Erik and Inger Marie (Hansen) Bramsen were in their sixties when they left their native Denmark to settle with their adult children in Dakota Territory.1 They had married on 1 September 1832 at Skrydstrup Kirke in Skrydstrup, Gram, Haderslev, Denmark, when Erik was twenty-eight and Inger Marie twenty-four.2 It was four decades later when they bade a final farewell to their farm, Hørløkkegaard, and their homeland.3
These undated photographs, circa 1870-1880, may have been taken before or after the couple made their ocean voyage; as I have not seen the originals, only photocopies, I am unsure of their format or any other identifying information. Erik wears an unbuttoned double-breasted wool overcoat; while seated, it reaches his knees. Little detail can be discerned about the shirt he wears underneath, which has no visible buttons, but his trousers are of a straight, loose cut. He is clean-shaven, his hair is trimmed and combed to the side, and his eyes appear light in color. Seated in a chair with an arched back, Erik rests his left arm on a small table covered with an embroidered cloth. Tassels from a curtain are visible in the background.
Inger Marie sits before the same background, with the chair situated to the right of the table instead of the left and her right elbow resting on the table. It seems possible that she has suffered a stroke, as her mouth appears uneven and one eye droops. A bonnet with a white frilled trim frames her face and ties below her chin with a large bow. Her dress has fitted sleeves with ruched cuffs, and the bodice is of a darker color than the full skirt. The fabric has a sheen to it, and, while simple, the dress appears well-made and carefully fitted. Several elements of her attire support a date sometime in the 1870s, including the frilled trim on her bonnet and its substantial bow.4
The couple arrived in New York aboard the Cimbria on 14 August 1872, within weeks of their fortieth wedding anniversary.5 They appear in the 1880 U.S. census for Yankton County, Dakota Territory,6 and both passed away in the years thereafter, Erik circa 1880 and Inger Marie in the spring of 1885 when she succumbed to tuberculosis.7 Erik and Inger Marie (Hansen) Bramsen are said to be buried in unmarked graves at Elm Grove Cemetery (formerly Maple Grove Cemetery) near Tabor, Yankton County, South Dakota, alongside many of their children and grandchildren who, like them, were pioneers.8
Copyright © 2017 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
1 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 May 2017), manifest, Cimbria, Hamburg, Germany to New York, arriving 14 August 1872, Joh. E. Bramsen and Marie Bramsen; citing National Archives microfilm M237, roll 364.
2 “Churchbook 1831-1861, Skrydstrup,” digital images, Danish Family Search (http://www.danishfamilysearch.com : accessed 22 May 2017), entry for Erik Bramsen and Inger Marie Hansen, 1 September 1832, Skrydstrup, Haderslev, Gram, Denmark.
3 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com, manifest, Cimbria, Hamburg, Germany to New York, arriving 14 August 1872, Joh. E. Bramsen and Marie Bramsen.
4 Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1997), 300.
5 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com, manifest, Cimbria, Hamburg, Germany to New York, arriving 14 August 1872, Joh. E. Bramsen and Marie Bramsen.
6 1880 U.S. census, Yankton County, Dakota Territory, population schedule, Township 93 Range 57, p. 4 (penned), dwelling 36, family 36, Erik and Inger Primson [sic]; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 May 2017), citing National Archives microfilm T9, roll 115.
7 “U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index,” index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 May 2017), Maria Bramson, Yankton County, South Dakota, 1885. Family lore suggests that Erik Bramsen died on 1 April 1880, although he appears in the 1880 U.S. census which was recorded 2-3 June 1880 and named those living as of 1 June 1880.
8 Alvie Jorgensen, A Few of my Grandchildren’s Ancestors (Massachusetts: Alvie Jorgensen, 1989).