Lene Bolton, August 28th 2019
I would like to meet all of my ancestors and hear their stories, but in particular, I would like to meet the women. It is hard to find anything about Danish women other than their names and dates in the church records but that is probably the case all over the world. Often their names were not even mentioned in the church registers, only daughter of, or wife of so and so. Having to pick one ancestor for this challenge, I have chosen this fine-looking lady. It is the oldest photo I have of an ancestor and to me she looks strong, capable and organised yet also friendly and caring. Sidse Jacobsdatter was my Great-Great Grandmother on my father’s side.
|Name: Sidse Jacobsdatter|
|Birth: 17/8/1811 – Kvislemark, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø|
|Marriage: 8/4/1831 – Holsteinborg, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø|
|Spouse: Jens Hansen|
|Death: 22/8/1872 – Bisserup, Holsteinborg, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø|
I am guessing this photo was taken around 1865 when Sidse was in her mid 50s.
Sidse was Jens Hansen’s second wife. He first married Sidse’s older sister Anna Jacobsdatter, but when she died 2.5 years later, six days after the death of her son Jacob, Sidse, aged 19, was willing and able to fill the gap. She had been the godmother to Jacob and as she lived close by, she may have nursed both Anna and Jacob in their final days. Jens, would have been a respected man in the community, holding a lease for his family farm. There is no doubt in my mind that Sidse thought him a good catch, because their wedding was just two months after Anna had died.
Jens Hansen’s farm, Vængegaard, was leased from Count Frederik Adolph Holstein of Holsteinborg as were all other farms in the village of Bisserup during the 1800s. I think Count Frederik would have been one of the kinder masters in Denmark at that time, as he was noted not only for his deep religious belief and philanthropic activities, but also for instigating reforms for his country-people, building schools and helping the poor. Count Frederik was followed by his son Count Ludvig in 1836, who continued his father’s ambitions for the country-people. In the early 1870s Count Ludvig was the equivalent of Denmark’s prime minister and played host to writer Hans Christian Andersen on numerous occasions.
The lease for Vængegaard was an inherited lease passed down from Jens’ father, Hans Hansen, known as ‘Hans Slagter’ (Hans Butcher). The lease required the tenant to not only look after his own farm and land but also to annually pay taxes to the Count in silver, deliver various produce, usually grain but often also farm animals like sheep and geese and maybe some butter. In addition in the early 1800s the farmer was required to work on the Count’s estate for a set number of days per year. This was changed in 1811, when the farmer could pay his way out of this work obligation, and from the mid 1800s the houses and farms were made available for purchase.
In 1840, when Sidse had given birth to four of her eight children, the village of Bisserup was listed as having 311 citizens spread over 70 households. Let’s go for a walk in the 1840 Bisserup and try to get a feel for who lived there and what life was like for Sidse. Bisserup is situated on the south-east coast of Sealand.
We begin with house no 1 where Christian Ludvig, the night watchman on Holsteinborg lived. Opposite in 2 and 3 was The old school, used till 1839 when it was moved a little out of town. 5 was Gessner’s Tile Factory, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 were rented houses occupied by small-holders. The Blacksmith lived in the middle of town in no 11.
There were three weavers in Bisserup, Per Jensen in 12, The man from the island of Fynen, Jens Christiansen in 18, who had moved here to be close to the God awakening movement? It is not known where the expert weaver Anne Olsdatter lived. However, when they required extra fine cloth at Holsteinborg, Anne was the one they called upon.
13 is the farm Toftegaard which in 1840 was occupied by Jens’ aunt. 14 and 15 were yards and workshops for two sawyers, followed by a cooper’s shop in 16 and a basketmaker in 17.
The house at 19 is interesting for two reasons. This house belonged to Sidse’s parents and she was born here in 1811. However, later this house became known as Margrethe’s House. In 1863, the house was leased by Kirsten and Lars Jørgensen who, paid by the Countess of Holsteinborg, looked after Sick Margrethe. Margrethe had been a seamstress at Holsteinborg until her legs gave way making her an invalid. The Countess paid for many treatments but in 1863 the 24-year-old Margrethe gave up and stayed in bed till her death in 1914. The countess once visited her in the company of Hans Christian Andersen and this visit is thought to have inspired the fairytale The Cripple. Margrethe’s bedroom was behind the window at the end of the house.
20 and 21 were occupied by small-holders. 22 is the Old Inn which in 1840 was leased by the local vet. 23 is another farm Bygaard which had earlier been both a flax-factory and an oil-mill. Until 1803 the farm had been leased by Jens’ uncle Christian Nielsen. Opposite is Sidse’s and Jens’ Vængegaard followed by The Poorhouse no 25 and a small-holder house 26. Finally we have Tangegaard which was leased by Sidse’s sister Kirsten Jacobsdatter and Hans Nielsen. This farm has been in the family’s occupancy/ownership for 270 years.
Having family so close by must have been wonderful for Sidse and looking at the photos and knowing which industries existed in her village has given me some idea of what her life might have been like.