Week 17 – At Worship

Imagine what it would have been like to cross the United States as part of a wagon train pulled by oxen to get to worship at Zion, the Mormon’s gathering place in Utah. But in 1854 this is what my 2C4R together with her husband and son did. (second cousin four times removed).

Name: Øllegaard Hansdatter
Birth: 29/5/1808 – Neder-Fløjstrup, Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage: 15/1/1839 – Beder, Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Anders Sørensen
Death: 26/10/1879 – Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, USA

This was the early days of of the Mormon faith in Denmark. Following is a notice from the paper Fyens Stiftstidende dated 15/6/1854: ..in the six months ending 6th of April 500 people entered the Mormon faith and 384 danish Mormons emigrated. At present the number of Mormons in Denmark is estimated to be around 1500. The sect has now spread to Iceland where there is a community of seven devotees. In Norway the member number is thought to be 186 and in Sweden 171.

There was also an article in the Østsjællandsk Avis on the same date. Here, under the headline “Mormoner” was written ..On Monday another group of Mormons departed Copenhagen. Many of these came from Jutland, Funen and some from Sealand, however, a large number came from Norway and Sweden. They were accompanied by a Mormon-priest, previously a brush-maker who in reality looked more like a brush than a priest. Most of these Mormons were farmers and only few had a trade. One of these was a bricklayer with wife and 10 children.

It is evident from these articles that Mormons were not redily accepted in the Danish community and it is therefore not surprising they chose to travel to Utah.

The above extract from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints fits Øllegaard except for the year of birth – 5 instead of 8, and in the spelling where the Ø becoming an O. The number is easily misread and going to an English speaking country o is usually substituted for the Danish ø. This is a summary of the travel notes for Hans Peter Olsen’s Company. The full text is here. (1853-1854 p. 87-89)

Hardly anyone had previously travelled anywhere outside their local community and so the majority was not prepared for the long journey. On Dec 22, 1853 a company of Scandinavian Saints consisting of 301 souls sailed from Copenhagen on the steamship “Slesvig”. The route took them via Kiel, Gluckstadt and Hull to Liverpool where they arrived Dec 28th.

Jesse Munn

On the first day of January, 1754 they boarded the ship “Jesse Munn”. Other people had joined from Germany and the number had now increased to 333. They set sail on the 3rd of January and the crossing of the Atlantic had been pleasant and on arriving New Orleans Feb 20, only 10 children and 2 adults had died and 3 couples were married.

Passenger list of the Jesse Munn – Ølligard and family are numbers 308-310

Going up the Mississippi River was slow and tedious due to unusually low water and the group arrived St. Louis on 11 Mar. Considerable sickness had prevailed on this part of the journey and an unusual number of people had died from cholera. Many more died during the one month’s wait for another Scandinavian group to arrive. Eventually they were all ready to cross the Plains leaving 9 May under the leadership of Hans Peter Olsen.

The company consisted of sixty nine wagons. Each wagon with 10-12 people had four oxen and two cows attached. The wagons, oxen and other equipment cost more than some emigrants could afford but fellow Mormons contributed freely of their own money, so none were left behind.

The journey across the plains commenced on Jun 15. Near Fort Kearney they were met by mormons from this valley who informed them of some depressing news. Of all the people that had crossed the plains in 1854, the Scandinavians had suffered the most with sickness (cholera) and fatalities had been numerous. Many had been compelled to bury their relatives and friends without coffins out on the desolate plains. Of the 680 who had left Copenhagen the previous winter, only 500 reached their destination.

The survivors reached Salt Lake City Oct 5, 1854 after a minimum of 9.5 months of travel.

There are several diary notes from the journey on the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints website. This story tells of an encounter with buffalos and Indians.

The family was allocated to Ephraim and the following is a biography of their son, Søren Andersen Sørensen, from The History of Sanpete County. (1898) page 342.

Sorensen, Soren A., farmer, son of Andrew and Ollegor, was born in Denmark November 14, 1839. His parents joined the Mormon Church and came to Utah, crossing the plains in Captain Olsen’s ox-train, and located in Ephraim, arriving here October 6, 1854. They assisted in building the fort and lived in it several years. Father died May 29, 1875, mother October 26, 1879. Soren was brought up on a farm and owns seventy-five acres and his home in the city. In ’61 he went to Missouri river after emigrants. Took part in the Black Hawk war and witnessed the killing of a man and two women by Indians, when Black Hawk shot at him but missed. Was married in Ephraim October 26, 1861 to Johanna, daughter of Johannes and Bengta Larsen, born in Sweden October 3, 1834. They have three living children: Annie, wife of Peter H. Peterson; Hannah, wife of Alfred Bellander, and Soren.

Note: The Black Hawk War was in 1832 and the Indian, Black Hawk died in 1838. This was before Soren was born and before he and his parents arrived in the USA. They must be referring to a different skirmish with the Indians.

Week 16 – Out of Place

I have to wonder if my 4th cousin Grethe didn’t feel a bit out of place when she in 1947, aged 20, arrived in the small village of Sheldon, Birmingham with her brand new husband.

A view of Sheldon Village in 1936 by William Albert Green.
Name: Anna Margrethe Jensen Møller (Grethe)
Birth: 29/5/1926 Holme, Ning, Århus
Marriage: 5/4/1947 – Holme, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Glyndwr Davies (Glyn)
Death: 7/10/2015 – Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales, UK

Anna Margrethe, or Grethe as she preferred to be called, was daughter of a boelsmand (owner of a small farm) in Holme (mid Jutland) and Glyndwr was son of a Welsh coalminer. He was named after the national hero of Wales who was called “Owen Glendower” by Shakespeare in Henry IV, but was commonly known as Glyn. Welsh was spoken in his family home and he did not learn English until he went to school.

The end of Second World War meant that Glyn, serving in the Royal Dragoons (part of the famed “Desert Rats”), was sent to Denmark to assist in the liberation of Denmark after Germany had surrendered, and the stage was set for the young couple to meet. The Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published a special supplement on April 23rd, 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Denmark. It included an article, “Befrieren” (The liberator), about Glyn Davies, his wartime experiences, how he met his wife Grethe, and his later career. “Glyn Davies from Wales was involved in El Alamein, the invasion of Sicily, landing in Italy, invasion of Normandy, and the battles at Arnhem and the Rhine but he found the highlights of the World War at Åbenrå, Kolding and Thorsmølle”. Unfortunately I have not read this article as online I can only access newspapers printed prior to 1919. Information for this post is from Grethe and Glyn’s son Roy Davies.

Glyn Davies in the Royal Dragoons, 1945

When discharged from the Royal Dragoons, Glyn rushed home to Cardiff to complete his economics studies as quickly as possible so that he could start work and get married. Having been away for 6 years meant that he could not finish his honours degree in a hurry. Instead he settled for a minor degree and a diploma in teaching. In the marriage register at Holme Church, Glyn is recorded as being a teacher and Grethe a secretary.

Glyn had a long and successful career retiring as Professor of Banking and Finance in 1985. He also wrote a long list of Publications for British journals, magazines and newspapers as well as the book A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day.

Grethe was, I guess, the woman behind the man. “They enjoyed travelling and visited members of their far flung family in Canada, Australia, Fiji, Peru and Trinidad. In April 1995, along with other former British soldiers and their wives, they were guests of the Danish government at the celebration in Copenhagen to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the liberation of Denmark.” (Roy Davies).

They had three sons and one daughter:

Roy Davies: Author, and until retirement, the librarian at St Luke’s Campus, University of Exeter.

John Davies: Professor of economics at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Kenneth Davies: After a long career in various countries for BP, is now Group Chief Geophysicist for Dana Petroleum.

Linda Davies: Former merchant banker turned novelist. Currently writing the true story of her own captivity in Iran “Hostage: Kidnapped on the High Seas”.

Week 15 – DNA

I am very grateful to my brother for agreeing to have his DNA tested and in particular his Y-DNA. We have learnt that he belongs to haplogroup Q-M242

Q-M242 migration map

Y-DNA is the male sex chromosome and X-DNA is the female. Only males have the Y chromosome from their fathers whereas they also have their mother’s X chromosome. When an egg is fertilised the resulting child will become female if it gets the father’s X or male if it gets the Y. All the other chromosomes are changed regularly as they are passed from parent to child, but the Y chromosome rarely changes. Therefore the Y chromosome my brother has is likely to be the same as our grandfather had many generations ago.

The testing company estimates the haplogroup to be about 24,000 years old. It is found in North and Central Asia, Native American population, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. (Perhaps that is why in the past I was often accused of having ‘slanting eyes’ :)).

Q-M242 has been subdivided and my brother’s subgroup is Q-Y16137. This is where it starts to become really interesting. Q-Y16137 is very rare. So far only 11 people have been found and of those only two match my brother. One from France where the oldest known ancestor was born in 1654 and the other from Norway and here the oldest known ancestor was born in 1720.

Our oldest known Y ancestor is Fifth Great-Grandfather Anders Hansen born 1683 and my work last week was to break down the brick wall that stopped me going back further in my father’s father’s father line. I didn’t succeed. I found someone who could be the next father in line, but I found nothing to prove it. I also found two possible brothers to Anders, but I cannot prove that relationship either.

My quest is to find current living direct male descendants of Anders and his one confirmed brother Jørgen and the two possible brothers Ole and Lars. So far, there don’t appear to be any other Y descendants from Anders than my brother. Over the generations, either the boys died young, never married or they fathered daughters.

Firstly, the Y-DNA test would prove/disprove my paper trail. Secondly, the data would be very important on a scientific level. We may be able to find where the common ancestor to the French, Norwegian and Danish matches came from. The more men who are tested the more accurate the findings will be.

I am hoping one day to find one or more male descendants of Jørgen, Ole or Lars who would be a candidate for a Y-DNA test, but it is going to take a long time. However, I am still working on it.

Week 14 – Brick Wall

A brick wall – when you come to a total halt and can’t go any further. The Danish church and census records are generally so well preserved that it is possible to go back to the early 1800s and in many cases even further. In addition, these records are available on-line so I can be i Perth, Australia and look up birth, marriage and death records from Denmark going back many generations. In some circumstances I can even look up old farm contracts, court transcripts and estate distributions.

There are always exceptions, of course, where the registers went up in smoke when the churches burned down, mice made a meal of the books or moisture and mould affected the pages so badly they became unreadable. Some parish priests were less careful with their entries, so much so, that some are missing vital data such as names or their writing was little more that scribbles.

For me, brick walls often consist of old records I simply can’t decipher, some due to sloppy writing but many due to my inability to make sense of the old Danish language and the Gothic writing style that existed 2, 3 and 400 years ago. Worst of all are the farm contracts but also court and estate records. Pages and pages of handwritten documents I simply can’t read. I know practice makes perfect – and I do put a lot of time into deciphering these old documents – but I really struggle.

Instead of trying to break down brick walls by deciphering old handwriting I have decided to use other people’s work to look for the father of Anders Hansen, who is my fifth great-grandfather (and any other male descendants I can find). Anders is my fathers fathers fathers …. father. In DNA terms – the Y-line.

Name: Anders Hansen
Birth: About 1683 – Esholte, Kirkerup, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: Date and place unknown
Spouse: Kirsten Pedersdatter and Bodil Pedersdatter
Death: February 1740 – Rosted, Sørbymagle, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø

Sørbymagle is unique in that the parish priest, Mads Proms, wrote biographies of the people he buried during his time 1646 to 1688. The following years were not covered perhaps because the next priest did not bother or maybe the books were simply lost. In 1717, however, the new Priest Hans Hansen took up after Mads Proms and continued the biographies for both Sørbymagle and Kirkerup from 1717 to 1731.

Biographies and Notes from the 1646-1731 church registers of Sørbymagle and Kirkerup

The above two books from 1963, prepared by Ole Højrup will help me enormously. The first contains transcripts of the biographies Mads Prom and Hans Hansen wrote 1646 to 1731. The second contains notes relating to the parish farms since 1645 based on registers of various types from courts, land taxes and leasing contracts. In addition, there is a list of people living in the two parishes on the 20th of May 1645. However, they do not contain transcripts of Christenings and Marriages and I still miss the 29 years between 1688 and 1717 for Sørbymagle and everything before 1717 for Kirkerup.

What I know from the church books: Anders was a farmer, who lived in Rosted, Sørbymagle and was first married to Kirsten Pedersdatter and second time around to Bodil Pedersdatter. He had an older brother, Jørgen Hansen (born 1676), who apart from farming was singer at the parish church, married to Dorthe Jensdatter and lived in Kirkerup. Their common stepfather was Mickel Pedersen with the added name of Grøn who was godfather to almost all of the brothers’ children. Michel Pedersen Grøn’s wife was Magdalene (Malene) Larsdatter, but it is interesting to note that she was never mentioned at any of the christenings. She was, however, present at other christenings over the same time period and I have to wonder – was she the biological mother or perhaps a foster mother?

From the notes in the above mentioned books I learn that Anders in 1713 was allocated that farm (listed as no. 10 in Rosted in the 1645 register) which Ole Hansen had leased til his death. Anders married Ole’s widow Kirsten Pedersdatter. Whilst farms didn’t always stay in the family, often they did. The owner before Ole (?-1713) was Oluf Hansen (1700-?) and Hans Olufsen (1670-1700). I am looking for a Hans to give the brothers the second name of Hansen. Hans Olufsen is a possibility especially since an Oluf Hansen’s wife carried Anders’ second child at his christening. But they came from Eskildstrup which is the neighbouring parish. Was Ole and Oluf Hansen the same person? Was Oluf/Ole Hansen a brother to Anders and Jørgen? The previous person on that farm was Hans Olufsen – Is he the Hans I am looking for? Did Anders marry his brother’s widow? No, if Ole was dead by 1713, he could not be present at a 1720 christening.

But there is another possibility. His brother Jørgen was older by about 7 years. The notes state he in 1705 leased that farm i Esholte, which was previously leased by Hans Nielsen. Hans let the farm go because of age and frailty and Jørgen had been noted as having the responsibility (for Hans or the farm?). This farm is either no 2 or no 4 in the 1645 register. It is impossible to say which as they were exactly the same size. Size was the only way farms could be identified. I think it is more likely that Hans Nielsen is the Hans I am looking for.

So, who was the Oluf Hansen from Eskildstrup whose wife was present at the christening in 1720? ‘Carried by Anne, Farmer Oluf Hansen’s wife of Eskildstrup’. Three years later there was another christening ‘Carried by Anne (space) Miller’s wife of Kongeskylle Mill.’ Kongskylle Mill was the local mill for Eskildstrup farmers. Is this the same Anne and how is she connected to Anders? I have to look at the church records for Lynge, which is the parish for Eskildstrup and Kongskylle. But, oh dear, the writing is sloppy and very faint in places. The Lynge church records go back to 1628, but unfortunately only some of the years. I didn’t find a mariage for any Oluf/Ole Hansen, but I found Christening records for Oluf/Ole Hansen’s infants of Eskildstrup: Maren in 1710, Anne in 1713, Malene in 1716, Anne in 1719 and Jens in 1721 and common to four of the five was that Anne of Kongskilde Mølle carried the baby to the font and for the fifth it was a Karen of Kongskilde. Jørgen Hansen of Esholte was godparent to the first child. Although I cannot prove it with any certainty, I think Ole/Oluf is a brother to Jørgen and Anders and my belief is supported by the name Malene of the third child, which is also their mother’s/foster mother’s name.

I have only been able to identify three of Jørgen’s children due to the church records for Kirkerup only starting in 1717. The woman who carried those children in 1718, 1719 and 1721 was a Kirsten, Lards Hansen’s wife of Neblerød in Haldagerlille. Could Lards/Lars be another brother? I think so. Church records for Haldagerlille started in 1710 but unfortunately the records for marriages did not start till 1731 and therefore nothing about Kirsten and Lards’ wedding. I did find three christenings for Lars/Laurs Hansen’s children: Kirsten in 1712, Jørgen in 1715 and Hans in 1717. Here I find Michel Pedersen Grøn, Anders’ and Jørgen’s stepfather being godparent for the first child and Jørgen Hansen’s wife of Esholte carried two of the children to the christening font.

I have no written proof, but I believe I have found my 6th Great Grandfather, Hans Nielsen and two 6th Great Uncles Ole/Oluf Hansen and Lards/Lars Hansen. The only way I can prove or disprove this is through DNA.

To be continued next week ….

Week 13 – In the Paper

I have a wonderful article from the Danish Newspaper Sorø Amts-Tidende dated 12th of August 1946. It is an interview with my Grand-aunt Kirstine who was on a visit Home from New York.

Name: Rasmine Petrine Kirstine Hansen
Birth: 7/3/1884 – Harrested, Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Marriage: Never married
Death: August 1973 – Flushing, Queens, New York, USA
Kirstine with her niece Alice during their visit to Denmark in 1946

Kirstine was much loved by the whole family and answered to ‘Faster Kirstine‘, ‘Moster Dine‘ or ‘Tante‘ depending on where in the world she was when meeting with young family members. She was always welcome everywhere and she usually had presents to the kids. She gave me my first watch when I was about 9 years old. Faster Kirstine travelled backwards and forwards between New York and Denmark every few years and always by ship. Not that she didn’t like flying, she just enjoyed the week of cruising luxury crossing the Atlantic. She is sister to Niels Peter, who I wrote about in week 6.

I never knew exactly when she first went to USA, but in the article she says it was in 1915 when she would have been 31 year old. I have searched and found her on the passenger list for S/S Frederik VIII arriving in New York on the 27th of October 1915. What surprised me is that her 4 year younger sister, Laura, was her contact person in New York. I do not know if Kirstine had visited before but this time she obviously came to stay. The passenger records have listed her as: domestic, 5 foot 1 inch tall with fair hair and blue eyes.

S/S Frederik VII 1914-1936

Her special skill was cooking and over the next three decades she was the cook for well known American Millionaires such as William Rockefeller and Pierre Dupont. When the journalist, Drès, from Sorø Amts-Tidende heard this, Kirstine was approached for an interview.

Did you see the old John D. Rockefeller when you worked for his brother? Yes, I did. He was ofter there on holidays and was like all other wealthy Americans considerate and easy to get along with. That also applied to Pierre Dupont. We would live in New York during the winters and move to the country in summer – employers as well as employees.

How was the pay? It varied, of course, but currently there are no house-maids that receive less than $100 per month – and that is a good pay. I must add that living costs in the USA are quite high.

Did you hear and feel much about the war in America? Only near the end when we started to feel unemployment and shortage of supplies. Equally, it is now after the war that the black market is having an impact and where we must fight the great social difficulties.

How long were you with each employer? Two years with William Rockefeller, five years with Pierre Dupont and seven years with American Jew, Madame Guinzbuig. The last mentioned lived on Madison Avenue whereas Rockefeller and Dupont lived on Fifth Avenue. The staff at Dupont enjoyed fantastic living conditions. A large property was designed to house all staff and we paid only $4-5 per month to live there, a token really, as insurance would not cover if we lived in the house for free.

You were the cook – is there much difference between American and Danish food? Yes, a lot. They do not have as many rich sauces as the Danes do and they eat a lot more vegetables. They always have 3-4 different vegetables with every meat dish and a light soup as entre. Believe me, they are a lot healthier.

What do millionaires do with their day? They are very busy. Lots of people come and go, so most of their time is spent socialising and entertaining.

One of the big problems in America is that of race. Has the war caused any change with this issue? The negros now have a lot to say and I am afraid that they cannot cope with this. They start to swagger and think they are very important. There are no changes in the southern states where the negros still have their own trams.

Are you going to stay home and do you like being here after having been away for so long? Definitely, I like being home and this is my fifth visit home since 1915. Only, I think it is very cold here and it also rains a lot. I like the climate better over there. I haven’t yet decided what I will do, but for now I am here for about a year.

Do you feel alone in the big city of New York or do you have relatives there? My sister also lives in New York and she travelled home with me this time along with her daughter, who is 20 years old. In addition there is a lot of goodwill towards people from Scandinavia, so we don’t feel too homesick.

How was your journey here? We had a pleasant crossing on the ship Tunis which was used as a transport vessel during the war. Now we plan to go around and visit all the family and take my niece to Copenhagen to show her the sights.

Kirstine crossed the Atlantic many times after 1946. On one of these journeys in 1967, I was fortunate at the age of 15 to accompany her onboard Sagafjord from Copenhagen to New York.