My Ancestors

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.

Week 12 – 12

How to interpret the number 12?

Since I can go back 12 generations on my mother’s side, I chose to write about my 10th great grandfather and progenitor of the Øvli/Øuli Family.

Name: Mickel Øuli
Birth: About 1510 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage: Date unknown – Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Birgitte Ibsdatter
Death: About 1570 – Malling, Ning, Århus

I did not do my own research on Mickel Øuli. I would at best have been able to go back perhaps 8 generations following church records, but the extra ancestors are thanks to other members of the Family, who have freely and happily shared what they knew. Indeed, a book was published in 1917 titled Øvle-Slægten og dens Hjem by A Eriksen (The Øvle-Family and its Home) and I am drawing freely from Eriksen’s work.

Mickel Øuli and Birgitte Ibsdatter were parents to – Eske Michelsen Øuli, who was father to – Øffli Eskesen, who was father to – Peder Øvlisen, who was father to – Øvli Pedersen, who was father to – Eske Øvlisen, who was father to – Øvli Eskesen, who was father to – Anne Øvlisdatter, who was mother to – Jacob Nielsen, who was father to – Niels Jacobsen(my Great-Grandfather, who was father to – Maren Jacobsen, who was mother to – Nanna Rasmine Rasmussen, who was mother to – me.

To say I go back 12 generations to Mickel can be debated. If I go through my Great-Grandfather’s line it is 12 generations, but if I go through my Great-Grandmother’s line it turns out to be 13 generations.

But why stop there? There is strong evidence that the lesser ranked noble, Jes Pedersen, was a grandparent to either Mickel or Birgitte. This adds two generations, even though nobody has yet been able to name the middle generation as very few documents exist from the 1400s.

A parchment exists from 1463, witnessed by 24 of the oldest most respected parish men in Malling, stating that the land and everything relating to it, currently occupied by Jes Pedersen is his true inherited property. Two wax-seals are attached to this document, which is preserved in the Danish Archives in Copenhagen.

It is then reasonable to suggest that the property, Matrikel 14 in Malling and later named Veilgaard, belonged to Jes’ father and quite possibly 2-4 generations further back.

Enter Mickel Øuli. Michel requested that the above mentioned parchment be read at the District Court in in 1567, to prove that the same land belonged to him. He was relying on the fact that he or Birgitte’s relationship to Jes Pedersen was well known and undisputed.

Michel’s move was successful and the farm stayed in the family until 2012, when it was sold to outsiders.

Week 11 – Large Family

There are many large families in my tree, but I think Hans Peder Jensen beats everyone else. He was married twice and managed to father 18 children.

Name: Hans Peder Jensen
Birth: 28/4/1838 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Marriage: 21/5/1858 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Anne Marie Hansen
Marriage: 22/4/1873 – Malling, Ning, Århus
Spouse: Jensine Hansen
Death: 5/6/1934 – Malling, Ning, Århus

Hans had been recruited as a soldier and was due to turn up at the 7th Battalion on 3o/5/1858. I can’t say if he did or didn’t turn up because I can’t follow his military career past this date. However, I have to wonder if that is why he married Anne Marie just 9 days before. She would have been 5 months pregnant with their first baby by then. Did he escape military service on those grounds? I don’t know, but I wonder.

Anne Marie gave birth to eight children, evenly spread between four girls and four boys.

1 – Jens Hansen Jensen, born Malling 25/9/1858 and died in Odder jail on 7/2/1899, aged 40. He married Kirsten Christensen in 1884, but I have not found any children from this marriage. The Odder church register notes that Jens died by hanging during a drunken stupor.

2 – Hans Jensen, born Malling 9/1/1860 and died Odense County 11/2/1935, aged 75. Hans married Karoline Marie Madsen Virkelund in 1887 and together had 6 children. It appears they were very specific with their choice of religion as all their children’s christenings and Hans’ funeral were held at the Fri Church in Bering.

3 – Maren Jensen, born Malling 19/5/1861 and died 14/1/1884, aged 22. A note in the church register states that she died at the Malling nursing home.

4 – Kirsten Jensen, born Malling 27/3/1864 and died in Århus hospital 26/8/1930, aged 66. Kirsten appear to have had a difficult life. In 1985 she became a single mum when she gave birth to Ane Marie Jensen. The church register states that the father is said to be bachelor and bricklayer Niels Kristian Nielsen. He was not present at the christening and they never married. The following year she married Christen Peter Christensen and had a child in 1887. Unfortunately the marriage did not last and they were divorced in 1891. Same year she had another child, this time the father is Peder Hansen and whilst he agreed for the baby to carry his name, they never married. Kirsten worked as a housekeeper for Christen Sørensen in Århus and in 1895 they married. He was 67 and she was 31 years old at the time. They had a daughter in 1896, but sadly Christen died in 1905. In the census of 1916 Kirsten is again married. This time with rag-trader and organ-grinder Johan Petersen who is disabled with a back injury. This marriage lasted to her death in 1930.

5 – Peder Christen Jensen, born Malling 3/8/1867. He was confirmed in the Beder church 3/10/1880 but I have not been able to trace his life past this date.

6 – Marie Pouline Jensen, born Malling 11/2/1868 and died 18 days later on 29/2/1868.

7 – Søren Jensen, born Malling 26/5/1870. He was confirmed in the Beder church on 20/4/1884 but I have not been able to trace his life past this date.

8 – Marie Pouline Jensen, born 25/5/1872 and died 30/10/1872 aged 5 months. Her mother died end of July that year when Marie Pauline was only 2 months old.

It must have been difficult for Hans to work and look after 6 children although the eldest was 14 by then and would have been able to help. It is therefore not surprising that he married Jensine Hansen 10 months later 22/4/1873. What is surprising, perhaps, is that Jensine was 3 months pregnant when they married. Jensine gave birth to 4 boys and 6 girls.

9 – Hans Peter Jensen, born Malling 14/10/1873 and died in Århus hospital 4/4/1961, aged 87. Hans Peter was a baker by trade, but never married.

10 – Ane Marie Jensen, born Malling 29/8/1875 and died in Kolt 3/5/1932, aged 56. Ane Marie married roof-thatcher, Rasmus Søren Rasmussen in 1897 and had 4 children.

11 – Johanne Jensen, born Malling 13/11/1877 and died 8/2/1882 aged 4.

12 – Marie Pouline Jensen, born 29/8/1880 and died 11/2/1919 in Viby, aged 38. She married Carl Sofus Pedersen and had 4 children. Marie Pouline’s youngest child was only 6 when she died.

13 – Johanne Jensen, born Malling 29/1/1883 and died in Odder 6/7/1958, aged 75. She was engaged to be married with Anton Steckhahn when he fell ill with tuberculosis and died. By that time she was pregnant with his daughter, who was born in 1901. Four years later Johanne marries blacksmith Jens Jacobsen Solgaard with whom she has 5 children. The marriage didn’t last, however, and they were divorced around 1916. Soon after she took up co-habitation with Rasmus Rasmussen Færgemann. They had 4 children between 1918 and 1926, however, they did not marry til 1932.

14 – Marius Jensen, born Malling 22/5/1887 and died Thisted 13/1/1934, aged 46. Marius became a farmer and milkmand near Thisted, where he also married local girl Dagmar Mikkelsen. They had 3 children.

15 – Niels Jensen, born Malling 7/11/1888 and died in Skåde 28/4/1951, aged 62. His became a smith, which best fits the English description of fitter and turner. In 1913 he married Gjertrud Kathrine Jensen, but he wasn’t happy with the ‘common’ name of Jensen and in 1915 he changed his family name to Lænø. Niels and Gjertrud had 4 children.

16 – Jensine Petrea Jensen, born Malling 27/1/1892 and died in Århus 1971, aged 78. Jensine fell pregnant in 1906 and gave birth to a daughter when she was still only 14 years old. The father’s name was never mentioned in the church’ christening register, which is unusual, and I have to wonder if she ever received any form of financial support. Five years later she marries Rasmus Jørgen Marinus Rasmussen with whom she has 3 children.

17 – Louise Kathrine Jensen, born Malling 23/3/1895 and died Viby 2/10/1971, aged 76. Louise married Arnold Marinus Sørensen Duun, who was a mechanic with DSB (Danish State Railway). Louise and Arnold had 4 children.

18 – Frederik Jensen, born Malling 2/6/1899 and died in Malling 28/10/1972, aged 73. Frederik was a painter by trade and in 1922 he married Anna Thykjær in Århus Cathedral. Frederik and Anna had 4 children.

There would be many more stories to tell about this family, I am sure, but I have run out of research time. I have counted Hans Peter had 47 grandchildren, but it is quite possible that there were more. Imagine how many great-grandchildren there are/were – my 4th cousins!

Week 10 – Bachelor Uncle

As my ‘Bachelor Uncle’ I have chosen Rasmus Peter Rasmussen, my mother’s cousin, whom I met as a child and therefore knew a little.

Name: Rasmus Peter Rasmussen
Birth: 7/10/1920 – Over-Fløjstrup, Beder, Ning, Århus
Death: 10/4/2002 – Over-Fløjstrup, Beder, Ning, Århus
Rasmus with his sister Helga – about 12 years old?

Farming was to become Rasmus’ livelihood. He was trained in farm management by his father from a very early age, and later took over the family farm of Toftegaard i Over-Fløjstrup.

Animals were perhaps his greatest love and he won many prizes over the years for his cows and their milk and butter production. Articles from Århus Stiftstidende of 1965 and 1970, mentions Rasmus because of his cows outstanding production of butter. Countrywide, in 1970/71, Rasmus had a cow among the top 33 cows, where she produced 8,155 litres of milk and 426 kg of butter. Those are amazing numbers.

Farming was not just about the animals. Cultivating sugar beets was a good money spinner, but the crop was very labour intensive. The small plants, whilst sowed in rows which were weeded by machine, the plants needed room to develop the large beets and therefore the individual rows needed thinning out to about 10-15 cm between each plant. This was backbreaking work and labour was hard to find.

Heros in the Beet-war in 1964

Above is a newspaper article which tells how Rasmus managed to find soldiers from Jydske Telegraf-regiment, who were willing to assist with the beet work. Payment was a rate of three Kroner per 200 meters covered plus lunch and transport. The top photo shows the soldiers with the hoeing implements instead of guns, and the other depicts them having lunch.

Rasmus did not have a housekeeper, but his mother lived on the farm till she died in 1977 and would have been of some assistance indoors. In addition he was very well liked in the neighbourhood and the local wives helped with hot meals from time to time.

His ‘fodermester‘ (special assistant to help with the animals) was a married man, who stayed with Rasmus for many years. In addition to the normal wages, Rasmus provided him and his family with a house nearby. This also meant that Rasmus had a woman to call upon, should help be needed in the house, such as feeding the extra manpower during busy times. I am sure she is the one serving the soldiers on the above photo.

Rasmus’ sister Helga, was only 15 months younger than him, so when her husband died in 1992, it seemed natural she would move back to the farm and help wherever she could. Unfortunately, Helga had health problems and their neighbours kept a sharp eye on them and ensured they had a hot meal from time to time.

Rasmus died on the 10th of April 2002 and, strangely, Helga died the day after on the 11th of April. A combined service was held for them at nearby Beder Church.

Week 9 – At the courthouse

Guilty or Not guilty?

Jørgen Wipenz, a farmer from the country, was accused of murder!

This is an entry in the 1787 census for Slagelse, Sorø Amt. The building at Torvet 1, which I assume to be the jail, was occupied by the bailiff, his wife and four children. In addition, there were three prisoners, a vagrant, a horseman from the Sealand Calvary Regiment and Jørgen (Wipenz/Wincentzen).

Name: Jørgen Wincentzen
Birth: 28/11/1748 – Skafterup, Fyrendal, Øster Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Marriage: 13/9/1778 – Hyllested, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø
Spouse: Anne Pedersdatter
Death: 1/10/1819 – Høve, Vester Flakkebjerg, Sorø

Jørgen Wincentzen is the brother of my 4th Great Grandfather.

The year Jørgen turned 30, two important things happened in his life. He signed a contract to lease a farm from Holsteinborg Estate in Eggeslevmagle and he married Anne. Together they and had five children, but only three survived infancy. In 1800, their eldest surviving daughter Karen Jørgensdatter and her husband took over the farm contract.

Beginning few lines of the farm contract

Did Jørgen really commit murder?

In the 1965 Yearbook of the Sorø Amt’s Historical Society, is a transcript of the Holsteinborg Birk’s court proceedings and judgement with respect to Jørgen Wincentzen .

The incident occurred on Friday the 1st of December 1786. Jørgen Wincentzen, Morten Povlsen and Lars Jørgensen had delivered wheat to Korsør as per their contract with Holsteinborg. Once the business was completed they returned separately to Eggeslevmagle. However, Morten was badly hurt and covered in blood when he arrived home and died a week later from his injuries.

The previous year Morten and Jørgen had had a dispute about some land, a fact, which was common knowledge in the village. Rumours were now circulating that Jørgen had been the attacker. Anyone who came to visit Morten, including the vicar, was told by a very ill and severely deranged man that ‘Jørgen did it’.

Jørgen was called to give evidence. He said he had passed Morten on the way home, as he was driving too slowly, but had not seen him thereafter. When asked why he had not visited Morten on his deathbed, he replied he had no reason to do so as Morten had accused him of assault.

Lars had completed a couple of errands before heading home and caught up with Morten along the way. Lars reported that Morten hadn’t made much sense and his head was bloodied and swollen. Lars managed to get him onto his wagon and took him home to his wife. He had not seen Jørgen on the road nor had he noticed any animosity between the two.

A farmhand from across the paddock, had seen two wagons stop on the road. The driver of one had run up to the other and beat him so hard on the head that he fell backwards in the wagon. More bashing followed before the attacker returned to his wagon and moved on. The farmhand had been too scared to confront the men, but later went over to have a look. When he saw all the blood and heard the man moaning he immediately left being too frightened to even talk. He did not know Jørgen and could therefore not say if he had been the attacker, however, from his posture he felt it could have been Jørgen.

Dømt for Rett: – Judgement

The decision was handed down on the 3rd of August 1787 after Jørgen had been in jail for 7-8 months. The judge was assisted by 8 other men – a jury?

The Judgement: Jørgen Wincentzen must swear that he did not cause the injuries to Morten Povlsen from which he died. If he cannot do that, he shall be beheaded by sword and the body shall be buried in the cemetery without ceremonies. In addition he will lose his farm, pay the Prosecution and Defence plus an amount of 10 ‘Daler’ to the court.

Jørgen must have sworn to the court, as he lived for a further 32 years.

Was he guilty – or not?

Week 8 – Family Photo

Looking through my photo collection I was searching for a traditional picture of mum, dad and the kids. Nothing seemed to be quite right. I nearly settled for something that ‘would do’, when I came across this..

Jesper Rasmussen and family

..which fits the description of a family photo. It is a painting that forms part of an epitaph hanging in Odder Church (Odder is a mid-sized town 23 km south of Århus on the east coast of Jutland)

Name: Jesper Rasmussen
Birth: 1597
Marriage: 1624
Spouse: Berrithe Michelsdatter
Death: 9/3/1679 – Fillerup, Odder, Hads, Århus

Jesper and Berrithe are my 8th great-grandparents, just two out of a possible 1024. Even if I could find them all, there wouldn’t be that many different people as it was common for cousins to marry. I wonder if I carry any of their DNA? – probably not, and if I do it would be so minuscule that the testing companies would not be able to detect it.

Jesper was an important man in his day. He had the role of recording proceedings at the district court. Not many people were literate in the 1600s and fewer still had sufficient command of the written language to succeed in such a role. I wish I knew who his parents were, how they afforded his education and where he had been studying. Jesper and Berrithe had three sons, however one died young and is therefore depicted as a very small boy. They also had three daughters and one of them Anne Jespersdatter married Peder Øvlisen from the Øvli clan and their son Øvli Pedersen continued the line.

The painting shows two of the three younger women wearing a bonnet as does the mother. That indicates they were married and Anne would be one of those women. The third, a younger looking girl without a bonnet kneeling in front of the others, was therefore not married at that particular time. I don’t know anything about the clothing but I would imagine that it was the customary Sunday best. Alternatively, it could be the artist taking a bit of licence by dressing them all the same.

The whole epitaph, which is dated 1664, is pictured above and is described in The History of Odder Church as Moses with the tablets on the left, John the Baptist on the right pointing to the crucifix at the very top. At the sides, just below the crucifix, sits two women. One with a book and cross and the other with a dove and anchor – the womanly virtues.

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