Hans Jensen was born in Denmark and served his country in the Army. He represented the Army on the wrestling team. He came to the U.S. in about 1880 and worked for two years on a ranch. He then returned to Denmark and finnished his schooling. In 1884, he returned to the U.S.
During the return trip he met a young lady called Marie with the Christian name of Kirsten Marie Jensen, the same last name as Hans. It was a common name in Denmark as Smith and Jones are in the U.S. They became infatuated with each other and were married July 30, 1885. Marie worked as a housekeeper for a year before they were married.
After living for a few years in California, they moved to Washington and set up a homestead. The farm was located at the crossroads of North Fork Road and Centralia Alpha Road. The barn that was built in 1909 is still standing.
By the time they established their homestead, Hans and Marie had two children. The farm was a nice piece of flat land near the Newaukum River. They had to clear the land of the big trees so they could farm it. Farm land was more valuable than timber at that time, because you could live off the food produced with the aid of a few cows and horses to do the plowing, clearing and pull the buggies to town.
They had a very large family of thirteen children. Two of them died at an early age. John Morton Jensen was their tenth. The children loved the farm and their family. Each child had to learn to speak English when they started school. Hans spoke English well, because he had learned the language in his Danish school. Marie preferred to speak Danish. English was always hard for her and she spoke it with a strong Danish accent.
Hans Jensen died in 1914 when John was 13 years-old. When he was 15, John left home and worked on logging jobs and so did some of his brothers. Three of Johns sisters became nurses. Some of the older children were married by this time. Alfred married Madeline Saunders. She was granddaughter of the Saunders who founded Chehalis. Chehalis was once called Saunders Bottom.
Soon Grandma Kirsten realized that she could no longer manage the farm and moved to a house in town.
Kirsten was very special to her grandchildren. She loved them and would sing little Danish songs to them and tell them stories of Denmark. To her everyone was little, as in Little Verna, or Little Johnny. She used little as a term of endearment. They say she was a good cook and did a great deal of baking for her family. She loved God and had a strong Christian faith.
She lived the remainder of her life with her children. For a time she lived with Alfred and Madeline in a house she owned on Folsom Street in Chehalis. Later, she lived with Minnie and then others of her children.
By Verna Thode, March 1997
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