Friday, July 29, 2011

Brossoit branch - part 2

Pictured is the billiard hall owned by George Brossoit in Stephen, MN.  He also owned the local "movie house" in the heart of downtown Stephen from 1917 to 1927 along with his business partner E. Champion.  During these years, the name of the movie house was called the Idle House Theater.  Movie admission was 10 cents and the movie operator was "Movie Johnson" who went from town to town showing "silent movies".  Talking movies did not come to Stephen until 1932.

The fifth child born to Alexander and Sophie was Orel Brossoit in Aug 1894.  When he was 21 years old he married Emma Erickson.  They had four children, Dorothy, Olive, Earl and EmyLou.

Armand Brossoit

The 1900 census reports that Sophie had given birth to 7 children by now but only 5 had survived until 1900.  This is also reported in the obituary written about Sophie.  I believe this is where they would have fit into the scheme of things as the next child to live until adulthood was Armand who was born seven years aqfter Orel in December of 1901.  Armand married Joan Beauleau, moved to Michigan and raised four children, Julian, Vincent, Christine and Raymond.

Omer Brossoit
The last child born to the Brossoit family was Omer Joseph Brossoit in Aug 1904.  Omer, always the Frenchman as were they all, loved music and many of the pictures feature Omer and his brothers carrying their violins and wearing their fedoras, looking like they just left the mob scene.  Omer was a hard-working, fun-loving fellow.  He, as well as his brothers worked as loggers, dug ditches and built bridges, worked in the stockyards in South St. Paul, hunted squirrels, duck and deer, fished,  played cribbage and 500, drank beer and whiskey, smoked a pipe, sang in French to the delight of his granddaughters, and in his later years, sought out bargains at garage and estate sales and never missed lunch at Old Country Buffet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brossoit branch - part 1

In the Centennial book of St Rose of Lima Church, Argyle, Minnesota 1879-1979, it is written "Basil Grvais (Jarvais) and his son, Pierre, who had come from the province of Quebec, Canada ventured to Marshall County in 1877 where the virgin soil of the valley held its promise of the future.  When Pierre Gervais filed his homestead claim (the first in township) for the Southwest Quarter of Section 10 Middle River Township, Marshall County, on May 25, 1878, many other names soon appeared.  The ox cart trail(Pembina) and the Red River were the basic routes of travel.  In a short time, numerous families had migrated to this area and filed Homestead claims."

 My great-grandfather, Alexander Brossoit, was born in Montreal, Canada in 1856. When Alexander was 20 years old he emigrated to Minnesota and homesteaded property in northern Minnesota in 1879. Two years later he went back to Canada where he married Sophie Trepanier, and moved her to their home in Argyle.  

Wilfred Brossoit
Alexander and Sophie had nine children, seven who grew into adulthood.  The oldest was Wilfred Brossoit, who was born in November of 1882.  Wilfred married Stephanie Landreville (also born in Argyle) in 1914 and they had three children, Simone, Elie and Fidelis.

Next born was Virgina in 1884.  She married Wilfred Morin and they had 9 children, eight of them girls and one son, Adrian, who would be a few years younger than Virgina's youngest brother, Omer.  Adrian and Omer spent much time together, as there are lots of pictures of the two of them when they were young men.

Caroline Brossoit
Third born, in 1886, was Caroline.  Caroline didn't get married until later in life.  In the 1920 census, she is living at home and working as a self-employed dressmaker.  She married Clarence Remme and had her only child, Orella, when she was 43 years old.

Emma Kleinvachter (r)

George Brossoit was next child born in Feb 1888.  George was a broad chested man who started off as a rural mail carrier in Stephen but this only lasted for one season from July 1918 to November 1918.  He owned the local pool hall -"George Brossoit called his billiards parlor 'The Club.'"  (As recorded in the Marshall County Leader and Stephen Messenger in 1920.)  He also gained notoriaty as a local wrestler in town.  In June of 1920 he married his sweetie, Emma Laura Kleinvachter, from Vienna, Austria.  They had five children, Elizabeth, Jean, Lori and twins, Donald and Donna.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Toombs - the other side of the coin.

My intention is to finish the story of Hazel and move onto her husband Omer, but before that, I need to give what information I have on the Toombs family.  Laura Frances Toombs was the second child of George Washington Toombs and Cecelia Augusta Decker.  She was born in Siersville, New York, on 29 Mar 1870.  George, her father was the son of Robert and Sally Toombs.  I can find Robert and family in the 1860 census in New York.  By 1870 census George has been married for 6 years and had two children, Alonzo and Laura. 

By 1880, George has added 2 more sons to this union, Augusta and Robert.  By 1885, George, wife Cecelia, Alonzo, Laura, Gusta, Robert and 2 more daughters, Grace and Maude have moved to Tamarac Village in Minnesota.  The 1885 Minnesota census has five additional men living with the family, the youngest being M. Jensen from Denmark.  (I believe that this most likely is Martin, who 4 years later is married to Laura when she turned 19.)  Another interesting note that in this census, family # 24 is the G.W. Toomb family.  Family # 30 is the Alex Brossoit family.  Forty-five years later, G.W.'s granddaughter, Hazel, will marry Alex's youngest son, Omer. 

In 1888, the Marshall County Leader newspaper reported that were 398 people living in Stephen, Minnesota.  November 1889, Laura Toombs married Martin Jensen and in 1890, the Marshall paper reported that Dennis Hanna bought more land from Narcisse Parent, increasing his total acreage to three full sections.  G.W. Toombs was listed as the farm manager. 

From this point, there is not much more to tell about George.  His wife, Cecelia died June 2, 1898 and George, 55,  now alone with only Grace, 17,  and Maude, 15, remarries by September of the same year to Anna M Stewart, 31 years old.  Some families have speculated that George and Anna have 6 more children and move to Oregon, but I need to verify this before I'm certain.

In 1898, daughter Laura is 28 years old, married with three children and keeping house in Sinnott Township, just north of Tamarac Village. 

Laura Frances Toombs

Monday, July 25, 2011

Birthday Bios: Hazel & Joseph & Kelton

July 25th!  Born 103 years ago today was Hazel Jensen Brossoit, my grandmother.  She passed away 17 years ago, but we remember her every year when we celebrate her great, great grandchild Joseph Rollin Regan!  Happy bithday wishes Joe!  And let's not forget Kelton Edward Glewwe who celebrates his mid-40's tomorrow.  Happy Birthday Kel!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Census Reports and more

Today, while rechecking information on Martinus Jensen, I found out a few more items I did not know prior.  To make sure you have the right person in the right town at the right time you look at federal or state census reports and see if you can follow along a timeline.  While looking at information, first I discovered that Martins folks, Neils (or Nels) did not speak English by choice (I assume) because he could read and write in English, and that Maren could neither read, nor write or speak English.  

Martin and Laura were married in 1889.  The 1900 census and well as the 1895 state census called their oldest daughter by her middle name "Celia".  Also, a newly found fact, in 1895, Laura's sister Augusta Toombs, had moved in with them and her two young children, Edward, 4, and Frank, age one.  This information was all new to me and the existance of Edward and Frank have given me another trail to follow.

By 1900, Augusta and kids were out and Martin, Laura and their 4 kids were in.  By 1905, the state census show that Martin's father has passed on and his mother, Maren, lived with them.  I cannot find the Jensen family in the 1910 census, but will continue to search for them.....somewhere.

By 1920, they are back where I left them in Tamarac Village, Marshall County, with 6 kids at home and Marion (Celia) and Nellie married.  Anna is a teacher and the sons are all working as farm laborers and Hazel is attending school.  By 1930, only Martin, Hazel and Marvin (Hazel's son) are listed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Martin Jensen 1868 - 1943

Martin or Martinus Jensen was born on 26 Apr 1868 in Vrensted, Borglum, Hjorring, Denmark.  This puts it on the upper most tip of Denmark on the western side near the North Sea.  He was the youngest of seven children born to Niels Jensen and Maren Sorensdatter.  His siblings were Jens (James) b. 1854, Soren b. 1856,  Jens Christian b. 1860, Christian b. 1862, Kjersten b. 1862 Nielsine Marie b. 1865 and Martinus b. 1868.  I have not been able to locate all of the dates for their deaths but we do know that Christian, Kjersten and Nielsine all died the first week of November 1867, just five months before Martin was born.  Most likely cause was the cholera epidemic that was sweeping the world with over 500,000 deaths, with over  30,000 in Denmark alone!  When Martin was 4 years old he, his older brother, Soren (I believe the only other surviving child), and their parents emigrated to the United States.

Martin & Laura Jensen

In 1906, Martin became one of three mail carriers for the new rural areas around Stephen, MN and remained in that job for 25 years until his poor eyesight caused him to retire. It was written in the Marshall County Leader/Stephen Messenger newspaper on 4 Nov 1910, "Guess we will be compelled to get up before breakfast these mornings in order to mail our letters, as our mail carrier, Martin Jensen, has a new motor cycle."

 Martin married Laura Francis Toombs 27 Nov 1889 and they produced eight children. Laura and Martin were parents to Marion, George, Nellie, Anne, Lawrence, Nels, Charles and Hazel.  Hazel, the youngest was born in 1908.  When she was 13 years old, her mother died and Martin remarried two years later to Minnie Mott.  Minnie, too, died an early death, passing away one year later in 1924.  Martin again remarried Mrs. Mary Anderson in 1931 and when she passed away in 1940, he moved in with Hazel and her husband, Omer Brossoit with their three children, Marvin, Bette and Joan down in South St Paul, MN.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Richmond Street memories

Hazel Jensen married Omer Brossoit on 18 Mar 1931 at the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis.  They moved into South St Paul and after renting a place for a few years on Frost Street, they moved into their home at 111 W Richmond. (Currently numbered as 109 W Richmond).

The story goes that the house was built as a "speakeasy or bar" and then was moved to Richmond Street in one piece.  This was before the addition was added on which was Grandpa's bedroom (with the French doors).  They raised five children in this three bedroom, 856 sq foot house.  We all remember squeezing around the dining room table when it was a small family dinner or everyone seated along long tables in the basement for holiday dinners.  But mostly we all remember having picnics outside where there was the most space; in the backyard with its small sidewalk, raspberry bushes, three square gardens for Grandpa's vegetables, one rock garden for Grandma, and one birdbath.

With the old metal chairs and picnic table (with wheels on one end) and a wire-haired terrier (remember Suzie and/or Penny), we had good times, lots of laughs and lots of family.  We still have the old cast iron grill, and the birdbath still holds water for the birds.  I don't know about the rest of my family, but when we pick raspberries every summer we think of Grandma and Rae still makes Grandma's potato salad. In fact, it is so highly regarded that the St. Paul Hotel has changed its menu after tasting this special salad!  (Or so one of their chef's have told me.)   ...........Thanks for the memories!

Grandma Brossoit's Potato Salad

5 lbs red potatoes 
5 hard boiled eggs, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1 bunch radishes, sliced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced

Cook potatoes with skins on in very salted water.  When done, cool then scrape off skins and dice. Combine all ingredients with dressing, season with salt and pepper, chill at least 1 hr before serving.

Dressing for Potato Salad

1/2 jar mayonaise (or approx. 2 cups)
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons prepared mustard

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hazel Isabel Jensen 1908-1994

My grandmother, Hazel Jensen was born July 25, 1908, the youngest of eight children born to Martin Jensen and Laura Frances Toombs.  She was born in Sinnott township, Marshall County, Minnesota.  This is in the upper northwest corner of Minnesota.  Her father homestead here and she was raised here.  She attended school in Stephen and went onto Teacher's College in Bemidji.  There are not a lot of pictues of Hazel when she was young, as there was a fire in her home and most of the pictures were lost.  What we do have is all the more precious because of it.  I'm not sure if the car pictured is a Model T or a Model A Ford.  The Model T was last produced in 1927 and the Model A started production in 1928.  I'm thinking it's a Model T because of the front grill.  This is the same car with her father Martin Jensen.
Martin Jensen was one of seven children born to Neils Jensen and Maren Sorensdatter in Vrensted, Denmark on 26 Apr 1868.  All but Martin and his older brother Soren died before they emigrated to the United States in 1874, when Martin was 6 years old.  The Danish, and probably other Scandinavian familes had the tradition of no last names, as we know them.  Rather they took on the title of their father's son or daughter.  So Martin's father, Neils, was Jen's sen(son) and his mother Maren, was Soren's datter (daughter).  Going back another generation Neils father's name was Jens Neilsen and his mother was Kjersten Thomsdatter.  Once I became aware of this, it was easier to follow the family lines back in Denmark.  Again because Jens Neilsen (Martin's grandfather) had a sister (or  great aunt to Martin) named Bodil Marie Jensdatter.  Easy when its written down on paper!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Birthday bio: Suzanne

Wherever you wander,
wherever you roam,
Just keep in mind,
that there's no place like home!

Happy birthday Suzie! 

Our bookmobile lady

Fifty years ago on July 18, the South St Paul Public Library put their first bookmobile into service.  Behind the desk, at the back of the bus, sat my grandmother, Hazel Brossoit.  She held that post for many years with many different drivers.  All over town she was known as the "bookmobile lady".  Our closest stop was in the Concordia Lutheran Church parking lot off 5th Ave and Douglas Street.  We would go there after Girls Scouts, during the school year or ride our bikes there in the summertime.  With our aunts working the main library and our grandmother holding court in the bookmobile, it was no surprise that we were all avid readers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The first branch and leaf

When I started this, I wanted to share with my family and friends (read that as the younger set), stories about their relatives and the tidbits I find out as I research the family lines.  So the first few posts were to set the stage.  But now it is time to really look into that first branch.  My grandmother, Hazel Jensen Brossoit and what stories we can share.  With July being her birthday month, it is a good place to start.

Hazel Isabel Jensen was born 25 July 1908 in Sinnott Township, near the now city of Stephen, Marshall County, Minnesota.  This puts her in the upper north-west corner of Minnesota along the Tamarac River. She was the youngest of eight children, born to Martin Jensen and Laura Francis Toombs.  I remember her telling me to never name my daughters "Hazel" because she was always called "Hazelnut" and she did not like the name Isabel. 

What memories do we all have of her?  She always was welcoming and I can't recall her ever saying a bad word about someone else.  She was a lady through and through, but never put on airs.  She taught us how to bake apple dumplings, stuff sausages, play cribbage and the game where you hide the button.  We were allowed to play with her jewelry box and put curlers in her hair.  She was always game for a picnic or an estate sale or even just out to lunch.  We toured all the old historic homes together, watched "Peter Pan" every year at her house, had Brownie scouts in the basement and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" (in color!) in the living room.  We went to her house for lunch during our elementary school years, suppers on Fridays for smelt and had many a Thanksgiving dinner. 

When we went to the lake, she didn't swim, so we would gather the inner tubes and float along the shoreline and visit.  She taught some of us how to drive and others how to smoke and drink, but still remain that lady.  Gardens were her pride of her yard and she taught me how to arrange flowers and not be apprehensive to make centerpieces.  Raspberries were always in great supply and she would can those we did not eat at first picking as well as canned tomatoes.  She made lutefisk, pickled herring, head cheese, and blond brownies.  As children we wrote on the blackboard inside the back hall area, played on the organ or the "piano-harp" in the basement or listened as Grandma and Grandpa played thier favorite dance tunes on the piano and violin.

She loved to read, work crossword puzzles and knit.  Knitted mittens which as we grew older became wool throws which gave way to buying socks for all the grandkids as the numbers grew and the presents became too numerous to gather.

Monday, July 11, 2011


We just got home from a long weekend, driving to Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  It was 8 people, 2 cars, 1500 miles and 25 hours round-trip.  While there, we visited both Chimney Rock and Scott's Bluff, the first a stepping off point for those pioneers who came across the prairies and went to California or to Utah and the other a monument to a trader, who could go no further and was left to die at the base.  Without any trees or buildings or in this heat, shade!  I have a whole new appreciation for all those who traveled by covered wagon or by foot.  They had no maps, no city on the horizon, no way to tell when their journey was going to end.  Just the desire for a better life. 

Oregan Trail - Wagon wheel ruts at Scottsbluff
  Reminds me of the refrain from "Oklahoma" - "The Farmer and Cowboy Must Be Friends"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer pastimes

Last week when I said Minnesotans head up to the lake, I knew that as a family we spent a lot of time there too. Attached are some pictures of past trips "to the lake".

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Celebrity Spottings!

It occured to me that while looking through old family photos, I ran across some celebrity look-alikes.  Oops, make that celebrity wanna-bees.

The Captain & Tonille!

Or perhaps The Carpenters!

Or the entire cast from the Broadway bound "Now & Then"
(Check out the couple on the far left!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Birthday Bios! : Ashley

This little girl walked into our lives and our family is blessed! 

Happy Birthday Ashley!