Category Archives: Jensen-Johnson

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #15: Danish Laegdsruller -Army Records

Today’s document isn’t a very common one, I don’t think, for American researchers. I have to give fair warning here that trying to find your ancestor in Danish laegdsruller isn’t for the fainthearted either.

What is “laegdsruller”? Well, they are Danish military levying rolls, sort of a draft list in case men were needed in the army. Generally, young boys were added to the rolls and given a number, like a U.S. Army draft number. These lists were kept up to date and theoretically they are a fantastic way to trace male ancestors as they moved about from place to place.

Except – and these are HUGE exceptions – the lists were much more commonly kept in villages and towns than they were in cities like Copenhagen. Another exception is that, while a number was assigned to each male, the number CHANGED when older men went off the list. Lastly, a man who entered military service was often removed from the local laegdsruller because he was no longer in possible draftee status.

I learned of the existence of these rolls while at the Family History Library in Salt Lake about six years ago. I was frustrated trying to find the parents of my Johannes Jensen, born about 1810 in Copenhagen. Searching military records was a suggestion by the reference staff there, particularly because my Johannes entered the Danish army in 1826 and made a career of being the company musician.

Why are these records so helpful? First, because of the patronymic naming system (Jensen meant you were the son of Jens, but Johannes’s son would have the surname Johannsen, or son of Johannes.) Because there were so many people with the same given and surnames, the father of the male enrolled on the list was recorded along with the boy’s age and his military number.

When a male actually joined the army, he often was given a “military name,” needed to sort out all the Jens Jensens, etc. Sometimes, his father’s name was on the official army list, sometimes not.

I can’t tell you how many hours – 100, maybe more – I spent over multiple trips to the Family History Library reading these rolls, trying to find my Johannes Jensen. Without the support of the staff to tell me what was even written on some of these pages and the guidance in being shown how to find the next list, I would never have found him. That’s why I said these records aren’t for the fainthearted.

Here is an 1834 actual military list that had a Hans Jensen on it. My guy had always appears in records as “Johannes,” but I couldn’t afford to leave any stone unturned with these records. He wasn’t my man, but this is a good representation of how the records look.

1834 Danish Army List

I realize this page isn’t the easiest to read, but that’s how most of the pages were on the microfilms. As an example, I’ve placed a red arrow next to the name Christen Jensen (Rosendahl?)

The first column “Amt” is his home parish. What it says, I don’t know. That is why I worked on this in Salt Lake! The three columns of numbers are his laegdsruller numbers – 16-129-105. Next, is his name and Rosendahl would be a military name to differentiate him from other Christen Jensens. After that is his age and height (which isn’t in inches, and the measure escapes me for the moment, but I was told it was close to today’s inches), so Christen is 30 years old and roughly 67 1/2 inches tall. The next column is day and year, but I’m not sure if it is when he entered that unit. It could be. The last column is for comments. Sometimes the “dod” (dead) notation is entered, sometimes the date of a promotion or whatever. I would again need help reading the information.

By tracking all of the Johannes Jensens from 1826 to 1854, I was able to eventually find my ancestor. I obtained his actual date of birth – 27 April 1810 – and the clue that the name of his father “wasn’t recorded” although all the other men on that particular list had their own fathers’ names penciled in. That clue was the chink in the brick wall that pointed to Johannes’s parents never marrying.

Was it worth it to spend all those hours slogging through all those microfilm rolls? I was definitely armed with Advil, but it was worth every second I spent because I found him.

If you have Danish ancestors that you have located in the 1800s, especially if they were rural dwellers as opposed to city residents or if you know that your ancestor served in the army, the Danish military rolls are definitely worth a look. They have been microfilmed, but be forewarned – you will likely need help navigating them.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #3 – Confirmation of Wilhelmine Amalie Jensen

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!


Traumatic Twists and Turns to Uncover 27 April 1810

I poured my heart and soul into finding Johannes Jensen. Not only was Scandinavia my 30 year brick wall, but even when I crashed through to find the family in Copenhagen, Johannes’s story was still deeply buried. Without the hand holding and help of the Scandinavian staff, who welcomed me like an old friend each time I appeared in Salt Lake City, I don’t think I would ever have found him.

I have no pictures of Johannes as he died on 9 April 1865 in the small town of Saeby in Hjorring County, Denmark, 18 days shy of his 55th birthday. I doubt that he ever even had his picture taken.

In spite of the tough hand that life dealt to him, he grew up to be a respected citizen and provided his family with a stable home life, something that he never, ever had.

I have written prolifically about Johannes Jensen. The short version of his story is that he was given up for adoption. You’ll have to follow the links if you’d like to learn more about the energy and resources it took to uncover his origins and learn who his parents were. The 7-part series contain some of the very first posts I wrote in January and February of 2014.

Part 1 – The Long Saga to Find Anna Elisabeth Johnson’s Family

Part 2 – The 1980 Research Brick Wall

Part 3 – Fast Forward Danish Research to 2011

Part 4 – Some Success in Copenhagen

Part 5 – Searching Danish Military Records

Part 6 – Thinking Outside the Box to Assemble the Puzzle Pieces

Part 7 – Questions Answered, More Created

Danish Laegdsruller or Military Levying Rolls

Danish Military Records, Part 2

Another Trip to Salt Lake – Finding Jens Jensen Lundqvist

I wasn’t content with finding Johannes’s family, I dearly wanted to walk where he walked and to see a glimpse of where he lived his life. We were lucky enough to take a transatlantic cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam in the spring of 2014.

My husband knew I had ulterior motives – that was as close as I could get to Copenhagen and I wasn’t about to be so near and NOT continue on, so we flew to Copenhagen.

There, my curiosity was satisfied. These posts are about my journey around Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Discoveries

Johannes Jensen at Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

Johannes Jensen, Company Fiddler and Drummer

Johannes, it took decades  plus another two years of countless hours reading hundreds of pages of records to find you , but I did.

Today, your family is thinking of you on the 206th anniversary of your birth.