’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: July 2015

My July Fascinating Family Find is one that I was lucky enough to inherit from my great grandaunt, Pearl Adams Chadwick. Her son Charles was kind enough to gift me her photo album. Many of the photos in it dated back to the second half of the 19th century and included several tintype photos.

If you haven’t come across tintype photos, they have that name because they were actually photos printed on thin sheets of metal that had lacquer on them to allow the image to adhere to it. Tintypes were most popular in the 1860’s and 1870’s, although they were still available into the early 20th century.

I was very lucky in that I was given some photos in 1981. At that time, Fay Tarbox Sadler, a grandchild of my 3x great grandparents, George Rogers Tarbox and Mary Elizabeth Scripture, was still with us. She immediately identified the man as her grandfather George.’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: June 2015 has issued the 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds challenge to bloggers. I am five days too late for June because I just found this challenge. It sounds like fun – when is getting to talk about ancestors not fun? – so here is my June entry.

It was easy picking my first Fascinating Family Find to share as it was the key to unlocking the family story of my 3x great grandfather, Johannes Jensen.

When I finally found Frits Wille Oscar Emil Jensen, my 2x great grandfather, as a child in the 1850 census of Copenhagen, Denmark, I thought all would be smooth sailing. My grandmother said her mother always claimed Copenhagen as the family home and there they were. Frits was Grandmother’s grandfather. Additionally, in the 1910 census of Calais, Washington, Maine, Frits reported that his father was born in Denmark, but that his mother was born in Sweden.

The 1850 Danish census of Frits’ parents and siblings listed his father as Johannes Jensen, born about 1810 in Copenhagen and his mother, Johanne Elisabeth Molin (yes, the Danish census gives maiden surnames of married women!) born in Sweden. All the pieces fit and it took me no time at all to trace the Molin family back several more generations in Sweden.

Johannes Jensen, though, was a tough cookie. There was nothing at all easy about discovering his story. The saving grace was that he was a career soldier – the company musician who attained the rank of sergeant during his career. With a LOT of help from the Scandinavian volunteers at the Family History Library, I was able to pick up several clues in the Danish military records.

Try as I might, I could never find a baptismal record for “Johannes Jensen” (no middle name) born about 1810 or possibly in late 1809 that seemed to fit my Johannes. I went through name by name in FamilySearch’s indexed database, checking every possibility.

My Fascinating Family Find became the key to unlocking the mystery surrounding Johannes Jensen:

Skanderborg 1837 Levying Rolls

How I found this page would take a long, convoluted explanation, but suffice it to say that I spent literally a hundred hours during several trips to Salt Lake City reading pages and pages of military rolls on microfilm. This is an entry from the Skanderborg, Denmark laegdsruller, or military levying rolls. Men are listed by numbers, but the numbers can and do change. Think of the number as a draft number that could be changed as information was updated.

The key is found in entry 173-146, the second man on the roll. It is my Johannes Jensen. It confirms that he was 27 in 1837, thus born about 1810, but that isn’t the important information here. See the words above his name? I don’t speak Danish and this writing isn’t the easiest to decipher. When I scanned the rest of the page for clues, I noticed something right away. The words above the other men’s names seemed to also be names. Look down three names below Johannes’ name. It is one of the easier entries to read. The soldier is “Niels” and above his name it says “Jens Peter Nielsen.” The other soldiers in the list also had names inscribed above their own names.

Being at the Family History Library when I found this, I immediately headed to the help desk and asked what the names were above the soldiers’ listings. Those were the names of the fathers of the soldiers! I looked again at Johannes’ name and, whatever it said, it wasn’t anybody’s name. Translation, please: FATHER NOT RECORDED!!!

All my puzzle pieces began to fall into place. By this time, I knew that Johannes’ and Johanne Elisabeth’s eldest child, Wilhelmine, had been born at  Den Kgl. Fodselstiftelsse (Unwed Mothers’ Hospital) in Copenhagen before they married. Every record that I found for Johannes put his birth date and place about 1810 and always in Copenhagen and here was a military record that said “Father Not Recorded.” I had never been able to find even a hint of family for Johannes, although another military record had eventually been discovered that gave his birth date as 27 April 1810.

It hit me like a thunderbolt. What if Johannes had been born at Den Kgl. Fodselstiftelsse himself and been given up for adoption?

It turned out that that was exactly what had happened, but that yet another story.



Recommended Reads

Recommended Reads


Resources for Jewish Genealogy in the Netherlands by Yvette Hoitink on Dutch Genealogy. Yvette always has excellent tips for researchers and you don’t even have to have Dutch ancestry!

Was Great Grandpa’s Name Changed at Ellis Island? By Lorine McGinnis Schulze on Olive Tree Genealogy. Dispelling a commonly held belief about family surname changes.

Online Index to French Canadian Revolution War Patriots AND

Drouin Institute’s Free Online Database Now Holds More Than 1.6 Million Canadian Obits, both by Gail Dever on Genealogy a la Carte

Military Monday: Revolutionary War in NC and SC by Colleen G. Brown Pasquale on Leaves and Branches

Irish Catholic Church Records – NOW ONLINE AND FREE! By Lynn Palermo on The Armchair Genealogist

Family Stories

Mystery Photo: One More Try AND

And the Suitcase Just Keeps on Giving!, both by Amy Cohen on Brotmanblog. Help Amy out and leave a comment. We’ve all had the same question when viewing old family photos. I am going to make it a practice to leave a comment if the author asks for an opinion. It’s a nice feeling knowing someone took the time to read the whole post and comment, too.

Who’s the Daddy? (Part 2) by Melvin J. Collier on Roots Revealed

A Title Conferred – The Legend of the PL by Lori Samuelson on Genealogy at Heart. Lori’s efforts to try to prove that a title of nobility was bestowed on an ancestor.

Chapter 13: A Developing Story: Fred Fawkner Makes Pictures by J.H. Fonkert on Four Generations Genealogy


Another Story Published by Mary Foxworthy on Roots & Stuff. Mary has used to create a snapshot of the life of one of her ancestral families. I might have to look into StoryPress myself.

How to Digitize Family History Cassette Tapes by Mary Ann on Collecting Cousins

Issues, How-To, Methodology and More

Research Plans: A Reprise by Jill Morelli on Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journal. Learn how to formulate or improve research focus questions and plans.

Find Your Family with School Records by James Tanner on Genealogy’s Star

Discovering Dentistry Degrees by Joanne Cowden on Researching Relatives

Tuesday Tip: The Wonders of Voter Registration Books by Wendy on Jollett Etc.

Do You Have a Defective Ancestor? by Amy Johnson Crow on Amy Johnson Crow

David Kirby (1740-1832) Went Missing on WikiTree! by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings. Read about the pluses and minuses of posting on one shared tree.

Last, but not least, consider joining and helping out:

I Have No Known People of Color in My Tree by Pat Richley-Erickson on DearMYRTLE. Can you help out with the indexing of the Freedmen’s Bureau records?

Genealogy Tips & Family History