I made it half way through the year, but now I need a break.
Doing all the research necessary for the ancestors I have written about to date has been quite time consuming and it has kept me away from doing other research, especially following any DNA trails that might be there.
It has been fun though, and I have learnt a lot about the people that lived before me. There are many more stories to discover, and I would love to do that, but it won’t be right now.
Following prompts to determine who to write about can be helpful but also a disadvantage. Sometimes the prompts help me think of a particular ancestor but often they won’t fit any of the stories I know about. This leads to more research which most often end with dead ends, meaning brick walls without any new stories.
I may take this challenge up at a later date, but for now, it’s time out.
A legend lives on in the stories people tell each other. Jørgen Joakim Lendal is a legend in our family and one I will write about this week.
Name: Jørgen Joakim Lendal
Birth: 27/9/1908 – Hejninge, Slagelse, Sorø
Marriage: Never married
Death: 28/9/1942 – North Atlantic Sea
Jørgen, my 4th cousin, was born in south-eastern Sealand, the eldest boy in a sibling flock of five boys and one girl. His father was a blacksmith as well as a farmer, but it must have been stressed around the dinner table that a trade was important because his brothers ended up being a bricklayer, electrician, painter and typograf.
Jørgen had other ideas. He wanted to see the world and at the age of 20 is recorded as having crewed a ship into New York from Denmark. The following years have Jørgen working on various cargo ships between New York and the Dominion Republic.
Much later, in 1939, he is again noted as entering New York on a ship and had in the passing years worked his way up from Ships Boy to Chief Officer. This time he was crewing the Danish owned ship ‘M.V. Almena’, which in 1940 was captured by the French Vichi Government and renamed ‘Saint Phillippe’. Jørgen was no longer on this ship, but in 1941 the ‘Saint Philippe’ was handed to the Germans and renamed ‘Bengazhi’ and its faith was sealed in 1942 when it was sunk by the British ‘HMS Turbulent’.
Imagine being a crew member on board a merchant ship during WW2. A ship, powered by steam, on her way from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Milford Haven in Wales with a cargo of timber desperately needed in war-torn England. This ship, named ‘S.S. Lifland’, was built in Denmark in 1921 but was in 1940 taken over by Britain and transferred to the Ministry of War Transport. It seems likely that the crew went with the ship when it was transferred as 22 of the 29 seamen on board were Danish nationals, including the master. Only seven were British, whereof three were gunmen from the Royal Navy.
Imagine further being one of these crew members when the ‘Lifland’, straggling the rest of the SC-101 convoy, learned of a German U-boat closing in. In effect, the ship became an unescorted decoy as the convoy sped up and the ‘Lifland’ being unable to keep up with the other ships, was left behind.
U-610 captained by Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allmendingen started the chase but it took a full nine hours before a torpedo from the U-boat managed to strike the ‘Lifland’.
Now imagine being forced to abandon ship in the middle of the North Atlantic, where the sea is rarely calm. Whilst sitting in the lifeboats the Germans fired a coup de grace within 20 minutes of the first attack, but this torpedo proved to be a dud, so a third torpedo was fired shortly thereafter striking forward of of the bridge setting the ‘Lifland’ on fire.
The U-boat subsequently surfaced and approached the lifeboats to question survivors, but left soon after as they couldn’t understand the Danish language. Sadly the survivors were never seen again and the ‘Lifland’ was reported missing and presumed sunk in position 56 degrees 40 minutes North/ 30 degrees 30 minutes West in the North Atlantic.
How many hours or days did it take for the surviving crew to finally succumb to the elements?
Such was the fate on the 28th September 1942 of Chief Officer, Jørgen Joakim Lendal, aged 34.
Jørgen is ‘Remembered with Honour’ at the Tower Hill Memorial, Panel 64, Trinity Square, London.
It is of little comfort to learn that U-610, still under the command of Walter Freiherr von Freyberg-Eisenberg-Allemendingen, was sunk in the Atlantic near Ireland a year later by depth charges from a Canadian Sunderland Aircraft. All 51 crew perished. In one year this commander was responsible for the sinking of 4 ships and damage to a fifth. The ‘S.S. Lifland’ being his first casualty.
For this week’s ancestor I will have to resort to the 100 year old book, Øvle-Slægten og dens Hjem (The Øvle-family and its Home) of 1917, by A. Eriksen. I have already written about my 10th great grandfather, Mickel Øuli, in week 12, and Jes Persen (or Pedersen) goes back two more generations.
Name: Jes Persen (Pedersen)
Birth: 1390-1400 – Malling
Marriage: ? – ?
Death: About 1470 – Malling?
The trouble with Jes is that nothing is known about him as far as spouse and children. It is believed that he is the grandfather to either Mickel Øuli or his wife Birgitte Ibsdatter, but so far no-one has been able to find a document which proves who the generation in between was.
What exists is a parchment with two attached wax seals, which was found in the archives of the farm Michel Øuli owned and which is now in the possession of the Danish Archives. This document from 1463 outlines an agreement by 24 very respected elders from Malling that ‘the property on which Jes Person, væbner, lives is his rightful old inheritance and has been since these elders first came to this village’. A væbner was a rank just below a nobleman.
Further, the document states that Jes Persen has never made an offence to his inheritance or ownership which could cause him to lose any rights under God’s law or through the country’s courts.
The document is then a testimony from 24 respected Danes that the farm on which Jes resides was his rightful inheritance from his ancestors The family can then be estimated to have occupied the farm for at least 2-4 generations.
At the time of 1463 Jes would not have been a young man to earn the kind of respect shown by the village elders. An estimate of his year of birth has been made following a find of a tax receipt written in Low-German issued in 1421 by Jes Person, væbner. It is believable he would know some german from his travels to Holstein with the court of King Erik of Pomerns. He was also found to have been joint judge in a dispute in 1470. As he was unlikely to be 80 when acting as judge but probably been 21 when receiving tax in 1421 it is estimated that he was born around 1390-1400.
Being a farm that had been in the family for a long time it would have passed to one of his offspring, who later passed the farm to either Mickel Øuli or his wife Birgitte Ibsdatter, where the document was found.
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.
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 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.
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.
This farm will later be known as Farm No 6, 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.
My third cousin took me to Ørslev church last year. A large number of my ancestors have either been christened, confirmed, married or buried at this church, including my grandmother, who was christened there. Today I am not going to write about her, but instead, her nephew Knud Jacob Jensen, (my 1st cousin once removed) whose gravestone I saw at the cemetery.
Knud was the son of Hans Jensen, who I wrote about in Week 18. In 1930, after marrying Marie, Knud took over the farm at 31 Glænøvej in Stubberup after his father. The farm has been in the family since 1887 and has only recently been put up for sale by Knud’s grandson who has a different farm.
From childhood Knud was educated in farm management by his father and as a young man was sent to study at Vallekilde Højskole, a school for young country people situated in north Sealand. The school still exists but has been renamed Vallekilde Communications College. It is specialising in communication and currently has five line subjects. Journalism, Design, Leadership, Game design and Event management. These lines attracts students from all over the world and is a stepping stone for the students to attend a university.
Knud and Marie were 31 when they married and went on to have two children. The eldest, Arnth, was born 9 months later and he eventually took over the family farm. A daughter, Margit, followed the year after. Unfortunately, Margit was not well or she suffered an accident (I don’t know which), because she died at Slagelse Hospital aged only 12.
When the topic of Military came up I knew exactly who I would write about. My 3rd cousin sent me an email about our great-grandparent’s brother last year, to which she attached a copy of his application for ‘Fortjent Medal from 1864’ (1864 war Medal entitlement). To fight in the Danish-Preussian war in 1864 would have been a terrible experience, especially since Denmark didn’t do well and a large part of Southern Jutland was lost to the Germans.
There had been disputes between Germany and Denmark throughout the 1850s and into the 1860s about which country would control the two districts of Schleswig and Holstein at the bottom end of Jutland. By February 1864 the German-Austrian army attacked and the Danish troops withdrew to the most northerly line of Schleswig. It was thought Denmark could defend her position there, due to the presence of old defence barricades and excavations. Sadly they were in ill repair and the Danes could not withstand the onslaught. A peace treaty was eventually signed on the 30th of October in Vienna. Denmark went to war with 52,000 troops and roughly 10% lost their lives or were injured. A further 15% were taken prisoner by the Germans. Denmark had to relinquish both Holstein and Schleswig to the Germans. It was not until the end of First World War that Schleswig was returned to Denmark when a request was made to the allied powers at the Versailles conference in 1919.
Hans Jensen was sent to war on the 18th of March 1864 and returned unharmed on the 18th of November. He served as private for the 13th infantry regiment, 5th Company. I haven’t been able to find out where he may have been engaged in battle. Regardless, he was among the lucky men who return home unscathed.
Hans returned to his father’s farm ‘Vængegaard’ in Bisserup which he took over in 1876. At the same time he bought the farm outright from Holsteinborg Estate.
1876 was an eventful year for Hans as he not only bought ‘Vængegaard’, he also married Karoline. In addition, Karoline gave birth to a baby daughter before they were married, but unfortunately the baby only lived for a few hours and was never given a name.
They had a further two daughters and one son. The youngest daughter Anna Margrethe Jensen born in 1891 took over the farm from her father with the help of her husband Niels Peter Nielsen in 1916. To finish the story I can add that their son, Hans Børge Nielsen followed in his father’s footsteps and ran the farm from 1957 to 1977, when it was sold to someone outside of the family.