Category Archives: Danish Research

Giertrud Nielsdatter: Extending the mtDNA Line – 12 for ’22

Person #3 on my list of somewhat neglected ancestors to research in 2022 is my 6X great grandmother, Giertrud Nielsen, baptized 17 November 1737 in Flade, Hjorring, Denmark.

Although Danish records existed long before Giertrud’s birth, there is a big stumbling block for me. Reading that old script in faded ink is quite overwhelming.

However, this line is particularly important to me as Giertrud is my earliest ancestress in my maternal line – the one that passes down mtDNA.

In this case, time has been on my side (I hadn’t worked on this line for over 5 years) because the Scandinavian staff at the Family History Library spend many hours adding data to the FamilySearch Family Tree.

I now have Giertrud’s line back one more generation to include her parents, and siblings, plus her father’s line is documented two more generations back in time.

Here is the family of Niels Christensen Aadstemand & Maren Nielsdatter, who lived in Flade, Hjorring, Denmark.

Niels Christensen Aadstemand was baptized on 29 August 1700, the son of Christen Christensen Aadstemand (c1665-after 1714) and Lisbeth Christensdatter (1680-1730) in the town of Flade, Hjorring Denmark.

He married Maren Nielsdatter, who was born c1704, sometime around 1731, probably also in Flade or a nearby town. Her parentage, unfortunately, hasn’t yet been determined. How I wish someone would find her family, as it would add still another generation to my mtDNA line.

Niels and Maren were the parents of five children. All events are in Flade:

1. Niels, baptized May 1732; died December 1782; married (1) Maren Svensdatter, 15 May 1758 (2) Eva Christensdatter, 10 September 1762 and (3) Karen Hansdatter, 9 November 1776.
2. Christen, baptized October 1734; died April 1805; married Margrethe Olesdatter, 3 December 1775.
3. Giertrud, baptized 17 November 1737; buried 13 November 1767; married Christen Christensen Donbech, 28 October 1756.
4. Karen, baptized November 1740; died 26 February 1818, Kirkevadet, Hjorring, Denmark; married Povel Nielsen, October 1760.
5. Lauritz, baptized February 1747; no further record.

Niels Christensen Aadstemand was buried 6 May 1764 in Flade, Hjorring, Denmark. Maren Nielsdatter, called the widow of Niels Christensen Aadstemand, was buried in 1787, sometime after the 1787 census was taken. She was living with her son’s family at that time. The church book has many torn pages, including the one recording her burial. The left side of the page, which had the exact dates, is missing, but the year is 1787.

Christen Christensen Aadstemand’s father was Christen Aadsteman, probably born c1630. His wife’s name is unknown. However, the wife of Christen Aadstemand was buried in Flade in 1694, aged 60 years.

My mtDNA line:

  1. Maren Nielsdatter (c1704-1787), Flade, Hjorring
  2. Giertrud Nielsdatter (1737-1767), Flade, Hjorring
  3. Anna Christensdatter (1758-1842), Flade, Hjorring
  4. Maria Catherine Jensdatter (1799-1855+), Flade, Hjorring
  5. Anna Amalia Christensdatter (1823-1871+), Flade, Hjorring
  6. Margrethe Bruun (1843-1890), Calais, Maine
  7. Anna Elizabeth Jensen (1872-1916), Calais, Maine
  8. Hazel Ethel Coleman (1901-1995), Massachusetts
  9. Doris Priscilla Adams (1923-2008), New Jersey
  10. Me!



Niels Thomsen Bruun: A Loose End No More

Niels Thomsen Bruun is one of my loose ends, or I guess, was. As ancestors go, he isn’t all that far back in time as he is my 3X great grandfather and father of my Danish immigrant 2X great grandmother, Margrethe Bruun Jensen (aka Johnson).

I also know quite a bit about him, thanks to those fabulous Danish records. He was baptized on 22 January 1809 in Flade, Hjorring, Denmark, the son of Thomas Madsen Bruun and Margrethe Nielsdatter Nipper. His occupation was fisherman, which makes sense given that Flade is a parish on the coast of northern Denmark, just south of Frederikshavn and close to Bangsbostrand.

He married Ane Amalie Christensdatter Moller on 1 November 1842, also in Flade.

My 2X great grandmother, Margrethe, certainly appears to have been named for her paternal grandmother. She was baptized on 1 May 1843, one of those first babies who might come at any time.

Her only sibling, Peter, was baptized two years later on 13 April 1845.

Why then was Niels Thomsen Bruun a loose end? I cannot find any death record or burial entry for him in the parish records. I suspect his occupation – fisherman – might have something to do with that and he may have died at sea. Just speculation on my part, but when church records are available for the 1840s and he isn’t found in them, there must be a reason.

Niels’ wife, Amalie Christendatter Moller, married (2) Jens Marinus Hansen on 24 October 1847 and she was described as a widow.

If Amalie, as she was called, was a widow, and I have no reason to think she was not, given that she remarried in the same small parish, that narrowed the time frame of Niels Thomsen Bruun’s death to between July 1844 (if he died, say a day after Peter was conceived) and October 1847 when Amalie remarried.

Danish records are terrific and I checked FamilySearch for probate records. There is an index for probate files in Hjorring County and it is alphabetized by surname (I’ve found some Swedish indexes set up by FIRST! name.)

Look what I found:

Niels Thomsen Bruun, 1847 Probate
FamilySearch Film #7589228

By law, notice of someone’s death had to be reported to the proper authorities immediately. I wish the date that probate opened was more specific, but it was likely within a month or perhaps less of when Niels died.

I’m not sure why the probate didn’t close until four years later in 1851 and the record is short – only two pages (76 and 87).

The downside is that apparently this record is not available online. Nor did I see Hjorring probate court records online at the Danish National Archives.

I’m not curious enough to pay to obtain the record, but I am quite sure now that Niels Bruun died in 1847.

The index was easy to browse, so I looked for other Bruuns and found Niels’ parents, too:

Burial dates are recorded for Thomas and wife Margrethe – he died in 1835 and she survived him by 6 years. That is why Margrethe also has a probate file.

If and when I find the probate files online, I will post the images and transcribe the information in them. I do kind of wish they were online already!


Researching Scandinavia: What Records Are Available?

Are you ready?

  1. We’ve covered patronymics and how to follow them.
  2. If you have a name and correct birth date and/or parents’ names and place, you are either already on your way to jump in or need to use a search engine to see if indexed records are already online pertaining to your ancestor.

Exactly what kinds of records can be found in Scandinavia?
Lots of absolutely fabulous ones!

Census records – Denmark and Norway have both taken censuses that stretch back into the 1600s, although not on a regular basis. However, because Danish women continue to be identified by maiden names after marriage, those censuses contain bits of information I wish every census included. Take a look:

This is my 2X great grandfather, Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen, who I used as an example earlier in this series. I know the image and writing aren’t the easiest to read, but look at the green arrows. The first is pointing to Frits’s wife’s name. She is enumerated as married and names Margrethe Jensen f. Bruun. f. Bruun in English means born Bruun! It’s her maiden name! Happy dance time!

The arrow in the last column is pointing to exact towns of birth! Frits was born in Kjobenhavn (Copenhagen), but Margrethe was born in Frederikshavn, which is on the coast hours away from Copenhagen.

Sweden did not taken censuses in the way that we think of them, every ten years. They did something even better. See the next item:

Household Examination Records – All three countries have fairly complete parish church books, which include many types of records, including Household Examination Books. Each parish minister was expected to visit each household to determine whether the inhabitants knew their catechism, had received communion within the year and otherwise keep tabs on the family.

This image isn’t the easiest to read, but when you look at them directly online, they can be enlarged and most are fairly easily read.

Four lines down is the Molin family. Each person is separately listed, with exact date of birth and the parish where they were born. When towns are listed in the 5th column, that is the town where the person went to, followed by the year in which they left, likely to find work. When yet another town and year are enter, it means the person moved to another parish yet again. the various marks on the other side of the page refer to religious education. The last column is for comments.

When names are crossed out, it also can mean that the person died within the previous year. It looks like person #3 on the list, Elne, died on 7 February 1843 as there is a cross, the letter d. followed by 7/2 and the year. Remember European dating is in day/month/year order.

Guess what! The ministers were had to update these church books every year! Each baby’s birth was noted and, as often happened, it’s quick burial. The mortality rate was high.

Parish registers, aside from Household Examination Records, also  include records of christenings, confirmations, marriage banns, marriages, and burials. They also include lists of everyone moving in and moving out of the parish!

Yes, there are record losses, but many records survive in many parishes. It can’t get much better than that!

Probate Records – Deaths had to be reported within a few days of the event. Probate officials took an inventory and the record often named all the heirs.

Tax Records – There are tax lists, sometimes called Population Registers, at least in Sweden, which listed all taxable males. The last record I found for one of my ancestors was a listing in the 1785 Population Register.

Military Records – Published military records are available. Another of my ancestors was traced using laedgsrullers, a type of army registration system, a bit like a list of the old U.S. draft numbers.

Entire books have been written about the types of Scandinavian genealogical records available to research. However, I recommend checking the FamilySearch wiki for each.

Each country page in the wiki has advice on how to get started, where records can be found and hundreds of live links. FamilySearch Wiki is, by far, the most complete guide to researching in Scandinavia.

I hope this series has motivated those of you with Danish, Norwegian or Swedish ancestry to not fear the records. Just jump in and see where the search takes you.

For those of you not lucky enough to have Scandinavian ancestors, you are missing out on some of the best genealogical records found anywhere in the world.