Behind Bars in Old Pacific County

A short biography of Jens and Neilsone Frederiksen

Jens and Neilsine “Sine” Frederiksen were married Aug. 3, 1887, in Astoria.  For awhile, they gillnetted salmon on the Columbia, Sine acting as boat puller for her husband. She had arrived recently from Denmark, having been sent for by Jens, and according to family stories, she had visited a fortune teller in New York City before coming West.

“Your next door neighbor is going to kill you and your husband!” the fortune teller warned.

But Jens was older (35 to her 21), and he was a man of some experience. He had served in the Danish army and then had spent time at sea before joining his parents and siblings in Astoria, where they all strove to make a new life for themselves in this bright, new country. As long as young Sine was close by her husband, working on the wide river, she gave little thought to the fortune teller’s prediction.

Soon, however, Jens was “bitten by the oyster bug” family members later recalled, and the couple moved to Bruceport on Willapa Bay. Jens spent long hours away from home that summer learning the oyster business and Sine, with time on her hands, began to grow fearful. Eventually, as the stories go, she would become hysterical and wouldn’t enter her house alone.

Before long, the Frederiksens moved once again, this time to a 160-acre claim across the bay to an area now known as Frederiksen Slough.  They worked hard there to establish a farm but, in a letter she wrote to Denmark, Sine spoke of pressures put upon them to sell their property. “Our home is not for sale,” she said. And she confided that she was pregnant. A farm was a good place for raising children.

Many years later, Mrs. Lillian Ehsanullah, had this to say:  “If the neighbors of Jens and Sine Frederiksen were really their murderers, then the prophesy of the gypsy in New York City indeed came to pass. Whether or not the true facts of who murdered my relative and his wife ever will be known, the real murderers must be dead now and all will have received their just deserts in the Hereafter.” 

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