Born in Schlesin, Holstein Denmark (now a part of Germany) in 1825, Jens (or James) was known for being of strong moral character and respected by all who knew him. He was adventurous in his youth, traveling to California at 19 and eventually owning a gold mine. In 1852 he returned to Copenhagen, and that is where he met and married his love, Emma Bloch. They traveled across The Atlantic in 1869 with their 5 children (Mary, 16; James, 15; John, 13; Peter ,11; Michael, 8) to their new home in Chicago. After their move he worked in a bookstore and was also a devoted member of the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
He had immense adoration for Emma and respected her ambition to start a home for elderly Danes in Chicago. Depending on the day he could be the devil’s advocate, the mediator, or the voice of reason about her work, however, deep down The Women did not have a better advocate. He was a man ahead of his time. Mr. Thorsen passed away on November 3, 1898 and peacefully rests in Graceland cemetery in Chicago.