Week 7 – Love

How do you know if there was love among your ancestors? I believe there was, lots of it, but unless you speak to them, how can you be sure? There are many kinds of love of course, and for this week I have chosen to write about Morten Sørensen. I don’t know if he had romantic love, although I’d like to think so, but as I learn about his life I feel sure he had love for family and community and that he was loved in return.

Name: Morten Sørensen
Birth: 1797 – Skafterup, Fyrendal, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: 29/5/1818 – Kvislemark, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Spouse: Margrethe Jacobsdatter
Death: 19/6/1880

I am connected to Morten in two ways. He is brother to my 3rd great grandmother Maren Sørensdatter and he married a sister to my 2nd great grandmother Sidse Jacobsdatter, who I wrote about in week 4.

Sketch of Morten Sørensen

Sadly, Morten and Margrethe did not have any children of their own, but they were godparents to many children in their community. I checked the register of the local church in Fyrendal for the first ten years of their marriage, and found they were godparents to 35 children during that time. Usually it would be both of them but on a few occasions it was one or the other. In addition, Morten was godfather to all of Sidse’s 8 children in Holsteinborg and Margrethe held two of them, Jacob and Søren, over the christening font.

Those two boys ended up spending a lot of time with Morten and Margrethe. Jacob, my Great Grandfather, moved in with them when he was 11, according to the military register, and stayed ‘in place of a child’ per the 1860 census, until the day he married aged 30. Søren, being 17 years younger, also came to Morten and Margrethe at a young age and was equally described as being ‘in place of a child’.

Prøveholmsgaard main building built by Søren’s father-in-law, so his daughter could live comfortably. (Septmber 2018)

When the time came to pass on the farm which Morten had inherited from his father Søren Wincentzen, Jacob was already married and settled on a different farm and it was only natural that the farm lease should go to Søren. Morten may have had a role to play at the christening where Søren was given the middle name of Vincent, same as Morten’s father and grandfather. This way the name Vincent stayed in the family and with the farm for many generations.

SVJ and ANJ on the gable of Prøveholmsgaard stands for: (Søren Vincents Jensen and Anne Marie Jensen) (September 2018)

In a local newspaper from 1867 I found a notice where several high-ranking members of the community such as The Earl Holstein-Holsteinborg, Judges, Parliamentarians and Farmers including Morten were inviting the local community to a festival by the Holsteinborg castle. The proceeds were to benefit the true, needy people of Slesvig. In 1864 Denmark had lost the provinces of Slesvig-Holstein to Prussia in a devastating war.

Convinced that, in these for our homeland serious times, we feel a need to get together to support each other in the fight for Danishness and freedom, we invite men, women and children to a festival in Holsteinborg forest by Bisserup beach, Tuesday the 11th of June.

For many years, Morten held the honourable role of ‘Sognefoged’ – the country police officer working for the district courts. The person for this position was selected by the local council and had to be ‘one of the best suited, most honest and knowledgable farmers in the parish‘. Later Morten was made a ‘Knight of Dannebrog’, a royal order awarded for special deeds or conspicuous service to Denmark.

Words on the cross are: God and The King

Week 6 – Surprise

February 7, 2019

There are always surprises when you do genealogy, and I have had my share. This week I have chosen to write about Niels Peter Hansen, my great-uncle, not because of surprises I had when researching him, although there were a couple, but more so because of the surprise HE had on his 80th birthday.

Name: Niels Peter Hansen
Birth: 26/4/1893 – Harrested, Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Marriage: None
Spouse: None
Death: 13/9/1975 – Sebring, Highlands, Florida, USA

Niels Peter was born and grew up on his father’s farm in Harrested, south-west Sealand. Being the youngest of seven siblings, he had no chance of inheriting the family farm. Instead, he took a liking to gardening and at 18 left home to see other places and spent a couple of years honing his trade in Copenhagen and northern Sealand.

1914-1918 1st WW

Denmark sought to remain neutral during the first world war and managed this by staying on the friendly side of both Germany and England. Germany pressurised Denmark into establishing a mine-field in the main strait between Sealand and Funen. Subsequently, England was advised of the mines and their ships never came near. However, with these warring parties being neighbours, the Government decided to strengthen Denmark’s military capabilities – just in case.

On the 26th of October 1914, Niels Peter was called upon to serve his country in the army’s 27th Battalion. To date, I have not found any evidence to suggest he spent the full four years in the army, and it is possible that his time as a soldier was much shorter.

What happened to Niels Peter?

It is fair to say that Niels Peter became a bit of an eccentric, never letting anyone know what he was doing or where he was going. I found him impossible to trace until one day, I found Niels Peter Hansen on a passenger list from the ship S.S. Oscar II arriving into New York harbour on the 14th of December 1923. I knew he went to the USA at some point, and now I had a date. His two sisters Laura and Kristine had already migrated there, so it is understandable that he too wanted to have a look outside Denmark and perhaps try a new life in the USA.

S.S. Oscar II

Niels Peter stayed with his sister Laura in New York – on and off. Laura owned an apartment block on Lexington Avenue, where she leased out rooms mostly to singles, and could usually find space for Niels Peter whenever he decided to turn up. He would stay with her for weeks or months at a time and then suddenly one day get up and say ‘Goodbye’ and be gone for several months or years not telling anyone where he was. Over time, the family learned he had taken gardening jobs with large wealthy families across the United States.

There is a family story where Niels Peter, being persuaded by his sisters, decided to sail to Denmark for a visit. Unfortunately, the summer he chose was one of the wettest on record. He hated the Danish weather to such a degree that he swore never again to set foot in Denmark – and he never did.

Through Laura’s descendants, I have inherited a couple of documents which I treasure. One is the original USA Certificate of Citizenship, Issued to Niels Peter when he at one time was living in Washington D.C. – In testimony whereof the seal of the court is hereunto affixed this 2nd day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and twenty-nine and of our Independence the one hundred and fifty-fourth.

USA Certificate of Citizenship – Niels Peter Hansen

And then there is this cutting from the Pan AM magazine July, 1973. Niels Peter had never flown in an aeroplane, so as a present to himself on his 80th birthday he decides to fly to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands for a four hour visit, after which he would return to New York. When the staff heard about this 80 year old neophyte, they decided to surprise him with a birthday cake. He was greeted with a chorus of ‘happy birthday’, and was afterwards taken for a tour of the island where a stop was made for him to shop. He wanted two items: One bottle of Cream de Cacao and one bottle of lavender water.

Pan Am magazine July 1973

To finish this story I must explain that St. Thomas was once a Danish colony. Denmark-Norway conquered the Island in 1666 along with the islands of St. John and St Croix. The islands’ economy was driven by sugarcane, and the plantation owners became dependant on slave labour. Records show the largest slave auctions in the world were being held on St. Thomas in the mid 1680s. Years later the sugar trade became very competitive and the prosperity of the free islanders began to wane. The colony was poorly managed by the Danes and in 1917 the islands were sold to the United States for the sum of $25 million in Gold. This was also a strategic military move by the US to achieve full control over the Caribbean during the 1WW.

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.

Week 4 – I’d Like to meet..

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.

Sidse Jacobsdatter
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.

‘Margrethe’s house’ in Strædet

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.

Tangegaard, 1949

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.

Week 3 – ‘Unusual Name’

Lene Bolton, 25 January 2019
Name:Anne Øvlisdatter
Birth:1773 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage:23/10/1794 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse:Niels Jacobsen 
Death:28/7/1847 – Malling, Ning, Århus

Coming from a Danish farming background it is almost impossible to find an unusual name. 

Going back in time, it would be very unusual to have a family name not ending in -sen or -datter. The endings specified son of or daughter of and then the father’s first name. It wasn’t until the middle 1800s everyone started to have the same family name as the father. 

To confuse things even further, in the country it was custom to name the first boy after his mother’s father and the second boy after the father’s father. The girls were named accordingly after their grandmothers except in one situation. If the mother was a second wife, her first daughter was named after the deceased first wife. 

I have many situations of a person for instance Jens Hansen who is followed by Hans Jensen who again is followed by Jens Hansen and so on. In addition, there was not a lot of imagination used when naming subsequent children. It could be after an aunt or uncle and in this way the same names repeat over and over again. 

It was not unusual in the 17- and 1800s for children to die within the first year and often within the first month. If the child had to be named Maren after the above unwritten naming rules, and that baby died, the next female child would be named Maren and so on until a ‘Maren’ survived to adulthood.

Starting with my grandparents and going back 3 generations for each, that equals fifteen people per grandparent. Multiply that by four I have sixty ancestors to choose from. For fun I counted how often a first name appeared in those 60 and I came up with:

  • 9 – Ane/Ana/Anne/Anna
  • 7 – Maren
  • 5 – Karen
  • 6 – Niels
  • 4 – Hans

That is 31, over half of these sixty ancestors have one of these five names. Then add the second name of Hansen or Nielsen etc. and it becomes hard to track all these people and their siblings without getting anyone mixed up.

Crest of the Øvli Clan

It was therefore with great glee I spotted an ‘Øvlisen’ among my ancestors. This name is rare and most, if not all, who carries the name Øvli/Øvle can be traced back to a farmer who in 1510 was the first to become free of bonding to the district Lord. The family can be traced further still, but the previous two generations were contracted to the Lord.

“Veilgaard” 1421 -2012, Ancestry Farm of the Øvle Clan

“Veilgaard” no longer belongs to the family, however, the Øvli Clan got permission from the new owners to place this large boulder near the road to mark the birthplace of the Family. The village of Malling is situated midway up the east coast of Jutland near the large city of Århus.

Week 2 – Prompt ‘Challenge’

Lene Bolton, 24 January 2019

I have always wondered why my 3rd Great Grandparents, Poul Nielsen and his wife Ane Larsdatter, died with less than 11 months between them leaving two daughters aged 7 and 4 orphaned. My challenge this week is to learn more about them, their family and where they lived.

Basic Data

Name: Poul Nielsen
Birth: 1777 – Præstehusene, Sørbymagle, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: 4/10/1822 – Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Spouse: Ane Larsdatter
Death: 15/12/1831 – Haldagermagle, Krummerup, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Name: Ane Larsdatter
Birth: 1788 – Sørbylille, Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Marriage: 4/10/1822 – Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø
Spouse: Poul Nielsen
Death: 26/1/1831 – Haldagermagle, Krummerup, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø

I had originally thought that Poul died in 1830, leaving only 7 weeks between their deaths. However, after cross checking my notes with the church registers, I realised my mistake. There were 10.5 months between them and not just 7 weeks. Does that make a difference? No, not really. Their daughters were still only 7 and 4 when Ane died. It is rare to find a cause of death in the Danish church registers and I didn’t find any in this case either. Paul was 53 and Ane was 43.

This was not Poul’s first marriage. I found the funeral notation of his first wife in the 1822 Krummerup Church Register. Marie Hansdatter 53 had died six months prior to him marrying to Ane.

Unfortunately the church registers for the period 1795 to 1814 no longer exist and this is where I had a chance of finding their marriage as well as christening of any children. I had to dig deeper.

After a couple of day’s search I found the court documents following Marie’s death, here I could read about the value of the estate, who was owed money, and how the balance was to be distributed. Surprise, surprise. Marie had six children from a previous marriage and she had had three children with Paul. There was Morten – 14, Niels – 9 and Ellen – unmarried. It appears that age was not important for girls and women, only their married state. All nine children were to receive a share in the estate, the boys twice as much as the girls, but Paul was to receive the farm and the remaining share. I have thus found some more descendants of Poul’s to investigate at another time.

The old court documents are very hard to decipher. They were handwritten in gothic using Old-Danish language. In addition the writing was sloppy. However, undeterred, I kept looking and found the records after Ane’s death. This confirmed what I already knew. Ane and Poul had two daughters, Karen 8 and Johanne Marie aged 4.

My expectations were too high. I had hoped to find the court documents after Paul’s death but no such luck.

From the census records of 1834 I learnt that the girls Karen and Johanne Marie were being looked after by Morten, the half brother, who had taken over the parent’s farm. I can only wonder what life would have been like for the two girls as Johanne Marie died in 1839 aged 12 and the older sister Karen was listed in Morten’s household as a Maid in the 1840 census. She married young, only 18, to a man 23 years her senior. Was it an opportunity to get away?

Karen Poulsdatter is my 2nd Great Grandmother.

Week 1 – prompt ‘First’

Lene Bolton, 23 January, 2019

For this week’s challenge I have chosen to write about Hans Nielsen, my 2x Great-Grandfather, who was the first in my direct line to occupy the family farm of “Bakkegaard” in Harrested Village, Sludstrup Parish, Sorø County.

Basic Data

Name: Hans Nielsen
Birth: 4/7/1800 – Sørbymagle, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: 26/1/1842 – Krummerup, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Spouse: Karen Poulsdatter
Death: 27/12/1865 – Harrested, Sludstrup, Slagelse, Sorø

Army service

Soon after Hans was born, his father was obliged to list his son in the Danish register of people that could serve in the army. This register was divided into various Lægder depending on the district. His entry in the relevant lægd reads: H 149, Father’s name: Niels Hansen, Name: Hans, Place born: Sørbymagle, Address: home, Notes: Born 4 July 1800.

I was then able to follow his life over the coming years through the lægd register. In 1827 he was conscripted to serve in the King’s Regiment, 3rd Battalion. This did not mean that he had to go into the army and train as a soldier, only that he had to be available should there be a war. It was specifically noted that he was untrained. Later I learn that he moved to Harrested in 1830 and became a Farmer in 1833. Hans was never required for active service in the army, but he remained on their roll until turning 45 as was the rule at that time.

First Marriage

In 1830, at the age of 29, Hans married his first wife Ane Jørgensdatter, who was 31 at the time. Hans and Ane had four children: Karen 1831, Maren 1833, Niels 1834 and Kristine 1838. All survived childhood and went on to marry and have families of their own. Unfortunately, Hans and Ane’s marriage was cut short when she died in August, 1841.


Prior to their wedding Hans was living on his parent’s farm in Sørbymagle and would have had valuable hans-on training from his father in how to work and manage a farm. It is highly likely that Hans and Ane lived on her parent’s farm Bakkegaard in Harrested after they were married and when her father died two years later, Ane’s mother sold the the farm to the young couple.

In those days, a farm was most often owned by the district Earl and leased to individual farmers against payment of annual taxes, delivery of crops and performance of labour on the Earl’s farm. On death, to enable the farm and home to be passed down to spouse or children, many had what was called an Inherited lease. And it was this Inherited lease that Ane’s mother sold to her daughter and son-in-law.

A comprehensive Inherited Lease Deed was prepared for Hans Nielsen to sign. Women didn’t have any legal rights at the time. The Deed outlined not only the property and everything, such as land, buildings and animals belonging to the property, but also the annual tax payable to the Earl in Silver, Grain and ‘two days of labour during harvest including a wagon with horses, a driver and two farm-hands’.

Age-care did not exist in those days, of course, so Ane’s mother had to ensure she had arrangements for the rest of her life. She planned to live with her other daughter in a neighbouring village, but the Deed included annual payment to her of Rye, Barley, Malt and Oats as well as one pig, 4 geese, a load of firewood and approximately 4 kg of cleaned and cut flax. In addition she requested Hans looked after and fed a sheep for her, or alternatively provided her with around 2 kg of wool annually.

The Deed was signed by Hans Nielsen (with hand held) and Ane’s mother in the presence of a parish guardian, as a woman was not considered to have the wherewithal to deal in financial matters.

Second Marriage

Running a farm and looking after a young family at the same time would have been very difficult for Hans even though he employed farm-hands an a maid to help. It is therefore not surprising that he married again in 1842, five months after Ane’s death. Practicality was often more important than love and whilst I can’t say whether love was involved, Hans married his cousin Karen Poulsdatter, 23 years his junior.

Hans also had four children in his second marriage, but only one Jørgen, my great-grandfather, born in 1844, lived long enough to marry and have children. The other three were Poul 1847-1878, Ane 1850-1850 and Peder 1852-1872.


Hans worked the farm till the day he died in 1865, aged 65 years.