Destroying a Brick Wall: It Took a Village – Part 2

In September 2011, I decided it was time for another trip to Salt Lake City. I headed straight to the international floor. My quest had begun to find the parents of Johannes Jensen. He appeared to have no middle names, as the census records included middle names for his wife and children, but he was always “Johannes.”

A suggestion was made to look at godparents’ names on the baptismal records of his children. That was a dead end. The spot on the record for those names was either empty, or it said “the parents” or maybe “Farmer so and so” from down the road. The only avenue that I could see for further research on Johannes was his military record.

Before I arrived in Salt Lake, I posted a query about searching Danish military records for Sgt. Johannes Jensen, no middle name, drummer, on the Family Search forum. I received a lengthy, quite complete reply from a wonderful volunteer and printed out the information, which I brought with me to the library. It is truly a small world as the first volunteer I met at the help desk turned out to be the author of the forum reply – Ruth Maness!

At this point, some of the research steps become blurred, as I tried to hit as many possible avenues of information as I could during my library time. Without the help of Ruth, Naomi, Anka, Liv and one or two other ladies in Salt Lake whose names I don’t know, plus a professional researcher at the Copenhagen Archives, I would not have made the progress that I have on this family.

Having one or two pieces of the puzzle did not bring a clear picture together of Johannes at all and I believe that if Johannes had become a shoemaker or fisherman or had followed any other occupation, I would not ever have found him. The key was finding his exact date of birth.

I regularly checked the Family Search index for any “Johannes Jensen” who showed up in the christening records. Most had at least one middle name. There were only a handful of babies christened with the one given name of “Johannes,” but I needed his exact date of birth to prove or disprove his family.

The Danish military records looked like my one and only choice. In spite of my excitement about searching these records, I quickly learned that the laegdsruller rolls were much more complete for areas outside of Copenhagen. However, Johannes was a career soldier and I now knew several facts about him from the censuses. Johannes was born in 1810 or possibly late in 1809 in Copenhagen, he entered the military no later than 1834, he was a drummer, he had been assigned to the 1st Jydske Infantry Regiment and later to the 1st Company of the 10th Line Infantry Batallion and finally to the 3rd Batallion Reinforcements. He attained the rank of “sergeant” by 1840. I had no levying number, but thought I might have enough to start a military search.

One of the first sources I read was the “Index to Non-Commissioned Army Officers 1757-1860 (Eberle-Jorrs), FHL film 0041968.

Two cards were found that could relate to my Johannes. One was for Johannes Jensen, “stabstambour” (drummer), in the 7th Batallion. A note on the card included “Arrestfor” and “Saby” and a date in 1851, 6/64, 6/104. The second card was also for a Johannes Jensen, born

1810, Copenhagen, who was with the 10th Batallion, listed as the “spillemand,” (fiddler) 51/2, 51/11, which apparently refer to volumes and pages. There were about a dozen other listings for Sgt. Hans Jensen, which I transcribed, but doubted were referring to my Johannes Jensen  because “my” Johannes always had appeared as “Johannes,” never as “Hans.”

I also read FHL Film 0042169 and 0042170, which contained records of the 7th Batallion from 1834-1860. There was one Johannes Jensen found in the 1834 list of the 1st Jydske Infantry Regiment.

This Johannes had last been in Skanderborg County (although it was written as what looked like “Skandby” and I didn’t know where that was), his laegd. number was 63-27-4, and although it said he was born in Copenhagen, his age and height were not recorded on the list. An assignment, transfer or re- enlistment date was shown as 14 September 1834. His name appears towards the bottom of the list. Those above all had ages and heights recorded. Three of the last five names – Johannes was fifth from the bottom – had ages listed, but no heights and their assignment dates were all September through November 1834. They apparently were the newcomers and only basic data was filled in about them on this list.

The Jensen family – Johannes, Johanne and children – was last found in Copenhagen in the 1850 census; the whole family was gone by the 1855 census. I made the tentative assumption that the military cards I found for the two Johannes Jensens did pertain to my Johannes. The first card then had two additional clues – the 1851 date and “Saby.” If it meant that Johannes went to Saby in 1851, then that information fit with the disappearance of the family from Copenhagen after 1850.

“Saby” actually meant “Saeby” in Hjorring County, so the 1855 census was searched for Saeby.


Jensens in Saeby, 1855 Census

Johannes Jensen was living there with his family. He apparently had retired from the military and was taking care of the prison – an arrestforvarer – which also fit with the “Arrestfor” that I didn’t understand on the military index card.

Next, I read the confirmations in the Saeby church registers. The Jensen children were all there and two of my earlier questions were finally answered.

First, Frits Ville Oscar Emil Jensen was living in Saeby when he met Margrethe Bruun, who was actually from Flade, outside of Frederikshavn. The two towns are only nine miles apart.

Secondly, Wilhelmine’s confirmation record finally solved the mystery of her birth. She was born 5 July 1840 at Den Kgl. Fodelsstiftelse, the unwed mothers’ hospital, in Copenhagen. With this new information, those birth records were searched. Baby Wilhelmine Amalie was born there on 5 July and baptized on 7 July 1840.


Wilhelmina’s Confirmation

Documents found in Copenhagen via a professional researcher provided the corresponding mother’s information – her mother was Johanne Elisabeth Molin. Johanne gave birth to one daughter, Wilhelmine,  plus a stillborn child before she married Johannes. They were apparently Johannes’s daughters since Danish census records listed Wilhelmine as his child. Discovering that Wilhelmine was born at Den Kgl. Fodelsstiftelse later helped me later expand my thinking “outside the box” to find Johannes Jensen’s birth record.

During this time period, Margaret Bruun’s baptismal record was found and I was able to continue research on her line back in Tucson. Johannes and family were found in the Saeby census of 1860; marriage records were found for Frits, Emilie and Ludovica. Avilda’s death record was found, as was that of Johannes on 9 April 1865. He was buried at the Saeby church. 

Problem: Another cold trail with no further sources for finding Johannes’ birth date or his parents.

Even with all of this new information, I was no closer to finding Johannes’s birth date (baptismal record) or his parents. I had read hundreds of pages of military levying rolls and parish registers. Next, I hired a researcher in Copenhagen to try to find Johannes’s actually military file in the Danish Archives.

The first attempt brought only a big bill with a couple of Johannes Jensens who were way too old or way too young to be mine. The second try brought two pages from the 10th Bataillon Stamlister for Underofficerer Beginning 20 April 1843 and Ending 7 October 1865. Johannes Jensen, born 27 April 1810 in Copenhagen was listed!

It gave the date he first enlisted, 30 March 1826, aged 15. It included the 14 September 1834 enrollment date found on the other company list so I was sure this was the correct man. However, his father was not named on the document.

The second document was found in Salt Lake on FHL film 0040,135, the Regular Levying Rolls of Stilling, Skanderborg County, #63 Laegd. Johannes was now 63-173-146. This particular roll gave fathers’ names for the other soldiers. For Johannes, it said the father’s name was not recorded. Hmmm???

Problem: I now had two records that pertained to my Johannes Jensen and on which I had a reasonable expectation of finding his father’s name, but which omitted his father’s name.

I began thinking about Johannes, his wife and his children. He eventually married Johanne, but not until Wilhelmine had been born in the Fodselsstiftelse and their second child had been stillborn. Although his children were baptized, the events were not important enough to him to ask relatives or friends to sponsor his children.

By this time, I knew that two of Johanne’s sisters also lived in Copenhagen so even if he didn’t ask anyone in his family, the children’s maternal aunts and uncles could have been asked to be godparents.

I also thought about the fact that Johannes had no middle name. Yet, his oldest daughter had two given names, the other girls had three and his only son had four given names.

Additionally, even having his exact date of birth – 27 April 1810 – I was unable to find any Johannes Jensen born or baptized anywhere near that date in Copenhagen or any other place in Denmark based on a Family Search check.

It was possible that his baptismal record either wasn’t recorded or was incorrectly indexed or missed in the indexing. One other idea came to mind. Perhaps Johannes’s parents weren’t married when he was born and he, too, had been born in the Fodselsstiftelse. A search of the 27 April 1810 birth records there showed that only two male babies were born in the hospital on that date. One was named Nicholas, but the other was named Johannes with no middle name.

No surnames were included with this record as the mother could remain anonymous. It showed Johannes had been baptized soon after his birth and there was a code number – #160 – in front of his name that would correspond with the mother’s information.

Within a couple of days of finding the birth of this Johannes, another trip was made to Salt Lake City. Armed with new family information and the idea that baby Johannes born in the Fodselsstiftelse was my very elusive Johannes Jensen, I headed back to the international floor of the library to tackle more Danish military research with the intent of proving or disproving my new theory about the birth of Johannes Jensen.

My first step was to again look at the 1834 military list and review the military cards for Johannes Jensen. This included help with translating all the sections on each document. From that review, the information in the “Amt” (Parish) column – “Skandby” was actually identified as “Skanderborg.” In 1810, Skanderborg was included on the Arhus levying rolls, so the following films were viewed:

FHL 0040,055 Arhus Levying Rolls – Regular, 1810                                        No Johannes Jensen found in Parish 63

FHL 0040,058, item 2, Arhus Levying Rolls, Supplemental, 1811                      No Johannes Jensen found in Parish 63

FHL 0040,061, item 3, Arhus Levying Rolls, Supplemental, 1812                      No Johannes Jensen found in Parish 63

FHL 0040,096 Skanderborg Levying Rolls                                                      Laegd. 63 – #27 was missing and there was no #173

FHL 0040,097 Skanderborg Levying Rolls, Regular, Laegd. 1-64, 1825               No Johannes Jensen found on the entire film

Only two men on the entire 1825 film were born in Copenhagen, neither named Johannes!

FHL 0040,100, item 4 Skanderborg Levy. Rolls, Supp. Litra A, 1826 No Johannes Jensen found on the entire film

Only two men on the supplemental rolls were born in Copenhagen, neither named Johannes!

FHL 0040,135 Skanderborg Levy. Rolls, Reg., Laegd. 36-62                             No #27 was found.

Parish 63 was Stilling, so confirmations were searched from 1822-27, but no Johannes Jensen was found.

FHL 0052, 227 Stilling, Skanderborg confirmations, Bks. 13-14, 1822-27            Johannes not found.

FHL 0052, 223 Stilling, Skanderborg confirmations, Bks. 5-7, 1822-27,              Johannes not found.

Arkivalieronline was also searched; all extant parishes in Copenhagen with confirmation records from 1822-27 were read; no Johannes Jensen has been found in any of them.

With little time left on this last trip to the Family History Library, the Scandinavian volunteers agreed with the professional researcher in Copenhagen. The fact that the place for father’s name on the two military lists located for Johannes was empty was telling. They concurred with the Danish researcher that Johannes’s parents were very likely not married when he was born.

Problem: I now had an exact date of birth for Johannes, but still no parents’ names.

The Danish researcher I had hired emailed an image of the page of mother’s information coded with #160 on the birth record of baby Johannes born 27 April 1810. Two sets of information were entered. The first indicated that the mother’s wishes were that the baby be given to the wife of C.H. Zinus (Zinn? – it took five volunteers about an hour to work on translating this page), master tanner, to be raised.

The second entry – very unusual – was dated ten years later – 1820. It gave the mother’s name as Kirstine Jorgensdatter and said she had lived in the city (Copenhagen) for about twenty years. It further said she currently resided with the child’s father; the father would provide some clothing for the child. Kirstine was from a town near Slagelse, Sjaelland and that in 1820, she was about 40 years old.

I now had the name of the mother of Johannes; his father was still just “Jens.” There was an address included in the hospital notes, which corresponded to Vor Frelser Church parish. Back to Arkivalieronline!

In the marriage records for that parish on 13 August 1824, there is a record of Jens Jensen Lundqvist, aged 49, marrying Kirstine Jorgensdatter, aged 44.

Given that the woman’s name matches that in the birth notes, her age at marriage and being in Vor Frelser parish, there is no reason to doubt that this is Johannes’s mother. With the groom’s name being “Jens” and the note that Kirstine was living with the child’s father in 1820, it is most likely that this is the marriage record of Johannes Jensen’s parents.

At this point, time in the library ran out and I had to return to Tucson. I was successful in my quest to find a birth date and parents’ names for my great-great-great grandfather, Johannes Jensen.

  1. A new mystery appeared. There are three entries for “Jens Jensen Lundqvist” that come up when using the search engine on familysearch.org – all marriages. The first is Jens Jensen Lundqvist who married Inger Andersdatter on 21 Aug 1801 in Helsingor, Frederiksborg. A man by the same name married Anne Dorothea Gyse on 4 May 1810, also in Helsingor. The third is the man who married Kirstine Jorgensdatter on 13 Aug 1824 in Copenhagen. Do all three of these records pertain to the same man? Given the fact that Jens who married Kirstine was 49 in 1824 and Helsingor is only 28 miles from Copenhagen, it is certainly possible.  Also, there is the curious circumstance that if these marriages do all pertain to one Jens Jensen Lundqvist, then his second marriage took place exactly one week after the birth of Johannes in 1810.
  2. Who are the parents of Kirstine Jorgensdatter? There are three possible candidates indexed on familysearch.org. the first was baptized on 20 Apr 1778 in Ottestrup, Soro, Denmark, the daughter of Jorgen Hansen. The second was baptized on 22 Feb 1778, the daughter of Jorgen Jensen of Sonderup. Another Kirstine was baptized in the same town on 18 June 1780, also the daughter of Jorgen Jensen. It is not known if these records refer to the same man Jorgen Jensen. If so, the first baby likely died young. Lastly, there is Kirstine baptized in Tystrup on 11 June 1781, the daughter of Jorgen Larsen. The name of the village near Slagelse is very difficult to read on the birth notes record. It looks like the name is abbreviated but could possibly be Vedbysonder, in Ottestrup parish near Slagelse.  Sonderup is only 4 miles from Ottestrup and Tystrup is only ten miles away. More research needs to be done on this.
  3. One military list stated that Johannes was last at “Linderborg.” There are several places in Denmark to which this could refer. However, Google maps shows “Lindebjerg” today only 3.6 miles from Ottestrup.
  4. There are a couple of records found for one Carl Henrich Zinn, including a marriage record in Gentofte, Copenhagen in 1784 to Karen Rigels Kybye and the baptism of a son, Heinrich Carl Zinn, to Carl Heinrich Zinn and Anna Christina Wegner at Skt. Peter’s Church on 31 Aug 1814. Lastly, there is a burial record for a man named Zinn at Skt. Peter’s in 1815. If this is the burial record of Carl Henrich Zinn and he is the same man whose wife accepted baby Johannes in 1810, then what happened to Johannes? This could be the link to “Linderborg” that sent him to Soro County. Perhaps he went to live with relatives of his mother. More research needs to be done on this.
  5. Lastly, did Johannes ever know who his parents were? From the birth notes, it would appear that he did not. However, if he lived in Lindebjerg, Soro County, then he likely was with maternal relatives. More research is needed here.
  6. Johannes entered the military in March 1826, a month before he turned 16. If he was living in or near Lindebjerg, Soro, Denmark, then he may be in the military levying rolls for that county. More research is needed here, too.

As 2012 came to a close, I knew much more about Johannes and Johanne Elisabeth Molin Jensen than I had known two years before. The story is not yet complete, though, until I find some of the answers to the six questions listed above.

However, I titled this story “It Took a Village” because without all the people guiding and helping me at each step of this research process, I probably wouldn’t know any more about this family now than I did in 2010. It truly took a village to find, translate and interpret each piece of information that was thrown along the trail in Johannes Jensen’s life.

That is how the brick wall surrounding my Jensen ancestors tumbled down. It took a lot of persistence and some non-traditional thinking to head down the illegitimate birth path. 

Does this look easy? Nope! Was it easy? Nope and Nope! Finding and reading some of those records definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart, but it was worth every headache!

My advice to you is to not give up, leave no stone unturned and, if you need (free) help or professional (paid) help, seek it out. Brick walls are made to be broken down. 🙂

One thought on “Destroying a Brick Wall: It Took a Village – Part 2”

  1. Wow! This is a great way to break down a brick wall. It definitely looks like a reasonably exhaustive search to me. Great job! And, isn’t it strange that two generations were born in homes for unwed mothers? But those mothers both ended up marrying the father of the child?

    Anyway, great job! I hope you do more to share this story of how you – and a village – broke down your brick wall.

    P.S. I love how you leave the additional notes and questions scattered in these posts. What a great reminder when you work on this problem again!

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