Week 24 – Dear Diary

To my knowledge, none of my ancestors wrote a diary. To respond to this prompt I have had to look outside the box to find something that can be a substitute for a diary. When visiting Denmark last year I was very fortunate to lay eyes on my farmor’s (paternal grandmother) Skudsmålsbog which my brother found in one of his hiding-places. My old Danish-English dictionary of 1959 translates Skudsmålsbog to ‘Servant’s conduct book’. This was a book introduced in 1832 to record an employee’s places of work and sometimes also their conduct, rather than using loose employer reference letters. The practice was abolished in 1921.

Name: Oline Laura Jensen
Birth: 3/8/1875 – Stubberup, Ørslev, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: 14/5/1909 – Førslev, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Spouse: Christen Peder Hansen
Death: 11/8/1928 – Harrested, Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Skudsmålsbog for Oline Laura Jensen – issued 7th October 1889 by the Vicar of Ørslev.

Oline was confirmed at the Ørslev church on 6th of October 1889 and the Skudsmålsbog was issued the day after signifying she was ready for employment. According to the book she did not leave home until eight years later when the first entry in the book states she left the parish of Ørslev on 1/11/1897 and went to Fodby. Here she was working on a farm for Knud Lund and his wife Maren, who had just seen their only surviving child getting married and leaving home. In the 1901 census there were two maids and two farm-helps on this farm and I expect it would have been the same in 1898 when Oline was there.

In the country a move from one employer to the next would usually take place in May and November. Period of employment would thus be reviewed every six months.

Oline Laura Jensen. I am proud that the the silver cross and chain she is wearing in the photo is now in my possession.

Oline worked for Knud and Maren for one year after which she went to Førslev. Here she stayed with her sister and brother in-law, who had just married the year before, whilst attending the near-by Hindholm Højskole (folk high school) for three years. Wikipedia informs me that not much is written about the school as it was not following the traditional Grundtvig doctrine.

End of March 1902 brought a new change for Oline. She left Førslev and moved to Ulse parish in Præstø county. Here she was the housekeeper on Slettehavegaard in Nielstrup for five years. The family consisted of bailiff Lars Christensen, his wife Karen and two children. In addition there were two maids and three farm-hands to feed every day.

There was a short period after Ulse where she in 1907 was back in Arløse for six months. Unfortunately the book doesn’t give any information as to where, but as her two sisters Ane Margrethe and Sidse Marie had both married Arløse farmers, it is likely that Oline stayed with them.

The final entry in her Skudsmålsbog is by my grandfather Christen Peter Hansen. Oline came to Sludstrup after Arløse where she worked on Christen’s farm, Bakkegaard, in 1908. As stated above they were married in May the following year.

Of course, Oline’s story doesn’t end with the last entry in her Skudsmålsbog. She gave birth to three children, where my father Poul was the firstborn in 1910, followed by Oline Marie in 1911 and Inge Margrethe in 1915. In addition she nursed Christen’s father, who was not well the last few years and who eventually died in 1918.

I never met Oline as she died when my father was only 18 and she was 53. To date I have been unable to find the cause of death which I fear might have been breast cancer. Her daughter Inge died from breast cancer and she was only 52. I know from other records provided by my 3rd cousin that she was nursed in the last few weeks by her sister Sidse from Arløse. Oline’s mother also died young – only 47 years old. Cause of her death was tæring (Dictionary: old description of tuberculosis and other illnesses that caused loss of weight, eg. cancer), according to the church register.

Oline Laura Jensen 1875-1928

Week 23 – Namesake

I know that I am not named after anyone in my family. My mother told me I got the name Lene because my two siblings (6 and 8 years my senior) were reading a book at school that had a Lene as the main character. They thought it could be fun for me to read about myself when one day I would go to school. (By that time the Lene-book had been replaced by something else).

I currently have 7,517 people in my family tree database. You would have thought there would be a Lene among them, and yes, there were 8, but they were all born around the same time as me and therefore, I presume, would still be alive. In addition, none of them are close relatives. In fact I don’t know anything about them except that they exist.

Google tells me that in 2014 there were 31,399 people living in Denmark with the name Lene. It is not a modern name but it must have fallen out of favour during the 200 years preceding me. I have seen babies named Lene on rare occasions when looking through church books from the 18th and 19th centuries, but none of those people belonged in my family tree.

The name Lene comes from the Greek Helene (of which I found 5). Helene means ‘The one who brings light‘ – OR – Magdalene from the Hebrew town of Magdala, a village on the Sea of Galilee which means ‘The Tower‘. I have 6 people named Malene in my tree and one of them is my 6th Great Grandmother.

Name: Malene Christensdatter
Birth: Before 1700
Marriage: Around 1725
Spouse: Peder Sørensen
Death: After 1747 – Skafterup, Fyrendal, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø

I don’t know very much about Malene, but the little I know comes from Vincent Jensen, her son-in-law’s lease agreement for the farm she and Peder leased from Holsteinborg. In this it says that Vincent shall have the new lease of that farm in Skafterup on which Peder Sørensen had lived, but which he is now having to give up due to his wife’s high age and weakness. Conditions of the lease is that Vincent marries Malene’s and Peder’s daughter (Anne Pedersdatter) and that they can live on the farm for the rest of their lives.

Map of South-East Sealand, showing location of Skafterup

This farm will later be known as Farm No 6, Prøveholmsgaard.

Prøveholmsgaard

This farm has stayed within the family since then and was only recently put up for sale by the current descendant. I wrote more about this farm and some of the past inhabitants in previous blog posts. My father’s mother was born here, probably behind the attic windows, which was the master bedroom.