Part 7 – Questions Answered, More Created

The story is almost complete, but there are yet more surprises to come.

JohannesJensenDenKglFodsBirth27Apr1810 copy

Above is a not very good image of the birth register page proving that on 27 April 1810, two male babies were born there, one named Nikolaj and the second named Johannes. By the time I had gotten this far with the quest to find Johannes Jensen, all the ladies at the Scandinavian desk in Salt Lake were checking on my progress. Everyone agreed that the odds were strongly in my favor that this baby, Johannes, was my 3x great grandfather. All the pieces fit together and there were no pieces that didn’t fit. They particularly felt that the military list with the notation that the father’s name was not recorded when all the other men had their fathers’ names or a note that the father was deceased indicated that Johannes’ parents were unmarried at the time he was born.

My Danish researcher was fabulous (not inexpensive, but wonderful) as he followed up with my frantic overnight email asking if he could retrieve the mother’s record from the Copehagen archives before I left Salt Lake. The next day, I found the following:


Seven lines up from the bottom of the left image is another recording of the birth of Johannes on 27 April 1810. The right image is the other side of the ledger, but the page of the most interest is the one below.


The top half of the page pertains to Johannes. It states that when he was a few days old, he was given to the wife of master tanner Zinn. However, there is an additional notation made in 1820 – ten years after the birth – which is very unusual. It said that the mother, Kirsten Jorgensdatter, who was about 30 when she had Johannes (so about 40 in 1820), was currently residing with the child’s father, who agreed to provide a suit of clothes for him! It also gave the neighborhood where she lived which is in Vor Frelser Church parish.

I scurried off to read the marriage and death records for Vor Frelser. In it, I found that on 13 August 1824, Kirsten Jorgensdatter, aged 44, married Jens Jensen Lundqvist. You can bet that I did a great big happy dance! With the Danish patronymic system of a baby’s surname being the father’s given name + “sen” or “datter” attached, Johannes’ father would have been named Jens. There are no other Kirsten Jorgensdatters or Jorgensens in the parish at that time and her age exactly matches the “about” age given in the Fodselstiftelse record.  This record was not easy to read. My new found best friends at the Scandinavian help desk spent the better part of a day with overlapping workers all giving opinions about their deciphering of the hospital text. I could not have done this by myself.

It only took 34 years to unravel much of the story of the Johnson family who emigrated to Calais, Maine in 1883. I believe I know much more about Johannes’s parents than he ever did, but, even so, there are more questions to answer:

1. Only one Jens Jensen Lunqvist has been found in the indexed records on He appears to be one and the same man. Johannes was born on 27 April 1810. On 4 May 1810, Jens Jensen Lundqvist married his second wife, Anne Dorthea Gyse in Helsingor, Denmark. Did he know that Kirsten Jorgensdatter had just given birth to his son?

2. Master tanner Zinn was Carl Henrich Zinn who appears to be the Zinn buried at Skt. Peter’s Church on 31 August 1814 as his wife is referred to as the widow of tanner Zinn in another church record a short time later. It isn’t likely that his wife kept the child who was to be apprenticed when she was now a widow with her own children to feed. What happened to Johannes? He enlisted in the army one month before he turned 16. I believe he may have been sent to the orphanage when he was four years old. Another path to research.

3. Who are the parents of Kirsten Jorgensdatter? She was from a village near Slagelse in Soro County, as noted in the hospital record. There are several possible girls born in the right time frame to be my Kirsten.

I feel like I know Johannes Jensen a little more now. While the establishment’s expectations of marriage before children and having baptismal sponsors for your children didn’t seem to be important to Johannes, I think he used the unusually lengthy names he gave his children to give them the sense of belonging to a family that he never had.

In a couple of weeks, I will be heading to Roots Tech 2014 in Salt Lake City. Guess where every spare minute will be spent?

I will be posting many other stories about research successes that I’ve had. Some will take several posts to tell (although the Jensen story is, by far, the most complicated) while others will be shared in one post. I hope you will come back to read more about my genealogical adventures. I also hope that my experiences will help you to look at your own brick walls with new eyes.

Part 6 – Thinking Outside the Box to Assemble the Puzzle Pieces

I didn’t know it at the moment, but I was actually getting close to my goal of finding both Johannes’ date of birth and his parents’ names.

The big break came when the Danish researcher I hired in Copenhagen found the “10th Bataillon Stamlister for Underofficerer Beginning 20 Apr 1843 and Ending 7 October 1865.” Remember, the two military cards I found mentioned the 7th battalion on one and the 10th battalion on the other.

There was my Johannes Jensen, born 27 April 1810 in Copenhagen.! It gave the date he first enlisted, 30 March 1826, aged 15. It included the 14 September 1834 (probably re-enlistment) date I found on the other company list so I was sure this was the correct man. The one missing piece of information was his father’s name, which is often included on Danish military records.

The second big break came when found found Johannes Jensen on the “Regular Levying Rolls of Stilling, Skanderborg County, #63 Laegd.” (FHL film 40,135) Johanes was now 63-173-146. This particular list gave fathers’ names for all the other soldiers, but next to Johannes’ name it said “father not recorded.” Hmmm???

These discoveries happened over many months’ time. I continued to research Frits and his sisters in the Saeby church records and then started to ask questions outside the box.

Back in an earlier post, I commented how Frits had four given names in a time period when two were common and his sisters all had three given names. Yet, Johannes was just “Johannes” and his wife, Johanne Elisabeth, had the typical first and middle names. That was the first item that stuck in my mind as unusual.

Second, the Jensens had their children baptized (there were fines levied at the time for not baptizing children in a timely manner), but never had family or even apparent friends as sponsors.

Third, Copenhagen parish registers seem quite complete for the 1810 time period. I could not find a trace of anyone who could be my Johannes and his company military list, which named fathers of other soldiers, said his father was “not recorded.”

The fourth discovery really made me step back and look at the data that I had accumulated. In the early searches in Denmark, I had found baptismal records for all of Frits’s sisters, with the exception of Vilhelmine, who was living with him in 1880. The Saeby confirmation records solved that mystery, as they give the place of baptism for each child being confirmed. Vilhelmine was born in Copenhagen and baptized at the Fodselstiftelse, which I was told was the Unwed Mothers’ Hospital! Obtaining her records is a different story, but knowing that her parents were not married when she was born sent me back to Garnison and Trinitatis parishes where I had found other family records. I had not found a marriage record for Johannes and Johanne Elisabeth in Copenhagen, but I stopped looking at the end of 1840 and figured maybe they married in Sweden since she was born there. This time, I reread the baptismal records from 1840 to 1843, when daughter Emilie was baptized. On 8 May 1842, a stillborn child was noted in the records of Garnison Church as the child of Johanne Elisabeth Molin and “reputed father Johannes Jensen.” I then checked marriages there from 8 May 1842 to 18 May 1843, when Emilie’s baptism was recorded and her parents were married. On 31 August 1842, Johannes Jensen and Johanne Elisabeth Molin were married in Garnison Church! Discovering that Johannes and Johanne had two children before they married made me look at all these unusual pieces of information in a new way.

What if Johannes Jensen was also born when his parents were not married? Could he also have been born at the Fodselstiftelse??? The hospital records are divided into two parts because the mothers had the choice of anonymity or not and either keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption. The babies’ births are recorded with given names only in the birth registers. Each child has a corresponding code to identifying the mother and her file record. The Family History Library had the birth registers, but did not have the mothers’ records. That meant one more time having to hire a Danish researcher.  However, I could read the register for 27 April 1810 myself, which I did in Salt Lake City. The next post, Part 7, of this saga, will explain how the pieces came together.



Part 5 – Searching Danish Military Records

I am omitting some of the steps I took to complete the records of the  family of Johannes Jensen and Johanne Elisabeth Molin, but I used a combination of Danish census records and parish records. However, from those records, I found multiple records concerning Johannes.

1834 Census – Johannes Jensen, 25 years old, soldier boarding in a home; born in Copenhagen.


1840 Census – Johannes Jensen, 30 years old, soldier, unmarried; born in Copenhagen.

1845 Census – Johannes Jensen, 35 years old, soldier, married with family; born in Copenhagen.

1850 Census – Johannes Jensen, 40 years old, soldier, married with family; born in Copenhagen.


I’ve only posted the 1834 and 1850 censuses so you can see what they look like.  Johannes lived in Copenhagen at least until the 1850 census. Sometime between 1850-1855, Johannes retired from the military and the family removed to Saeby, a small village way up in the northern coast of Denmark, near Aalborg.

The family may have traveled by boat, but if they took the land route, it was a long trip. I haven’t found the reason for retiring to that area, but I suspect that Johannes may have had duty there at one time and liked it.  Johannes died in Saeby on 9 April 1865, aged 54.


From the census records (Danish censuses had a standard reporting date of 1 February), Johannes’s age consistently gave a birth date either in late 1809 or early 1810 in Copenhagen. The 1834 census gave is age as 25, but the other soldier boarding in the home was also reported to be 25. It is very possible Johannes was not in the home when the census taker came around and the head of household gave the names of the two soldiers and said they were both “about 25. ” While I was busy searching census records, I was also scouring church registers for a baptism record for any Johannes Jensen with or without middle names born about 1805-1812 in the Copenhagen area, but the few that I found were not mine.

During the time I was reading census and parish records, I decided to take a trip to Salt Lake City, as the Family History Library has films of Danish military records. Since I speak no Danish, I knew I would need a lot of help from the Scandinavian help desk. The military record search ended up taking several trips to Salt Lake in 2011 and 2012 plus I had to hire a researcher in Copenhagen to visit the State Archives to retrieve some records that had not been filmed.

Since Johannes had attained the rank of sergeant, I was hoping that I would be able to find some military records that would give me his exact date of birth.  One of the first sources I read was the “Index to Non-Commissioned Army Officers 1757-1860 Eberle-Jorrs,” FHL film #41,968. These records are in the form of 3 x 5 index cards with only basic information on each about one man’s military details.


The card on the left has his name on top. Below his first name is “Tamb” which I believe refers to him being a drummer. Underneath Jensen in parentheses is an abbreviation of some place. 7 B refers to the 7th Battalion. On the bottom, “stabstambour” is drummer and there is a date that appears to be 1851. Under that is “Arrestfor” and “Saby.” “Arrestfor” is an abbreviation for “arrestforvarer” or one who takes care of the prison. “Saby” could well be a misspelling of “Saeby.”

The card on the right has a birthplace of Copenhagen (Kobenhavn) and notes that he was a fiddler and in the 10th Battalion. However, neither has an exact date of birth.

I decided to assume for the time being that both of these cards referred to one man and that man was my Johannes Jensen. It fit with the census information and I was believing more and more that the military records were going to lead me to Johannes’ birth date and then to his baptismal record and parents’ names.

Next, I read films which contained records about the 7th Battalion from 1834-1860 (FHL #42,169 and #42,170). There was one and only one Johannes Jensen on the 1834 list of the 1st Jydske Infantry Regiment. This Johannes had last been in Skanderborg County, although it was abbreviated as “Skandby” and I didn’t know where that was. (Many thanks to the terrific FHL staff who cover Denmark.)


Johannes is the 5th man from the bottom of the list. An assignment, enlistment or transfer date was shown as 14 Sept 1834. The men listed at the bottom were apparent newcomers and there was less information listed for them than for the men listed above. I still had no exact date of birth, but this was my first experience with the laegd roll numbers. These numbers are similar to draft numbers in our military, but the laegd numbers change over time. In 1834, Johannes’ laegd number was 63-27-4.  I spent many hours and days reading roll after roll – literally hundreds of pages –  of military districts in Skanderborg County looking for Johannes. It turned out that apparently when the particular roll was taken, the man with number 63-27-4 was out of the district so his number was skipped! Not really surprising since every attempt I made to get closer to answers had a stumbling block.