Part 5 – Searching Danish Military Records

I am omitting some of the steps I took to complete the records of the  family of Johannes Jensen and Johanne Elisabeth Molin, but I used a combination of Danish census records and parish records. However, from those records, I found multiple records concerning Johannes.

1834 Census – Johannes Jensen, 25 years old, soldier boarding in a home; born in Copenhagen.


1840 Census – Johannes Jensen, 30 years old, soldier, unmarried; born in Copenhagen.

1845 Census – Johannes Jensen, 35 years old, soldier, married with family; born in Copenhagen.

1850 Census – Johannes Jensen, 40 years old, soldier, married with family; born in Copenhagen.


I’ve only posted the 1834 and 1850 censuses so you can see what they look like.  Johannes lived in Copenhagen at least until the 1850 census. Sometime between 1850-1855, Johannes retired from the military and the family removed to Saeby, a small village way up in the northern coast of Denmark, near Aalborg.

The family may have traveled by boat, but if they took the land route, it was a long trip. I haven’t found the reason for retiring to that area, but I suspect that Johannes may have had duty there at one time and liked it.  Johannes died in Saeby on 9 April 1865, aged 54.


From the census records (Danish censuses had a standard reporting date of 1 February), Johannes’s age consistently gave a birth date either in late 1809 or early 1810 in Copenhagen. The 1834 census gave is age as 25, but the other soldier boarding in the home was also reported to be 25. It is very possible Johannes was not in the home when the census taker came around and the head of household gave the names of the two soldiers and said they were both “about 25. ” While I was busy searching census records, I was also scouring church registers for a baptism record for any Johannes Jensen with or without middle names born about 1805-1812 in the Copenhagen area, but the few that I found were not mine.

During the time I was reading census and parish records, I decided to take a trip to Salt Lake City, as the Family History Library has films of Danish military records. Since I speak no Danish, I knew I would need a lot of help from the Scandinavian help desk. The military record search ended up taking several trips to Salt Lake in 2011 and 2012 plus I had to hire a researcher in Copenhagen to visit the State Archives to retrieve some records that had not been filmed.

Since Johannes had attained the rank of sergeant, I was hoping that I would be able to find some military records that would give me his exact date of birth.  One of the first sources I read was the “Index to Non-Commissioned Army Officers 1757-1860 Eberle-Jorrs,” FHL film #41,968. These records are in the form of 3 x 5 index cards with only basic information on each about one man’s military details.


The card on the left has his name on top. Below his first name is “Tamb” which I believe refers to him being a drummer. Underneath Jensen in parentheses is an abbreviation of some place. 7 B refers to the 7th Battalion. On the bottom, “stabstambour” is drummer and there is a date that appears to be 1851. Under that is “Arrestfor” and “Saby.” “Arrestfor” is an abbreviation for “arrestforvarer” or one who takes care of the prison. “Saby” could well be a misspelling of “Saeby.”

The card on the right has a birthplace of Copenhagen (Kobenhavn) and notes that he was a fiddler and in the 10th Battalion. However, neither has an exact date of birth.

I decided to assume for the time being that both of these cards referred to one man and that man was my Johannes Jensen. It fit with the census information and I was believing more and more that the military records were going to lead me to Johannes’ birth date and then to his baptismal record and parents’ names.

Next, I read films which contained records about the 7th Battalion from 1834-1860 (FHL #42,169 and #42,170). There was one and only one Johannes Jensen on the 1834 list of the 1st Jydske Infantry Regiment. This Johannes had last been in Skanderborg County, although it was abbreviated as “Skandby” and I didn’t know where that was. (Many thanks to the terrific FHL staff who cover Denmark.)


Johannes is the 5th man from the bottom of the list. An assignment, enlistment or transfer date was shown as 14 Sept 1834. The men listed at the bottom were apparent newcomers and there was less information listed for them than for the men listed above. I still had no exact date of birth, but this was my first experience with the laegd roll numbers. These numbers are similar to draft numbers in our military, but the laegd numbers change over time. In 1834, Johannes’ laegd number was 63-27-4.  I spent many hours and days reading roll after roll – literally hundreds of pages –  of military districts in Skanderborg County looking for Johannes. It turned out that apparently when the particular roll was taken, the man with number 63-27-4 was out of the district so his number was skipped! Not really surprising since every attempt I made to get closer to answers had a stumbling block.


Part 4 – Some Success in Copenhagen

My next step was to search the 1850 census for Frits, aged 5. Quick success there – I found him with his parents, Johannes Jensen, 40, a soldier, born in Copenhagen and Johanna Elisabeth Molin, 35, born in Sweden. The 1910 and 1920 U.S. censuses had the correct places of birth for Frederick Johnson’s parents – his mother was, indeed, Swedish. Johannes’ and Johanne’s children were Wilhemine Amalie, 9; Emilie Olivie Frederikke, 6; Fritz Wille Oscar Emil, 4 and Ludoviga Josephine Henriette, 2. All were born in Copenhagen except for Johanne Elisabeth.

 With Family Search indexed records and the church baptismal registers on, I was able to put together the following family:

Johannes Jensen, born about 1810, Copenhagen, Sergeant in the Danish Army, drummer

Johanne Elisabeth Molin, born about 1815, Sweden


Wilhelmine Amalie, born about 1840, no baptismal information found

(Here – possibly a deceased child since there was at least a three year gap between Wilhelmine and Emilie)

Emilie Olivie Frederikke, 18 May 1843, Garnisons Church, Copenhagen

Frits Ville Oscar Emil, 12 May 1845, Garnisons Church, Copenhagen

Ludovica Henriette Josephine, 4 June 1847, Garnisons Church, Copenhagen

Avilda Eleonora Philipine, 11 Oct 1850, Garnisons Church, Copenhagen

 I also found Johannes Jensen in 1840, an unmarried soldier, rank of sergeant, living in the barracks with other soldiers in Copenhagen. I could not find Johanne Elisabeth Molin in 1840, nor could I find Wilhelmine who could possibly have been born as early as 1839. Johannes and another “permiterit” soldier were boarding with the young family of Anders Thomsen in Copenhagen in 1834.

Since the Danish censuses have a gap between 1801 and 1834, I had no other pre-1834 census to search for Johannes Jensen. I had no other clues as to his parentage or siblings. No marriage record had been found for Johannes and Johanne, whose first known child was Wilhelmine, born about 1840, in the Garnison Church registers, nor could I find Wilhelmine’s baptismal record there.

 I decided to try looking in other parishes in the 1840-1843 range for Wilhelmine’s baptism and possibly for a deceased child and happened to start with Trinitatis Church because it was also a large parish. Wilhelmine was not to be found. However, the baptismal records for Trinitatis Church included a stillborn daughter, entered 8 May 1842 in the register, born to Johanne Elisabeth Molin and reputed father Johannes Jensen. I had only looked for marriage records up to 1840, thinking Johannes and Johanne married before Wilhelmine was born. Emilie’s baptismal record listed her father and mother, so they had married before 18 May 1843. I looked again for a marriage between 1840-43; no marriage was found at Trinitatis Church, but the Garnison Church register included an entry on 31 August 1842 for Johannes Jensen and Johanne Molin. One more puzzle piece had been found, but there still was nothing found for daughter Wilhelmine, who was apparently born before Johannes and Johanne married. There were no further clues about Johannes’s parents either. The marriage record didn’t include vaccination dates for the bride or groom. I decided to leave the issue of Wilhelmine’s birth place and baptismal record to focus on the search forthe 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.


Part 3 – Fast Forward Danish Research to 2011

The Anna Johnson story is a great example of why one should never give up, particularly with all the technological advances that are being made. Just about three years ago today, I was sitting at my computer and hadn’t thought about my Danish roots for quite some time. I’ve told my friends that my grandmother, Hazel, who died in 1995, was up there one night in January 2011 telling me that it was time for me to resume the hunt. The thought crossed my mind to see what kind of records Denmark had on line that were free and searchable. (I have added a page on the bar above to some fantastic free Danish help sites.)

Lo and behold, there was an 1880 census of the country that was searchable by individual names and places. I was up until about 2 that morning trying different variations of Frederick’s name in Copenhagen. Now that search engine didn’t bring up Soundex spellings – spelling had to be exact – and I don’t speak any Danish so when I got an error message, I used Google translation to figure out what I did wrong.

I was running out of options of Johansen, Jensen, Frederick and Fritz when I finally tried searching for a “Frits.” To my shock, up came “Frits Wille Oskar Emil Jensen” born in Copenhagen in 1845 and still living in Copenhagen. There he was! Click on the census image of the 1880 Herstedvester (suburb of Copenhagen) enumeration and check out Family #36.

Frits-1880-Census-1The information on this page was invaluable. Head of household was Frits Ville Oscar Emil Jensen, 34, Lutheran, born in Copenhagen, prison guard. Also in the household is Margrethe Jensen f. Brun, which means “born Brun” or her maiden name was Brun. She is 36, Lutheran and born in Frederikshaven, housewife. Remember, Anna Elisabeth’s death certificate said her mother was Margaret Brown. Children in the household included Anna Elisabeth, 7, born Copenhagen, Henry Robert, 1, born in this parish, unnamed baby (who died soon) born in this parish and Vilhelmine Jensen, 39, born Copenhagen, sister of head of household. Frits’s sister, Vilhelmine, would give me an additional clue in pinpointing the correct Jensen family if I found more than one who could be Frits’s family.

As I looked at the other censuses digitized on line, I found 1870, 1860, 1855, 1850, 1845, 1840, 1834 and 1801 and 1787.

Of course, after waiting for 30+ years to find Frits in Denmark, I wasn’t about to plod through each census right away – I had to check the 1845 census to see if Frits was a baby with his family. I discovered that the Danish censuses were taken on February 1. Since Frits reported in the U.S. census that he was born in May 1845, I did not find him. However, I did look for Vilhelmine, who was apparently about five years older than Frits.

I don’t have a screen shot of the 1845 census, but I did find the family of Johannes Jensen, aged 35, born Copenhagen, drummer,  living at the 10th Line Infantry Batallion 1st Company, Kronprindsessegaden No. 404, 4th floor in Copenhagen. With him were wife Johanne Elisabeth, 31, born Sweden (hmm – remember in the 1910 census of Calais, Maine Frederick said his father was born in Denmark, but his mother was born in Sweden) and two daughters. Vilhelmine, 5, born Copenhagen and Emilie Olivie Frederikke, 2, born Copenhagen.

Finding 5 year old Vilhelmine in Copenhagen with a Swedish mother and not finding another Vilhelmine the same age made me think I probably had the right family. If I could find them in 1850, when Frederick, or Frits, would be 5 years old, I would have the proof I needed.

These two census records represent the first progress I had made in three decades. Knowing that there were multiple other census records PLUS church registers gave me hope that I would quickly enlarge the small hole created in this brick wall. If only it were that simple!


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