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 ….

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