A Woman on Horseback

Just two years apart in age, Ellen Eskeline Walsted and Jens Jacob Walsted were the youngest of eight children born in Denmark to Christian Jens Jacobsen Walsted and his wife Johanne Marie Larsdatter.1 Ellen and James, as he was known for most of his life, were the last of their surviving siblings to immigrate to America, with Ellen arriving in New York aboard the aptly-named New York in 1900 and James arriving in Boston aboard the Saxonia in 1902.2

James Walsted, Juanita Hansen, unknown, Clifton Walsted, and Ellen (Walsted) Hansen, Iowa or Oklahoma, ca. 1907; digital image privately held by Paul Hansen, 2018. Provenance of the original unknown.

The siblings soon reconnected in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, and were by all accounts close; James witnessed his sister’s wedding to fellow Dane Hans John Hansen in 1904, and later joined the Hansens on their move to New Hampton, Chickasaw County, Iowa.3 Eventually, Ellen and Hans moved on to Oklahoma, while James returned to Sioux City and married there to Kathrine Christensen, also a native of Denmark.4 

Although numerous photographs survive of Ellen, who was once noted to be “a lady of fine appearance” in a local newspaper, until this photograph was uncovered, only two snapshots, both taken in his later years, were known to exist of James.5

In this photograph, dated circa 1907-08, James and Ellen may both have been in their late twenties; Ellen would celebrate her thirtieth birthday in 1908, while James would turn thirty in 1910.6 Pictured, from left, are a young man in a bowler hat with a pipe between his teeth, believed to be James Walsted; a girl in a knee-length dress, believed to be Juanita Hansen, stepdaughter of Ellen; an unidentified boy perched atop a cellar door, perhaps a nephew of Ellen and James; a small boy standing before a horse, identified as Clifton Hansen, son of Ellen; and on horseback, an elegant young woman identified as Ellen (Walsted) Hansen.7

Ellen sits with poise on horseback, a hat with a broad upturned brim atop her head. While not a small hat, it is of a more modest size than those of the Merry Widow style which exploded in popularity after one was worn by actress Lily Elsie in 1907’s The Merry Widow.8 Ellen’s bodice appears to be pigeon-breasted, her skirt reaching her natural waist, and long riding gloves cover her hands and forearms.9 Horseback riding may have been a skill that she acquired in America, rather than during her upbringing in Denmark, where her father alternately worked as a baker and shoemaker.10

The provenance of the original photograph is currently unknown, and until it is recovered and the reverse checked for any possible inscriptions, questions about it remain. Where were James and Ellen when this photograph was taken? The group poses casually outside of a house with wood siding and a stone foundation; a cellar door and the corner of a porch are also visible. Two narrow windows, one open, offer a glimpse of fluttery ruffled curtains. It is possible James might have visited Ellen in Oklahoma, where she spent several years; alternately, it might have been taken at the Iowa homes of their sisters Jensine (Walsted) Winther or Anna (Walsted) Johnsen, both of whom had young sons who could be candidates for the little fellow seated on the cellar door.11 Regardless of the location, however, this informal outdoor photograph gives more insight into the personalities of these immigrant siblings than most studio portrait ever could.

Copyright © 2018 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

1 “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : 25 June 2018), Ellen Eskildine Valsted, birth, 15 February 1878, Ørum, Hjørring, Denmark; Rigsarkivet, København, and “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : 25 June 2018), Jens Jakob Valsted, birth, 10 May 1880, Dronninglund, Hjørring, Denmark; Rigsarkivet, København.
2 “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2018), manifest, New York, Southampton, England to New York, arriving 11 February 1900, Ellen Waldsted; citing National Archives microfilm T715, roll 102, and “Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1943,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2018), manifest, Saxonia, Liverpool, England to Boston, Massachusetts, arriving 31 July 1902, Jens Jacob Walsted; citing National Archives microfilm T843, roll 52.
3 “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2018), Hans Hansen and Ellen E. Walsted, 02 March 1904, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1922,” Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines, and “Iowa State Census, 1905,” digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : 25 June 2018), records for James Waldstad and Ellen E. Hansen, New Hampton, Chickasaw County, Iowa, United States; citing State Historical Department, Des Moines.
4 1910 U.S. census, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Oklahoma City Ward 7, enumeration district (ED) 59, sheet 18B, p. 6293 (penned), dwelling 260, family 269, Ellen W. Hansen; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1266, and “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1880-1940,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2018), James Walsted and Kathern Christinsen, 09 December 1909, Sioux City; citing “Iowa Marriage Records, 1880-1922,” Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines.
5 “Mr. Hans Hansen and Bride,” New Hampton [Iowa] Gazette, 17 March 1904; digital images, Advantage Preservation (http://newhampton.advantage-preservation.com : accessed 28 April 2018), and Photographs of Jens Jacob Walsted, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1945-1955; digital images 2015, privately held by Valene Petersen, 2018.
6 “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch, Ellen Eskildine Valsted, birth, 15 February 1878, Ørum, Hjørring, Denmark, and “Danmark Kirkebøger, 1484-1941,” digital image, FamilySearch, Jens Jakob Valsted, birth, 10 May 1880, Dronninglund, Hjørring, Denmark.
7 Paul Hansen to Melanie Frick, e-mail, 03 May 2018, “Who’s Who,” Personal Correspondence, Walsted Family, Frick Research Files; privately held by Frick. Paul Hansen reported that he received the names of the individuals in the pictured photograph from his brother, Mark Hansen, who in turn was told their identities by their paternal aunt Juanita “Nite” Hansen.
8 Christina Stewart, “The Merry Widow Hat (1907-1914),” Pretty Clever Films (http://prettycleverfilms.com/costume-design-film-fashion/merry-widow-hat-1907-1914 : accessed 25 June 2018).
9 Deborah Sweeney, “Fashion Moments: Pigeon Breast,” Genealogy Lady (https://genealogylady.net/2015/08/16/fashion-moments-pigeon-breast/ : accessed 25 June 2018).
10 1880 Danish census, database, Dansk Demografisk Database (http://ddd.dda.dk : accessed 25 June 2018), entry for Christian Walsted, Bolle, Dronninglund, Hjorring, Denmark, and 1890 Danish census, database, Dansk Demografisk Database (http://ddd.dda.dk : accessed 25 June 2018), entry for Christian Jens Jacobsen Valsted, Aalborg, Fleskum, Aalborg, Denmark.
11 1910 U.S. census, Oklahoma Co., Oklahoma, pop. sch., Oklahoma City Ward 7, ED 59, sheet 18B, p. 6293 (penned), dwell. 260, fam. 269, Ellen W. Hansen; digital image, Ancestry.com, 1910 U.S. census, Harrison County, Iowa, population schedule, Raglan, enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 1A, Sena Winther; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 405, and 1910 U.S. census, Woodbury County, Iowa, population schedule, Sioux Ward 7, enumeration district (ED) 207, sheet 9B, dwelling 143, family 143, Anna Johnsen; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 430.

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