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Jens Valdemar Jensen and Dorthea Marie Pedersen – Walter Thomsen’s Grandparents

Jens Valdemar Jensen was born on July 2, 1859, in Vrads, Skanderborg, Denmark, where his father was a school teacher. Later, the family moved to Underup where his father was the head school master. He married Dorthea Marie Jensen on February 19, 1887, at the church in Hvirring, Denmark.

Four months after Jens marriage to Dorthea, Helena Jensen was born on July 1, 1887, in Hvirring. Hvirring is where Dorthea’s parents lived. In 1889, the family moved to Kasted that lies north of Aarhus. Petra Elizabeth Jensen was born on November 19, 1889. Otto Christian Jensen was born on October 25, 1892, in Kasted. Around 1893, the family moved back to Underup and lived on a farm called Brevads. Anna Jensen was born on November 22, 1894, in Underup at the Brevads farm. Around 1897, the family moved to Naldal, just a little north of Underup. Mary Oline Jensen was born on May 13, 1897, lived only three months, and was buried at the Nordre Kirkegaard (North Cemetery) in Aarhus. In the summer of 1897, the family moved to Aarhus to seek better employment opportunities. While in Aarhus, Jens was an actor at the Aarhus Opera House and was a baker. Herluf Jensen was born on October 25, 1900, in Aarhus and lived only five months and was buried at the Nordre Kirkegaard (North Cemetery) in Aarhus.

Jens became interested in the LDS Church in Aarhus and was baptized on July 2, 1902, in the sea outside Aarhus, Denmark. In March 1905, he immigrated to Salt Lake City to make a home for his family. His daughter Helena mentions his adventurous spirit and strong faith. In 1906, he sent for Dorthea, Anne, and Christian. In 1907, Helene and Elizabeth, who were the oldest children, arrived in Salt Lake City.2 Upon arriving in Salt Lake, its streets reflected the still struggling pioneer effort to build a city in the Salt Lake Valley. Payment on Main Street extended only from South Temple to 9th South.3

Jens was a baker and traveled in Utah, in Idaho, and to Dayton, Ohio. He lived in a tent in Bingham Canyon where he baked and prepared food for miners, leaving him many miles from home. Because of his strong will and independent character, he changed jobs frequently.2 During World War I, he was commissary manager of the Atlantic Loading Company in New Jersey for several years, but returned to Utah immediately after the war.3

The first Jensen home at 1317 West 400 South, Salt Lake City was very small, see attached picture. Later, Jens built a larger, four-room home at 1381 West 400 South, see attached picture. Jens favored Chinese elm trees because of their easy propagation. He started them at his home and shared them with family and friends.1 He advocated home ownership and individuality in the designing of homes and would often sketch floor plans. 3

Dorthea Marie Pedersen was born on September 10, 1864, in Hvirring, Skanderborg, Denmark. Dorthea was known as the “sweet angel mother” and was peaceful and humble. In July of 1902, she joined the LDS Church in Aarhus, Denmark and arrived in Utah in 1906. She worked hard in taking care of neighbors and friends to the detriment of her own health.2 After 1915, Dorthea began suffering from dementia. For a short time she lived at the State Hospital in Provo. Thereafter, Helena took care of Dorthea in her home on 1314 West Pacific Avenue where she died from a severe stroke on August 18, 1918. She was buried in the City Cemetery in Salt Lake City.1

In 1935, Jens married Caroline Marie Hansen in the Salt Lake Temple. Caroline only spoke Danish, was not happy living in Utah, missed her native Denmark. Jens had known her in Aarhus. She was headed back to Denmark until Jens decided upon their marriage. Caroline was kind and loving. She died in 1938.1

At Christmas time, he baked Danish pastries for the family. Each child received one of these pastries. Each had a silver dollar in it.

Jen’s mode of transportation was by bus, street car, or foot. A car was not within his income. Because he was frugal, his small salary was sufficient for his needs.

The family fondly called him best-a-fa’ (bedstefader is a Danish word meaning grandfather).1 His English was limited, and he generally spoke Danish. He was an enthusiastic sportsman. He was known for his hard work, being intellectual, being very clean, and always tidy in his appearance.1

When Walter Thomsen was in the army in the early 1940’s, Jens would help Marjorie by preparing kindling wood that was used to start the coal furnace and helped with the yard work. In 1942, he retired. In his last years, he baked for the family; at Christmas he baked a rich white bread with citron and raisin in it. The family often got together to enjoy their coffee, and the family spoke in Danish around the dinner table. He was an active High Priest in the 32nd Ward. Jens lived at his children’s homes on the weekends. In his later years, Jens lived at 547 South 1200 East with his daughter Anna, who cared for him until his death on February 18, 1952. He was buried at the City Cemetery in Salt Lake City. 1

Sources:
1. Verbal history by Marjorie June White Thomsen
2. Written history by Helena C Jensen Thomsen
3. Deseret News Article, July 1949

Written by Richard W. Thomsen

Jens Valdemar Jensen and Dorthea Marie Pedersen in about 1887, taken in Horsens, Denmark shortly after their marriage.
Jens Valdemar Jensen and Dorthea Marie Pedersen in about 1887, taken in Horsens, Denmark shortly after their marriage.
The family in Aarhus, Denmark in about 1903
The family in Aarhus, Denmark in about 1903 Left to right: Helena, Anna, Jens, Dorthea, Elizabeth, and Christian
Jens Valdemar Jensen
Jens Valdemar Jensen
Danielle Thomsen in from of Aarhus Cathedral
Danielle Thomsen in from of Aarhus Cathedral
 Dorthea Marie Pedersen
Dorthea Marie Pedersen
Alter at Hvirring Parish Church where Dorthea Pedersen and Helena Jensen were christened.  Also where Dorthea and Jens Jensen were married.
Alter at Hvirring Parish Church where Dorthea Pedersen and Helena Jensen were christened. Also where Dorthea and Jens Jensen were married.
Underup is at the top of the map on the left side.  Pictures of Underup can be found under the history of Christian Thomsen Jensen, section 10.  It was in Underup that Anna Jensen was born to Jens and Dorthea and where Christian Thomsen Jensen was the head school master and Degn (assistant priest).  Helena was born in Hvirring that has the above church built in 1230 and that lies directly south of Underup.  Dorthea Marie Pedersen was born in Hvirring.  Not far away is Himmel Bjerg (Heaven’s Mountain) that is the highest point in Denmark at about 500 feet (147 meters) above sea level and the Lake District that is picturesque.
Underup is at the top of the map on the left side. Pictures of Underup can be found under the history of Christian Thomsen Jensen, section 10. It was in Underup that Anna Jensen was born to Jens and Dorthea and where Christian Thomsen Jensen was the head school master and Degn (assistant priest). Helena was born in Hvirring that has the above church built in 1230 and that lies directly south of Underup. Dorthea Marie Pedersen was born in Hvirring. Not far away is Himmel Bjerg (Heaven’s Mountain) that is the highest point in Denmark at about 500 feet (147 meters) above sea level and the Lake District that is picturesque.
Hvirring Parish Church
Hvirring Parish Church
The family attended church in this LDS Chapel in Aarhus, Denmark.  This is the organ that Helena played.
The family attended church in this LDS Chapel in Aarhus, Denmark. This is the organ that Helena played.
Birthplace of Jens Valdemar Jensen in Vrads, Denmark.  Vrads is west of Underup.
Birthplace of Jens Valdemar Jensen in Vrads, Denmark. Vrads is west of Underup.
Jens Valdemar Jensen, age 92
Jens Valdemar Jensen, age 92
Jensen home and farm (named Brevads) outside Underup and where Anna Jensen was born in 1894.
Jensen home and farm (named Brevads) outside Underup and where Anna Jensen was born in 1894.
Left to right: Jens, Dorthea, Bodil (Oluf’s mother), Walter, Christian Thomsen, Oluf Nielsen, and Anna, in 1918.
Left to right: Jens, Dorthea, Bodil (Oluf’s mother), Walter, Christian Thomsen, Oluf Nielsen, and Anna, in 1918.
Wedding card from Jens to Walter and Marjorie Thomsen in 1938 with his signature.
Wedding card from Jens to Walter and Marjorie Thomsen in 1938 with his signature.
Upon arriving in Utah, Jens Jensen built this home at 1317 West 400 South, picture taken in 2006 when it was in disrepair.
Upon arriving in Utah, Jens Jensen built this home at 1317 West 400 South, picture taken in 2006 when it was in disrepair.
Jens Jensen later built this four room home at 1381 West 400 South, picture taken in 2006.
Jens Jensen later built this four room home at 1381 West 400 South, picture taken in 2006.
Jens’ 90th Birthday Celebration held at Anna and Oluf’s Home
Jens’ 90th Birthday Celebration held at Anna and Oluf’s Home
Left to right: Christian Jensen (son), Dr. Root (friend), Jens Jensen, Anna Nielsen (daughter), Helena Thomsen (daughter), Oluf Nielsen (son-in-law), Mrs. Hortence Root (friend), Christian Thomsen (son-in-law)