Mr. Jenson is a leading citizen and business man of Leona, Doniphan county, who for more than a quarter of a century has been an integral factor in the promotion of the agricultural and commercial interests of northeastern Kansas, where he owns four hundred and forty acres of valuable land. He was born in Falster, Denmark, July 15, 1848, and is a son of the venerable Lars Jenson, yet a resident of Doniphan county. The father was born in Denmark, January 27, 1821, and married Bodel Christina, who died in 1891, at the age of seventy years. In their family were three children: James, Mrs. Maggie Hanson and Andrew.
During the greater part of his youth James Jenson attended school, acquiring a good practical education to fit him for the duties of life. On the 2d of May, 1866, when eighteen years of age, he took passage for New York on the ill-fated cholera steamer, Peruvian, an English vessel which carried a large number of Scandinavian emigrants. The cholera broke out among the passengers and one hundred and thirty-three of them died at sea. A few of those who made that voyage and were victims of the dread disease are now residents of Brown and Doniphan counties. Mr. Jenson and a friend of his suffered an attack of cholera and at a certain stage of their sickness the physician denied them water and it seemed as if they would die of thirst. In some of the worst cases artificial warmth had been supplied by bottles of hot water and one of these bottles lay within a few feet of Mr. Jenson, having been used to supply warmth to a man who was then lying dead. When the watch was absent Mr. Jenson rose from his bed, slipped the bottle of water from the corpse and he and his friend drank the contents. Mr. Jenson feels that his life was saved thereby; at least he recovered from his illness, and when the Peruvian reached New York he landed in the eastern metropolis. The vessel, however, was forced to lay at anchor there until the 17th of Juy before her passengers were allowed to disembark. He continued his way westward to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he secured employment on a farm owned by Peter Nelson. For several years he was employed as a farm hand in that locality and it was not until his removal to Brown county that he became the owner of a farm of his own. In 1880 he made his first purchase of land, comprising a quarter-section. As his financial resources increased he added to the property until he is to-day the owner of four hundred and forty acres, a very valuable and highly cultivated tract. He has not only carried on farming extensively, but has also engaged in stock shipping, having for sixteen years been the largest stock shipper in Leona. Since March, 1894, he has engaged in buying and shipping grain at Leona, as the successor of T. P. Gordon.
On the 8th of November, 1883, Mr. Jenson was united in marriage, in Doniphan county, to Miss Annie Saxton, a daughter of Hiram P. Saxton, of that county. She was born in 1858 and by her marriage has five children, namely: Lloyd, Mary, Hiram, Ida and Esther.
At one time Mr. Jenson was an active worker in the Republican ranks of Brown county, but since his connection with the business affairs in Doniphan county he has devoted his energies more exclusively to the management of his commercial interests. Socially, he is an Odd Fellow and a Mason, being a past master in Robinson Lodge, No. 159, A. F. & A. M. In the latter fraternity he belongs to the blue lodge, Hiawatha Chapter and Hiawatha Commandery.
Man's success is not measured by the heights at which he is found, but by the distance he has climbed. Mr. Jenson started in life amid very humble surroundings, but possessing the strong determination which enabled him to overcome difficulties and obstacles; therefore he has steadily worked his way upward and is now numbered among the most substantial citizens of his adopted country. His life exemplifies the American spirit of progress and should serve as a source of inspiration to young men whose early opportunities are limited and whose advancement must depend upon their own efforts.
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