A Very Short, But Well Learned Lesson

Many years ago, pretty much before the internet was born, I was working on my husband’s 4x great grandparents, Martin Miller and Catherine Whitmer, who settled in Muhlenberg County, KY about 1812. There are many, many descendants of the Whitmers in Muhlenberg County, including some who worked on the family history for the Bicentennial in 1976.  There was a lot of excellent information on the Millers and the Whitmers in Kentucky, but no one had really done anything about tracing the family back to the east coast. The census indicated that Martin was born in Pennsylvania and Catherine in Maryland. A county history included an article on Valentine Whitmer, a son of John and Catherine Whitmer, who were the parents of Catherine Whitmer Miller. It said he was born in Rockingham County, Virginia in 1788.

It seemed reasonable to conclude that Martin Miller and Catherine Whitmer had probably married somewhere in Virginia, likely between 1805-1810.  I pulled out the old AIS census index for 1810 Virginia and I found Martin Miller enumerated in Botetourt County, VA. I mailed off my letter to the county clerk requesting the cost for a copy of their marriage record.

It so happened that I had a chance to go to the Los Angeles LDS family history center the weekend after I mailed my request to Botetourt County. I was more than thrilled to find Botetourt County Marriages 1770-1853 by Kethley on the shelf in the library:

I eagerly opened it up and looked for the marriage entry and found NOTHING! There was no marriage entry recorded for Martin and Catherine in Botetourt County. That meant I had to try surrounding counties and hope that it turned up.

I forgot about it for the moment and pursued other research leads for the rest of that day. Later in the week, I pulled the mail out of our mailbox and found a very prompt reply from the Botetourt County clerk. I expected to find a “sorry, there is no record” answer.

Along with a cover letter, the following information was enclosed:

Martin Miller and Catherine Whitmer married in Botetourt County, Virginia on 6 January 1808. Valentine Whitmer, her brother, was a witness.

When the marriage records of Botetourt County were compiled by Kethley, somehow, the marriage of Martin and Catherine was overlooked and omitted. If I had first gone to the library and found no marriage noted in the book, I wouldn’t have bothered to have written to the county clerk.

Moral of the story: It is still better to do your own research than to rely on the work of others.

Another Trip to Salt Lake – Finding Jens Jensen Lundqvist

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’ve been out of town. One of my stops was Roots Tech 2014 in Salt Lake City, which was fabulous. Equally fabulous was the time I got to spend in the FamilySearch library digging through Danish records. As with my past visits, I would not have made the progress I did without help from the wonderful Nordic staff who helped guide me through the old records, translating and suggesting new sources to check. However, I came up with some golden finds – I was able to pick up the likely family of Jens Jensen Lundqvist. Better yet, I found carpenter guild records of Helsingor, Frederiksborg from 1790 and actually found the entry explaining that the new apprentice-to-be was introduced to the guild.

So, how did this all come about? I started looking at the 1787 and 1801 Danish censuses to locate Jens Jensen Lundqvist. He married for the first time to Inger Andersdatter on 24 August 1801 in Helsingor. The Danish census was always taken on 1 February so Jens should be found in the area.

Anyone researching Danish roots should be aware of the Danish Archives website, www.arkivalieronline.dk. It is free, has digital images of censuses, church records, some probates, and more being added all the time. A second site, www.ddd.dda.dk, is a search engine for the census records, as Arkivalieronline gives the actual images which must be read page by page.

Using the Dansk Demografisk Database (the DDD or Danish Demographic Database), I found Jens Lindqvist in the household of Johan Hansen Lund, which turned out to be an important clue. Johan was a master carpenter. Besides his family members, he had several journeymen and apprentice carpenters also living with his family. One such journeyman was Jens Lindqvist.

Now, I couldn’t be sure that this Jens LINDQVIST, not LUNDQVIST, was the right man. However, the Lundqvist name is more Swedish than Danish and that surname occurs very rarely in the Frederiksborg vital records. Also, the age of this Jens matched the age of Jens Jensen Lundqvist.

Second, I had originally found Jens’ first marriage to Inger Andersdatter in 1801 on www.familysearch.org. I had also looked at the original record in the digitized church register. However, while I have gotten quite adept at finding a name in these old records, I can’t read any of the accompanying text except to follow the pattern of the names of the groom, the bride, witnesses, the day the engagement was announced and the actual wedding date recorded on the side.

Jens Jensen Lundqvist’s name on the second line has a word crossed out and then there was another word written in that I could not read.  That is a most important word because it was the proof I needed that this man and Jens Lindqvist, the journeyman carpenter, were one and the same person. This important word was read and translated for me at the Family Search Library: snedker, which in English is a joiner or carpenter.

Here is the actual 1801 census image:


Jens Lindqvist is in the last household and is the third name down in that house.

After finding out that Jens Jensen Lunqvist was a carpenter, one of the volunteers told me about trade guild records that exist for some areas of Denmark. We checked the catalog and, sure enough, there were some from Helsingor that went back into the 1500’s! However, these films were in the “vault” off site because they are not often requested. I put in my request and the very next afternoon, they had arrived. It took a bit of reading and there are some gaps in the records, but I did find:


Jens Jensen is the last name on this page, which I have been told is basically his introduction to the guild as a new carpenter/joiner trainee.

I also found:


This second entry identifies him as an apprentice. Both guild records are dated 1790.

After my last post, I had said I would take a break from the Danish research, but I wanted to share my newest find as another piece of the Danish brick wall has come tumbling down. My next few posts will be short stories, but I promise to return to the Jensens because they are my continuing saga for the time being.