Portrait from the History of the Norwegians of Illinois, 1905.
The first native Norwegian to profiled here on the site, Jetlee Bryngelson Nordhem found his business fortunes in his adopted state of Illinois, where he settled at age 18. Born in Voss, Norway on June 6, 1841, Nordhem was the son of Bryngel and Ingeborge Saue Nordhem. The History of the Norwegians of Illinois notes that he attended the common schools in his native country, worked on his father's farm and was "confirmed in the Vossvagens church."
In 1859 Jetlee Nordhem immigrated to the United States, first settling in the town of Long Prairie, Illinois. After a year in this location, he removed to Decorah, Iowa and in 1862 signed on for service in the Civil War, joining Company H, First Battalion of the Sixteenth U.S. Infantry. During his three years of service, Nordhem participated in a number of important battles, seeing action at the battle of Marietta, Kenesaw Mountain, Mission Ridge, and Stone River, where he was wounded.
At the conclusion of his military service, Jetlee B. Nordhem returned to Long Prairie and married in 1871 to Ms. Julia Jonsdatter Amondson, with whom he would have three children, Joseph Bernard (died in infancy), Harriet Nordhem Hamann (1873-1968) and Edith Josephine (born 1877).
Following his marriage, Nordhem and his family relocated to Chicago, where he found employment in the customs service. His years in this occupation saw him serve as an inspector, warehouse ledger clerk, and bond clerk. Nordhem eventually left the employ of the customs service and found work in the publishing industry. He became the Secretary and director of the John Anderson Publishing Co. in the early 1890s and later became its vice president.
Jetlee Nordhem made his first foray into political life in 1879, when he won election as supervisor of West Town, Chicago, Illinois, serving a one year term. In 1908 he was named as an alternate delegate to that year's Republican National Convention in Chicago, where William Howard Taft was nominated for the Presidency.
Nordhem continued to be a prominent figure in Chicago's Norwegian community well into his twilight years, serving as the president of the Norwegian Republican Club of the 28th Ward and also held a life membership in the Norwegian Lutheran Tabitha Hospital Society. Jetlee and his family were parishioners at the English Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity, and it is recorded that he was a trustee of this church for nearly two decades.
Details on the remainder of Jetlee B.Nordhem's life are quite sketchy, although it is recorded that he passed away at his home in Chicago in May 1919 at age 78. His wife Julia survived him by thirteen years, dying in November 1932 at age 82. A burial location for both Jetlee and his wife is unknown at the time of this writing.
From the Printer's Ink, Volume 107, published in 1919.