Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) Memoirs: Intermission; Etta Weds, Photos ca 1900

We are pleased to share some early photos of Matt’s adored elder sister, the unforgettable Etta Church. It was she who detained in Norway with him for over a year; two preteens pining to join their parents and siblings in America. In late November 1887, they did just that.1

Matt credited her, in his Memoirs, for holding the family together upon their mother’s soon demise.2 We cannot unread his poignant recall of her at eighteen; that passage where he fretted with a boy’s mother-loyalty, hinting that his father dispersed his first children, in favor of re-marriage to Aletta, and their imminent child. That was 1892.

So when it became apparent that an increase in the family was due, it was arranged that Etta should make a trip to Nebraska to visit with an uncle for a while, …

Memoirs of Mathias Hemmingsen Victoria, B.C. ca 1956

It was an uncomfortable memory of stress for Matt who, typically, was more charitable. Luckily we had received a report from an independent source before we came upon his Memoirs. That report showed the venue was indisputably in Emmet County Iowa, not Nebraska, and her mission was not discretionary. 1 The uncle was Berith’s brother, who was married to Ole’s dying sister, such that there were kin who required care. It is not clear if Matt knew this, but our opinion is that Ole sent her to fulfill a family need.

This undated picture seems about right to imagine Etta around the time of her Iowa trip. She had managed to cross the Atlantic and half of the American continent with Matt in tow, just as she turned thirteen. This determined young lady would have found no problem making her way from Bayfield County WI to Emmet County IA, at eighteen. Shall we imagine a train ride, or horse and buggy?

The set of pictures on this post was graciously provided by the daughter of Etta’s half-sister, Mildred.


Etta was a caregiver. Here she is with her brother, George around 1898. They would have been 24 and 11, respectively. George lived with Etta and her husband according to the 1900 Census. He died a year, or so, later

George was the only child of Ole Hemmingson and Berith Hass Mathisdatter to have been born in Wisconsin. Etta was their eldest; George, the youngest. We now have pictures of four of Berith’s six children. Marie was likely living at the time of this photo, 18, and gravely ill with tuberculosis. Perhaps Harry was off logging; it would be two years before his fatal accident.


This is a courtship picture, marked 1890’s. The couple married in 1900, then moved west before 1905, and likely after Ole died in 1903.

Etta died at 90, 15 May 1965, in Bellingham, Whatcom County, WA. Her husband, at 75, left her a widow in 1941. She was beloved by siblings and halves, and will reappear with them in our further posts.

Please leave comments, questions and corrections below.

COPYRIGHT: Posts authored by Doublegenealogytheadoptionwitness are copyright © 2018-2019. All rights reserved.

Notes and Sources

1 Notes and Sources for reports previously provided are given at the end of the actual previous report, readable by clicking the link.

2 The “Memoirs of Mathias Hemmingsen – Victoria B.C.” is a 25-page volume dictated to his daughter Margaret Henrietta circa 1956. It is unedited and unpublished, and graciously provided by Mathias’ grandson, Matt via the Matt Hemmingsen Family Collection. The work is protected here and published at copyright © 2018-2019. All rights reserved.

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