Week 5 – at the Library

Lene Bolton, 1st February 2019

Last week I was offered some Danish books from a deceased estate. Being a little greedy I accepted all of them – 4 boxes. Among my newly acquired library I found a book by Gudrun Andresen: Særke 1770-1870 (særke = shifts – a woman’s innermost articles of clothing).

Since all my ancestors were farmers, I had no trouble finding someone who would have worn a shift similar to the ones described in this book. I chose my 3rd Great Grandmother, Anna Sørensdatter.

Name: Anna Sørensdatter
Birth: 29/11/1788 – Saksild, Hads, Århus
Marriage: About 1809
Spouse: Rasmus Nielsen
Death: 4/7/1859 – Saksild, Hads, Århus

As the book was published in 1976 it is still under copyright. However, I learnt that the country-women made their shift from linen, except in some parts of Jutland where the soil was not suitable for growing flax. If someone didn’t have the money to buy the necessary lengths of linen, fine wool was used. Anna lived in Jutland but the soil was good on the east coast, so I believe Anna’s shifts were made of linen. The book also explains that shifts for special occasions were lightly fitted and embroidered with white thread, sometimes very elaborately, and often decorated with names or initials. The everyday shifts for work were loose functional garments without adornments.

Chest for a young girl’s trousseau – Photo taken at The National Museum, Copenhagen

In the 17 and 18 hundreds, people living in the country were self-sufficient. The only way to help the daughters was to provide them with a well stocked chest of wool and linen items so they would have enough for their time. After marriage, the young woman would start filling a chest for the next generation.

I believe that Anna and Rasmus were married in 1809, as their first child was born in April 1810. I cannot say if Anna would have had such a beautiful large chest filled with her trousseau when she got married, but her new home was a farm with near new buildings.

The village, Kysing, consisted of 9 leased farms in 1788. However the owner was in a poor state financially and the farms were put to auction and self-ownership of the individual farms resulted.

The farms were built close together and when a fire broke out on the 6th of April 1793 only two were saved. At that time there was a campaign across Denmark to move farm buildings from the villages out onto the land. In Kysing the fire caused this to happen sooner than perhaps was planned.

As a result of all this, when Anna got married she moved into a new farm Matr. No. 8 owned by her husband Rasmus Nielsen. This map is from the 1820s. The farm was later named Kysing Lundgaard.

No 8 – Rasmus Nielsen, Kysing

Anna and Rasmus had three children Niels 1810, Søren 1815 and Maren 1819. The firstborn, Niels Rasmussen my 2nd great grandfather, took over the farm in 1842.

It is also important to mention that not only is Anna my 3rd Great Grandmother, but so is her sister, Mariane Sørensdatter. Anna’s son Niels and Mariane’s daughter Karen married in 1848. Looking at the rest of my family tree I note that it was common for cousins to marry in the 1800s.

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