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Digging Deeper: Three Danish Generations

My genealogical research trail left off with my grandpa Otto's parents, Christen Thomsen Jessen and Dorthea Marie Andersen. I went back to the library this weekend armed with a few different research questions to explore. The path of least resistance turned out to be the parents (and children) of Otto's father's father, my great-great grandfather.


I'm so lucky to have this massive international resource just blocks from my home. 


One of the Nordic research consultants taught me about the patronymics governing Danish (and other culture's) names until 1857. Since great-great grandpa Christen's last name is Jessen, we know his father's name is Jes. To create the last name of the children, it's the father's name Jes followed by -sen ("son of") or -datter ("daughter of"). Off I went on the search for Jes...something. I found Christen's fødte kirekbøeger (church birth record) and learned his father's last name is Christensen. I also learned that Christen had two older sisters, but he was the first son. That means my great-great-great grandfather Jes Christensen named his first son after his own father. I also learned Jes was a farmer, as was his son, as was Otto.


My great-great grandfather's birth record, 16 August 1858.


Jes Christensen married Anne Maria Hansdatter (daughter of Hans, we would say Hansen). Anne Maria was born 30 October 1826 in Strellev, Øster Horne, Ribe, Denmark. Her father is Hans Jensen, her mother is Kirsten Marie Christendatter (Christensen). Anne Marie was 27 when she married Jes, who was 24. Church records show they posted their intent to marry on the church door in Strellev three times: 31 July, 07 August, and 14 August 1853. I kind of love that idea. The research assistant told me that was not only so people knew they were engaged, but it also gave anyone who felt the need to object a chance to do so. No one objected and they were married on 28 August 1853. I researched the tradition a bit more and this is what I found: "In 1582 a Danish-Norwegian ecclesiastical law was passed which provided that a legally binding trolovelse (engagement) was a prerequisite for marriage.  This requirement lasted until 1799. Being a religious event, engagements were entered into the parish register. The engagement event was followed by the lysing (public announcements or banns)" (source). So even though the law/requirement was past by 54 years, they still followed the tradition. That's interesting to me.

After they married, they moved to nearby Gjødsvang, Tistrup, Øster Horne, Ribe (where Jes grew up and had his farm) on 02 October 1853.


Strellev parish records. 


Anne Marie and Jes had five children: Mette (14 March 1855, Anne was 29 and married two years at that point), Kristen Maria (19 December 1856), Christen Thomsen (16 August 1858, Otto's dad), Anna (15 June 1860), and Hans (31 August 1862, baptized at home 19 September (likely sick and/or premature) and then at the church 19 October). Anne Marie was 36 when she had Hans, her fifth and final child. All children were born in Gjødsvang while living on the farm.

Since I found Christen's parents, I now want to find Dorthea Marie's parents, or Otto's maternal grandparents. That's my goal next time and we'll see where it takes me.

Also, I'm kind of addicted to this. Also also, I'm already plotting my trip to Denmark. I want to visit all these parishes, photograph the now-romantic Strellev church door, and see the land in Gjødsvang  that sustained my family.


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Memories of Marion