Friday, February 15, 2013

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? - Aksel Mikkelsen - Part II

Last week I told you the story of Aksel and Hulda Mikkelsen.  Norwegian immigrants, Aksel went on to become a Chicago policeman and he and Hulda had five children.  In February of 1898 Hulda died of "childbed fever" and in his grief on October 10, 1898 Aksel committed suicide by shooting himself at Hulda's grave at Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago.

This is a tragic story, to be sure, but it is magnified by the fact that Aksel's suicide left their five children orphans. There was no obituary in the Tribune for either Hulda or Aksel, but an angel was able to find the Guardianship File for the children, and so, now we know that their names are:
Einar O. Mikkelsen          Born June 30, 1885
Lillie C. Mikkelsen           Born December 19, 1886
August Henry Mikkelsen       Born February 1, 1889
Sigrid C. Mikkelsen         Born November 25, 1892
Charlotte Mikkelsen         Born December 5, 1895 

What happened to the five orphaned children of Aksel and Hulda Mikkelsen?  Have you ever seen the movie "All Mine To Give?"  It is based on a true story about six Scottish pioneer children whose parents have died, forcing the eldest to find homes for his each of his younger siblings.  It is a tear-jerker from start to finish as the eldest brother realizes that he must separate the siblings so that they can all be given to good homes.  The stories of what happened to Mikkelsen children are not unlike the family in the movie.  Let's take a look to see what happened to each of them:  

Einar O. Mikkelsen was the oldest.  When his father died, he was thirteen years old.  In the 1900 Census he was living with Thomas and Amalia Olsen as a "boarder".  Thomas may have been Hulda's brother, in which case Einar was living with his aunt and uncle.  One of the items in the Guardianship file is a disbursement to the Illinois School of Agriculture & Manual Training for Boys for tuition of Einar O. and August H. Mikkelsen in Feb 1899.  Einar must have been successful in learning a trade because the 1930 Census shows him as a mechanical engineer for a paper factory.  Einar was born "Einar O. Mikkelsen" but somewhere along the way he started referring to himself as "Adolph E. Mikkelsen" and this was the name he used when he registered for the draft in World War I and World War II.  Einar/Adolph married "Della Hesterman" but I could not find any record of them having children. The 1940 Census shows Einar/Adolph and Della living in Fox River Grove, Illinois. The trail on both Einar/Adolph and Della ends there.

Lillie C. Mikkelsen was the next oldest.  She was born Emma Lillian Mikkelsen in December of 1886 as noted above, and was almost twelve when her parents died.  The 1900 Census shows Lillie living with her grandparents Carl and Ernestina Olsen.  Carl and Ernestina still had two of Hulda's brothers, Gustav and Carl living with them, as well as Hulda's sister Augusta.  In addition they had another granddaughter living there as well - 7 year old Emma Nelson.  As she got older, Lillie adopted the more adult sounding "Lillian".  On April 27, 1907, Lillian Mikkelsen married Harold Hansen in Chicago.  She was the loving mother of Arnold (b. 1909), Charlotte (b. 1910), Florence (b. 1914), Marguerite (b. 1917), Harold (b. 1918), and Marion (b. 1923).  Lillian Mikkelsen Hansen died in Berrien County, Michigan on April 4, 1958 at the age of seventy-one.
August Henry Mikkelsen was 9 years old when his parents died.  We lose track of him until 1912 when he married Caroline J. Carlson in Chicago.  Unfortunately the next time he shows up in the newspaper was when he died in October of 1918.  Here's his obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 21, 1918:

3430 N. Keating, Chicago

Looking at the cause of death from his death certificate (lobar pneumonia with bronchitis) it looks like  August Mikkelsen died from the Spanish influenza.

 Like his parents, August is buried at Mount Olive Cemetery.

Although he is not buried in the same section as his parents, (August is in Section B), you can see the Olsen family monument from August's grave.

The next of  Aksel and Hulda's orphaned children was Sigrid C. Mikkelsen, who was just short of six years old when her parents died. After her father died, Sigrid went to live with her uncle Albert Mikkelsen, Aksel's older brother.  She did not stay there long because she is not with Albert's family for the 1900 Census.  In fact, after that I can't find any mention of Sigrid Mikkelsen, although she is listed in August's obituary in 1918.  She seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.  

And last, but not least, Charlotte "The Baby" born in 1895.  She was only three when her parents died.  The 1900 Census shows her living with her great-aunt Louisa Hansen.  By the 1920 Census, Charlotte was calling herself "Lottie", working as an office clerk in a candy factory and saying that she was the daughter of Louisa Hansen.  On July 11, 1921 Charlotte married Benjamin Franklin Cartwright, Jr. in Chicago, a young widower who had a 4 year old daughter Virginia.  Ben's first wife, Louise Weger had died in 1918.  On July 17, 1926 Charlotte became a widow when her husband Ben was killed in a car accident outside of Carlock, Illinois.  He was 35 years old.  The 1930 Census shows Virginia living with her grandmother.

Ben Cartwright's obituary says that he was buried at Mount Olive Cemetery.  I went there recently to see if Charlotte may have been buried next to Ben.  The cemetery records show that Charlotte Cartwright purchased Plot 90 in Section R in July, 1926 but there is no one currently buried there.  I went out and took a look for myself, and could find no tombstone for either Ben Cartwright or Charlotte Mikkelsen Cartwright.  Perhaps Ben was buried there and then his grave was moved at a later date, or perhaps Ben's family preferred that he be buried in their family plot in Peoria.  In any case, at the present time, neither Ben or Charlotte are buried at Mount Olive.

And here's where the trail of Charlotte goes cold.  I could not find any further information about her after 1926.  She may have remarried, she may have moved out of Illinois, she may have even passed away, but I couldn't find any clues whatsoever.

So to recap, here's where each of the children went after Aksel's death:

Einar - Thomas and Amalia Olsen
Lillie - Carl and Ernestina Olsen
August - Unknown
Sigrid - Albert Mikkelsen
Charlotte - Louisa Hansen

It is possible that Einar and August stayed together, but the other children were all separated from each other.

Thus ends the story of Aksel Mikkelsen and his family.  Losing both of their parents at a young age must have been very difficult for the children, but life goes on and luckily there was a large extended family to step in and assume the parenting role.  We will never know how losing their parents affected the children inwardly, but outwardly they all seemed to turn out alright and went on to live normal lives. What would have been different if Axel and Hulda had lived?  We will never know.        

May Einer, Lillie, August, Sigrid and Charlotte Mikkelsen rest in peace.

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