It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in the United States, so it is quite appropriate that Randy Seaver’s SNGF challenge is holiday-related:
1) We celebrated Thanksgiving in the USA this week, and my thoughts turned to my ancestors. I pondered “Which ancestor am I most thankful for?” So be it!
I really had to think for a while to choose just one ancestor. Of course, we are all thankful for parents and grandparents. It would be difficult to choose just one family member with whom we share/d our lives.
After pondering the ancestors yesterday and even this morning, I chose the one who tugs at my heart strings – Johannes Jensen, my Danish 3X great grandfather.
Johannes started life with literally nothing. He was born at the unwed mother’s hospital in Copenhagen on 27 December 1810. His mother immediately signed her baby over to the wife of Master Tanner Zinn. Perhaps she thought that Johannes would have a secure future, eventually being trained to be a tanner.
However, in 1815, Mr. Zinn died and his widow, with her own children to feed, sent Johannes to the Copenhagen orphanage.
I doubt Johannes ever knew anything about his parents, but they eventually married and lived nearby. When he was ten, the hospital records indicate that his father provided clothing for him! Yet, his own mother and father knew of his circumstances and chose not to bring him home. By the way, they had no other children together.
His childhood must have been one horror after another and I have to admit that I don’t think much of these two of my 4X great grandparents. By the standards of any time period, abandoning a child when health and economics didn’t require it is inexcusable.
Johannes got out on his own as soon as he was able. A few weeks before his 16th birthday, he enlisted in the Danish Army. He was blessed with musical talent (which clearly made it down the line to my very artistic and musical grandmother, Hazel (Coleman) Adams.
This talent fit perfectly with the army job that became his career – he was the company drummer and fiddler. Johannes also had a terrific posting – Rosenborg Castle, which is where the Danish crown jewels are housed!
In spite of life’s hardships, Johannes married Johanna Elisabeth Molin, who left Oved, Sweden for a new life in Copenhagen. They became the parents of six children. Four grew to adulthood, including their only son, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen.
Circumstances dealt Johannes one more blow – he died on 9 April 1865, several weeks before his 55th birthday.
Frits is the only child who made the decision to emigrate to America, settling his family in Calais, Maine. My grandmother grew up having Frits around, although he passed away in 1920, when she was 19 years old.
I am thankful for Johannes because, in spite of dire life circumstances, he survived childhood, found a place in life with his army career and raised a family with Johanna.
None of us would be the people we are if even one ancestor wasn’t ours. In this case, Johannes and Johanna provided me with the Scandinavian branch of the family tree.
Thanks, Randy, for this week’s challenge. They are always fun.
3 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Which Ancestor Am I Most Thankful For?”
What a lovely story about endurance and making the best one can of their life.
Johannes definitely drew the short straw in life, but I think that made him really love his wife and children. He also was successful in really the only career path open to an illegitimate/orphaned child at the time.
Wow – what horrible parents Johannes had. I could see it if they had many mouths to feed and were indigent, but to purposely ignore their only child, except to provide clothes, well, I don’t think much of that either.
That said, he clearly didn’t let his difficult childhood hold him back. So happy he found a woman to love and raised their children with her.