family suffered. The truth of his illness makes me appreciate the harsh childhoods and life stories of his six children.
In the family history, we know that Andreas’s half brother Christ Henriksen (they had the same mother, Marie Catherine Nielsen) took over as head of the household by marrying Sophie. They had one daughter together, Ella Johanna (nee Henriksen) Thoreson. She also suffered from palsy. With this information, I suspect the condition might be inherited through the Nielsen line.
This past week, I made contact with a Nielsen descendant and genealogist in Denmark. I will have to inquire about palsy in the Danish part of the family.