Gutzon Borglum, son of Danish...

Trip Start Jun 15, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Horsethief Campground

Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Saturday, July 6, 2013

...immigrants.  Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor and mastermind behind the gigantic faces of four presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt - carved in the rock high above on Mount Rushmore, has an interesting background.  He was born on March 27, 1867, in Ovid, Idaho, and christened John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum.  His father, Jens Møller Haugaard Borglum, had, while in Denmark, become a mormon and travelled, along with a number of other Danish converts, to the U.S. to settle in the 'New Zion' that the mormons were creating in Utah.  On the boat going over he met a young lady, Ida (pronounced 'Eeda') Mikkelsen, and the two quickly got married.  Ida had a younger sister, Christina, and in the mormon tradition Jens also married her.  Christina had two sons, Gutzon and Solon, but the two sisters quarrelled constantly, so Christina went to live by herself, leaving the upbringing of her two sons to Jens and Ida.  Meanwhile Ida had also born a child fathered by Jens.  He was a woodcarver, not a very profitable profession back then, so he decided to become a doctor and went to medical school.  'In 1874 he was graduated, Anglicized his name, and, as Dr. James Miller Borglum, set up practice in Fremont, Nebraska.'
'The Borglums were Danish and fiercely proud of it, and were of the opinion that they were descended from a noble and distinguished European family.'  Years later Gutzon sent his father to Denmark to research their ancestors.  It turned out that the Borglums were descendants of the family de la Mothe, a title bestowed upon one Conrad Reinhardt who had set out with the German emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, on a crusade to the Holy Land.  Conrad saved the emperor from certain death and was rewarded with the honorary and hereditary title De La Mothe - 'the one of courage'.  The title passed through countless of generations during the subsequent centuries - including to Gutzon!
The carvings on Mount Rushmore were begun in 1927, and work stopped in 1941 after Gutzon's death the same year.  Europe was at war, Japan would soon attack Pearl Harbor, funds for the project dried up and went to the rearmament of U.S. forces.
Today millions each year travel to Mount Rushmore to see for themselves this magnificent site.         
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Ulrik, Denmark on

Dear Jens

We follow your marvellous trip across the US with great interest. Thank you for the reports - they all give inspiration to us for tours the next years.
It requires some efforts to do the writing in the evenings - but your effortds are highly appreciated by your readers. We look forward to the next report !

Enjoy your trip - and kind regards
Lotte and Ulrik

Marilyn Lee on

I had forgotten Mt. Rushmore scupltor was Danish, how appropriate for you and your new Denmark flag bag. We enjoyed going there a few years ago. Did you spend 4th of July there with Pres. Abraham Lincoln, the tall dark man in your pix?. . . If you are heading west to Wyoming, plan a couple days in Cody, world's largest rodeo and a fabulous Buffalo Bill Cody museum, actually 5 in 1.

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