Hylda’s Husband

A few days ago I wrote about Hylda Schmeling whose charming photos I’d discovered in a Goodwill store.  I relayed details of her life that I’d found in a quick online search.

The Crimson - 1916

Hylda so intrigued me that yesterday I spent an hour or so researching her husband.  It occurred to me that he’d probably graduated from her high school.  Sure enough that’s where I found him, in the pages of The Crimson, their 1916 high school yearbook.

Next to Paul Jenson’s picture, the caption read “A moral, sensible and well-bred man.” It went on to say that he’d entered as a Junior from Park Region Prep School in Minnesota.  In the two years he attended the high school, he was active.  Along with the class play and other activities, he played basketball and was assistant business manager of The Crimson.

The class prophecy jests that he would be President of the Hole-Proof Sock Factory. Another humorous entry jokes about his love of silk socks.  His nickname, like his future wife’s would be, was “Jens”.  His virtue was his good looks, and his favorite expression was “dammit”.   (A more innocent time. :smile:)  He was voted the “greatest doll” and, in a section called “Wouldn’t you like to see”…it reads “Paul Jenson not all dolled up.”  Vivid images.

Paul H. Jenson

Jody Allen, a WisRWA friend, suggested I search for Paul’s military records.  The only listing I found at Ancestry.com was a copy of his draft registration for World War I.   It was signed June 5, 1917, nine days before his marriage to Hylda Schmeling.  So it was a military wedding of sorts.  He was leaving for war; they wanted to marry before he left.  Can you imagine their emotions?

I took another look at census records and found him in the 1900 and 1910 records. His father was from Norway; he’s listed as a Bank Cashier. In 1920, I found Paul and Hylda Jenson living in Edgerton, Wisconsin.  So he did make it home from the war! As his father was, he too was a banker.

After that I can find nothing more of Paul and Hylda.  I’m not sure I want to.

From these raw tidbits of information, I feel I’ve come to know enough about the couple to create outlines.  From there my story will morph into the fun stuff of fiction.  She’s the musically gifted daughter of a well-off German immigrant.  He’s the son of a Norwegian banker who’s just returned from the horrors of fighting in WWI.  As I ponder these two personalities and their backgrounds, a conflict takes root.  A new story begins.

7 thoughts on “Hylda’s Husband

  1. Thanks, Beth! I have another one on the burner right now so I really didn’t need to be working on this. But the photos just jumped out at me. I think I’m going to let this simmer a bit. Guess I’ll know when it’s time.

  2. I happened upon your name, when I typed in Hylda Schmeling and Paul Jenson. I am Hylda’s niece. My mother was her youngest sister. I am always wondering about them too. I am 77 years old now and everyone that I could ask is dead. When Paul Jenson came home from the war, he was ill, gassed during his time in the service. I think he lived with his parents when he returned, because he needed care and she probably had to work. He was 27when he died and is buried in Jenson Cemetery in Edgerton. She died in 1935 in a car accident in Harvard, Illinois. She was a beautician and had a shop down there. She had married a man that was quite a bit older than she and I think they were divorcing. She had no children. She is buried in Fassett Cemetery beside her mother and father. She was dead before I was born and I can’t remember that anyone talked about it that much. I think their story is very romantic too. I can’t imagine who would have put those pictures at Good Will. I have those pictures too. She was13 years older than my mother the eldest of 6 living children.

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