The Carlsens

Lauritz Carlsen
24 April 1824 – 13 August 1893

Ingeborg Olsdr Carlsen
18 June 1826 – September 1878

Ingemann Martinus “Martin” Carlsen
20 July 1855 – 4 September 1890

Frank Emil Carlsen
7 September 1857 – 1 September 1918

Dora Maria Lootz Carlsen
11 May 1859 – 24 June 1942

I wanted to revisit this headstone which I originally posted as a “just pretty” as the design is so striking.

The Carlsens were a Norwegian immigrant family who came to the US in 1860 when all six children (3 sons, 3 daughters) were young. They seem to have either avoided the census or possibly they are just very hard to find due to their use of Anglicized versions of their first names (sometimes) and varying spellings of their last name (sometimes).

In this lot, however, Martin; his parents Lauritz (d 1893) and Ingeborg (d 1878); younger brother Frank (d 1918); and Frank’s wife Dora (d 1947) are buried, their names inscribed on the sides of the headstone.

The city directories were the most helpful for tracking the family, and after Ingeborg’s death, the brothers and father lived together for many years, with Lauritz Jr. leaving first to move his family to Minneapolis, then Martin’s death, and then Lauritz Sr.’s leaving Frank alone at which time he and Dora moved out to Maywood and lived there for the rest of their lives.

Confusingly, Martin was consistently listed as a printer through 1888, so the engine on the front of the headstone didn’t make sense for him. Frank was the railroad man! However, in 1889, Martin’s occupation changes to brakeman and then very sadly he died the very next year. No records confirm if Martin was married or had children.

Although I couldn’t find any direct references to an accident, that is my suspicion. I did find many news items about railroad-related accidents and injuries, many of them involving brakemen. Whatever Martin’s cause of death, though, the family was clearly proud of their association with the railroad.

Frank and wife Dora (who was also born in Norway and immigrated with her family as a child) married in 1879 and had three children, two sons — Louis and Walter — surviving to adulthood. They had the money for Dora (born Thora) to make a trip back to Europe (she departed for New York from Southhampton, England in August of 1907 though it’s unclear when she left and where her European destination was, though presumably back to Norway to visit family). Apparently Frank did not accompany her.

The family lived on N. 6th Avenue in Maywood for Frank and Dora’s later married years after the rest of the family had moved or passed away, and then Louis and his family lived there with Dora after she was widowed (though the house apparently passed into Louis’s ownership after his father’s passing).

Louis had a first marriage to an English immigrant and 1910 they were living with her family. His wife listed one child born and none surviving, but in 1912, they had a daughter, Ruth, and sometime after that, they divorced. In 1920, Ruth was living with her mother and stepfather while Louis listed himself as widowed as he, his brother and mother were reunited in Maywood. By 1930, Louis remarried to a widow with a small daughter whom he raised as his own. Neither Louis nor his first wife appear to have had any more children and Ruth seems to have stuck close to her mother, moving to Florida with her in 1936.

Walter lived with family for most of his life until the 1940s. It is unclear if he ever married or had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, but it doesn’t appear he had any children.

All three of Frank’s surviving family members died within a few years of each other in the 40s. Louis in 1941, leaving a wife and two daughters; Dora in 1942; and Walter in 1947. It appears that Walter moved to or was transferred by his railroad job to Detroit as he lists a hotel there as his residence (scratching out the Maywood address and changing it to the hotel but leaving the Maywood address and his sister-in-law there as his emergency contact). He was still in Detroit in 1947 when he passed away, but there is no 1940 census listing for him that I can find so it’s unclear if he ever properly moved or lived a somewhat vagabond life.

Louis’s stepdaughter Maybelle seems to have been a modern and independent young woman, enlisting in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII.

The Carlsens appear to have valued education (or at least did not need their children to go out to work to help support them) as all their children attended high school at a time when leaving school after eighth grade was the norm for working class families.

RIP Carlsens

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