Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Obituary: Lars Hansen Madsen

Lars Hansen Madsen with his wife, Johanna Bruhns, and family

As I understand it, Sunday is the day of the week when a lot of genealogy bloggers share their ancestors' obituaries. Today, I'm joining this tradition by showing you all the obit of my maternal Great Grandpa Lars (Louis) Hansen Madsen. I was fortunate to get to know my Grandpa Louie -- I was six years old when he died, and I still have fond memories of visiting him at his home in Livermore, California.

Grandpa Louie immigrated in 1908 from Risemark, on the tiny island of Ærø, Denmark. Until that time, he had grown up on the family farm, Bakkegaard (which loosely means "farm on the hill"). He was a successful farmer in the Livermore area, and a very loving family man. My strongest memories of Grandpa Louie are:
  1. The butter mints he kept in a lovely little lidded candy dish (which now resides on my sofa table).
  2. His Danish accent. It slayed my sister and me, and he'd patiently oblige us when we implored him to say "three hundred and thirty three" over and over again. It sounded like "tree hunderd und turdy tree" to us and we little girls thought that was just hilarious.
When Grandpa Louie passed away in 1971, his obituary appeared in a Danish newspaper. A Danish cousin interpreted it for us, and here's the copy that Grandpa Louie's daughter, my Great Aunt Rae, shared with the family:

It reads:
Birthdate: Sept. 24, 1893    Died: May 8, 1971
Ærø died in California

Lars Hansen Madsen, in Livermore near San Francisco, died after a short stay at the hospital at 77 1/2 years. Lars Hansen was the last of a large flock of children grown up on "Bakkegaard" in Risemark. Laurits Hansen Madsen and wife Kirsten (nee Therkelsen), late parents. Five of these children traveled to California. The oldest, Hans Madsen, left in 1891. He was married to the now 100 year old Maren Caspersen, from Dunkaer Mark, who still lives in Livermore. Lars Hansen traveled 1/2 year after his confirmation in 1908 with other relatives (Sine & John; Christine & Rasmus), over to his brother and most of them live in Livermore. His wife and a daughter died a few years ago, but another daughter and son still live in Livermore. 
He was 14 years old when he came to America, and couldn't speak English. He finished trade school at Mocho School. On our tour recently, we lived with my wife's cousin, Tillie Henningsen, in Hayward. An older healthy dame of 83 years. She drove us 40 kilometers to Livermore for a (??) visit with old Maren Madsen, with whom we had a long talk. She cannot see anymore, but has a good memory. The next day, we were called on the phone by Lars Hansen Madsen, who was well and quick-witted and very interested in hearing news of his old home, so we had a long talk. It was quite a shock and sorry when I received a letter from Maren Madsen's oldest daughter, Kate Meyers, that her uncle had passed on.

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