New Hampshire’s Record-Breaking State Representative and “Grand Dame”: Hilda C.F. (Johnson) Brungot (1886-1982)

Hilda Constance Fredericka (Johnson) Brungot was a 44-year old mother of six children when she first went to Concord, New Hampshire as a new member of the General Court.  Her constituency re-elected her 18 times.

She served in the New Hampshire Legislature from 1931 to 1937 and from 1941 to 1975, retiring from service when she was in her late 80s. At that time she was the oldest female legislator in the United States.

Mrs. Brungot was the also first woman to follow her father into the Legislature. She was the daughter of Hans Christian Johanson/Johnson of Oslo, Norway who came to Berlin, NH as a youth, and “won repute serving in the city government, and at 37 was a member of the 1895 House, six years after the Legislature swung from June to January sessions. Johanson served again in 1901 and finally in the 1929 session. Two years later he was succeeded by his daughter and her illustrious career.”

Hilda Brungot’s public service is considered without equal “in all the world.” As far as I know, no other woman has been a legislator through 40 years. In addition, she was a member of the first five New Hampshire Constitutional Conventions held since women won the right to do so.

Hilda not only raised her own six children, but also “four state wards.” She had only a grammar school education, and worked for several years as a cook, including employment at the Wicwas Lodge, Meredith NH. When she was in her eighties she attended night school and obtained her high school equivalency.  In 1968 the N. H. Business and Professional Women’s Clubs cited her as the state’s “Outstanding Career Woman” for that year.

When asked about the great number of members of New Hampshire’s Legislature, she replied, “This giant House gives better representation for all the people than any other Legislature in the nation. The special interests and selfish lobbyists cannot often fool 400, and never can buy them.”

Photograph of Hilda Brungot, courtesy of her grandson George Brungot.

Photograph of Hilda Brungot, courtesy of her grandson George Brungot, used with permission.

The book, New Hampshire Notables (1953) provides a biography with additional interests and accomplishments, namely, “Organizer of Berlin Milan Milk Dealers Organization in 1931; Justice of the Peace; received Braman Fund Prize for essay, The Constitution of the United States, 1939; vice-president for New England of Scandinavian Fraternity of America, 1935-1940; legislative chairman, women’s auxiliaries of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, secretary; Mt. Forest Grange, Berlin member; N.H. State Grange, PTA , Berlin Historical Society, Club Joliette Snowshoers, Women’s Relief Corps, Dorcas Society, Order of Women Legislators, D.A.R; always active civic affairs, charities, education. Republican City Vice-Chairman 1936-1938; Lutheran and member of Lutheran Church.

Some called her the “Grand Dame” of New Hampshire’s General Court. She died in May of 1982 at the age of 95 years.  She resided in Berlin, New Hampshire.

Janice

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**BRIEF FAMILY TREE OF Hilda Constance Fredericka (Johnson) Brungot***
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Hans Christian Johnson/Johansen, b. 25 Aug 1857 in Norway, and died 20 Feb 1930 in Berlin, Coos Co., NH; He married about 1882 to Sarah Norah Johansdotter, daughter of Johannas & Catherine Nilson. She was b. 7 Dec 1848/49 in Hanebo, Gavleborg, Sweden, and died 16 May 1912 in Berlin Mills, Coos. Co. NH.  He ran a meat market in Berlin NH. He served in the Berlin city government and at 37 was a member of the 1895 NH House of Representatives. He served again in the 1901 and 1929 sessions of the House.
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U.S. Census > 1900 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Coos > Berlin
Ward 3 > District 259
Johnson, Hans C. Head W M Aug 1857 42 married 18 yrs Norway Norway Norway, immigrated 1881, naturalized, meat market
Johnson, Sara N./M. wife W F Dec 1848 51 married 18 yrs 6 ch 3 living Sweden Sweden Sweden  immigrated 1881
Johnson, John H. son M W Sept 1882 17 single NH Norway Sweden clerk, meat market
Johnson, Charles A. son M W Jan 1885 15 single NH Norway Sweden at school
Johnson, Hilda C.F. daughter W F Nov 1886 13 single NH Norway Sweden at school
Oleson Hansine O servant W F Sept 1885 18 single Norway immigrated 1884 housework
Edberg Hennan boarder W M Jan 1881 19 single Finland imm 1898 alien day laborer
Franstrom Alof boarder W M Feb 1870 30 single Sweden imm 1890 alien house painter
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Children of Hans C. & Sarah N. (Johansdotter) Johnson:
1. Johan/John Henrik Johnson, b. 29 Sep 1882 in Berlin Mills, Coos Co., New Hampshire; clerk in father’s meat market; married Dagmar Kristine Oleson.
2. Charles Arthur Johnson, b. 19 January 1885 in New Hampshire; married Mildred N. Wing
3. +Hilda C.F. Johnson, b. 25 November 1886 in Berlin, New Hampshire
4. Fredrik William Johnson, b. 16 March 1889, d. 18 June 1889
5. Anna Maria Johnson, b. 13 Aug 1891, d. 8 Oct 1891
6. Hans Christian Johnson, b. 24 Feb 1893, d. 6 March 1893

Hilda Constance Fredericka Johnson, dau of Hans C. & Sarah N. (Johansdotter) Johnson, b. 25 November 1886 in Berlin NH, and d. 11 May 1982 in Berlin, Coos Co. NH. She married 7 October 1905 to Sivert “Sam” Modius/Mathias/Matias Brungot,  son of Jorgen Sivertson Brungot and Karen Johanne Olsdotter. He was b. 22 Apr 1882 in Brungot Farm, Orsta, More og Romsdal, Norway. He was naturalized at the Superior Court in Berlin NH. He died Sep 1963. He registered for both the WWI and WWII Draft from Coos County NH. Sivert was one of the incorporators of the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Berlin NH. In 1918 he was employed by the Brown Company in Berlin NH. He also had a dairy farm in Berlin NH, and a milk delivery route. For a time he was caretaker of the Dartmouth College Grant, and took President Dwight D. Eisenhower fishing when he visited New Hampshire. See biography and more info on Hilda in the article above.
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U.S. Census > 1930 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Coos > Berlin > District 11
Brungot, Sivert M. Head M W 47 married at age 21 Norway Norway Norway  farmer milk farm
Brungot, Hilda C. wife F W 44 married at age 19 NH Norway Sweden
Brungot, Clara Constance daughter F W 23 Single NH Norway NH
Brungot, Clarence Jorgen son M W 21 D? NH Norway NH
Brungot, Nora dau F. W 16 single NH Norway NH
Brungot, Melven/Melvin son M W 13 single NH Norway NH [b. 1915]
Brungot, Norman S. son M W 11 single NH Norway NH [b abt 1919 Berlin NH, m. Lois A. Clawson, had issue]
Brungot, George? son M W 6 single NH Norway NH
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OBITUARY (Manchester Union Leader, NH) : BERLIN – Catherine V. Brungot, 89, formerly of 2247 Riverside Drive, Berlin passed away on Friday July 20, 2012, at the St. Vincent de Paul Rehab and Nursing Center in Berlin. She was born in Berlin on Nov. 10, 1922, the daughter of Leroy and Augusta (Enman) Maines and was a lifelong resident. She had been employed as a New Hampshire state legislator for many years and was a member of the First Baptist Church. Members of the family include her daughters, Eloise Paquette and husband, Sam, of Concord and Kathy Block and husband, Terry, of Berlin; sons, John Brungot of Malakoff, Texas, and Steven Seaborne of Bend, Oregon; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her husband, Clarence Brungot, a son, David Brungot, a brother, Walter Maines, and sisters Charlotte Wolfe and Christine Brantley. SERVICES: There are no services. Interment will be in the Old City Cemetery in Berlin. The Bryant Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
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Children of Sivert & Hilda C.F. (Johnson) Brungot:
1. Clara Constance Brungot, b. 26 July 1906 in Berlin NH and d. 26 Sep 1990 in Berlin NH. She m. 11 July 1931 in Berlin NH to George Albert Martin.
2. Clarence Jorgen Brungot, b. 11 Oct 1908 in Berlin NH and d. 6 June 1987 in Berlin NH; m. Catherine Virginia Maines. Their children included Kathy Brungot (who m. Terry Block) and Eloise “Penny” Brungot who m. Sam Paquette; Steven Brungot of Bend, Oregon John Brungot of Malakoff, TX and David I. Brungot. Their son David I. Brungot was b. 16 March 1954 in Berlin NH and d. 25 May 2004 in Berlin NH (he had a son Sean Brungot).
3. Nora Christine Brungot, b. 11 March 1913 in Berlin NH and d. 18 Apr 1989 in Whitefield NH. She married 1st) 2 Apr 1933 in NY NY to James Leon Learson. She m2d) 29 July 1963 to Revere Beasley.
4. Melvin Arthur Brungot, b. b. 28 May 1915 in Berlin NH, and d. 21 Nov 1953 in Berlin NH. He m. 7 Aug 1937 to Jean Dorothy Willard; he m2) Aug 1945 in MD to Mildred Helena Griffin
5. Dr. Norman Stanley Brungot b. 10 March 1919 in Berlin NH and d. 19 Sep 1997 in Colebrook NH. He m. 29 June 1944 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lois Anne Clawson. Had 5 children.
6. George Oliver R. Brungot, b. 26 Aug 1923 in NH; d. 28 Aug 2001 Annapolis, Anne Arundel Co. MD; he married 6 July 1949 in Chelsea MA to Dolores Jean Ferree.

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2 Responses to New Hampshire’s Record-Breaking State Representative and “Grand Dame”: Hilda C.F. (Johnson) Brungot (1886-1982)

  1. Pingback: Hilda (Johnson) Brungot | Cow Hampshire

  2. Cyndi Paulin says:

    Hilda Brungot was our landlady when I was a child. We lived in one of her apartments when I was a toddler. I once “randomly” met a woman named Hilda a few years ago who mentioned that she was named after Hilda. Thanks for this wonderful account of her accomplishments. For perspective, any public servant serving from Coos County faced hazardous winter travel conditions driving down through the mountain passes in the winter to get to Concord to serve their constituents. (Even more so then than now.)

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