In the past year I have become extremely interested in genealogical research. I found it a trilling experience to discover volumes written about my husband's ancestors. They were original settlers, who came from England in the 1600's, and the books proclaim their importance. However, it saddened me to realize, as I searched libraries, that not one word had been written in honor or memory of my ancestors. Of course, Niels Rasmussen only came to America from Denmark in 1902, so no one has probably had the opportunity to write about him. No one, that is, until now. I, his daughter, feel a sudden urge to put down on paper my humble attempt to pay tribute to him. He was not famous, but he deserves to be remembered and appreciated by his descendants for he was, indeed, a wonderful man!
My father's ancestors were not always named Rasmussen. In the "olden days" in Denmark, children received their father's first name for their last. Daughters and sons were named differently because of the customs of the time. For example, Peter's daughters received the last name of "Petersdatter" and his sons were given the last name of "Petersen". Each generation had a different surname until a law was passed in the early 1800's requiring all children to have their father's last name. So that is where the Rasmussen name began and remained.
When we stop for a minute in a busy day to reflect upon the past, we must come to the obvious conclusion that it is to our ancestors whom we owe our very existence. Our father has given us his name and it is up to us to do justice to this honor. My father's reputation was one that is hard to live up to. He was a devoted servant of the church. A Lutheran minister who lived first for God, second for his family, and lastly for himself. My attempt to write in his honor will leave, I am afraid, much to be desired, but my love and respect for him need never be questioned.
My twin sister and I were only nine when he died but I remember him well. My father, whom we never called "Dad" or "Daddy" but always "Papa", was a little man in stature but a giant in all other respects.
He was born on January 18, 1881 in Stenstrup, Denmark, eldest son of a farmer. But farming didn't much appeal to him. His greatest joy was found in reading, studying, and learning. As a young man he studied in Copenhagen. He helped work his way through college as a bookkeeper at a large firm. Later, as his education progressed, he taught school. Papa left Denmark on August 27, 1902. He arrived at the New York Port of Entry on September 8th aboard the steamer OSCAR II. After getting settled in his new country he attended Wittenberg Academy in Springfield, Ohio from 1903 to 1905 and then at the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio. During this time he not only prepared himself for the ministry but also became a naturalized citizen. The latter he accomplished on March 8, 1910.
During his schooling he was fascinated with the language arts. He learned several languages and spoke each with the accuracy and perfection that would become his trademark. He graduated to the ministry on June 3, 1910 and served his first parish at Tell City, Indiana. Later he was called to Michigan City, Indiana. My father married my mother on June 3, 1915 and after a short period he received a call to a rural congregation in Powellsville, Ohio. Here, at St. John Lutheran Church, he devoted his life to God's service until he died some 18 years later. He never quit studying. In fact, one of my most vivid childhood memories is Mama cautioning us, "Shhh -- Papa's studying."
Papa was serving in Michigan City, but was in Detroit, Michigan attending a religious conference when he met Mama. Hearing about the way they met was always a very romantic story for a starry-eyed little girl --
Papa was riding on a street car on his way to the St. Paul Lutheran Church when Mama, a lovely young girl, boarded the same crowded car. Papa, being a gentleman, arose and offered her the seat. In conversation they discovered they were on their way to the same destination. He was a guest preacher and she was a member going to service. They became close friends through correspondence during the following months but only saw each other six times before they were married. He had proposed marriage to her in a letter and she accepted by return mail. Such romantic, true love! And it lasted for him until his death in 1935 and for Mama, she remained true to his memory until she died in 1953.
Mama and Papa lived in Michigan City where they enjoyed the birth of their first son. Papa loved the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, so he named his first son Edgar. When Eddie was a baby Papa received the call to a little country church in Powellsville. He studied the possibilities of the move and, being a man devoted to his profession, felt this congregation needed him far more that did the large, established church in which he currently served. So they moved. Mama had to leave city life, to which she was accustomed, but she was agreeable to anything he wanted to do. Putting her disappointment behind they left the city.
In Ohio they had four more children: a daughter, Elaine, followed by another son, Loy, and finally twin girls, Leona and Lenore. We all have some resemblance to Papa. Until his death in 1955, Eddie was the picture of my father: bald, short, quiet, and devoted to his religious upbringing. Elaine, too, is a devoted Christian, giving much of her time to her church. Loy, like Papa, likes to read and studies a subject until he thoroughly understands it. My twin sister, Leona, is a writer. She has inherited Papa's love for words and has the ability to put them on paper. As for me, I did not acquire Papa's talents, but I like to think that I have inherited his complete faith in God.
And so as we were born, the sons and daughters of a little man who worked unceasingly for his ideals and beliefs. He passed onto his children his love of God, his love of country, his honesty, and his acceptance of the equality of man. He was a humble man, thankful for the opportunity of an education and the right to become a citizen of his adopted land. He gave himself no credit for his unique abilities. He gave credit to his heavenly Father.
In 1929 my father wrote and published a book entitled "The Cherubim of Glory". Here was a symbol of his desire to teach the true meaning of God's word in the Bible, as he understood it. I believe it was also an indication of his secret desire to have his abilities recognized. But even among his colleagues his work went unappreciated. Not that it wasn't good but, indeed, because it was too good. It was too far above most people's ability to fathom its contents. It was proof again of his extraordinary aim at perfection. The failure of his book to fulfill its purpose was, perhaps, his greatest disappointment. So he now poured more and more of himself into his pastoral duties to the exclusion of everything else. He lived only to do God's work, as he felt compelled by his calling to do. He was truly a dedicated student of theology. His memory should surely serve as an inspiration to all who received the benefits of his extreme devotion.
This was my father. A man devoted to his work. Now that I am older and a parent myself, I realize more than at any time in my life just how much I missed by not knowing him better. Because of him and my saint-like mother I am here today to enjoy life with my own family -- and I am unable to thank them for the gift of life they gave me.
Although I feel so inadequate to pay this man a proper tribute, it is my sincere desire that my effort to write this little remembrance in his honor will serve as a lasting memorial to "Niels Rasmussen and His Ancestors", and that it will be an inspiration to all his descendants.
(All the Rasmussen children are gone now, my mother was the last. There is only one male descendent, Loy's son Larry, to carry on the family name. By Burdick standards, Niels' descendant path is tiny, but no less important. Thanks for letting me indulge. - HB)
Olc and Else (Pedersdatter) Nielsen
Rasmus and Anna (Sorensdatter) Olsen
Mads and Marie (Petersdatter) Rasmussen
Frederick and Singe Marie (Andersen) Rasmussen
Niels and Clara Amanda (Potratz) Rasmussen
John David and Lenore Emma (Rasmussen) Burdick
Howard Edgar and Lois Mae (Kirk) Burdick
Hello! We are in the fourth grade at Riverton Elementary School in Riverton,
Illinois. We are located just east of Springfield, which is our state's
capital. We have decided to map an e-mail project. We are curious to see
where in the world our e-mail will travel along the internet. We will only
do this for a period of three months, from January 9, 2001 to April 9, 2001.
This is not a pen-pal project, so we will not write you back, unless you
request it. We would appreciate your help. If you receive this message, we
ask that you:
1) e-mail us back at email@example.com and tell us your city/state/country/location so we can plot it on our map
2) we also ask that you send this letter on to everyone you know so that they can send it on to everyone they know, and so on.
We are tracking the number of responses we receive by making a graph using the numbers received by state and country. We hope that this will make it around the world! Thank you so much for any help you can give us.
Again, our e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Durham's 4th graders
Sey Jones (Stangsey@aol.com) has found a Burdick Drive in Pamona, CA.
Frank Burdick (email@example.com) reports that George Elmer Burdick, son of Frank (Bount) and Mary Burdick, all originally of Westerly, Rhode Island, died in Santa Clara, California on January 23rd of this year. George is survived by a wife and five children and an older brother. He was 72.