Sometimes records exist, but locating them can be nearly impossible. As I worked on my Jensen family in Copenhagen, Denmark, many surprising facts were uncovered.
Johannes Jensen married Johanne Elisabeth Molin on 31 August 1842 at Garnisons Church in Copenhagen. However, Wilhelmine, their first child, plus a stillborn child, were both born before Johannes and Johanne were married.
Wilhelmine’s date of birth is consistently given as 5 July 1840 in Copenhagen, but I had never been able to find her baptismal record. During that time period, baptizing children was actually required by law with a hefty fine imposed for non-compliance. Johannes was a career soldier in the Danish army so it didn’t seem likely that his children wouldn’t be baptized. I was able to find records for each of their other four children in Copenhagen.
It wasn’t until I expanded my search in a quest to collect all the records I could possibly find for this family that the answer was found. When Johannes retired from the army, in the early 1850s. The family moved from Copenhagen to Saeby, Hjorring up on the northeastern coast.
I began to scour the Saeby church records, which included confirmation records for the time period when the Jensen children would be confirmed.
If you have used confirmation records yourself, you already know that, most of the time, these records include the date of confirmation and are often nothing more than a list of the confirmands’ names.
However, the list with Wilhelmine’s name on it was a true genealogical gift. Here is the full page from the church register:
Saeby Church Register – 1855 Confirmations
Source: The Danish National Archives
This list includes the child’s name, names of their parents, birth dates and places and information on smallpox vaccinations, which were required by law.
Here is “Vilhelmine”‘s entry (#7 in the list above):
The third column provides the answer to her place of birth. Look just to the left of the green arrow where it says “Fod.” This is actually the beginning of a hyphenated word – Fodselstiftelse – which is a place I grew to know very well. I’ve even been to the building where it was:
Den Kongelige Fodselstiftelse
This was the King’s Hospital for Unwed Mothers, established in 1785 and combined with a regular hospital in the early 1900s.
How do I know so much about this place? Because Vilhelmine’s father, Johannes Jensen, was also born there thirty years before his daughter’s birth. Once I knew Vilhelmine was born there and already knowing her exact date of birth, I was able to find her birth and baptismal records.
The moral of the story here is to not overlook any pertinent church records because you never know what you will find!