Andreas Nielsen Jessen Part II

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.

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–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.

Andreas Nielsen Jessen Death Notice

–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.

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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  1. Ruth Packard on February 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Oh, Jennifer, that is so sad! It is good that you can continue the research to find out about the disease.

    My husband’s Norwegian lineage is certainly a challenge to research. Fortunately they came over with many old papers. One group lived in Fond du Lac.

    Be sure to post and bring us up to date when you find out more from Denmark!

  2. Martina Soller on December 20, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Dear Jennifer, i read your site with big ingress ! I ´m searching for a long time for everything about the Nielsenfamily. My grand grandfather is from Abenraa, dan mark. He had a sister named Marie Christiansen ( born name).She shipped to Amerika 1846 ? my uncle told me. Minnesota first he told me. My grandmother Käthe Nielsen married Herbert Bossau, my father is named Hans, Christian, Andreas ( after his grandfather). May be we have same roots ?I would be happy to hear from you. Heartly greetings Martina , born Bossau, afterborns from nielsen.

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