Johannes Jensen and Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

I’ve been writing a lot about Johannes Jensen and my Danish family. I think I will do one more post after this one and then take a break from Scandinavia and return to some of my other brick wall breakthroughs. Rosenborg Castle, or Rosenborg Slot as it is called in Copenhagen, was originally a summer home for King Christian IV, started in 1606 and completed in 1624. It was used as a royal residence until about 1710, but even today houses the Crown Jewels and the Danish Crown Regalia. The now-museum covers 300 years of the lives of Danish kings. The barracks where Johannes lived were apparently built about the same time as the castle, likely to protect the royal family. The barracks are still inhabited by active duty soldiers.

RosenborgSlotRosenborg Slot and King’s Garden

DSC07100More of King’s Garden next to Army Barracks

Since Rosenborg Slot had long been a museum and home to many of the Danish royal possessions by the time that Johannes was stationed there and due to the fact that he was the company drummer/fiddler/musician, it seems reasonable to conclude that his main job was to accompany the Changing of the Guard, which marched from the barracks to the entrance to the vault containing the Crown Jewels and Regalia.

I haven’t mentioned arkivalieronline.dk in quite a while. When I first starting making progress in the Danish parish registers, familysearch.org was just beginning to index Danish baptisms. There are now thousands of Danish records listed on FamilySearch. I have found that I still need both sites. The FamilySearch site is a limited index to Danish records. It is a quick way to perhaps find a birth and/or baptismal record for a family member born, say, in the 1800’s or later. However, there is no indication whether the indexing has been completed for all Danish parishes or for the time period covered. One category of infants that I know are not included on familysearch.org are the stillborn children. Johannes and Johanne Elisabeth lost their second baby, a stillborn daughter, in 1842. I only found her by reading the parish register page by page. Another limitation of the FamilySearch records is that the name of the church is often not given in the indexed record. Even in the mid-1800’s, there were probably 25 parishes with extant records available today. That is a lot of searching, but it is manageable on arkivalieronline.dk when used in conjunction with FamilySearch. Both sites are free, so the price is definitely right. I highly recommend both sources as a way to trace your Danish roots.

Trinitatis and Garnisons Churches, Copenhagen

DSC07044DSC07046

On the second day in Copenhagen, I had a chance to visit the churches where Johannes Jensen and Johanne Elisabeth Molin married and had their children baptized. Garnisons Church, built in 1706, was the “Garrison” Church or the Soldiers’ Church. Since Johannes was a career soldier, I began looking for his marriage record and the children’s baptismal records there. Although I read the church registers several times, seeking a marriage between 1834, when he was a single man in the census, and 1840, when daughter Wilhelmine was born, I found no marriage and no baptismal record for Wilhelmine. However, I did find records for the other children – my great great grandfather, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen, along with those of his sisters, Emilie, Ludovica and Avilda.  Next, I turned to the records of nearby Trinitatis Church, another very old parish, consecrated on Trinity Sunday in 1656, hence its name. I found no marriage or baptismal record, but did discover a record for a stillborn daughter of Johanne Elisabeth Molin, born in 1842. The reputed father was Johannes Jensen! I hadn’t looked for their marriage record after 1840 because Wilhelmine was born in that year. I still found no marriage record in the Trinitatis Church records between 1840 and 1843, when daughter Emilie was baptized was Garnisons Church. However, when I returned to the Garnisons Church parish register and searched those years, I came across the entry for Johannes Jensen and Johanne Elisabeth Molin, married on 31 August 1842, three months after the birth of their stillborn daughter. As I mentioned in a previous post, eventually I learned that Wilhelmine was born at the hospital for unwed mothers, like her father.  Johanne was likely living in Trinitatis Church parish when her daughter was born in 1842 so the baby’s death was recorded there.

Even though I have been researching my family history since 1980, it is still thrilling to walk where my ancestors walked, particularly when it is in their homeland.

The photos on the top are of Garnisons Church; the two at the bottom of this post are of Trinitatis Church. Both are simple, but absolutely beautiful inside and I feel very lucky to have seen them in person.

Trinitatis ChurchDSC07123

Copenhagen Discoveries

 DSC07056DSC07052

The family origins of my great great grandfather, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Johnson, had been my brick wall for thirty years, in spite of the fact that my grandmother, Hazel Coleman, knew Frits, her grandfather, and knew that her mother’s family hailed from Copenhagen. I have already written about how I picked up the family trail, proving that they were actually the Jensen family and that they did, in fact, live in the city proper of Copenhagen. In April, my husband Dave and I took a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam. Besides the fact that we like to cruise and it was a great price, I had an ulterior motive. I decided that this was going to be the year I visited Denmark and planned out all the places in Copenhagen that I wanted to visit. From Amsterdam, we took a short flight to Copenhagen and got settled in. Yes, we did the tourist stop visits – the Little Mermaid and the various castles, museums and palaces, but the important places to me were the places that were part of the daily life of the Jensen family.

The first stop on the Jensen tour was Amaliegade #25. This house was built in 1755-1757 as the home of Lauritz de Thurah, a noted Danish architect who lived from 1706-1759, although he never lived in it.  The house was quite a mansion, even by today’s standards. Today, it is a somewhat unassuming building full of small offices.  However, from the late 1700’s until the early 1900’s, it became known as Den Kongelige Fødselsstiftelse, the Royal Birth Foundation, begun by Queen Juliane Marie, providing care for unwed mothers-to-be and their newborn children.

On 27 April 1810, Johannes Jensen began life in that hospital and a few days later, after he was baptized there, he was given up by his mother to the wife of Master Tanner Carl Henrich Zinn. As I put the pieces of Johannes’ life together, I wondered why he joined the Danish army a month before he turned 16 and, although I have found out a lot about his life, I have had to speculate about his life before he became a career soldier. His mother, Kirstine Jorgensdatter, likely believed she found a good life with a future for her son. Johannes was to be apprenticed to Mr. Zinn and learn the tanning trade.  There were few people named Zinn in Denmark at that time, so it was not long before I found the master tanner and his family.  However, Mr. Zinn died before 1816, when his widow buried their young son. Mrs. Zinn did not remarry and she died a few years later. No record has been found of Johannes between his birth in 1810 and a new notation written in 1820 in his mother’s record at Den Kongelige Fødselsstiftelse. This notation gave his mother’s name, her age and stated that she was currently living with Johannes’ father, who agreed to provide a suit of clothing for Johannes. No confirmation record has been found for Johannes, although I have searched every extant parish record in Copenhagen for it. I believe, but can’t yet prove, that after Mr. Zinn died, Mrs. Zinn couldn’t afford to care for him and sent him to the orphanage. Confirmation records for the orphanage for the years in which Johannes would most likely have been confirmed have been lost. It might also explain why the father was providing some clothing for Johannes ten years after he was born and given up for adoption. It would definitely explain why a fifteen year old would be joining the army. Military life would provide Johannes with food, clothing, shelter, a family of sorts, and an income. He eventually was promoted to the rank of sergeant; Johannes was the company drummer and fiddler.

Johannes was not the only member of his family to be born at Den Kongelige Fødselsstiftelse. I had been able to locate all the baptismal records for his children, with the exception of his eldest daughter, Wilhelmine Amalie, born on 5 July 1840. It wasn’t until I found the children’s confirmation records in Saeby, Hjorring County, where Johannes retired, that I discovered that Wilhelmine had also been born there. Johannes and wife Johanne Elisabeth Molin didn’t marry until three months after the stillborn birth of their second child in April 1842. Wilhelmine was born, baptized and vaccinated at the same hospital where her father had been born.

The first picture in this post is the entrance to the door into the former hospital. The second photo is of a large placard, placed on two different sides of the building, giving a short history of the purpose of Den Kongelige Fødselsstiftelse at Amaliegade 25.

Next stops on my Copenhagen family tour were Garnisons Church and Trinitatis Church, where Johannes Jensen married Johanne Elisabeth Molin and where their other children were all baptized.